Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why I'm a Bad Methodist

Because I don't think pastors who are called by God to ministry and who serve their churches well should be defrocked while pastors who deny membership to people because of their sexual orientation should be retained.

I have to say I'm not surprised by the decision on Rev. Stroud. Given the stranglehold the Southeast Jurisdiction has on the denomination, the rules in the Book of Discpline about "homosexuality [being] incompatible with Christian teaching" aren't going to be changed anytime soon. It's frustrating, though, that the denomination is so uneven in its application of those rules. The Book of Discipline also says a lot of stuff against war, but I don't remember any pastors being defrocked because they supported the war in Iraq. Oh yeah, it's only the rules that support conservative positions that carry the weight of law. Silly me.

I am really disgusted, however, about the Virginia pastor who was allowed to deny membership to a gay man because of his sexual orientation.

In particular, the bishops discussed the ruling involving the Virginia church. “One thing is clear,” Drachler said on behalf of the bishops. “The Constitution and Social Principles of the United Methodist Church have not changed. Our Book of Discipline has not changed. All persons are of sacred worth. Our communion table is open to all persons who profess their belief in Jesus Christ and are seeking forgiveness for their sins. God’s love is unconditional.”

Just as long as he loves you over there, not here in my church. Ugh. This from a denomination whose marketing campaign is "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors"? How hypocritical can we get?

Now, to be fair, I actually support an individual pastor and/or church's right to a lot of autonomy. According to the decision:

“As part of these administrative responsibilities, the pastor in charge of a United Methodist Church or charge is solely responsible for making the determination of a person’s readiness to receive the vows of membership,” the decision says. “ … The pastor-in-charge is entrusted with discretion in the exercise of this responsibility.”

Okay, I get that. What I don't get is why pastor autonomy is a good thing in this case but a bad thing in the case of, oh say, deciding which of his/her members is ready to take vows of commitment? United Methodist pastors are barred by the higher authority of the denomination from performing holy unions for same-sex couples because that's "incompatible with Christian teaching." So much for pastoral autonomy. Yet they can deny membership to sinners. Where do we draw the line? If we deny membership to all sinners, our churches are going to be awfully empty places. Raise your hand if you would qualify.

::crickets chirping::

Yeah, I thought so.

It's a sad day for my denomination.

(P.S. Just so we're clear, my church does not deny membership to people on the basis of sexual orientation. EVER.)


At 8:29 PM, Anonymous TAN GUODONG said...

Whichever it is homosexual is a sin. I would support churches who are totally against Homosexuality.

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous edwardsonB said...

I was once a member of the United Methodist Church.

I left it.

In the Church I am affiliated with right now, gays and lesbians are accepted. In fact, gays even have an organization in the Church.

Gays and lesbians are also humans. They also need salvation. And they have the chance to be saved as well like everyone else has.

And, of course, they should be given the chance to follow God's commandments/laws written in the Bible as well like everyone else should.

Gays and lesbians (homo, hetero, and the like) in our Church are obeying how Christians should live in accordance to the Bible.


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