The United Methodist Church I attend has joined the discussion of the issue that the denomination has battled over since 1972 when the General Conference of the church decided that homosexuality was “incompatible with Christian teaching.” You know, like war and torture. Almost fifty years later we are still engaged in the battle.
As I listened to the discussion at Chapelwood last Sunday I couldn’t help but think of the deal with the devil our Founders made in drafting the United States Constitution: accepting slavery as the price of unification. Unification was ultimately achieved with terrible loss of life. And we have yet to achieve full freedom and participation for the descendants of the people who were brought here and who worked against their will for the enrichment of the European immigrants.
The Methodists have us pondering three possible “solutions” to the question of how LGBTQ members shall be allowed to participate in the life of the church. They will go before a called session of the General Conference in 2019 and, as I understand the process, a recommendation will be made for adoption at the regular meeting of the General Conference in 2020.
Now, the general reader is probably not much interested in United Methodist governance and polity. But suffice it to say that the “One Church Plan” recommended to and endorsed by the Council of Bishops is the most acceptable. Still, it leaves the basic question unresolved with the Asian, African, and European areas left to define their own way forward. There are two other plans that will go before the General Conference and I will simply say that they are both unqualified disasters – either of them amount to an institutional death wish which would probably allow the denomination to survive no more than 25 to 50 years.
My preference is a fourth option which is not being considered and that would be to leave a statement of full inclusion and rights (which is pretty much what started this fight in 1972) and then eliminate all the language limiting ordination and the blessing of marriage relating to LGBTQ members.
For the last ten or fifteen years I have belonged to a group of United Methodists organized as the Reconciling Ministries Network. I recommend that you check out their web site linked here and read the top ten reasons for becoming a Reconciling United Methodist.
Methodists reference the Great Commission a lot. Let’s forget about trying to institutionalize our judgments about how people live and express their love and become more dedicated to being an institution that enables it, helps it grow and takes it into the world in the form of the peace, generosity and love for our planet.
God knows we need to do more of that.