The Madness of Their Method(ism)
“When I was a child, I was addicted to porn. But I have been forgiven. Homosexuals are sexual deviants who will not be forgiven. As Leviticus 18:22 says, ‘A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman, for it is an abomination.’ I Corinthians 6:9 says, ‘homosexuals shall not enter the Kingdom of God.’ The Bible makes it clear that homosexuals are sinners. Now I love them, and I will walk with them to church, but there is no question about what God’s Word says.”
These words were spoken at the recent Annual Conference of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church. This group comprises Methodist churches across the Delmarva Peninsula. The man who uttered those words introduced an amendment to change a resolution. That resolution would have instructed those present to ignore the impending schism in the Conference. Instead, his amendment mandated that this very group maintain the status quo of hatred and obstruction. Sadly—very sadly—it passed.
This exercise in Robert’s Rules of Order exhibited how little order there is to the mindset of some church-going Methodists across our region. Fear and hatred seem to rule the day. These folks take the Bible literally, with no consideration of what the Biblical authors intended to say, the historical context of those words, or how these ancient words should be interpreted in modern society.
The United Methodist Church, on a worldwide spectrum, is attempting to come to terms with issues of human sexuality. A worldwide meeting of delegates to this church institution meets in February, 2019, to decide the direction it will take for the foreseeable future. Conservative churches are already threatening to leave the denomination if there is any action toward inclusion and acceptance of “those homosexuals.”
Chelsea Spyres is an aspiring, and inspiring, young woman. She has been on track to become an ordained Methodist pastor. At this Conference, however, she took the floor and announced that she will withdraw her name from consideration of ordination.
“I stand before you saying that many in our church are wrestling with this question of when to pursue clergy status when our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters do not have this privilege...I have discerned that I cannot take clergy vows in a denomination that says my friends who are LGBTQ+ are incompatible with Christian teaching. I cannot take clergy vows as so many of my friends are told ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ in the ordination process solely because of their sexual orientation, or they go through the process in secret of who God has created them to be in relationship with. These friends and colleagues are gifted and called by God into ordained ministry and yet are discriminated against as we hold up this one piece [of exclusion] of our Book of Discipline over others.
“Today I mourn and lament but I can no longer stand silent. Today I choose to stand with people who are told there is no place for them at our table. Until my friends and colleagues who are LGBTQ+ have a space to be in relationship and openly seek licensing, commissioning, and ordination in the United Methodist Church I will wait to take clergy vows.
“I will wait and I will listen, I will offer my gifts as laity and use my voice and vote to make room for other voices, voices that we as the Church have silenced for too long. I will wait and I will work until all really means all.”
Chelsea’s heartfelt speech fell on a quiet crowd, some ears listening in awe, others closed to her prophetic voice.
In the Baltimore-Washington Conference, T.C. Morrow is a candidate for ordination. Her name was withheld from the list of those approved to be ordained. This because T.C. is a lesbian. The United Methodist Church, local and global, will not permit her to pursue God’s call to ministry because she loves her wife. As she waits for her call to be validated, she stands by others who pass her by on their way to ministry. T.C. has the courage to continue and will neither be silenced nor ignored.
Here in our little corner of the world, the Delmarva Peninsula, United Methodists are not so united. Epworth Church, in Rehoboth Beach, is an exception. It is a place where everyone has been welcome for the past eleven years.
In Methodist circles, “reconciling” means welcoming all into your congregation, including LGBTQ. FIRE is the name of a group within the congregation that studies and prays together, acts, and advocates together. FIRE stands for “Faithfully Inviting and Reconciling Everyone.” This FIRE is beginning to spread across the Conference. Epworth truly lives up to the Methodist mantra of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”
Contrary to his declaration, the man who claims to love gays and wants to walk with them to church does neither. There is a madness to his method and to his Methodism. ▼
David Garrett is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult transdaughter. Email David Garrett