Exit Strategety for the "War Against Homosexuality and and LGBT Persons"

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    Oct 02, 2007 3:22 PM GMT
    My parents sent me this editorial from someone in the Methodist Church. It may be old for you folks, but I appreciate what this man has to say:

    A UMC [United Methodist Church] "Exit Strategy" to end our war against homosexuality and LGBT persons

    by Gilbert H. Caldwell
    Asbury Park, New Jersey

    Age has a way of conjuring up memories that are clear, but the details sometimes are missing. I remember being a delegate to General Conference when we launched our war against homosexuality and homosexuals. I think I even remember the name of the person who introduced the legislation. At the time I wondered would we determine that declaring homosexuality "incompatible with the Christian faith" to be our unique way of standing firm on "family values".

    I admit to a bit of cynicism. My reading of history and my personal experience has allowed me to realize that at various stages of our Methodist history we have felt that language and actions of condemnation and exclusion were "biblically correct" and essential to our understanding of what it meant to be a people called Methodists. We had a history of separation and segregation of persons of African descent in our churches, thus the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) and AME Zion denominations were born. We debated the pros and cons of slavery and divided as a result. But,the "unification" of those divisions by creating a new denomination was tainted because it came in 1939 at the expense of creating the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction.

    At various times in our history we were certain that dancing, card playing, divorce and the use of alcohol were sufficient to warrant denial of ordination and restrict church membership. We were sure that we were "biblically correct in our denial of ordination to women. And now, we preclude United Methodist clergy from officiating at Marriages and Civil Unions of same gender loving persons. Some even believe that persons who are active in expressing their love for a same gender person have no place in the membership of local United Methodist Churches.

    But, even though the Bible had not changed, we have! We believe that United Methodists may dance, they may play cards, they may divorce (even Bishops), women may be ordained and our prohibitions against alcohol have become a Book of Discipline footnote. We claim that abstinence from drinking and alcohol is still the "best way", but if a United Methodist chooses to do otherwise, he/she following conversation/communication with God, may do so.

    Many of us pray and hope that unlike the adminisration in Washington, we will develop an "exit strategy" from our war against homosexuality and homosexuals. "As the World Turns", (is that still a daily TV program?) it is evident that the world is far ahead of us in acknowledging the reality and legitimacy of same gender love. A recent article in one of the weekly news magazines said that on this issue, the Republicans are on the wrong side of history. And, unless the 2008 General Conference enacts new legislation, the United Methodist Church will continue to be on the wrong side of history. Today we wonder how could we at one time have condoned slavery, racial segregation and the denial of ordination of women? Many today and certainly in the future will wonder how could we have wasted so much of God's good time in condemning same gender loving persons?

    I am deliberate in mentioning LGBT persons in my title, because of a recent decision to appoint a person who has undergone gender transformation. The question of the legitimacy of this appointment is going to the Judicial Council. Because we have no legislation that prohibits such an appointment, the Judicial Council is being asked to determine its legitimacy? There is a question that some of us for historical and cultural reasons have asked that is appropriate for this matter: "How long O Lord, how long?" Has the Judicial Council, on matters of sexuality and gender legitimacy, become the determiner of our theolgy and Christololgy? How would they rule on the legitimacy of Eunuchs who have such a prominent place in Scripture if one of them was appointed to a United Methodist Church?

    Despite a narrow and prejudical reading and interpretation of Scripture in the past on the above mentioned issues, we have changed in response to new understandings of the the totality and wholistic power, of God's Word!
    May God lead us out of our present war against Homosexuality. A war that we are losing!

    I have lived long enough as a third generation Methodist to observe how my denomination at various times has said; 'This is wrong", then, "maybe not", and finally, "Let's change our legislation". Without ever saying, "Sorry about that, we were wrong." Many, many, of us hope that we will live long enough to see us end a UMC war that has been so unnecessary and draining, time consuming and at variance with what we feel are God's expectations of the United Methodist Church.

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    Oct 02, 2007 8:34 PM GMT
    Excellent article. I think it demonstrates that there is an internal struggle going on within the United Methodist Church, and that, from the struggle, GLBT people will stand to gain at least something positive. The church is doing a bit of "soul searching," over its future and its priorities, which is never a bad thing.

    I think it also demonstrates the kind of organization the United Methodist Church is. From everything I know of the UMC, it has been one of the more open and progressive of the large, denominational Protestant churches. Although it has both mainline and evangelical elements, it has proven (and is still proving) that it is capable of flexability and change, even on long-standing doctrine. Again, not a bad thing.

    If changes are made that give equal standing to gay individuals, I say good for the UMC. Maybe this will cause other organizations (both religious and secular) to take a second look at their own policies, and make long overdue changes. icon_smile.gif