About a year ago, I wrote this Flatland column describing how the Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of the 20,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in suburban Kansas City, was working hard to hold his denomination together as it engaged in an internal battle over issues of human sexuality.
At the denomination's General Conference in 2016, delegates decided to ask a committee of bishops to study the situation and come back with a plan to be considered at a special gathering next February. The bishops have been meeting and have considered three different options. But they have decided to recommend an option called the One Church Plan.
As the RNS story to which I've just linked you reports, the plan "would allow individual pastors and regional bodies to make their own decisions on whether to perform same-sex weddings and ordain LGBT people as clergy."
I am of two minds about this.
First, if this passes, it allows for the possibility that the 12-million-member denomination will not go into schism. In that sense, it could be a model for how to live together in relative harmony even when there are deep theological disagreements. The world needs that kind of model.
So there's that.
But there's also this: It is biblically, morally, legally and ethically wrong for the church to treat LGBTQ people as second-class citizens. And that's certainly what would happen under the bishops' recommended plan. The reality is that Christians who believe the Bible declares homosexuality a sin misread scripture. Here is my essay in which I make that case.
No analogy holds up 100 percent, but think of it this way: The bishops' recommended plan would be similar to a plan before the Civil War that would have allowed pro-slavery churches to continue preaching that vile nonsense in the interests of church unity.
Would unity have been worth that then? Not in my book. And it's not worth it now.
We Presbyterians went through a long, long debate about this very matter and eventually made the right decision to allow the ordination of otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians and to allow (not insist, but allow) our pastors to perform same-sex marriages. Because of that decision, our denomination lost a number of churches that left because they disagreed.
Perhaps it's time for the United Methodist Church to do the same thing, standing for equality of all baptized members at the cost of losing some local churches. That strikes me as the right and principled thing to do.
(The image here today is from PBS and can be found here.)
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A DEBAUCHED THEOLOGY OF RAPE
A Republican state legislator from Missouri says a pregnancy that results from rape is a gift from God. You realize, of course, that such a view means that rapists are inevitably channels of God's grace. There's a name for such thinking: Sick theology.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column -- about biblical literacy -- now is online here.