A Divided United Methodist Church: How We'll Fail at the Main Thing



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A house divided...

This article prompts me to remember Lincoln’s “house divided” speech in which prophesied: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

The South claimed that the North was interfering with their “property rights.” But owning human beings is not a “right” that God grants to men, no matter how many decades they may try to enforce it.

Likewise, God has never granted men the “right” to redefine commandments about sexuality.

God allows individuals, and nations, the agency to violate his laws for a time. But when they assume rights they cannot have, they must ultimately be displaced like squatters camping on property not their own.

Joy more than 3 years ago

We Worry about Saving Lives; You worry about Saving Money

Pastor Howell, LGBT die daily due to our incorporated hatred, rejection, and persecution. Is this not enough to justify a split from those who cause such hatred? If your family lived with a wealthy elderly grandfather who physically and sexually molested your children - children who then one by one commited suicide due to the abuse - would you not move your family to safety, even if that implied the loss of an inheritance?

We who favor complete reversal of church doctrine on homosexuality and/or a split are doing exactly that; we are trying to save lives. We want to save the very lives of our children.

But it seems you worry more about monetary loss than saving lives.

Ben more than 3 years ago

Ironic perspective

Ben, every suicide is a tragedy, particularly if it arises from a misunderstanding of God's abundant love for individuals no matter their past, their weaknesses, or their earthly inclinations. But please consider the possibility that some suicides within the LGBT community are not the result of persecution from church believers. Some of these beloved departed souls have despaired because their chosen lifestyle did not bring them the satisfaction and fulfillment that they hoped it would. I want the church to help protect my children from spiritual despair, which is a natural consequence of choosing behaviors that mis-align with God's revealed word.

I say this as respectfully as I can. The sexual molestation at stake here is the teaching of children that homosexuality or any other sexual deviation is proper and pleasing to God. That is a spiritual molestation which must be avoided at all costs because it distorts and potentially prevents children's ability to find the joy God intended for man and women to find together.

You talk about saving the lives of your children. But accepting homosexuality will not do this. They will be exposed to all sorts of sexual behavior that leads ultimately to loneliness and despair. Further, you will endanger their spiritual lives in God, because men and women who are driven by sexual passions have difficulty cultivating the self-discipline and faith that prepare them for the joys of heaven.

And for the record, I believe Pastor Howell is full of heart and sympathy for people on both sides of this issue. His concern is not money---he's simply trying to show a few aspects of the fall-out from this fateful decision which will truly affect so many people in profound ways.

Joy more than 3 years ago

So God is a sexual molester?

Ben, if teaching children to follow sexual laws like chastity is child abuse, then you are accusing God himself of child abuse. Even if you believe that Jesus loosed all restrictions in the New Testament, then He/God/Jehovah would still have been guilty of "child abuse" when He gave the strict laws in the Old Testament. The only way you can hold this position is to effectively write off the entire Old Testament as figurative and fairy tale rather than an actual record of God ever speaking. This certainly goes beyond what Jesus did.

Joy more than 3 years ago

Lead the Awakening

Are we not forgetting that Wesley and Whitefield went separate ways? Wesley and Whitefield split over theology and look what happened. Whitefield led the the Great Awakening in America with Jonathan Edwards and Wesley led the awakening in England. And look at the good that was done for the gospel. The sky is not falling. A split frees all the attention from schism and loosens the grip of fear so the next Great Awakening can commence. Quite frankly I could care less about what happens to the liberal clergy- the liberal clergy have had a strangle hold on their congregations for far too long. Many clergy will step from the shadows and seminaries to lead the conservative churches. Thank God for Asbury and their commitment to a Wesleyan Evangelical witness. And praise God that the liberal, anti-Christian, heretical UMC Boards and Agencies will close and send their staff to pasture. Grace abounds and Praise for the coming Awakening!!

Jeff Lucas more than 3 years ago

Another way to view the problem

For way too long the American branch of The United Methodist Church has promoted free thinking when it comes to God and the church. As a result, we have become a church that theologically is little more than water spilled on the floor going multiple directions. There is absolutely no way put all the water back in a container. Furthermore, all this free thinking within a single faith tradition is not a Wesleyan understanding of the church.

betsy more than 3 years ago

Free Thinking is the Way of Christ

Jesus was a Jew. He kept Jewish law and observed Jewish culture.

The Jews prescribe and proscribe behaviors but never thought. There are no Jewish 'Thought Police'.

Judaism is our heritage and the reason the UMC permits free thinking.

Source: Although born, baptized, and raised Methodist by my UMC pastor father and mother, I studied for the Orthodox Jewish rabbinate. I am an OT, Mishnah, and Talmudic scholar.

Ben more than 3 years ago


A split would be ugly. I think everyone gets that. Smoothly dividing along geographic lines will probably not happen. And if it did there would be isolated islands within looking to go the other direction. As for progressive pastors being put on the street that is their problem not The UMC's problem. We cannot allow such thinking to cloud our judgement.
I do not hold a lot of hope for a solution that keeps us all together. The loose connection proposal would simply be a half way point before a total split. I am tired of the discussions and simply want an endpoint.

Kevin more than 3 years ago


Quit trying to hold this thing together. Decide to go one way or the other. None of what is currently taking place addresses the 50 years of consistent numerical decline that is really killing the church. Quit trying to save the church and get back to the basics of John Wesley--saving individuals. Start doing a better job of connecting individuals to God and then to each other in a life transforming relationship.

Betsy more than 3 years ago


Stop focusing on homosexuality - a topic having nothing to do with the decline of the UMC.

Christ did not speak one word about homosexuality; how is it we have made the topic the cornerstone of our faith?

Ben more than 3 years ago

Notable Quotes 

Jim Winkler, general secretary, National Council of Churches USA (NCC Photo)"Public and sometimes violent acts of racism, white Christian nationalism, anti-immigrant attitudes and xenophobia, along with rising incidents of anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious bigotry sometimes committed in the name of Christianity, have created an urgency for the churches and the broader culture to recognize the imperative of interreligious engagement for peace-making locally, nationally, and globally."

– United Methodist layman Jim Winkler, top executive of the National Council of Churches USA, in a speech to  International Religious Freedom and Peace Conference in Armenia.


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