The Methodist Book of Discipline has a biblical view of homosexuality, but there are too many people willing to break the rules because they are tired of losing in their efforts to have it changed. Via Methodist Liberals: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules:
For several decades now, the liberal formula for forcing through unpopular changes in the mainline churches has been to deliberately break the rules of the targeted denomination, and then daring the authorities to enforce discipline. This practice was spectacularly successful in the Episcopal Church, where women’s ordination became a reality after this kind of blackmail. It now looks like liberal United Methodist clergy have decided that this approach might force the denomination to accept same-sex marriage. According to Pamela Lightsey, Dean of Students at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary (Rosemary Reuther’s old haunt):
Across the country, clergy members in the United Methodist Church are now being faced with the stark reality that public policy is far more prophetic and just than our current church polity as they witness the increasing passing of laws that support marriage rights and civil unions of LGBTQ persons. What are loving clergy to say to those persons whom they have had the honor of watching grow as faithful members of our church when asked to officiate and bless them in a ceremony (whether it be marriage, civil union, or commitment) that honors their desire to be in lifelong relationships with loving partners?
Here’s an option: Tell them the biblical truth that homosexual behavior is a sin. They are welcome to have non-sexual life long relationships. We even have a special name for those relationships: Friendships.
Last week, 70 United Methodist Clergy in Minnesota pledged to defy church polity against performing such ceremonies. This week, as of Thursday, 134 clergy in the Northern Illinois Conference have pledged the same. If they follow through with their pledge, they face the possibility of losing their clergy orders. It should be noted that losing one’s credentials is not simply losing the ability to continue your called vocation as clergy but with it, takes away their authorization to preside over the sacred rituals of baptism and Holy Eucharist. I should also mention, it includes a host of practical entitlements such as health benefits, clergy housing allowance (a tax benefit), parsonages, and fellowship within several clergy peer groups. Sufficeth to say, their commitment is a boldly courageous posture….
What we are doing is in fact challenging our church to keep its word and be an “open,” inclusive and loving member of the body of Christ. We are committed to this risk-taking ministry. I trust our Episcopal leaders will know that we are praying for them and that this action is our faithful witness “to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)
They are walking with their god — the one of their own making.
So just add dishonesty to their list of traits (technically it was already there — they either lied at their ordination vows or changed their minds later and didn’t have the integrity to leave).
It applies to all churches, though. The blame ultimately falls on wimpy conservatives who liked their popularity more than they liked exercising church discipline. We should have kicked out these apostates long ago, but rationalized that we were being more “civil” by letting them stay.
I’m a fan of real civility, but I don’t apologize for stepping on wolf toes.