Human sexuality has been a battle ground in the United Methodist Church for decades. The present Book of Discipline has statements that some support and others want to have removed which particularly address the issue of homosexuality. The one statement that has been the target of attack at General Conference sessions over the years has been the wording that we believe homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching!
However, there are other statements that also speak to the issue. No avowed practicing homosexual is to be ordained for ministry in the United Methodist Church. No pastor is to perform a same-sex union ceremony or marriage. And no UM church is to be used for such events. Planned for early next year is a special session of the General Conference. The UMC bishops appointed a special commission to recommend a plan that would resolve this great divide or at least try to. And so “A Way Forward” has resulted in a final report to the General Conference which will meet in February of 2019.
In simple summary the report recommends removal of “restrictive” language of the Book of Discipline. Such statements relative to same-sex activity etc. have already been mentioned. Pastors, churches, and conferences would be free to choose what they will or will not do regarding the homosexual/lesbian issue.
The pressure continues to mount regarding acceptance of homosexual/lesbian lifestyles by all. We already have elected a lesbian bishop who presides over two conferences! That election was ruled to be illegal by the Judicial Council, but she is still a bishop and considered to be in “good standing!” We have at least one bishop who has done same-sex weddings and other bishops who are sympathetic and supportive of the homosexual/lesbian way of life!
Now having said that, are we United Methodists willing to take the next step and accept other sexual lifestyles as we are doing with homosexuality and lesbianism. Part of the rationale is that same-sex “couples” are living in loving and committed monogamous relationships. Therefore, we should accept them into the life and mission of the church. Also cited is the fact that slavery was once accepted and practiced by Christians. And the ordination of women was forbidden and supported by Christians. But now things have changed in our culture and we in the UMC do not believe in slavery and we now permit the ordination of women. And so we now have the growing acceptance of same-sex lifestyles in our culture and in our churches.
What will we do with couples that are in a fornication state of affairs? There are couples who live together and are not married. So sexually, they are doing a thing commonly referred to as fornication! They can claim they love each other and that they are committed and monogamous also.
How about Jane Doe and her German Shepherd, Spike? They have sexual relations but Jane declares she is loyal to Spike. Further, she wants to be an involved member of a United Methodist Church, claiming it is the “Christian” thing to do. But she also insists that Spike should be permitted to accompany her to church functions.
And there is John Doe and his Holstein heifer, Pansy. It’s the same with them as it is with Jane and Spike! And he believes there is nothing wrong with him and Pansy having sexual relations! He too wants to be a good and faithful member of a United Methodist church. By the way, Jane and John are cousins. Maybe this sex thing of a different kind runs in the Doe family line!
Oh yes, there is a small group of younger married couples who want to be church involved. When it comes to sexual activity they are different. They believe in practicing what is commonly referred to as “wife swapping!” While they admit that what they are doing is committing adultery, they claim everybody in the group agrees to the exchange of mates and enjoys doing so – therefore how can something that is so much fun be so wrong? About once a week they get together for “fun and games” – and besides, it gives each husband and wife a chance to do some comparing with how they do with someone else’s wife or husband!
Ooops! Careful now! You’re not going to try and say that the Bible condemns such activity as just mentioned and we could not allow people who do such things to be members and serve in some office capacity within the church, are you? Nope – it is not convincing! The same Bible that addresses such issues as fornication, adultery in its many forms, and sex with animals also clearly addresses same-sex intimacy! The latter is not identified as a sin but rather as an abomination! That is sin intensified many times over!
There is not one single phrase in the entire Bible in which God indicates that he has changed His mind and homosexuality and lesbianism are now accepted in His sight with His richest blessing upon such “couples!” A United Methodist bishop, by the way, wrote a piece as to how he came to change his mind about homosexuality. In his sight it is quite OK now!
But if the denomination moves further along and attempts to persuade all eventually that homosexuality and lesbianism are just as morally acceptable as heterosexual marriage, then it will also have to accept fornication, adultery, and bestiality as being morally acceptable as well, that is, if it is going to be consistent on the issue of human sexuality!
A not so subtle statement to lay a guilt trip on those who refuse to accept same-sex intimacy as being morally legitimate in the sight of God was made by the Commission on A Way Forward in its final report to the February 2019 special session of the General Conference. This is how it reads: “The condition of our heart to another person very much shapes the outcomes. If we have a heart at peace, we see the other as a person, with many needs, hopes and gifts. If we have a heart at war, we see the other as an object or an obstacle to our own desires and visions. In addition, a heart at war exaggerates the differences between persons in order to prepare to go to war with them. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And when persons (or groups) are at war with each other, they escalate the conflict with each other in order to justify themselves, and can be in collusion with each other for the gain of their own group’s interests. The Commission worked diligently to continually condition ourselves to have hearts of peace. This essential work gave us the ability to get beyond our positions and to seek and discover the interests we have in common in terms of our faith, our Biblical understandings, our love for The United Methodist Church, and our Christ’s mission to reach the world with the transforming power of God.”
Just a final question in regard to that statement: Would those who came up with that statement say that God always has a “heart of peace” or did He maybe have a “heart of war” when He wiped out all the members of the human race except for 8 people who were on board an ark built by a man named Noah and his 3 sons?