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the united methodist church: the sexuality fight continues


the united methodist church has gathered in tampa, florida for its general conference, which meets every four years. one of the things this means is that the national media pays some attention because they want to report on whatever goes on in the discussion regarding homosexuality. from whati'm reading, that long-unresolved conversation has already begun, as the conference set up what they called "holy conversations" in which small groups of people could sit and discuss this sensitive topic. however, it seems that some of the conversations turned to an opportunity for bullying and name calling, rather than looking for truth, understanding and ways to show love and compassion. as a young(er) methodist, i am so tired of this conversation, and am weary of my tribe (united methodists) being so unwilling to love people. when the culture has done a better job of loving people than the church has, we have a problem. Jesus said that the world would know us by our love, not by our stand on the issues, or on ANYTHING else. just love. and yet we continue to show a 44-year inability to love well when we continue to fight about this issue. i, for one, am so tired of it. the church has WAY bigger issues to deal with, but we can't deal with them when we are so distracted by continuing to pick at this scab rather than let it heal. it is an awkward position to be in when you are disappointed in the denomination that ordained you. i think this blogger got it right.

and so i am praying for all the bishops and delegates and demonstrators today.  praying that we can move beyond this disagreement.  that we can figure out a way to live beyond our fear and make some decisions based on love for a change.  will you pray with me?

Comments

Greg C. said…
I will pray with you.
Chad said…
Homosexuality is a such a hot topic these days.

Are there particular issues in question for the UMC? Ordination of homosexuals, affirmation of their lifestyle, approval of marriage of homosexuals? I don't know all the issues at stake.

Is there room in Christendom for someone to believe that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage should not be a same-sex thing? Is it ok for a Christian to think the bible teaches those things?

Not loving people is not an option for us Christians. If we cannot love, we do not know God! I think where a lot of problems come in for Christians whose beliefs line up with traditional views on marriage and homosexuality is in lacking love for those people we disagree with.

Also, I think Christians who have more contemporary views on marriage and homosexuality and who do not think it is a sin, need to love Christians who have the traditional views.

Is there any middle ground? Is there room to actually discuss the issue and end with an agreement to disagree, all the while loving one another along the way?

Does loving the LGBT community mean we must affirm of their lifestyle and choices, or is there a way to love them and not agree that homosexuality is acceptable?

I'm just asking questions here, because you seem like the kind of person who might be willing to actually talk about the issues without getting angry and trying to destroy me. That in itself is saying something, the fact that we (people in general, Christians in particular) are afraid to even talk about something for fear that we'll be destroyed and/or ridiculed/belittled in the process.

Let me know your thoughts, bro.

- Chad
"homosexuality is such a hot topic these days."

i'm not sure i can agree with this. i think it is a hot topic in certain parts of the church and in certain parts of the culture, but the more i work with young people, the more i find that they are largely over it. in truth, the very fact that the church can't seem to figure out how to talk about/treat each other in regards to this issue is a HUGE reason why people think the church is wildly irrelevant.

to begin to respond to your many questions, i would say that of course there is room in Christendom for us to disagree on the topic of homosexuality. therein lies one of the problems in the united methodist church: we can't even agree on a way to say that we disagree about these issues. the principles of fear and power seem to rule the day and so the general conference has been known to spend hours arguing about whether or not we can say that "we are not of one mind" on this issue! we can't even agree on how we disagree!

ridiculous.

embarassing.

and completely out of step with the Christ whose name we carry.

for me, as one who is exhausted from the debate about what Scripture actually says about this issue, i am not prone to think that i will change anyone's mind. instead, i just want the church that i love to figure out a way not only to love those who are homosexuals, but those who disagree with them about the issue. both sides.

i keep coming back to the fact that they will know us by our love. and yet we are known (i am speaking specifically here about the united methodist church who will most certainly be in the news over the next 2 weeks) more for our debates and arguments and threats to split and fear and anger and moral fingerpointing and using the bible as a weapon to bludgeon. it breaks the heart. at least mine.

glad you felt like you could bring this up without me lashing out. i would guess that we disagree on the specifics of this issue, but that we might be able to find some common ground in the One who called us to love God completely and to love our neighbors even when it is terribly difficult.
Chad said…
thanks for your reply, glad we can dialogue. i do think the issue is a hot topic for the vast majority, as evidenced by its being in the news, raged over by proponents and disagreers alike, even if not the "mainstream" news media, it's certainly a hot topic for the Church.

we, the Church, are largely not known by our love for one another. i picture the culture at large walking by our "family" in public and slowly shrinking back, carefully leading their children down a different aisle in the grocery store to avoid the yelling and screaming that so often accompanies family trips and talks about this topic. "shhhh, don't go over there, let's just get our bread and go home..." *quietly backs away and heads toward bread aisle, guarding worried children*

individual hearts are changing, though, I think. i known i am personally in a different place than i was 20 years ago, and i have seen hearts softened over the years.

i long for the day when all sins will be washed away and there will be complete unity in Christ. one of the biggest reasons i long for that day is that we will no longer have to worry about being RIGHT.

a person spoke wisdom into my life many years ago and said i should remember, in matters of disagreement with others, i just might be wrong. :-)

peace, bro...
crv
Emoly said…
I've been praying since Annual Conference this year and couldn't have said it better.

Amen!
rita said…
I'm not much of a facebook-er, and I've never responded to a blog before, but I couldn't *not* respond to this post; it's something that I feel strongly about. I am in total agreement with Pastor Greg, and I admire his eloquence (and bravery) in discussing such a controversial issue. And although I regret some of the church's opinions and infighting over the topic, I'm glad it's a church where Pastor Greg is free to express his opinions without fear of retribution.

It is my belief that people are born with their sexual orientation, i.e. it is part of their genetic makeup. I suspect that's where the disagreement on the issue begins, as the people that feel that homosexuality is a sin must believe that it's a choice that people make. I feel that it's more of a sin to ask homosexuals to deny who they really are. But o.k., I believe that way, and others don't, but I do agree that we all need to love one another.

I am not young-ish like Pastor Greg, in fact I'm old-ish enough to be his mother. (If I *were* his mother, I'd be very proud!) I, too, feel that the younger generation as a whole are much more accepting of these differences (I know my daughter is, who I'm also very proud of!). I'm hoping (and praying) that the church doesn't alienate the younger generation with unloving examples and decisions, so that there continues to be a church to spread His love for generations to come.

-rita
peggy said…
You are the generation that will make a difference, Greg. Press on, my friend ... you are in a place in time, and in your life, to do so.

I love my God, my faith, my "religion, my church, my fellow worshipers, my pastors, the person next to me who needs my love, and who's love I desparately need, but lately I have not loved the leadership of the United Methodist Church.

I don't have enough knowledge to argue with any authority, but I am at a loss to understand some of the events I've read about and witnessed.

At the end of the day I will continue to believe that we all have a voice. Some big, and some small, but in our own ways we can all make a difference. What is it that the UMC hopes to accomplish?

God created us, and created us individually and differently. Sexuality isn't a choice for the majority of people. Life is hard enough ... regardless of our sexual orientation ... without the church also judging people.

I have learned so much from you, greg ... but what sticks with me always is your message that, "I am loved ... unconditionally."

Why are there judgements about what that means?

Keep asking the questions that make us all think, Greg! Keep being you!
thanks to all of you for the prayers and for the encouraging dialogue....we have to keep working at this and finding ways to live in unity even when we don't agree.

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