In just a few weeks the United Methodist Church will be holding a special General Conference to discuss, vote on and possibly determine the direction the denomination will be heading in the future. Will we be maintaining our traditional values and uphold the Word of God as it has stood for centuries? Or, will we be changing our stance on sexuality dramatically? Will the future of the UMC include same sex clergy couples, ordination of openly gay candidates or maybe even same sex weddings being performed with the cross and flame in the background? At this point, its hard to say what is going to happen. But there are quite a few issues that are being brought to the forefront that will definitely change the landscape of our denomination forever. I guess the real question is: “Will Christ be pleased with what we have done?”
There are many forefront issues being addressed at this conference but it is the precedent that will be established that will really determine where we are going. One of the challenging background issues is this: if we establish that something other than a “man and a woman” can be married in a sexual relationship, what do we do with those that insist that being bi-sexual is just as valid? Another vote, conference? Does it mean that a bi-sexual person should be able to explore a sexual relationship with partners of both sexes? I know, you’re going to tell me that “no’” they would have to choose one or the other partner. But let’s get real, that’s not the stance of the many bi-sexual people I have encountered. They insist that the freedom to explore both sexes and those experiences are “who we are” and therefore “God instituted.” It would be wrong to deny anyone the opportunity to be all that God has created us to be! And if they are supported when they explore a sexual relationship with a man and a woman, does that mean it’s still “God instituted, ordained?” Does God want me to have two partners, two lovers, two best-friends, two relationships to fully experience “who” God created me to be? The water is getting murky.
Again, there are a host of “sub-issues” surrounding the topics to be addressed at this special conference of the United Methodist Church. But how does everyone outside of the U.S. feel about all of this? From what I have been reading, and I have not read everything, the overall stance of the UMC in other nations appears to be on the traditional platform. God’s Word is God’s Word. Leave it the way it is! I have found it discouraging that in the background of the issue the church has been looking at ways for churches to leave the denomination, to keep the money available for the church overall to utilize, to allow everyone to believe what they want and stay united. Is this really what Jesus had in mind? What did Satan say to Eve? (Genesis 3:1)
There is one word that constantly appears in the many articles, videos and discussions I have been involved with surround the issue of the church and sexuality; “unity.” It seems like being a church unified is the ultimate goal, that together we can accomplish so much! This leads me to ask “what are we trying to accomplish?” “Are we all in agreement on that?” “What is the church here for?” Its always nice to be a part of a larger goal, a bigger effort, and to see those efforts come to fruition. It’s a wonderful thing to see our donated resources go to help people around the globe. One of the wonderful parts of being in the UMC is a global effort known as UMCOR. Such wonderful work has been and continues to be done by this group. And I have to say that there are many other efforts sponsored by the UMC that I am a proud partner of. But is it the goal? Is benevolence, caring for those in need the aspiration? Is providing needed resources what we have been called to do by Christ?
Certainly, we are called to serve those in need, and there are many, and in no way am I discounting the efforts of the UMC in regards to providing aid and resources where needed. But as Jesus said; “you will always have the poor with you.” It doesn’t make it any less of a goal, but it is not “the goal.” In my search for truth I am drawn back in time to our heritage, our roots in Methodism. During the Reformation benevolence and care for the poor was upheld but “relationship and obedience” to God were identified as primary. I can give resources to the poor, but if I really don’t care about the poor, what good does it do for me? As Jesus identified many times, I can “look” Christian, act Christian but it is what comes out of my heart that makes me clean or unclean, in a Godly relationship or not, Christian or a “wanna-be.”
Have we become so “enlightened” that we now have the right and duty to interpret Scripture for God? Has this enlightenment taken 2,000 years to come about? Wow, lucky us, huh? What about the centuries of oral tradition, historical writings and archaeological finds that all support what Scripture teaches us? I have yet to receive an answer about how we have received the right and enlightenment to alter God’s written Word. Someone help me here, because I’m sinking like Peter!
In this short discourse we will never settle anything. Maybe all I will accomplish here is to offend the few that will actually read it to the end. That is not my intention. But I have to tell you that I am compelled to write this short article and to post it so we would all take a break from our personal feeling and emotions and just “think!” Does what we are doing make sense? Sense for us, the church? How has God revealed that this is His chosen path for us? Are we satisfying ourselves, family relationships or the culture? One thing I know for sure, and that is that God loves all of us, yes, all of us. But the question is; does love mean condoning all types of human behavior? And, how do we as the church respond to a culture that is dividing our church?
Pray hard for the coming General Conference, please pray…