United Methodist General Conference
Disagreement in Three Fundamental Ways
I find myself in disagreement with the recent United Methodist General Conference in three fundamental ways.
- First, it is biblically inconsistent to stake the unity of the church on opposition to same-sex marriage and gay clergy. I have officiated at many weddings of divorced people who were remarrying, and no one threatened to kick me out of the church, even though Jesus himself explicitly prohibits divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11). I have heard United Methodists tell others not to give money to beggars who might use it for drugs, and no one threatened to kick them out of the church, even though Jesus clearly commands us to give to everyone who begs from us (Matthew 5:42, Luke 6:30). I could go on. On what basis was it decided to make one’s standing in the church depend on acceptance of a few Bible verses, while other verses can be ignored? The inconsistency is too great to let stand.
- Second, General Conference’s decision assumes that the church’s unity is based on agreement about sexuality and conformity of practice. I have always believed that the church’s unity is a gift of the Holy Spirit and comes from a common devotion to Jesus Christ. I can worship, pray, study and serve with people who do not agree with me, even on fundamental matters. I am looking for other United Methodists who can do the same.
- Finally, even if General Conference’s decisions about human sexuality were “right” (and I do not believe they are), they would still be hurtful and mistaken, because they are not loving. John Wesley wrote, “So how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love?” (Works of Wesley, 1:107). In other words, it is more Christian to be loving and wrong than to be unloving and right. I pray that my congregation will continue to prioritize love over agreement or conformity.
February 28, 2019