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Church once more faces homosexuality divide

 
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3:00 P.M. EDT June 28, 2011



The Rev. Amy DeLong (right) gets a hug from the Rev. Janet Wolf after DeLong's church trial at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
The Rev. Amy DeLong (right) gets a hug from the Rev. Janet Wolf after
DeLong's church trial at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna,
Wis. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. View in Photo Gallery

Talk to United Methodists of differing views about the church’s homosexuality debate, and they will tell you the recent clergy trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong was just a prologue.

The real showdown will take place next year when General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, meets. Yet, all say the trial may offer some clues to the discussions that will take place April 24-May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.

“We are deeply divided, obviously,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, a Virginia pastor and licensed lawyer who assisted the church’s counsel in the case.

“Just as in society, what happens is we move from an attempt to dialogue to legislation, and when legislation doesn’t work, we move to the courts,” he added. “So, because we have not been able to resolve this debate in our mutual sharing, General Conference every four years has been called to legislate on it. While we have done that, it has created only more avenues of conflict.”

Advocates of differing perspectives on homosexuality all agree that the DeLong case verdict, which was split, and the penalty, which marked a departure from previous cases, are indicative of the division.

DeLong, a clergy member for 14 years in the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, was charged with violating The United Methodist Church’s ban on non-celibate, gay clergy and its prohibition against clergy officiating at same-sex unions. The trial began on June 21 and ended June 23 at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis.



The Rev. Keith Boyette arrives at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wis., on the second day of the Rev. Amy DeLong’s church trial. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
The Rev. Keith Boyette arrives
at Peace United Methodist
Church in Kaukauna, Wis., on
the second day of the Rev.
Amy DeLong’s church trial. A
UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery

A jury of 13 Wisconsin United Methodist clergy acquitted her of being a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” by a vote of 12-1. The same panel unanimously found her guilty of celebrating a same-gender union on Sept. 19, 2009. During the trial’s penalty phase, DeLong declined to promise that she would never again perform such a union.

The trial court voted 9-4 to suspend DeLong from her ministerial functions for 20 days beginning July 1 and sentenced her to a more detailed process for a year after her suspension to “restore the broken clergy covenant relationship.”

The church cannot appeal the verdict or penalty, said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, the church’s counsel in the case.

Not a simple case

The trial court deliberated for about seven hours before returning with a penalty.

Boyette pointed out that the jury could have taken a simpler path, coming back with any number of possibilities in 10 or 15 minutes. The team of Lambrecht and Boyette, representing the church in the case, had requested that DeLong be suspended indefinitely until she vowed in writing not to officiate at any more same-sex unions or until the church law is changed.

“I believe what the trial court was trying … to do something that would restore every person, every part of the church with that penalty,” Boyette said. “So they were very focused on restoration while at the same time seeking to uphold the (Book of) Discipline. I think that was very clear. I believe they worked very hard at that.”

Boyette is the chair of the board of Good News, an unofficial evangelical caucus that advocates maintaining the denomination’s stand on homosexuality.

The Rev. Dan Dick, the director of connectional ministries in the Wisconsin Conference, said the verdict indicates an ongoing tension in the denomination between what people discern as God's call and how people interpret the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book.

He said he has not known anyone who has worked with DeLong in ministry who does not feel she has the gifts and graces of a pastor. Still, DeLong does not deny being a lesbian who has been together with her partner, Val Zellmer, for 16 years.

“Most people who have seen her in ministry say: What she does in her private life is her affair; what we experience of her as a pastoral leader is significant,” Dick said.

The Book of Discipline bans the ordination or appointment of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” Dick said what that actually means is unclear.

The Rev. Scott Campbell, DeLong’s counsel, argued during the trial that church authorities had not proven DeLong engaged in prohibited sexual acts.

“What does a person have to actually confess in order for us to say this is in violation?” Dick wondered. “Dealing with the differing interpretations of what the language in the Discipline means is something we have not really done well for a long time.”

Question of being and acting

One aspect in dispute is the way the denomination distinguishes between a person’s sexual orientation and sexual behavior.

"The church does a very good job of disintegrating people and pretending that there is a difference between who you are and what you do," DeLong testified during the trial. "The word practicing would never be used for a heterosexual person. It's just part of who they are."

The Rev. Karen Booth, the director of Transforming Congregations, disagrees. Her group, an unofficial caucus in the denomination, aims to help United Methodist churches minister to “the sexually confused, broken and sinful.”

“For me,” she said, “the most troubling aspect of all the arguments (in the case) is the other side’s either inability or unwillingness to separate behavior from the person. A couple of times throughout the trial, it’s been mentioned, ‘It’s not about what I’m doing; it’s about who I am.’”

Booth contends that people can overcome same-sex attractions and says she has seen that in her own ministry. “They’re talking in universal terms,” Booth said, “but it’s not true for everybody.”

Growing public support

The trial took place at a time that civil recognition of same-sex marriage is gaining wider acceptance in the United States.

On June 24, the day after DeLong’s trial, New York became the largest and most recent state to approve same-sex marriage, joining Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.



The Rev. Scott Campbell (left). The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht (right). A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
The Rev. Scott Campbell (left). The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht (right). A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. View in Photo Gallery

On May 20, Gallup reported for the first time that a majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- now support the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. That follows a series of other polls in recent months that also show majority support for such unions. At the same time, 30 states have constitutional amendments banning civil recognition of same-sex marriage.

Boyette said such polling data should not matter in determining the denomination’s policies.

“The church stands over and against culture and society when culture and society is moving in a direction or persisting in practices that the church understands to be not biblical,” he said. He noted that a number of passages in the Old and New Testaments declare same-sex activities to be sinful.

Still, many advocates for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians see their campaign as biblical as well. Sue Laurie is a supporter of and former outreach coordinator for Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates greater inclusion of gays and lesbians in church life. She said she often refers to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in arguing for greater inclusion.

“This is why I find Scripture so inspired and inspiring,” she said. “It’s still so relevant today when we come to whatever group is being excluded. The things Jesus was doing 2,000 years ago still apply because we still fall short, and there’s still another group that needs to be welcomed in.”

The approach of General Conference

Only General Conference can change the Book of Discipline, and members of unofficial caucuses that champion differing perspectives will be out in force.

The subject of homosexuality has sparked discussion at every session of the quadrennial General Conference since 1972. Delegates consistently have voted to keep the language identifying homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."



Some delegates to the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, stand in response to a vote on homosexuality, showing their stance for a more inclusive church. The assembly voted to retain the church’s position that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” A UMNS file photo by John C. Goodwin.
Some delegates to the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, stand in response to a vote on homosexuality, showing their stance for a more inclusive church. The assembly voted to retain the church’s position that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” A UMNS file photo by John C. Goodwin. View in Photo Gallery

The Rev. Troy Plummer, the Reconciling Ministries Network’s executive director, said his group will be working with both delegates from the United States and abroad “to help change along.”

Lambrecht, the church’s counsel and a board member of Good News, said his group will be seeking to uphold the denomination’s current stand, but the group would like to see the Book of Discipline changed to allow the church a limited right to make appeals in cases such as DeLong’s.

Among those who attended DeLong’s trial was Jimmy Creech, a former United Methodist elder who was stripped of his ministerial credentials in 1999 after performing a same-sex union.

Since his conviction, he said, many United Methodists in the United States have moved “toward more acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and providing them inclusion and full equal rights.”

But, the same is not true in Africa, where the denomination is growing.

For that reason, based on the 2012 General Conference delegate distribution list, he does not expect to see much change next year.

“My opinion at this time is that The United Methodist Church is still a long way from changing its policies related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” he said.

*Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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  • SpeakerOfWords 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The Church MUST stand firm against homosexuality in any form. The UMC must stand tall here and show the rest of the Christian World that we are leaders and lead against it. It is against the Bible and against Human teaching. We MUST come all together to keep this OUT of our Church and away from our children !!!
  • Ryan Kiblinger 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    This trial is not a prologue to General Conference.  The tide of public opinion in the church is not towards being more accepting of homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle.  In addition, those who claim the UMC is dying are either ill informed, or grossly skewed in their understanding of the church and the reality of it's current situation.
       The UMC is dying in the United States and Europe, but the church continues to add members and grow.  We continue to add members and grow mainly in Africa and the Philippines.  These areas are areas that are very orthodox theologically.  If memory serves me correctly over 33% of our delegates to General Conference will be from non US countries.  These are people who overwhelmingly acknowledge the current language in our Book of Discipline with regards to homosexuality.  We affirm the worth and value of all humans, but we name the action as sin.  As the percentage of delegates from the United States shrinks due in large part to the heresies spreading in the US UMC, the global church will continue to grow and uphold orthodox Christian teachings. 
        The UMC has truly become a global church and it is time for the bastardised teachings of the current US UMC to be rebuked and rebuffed by the global church who uphold the authourity of Scripture.
  • suarezjc77 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Well spoken. I agree, I see alleged poll numbers but I don't experience that in public opinion. Gallup has never polled me or any of my family members either. On every secular article written about supporting gay marriages, I see far more blogging that denounces it. I am convinced the silent majority is real. I do not wish to see anyone hurt or discriminated against but Shaquille O'neal just doesn't make a good horse jockey. Frenchmen are not known for military heroics. Acting Homosexuals shouldn't be delivering a Christian sermon.
  • Pastor_Steve_C 15 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Friends, I was at the trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong. This was not about a pastor using their pulpit and ministry as a platform. This was about a pastor who was approached to provide pastoral care and support for two baptized Christians who are deeply in love and committed to one another. I heard the Rev. Lambrecht mention the clergy covenant, but never mention the covenant a pastor has with God to serve all those in their care. I heard him mention accountability to the church, but what about accountability to minister to one another as baptized Christians. The Rev. Lambrecht also mentioned possible schism, but never mentioned the faithfulness of people who have been declared incompatible by a church that they haven't left, but have stayed with for nearly forty years of being told they were somehow by vote second class Christians. This trial was, for me, about the beginning of a change of heart; an opening to the spirit of God's love at work in the United Methodist Church; and, a dying denomination being called to rise to new life. If we want Church born out of a legalistic view based on the selective literalism of a few scriptures at the expense of the greater expanse of the Biblical narrative and our Methodist understanding of God' Presence, Love and Grace - and if we want to elevate the Book of Discipline to that same selectively literal standard; then I suggest we all need to pray and discern what Jesus meant when he said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets' (Matthew 22:27-40)."
  • Veronica Deevers 8 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    We welcome the alcoholic into the church, but we do not greet them with a beer.
    We welcome the prostitute into the church, but she cannot bring her appointment book.
    We welcome the homosexual into the church, but they must repent, get medical hormonal help and sin no more. 
    The church is not about double standards.  You cannot have it both ways. 
    If homosexuality is approved and condoned I will leave the faith completely.  I will not stay with a false faith that spits in the face of our precious Savior.
  • 61judyplittle63 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I agree .  I love the United Methodist church but I believe we should pay more attention to what the Bible says.  I don't want to leave my church but I will if the church approves of accepting homosexual life style I will.
  • REVDFG1979 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Very well put, Sis Veronica! I am ALWAYS encouraged to meet new brothers & sisters in the Lord 

    If the Church should overwhelmingly go in that direction and you feel despair overtake you and you become tempted to leave the faith altogether, PLEASE, PLEASE do not act until you can contact someone you agree with on this matter, and go to his/her Church and carry on in what you know the Lord to have you do. The devil will attempt to de-rail you spiritually should you not land somewhere where the Church and its pastoral leadership honors God by their correct Biblical view on the Father's certain
  • 61judyplittle63 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I agree with Veronica Deevers, I love the UMC but I feel that we should pay more attention to what the Bible says about this subject. The Bible is more important than the Discipline.  I do not want to leave my church but I will if it accepts this life style.  I agree we should love the person but not the sin.
  • Veronica Deevers 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Sadly many of the churches in this area have gone the gay way.  I was raised Catholic and am not going back to that either.  There are a couple of churches that are holding out by they are very radical in other ways.  I may simply have to worship on my own. 
    Thank you for your kind thoughts and words.
  • REVDFG1979 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I shall pray with you, Veronica, that God will make His will for you clear.

    Keep encouraged! The Lord NEVER forsakes His own!

    REVDFG1979
  • Michael Leslie 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Those who reject their own children because they are gay, and reject their relationships, they are spitting in the face of Christ. If you reject your own family, you are in bondage to beliefs that keep you from LOVE. God is LOVE. Live and let live. Do not judge.
  • Bible_Believer 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I have friends and family members who are gay and I love them, I don't reject them, but I also believe that their behavior is sinful.  I have had instances where my beliefs have resulted in my gay friends rejecting me.  I had to choose whether to change my beliefs so that they would still love me or to continue to be true to God.  In Mathew 10:37 Jesus describes this choice, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."  Being true to God's Word even when it may mean the loss of a loved one is not spitting in the face of Christ, it is showing Him that you really love Him.  Also in 1 Corinthians 5:12 the Apostle Paul tells us that we ARE to Judge those inside the church.  It is called discernment.
  • Bob Brooke 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It's not about us.  It's about God.  We've lost our way in the sexuality debate in the church because we're settled for human views of Scripture instead of God's view. We've made what we want more important than what God wants.  Much of the debate revovles around human demands about what God mustdo if God is to be considered loving and just, rather than accepting with open hearts the only way God has provided for acceptable sexual expression. That is ultimately what the whole sexuality debate is about - whether or not we have the right to define for ourselves what we can to on the basis of our desires, or whether God has the right to transform us into the image of Jesus as God sees fit for us.  We're either going to do this whole thing our way or God's way. 

    God's way is all about transforming us to look like Jesus.  Grace and a demanding sexual ethic go hand in hand.  They are not in conflict as stereo-typical presentations of an all inclusive God and Jesus would have us believe. At the forefront is always grace to become what God wants us to be (Romans 6:1-8:17), never grace to free us up to do what we want to do. The latter message proclaimed by the gay christian movement and supporters of -pro-gay theology is in reality a sick gospel or, more to the point, no gospel at all.

    What you're asking us to do in this debate is to take a certain part of our lives - our sexuality - as say in effect, "I'll be the master of my domain.  I'll tell God what is right for my life and the lives of my friends - what we need to make our lives happy.  Well, it doesn't work that way in the church over which Jesus is Lord.  the flesh goes on kicking and c=screaming.  It constantly opposes the will of God becuase it sets its own will in place of God's will. (Romans 8:5-8)  It insists, "I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, and with whom I want to do it."

    The true gospel of God says you may think you want this or that thing outside Jesus, but what you really want is only Jesus. (John 14:6) Your deepest yearning are only satisfied in Him. Evey human need is met in Him alone. You may think you want something else. You & your friends may think you want sex as you want it, but what you really want is Jesus.  That is what we're fighting for now and will continue fighting for with respect to the church and the sexuality debate.
  • Panda Awesomeness 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    "What Jesus meant when he said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with
    all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is
    the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall
    love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the
    law and the prophets' (Matthew 22:27-40)."

    Holding one another accountable to a covenant of holy living is part of what it means to love our neighbor as Lev 19:17 indicates, "you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.."  Then in verse 18 "you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  With this I think Jesus would agree.  Loving each other includes and demands accountability for our actions (Matt 18:15-20; Luke 17:3-4 this is what Jesus would say).  We have extraordinarily good reason, despite the attempts at revisionism, to believe that any homosexual behavior should be included as sexual immorality (Greek: porniea).  There are more than a few scriptures that deals with that.  Love without accountability?  Is that really love?  I think not.  We can welcome all sinners without condoning sin. 

    The real question is what are we to define as sin.  For liberals it seems that only being "judgmental" should be labeled as sin.  Well if being judgmental is what liberals say it is then Jesus and all the authors of scripture were the worst offenders of all.  We can't pronounce final judgment on any one as only our Lord can do that, but we are commanded to hold each other accountable in love.  When Jesus said be aware of the log in your own eye, I don't think he meant ignore the speck in your neighbor's eye, but to do speck removal, which is loving, with humility.  This is basically what Paul was saying in Gal 6:1-2.  Affirming someone in her sin is not loving.
  • Creed Pogue 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This wasn't a move by Rev. DeLong to get publicity for her cause (aka the extension ministry that she created)?  Of course it was.  She reported her domestic partnership.  Considering that part of her defense was that everyone knew and no one cared, why did she want to jeopardize a situation that was working well for her???

    The problem is that if everyone gets to decide for themselves which parts of the Discipline they will obey and which parts they will ignore, then it is pointless to have the Discipline at all.
  • sherrik 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Loving the Lord God with all of our hearts, soul and mind is OBEYING HIS Laws not ours.  God is very clear in His word, it is an abomination for man to lie with man.  He says in the last days He will give us over to our reprobate thinking.  And indeed he has!  Just because you love people does not mean that you condone their practices!!!  READ the WORD!!!!
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    What do you think it was the role of this panel...discern and legislate, or discern, interpret and affirm our current common covenant? - what then is the role of General Conference?
  • Bible_Believer 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    In order to really love our neighbor as ourselves, which is the SECOND greatest commandment, we must first practice the greatest commandment which is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind.  How do we love God?  In John 14:23 Jesus answers that question when he says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching."  So it is through our obedience that we show our love for God.  Both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture clearly teach against Homosexual practice.  So if we really love God we should obey His teaching on this matter rather than follow human wisdom.  If we really want to love our neighbors we should encourage them to love God enough to be obedient to him too.  Encouraging someone to be disobedient to God, which hinders their love relationship with Him, is not loving God or your neighbor.
  • John or Woody 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It appalls me that in order to be more inclusive, our Church [UMC] and others feel they have to disregard what the Bible, and our Discipline say in no uncertian terms. The world can do whatever it pleases in the privacy of their home. However, the Dicipline states that Clergy are held to a stricture, and more Bibliccal, mandate of conduct. The defense, and the jury failed to live up to that long held position by saying there was no proof. We don't need reality TV in our homes to know what is going on. DeLongs's blatant Lesbianism and life style is proof enough for any bystander, let alone a jury, to judge her. If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, speaks like a duck, chances are it is not giraffe. It is a duck, plane and simple.  And, no amount of "Christian understanding, and inclusiveness" changes the facts. Again, I am astounded at the wreckless drive towardsletting everyone3, including Ordained Clery, do whatever they feel like doing because the Bible that we believe in is no longer "relevant".  Myself and 99%  of the members of my two UM Churches polled last week will be contacting our newly elected delegates to General Conference for them to uphold the Disicipline as it stands.
  • Neville Vanderburg 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It must be noted that this "divide" is being created solely by the LGBT community and their supporters in an effort to change what the church (based on scripture, tradition, reason, and experience) has consistently said did not merit changing. Clearly, that community is willing to destroy the church in order to acheive their own personal goals. How, I wonder, is that "loving your neighbor as yourself"? Is that not a definition of sinful behavior? What if all the adulterers in the church organized and began a campaign to welcome and accept open adultery, arguing that their God-given sexuality is only fully recognized when they are allowed to practice it with multiple partners, married or not? The "LGBT community" argues that times have changed, that the bible doesn't address loving, committed homosexual relationships, and that if God created it, it must be okay (i.e. genetically). Maybe the "Adultery community" could organize around the same themes, perhaps there is an "adultery" gene? Clearly, we are misinterpreting scripture (Rom 13:9) when we say that "loving your neighbor as yourself" means ACCEPTING any and all sinful activity, whether that is homosexuality, adultery, murder etc. God is greater than our flawed human selves and we are first to love God, then love ourselves by not sinning (i.e. accepting Jesus as our savior and repenting of our sins), and then love others as ourselves by not sinning against them. Looking at John 8:7-11 we see the three key parts of the equation:  (1) let whoever is without sin cast the first stone (i.e. nobody worthy to do that); (2) Jesus then says neither will he condemn us; and (3) this is the part that routinely gets left out - Jesus says "go now and leave your life of sin."
  • Rick Silva 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Why can't the Church appeal the verdict and penalty?

    At this point, the UMC should cancel General Conference.  Why waste the time and money to craft the Discipline when we can't even enforce the rules we've got?
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I share your frustration...I believe that this trial made our Book of Discipline and the last 4 decades of Holy Conferencing (General Conference) a JOKE. Thousands of delegates, thousands of hours, millions of dollars, energy, prayer, discernment, all ignored. I believe that all involved, broke our common covenant. This type of process are designed to enforce church law, not legislate - that's the role of the General Conference. I hope this matter is taken and addressed by the Judicial Council ASAP. As it stand right now - I don't see how we could ask anything of anybody, based on the rules found in the Book of Discipline. I just finished a membership class in my church, and 5 of the 9 candidate decided not to pursue the membership after learning about this matter from other sources. One asked, why bother becoming a member, if the UMC doesn't live out its common covenant as articulated in your church law.
  • REVDFG1979 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Amen, Rick! This is why God's Word MUST be considered the first and last word on any/every issue the Discipline spells out. This is why Rev. Dick, DeLong, etc., wish to not just tear away at orthodoxy and tradition, but also the very commandments of the Lord! This is exactly why many of us Methodists insisted that the position on the inerrancy and Divine authority of God's Word should have NEVER been tampered with in the Discipline years ago. EVERY SINGLE USA Christian denomination (and abroad) that has cast the authority and eternal reliability of the Holy Scriptures out of their by-laws and/or Disciplines (UMC included) are facing this very issue. May the Father in Heaven forgive us and help us to get back on track with His Word and will!
  • James4419 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The Book of Discipline formed its rulings from the Bible and years of historical evidence as to what the Bible means.  I am a life-long Methodist and find this on-going public debate destructive to kingdom work.  Yes, we are called to love everyone.  We are not called to endorse sinful behaviors, but lovingly to accept the person while helping them to turn from sinful behaviors.  We work with prostitutes, alcoholics and drug abusers to help them turn from their behaviors and to find Christ.  Doesn't it make sense to call the sin of same sex relationships a sin, and then work to help those who choose to do so turn from that sin?  Of course, that means we will need to allow those chosing not to change to face their consequences.  This ongoing debate is harmful to our denomination.  This not taking a stand on God's Word is shameful and the church will also face the consequences.  Jimmie Snow, Pastor
  • Creed Pogue 10 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    What is a shame is that Rev. DeLong knew she was in violation of the Discipline when she was ordained.  It is ironic that Summerfield UMC where she did not want to be a turnaround agent but rather be given a pulpit to be "prophetic" is still around 12 years later.  It is hard to see the gifts of people who only want to use them for their own reward.
  • Bro_Bill 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    The real shame is that so many United Methodists just don't "get it."  To say that Amy DeLong only uses her gifts and graces for her own reward is shameful prejudice at its worst.  God bless this woman who has dared to stand for the hundreds of women and men called by God to ministry but rejected, slandered, and spiritually maimed by the United Methodist Church because they are lesbian, gay, or transgender.  When God loved and saved all of us, God meant ALL, and there was no exception outlined for those the rest of us don't understand or don't like, or with whom we don't agree.  There was no authorization of a panel of judgement to determine who was not included in ALL.  Amy DeLong and all those like her bring us witness to the inclusive love of God and are giving their lives for the redemption of the United Methodist Church, including those who self-rightously condemn them and belittle their calling.  Let us not seek to limit God's love but speak and work for justice for ALL God's people.  If there is judgment to be issued, God will handle it quite well!
  • Creed Pogue 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    A member of the Wisconsin Cabinet back in 2000, who Scott Campbell wanted to use as a witness, said in his affidavit that when the people at Summerfield asked if she felt that she could help them survive (turnaround from death) her reply was that she felt that she was more "prophetic."  She wanted a pulpit to express her views without wanting the obligation to help the faith community continue and expand.  The part that has never been explained is why didn't she stay with the churches she was serving if everyone was so happy with her.  Unfortunately, a likely explanation is that she wore out her welcome.  Fortunately, Summerfield is still around.
  • WesleyWhite 6 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I trust you remember that the prophets were always talking about a turnaround that was basic to the roots of their trust in the steadfast love of G*D. There is a difference in talking about turnaround in the usual business model used by the church these days and the prophetic turnaround of changed hearts and expanded ministry with those who have been cast away by society or church/temple. It was the prophets who understood the Sodom story as inhospitability, not just sexual genitalia which our current rules reduce a relationship or orientation to. A few more prophets would be appreciated.
  • Kasbo 5 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    There are prophets, Wesley, and then there are real prophets. Real prophets mainly called believers back to the radical will of God as had been traditionally expressed in God's revealed Word. They didn't event anything new.

    DeLong and her supporters are not real prophets, they are "court" prophets - cheerleaders for the culture and for those leaders who have been culturally compromised. The real prophet Ezekiel (in chapter 13) had a word of warning for those who "prophesy out of their own imagination," especially the women who do so. He said they are like "jackals among the ruins" - predators and scanvengers, who, if they ever succeed at remaking the Church into their own image, will leave nothing but devastation in their midst.

    The UMC as an institutition can foolishly allow that, but God will not.
  • WesleyWhite 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Blessings, Kasbo, on all those able to discern a "real" prophet before there is a test of their prophecy. My experience is that "real" often gets mixed up with "what I already believe".

    While not appreciating a special calling out of women who speak of their real experiences and are called liars or false prophets, I do hope that my point about turning around a congregation through a prophetic ministry is not lost in a premature judging of helpful responses versus unhelpful ones. The Bible has been strong enough to stand on its own without my defense of every comma, and I suspect an over-defense only makes it appear weaker in the eyes of many who might otherwise hear it speak their language about the presence of G*D.

    Nonetheless, all could use another blessing and so this one for all called real and all called false. May we all find our place without shoving someone else out.
         Peace and Joy abound.
         Take plenty.
         And some to pass around.
  • Kasbo 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Please spare the condescension, Wesley. The pro-gay movement in United Methodism has tried to convince the Church that they've cornered the market on prophetic ministry. It's high time someone challenged y'all on that. (And no, I'm not from the south, just in case you wanted to make that presumption, too.) Your argument is with Ezekiel and the other Biblical "real" prophets, not me.
  • WesleyWhite 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Condescension, like beauty, seems to be in the eye of the beholder. I continue to offer the best blessing I can can, regardless of how it is received.

    Likewise with argument. Thanks be for Ezekiel's call and challenge to watch and see and speak as clearly as possible regarding approaching horizon events, even if in a poetic form and even in subsequent institutional forms.

    With no harm intended, blessings aplenty, Kasbo, until we meet one another again. With this last word from me, I would appreciate a last word on this thread from you.
  • Kasbo 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    While your blessing is welcome, and I return the same to you, I'd appreciate it more if you responded with less of your own poetic speech and more engagement with the Biblical and theological issues I raised. This feels like dancing, and I don't have time for that.
  • REVDFG1979 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Excellent point, Creed!
  • Dean Blimline 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I do not profess to understand homosexual attraction since I do not recall ever having it.  On the other hand, I also do not believe that civiil government has any business being in the marriage-defining business.  Persons with homosexual orientation do not appear to be satisfied with unions even with legal affirmation; some insist that the church affirm their union.  I will not do so regardless of legal codes.  However, I do believe in equal respect and care for each individual.  What these persons do with mutual consent that does not result in bodily injury is up to them. 

    Having said that, I do not ever foresee myself viewing homosexual attraction as a God-intended norm.  Gender is real and both are intended to display the nature of God together.  There is ample Biblical voice casting doubt upon the legitimacy of homosexual union in human community; there is not any obvious Biblical voice affirming such a union.  I am not a homophobe but I am opposed to legitimatizing and normalizing that which most ethnic cultures and religious perspectives view with anything from uncertainty to severe displeasure. 

    If a religious community or leader wants to "bless" such a union, that is something that leader has no right to insist that the larger "connection" accept as normal, viable or even good.  Religious leaders such as Amy Long have been openly violating the clear statement of the Discipline.  In so doing, they push the envelope to make the case for legitimacy and acceptance within the wider Unitied Methodist community.  This is divisive behavior with no evident intent for the broader good.  If Amy wants to do that, she can do so just as readily outside of the United Methodist connection as within it.  It has every evidence of using the connection to advance personal aims.

    With kindness and graciousness, it is possible for the United Methodist leadership to release and excuse her from apoointment within the connection.  The Discipline is not ambiguous about what is acceptable clergy activity on this issue and the integrity of the connection is jeopardized greatly by not taking a clear and convincing stand on the matter.  This, I believe is what concerned the judicial body in the case but which they did not carry out with clear warning of terminating United Methodist elders orders.  I do not advocate divisiveness, but I do advocate integrity.  

    If there is room for any clergy member to disregard and openly violate the clear statements of the Discipline regarding the issue to blessing homosexual unions--as one writer commented--what's the point of a general conference at all?
  • WILLIAM HILL 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    What you do, is who you are, and who you are is what you do.  Otherwise, you are a hypocrit.  Delong lied when she was ordained, admitted she is a lesbian in relationship, confessed she did what she was charged with, and refused to say she would not do it again.  And yet, in the name of political correctness, liberalism, pluralism, inclusiveness, trial or not trial, we slapped her wrist, and let her continue.  Shame on the United Methodist Church.  Shame on our leaders, including our bishops who do not stand with the Bible on this issue.  They should be brought up on charges.
  • NewGent 13 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am deeply
    saddened as I look at what is happening in our church. Like many people in the church I have very strong opinions on this issue but I am also committed to the church and its mission of bearing witness to God’s reign. When the world looks at the UMC and other churches grappling with this issue all they can say is: “See how they hate each other!!!” Both sides engage in acrimonious debates and look to political maneuvering to win the day. Some to the African vote in General Conference others to various forms of civil disobedience. Both sides pour time, money and effort into the struggle continuing to alienate people from the church and distract us from other aspects of our mission.   Is there not a better way?  Is it not possible that we can find a way through this together?  What would it take to start a process of genuine dialogue around the issues? It seems to me that the following are necessary.


    1. A genuine recognition of the faith, commitments and sincerity of those with whom we disagree.


    2. A recognition that while one holds strong opinions it is always possible that one is wrong.   We are all influences by society and culture.


    3. A recognition that the homosexuality is a minor theme in the bible – the bible (and Wesley) has far more to say
    about wealth and poverty yet we do not try people for being self-avowed practicing materialists because they lay up treasures on earth. Take a look at what the General Rules say about money and possessions.


    4. A recognition that the key passages in the bible referring to homosexuality are not nearly as clear as some of our
    English translations make them to be. The Bible does not say Sodom was punished for homosexual practices, leviticus forbids a man from lying with a man as one does with a woman. Yet here as elsewhere in Leviticus we cannot simply apply this to the church without a clear theological reason. In Romans Paul describes homosexual practices of his day as the consequences of God’s judgment on idolatry and describes people as giving up their natural desires for unnatural ones. How does this relate to Christians who were brought up in devout homes who came to faith early in their lives but from their earliest sexual awareness discovered themselves to be attracted to members of the same sex? The passages in 1 Corinthians and Timothy usually translated to refer to homosexual activity use words whose exact meaning we do not know. The one “malakos” means literally softness and is used in a moral sense to refer to lack of moral courage, (this is how Wesley interpreted it) or laziness. It can also mean effeminate and was used to refer to you men who made themselves up to attract men but it was also used of men who made themselves up to attract women.  As this is found in a list of sins we have no context to tell us exactly what Paul meant.  The translation “male prostitutes” is quite simply an educated guess. The other word “arsenokoites” is used for the first time in 1 Corinthians most of the other references that we have to it come in
    lists of sins. It is made up of two words one meaning man and the other bed. It is speculated by some scholars that it was made up by a person who had read the Greek translation of the Leviticus passages dealing with homosexuality where the words men and bed appear next to each other.  In later texts where it is used there are
    references in both a homo and a hetero sexual context. Once again to translate it as homosexuals is a guess.  It is also unlikely that these words generally refer to blanket condemnation of active and passive partners in a homosexual relationship, given that a large proportion of early Christians were slaves and in many case slaves had no option but to submit to the sexual advances of their masters.  


    5.  The issue needs to be settles by a broader appeal to what the bible teaches about humanity, creation, redemption, justification and sanctification; in Wesley’s words the “whole tenor of Scripture”. Here there
    is considerable room for debate and discussion.


    6.  We need to use the best scientific data in order to understand the nature of sexual orientation.


    7.   We need to hear the experience of our Gay abd Lesbian brothers ans sisters.
  • Bob Brooke 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    The pro-homosexuality claim is that the Bible is not particularly interested in homosexual practice as evidenced by the fact that it is only mentioned on a few occasions. What the evidence really shows, though, is that all the contextual evidence indicates that ancient Israel, early Judaism and early Christianity viewed homosexual practice of every sort as abhorrent to God, an extreme offense comparable only the the worst forms of adult incest (eg. a man and his mother) and superseded among "consensual" sexual offenses only by bestiality.

    Speaking about homosexuality poses a challenge we cannot avoid.  When charged (by those who believe the moral standard of heterosexuality should be changed to legitimize homosexuality) with ignorance, hatred and bigotry, rather than raging against our accusers, we must stand for the truth and meet the charges head on.

    1) We are not ignorant on the subject of homosexuality. We read & consider research studies that pertain to it.
    2) We hold the same view that Western culture used to hold. The culture shifted and when it asked us to shift with it, we merely said "no."
    3) We hold convictoins, not prejudices, which are based on a particular world view.
    4) The guidelines in the Bible have worked historically.  We're now being asked to discard them in lieu of social experiments such as same-sex marriage. We simply refuse!
    5) When objecting to homosexuailty, we fully recognize the worth of homosexuals as persons. We reject the irrational belief that to disagree with someone's behavior is to dehumanize him or her.
    6) We neither fear nor dread homosexuals. We merely disagree with them about the morality of their sexual behavior.

    Martin L. King Jr. reminds us, "The church is neither the master of the state, nor is it the servant of the state. Rather, it is the conscience of the state."  God help any culture whose conscience abdicates its roles.
  • NewGent 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am a little puzzeled as to how what is said here replies to my earlier comments except with regard to a brief critique about my comments on the biblical material relevent to homosexuality. The first point I made was that we need to recognise the faith, commitments and sincerity of those we disagree with. I did not accuse those who uphold the traditonal views of the church on homosexuality as being ignorant, prejudiced, nor did I accuse them of fear of homosexuals ot dehumanising homosexuals. Those might be the accusations of others but they are not mine. I fully recognise that many who hold to the traditional views do so out of a deep conviction about what they believe the Bible and hence God teaches on the subject and out of deep commitment to serving Christ and his reign in our world. I ask that people also recognise that many of those who argue for the inclusion of gay and lesbian people and the affrimation of marriage like relationships also do so out of a deep conviction about what they believe the bible teaches and the gospel and God requires of us today.  

    I believe there is room to debate the meaning of the biblical texts and for this to be done in the light of what Wesley termed the "whole fabric of scripture" that is the revelation of God and God's purposes in the defining narratives of Israels life as they are told and interpreted in the Old Testament and of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ- the one Word of God made flesh. In his life, death and ressurection as it was retold and interpreted in the New Testament. I believe our starting point must be the affirmation that Jesus of Nazerath is Lord and Christ, God become human for us and our salvation.   
    In seeking to understand the meaning of the biblical texts the views of early judaism and the church are helpful but not in the end decisive. We recognise that they were not perfect in their understanding. While I aggree that certain homosexual practices were stongly condemned in early judaism and the early church my conviction is however that other issues are far more central both to the bible and the message of the early church.  Which to refer back to my earlier comments was much more concerned about issues of wealth and poverty. However our final authority is not the early church or early judaism but the revelation of God witnessed to in the scripture. I believe our task is to grapple with how  the central claims of the gospel address homosexuality. My post was and remains an invitation to dialogue in a common search to understand the mind of Christ. It is based on the recognition that as Wesley affirmed that finite human beings even if regenerated and sanctified have the potential to be in error in both our faith and our doctrines. It is as we dialogue together with a commitment to hearing what the Spirit is saying to the church that there is the possibility that our errors and mistakes may be corrected.

    In this process I believe we need to hear the voice of gay and lesbian people - not as a sources of revelation - but as a witness to the reality which we must address. in saying this I want to emphasise that we need to hear the full range of experience. We need to hear of the experience of those who testify to change and transformation away from same sex attractions, to those who despite therapy, couselling and much prayer have experienced no change and those who have expierienced this attempt to change as psychologically and spiritually damaging. We need to hear from those who while continueing to experience attraction to people of the same sex have committed themselves to a life or celibacy out of obedience to what they believe the bible teaches and the experience of those who believe the the gospel message welcomes and affrims them in their committed same sex relationships. We need to hear the experience of those who are committed to and involved in the church and those who have left the church and Christianity because they have experienced it as an alienating and rejecting community.
  • REVDFG1979 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Mr. Field... 

    First (on number 1 of your points), IF I am not misinterpreting your conclusion on #1, I would respond simply like this: IF those we disagree with are - in fact - practicing open and willful sin, then there is NO common ground with them (this is a Biblical approach). I believe you are attempting to stop debate and compromise simply on the principle of differing with those on this MORAL issue. The absence of conflict DOES NOT mean we are at true peace with one another. Jesus said: How can a tree bear good and bad fruit at the same time. Your conclusion - I believe - is entirely based on not being at disagreement with someone, no matter the cost to God and His Church. Please remember we ARE NOT debating whether women should be ordained for ministry, or what color the new carpeting in the sanctuary should be, or a vote on a new Christian ED teacher, etc. These issues were important to a Holy God that He placed these as commandments in His Word. Therefore, they MUST be important to those who are truly a child of His and MUST be considered a moral issue and not a peripheral problem.

    (#2) Are you suggesting that on #2 that the world, the culture and/or our society - and, NOT GOD and His Word - should set the standard for what the Lord wants for His own? Please forgive me if I am not getting the full thrust of your thoughts. With that said, I also believe (on #2) that your conclusion is suggesting that no one can really know and have a true grip upon what God wants and please Him. The Apostle Paul addressed this VERY clearly and VERY specifically (2 Peter 1:19-21 NKJV) - "...we have the prophetic Word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; [20] knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, [21] for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Verse 20 tells us that we ARE NOT able to have our own "interpretation" of God's truth. But, we are to find God's meaning and allow the Holy Spirit of our Lord to apply its truth & grace upon our hearts and lives. Therefore, concerning your assertion on your 2nd point - according to God's Holy Word - we, as true, born-again Christians, are not allowed to look to the world and its ever-sinful and ever-changing cultures to lay the foundation and/or have ANY part in our Church polity and our Biblical doctrine and its application for governing our Church body...period! God's Holy Word is the ONLY standard by which we, as Church leaders, find God's will for the Church and then apply God's truth. This is done so that our people can know how to please the Lord in their whole lives, and to learn how to truly get to heaven; NOT simply how to "get along" with one another.

    (#3) Your additional assertion that the sin of sexual immorality - which, Biblically includes homosexuality - is a "minor" issue with God, is not even defendable from the very outset of your assertion. Secular Hebrew scholars - both here and in Israel - have attempted to re-write the Hebrew text of the account of Sodom and its utter destruction by the very hand of God BECAUSE of the sins of sexual perversions - which included homosexuality. You see, you are attaching your opinion to this based on a very weak exegesis of ancient Hebrew language. Therefore, your entire debate on this issue falls apart. Here's why: You see, the progressive Hebrew scholars who take this position that you have only because the word for "homosexual" activity was not used specifically in the original transcripts. Well, you are correct. The Hebrew does not specifically say "homosexuality." 

    So - let me get this correct - your doctrinal conclusion about Sodom and the Biblical record of God's anger and willingness to destroy the cities for their willful and open practice of "sexual perversion" did not mean that God had any opinion at all, or was not "bothered" by the sinful activity that was textually AND historically documented for the ages (i.e., Hammurabi's Code and Historical Records) is entirely based on that the Hebrew text uses a generic, blanketed word that is only defined as "sexual immorality," do I have that correct, sir? Well, first of all, that is the equivalent of saying that a crystal meth addict who has been arrested by the police for breaking the law - that ONLY states - that he/she cannot use and/or abuse legal and illegal drugs (which, by the way, is about all that many US state laws actually state in their drug abuse legislation) can contest his/her arrest and/or conviction because the law did not specifically say "crystal meth." Can you not see how that the Hebrew texts did not NEED to point out homosexuality BECAUSE the word used in the ancient text covers ALL forms of sexual promiscuity? It was a given and an understood position in the translation of the Hebrew text that it covered, adultery, beastiality, fornication and homosexuality. Also, look at the door that you open in our society by denying the truth of God's commands and hatred for ALL forms of sexual sin. After a while, we will want to appease the pedophile BECAUSE the Hebrew text does not say "pedophilia." Then after that, we will want to appease those who wish to have sex with chickens, horses, dogs, cats, etc. BECAUSE the text does not say "beastiality." Where does it stop, sir...Where does it stop?

    Also (on point #3), I see that you have willingly adopted the "distraction" tool for dealing with God's Word on (first) your absolute deception for your readers about Wesley's conclusions on this matter (for sir, you are entirely wrong about Wesley's view of the NT's commands on Paul's words). It appears - on your points # 3 & 4 - you are reading HEAVILY into the translation and the Bible as a whole. I do not know who you have been listening to, studying under, reading from, etc. But, if you truly wish to be taken serious within theological circles -  at least, serious & honorable ones - you better do MUCH better about your interpretations on our patriarch's Biblical views. 

    Then, you further utilize the "distraction" tool and attempt to say that God's view on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, not allowing our riches to overtake us, etc. is far more important to the Lord than His Biblically-stated hatred for ALL sin. Well, I do agree that we Churches need to be involved with outreach in very practical ways for the needy, and that we MUST be careful about allowing riches to become what we serve (both of which are commanded by our Lord). However, you cannot deny that God drew serious attention and dealt severely with anyone and everyone who lived in open wickedness. It's there in the Biblical record, sir! I might remind you of Jesus' warning (via His own Revelation, by the way) about your attempt to "cherry-pick" His Word (Rev. 22:18 NKJV) - "... I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this Book..." WOW!!! Then, we can even see God's opinion on your adding to and reading into His Word in the OT (Prov. 30:5-6 NKJV) - "Every Word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. [6] Do not add to His Words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."

    Your conclusions on your point #4 I have covered somewhat in my previous conclusion. Yet, I wish to stress with you, sir, that the Lord is going to hold you accountable at His judgment for reading into simple Greek words, only to miss the context of the verse and chapters! I find it interesting that you are more than willing to point out vague Greek words all the while you refuse to keep the context of the Lord's truth out of your conclusion, BUT you have NO problem trying to make a conclusion on homosexuality by using what you call "vague" words (that needed no further definition anyways BECAUSE the Hebrew word enveloped ALL forms of sexual sin). Don't you see the open inconsistency you are using here for your entire exegesis from Scripture on the issue of homosexuality? 

    And, on #'s 6 & 7 you almost completely contradict what you are saying in #5. You're all over the place, man! First, #5 you seem to get back to essential Biblical doctrine, but you fall short by stressing in #6 with trying to understand the science of mankind's sinful lust. Then (#7), you suggest that anyone who is practicing open, wilfull sin is a "brother and sister" in the Lord. God says that anyone who is living a wilfully, sinful life CANNOT be a real "brother and sister!" This part of true, Biblical, Christian doctrine isn't even graduate level stuff! 

    I would like to end my thoughts here as I began them: Anyone who sees how this fella exegetes God's Word and how he applies it to the issue of homosexuality MUST see that it ALL comes from not seeing God's authority on earth and in eternity, not knowing how to approach any/all issues we face by allowing God's Word to teach and change us (in stead of going to God's Word with a preexisting agenda; then, "make" the Bible support our position, rather than allowing God's Word to form our positions). It all goes back to this: Once a person has rejected the Holy Scriptures of our Lord (Old & New Testaments) as being authoritative over our lives, and refusing to see God's Word as inerrant in its original manuscripts, and that God inspired the human authors to write exactly what He wanted in His Word, you will ALWAYS open yourself to all these issues. 

    And - I assure you - IF the Church continues down this path by allowing these so-called "leaders" to lead it away from commitment to honoring God by seeing His Word as the only standard for our Church government and spiritual leadership, so that we can show a lost & ever-dying world that Jesus came to DELIVER us from sin; and, NOT to learn to "live" with it! It is SO SAD that there are preachers and pastors and Church leaders out  there who are teaching a hopeless gospel that Jesus only came to give you a bowl of soup! When - in fact - Christ came to this world, died on the Old Rugged Cross for OUR sins, rose again on the third day, ascended unto the Father in heaven 120 days after His bodily resurrection from the grave, and He now intercedes on our behalf for ANYONE who is willing to confess AND repent from their sins! Praise His Holy & Matchless Name! Jesus CAN & WILL deliver any man, woman or child from ALL sin, IF they are willing! I am SO glad and SO thankful that I found Jesus to keep this promise unto us! I am SO glad that He has delivered me from ALL my sin AND given me a bowl of soup! 

    (1 John 1:7 NKJV) - "...if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from ALL sin!"  

    (Romans 6:12-14 NKJV) - "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. [13] And, do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."
  • NewGent 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I would like to make just a few brief points in response to what you have written.
    1. Your argument is basically circular - you presuppose that homosexual activity is inherently sinful and on this basis you interpret the biblical texts. My question is - in the light of the biblical texts can we concluded that committed marriage like relationships between people of homosexual orientation are sinful. To decide this we need to examine texts and the meanings of words. I would add that my opiions are based on an extensive study both of the biblical texts and a wide variety of scholarly literature written from opposing postitions.
    2. I do not believe the church ought to conform to culture and society I believe we need to speak a clear prophetic word to our diverse cultures arising from God's revelation through the Bible. But I recognise that we are influenced in our understandting and interpretation of God's revelation by a whole lot of factors including culture and society including our church culture. A brief examination of church history clearely shows this to be the case. How come, for example most Chrsitians at the time of the 18th century revival accepted slavery as compatible with the God's revelation? These included Wesley's friend  and coworker Whitefield and for a long time the hymn writer John Newton who began working as a slave trader after his conversion. It was only later in his life that he came to oppose the slave trade. We are finite and sinful creatures and are affected by the society in which we live. That is why we need to dialogue with each other as it often happens that people from different contexts to ours see the way we are influenced by the culture and society in which we live. I do not believe at peace at any price in the church and I believe there are situations where the church must clearley say a particular behaviour is sinful and unacceptable regarless of the cost.
    3. With regard to the Sodom story.  As recorded in Genesis the only reference to homosexual activity is that the the men of Sodom wished to rape the angelic messangers. We know from other ancient texts that homosexual rape was a typical means of degrading ones enemies. The story also relates that Lot offers them his daughters instead which implies that he thought they would be more interested in having sexual relations with women. The legitimate conclusion is that he did not see homosexual activity as prevelant in Sodom.No general discription is given of the sins for which they are being judged. In other references to Sodom in the Old Testament Sodom is condemned for injustice, oppression, hypocracy , adultery but no reference is made to homosexual practices. (Ezek, 16:59-50, Isaiah 1, Jer 23:14) In the New Testemant the sexual sin of  Sodom is described in Jude 6 as literrally going after "strange or different flesh" that is in the context most likely a refernce to the angels. The Greek word here is "hetero" the opposite of "homo" from which we get our word homosexuality.  There is no one Hebrew word to describe immorral sexual practices and there are no refernce to Sodom outside of the bible (in the code of Hammurabi or anywhere else)  until Jerwish writings a century or two before Christ.
    4. The meaning of the key words in the New Testament is vital if we are to determine what Paul was condeming. the only clear way of determining a words meaning is to examine how it is used. If we do  not do the hardwork here then any commitment to the authority of the Bible is meaningless. With regard to Wesley  see his "Notes upon the New Testament" for his comments on 1 Cor 6: 9 where he translates "malakos" as efffiminate and describes its meaning as: "Who live an easy indelent way. taking up no cross, enduring no hardship" and then goes on to explain why he thinks this is so serious. against my own argument I note that he does translate "arsenkoites"  as sodomite.
    5. I am aggree the issue is a moral issue which ever side you take on it, and I do not believe we should "cherry pick" in the bible but the reality is that the bible contains many commands that many people do consider to be valid today - and I believe that we need to determine what is valid and important by the relationship of the issues to the central message of scripture.  Most of us do not practice levirite marriage - the giving of a widow to her husbands closest relative so that she could produce heirs for her dead husband.Though the bible describes God as putting Onan to death for not doing this, it is deeply bound up in biblical laws and where Jesus refers to the practice he does not condemn it. Most of us have no problem with charging and receiving interest on money yet this is strongly condemned in the Bible.
    6. Let me conclude again that I believe our task is to search together to discover the mind of Christ so that we might live in obediance to him in this world.
  • Bible_Believer 8 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    In repsonse to your point 5 "key passages in the Bible referring to homosexuality are not nearly as clear as some of our English translations make them to be" is not accurate.  The gay gospel people have twisted and contorted the plain reading of scripture to fit their beliefs but legitimate scholars from our day and of the past 2000 years have overwhelmingly understood that homosexual practice is a sin.  How arrogant we are to claim that all the saints of the past got it wrong and only now, because we are so "enlighted", that we have gotten it right.  Read "The Bible and Homosexual Practice" by Robert Gagnon if you want an unbiased scholarly look at what the Bible says about homosexuality.
  • NewGent 7 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    It is true that the majority of the church has in the past understood homosexual practices to be sinful but it is also to be noted that many key scholars in the past did not interpret the key passages used in the to blanketly  condemn homosexuality as doing this. As noted above Wesley understood "malakos" as referring to people not willing to take up their cross in following Christ. Calvin interpretes it as reffering to those who seek to attract the (sexual) attention of others by their bearing and dress  without any reference to it being directed to people of the same sex. Luther translated "arsenkoites" as Knabenschändern" that is one who violates boys - not to homosexual practices in general. This is a translation favoured by many who argue for the full inclusion of gay and lesbain people. Luther certainly cannot be considered to be pro gay. the texts are not as clear as many think they are.
    On many occasions in the past the church has come to new understanings of the bible either in response to new understandings of the biblical texts and the meanings of the original language or through new understandings of world (science) and society. Examples include the Reformation which arose out of Luther's new interpretation of the Greek words usually translated righteousness or justice, or the recognition of the evil of slavery ( notably in Wesley's famous "Thoughts upon Slavery" he does not deal with the biblical passages dealing with slave master relationships bit appeals to principles of justice and love) or the ordination of women or new interpretations of creation in relation to science. There are many more examples. To adopt a postion that runs contary to the traditon of the church is a dangerous undertaking and ought only to be done in the full recognition that one could be wrong and that this error can have devastating spiritual consequences as such it ought really only be taken when one is convinced that the evidence requires it and more importantly that integrity of our proclamation of the gospel is affected by it. If we really value the bible and its meessage then we mustr spare no
    effort to interpret it correctly even when it means going against the
    tradion of the church.  

    Terms such as "legitimate scholars" or "unbiased scholarly work" are highly problematic for they imply that scholars who come to different conclusions are illegitimate or biased. In other words one has already chosen a particular interpretation and this becomes the standard by which others are evaluated. As the vast majority of scholars of all persuasions recognise that there is no such thing as unbiased scholarship we all come to the bible with our presuppositions and bias shaped by our family, church, culture, society and a host of other factors. The question is to what extent to we allow our biases to be challenged by the biblical text and the views and experiences of others. Are we open to the possibility that we might be wrong and are we prepared to change our opinions when we realise we are. I am familiar with Robert Gagnon's work and I aggree that he makes a strong scholarly case for his views. But one cannot claim that his interpretation is unbiased. I would argue that a careful reading of his text shows that he usualy opts for an interpretation that opposes the acceptance of Gay and Lesbian people even when there is convincing evidence against it. This is clearely seen in his interpretation of the Sodom story where he tries to prove that Sodom was condemned for homosexual practices when the texts do not clearly state this and only seem to state it when you have already decided that this is what the story is about. See my references in a previous posting. (There are a number of scholars who condemn homosexual practices as sin who also argue that the Sodom story is not about the condemnation of homosexuality.)This does not mean that people who argue for the full inclusion of Gay and Lesbian people are always better interpreters of the bible. As I carefully read texts that they write I am also struck by the way that they adopt unlikely and problematic interpretations in order to justify their positions. That is why I have argued for the real need for scholars of different opinions to study the biblical passages together in a spirit of humility and mutual respect.

  • Bible_Believer 6 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Scholars of different opinions have studied the biblical passages and their cases have been presented in numerous books.  It is not like one side doesn't know what the other side is arguing or that more scholarship is needed.  No, it is time to look at the evidence to see if a strong enough case can be made to overturn the position the church has held on this issue for over 2000 years.
     
    I have read the arguments from both sides and it seems clear to me that the case for homosexual sex being considered a sin is much stronger than the case for it being considered a holy expression of God's intentions for sexual relations.  Do you believe otherwise?
     
    There is no place in the Bible where homosexual sex is sanctioned. So the best that can be hoped for is to show that it is not disaproved.  This is not a very good foundation for making such a monumental change in Christian sexual ethics.
     
    You also seem to indicate, in your last sentence, that the case for homosexual sex being inline with God's plan for sexual relations has not yet been satisfactorily made and that more scholarly work needs to be done.  How much more studying of these passages needs to be done?  It seems to me that those who want homosexual sex to be removed from the list of sins want this issue to be studied and discussed until they get their way.
     
    If the UM Church changes it's position on homosexual sex we wil be encouraging people to engage in a behavoir that is at best questionable and at worst an abomination.  If we really don't know for sure then we should err on the side of caution lest we cause a brother to stumble.
     
    You mentioned that there is no such thing as being unbiased and I agree.  What is your bias?  I come to this issue as a married heterosexual with friends and family who are practicing homosexuals.  I love these people but some of them have rejected me for my belief that homosexual sex is a sin.  I have lost friends over this issue.  I want to believe that homosexuality is not a sin so that the tension between my gay family and friends and I can be removed.  So my bias is that I want to believe that homosexual sex is not a sin. I have been looking for and hoping for evidence that proves that homosexual sex is not a sin for more than 10 years yet have not found it.  I have read books and articles from both sides and when I look at the evidence I conclude that homosexual sex is indeed a sin.  I have come to the point where I feel that I need to accept the truth and stop wasting my time trying to justify a lie.  I believe the UM church has reached this point too. 
  • NewGent 5 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I fully recognise that scholars from different positions have studies the passages concerend and published many books on the subject yet as I read through the volumes of literature I find very often what happens is that the authors have come to their conclusions and write in order to defend these conclusions. As a result they seem more interested in winning the argument than in listening to the interpretations of others. this can be seen for example in studeis of texts which use the word "arsenkoites" where scholars select those texts which can be interpreted to suit their interpretation and ignore others or explain them away.  The more I read the more I am convinced that in the words of the evangelical Anglican ethecist Oliver o'Donovan this is "A conversation waiting to begin"

    Where am I coming from - I am also a heterosexual married male. I have lived and worked in 5 countries in Africa, Europe and America. this experience has made me aware of how our culture and context shapes our perception of ethical issues and our interpretation of the bible. What is a significant issue in one context is in another a non issue. For example most American protestants of various theological positions consider it quite normal to have an American flag in the church sanctuary. In Germany it would be unthinkable and rejected as an illegtimate sacralization of nationalism. In Switzerland, which has a very different history and a very strong nationalism the flag is flown in all sorts of places including private homes but would never be in the church. When it comes to sexuality most continental Europeans find Americans to be somewhat obsessed with sexual issues. For example they simply cannot understand why sex scandalls lead to politicians resigning or getting voted out of office. A person's sexual life is regarded as a persons private affair. Homosexuality is accepted in society and given various forms of legal recognition. Such ideas influences the churches as well where by in large issues of social and ecological justice are seen to be far more imnportant than sexual behaviour. In Africa homosexuality is a criminal offence in many countries and gay and lessbian people are often subject to abuse, violence, rape and murder. Significant church leaders have refused to criticise such abuse. The religious condemnation of homosexuality is not related to whether one is theologically conservative or liberal. It is in many ways a reflection of the general societies values. While in the English speaking world homosexuality is often seen as the dividing line between theological conservatives and theological liberals this is not the case in other parts of the world.

    I think it is important to see that there are a range of positons on the issue that reflect not only theological views but also understanndings of homosexuality. On the one extreme there is a position which I would describe as "rejecting" this not only views homosexual practices as sin but tends to reject homosexuals as well.such a view focuses on homosexuality as behaviour. At one extreme is the positon that homosexuality is a consequence of demonic influence or even possession, for others homosexuality is a lifestyle choice often chosen in direct violation of what is know to be morally right, for others there is a recognition that some people experience strong homosexual attraction. For people holding this such views homosexuality is a changable conditon, it can be changes via spiritual warefare, councelling or therapy. Continuence in a homosexual lifestyle is a a deliberate violation of God's will. The second broad postion is what can be described as welcoming but not affirming - this is where I would put the official UMC viewpoint. Here to varying degrees it is recognised that homosexual practices are an expressions of a "sexual orientation" that is that some people from early in their life experience themselves to be attracted to people of the same sex and not the opposite sex. Most people in this category see sexual orientation as a product of psychological factors. theologically it is the product of sin and the fall. Some believe that varying degrees of transformation are possible but those for whom this is not possible they must live a life of celibacy. For some people in this positon it is recognised that sexual orientation is not only about sex but about the desire and ability to establish meaningfull, emotional, intimate partnership. The person who has a homosexual orientation is not only not sexually attracted to the member of the opposite sex but also is not able to establish deep and intimate partnerships that heterosexuals associate with the best marriages, with them. Then there is the what I would describe as welcoming and accepting position this view accepts that people have diverse sexual orientations but sees heterosexual marriage as God's intention for sexual practices. Homosexual orientation is a consequence of the brokeness of creation it is quite possible that it has biological causes as well as psychological causes. For people who are gay or lesbian their orientation is experienced as an integral part of their personal identity and seen to be more than sexual desire but the desire for intimacy and partnership. it is then argued that for such people committed marriage like partnerships are accpted not as God's ideal but as an accomodation to the realities of a persons sexual  orientation much as the Old Testament accepted and regulated poligamy and divorce. Such a view tends to see the biblical passages dealing with homosexuality as not forbidding all forms of homosexual practices but only specific ones. Then there is a view of welcoming and affirming which argues that homosexual orientation is part of God's good creation and therefor monogomous homosexua partnerships should recieve the same recognition as marriage. The biblical texts are viewed as forbidding specific homosexual practices usually those involving children or they are interpreted as reflecting the cultutal boundness and limited knowledge of the biblical writers that do not reflect God's intention. Then finaly there is what I would call the conforming view - which not only sees homosexuality as part of God's good creation and as a consequence put no ethical retsriction on homosexual behaviour as long as it is not abusive.
     In my opinion there is a lot of common ground and room for dialogue between people who hold to the middle three positions. My study of the biblical texts has led me to the conclusion that the texts do not clearely condemn all homosexual activity - as I outlined in my first post and the question then becomes how we understand sexuality in a broader theological context. It is here where I believe that the conversation should really begin. My own position has been shaped not only by my study of the bible but by my experience of walking with gay and lesbian Christians who have struggled to relate their faith to their own sense of identity. A struggle that has led some to abandon christianity completely not because they felt there behavior was being judged but because they experienced Christianity as rejecting them as persons. My questions have been how is the gospel good news for such people? How does Jesus welcome of those rejected by the relgious and moral leaders of his day relate to gay and lesbian people? What does it mean that in Christ there is no male and female? Does this have anything to say to people who are gay and lesbian? If we require people to either change their orientation or remain celebate are we adding sexual orientation to faith as a condition for justification?  These are questions and not answers. As a consequence I tend to towards a view of welcoming and accepting.
  • Bible_Believer 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    The case for homosexual sex being a sin has far more support among theologians of our day and of the past.  I hold to the traditional view of the majority, and the current position of the UM Church, because I believe that the evidence strongly supports it.  You obviously feel differently and it is becoming apparent to me that I am not going to persuade you otherwise so I will not take the time to respond with a 1000+ word reply. I do wonder, however, how you can believe that more discussion needs to be made on this issue before a conclusion can be drawn and yet “tend toward a view of welcoming and accepting".  It seems to me unwise to encourage people to live in a way that, in your own admission, MAY be sinful in God's eyes.  Wouldn't it be better to play it safe?  And if heterosexual sex is "God's intention for sexual practice" as you say then why would you encourage a person to go against God's intentions?  As Disciples of Christ aren't we supposed to always strive to please God?  Anything less is compromise. I think that Jesus wants us to give him everything, even our sexuality.  In Philippians 4:3 Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  I believe that “all things” includes “Taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  “All things” and “Every thought” certainly include our sexuality.  Believing that a person’s sexual orientation is something too big for Christ to help them overcome diminishes Christ.  There are ministries like Exodus International that exist to help those struggling with homosexuality overcome it through Christ. I found it ironic that you lifted Europe up as and example and put down Africa. The European Church's shift from conservative Christianity to liberal Christianity (social gospel, environmental gospel, gay gospel) has led to massive declines in church attendance.  The African church's conservative teachings, on the other hand, have led to massive church growth.  The US church is following the example of Europe rather than Africa. Unless we change course we will end up just like the European church - Irrelevant.The issue of acceptance of homosexuality is just a symptom of the real issue which is obedience to the Word of God even when it conflicts with the prevailing culture.  The future of the UM church depends upon our faithfulness to God’s Word.
  • NewGent 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Yes you are probably right that we will not convince each other - i could develop my argument further but at present I do not have the time to do so. However let me just not one point. I was not lifting  the church in Europe up as an example and puting down Africa - I was trying to point out that in both cases the attitudes to homosexuality are not only determined by theological factors but also by social  and cultural ones. I am personally convinced that the churches in Europe and America have much to learn from the churches of Africa. I am very much aware of how theological liberalism and cultural conformity has decimated the churches in Western Europe. If you read throught my posts carefully you will see that I cannot be categorised as a theological liberal. I strongly affirm the fundemental core of historic Christianity, the trinity, the diety and humanity of Jesus Christ, jutification by faith, the importance of sanctification and christian discipleship, the hope of the return of Christ.  I strongly reject a religious pluralism that sees all religions as equally valid. I affirm that the revelation of God Jesus Christ is the norm by which all our theology and ethics must be evaluated. My point has been to point out that there are those who hold such views who have different views on homosexulity and that these difference are in  part due to the fact that the bible is not as clear on the matter as we would like it to be. The clarity that we have (on both sides) is often in part a consequence of the culture and context in which we live and work. I deeply respect the position that you hold and  your conviction that this is based on bible. I still believe that dialogue is possible and could be fruitful.
  • Bible_Believer 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Our corresponse reminds me of one that I had with a friend who was trying to teach me that the Bible didn't really condemn homosexual sex.  He used many of the same examples as you have.  I examined his research and then did some more research of my own.  I was seeking the truth not trying to prove anything.  I remember praying for God to help me know the truth as I wrote an e-mail to my friend explaining that I thought the evidence still pointed to homosexual sex being sinful.   As I was writing, my wife called me (she had no idea that I was writing this letter) and said that there was a program on the radio that she thought I would be interested in listening to.  The guest on the program was Joe Dallas.  Joe is a Christian man who has a lot of experience in the Gay Christian Community.  He lived a gay lifestyle for years and attended the gay affriming Metropolitan Comunity Church in Washington DC. In the program he was promoting his book "The Gay Gospel?"  He explained how, at Metropolitan Comunity Church, he was misled into believing that homosexual sex was not a sin but rather a good expression of God's creation.  He believed their nterpretaion of scripture for a few years because he wanted to believe it.  But God kept convicting Him and he finally decided that he needed to look into these scpritures himself.  In his book he details his research and his refutation of the claims of the Gay Gospel.  After hearing this program I thought, "What are the chances that my wife would call me about this program less than 5 minutes after I had prayed and asked God to show me the truth?"  I believe that God answered my prayer by speaking through His Word, circumstances and Joe Dallas.
  • NewGent 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It is always difficult to argue against experience and the interpretation of experience. Wherether your exoerience was pure coincidence or God's leading I cannot judge. For me thge point would be to evaluate the argument of Joe Dallas - as I am not familiar with his book or story I cannot judge that either. I would like to end this exchange by thanking for challenge to my ideas and by noting that my viewpoint has chaneged over the years that I have grappled with the issue. This process has involved much prayer, studying the biblical passages and attepting to set them in the context of the overall context of the gospel message, interaction with gay and lesbain people and  reading many of their stories from different perspectives. In this process I to have seen issues come together and being confirmed by what I have read of the experience of others..A process in which I have discerned that God has been active in guiding me.
  • Doug Mackey 6 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Historically, Africans and Native Americans were once seen as less
    than human In our society, a view that was either outright accepted or at least
    not fought by the church.  This view
    allowed  for slavery and the concept of
    manifest destiny - the idea that it was acceptable to engage in the oppression
    of entire populations based on scriptural understandings   - to be carried out in the name of God.  Thankfully, 
    we have realized the error in those earlier Christian teachings.  Christian teaching also once supported the Inquisition and the practice of forcing scientists, such as Galileo,
    to deny the scientific truths they had discovered.


     


    We know what Christian teaching has been regarding homosexuality, - But is it not time to accept that like those other "Christian
    teachings" it's time to recognize that our predecessors may have been
    wrong in how they interpreted the scripture. 
    Biological and social sciences have demonstrated that homosexuality is a
    natural state for some, NOT A CHOICE.  It
    is the way that God made some people. 
    Why should we discriminate against them for being what God made them -
    in God's image just as much as you and I.


     


    Many in the UMC feel that the current
    language in the Discipline is UN Christ like and hypocritical given the state of our current
    knowledge of God's creation. Should we not grow in our acceptance of all of our brothers and sisters that seek
    to serve Christ - and seek to be more Christ like in our acceptance and love of all
    of God's children? Or should we assume the we know better and consider that when God created homosexual individuals - God was making a mistake?
  • Bible_Believer 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I understand you to be saying that if a person is born with sinful tendencies then those tendencies should not be considered sinful.  According to the Bible we are all born with a sinful nature so if we use your logic then no sin should be considered sinful.  If you take your reasoning to its natural conclusion then anyone can do whatever they want because God made them that way and He doesn't make mistakes.  Your way of thinking results in a spiritual anarchy where each person determines spiritual truth based on his/her own opinion.  The Bible calls this idolatry and God hates it!
  • Doug Mackey 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Bible_Believer - Actually if that is what you think, then you do not understand what I was saying.  
    You start from the position that homosexuality is sin - therefore anyone that is gay is born with sinful tendencies.... but I would disagree with your basic assumption.  As others on this page have already stated, the very passages which have been used to support anit-Gay positions, when understood in context and through looking at the original Hebrew and Greek text (not the hundreds of years of English Translations that were made by individuals with agendas) are not so clear as many believe.  Perhaps the most contradicted within other passages of Scripture is the idea that Sodom was destroyed for homosexual behavior.  Rather it is clearly and unmistakably identified in other texts that Sodom was destroy for a lack of compassion, for oppression, injustice, hypocrisy and adultery (See Ezekiel 16, Isaiah 1 and Jeremiah 23).
      With regard to your suggestion that anyone should be able to do what they want - you again miss the point.  Homosexuality is not a want, or a choice, it is who someone is - it is how God makes some people.  There are many things that we all choose to do each day, and those choices may well be judged by God - but Who someone is, is not one of those choices.Finally, I agree that we are all sinful creatures, and that many of us repeat the same sins over and over despite our best efforts to not sin (See Paul's passage on the subject to recognize that this is a long standing issue).   But who should decide which of us is "more sinful" or should be treated differently - no matter what our sins may be.  That judgement needs to be left to God.
  • Bible_Believer 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Homosexual tendencies may not be a choice but acting on those tendencies are one.  Just as unmarried heterosexuals can choose to practice abstinence so can those with homosexual inclinations.  There are also many documented cases where homosexuals have lived happy lives married to an opposite sex partner.  Go to Exodus International's website to find out more about overcoming homosexuality through Christ.

    As for homosexuality being who someone is I disagree.  As a Christian I beleive that believers are a new creation in Christ, the old is gone the new has come (2 Cor 5:17).  My identity is not in my sexuality but in my relationship with Christ.

    I believe that homosexuality is a sin based on my study of this issue for more than 10 years.  I have read books and articles from both sides of the debate and I believe that the case for the traditional view of homosexual practice is strong whereas the argument against it is not.  The work of recent writers who try to reinterpret the meanings of certain passages has been refuted by scholars like Robert Gagnon in his book "The Bible and Homosexual Practice."   If you haven't read this book it would be good to do so.

    I do not believe that homosexual sex is a greater sin than any other and I never said that it was.  I do, however, believe that it is a sin based on what God says about it in His Word.  God has made his judgement on this issue and I am just agreeing with Him.  Insinuating that I am being judgmental because we disagree is not fair.
  • Jers 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I AM, Native Americans we do not agree with same sex; please do not use us in this!
  • Doug Mackey 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Jers - 

      You may well be native American - but please do not generalize your beliefs to all the individuals of the hundreds of Native cultures that exist.  I know many that would disagree with your position, but would never claim that all Native peoples share their view. To make such claims on either side is at best a broad (and errant) generalization.

     Moving beyond that, what I was referencing was the Genocide of thousands of Native peoples that took place in the 19th century under the guise of Manifest Destiny  - or that is was God's will that white America should spread across the continent as they did God's work of civilizing the continent - even though there were many long standing cultures already present and living in wonderful harmony with the land.  None of this suggested that you or any Native person may support LGBT issues, but rather identified that what was once considered appropriate Christian ideas, supported by scriptural references,  is no longer accepted as "fact".
  • waitforflash 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Homosexuality is a desire and a behavior, not a right. No matter how secular society defines behavior, Christians are held to an additional morality as in the Bible, sinful behavior is clearly defined and homosexuality is one of many sinful behaviors. To condone or accept any sinful behavior as proper, correct or normal, is in direct disobedience to God. For a Christian leader to attempt to sanctify same sex marriage, in Holy Matrimony, in the house of the Lord, is simply open defiance of God, in his face and in his house!
    Yes, God loves homosexual sinners as he does all sinners, but if they do not repent and openly continue sinful behavior, they should not be elected to be our leaders. Leaders are expected to set an example for those who they lead. To elect non-repentant, open sinners to positions of leadership and authority in the church is to promote and approve of that same sinful behavior. Do you really want your children to consider same-sex-relationships to be approved by God?
    If anyone causes one of these little ones, those who believe in me, to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7)
    Are You in Doubt About the Issue of Gay Marriage?http://usataxpayer.org/?006829... often Christians confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus. They hear "love one another" and stop there while "go and sin no more" never gets through.
    Too often Christians confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus. They hear "love one another" and stop there while "go and sin no more" never gets through.
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    the church doesn't die when it loves as Jesus did...it starts dying when it starts defining love on the same term as the rest of the world. As long as we continue racing after the changes in society, WE WILL CONTINUE TO DIE. I hear many people being very proud of our denomination being a reflection of society....when we should be a reflection of the reign of God. When we can be confused with the world...then we become irrelevant.
  • randallscheri 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    As a retired UM pastor, I have watched this issue for many years now.  Question: How can the UMC honestly use as its "motto" Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors when it refuses to have those qualities.  Open Minds means that we are accepting of ALL persons, with NO qualifications.  Open Hearts means that we love, UNCONDITIONALLY every person. Open Doors means that we welcome anyone, whether we accept their beliefs as our own or not.  Do we refuse the minority? NO!  How, then, can we refuse to welcome ANY person into the church, which is, after all, the church of JESUS CHRIST, who came to bring love into the world, love that the Old Testament writers chose to ignore.  Anyone who has studied theology and the faith must know that Jesus came to change all the old "rules and regulations" formulated by a selfish ruling minority who thought that they should tell the world how to live.  I wonder how many of those Pharisees, etc., really lived up to everything they insisted others should do.  Does THIS sound familiar? A wealthy minority ruling over the majority, making laws to serve their own purposes, not the purposes of ALL? This is the world today and it  seems that this is the the world of at least a PART of the UMC today.  Believe as I do or go to Hell and to Hell with being true followers of the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who said, "Love one another as I have loved you, and love your neighbor as yourself.  All people, gay or straight, are our neighbors and anyone who does not understand that EVERY PERSON who believes in the love of Jesus Christ in their lives should, indeed MUST be allowed to preach the love of God and Jesus Christ to ALL HUMANITY.
  • dan bowman 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Despite these examples of hypocrisy by the decisions of those mistakenly entrusted with responsibility and integrity, the UMC is becoming more evangelical.  Some believe within 10 years the UM membership of evangelical Africa will surpass that of the US.  This is the vey reason for such desperate and disingenuous behavior by those who can not hope to make change through the General Conference.  This being the case no evangelicals should leave the UMC now.  Instead they should inundate the offices of their resident bishop with communications making it clear that such similar atrocities will not be tolerated.  Make appointments to have local church leaders go directly and speak directly to their bishop that they expect the connection to be respected and the spirit of the established rules of the Discipline to be observed.  Evangelicals should not leave but take a vocal stand and fight for the reformation of the UMC.
  • Dale Bailey 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Happy, fortunate, and blessed, am I, to be associated with a church in which its people are free from all sin and wrongdoing, in that they cast stones freely, frequently, and with impunity.
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    there is a big difference between judgement and sharing God's truth in love. The thing is that when God's truth is shared, but to accepted - it sounds like judgement to those who don't receive it.
  • Steven Temple 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Can a person live in a sinful lifestyle and be a Christian, just swap out homosexuality and stick in any other SIN and you can answer for yourselves. How far from the scriptures must one stray before they are not Christian but idolators who have created a gd in their own image to suit themselves? Being unrepentant kind of makes it hard to be  Christian, when one must repent and put their faith in the Christ to be saved.

    Think about your eternal soul, think about what the scriptures say, and quit trying to make this a better world to go to hell from. Start helping those who live in these lifestyles to repent and place their faith in Him.

  • hilburn 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Amen.  There is no gray area in the bible concerning homosexuality.  She needs to be striped of her license.  If she is living with her partner she is practicing.  Homosexuality is nothing more than a distortion of the truth.  When we are in Christ we become a new creation.  If their is no change their is not salvation.  I'm sick of our denomination not taking a stand for holiness.  You love people but not the sin.  God is love but God also said the guilty would not go unpunished.
  • sherrik 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    What a tragedy that this is even a debate in the Methodist Church.  How far we have fallen.  And, ignorantly, can't figure out why.  The book of law is the HOLY BIBLE not the Methodist book of discipline!  God's word is very clear that it is an abomination for man to lie down with man.  He says in the last days man will lie with man and women doing that which is unnatural with women.  He says that He will give us over to our reprobate thinking.  And indeed He has!  Yes, we are to love people but not condone what they do!  God's word is true.  If you love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind, then you obey Him wholly.  I was raised in a conservative Methodist church.  And I am a member of a rural Methodist church.  I love my church and church family.  But, if the Methodist church condones homosexuality and condones the marrying of same sex couples, I am leaving.  There are plenty of non-denominational churches preaching the true Word.  There should be NO debate here.  God's word is what we should be about1
  • Scott Amundsen 4 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am a member of a Reconciling Congregation of the UMC and I can tell you this:  nowhere have I seen the love of God more clearly; nowhere have I felt it more deeply, than in this church and others I have attended that are accepting and affirming of LGBT persons.  It is time to eliminate the hateful phrase in the Book of Discipline that keeps the LGBT community marginalized.  To borrow the motto of the United Church of Christ, "God is still speaking" and I believe with all my heart, soul, and spirit that this is what God wants to see happen.
  • BethSterner 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Thank you Scott for your testimony.  I have been a member of the UM church since I was confirmed. My grandfather was a UCC pastor....hmmm.  I am very discouraged by the current language of the Book of Discipline regarding the LGBT community. My understanding of human sexuality is that it is determined for us not by us. Science has proven this. Sin involves the choices we make in our lives. Our sexual orientation is not a choice. I can no more chose not to be a heterosexual than my gay friends can chose not to be gay.  It is time for the church to love ALL the people.  If the UM church cannot love all the people then are they really following Jesus?
  • Bible_Believer 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    According to the Bible we are all born with a sinful nature - we didn't have a choice.  If we use your logic then no sin should be considered sinful because we were born that way.
  • Jers 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Please! And I believe God wants all who sin to come to Christ.
  • WesleyWhite 5 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Rick - The Discipline was upheld. It's processes were implemented. You may not appreciate where the trial court came out, but the tradition of the Discipline was followed. The trial all came down to the letter of the law because that is what the church demanded. Our very rules indicate that the church sets the rules and can't appeal what it has set in place. That's disciplinary. Our rules also attempt to be redemptive in nature and so there is an appeal process for an individual to have the church think twice about penalizing them. This is a very United Methodist intent and process.
  • Rick Silva 3 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I'm sorry, but I don't agree that the "Discipline was upheld".  The Discipline dictates that "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches".  Here you have a minister who openly promises to continue conducting homosexual unions when her 20 day vacation is over, with no regard whatsoever to the Discipline.

    Rules have no meaning without enforcement.  I don't mean to be impolite, but I am very concerned about the future of the Church.

    Blessings to you.
  • golfandpreach 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Amy was found "guilty" with regard to the ceremony, and the trial court determined a plan in the light of restorative justice.  These actions were within the guidelines of the DISCIPLINE.

    My recollection is that Amy did NOT "promise to continue" offering such services.  i think her answer was that she would not rule it out without considering the circumstances.  One cannot be tried for a thought or an opinion.

    The 20 day suspension is a time for discernment; it is NOT a "vacation."
  • Rick Silva 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Her exact words were “Performing the holy union for the couple I did was one of the great
    joys of my ministry, and I would never sign a document that would
    indicate I wouldn’t do that again".  But she already took an oath before God not to "do that" when she took her ordination vows.

    I'm sorry, but if our elders lie when taking their vows - and purposely break them afterward - and we allow it, then the Church's rules have no meaning.  The Church ceases to stand for anything at all.
  • Creed Pogue 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    No, Wesley, the Discipline was not upheld.  Rev. DeLong was allowed to obfuscate the answer to a question that she has been very happy to answer in every other forum.  Beth Stroud truthfully answered the questions put to her.  Rev. DeLong instead chose sophistry.  Beth Stroud has integity; Amy DeLong does not.

    Despite the clear evidence, the trial court failed to carry out its responsibility.  There is obviously another personal agenda at work for Rev. DeLong.  She has been in extension ministry for a long time.  If she is so gifted as a pastor and is obviously possessing a very supportive (to put it mildly) cabinet, BOOM and bishop, then why wouldn't she be in a church and simply keep going as she had been since no one was looking to hold her accountable for the chargeable offenses???
  • BobBuice 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand





    It appears, based on
    several of these comments, that many in the United Methodist Church hold to a
    literal interpretation of the scriptures. Accordingly, could anyone read the
    following passages and respond to the subsequent question? If you tell me that
    these passages only apply to the era in which they were written, I might
    suggest that the same could apply to biblical passages relating to
    homosexuality. Check out the following.  There are many more.

     

    1 Corinthians 14:34
    Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but
    must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about
    something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful
    for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV)

     

     Why the church ordain lady pastors?

     

    Deuteronomy 23:2 - A
    bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth
    generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD. (KJV)

     

    Does this mean that a
    child born out of wedlock cannot go to  Heaven?

     

    Leviticus 21:44 -
    Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them
    you may buy slaves. (NIV)

     

    Does this mean that I
    can purchase slaves from Canada & Mexico?

     

    Leviticus 11: 7 And
    the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for
    you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean
    for you. (NIV)

     

    Does this
    mean we can’t eat bacon & we can’t play football?

     




  • BobBuice 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand


    It
    appears, based on several of these comments, that many in the United Methodist
    Church hold to a literal interpretation of the scriptures. Accordingly, could
    anyone read the following passages and respond to the subsequent question? If
    you tell me that these passages only apply to the era in which they were
    written, I might suggest that the same might apply to biblical passages
    relating to homosexuality. Check out the following.  There are many more.

     

    1 Corinthians 14:34 Women should remain silent in the churches.
    They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35
    If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at
    home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV)

     

    ˇ     
    Why
    the church ordains lady pastors?

     

    Deuteronomy 23:2 - A bastard shall not enter into the congregation
    of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the
    congregation of the LORD. (KJV)

     

    ˇ     
    Does this mean that a child
    born out of wedlock cannot go to heaven?

     

    Leviticus 21:44 - Your male and female slaves are to come from the
    nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. (NIV)

     

    ˇ     
    Does this mean that I can
    purchase slaves from Canada & Mexico?

     

    Leviticus 11: 7 And the pig,
    though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8
    You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
    (NIV)

     

    ˇ     
    Does this mean we
    can’t eat bacon & we can’t play football?




  • RLD62 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I find the selective reading of scripture by those who adhere to it "literally" as frustrating as it is illogical.  The Bible is a complex document, centuries in the writing by many authors responding to many situations.  Eg. Is it (Is 2:4) Plows into plowshares or (Joel 3:10) plowshares into swords?  Our Lord reached deep and far to get to us and taught us to love one another.  I think He meant that as a kind of litmus test to sort out what to hold and what needs more study.
  • Jers 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    I will go CATHOLIC, and you may have the UMC!
  • Jers 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I am already gone
  • Susan 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We need to look to Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith.  We have made a "religion" of being inclusive to the point where we put it before the teachings of the Bible, His teachings. To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said "Go and sin no more"  He did not say "We are going to include you and your sinful lifestyle".  Homosexuality is sin because all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sin. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.  It is about Jesus Christ, not us.  He is the one who paid the price for our salvation.
  • sherrik 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This is a tragedy.  The Book of Law is God's word!!!!  Not the United Methodist book of discipline.  How far the church has fallen.  And, ignorantly, can't figure out why.  I was raised in a very conservative Methodist Church.  I am a member of my small town Methodist Church.  I love the people.  We love God's word and believe all of it.  It is God's law.  But, as much as I love my church and church family, I will definitely leave the Methodist organization if they condone same  sex unions and for pastors to officiate the same.  Read the BOOK - the BIBLE.  God is very clear in the old and the NEW Testaments.  He made woman for man.  He says it is an abomination for man to lie with man.  He says in the last days He will give men over to their lusts.  And we can surely see that He has.
  • Jers 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Just ordain your Local Pastors, and this subject will be over!
  • countryboyloves 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Only a Elder would receive such a imitated rebuff...if a local pastor had done such a thing he would have lost their license to preach and rightfully so...but their is a different standard for elders and this is not right...some see this issue as only church law.. how about God's law to  ...would someone please show me scripture that supports the homosexual life style.. country boy
  • suarezjc77 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This article really demonstrates how the writer and at least some of the UMC members are conforming to the way of culture against the command in Romans 12:2. I believe it is evident the writer of this article supports the agenda of Ms. Delong. Why refer to culture? As if polls of Americans should equate to what the UMC as a whole should think. I'm sure plenty of UMC delegations have took action that supports the current UMC doctrine that teaches homosexuality is incompatible with the teachings of Christ. Why are these not included in Ms. Hahn's report findings? The truth is that  In most conferences, the issue is not even addressed because it is not necessary to attempt arguing for something that scripture so clearly defines as sinful. This article is so obvious on it's position, a position that stands to split the Church  one day. Revelations 3.
  • Oldgriffin 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I can remember a time when we were just as divided on Black Civil Rights.  That was a divisive time.  We got through it and we will get through this.  I don't know how history will play out.  We may finally affirm that a marriage is between one man and one woman, or we may go a different direction. These are the opening rounds.  God will help us come to the correct agreements, but I expect that we have decades of debate ahead of us.
  • WesleyWhite 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The prophets of old were "turn-around" type people. Our church has tended to think of "turn-around" in terms of membership and money where the prophets turned things around via trust in G*D steadfast love that ministry might be expanded to those cast away by society and the church/temple. Want a run-of-the-mill turn-around? - hire a safe bean-counter and rule-follower. Want an extra-ordinary turn-around? - invite a prophet. Remember it was the prophets who saw that the Sodom story was about inhospitability, not about reducing a relationship or orientation to genitalia. We could use some more prophets.
  • Pat_Wright 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Is it the calling of people of faith to believe God's Word or the arguments of the world? The original sin was failure to believe God and to follow the deceptions of the world instead. Apparently many people who claim to follow His Word have assumed a position of doubt at this point. His Word is clear on this subject. In God's eye homosexuality is an abomination. He directs us to love our fellow man, but he likewise instructs us to despise the sins of man. What position will the organized church take?
  • John Wolforth 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Is there any discussion in the Methodist hierarchy of distilling some of this information? I can go to more traditional churches and find brief pamphlets that clearly state the church’s stance. In our case, I would like to see something that stated as many sides and arguments of this issue as we could fit in a few pages. Most of the discussion I hear and read starts with “the Bible is clear” and ends with “no it’s not”. We need a better place to start.
     
    I can read these online opinions about “arsenokoites” and comparisons to slavery, but I have no way to evaluate the writers of those opinions. A pamphlet could do that. All sides would need to have input and the places that we do agree could be separated from the places that we don’t. This would be an opportunity to educate not only on this issue, but on how the Bible has been translated, how the BOD is changed, and how the culture and history of Africa is affecting us.
     
    An online wiki (with some very good moderators) could be a cheap and easy way to start.
  • 54Quiet57 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    As the mother of a gay son, and as a person who has, after several years, decided to join the United Methodist Church, my heart is so pained by what I read.  I struggle daily with the knowledge that my son is gay, that I do not deep within my spiritual soul and beliefs, condone this life syle. Yet, I love my son and would never turn my back on him.  I do not believe Jesus would turn His back on my son. But to have Him as a spiritual leader?  No.   I am weary of the debate.  I am weary of having gay/lesbian issues take center stage.  Constantly.  I am disappointed to know that the Methodist Church would even consider changing it's  Discipline on this issue. 

    I may well reconsider my decision to join.  It took this former EUB (for those of you who don't know what this is, look up your church's history from 1968 )who's church was taken over by the Methodist Church, (a hostile takeover, in our case)  thus becoming the United Methodist Church, almost 43 years to recover from the deep wounding from that event.  Now, just when I thought I could overlook enough of the differences to join the membership..........I find another divisive issue hot on the agenda of change.  Yep, a world church in the end, folks...and I fear many believers don't truly understand what that means......or where we may be headed. Wake up, read the Word and ask humbly for the revelation of the word.  For me, being in the world and not of the world says it all on this issue....
  • reithien 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Please, what am I to do?  If we are to be Christ like, does that mean we play pitty-pat with the world.  What does this United Methodist stand for ?  What does it mean to be Christ like-from what I see, there seems to be a lot of members of this church that want to hang on to the childish things and not grow up and accept what it means to be Christ like.  I find it interesting that some of those, who have taken on the mantle of being our spiritual guides.  Find that honesty and integrity are not needed anymore-excuse me, it is still needed for the lay folk.
  • 72112 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    when did we get so confused as to attempt to put our" lust of the flesh" above the "HOLY WORD OF GOD"? I think the Bible is clear in it''s teachings on adultery,fornication, and man/man or woman/ woman.I BEG YOU TO THINK!!
  • HHH_AAA 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Most arguments on this debate claim the Bible doesn't provide definitive guidance on the matter. Three-four passages there is to it, some claim. I wonder if we would still claim that we serve a God of love, if the only passage of the Bible that referred to this truth was 1 John 4:8 - True love doesn't spoil, or bypass wrongdoing - Jesus din't. Grace, if distorted, becomes a disgrace.
  • REVDFG1979 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I would like to respond to Mr. DavidNField's comments below. Here is my response to his conclusions on the homosexual issue facing, not only the UMC, but is facing every evangelical Church; especially those who come to the same "conclusions" as Mr Field.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    First (on number 1 of your points), IF I am not misinterpreting your conclusion on #1, I would respond simply like this: IF those we disagree with are - in fact - practicing open and willful sin, then there is NO common ground with them (this is a Biblical approach). I believe you are attempting to stop debate and compromise simply on the principle of differing with those on this MORAL issue. The absence of conflict DOES NOT mean we are at true peace with one another. Jesus said: How can a tree bear good and bad fruit at the same time. Your conclusion - I believe - is entirely based on not being at disagreement with someone, no matter the cost to God and His Church. Please remember we ARE NOT debating whether women should be ordained for ministry, or what color the new carpeting in the sanctuary should be, or a vote on a new Christian ED teacher, etc. These issues were important to a Holy God that He placed these as commandments in His Word. Therefore, they MUST be important to those who are truly a child of His and MUST be considered a moral issue and not a peripheral problem.(#2) Are you suggesting that on #2 that the world, the culture and/or our society - and, NOT GOD and His Word - should set the standard for what the Lord wants for His own? Please forgive me if I am not getting the full thrust of your thoughts. With that said, I also believe (on #2) that your conclusion is suggesting that no one can really know and have a true grip upon what God wants and please Him. The Apostle Paul addressed this VERY clearly and VERY specifically (2 Peter 1:19-21 NKJV) - "...we have the prophetic Word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; [20] knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, [21] for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Verse 20 tells us that we ARE NOT able to have our own "interpretation" of God's truth. But, we are to find God's meaning and allow the Holy Spirit of our Lord to apply its truth & grace upon our hearts and lives. Therefore, concerning your assertion on your 2nd point - according to God's Holy Word - we, as true, born-again Christians, are not allowed to look to the world and its ever-sinful and ever-changing cultures to lay the foundation and/or have ANY part in our Church polity and our Biblical doctrine and its application for governing our Church body...period! God's Holy Word is the ONLY standard by which we, as Church leaders, find God's will for the Church and then apply God's truth. This is done so that our people can know how to please the Lord in their whole lives, and to learn how to truly get to heaven; NOT simply how to "get along" with one another.(#3) Your additional assertion that the sin of sexual immorality - which, Biblically includes homosexuality - is a "minor" issue with God, is not even defendable from the very outset of your assertion. Secular Hebrew scholars - both here and in Israel - have attempted to re-write the Hebrew text of the account of Sodom and its utter destruction by the very hand of God BECAUSE of the sins of sexual perversions - which included homosexuality. You see, you are attaching your opinion to this based on a very weak exegesis of ancient Hebrew language. Therefore, your entire debate on this issue falls apart. Here's why: You see, the progressive Hebrew scholars who take this position that you have only because the word for "homosexual" activity was not used specifically in the original transcripts. Well, you are correct. The Hebrew does not specifically say "homosexuality." So - let me get this correct - your doctrinal conclusion about Sodom and the Biblical record of God's anger and willingness to destroy the cities for their willful and open practice of "sexual perversion" did not mean that God had any opinion at all, or was not "bothered" by the sinful activity that was textually AND historically documented for the ages (i.e., Hammurabi's Code and Historical Records) is entirely based on that the Hebrew text uses a generic, blanketed word that is only defined as "sexual immorality," do I have that correct, sir? Well, first of all, that is the equivalent of saying that a crystal meth addict who has been arrested by the police for breaking the law - that ONLY states - that he/she cannot use and/or abuse legal and illegal drugs (which, by the way, is about all that many US state laws actually state in their drug abuse legislation) can contest his/her arrest and/or conviction because the law did not specifically say "crystal meth." Can you not see how that the Hebrew texts did not NEED to point out homosexuality BECAUSE the word used in the ancient text covers ALL forms of sexual promiscuity? It was a given and an understood position in the translation of the Hebrew text that it covered, adultery, beastiality, fornication and homosexuality. Also, look at the door that you open in our society by denying the truth of God's commands and hatred for ALL forms of sexual sin. After a while, we will want to appease the pedophile BECAUSE the Hebrew text does not say "pedophilia." Then after that, we will want to appease those who wish to have sex with chickens, horses, dogs, cats, etc. BECAUSE the text does not say "beastiality." Where does it stop, sir...Where does it stop?Also (on point #3), I see that you have willingly adopted the "distraction" tool for dealing with God's Word on (first) your absolute deception for your readers about Wesley's conclusions on this matter (for sir, you are entirely wrong about Wesley's view of the NT's commands on Paul's words). It appears - on your points # 3 & 4 - you are reading HEAVILY into the translation and the Bible as a whole. I do not know who you have been listening to, studying under, reading from, etc. But, if you truly wish to be taken serious within theological circles -  at least, serious & honorable ones - you better do MUCH better about your interpretations on our patriarch's Biblical views. Then, you further utilize the "distraction" tool and attempt to say that God's view on feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, not allowing our riches to overtake us, etc. is far more important to the Lord than His Biblically-stated hatred for ALL sin. Well, I do agree that we Churches need to be involved with outreach in very practical ways for the needy, and that we MUST be careful about allowing riches to become what we serve (both of which are commanded by our Lord). However, you cannot deny that God drew serious attention and dealt severely with anyone and everyone who lived in open wickedness. It's there in the Biblical record, sir! I might remind you of Jesus' warning (via His own Revelation, by the way) about your attempt to "cherry-pick" His Word (Rev. 22:18 NKJV) - "... I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this Book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this Book..." WOW!!! Then, we can even see God's opinion on your adding to and reading into His Word in the OT (Prov. 30:5-6 NKJV) - "Every Word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. [6] Do not add to His Words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."Your conclusions on your point #4 I have covered somewhat in my previous conclusion. Yet, I wish to stress with you, sir, that the Lord is going to hold you accountable at His judgment for reading into simple Greek words, only to miss the context of the verse and chapters! I find it interesting that you are more than willing to point out vague Greek words all the while you refuse to keep the context of the Lord's truth out of your conclusion, BUT you have NO problem trying to make a conclusion on homosexuality by using what you call "vague" words (that needed no further definition anyways BECAUSE the Hebrew word enveloped ALL forms of sexual sin). Don't you see the open inconsistency you are using here for your entire exegesis from Scripture on the issue of homosexuality? And, on #'s 6 & 7 you almost completely contradict what you are saying in #5. You're all over the place, man! First, #5 you seem to get back to essential Biblical doctrine, but you fall short by stressing in #6 with trying to understand the science of mankind's sinful lust. Then (#7), you suggest that anyone who is practicing open, wilfull sin is a "brother and sister" in the Lord. God says that anyone who is living a wilfully, sinful life CANNOT be a real "brother and sister!" This part of true, Biblical, Christian doctrine isn't even graduate level stuff! I would like to end my thoughts here as I began them: Anyone who sees how this fella exegetes God's Word and how he applies it to the issue of homosexuality MUST see that it ALL comes from not seeing God's authority on earth and in eternity, not knowing how to approach any/all issues we face by allowing God's Word to teach and change us (in stead of going to God's Word with a preexisting agenda; then, "make" the Bible support our position, rather than allowing God's Word to form our positions). It all goes back to this: Once a person has rejected the Holy Scriptures of our Lord (Old & New Testaments) as being authoritative over our lives, and refusing to see God's Word as inerrant in its original manuscripts, and that God inspired the human authors to write exactly what He wanted in His Word, you will ALWAYS open yourself to all these issues. And - I assure you - IF the Church continues down this path by allowing these so-called "leaders" to lead it away from commitment to honoring God by seeing His Word as the only standard for our Church government and spiritual leadership, so that we can show a lost & ever-dying world that Jesus came to DELIVER us from sin; and, NOT to learn to "live" with it! It is SO SAD that there are preachers and pastors and Church leaders out  there who are teaching a hopeless gospel that Jesus only came to give you a bowl of soup! When - in fact - Christ came to this world, died on the Old Rugged Cross for OUR sins, rose again on the third day, ascended unto the Father in heaven 120 days after His bodily resurrection from the grave, and He now intercedes on our behalf for ANYONE who is willing to confess AND repent from their sins! Praise His Holy & Matchless Name! Jesus CAN & WILL deliver any man, woman or child from ALL sin, IF they are willing! I am SO glad and SO thankful that I found Jesus to keep this promise unto us! I am SO glad that He has delivered me from ALL my sin AND given me a bowl of soup! (1 John 1:7 NKJV) - "...if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from ALL sin!"  (Romans 6:12-14 NKJV) - "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. [13] And, do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."
  • NewGent 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand


    I am deeply
    saddened as I look at what is happening in our church. Like many people in the
    church I have very strong opinions on this issue but I am also committed to the
    church and its mission of bearing witness to God’s reign. When the world looks
    at the UMC and other churches grappling with this issue all they can say is: “See
    how they hate each other!!!” Both sides engage in acrimonious debates and look
    to political maneuvering to win the day. Some to the African vote in General
    Conference others to various forms of civil disobedience. Both sides pour time,
    money and effort into the struggle continuing to alienate people from the
    church and distract us from other aspects of our mission.   Is
    there not a better way?  Is it not
    possible that we can find a way through this together?  What would it take to start a process of genuine
    dialogue around the issues? It seems to me that the following are necessary.


    1.       1. A genuine recognition of the faith, commitments
    and sincerity of those with whom we disagree.


    2.       2. A recognition that while one holds
    strong opinions it is always possible that one is wrong.   We are
    all influences by society and culture.


    3.      3.  A recognition that the homosexuality
    is a minor theme in the bible – the bible (and Wesley) has far more to say
    about wealth and poverty yet we do not try people for being self-avowed
    practicing materialists because they lay up treasures on earth. Take a look at
    what the General Rules say about money and possessions.


    4.      4.  A recognition that the key passages
    in the bible referring to homosexuality are not nearly as clear as some of our
    English translations make them to be. The Bible does not say Sodom was punished
    for homosexual practices, Leviticus forbids a man from lying with a man as one
    does with a woman. Yet here as elsewhere in Leviticus we cannot simply apply
    this to the church without a clear theological reason. In Romans Paul describes
    homosexual practices of his day as the consequences of God’s judgment on idolatry
    and describes people as giving up their natural desires for unnatural ones. How
    does this relate to Christians who were brought up in devout homes who came to
    faith early in their lives but from their earliest sexual awareness discovered
    themselves to be attracted to members of the same sex? The passages in 1
    Corinthians and Timothy usually translated to refer to homosexual activity use
    words whose exact meaning we do not know. 
    The one “malakos” means literally softness and is used in a moral sense
    to refer to lack of moral courage, (this is how Wesley interpreted it) or laziness.
    It can also mean effeminate and was used to refer to you men who made
    themselves up to attract men but it was also used of men who made themselves up
    to attract women.  As this is found in a
    list of sins we have no context to tell us exactly what Paul meant.  The translation “male prostitutes” is quite
    simply an educated guess. The other word “arsenokoites” is used for the first
    time in 1 Corinthians most of the other references that we have to it come in
    lists of sins. It is made up of two words one meaning man and the other bed. It
    is speculated by some scholars that it was made up by a person who had read the
    Greek translation of the Leviticus passages dealing with homosexuality where
    the words men and bed appear next to each other.  In later texts where it is used there are
    references in both a homo and a hetero sexual context. Once again to translate
    it as homosexuals is a guess.  It is also
    unlikely that these words generally refer to blanket condemnation of active and
    passive partners in a homosexual relationship, given that a large proportion of
    early Christians were slaves and in many case slaves had no option but to
    submit to the sexual advances of their masters.  


    5.       5. The issue needs to be settles by a
    broader appeal to what the bible teaches about humanity, creation, redemption, justification
    and sanctification; in Wesley’s words the “whole tenor of Scripture”. Here there
    is considerable room for debate and discussion.


    6.       6. We need to use the best scientific
    data in order to understand the nature of sexual orientation.


    7.       7. We need to hear the experience of
    our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
    W   Why does not General Conference set up a truly representative group of people who genuinly want to find a way forward with the mandate to investigate the issue and come to a proposal for the church. If the group is truly represengtative and go about their work in a spirit of respect, love and humilty surely we have nothing to fear. Such a group should not only spend time in discussion but in prayer and fellowship. If we are convinced thatb our positon is right then we should notn fear it being discussed in a spirit of holy conferrencing and not political debate. 


  • Michele Baumgartner-Bonanno 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about divorce, he answered in part by defining marriage. He said it is the union of one man and one women... not one man and 4 women (polygamy), or 2 women (homosexuality) or 2 men and 2 women (polyamory) or a man and his dog (bestiality)...  just one man and one women. His direct words, in my mind, supercede any other commentary from the old or new testament on this matter or any other happenings in contemporary or historical culture. Notwithstanding the issue of DeLong's leadership as a lesbian or practicing lesbian (and whether that issue was raised or proof of "practice" was offered during her trial), her stance on marrying gay couples seems completely inapposite to the Word of God. Her unwillingness to denounce doing so in contravention of the definition of marriage by Jesus and of the UMC Book of Discipline is a bald flouting of the obedient nature the followers of Jesus are taught to cultivate. Even if she had said,"in my heart I do not agree that officiating at such ceremonies is sinful, but I promise not to do so until the issue is addressed by the General Conference," would be more obedient, sincere and christ-like than this nod/wink, I will push the manifold and foment this division in the church until you concede to my views.  If we see the church as a shepherd and flock or as father and children... I feel that permitting a person in the role of a shepherd to skirt the rules puts the whole flock at risk.

    I am not a bible scholar and I don't speak greek or aramaic, so I can only rely on the plain meaning of the bible used in the pew, and it states pretty clearly in both the old and new testament that same sex relations are sinful. The bible also states that for people who have the grace, a celibate lifestyle is legitimate. While the issue of being a practicing homosexual does not seem to have been put to proof at trial, had it been, I think it would have been appropriate to require a church leader to be either married, as described by Jesus, or celibate. Again, not this nod/wink... I am open about it when the trial is over.... 
  • Out_sider 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I understand from the story and comments that many in the Methodist church believe that ones personal behavior is not something of concern for the church.

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