An Open Letter to the WCA

Confessions of One of Your Own

by

by

Comments (17)

Comment Feed

I Hope You Are Right

As a Methodist on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I do hope and pray that your view of Scripture and God's will is correct. I personally have the view that the church's 2000 year sexual ethic is correct, and have tried to live my life to reflect that. As a result, my life has been frustrating and lonely at times, but I have no regrets. I frankly see both sides being wrong in their own ways; many traditionalists like to point to those who have "been transformed" from being gay, when in fact, no real change of sexual orientation takes place. I really question traditionalists' commitment in accepting outwardly gay/SSA parishioners, even if they hold a traditionalist view of Scripture. I hear that they want to provide ministry to the gay community--they have a lot to prove. As for the progressives, I have seen their work through the Reconciling Ministries; I am so glad that they have been a needed beacon of love for the affirming gay community, but as a non-affirming (Side B) gay Christian, I really have a difficult time relating to it. Frankly, I think some sort of division is appropriate and I hope and pray that both sides will thrive going different paths.

Lou 73 days ago

Agreed

I thank you for telling us about how the scales fell from your eyes. We are told not to judge. We are told that the great commandment is to love God and to love each other - everything else is commentary. What this tells me is that we do not have the right to judge anyone else. The way a person lives his or her own life is between that person and nobody else but God. If God wants to judge them, so be it. God is perfectly capable of doing that without our help.

When I go before God, I'd much rather have to answer why I included and loved someone rather than why I excluded and scorned someone.

If we are to be followers of Jesus, then we need to follow what HE said about this - and I can't think of a thing that HE said regarding LGBTQ people. Only love each other. So I'll take that as my "literal" understanding.

EG 154 days ago

Respectfully disagree

I disagree on two very important points. Our debate on the interpretation of scripture regarding homosexuality is a symptom of a deeper issue, the breaking of covenant of clergy. For years, clergy who disagree with the current language in the Book of Discipline simply break the covenant we agreed to at our ordination, commissioning or licensing. The other thing I disagree with is the continued argument that the 2019 General Conference Special Session somehow magically excluded all LGBTQ+ siblings from the life of church. I disagree. All are welcome. Always have been. To say otherwise is a lie and manipulation.

Jeff 157 days ago

Hi Jeff

First, I understand your first point - having clergy violate the BoD is a serious issue.

I don't see how change really could occur otherwise. Without having folks willing to risk it all for a point of view that they are passionate about, how do you get a large institution like the UMC to take notice and act on what these 'violators' see as a key point of theology? I'd love to hear some ideas on that.

Secondly, the GC2019 certainly didn't magically exclude LGBTQ+ persons from the life of the church. I think there was a lot of expectation that this time, this time, this time the vote would be different. This was the event that would lead them to feel FULLY included.

And here's the key point - if you aren't fully included, then you are at least partially excluded.
We'll let you play the game, but you can't be a coach.
We'll let you work here, but you'll never be management.
We'll let you ride on the bus, but you have to move to the back if we tell you to.
We'll let you come to church...
Everyone has sacred worth, but some people are worth more than others.


https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A41-42&version=NIV

JR 157 days ago

Educated beyond Experience

Hopefully experience and time will allow the development of objective truth to this pastor's subjective truth.

Bill Bond 161 days ago

Indeed

Indeed you are a biblical literalist...This comment that "We are not biblical literalist" is so worn out and never given a robust answer. Do you affirm the apostles creed that "You believe in Jesus Christ, his death, and resurrection". You are a literalist! Do you believe in "God the maker of heaven and earth"? Then you would be a biblical literalist. We could go on...

Saying "We are not biblical literalist" is the furthest thing from Methodism.

John 161 days ago

Some literal does not mean all literal

John, you have it into a binary choice:

'If you say you are not a literalist, then you don't think ANY of the Bible can be taken literally.
Therefore if you say you are a literalist, you must take ALL the Bible literally.'

That binary view applies to approximately no one. There might be a few who really try to toe the line, on either side, but as a percentage of Christians, their total population rounds to 0%.

But, as far as what Methodism really believes?

Book of Discipline, Page 84:
"We properly read Scripture within the believing community,
informed by the tradition of that community.

We interpret individual texts in light of their place in the Bible
as a whole.

We are aided by scholarly inquiry and personal insight,
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we work with each text,
we take into account what we have been able to learn about the
original context and intention of that text. In this understanding
we draw upon the careful historical, literary, and textual studies
of recent years, which have enriched our understanding of the
Bible.

Through this faithful reading of Scripture, we may come to
know the truth of the biblical message in its bearing on our own
lives and the life of the world. Thus, the Bible serves both as a
source of our faith and as the basic criterion by which the truth
and fidelity of any interpretation of faith is measured.

While we acknowledge the primacy of Scripture in theological
reflection, our attempts to grasp its meaning always involve tradi-
tion, experience, and reason. Like Scripture, these may become
creative vehicles of the Holy Spirit as they function within the
Church. They quicken our faith, open our eyes to the wonder of
God’s love, and clarify our understanding."


Read that a couple of times. What that is saying is that we are not 'Biblical Literalists". If it was as straightforward as you imply, we'd have absolutely no need for tradition, experience or reason - EVER. But those are core Methodist principles.

Therefore, "We are not Biblical Literalists" is NOT the furthest thing from Methodism; in fact, it's the center of Methodism. And if that doesn't fit with your view, you should probably be questioning whether you are, in fact, a Methodist.

JR 160 days ago

JR, thanks for the feedback, even though I humbly disagree. Taking the bible "literally" is certainly at the heart of methodism. I would invite you to read Wesley's sermon "Scriptural Christianity or The Almost Christian." Just because we consider tradition, experience, and reason doesn't mean we don't take it literally. There is a literal message in every text. The author and writers are communicating a literal meaning, granted it might be poetic, metaphorical, hyperbolic, historical, prophetic, etc. How we appropriate that message is something complete different.

Did the writer of the psalms mean it when he said, "Smash their heads on a rock"? I am sure he literally meant it, out of anger and frustration. It is also poetry and conveys a message of deep pain and agony. Does that mean we literally go around "smashing peoples heads on a rock?" Of course not! But in our anger we can express it to God.

You site the book of discipline, well allow me to site it as well.

Article I — Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

What part don't you take literal? What part of is not strait forward? How would tradition, reason, and experience help you come to any conclusion but the LITERAL understanding as expressed above?

Article III — Of the Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.

"Christ did truly rise"....Christ did LITERALLY rise...

There are parts we better take literal...

John 159 days ago

Okay, let's go with that.

Here are literal quotes from the Bible. Enjoy.

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again."
(Exodus 21: 7-8)

"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." (Luke 16:18) [And there is an OT punishment for adultery, which luckily Jesus pushed a deferral on - side note, this item comes up in 3 of the 4 Gospels]


"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) [adultery, see above]

"Do not allow a witch to live." (Exodus 22:18)

So let's play the 'literal' game on that last one.
1) There are witches.
2) When you run across one, you have to kill them.
3) Lots of people claim to be witches in America. You probably drive past a palm reader every day.

And that's it. Pretty straightforward. That's a LITERAL reading of the Bible.

But you cite a different method:
"The author and writers are communicating a literal meaning, granted it might be poetic, metaphorical, hyperbolic, historical, prophetic, etc. How we appropriate that message is something complete different."

ABSOLUTELY. But that's not 'Biblical Literalism'. In the 'Witches' verse, I use Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason to come up with this (off the top of my head):

Historically, Witches were a term used for representatives of other religions who claimed to have special powers. There were a lot of those kinds running around in those days, serving various gods and such. The Hebrew faith was trying for purity, so they were driving out or killing all competitors. You had a motley crew of people trying to establish their own tribal structure and rules, after being under Egyptian rule (as slaves) for a couple of hundred years. So those rules were harsh and explicit. Once the Hebrew faith was well established several generations in, the danger of outsider religions were not as great, and then while sorcery was still anathema, it didn't require such strong measures. Jesus would rather have us convince people to follow him, even though he didn't say anything explicit about witches or sorcery. Read Acts 8:9-25.

Therefore, my actions should be:
1) don't be a witch.
2) try to get any I meet to consider coming to church, and become a Christian.
[Bonus points, I've already done so.]

JR 159 days ago

What is missing from this...

Is a report of your own personal heart warming experience of understanding that Jesus did indeed die for me a sinner and experience the assurance that God does love even me which leads to the realization that you are finally standing in the wide open space of God's most amazing grace.

betsy 163 days ago

Ok betsy

Why doesn't that same 'amazing grace' apply to LGBTQ+ folks?

Is it just that I have more love for them than GOD is willing to have?

JR 160 days ago

Love Wins...but which version?

I always find it intriguing when I read reflections and comments like those of Kevin Thomas. His experience is 180 degrees opposite of mine!

Forty years ago I had good liberal credentials: Yale Divinity School, a long family line of liberal clergy – including father and grandfather (who nearly disowned me when I turned to what they considered, “The Dark Side”). Just as the conservatism of his youth didn’t work for Mr. Thomas, the liberalism of my youth utterly failed me in the realities of ministry. Something different grabbed hold of me in place of what appeared to be the increasingly empty platitudes of liberalism: I discovered the reconciling power of Jesus Christ, His amazing grace, and the truth of His Word. And the unsearchable love. As Charles wrote: “Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” That relentless, amazing love grabbed hold of me and the great joy of the past 40 years of my life has been to share it with all those who will receive it!!

Mr. Thomas and I don’t seem to be all that different. And yet we are on totally different sides of this. Intriguing.

Even more fascinating to me is that while Kevin Thomas speaks of the great gratitude he owes his “conservative evangelical mentors,” he seems to have no problem at all for blaming them for putting him on the road which led him to hatefulness. Intriguing. Indeed…alarming!

I certainly agree that to have proclaimed from the pulpit, “If God doesn’t punish California, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah and apology!” It should be confessed and repented. But which of his, “conservative mentors” forced him to say it? He seems to think what he said was their fault. Maybe like, “the devil made me do it”?

He thanks them for their gifts to him, then accuses them of deception: “…my mentors had deceptively led me to be a fundamentalist….” Mr. Thomas, I suggest you – you alone – bear the responsibility before God for what you believe…what you speak from the pulpit…what you teach others.

More important…do you truly believe they deceived you? It wasn’t difference of opinion? It wasn’t legitimately held differences of experience and understanding? It wasn’t heart-felt devotion to a way of faith you have now come to reject? It was none of those things. It was deception?

If it was deception, do you now grant to me (and others who disagree with you) the very same justification to make the same accusations toward my Yale Divinity School professors…to the denominational leaders who encouraged and nurtured my liberalism…to my father, my mother, and grandparents…who taught me the ways of liberalism?

I could, of course, blame them for their “deception.” But for 40 years I’ve chosen not to attribute to them motives of deception and hatefulness. Rather I’ve chosen to love them, to affirm them in the face of our differences.

Personally, I think that’s the way love…the love of Jesus Christ…truly wins.


Hartford Inlow 163 days ago

Thank you!!

This is an excellent reply to a hateful posting.

Eriberto Soto 163 days ago

Love always wins-single version

Maybe you should reread the text of Kevin's article, since he did already repent and felt that he had been forgiven by God. Who are you to judge? Kevin still has to forgive himself, and that alone can be much more difficult.

Floyd Ostrom 162 days ago

Very well-said!

Your comment superbly resets the perspective presented in the original submission. I would add that a Traditional view of scripture doesn't absolve us of sin or guilt, nor does it prevent us from being guilty, but it would certainly require us to repent.... Therefore the statement "Yet, we preachers are a greedy bunch, and no one holds us accountable for it" is somewhat disingenuous -- because we must hold ourselves accountable for the sin which occurs in our lives, whether or not we attempt to prevent it.

David 162 days ago

Love Wins

Perfectly written! I support you!

Ellen 162 days ago

I appreciate your point...

... but even the mouthpieces of the Traditionalist Plan think otherwise.

https://goodnewsmag.org/2019/06/progress-report-on-annual-conference-actions/

"In the clergy shift, we also see the influence of our United Methodist seminaries, nearly all of whom explicitly support the ordination of practicing gays and lesbians as clergy. Many UM seminary presidents and deans signed statements before and after the special General Conference calling on the church to change its position. Many faculty at these institutions come from a progressive viewpoint-some very forcefully so. Many of our UM seminaries are taking steps to explicitly welcome and encourage LGBTQ persons to attend. Many UM seminaries emphasize social justice coursework and deemphasize biblical study. For many of them, the study of the Greek and Hebrew languages in which the Bible was written is optional. This approach to theology and the advocacy for LGBTQ equality deeply influences students at a formative time in their lives, leading to a clergy that is substantially more liberal than the laity who make up the people in the pews."

Let me emphasize that part at the end: "...deeply influences students at a formative time in their lives..."

Now, that's not to take away your point that you went in the other direction. Everyone has to find their own path. And certainly, to some extent, there has to be ownership of that path.

But during the formative years, there's a huge impact from family, teachers, mentors. They help put you on the path, and push you on that way.

Hartford, you have the benefit of decades of retrospection. Kevin's not nearly as far along his path - I appreciate your perspective, and your wisdom regarding it, but perhaps some more pastoral advice without what appears to be a hint of ... condescension? ... might be a better choice. That could just be the nature of the internet and not the intention from your end - I do not mean to say that's how you feel, it's only how I feel about what you wrote.

Blessings to you

JR 160 days ago

ONLINE GIVING RETURNS

TO UNITED METHODIST INSIGHT!

     TEXT your contribution to 84-321 with "(amt) Insight" via your smartphone or go to https://ststephenumctx.churchcenter.com/giving/to/um-insight Your additional contribution of the 2.2 processing fee will make your donation go farther.

     Make checks payable to our sponsoring congregation, St. Stephen UMC, and write "UM Insight" on the memo line. Then mail to United Methodist Insight, c/o St. Stephen United Methodist Church, 2520 Oates Drive, Mesquite, TX 75150.

Thank you!


Get United Methodist Insight Weekly!

* indicates required