Tell us if you’ve heard this one before: A priest, a rabbi, and a gay guy walk into a bar… Nevermind, we’re SURE you heard it before. But it turns out that this time it’s the Methodists. It seems it’s that time of year when the United Methodist Church’s General Conference gathers (or, to be exact, every FOUR years). And they will be discussing whether to admit same-sex clergy (as the Episcopalians already do) and their stance on same-sex unions.
LGBT activists have already printed pamphlets in everything from Portuguese to Swahili (nearly 40% of the delegates live outside the United States) to educate the world’s Methodist clergy that have all gathered in Tampa, Florida. They’ll be debating all manner of things, but it’s the gay and lesbian issue that seems to stir up the most resentment.
According to the Washington Post: “The homosexuality debate dates to 1972, when a phrase calling homosexual activity ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ was added to the Book of Discipline, which contains the denomination’s laws and doctrines. The UMC also bans noncelibate gay clergy and same-sex marriage.”
Gay activists argue that if the UMC were more inclusive, they might be able to attract younger people to its congregations, which have been waning. But whether the traditionalists will outweigh the more progressive members is yet to be seen.
Um… The Lutherans allow the gays. too!
That line, at least, needs to go whether they decide to allow gay clergy or marriage this time around or not. It’s inconsistent with the actual practice of too many Methodist churches, and gives the impression they’re positioned where they’re really not.
@Joe: ELCA Lutherans, yes.
Mikel D McGrew
I left the Methodist Church in 1969 because there was no place for me as a gay man. I have never regretted that decision. If any church wants to survive, it must meet the needs of all its members and it must follow the teachings of Christ, not St. Paul and the Old Testament.
the other Greg
@Hyhybt: Yeah, “actual practice,” that’s confusing. I’ve noticed that a lot of Methodist churches call themselves “reconciling” parishes – they have lots of openly gay members and sometimes, openly gay ministers – so much so one wouldn’t guess that Methodist HQ doesn’t formally accept this. I realize that like a lot of Protestant denominations they are pretty decentralized, but they may as well make up their minds!
Also the church recently started a new ad campaign on MSNBC vaguely implying they accept gay people now. If they really don’t yet, it’s hypocritical and at best, it’s a little premature.
To say that Leviticus is anti-gay is a misreading due to mistranslation. There are plenty of resources out there that show how the original text isn’t very clear at all. It basically comes down to this: We don’t know exactly what the Leviticus prohibition is, but it definitely isn’t banning gay sex. The Leviticus passages have traditionally been used in an anti-gay manner, but that does not mean that is how it was intended.
Leviticus is a red herring in the argument, as Christians are not subjected to the ancient Jewish laws but merely include them in the Bible as general moral guideposts.
quote ANY section of the Bible in your anti-gay screeds, I’m ready with a rebuttal, which generally consists of “that ISN’T what the original text says”. Other than Leviticus, there is nothing in either Hebrew or Greek in the Bible that specifically says ANYTHING about gays.
Now, if you INSIST on quoting Leviticus…
You’re wearing nice cotton pants with that wool blend sweater… an “abomination” according to Leviticus.
You have a really nice haircut… another “abomination” according to Leviticus.
Mmmmm, I bet you loved that seafood dinner you had for Valentine’s… and Lobster Tails? YUM!… but still, an “abomination” according to Leviticus.
Great breakfast this morning? Eggs over easy… and bacon? an “abomination” according to Leviticus.
Come to think of it, I don’t know how ANY “Christians” do it, trying to avoid eating pork… my husband and I don’t eat any pork products, and we’re obsessive about it, and it’s a real pain in the arse, because it seems EVERYTHING these days is made with some pork content. I even bought some “pure turkey” sausages a while back.. and they were in pork casings!!!!!
Leviticus is the WORST source for any anti-gay material, because most of its rules are broken DAILY by the vast majority of people who call themselves “Christian”.
I grew up as a member (and part-time pianist, when I was in high school) of a Methodist Church, and even in the early to late 90s in a fairly conservative part of Texas, the church itself remained pretty neutral on the culture war issues, depending largely on the pastor. We had one when I was a kid, in the late 80s/early 90s, who teetered on the edge and gave a lot of sermons about Texas passing the lottery, which happened about that time. (That guy also cried all the time and later was arrested for tax evasion, as he didn’t pay persoal income tax, thinking pastors were exempt.) Other than him, I never heard any fire-and-brimstone sermons at all, much less ones about homosexuality. In fact, only two pastors I ever went through even mentioned it, both saying the church should not be judgmental and should welcome gay members. One other one mentioned abortion in passing but didn’t dwell on it much. Now, some of the members, on the other hand, were a very different matter.
Bottom line is the Methodist Church, as a central organization, has a reputation among Protestants at large as being very mushy, rarely willing to take a stand either way on things. The old saying used to go that Methodists believe that anyone can get into heaven as long as the show up to the pearly gates with a covered dish. So, my bet is that the conference is going to punt on this.
What the hell is a same-sex clergy? Do you possibly mean clergy with same-sex attractions?
I’m so glad I gave up on that whole hateful religion. I’ve been much happier since.
It’s not going to happen. The UMC is a worldwide denomination, and it’s growing in conservative homophobic countries (esp. in Africa) and shrinking in the US. Each year, the number of conservative delegates from those countries grows. The UMC has to split into national autonomous churches before we will see progress on LGBT issues in their policies.
I just do not understand people begging to be in the xtian special club. Doesn’t anyone get it? THEY.HATE.US. No matter what any official stance is, we will never have total acceptance from these people. Let them have their bigoted little club.
I applaud those allies who truly wish to do the right thing, but I really hope LGBTers one day get up a)the smarts to know that this shit isn’t true and b) the self respect to stop begging the sky daddy worshippers to stop hating.
Canadian Methodists already dooooo (since they all merged with a bunch of other people to make the United Church of Canada in 1924…)
Episcopalians still exist? Really?
@Shannon1981: We don’t hate you, at least I don’t. I don’t even know you. I do recognize that organized religion has a lot of flaws, especially concerning the condemnation of people for no apparent reason. However, there are benefits to organized religion as well. Especially concerning the basic morals and values (e.g. “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) But just like in politics, there are some in the world that will never be happy unless they are making others miserable. Unfortunately, as a church, you can’t exactly kick those people out.
In practice, there are a lot of Methodist churches that are more than open and inviting to people of all races, sexual orientations, hair color, marital status, etc. Furthermore, I’m especially pleased with the Methodist church’s stance on abortion.
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