Monday, May 05, 2008

general conference: part 2

general conference is over. when i wrote about it 12 days ago, i was full of energy and hope about the work of the conference. i really thought that the denomination was going to shed some status quo and embrace some new ways of doing things, and while there were little signs of that here and there, it appeared to me, at least from the outside, like we mostly kept things the way they've been.
the most attention-grabbing part of the general conference, or the part the media is always interested in, is our stance on homosexuality. this was a particularly disappointing part of the general conference for me. since 1972 we have a bit in our discipline in the social principles that says that homosexuality is "incompatible with christian teaching." this language is difficult to maintain in our discipline because Biblical interpretation is used convincingly on both sides of this arguement. this year, a group brought a resolution that was a bit of a comprimise: instead of saying homosexuality is good or bad, it simply suggested that we get rid of the "incompatible with christian teaching" bit and admit that we are a denomination that is struggling with this issue, submitting ourselves to God's wisdom, and committing ourselves to love everyone.
this seemed like a reasonable resolution, but it did not pass. instead, the conservative arm of the church was able to convince the conference to strengthen the language in the discipline against homosexuality.
again, for me personally, i'm not even that concerned at this point about whether its right or wrong. i just know that for many young people (the kind of people that the church is saying we want to be more relevant to) homosexuality is no longer an issue. we are spending valuable time and energy and money arguing about sex, while so many of our young people shrug their shoulders and say, "what's the big deal?" in the meantime, we are flushing our relevance down the cultural commode. we become known (fairly or not) as one of those denominations that fights about sex all the time.
so i was a bit disappointed overall in the work of general conference. i think some good things happened, too, and i'll be interested to see how the legislation that passed makes its way through the system and eventually into local churches. but overall, i continue to walk in hope that despite the brokenness of the church, and how bound and determined she seems to fade into irrelevance, she is alive and able to reach the least and the lost with a love that the rest of the world cannot offer. i believe this. lord, help my unbelief (again)!
grace and peace,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pastor - my heart breaks today because i am ashamed to be a united methodist. not because of any stand i might take on any particular issue but because this is the example we show to the world. and we wonder why we continue to dwindle. but next sunday i will be in my seat at worship and i will continue to give my tithe as a united methodist and share my ministry and give my life for Christ as a united methodist. because it was there that god met me through the prayers and work of other united methodists. but for today i am discouraged. when did we forget that we are just beggars who found bread and that our only job is to show other beggars where they can get some too? julid