Being a member of an independent Baptist church, there aren't many religious news items I'm specifically qualified to opine on. Nevertheless, Methodists are fairly similar to my church doctrinally, so I'll comment a bit on their recent decision to continue not condoning homosexuality.
The United Methodist Church reaffirmed yesterday that homosexual activity is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and struck down language that would have made the church more inclusive of gays and lesbians.Since Christianity is a revealed religion, agreement is irrelevant. The Bible incontrovertably condemns the practice, and there's no further discussion to be had on the matter.
Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
Peggy Gaylord, left, of Binghamton, N.Y., comforts her friend, Vivian Waltz, of Alum Bank, Bedford County, after a vote at the United Methodist Church General Conference yesterday that reaffirmed the church's stance on homosexuality.
Delegates to the denomination's General Conference, meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, voted 579 to 376 to strengthen the church's stand on the issue.
A proposal for more moderate language, recognizing "that Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching," failed to advance.
The Rev. Margaret Mallory, who chaired the Church and Society subcommittee that voted to move more inclusive language forward last week, called the issue "a thorn in the collective side of the church."There's no point in dialogue, because the positions are irreconcilable. Acceding that discussion on the matter would serve any purpose whatsoever would be a total defeat for the side standing on the teachings of the Bible, because it would be an acknowledgement that human discussion has something to contribute to God's revelation. Once that line is crossed, there's no reason to stick to Biblical teachings on anything anyone disagrees with.
She said the committee recommended the inclusive language to move the church out of "irreconcilable corners and to a place of dialogue."
At the end of the morning plenary, scores of United Methodists, most wearing the rainbow-colored collars acknowledging support of a more liberal church, shared communion. When they were done, a communion cup was shattered as sign of a broken church.If it's broken, they're the culprits, because the Bible hasn't changed.
Delegates also voted 436-466 [sic?] to reject a proposed amendment from the legislative committee that would have added the statement, "As this difficult judgment is made, it is acknowledged that faithful Christians hold differing opinions in this matter."I can't speak for the Methodists, but our church holds periodic "votes" on important topics. Despite how it may appear, the church is not a democracy, it's a theocracy. We don't vote to display our personal preferences, we vote to affirm that we are in agreement over what is God's will. The Head of the church is Christ -- not any pastor, not any team of leaders, any not any ballot or conference.
When our leadership team asks the members of the church to vote on a topic, the question is never "do you want to do this?". The focus is not on what people want, but rather on whether or not they affirm what the leadership team believes to be God's will. Do some people vote based on their preferences? Probably so, but we try to make it clear that that's not the point.
Faith Geer, a reserve delegate from St. Paul United Methodist Church in McCandless, was one of those who wore a rainbow stole to show her support of gay ordination. Yesterday's votes saddened her, she said later. "It seems so simple to agree to disagree. That's all the petitions asked for, and we couldn't accept it," she said.They have agreed to disagree, unless anyone was thrown out of the church and it's not being reported. The majority just hasn't agreed to agree that the opposition has a theologically valid position.
However, in arguing for language inclusive of gays and lesbians, Preston said he believes the church fails to send a message of compassion that would heal wounds. "It is misleading to say people are welcomed, but if you disagree with [the church's perspective] you are not because you will not be acknowledged."I'm not sure what is meant by "acknowledged" (does it have some special denominational meaning?), but I didn't read anything here that leads me to believe that homosexuals are not welcome to be members of the church. In fact, churches should welcome homosexuals, as well as anyone else who wants to learn about God. That doesn't mean that there shouldn't be any standards of right and wrong, or any prerequisites for leadership positions.
As with Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and the Catholics, these agitators in the Methodist church appear to want to both have their cake and eat it too.