Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Judicial Council Decision Made

Voting 5-4, the Judicial Council decided not to reconsider decisions 1031 and 1032. The UM News story is here, and includes some quotes from the concurring and dissenting opinions. I am pretty sure that I understand the reasoning for the decision, but am inclined to agree more with the four who signed the dissenting opinion than the three who signed the concurring one, of course.
My lament is not that we are a church that disagrees, it is that we are now a church that uses membership as a weapon against those with whom we happen to disagree. And so I ask, using the wisdom of Wesley, "But although a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union, yet need it prevent our union in affection? Though we can't think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?"
Wesley's answer to this was, "Without a doubt we may."
Can we answer today with such assurance?


Kyle C said...

Without a doubt the answer is no.

John said...

So I guess now Wesley approved of homosexual conduct. Uh-huh.

You folks on the Left don't realize how radically far you have departed from mainstream Christianity in such a short breath of time.

Kansas Bob said...

Here is what I just posted on Bill Tammeus' blog ... seems appropriate:

Regarding ...

"the primary recommendation is simply that the church not split"

... this reminds me of unity at all costs even if there is no real unity. I think that this is why I, generally speaking, don't support the denominational expression of church. What denominations supply seems to be too expensive for what they cost.

Seamhead said...

Well, if mainstream christianity is ignoring the teachings of Christ, I don't have a problem with that.

EyeRytStuf said...

Sorry, I don't have my glasses today, or maybe I don't have the right special goggles on, but where in the post does it suggest that Wesley approved of homosexual conduct? I thought the whole Wesley quote was about disagreement, not homosexual conduct.

Also, I think I need to know what constitutes homosexual conduct... two male friends holding hands?... Football players doing that whole pat-the-hind-end thing to each other on the playing field?... Using "product" in your hair?

Or is it just people coming forward and saying, "This is who I am and how God made me" that's so repulsive?

Also, which mainstream Christianity? Are we talking about Inquisition Era or what? This whole Christianity thing has been around a while... you'll need to narrow down the era where it was perfected and mainstream. Thanks.

johneric said...

To quote a dear fried of mine: "I feel like a lion that's been thrown to the Christians!"

John said...

Seamhead wrote:

Well, if mainstream christianity is ignoring the teachings of Christ, I don't have a problem with that.

That's right. Jesus was a hedonist. Uh-huh.

Sorry, I don't have my glasses today, or maybe I don't have the right special goggles on, but where in the post does it suggest that Wesley approved of homosexual conduct? I thought the whole Wesley quote was about disagreement, not homosexual conduct.

John Wesley strongly emphasized ongoing personal sanctification. In fact, he said that Methodists who do not fulfill all righteousness deserve the hottest place in the lake of fire. But Andy's usage of Wesley suggests that he had a libertine approach to personal morality. He didn't.

EyeRytStuf said...

I'm reading WAY too little into this, apparently:

"But although a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union, yet need it prevent our union in affection? Though we can't think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?"
Wesley's answer to this was, "Without a doubt we may."

I thought Andy was using the quote to essentially say, "Just because we don't agree about which rules in Leviticus it's okay to ignore, can't it mean we don't have to be hateful and excluding about it?"

Only without the sarcasm about that crazy picking-and-choosing what we'll pay attention to in Leviticus, of course.

(TRUE STORY: Lived next to a guy who let his wife back in his house just a few days after she'd given birth to a girl! I'd meant to stand out front and shout "Unclean! Unclean!" and considered following them to church so I could see if I could get them kicked out of it, but then I got busy writing smart-aleck blog responses.)

And do we apply high school debate rules here? Meaning, do I get the other two points since you opted not to address them?

John said...

I didn't recognize them as arguments. But I'll address them. Now, your Leviticus stuff: I never mentioned Leviticus. You attempted to refute a point that I never made.

What's homosexual sex? Wait until GC 2008. They'll probably be a live demo, since the first Beth Stroud jury couldn't figure it out.

What do I mean by mainstream Christianity? Simply this: Until 30 years ago, homosexuality was never considered compatible with Christianity. Accepting it, ordaining practicing homosexuals, and blessing homosexual 'marriages' is completely outside the norms of Christian history. The gay revolution has taken place in an extremely short period of time.

Larry said...


Just as a point of note: Read chapter 15 in Acts where a major church argument erupts over the Levitical laws and how it pertained to the Gentiles, which was centered around the act of circumcision but was adressing the wider question of how Jews and gentiles could co-exist when the gentiles would be breaking so many Levitical laws. The Jerusalem council, including those who had directly walked with Jesus settled the argument about which Laws apply by citing four things in Acts 15:20 and Acts 15:29. They stated that they were to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. That's it, and that's all. All the other things people keep claiming that we break now a days which we shouldn't if we followed the bible were explicitly excluded. It essentially sums up the Laws in Leviticus 17 and 18 which incidentally contains that pesky don't lie with a man as you would a with a woman.

So had you stood out in front of the house and shouted unclean unclean, you would have been at odds with the Jerusalem council and preaching a false gospel because you were holding a gentile christian to a standard that was not true. It would have been you who would have been a candidate for being kicked out of the church.

Seamhead said...


I didn't say Jesus was a hedonist. That's your judgement of people with whom you disagree. It's a judgement the Jesus I believe in would rather you did not make.

John said...

Jesus did not teach that people should indulge whatever sexual urges come floating through their heads. His calling was one for personal holiness.

Seamhead said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seamhead said...

Jesus also did not teach us to pass judgement on people and keep them from joining his church.

John said...

Consult Matthew 18:15-17.

Seamhead said...

John, no homosexual I've attend church with has ever sinned against me. I doubt if any have ever sinned against you. Even if you consider homosexuality a sin (which I do not) the verses you cite do not apply here.

John said...

True, homosexual acts are not a sin against me. But this passage clearly refutes your notion that Jesus opposed all church discipline.

You think that homosexuality is not a sin. Fine. There's a case for that. But we Methodists think otherwise. So if you want to be a part of our denomination, comply with our doctrines and practices.

Being a Methodist is all about striving on to perfection. We believe that God gives us the power to resist sin, even those motivated by in-born desires, like homosexual orientation.

You don't have to be a Methodist to be a Christian, but you can't surrender to sin, either individually or as a congregation, if you want to be a Methodist. As Wesley said, "Methodists who do not fulfill all righteousness deserve the hottest place in the lake of fire." We're going to strive onto perfection. We may or may not succeed. But if you've decided to stop resisting sin, you have no place in the Methodist tradition.

Seamhead said...

So I should I quit going to church? Right now, John, "we Methodists" condemn homosexuality by 55 to 45 percent vote. In ten years or twenty, those numbers are going to be flipped. What do "We methodists" do then?

And when did "we methodists" decide to start telling individuals that they don't belong in the methodist tradition? Driving sinners away from the church is a long, long way from perfection.

John said...

Since when? Since Wesley, that's when. Read your history. Wesley booted out society members frequently.

Seamhead said...

That doesn't make it right. I don't have to ready history to know that it's not right. From the history I've read there are lot of things about Wesley I would not want to emulate. He did many great things, but he was a human as flawed as any of us.

EyeRytStuf said...

I like that whole Acts thing, because, by example, it shows that AS TIMES CHANGE--AS SOCIETY CHANGES, SO DO THE RULES. It was very kind of them to put that message in there for us.

I look forward to that 55 to 45 flip.

John said...

Fine, Seamhead. Don't emulate them. But don't call yourself Methodist, either.

Seamhead said...

John, I'm a methodist. I'm gonna yell it from my windows. It is my duty as a Methodist to try to strive for perfection. As part of that, It's my duty to change our denomination when it's wrong or unjust.

I am Methodist. You have no right to tell me I can't call myself one.

John said...

Seamhead, you can call yourself a Methodist if you want. But that doesn't make it so. And if you reject church discipline as a concept, then by definition, you can't be a Methodist. Attending a UMC congregation and holding a membership certificate means nothing if you reject its core concepts.

Seamhead said...

John, that's ridiculous. You're putting words in my mouth. I never rejected church discipline as a concept. I do reject it in the case we were discussing so long ago. I do reject it in a case where the individual is harming no one else in the church or community.

I would guess there are times when church discipline is necessary. The argument here was whether it was proper in this specific case.

I am still Methodist.

Adam Caldwell said...

Down Boys Down...easy

John said...

Then our disagreement is not about whether the church should have disciplinary power, but whether homosexual activity is a sin. Right?

Seamhead said...

No. It is about whether the church should prevent sinners from joining. You say they shouldn't be allowed because they won't renounce that sin. I say if they are not hurting someone else with their sin, let them join!!! How do you transform someone's life if you don't welcome them into your church?? I know my life has been transformed since I returned to the church. And there were definitely specific sins I would not have renounced to join the church. Fortunately for me and my family no one asked me to do that. And the journey has indeed transformed my life.

(Of course, I don't believe that homosexuality is a sin. That is true.)

John said...

I would have no objection to a free and open church membership that, like Wesley, had no requirement but a "desire to flee the wrath to come" provided that it was matched by a program which encouraged sanctification, including provisions for excommunication. That would be Christian and Wesleyan.

I would prefer such a system to restrictive membership.

But I've been insistent upon restrictive membership because we have no such provisions. We should have one or another, but not a system whereby church members are never held accountable for their sins.

Larry said...


While were on the subject, let's hear it. Why don't you consider homosexuality a sin?

Larry said...


With all due respect, you completely misunderstand what happened in Acts 15.

You are assuming that Jewish ritual requirements that affect the body superficially and universal moral standards for sexual ethics that affect the body holistically are all just cultural constructs. That is clearly not the case articulated by either Jesus or Paul. Jesus gave lowered significance to diet and Sabbath regulations. But he intensified God’s demands in sexual ethics, predicated his view on marital ‘twoness’ on God’s creation of two complementary sexes (Mark 10:5-9; Matt 5:27-32), and specifically rejected an equation trying to equate rules about food entering the body and desires for prohibited sexual conduct proceeding from the body (Mark 7:14-23), calling the latter unclean.

Secondly, in Acts 15 there is a clear distinction made between accepting the person and the behavior. The gentiles are told they can be part of the Christian Community, however they are not to live like gentiles and specifically they were to avoid immoral sexual behavior. Paul also welcomed Gentiles into the faith while commanding them not to live like gentiles, especially in regards to engaging in sexual behavior that Scripture categorically forbids (1 Thess 4:3-8; Rom 6:19; cf. Eph 4:17-24; 5:3-5). So as gentile life was viewed as typically sinful, same-sex intercourse was treated as intrinsically sinful no matter what the context.

There isn't a hint of any shifting moral standards based on a cultural change. In fact the sexual moral standards of the Jewish text, Jesus's teachings and Paul's teaching's are imposed upon the gentiles. The only "rule change" I see here is for the gentiles.

Anonymous said...

This whole conversation makes me sad, John.

If you get a church someday, are you proposing to do surveys on members and non-members, as well as visitors? Would this survey delve into personal beliefs and attitudes, lifestyle preferences, a sworn agreement to believe everything unconditionally that leaders tell someone to believe in? Would you then implement a process to sanctify those sinners based on the information collected? I doubt it.

Instead of focusing our attention on what may or may not be going on behind the closed doors of bedrooms (Yuck!) try to focus on what is in someone's heart, someone's actions.

I don't believe homosexuality is a sin. You disagree. Either way, though, I don't think the majority of Methodists believe that the sin comes before the sinner. I believe the church wants us to go out and meet others where they are, and through love and support and God's graces and will we can all become disciples of Christ's teachings. It's God's job to judge me. It's a person's duty to love inclusively.

I am a Methodist. Open hearts, open doors, OPEN minds.

Shelly :)!

Larry said...

Shelly you say:

It's God's job to judge me. It's a person's duty to love inclusively.

How do you derive this conclusion? You are ignoring what Jesus was teaching when he gave his commandment to love your neighbor. Remember in context that Jesus is teaching to Jewish people (his own people) and is continuously upholding and affirming what is taught in the Jewish laws. His commandment to love your neighbor as yourself isn't a new and radical commandment it's simply a restatement of what is written into levitcal law from Leviticus 19:17-18. If you read those portions of the scripture the element of loving your neighbor involves both not hating your neighbor or holding a grudge, but also rebuking you neighbor so you will not share in his guilt. Jesus later underscores this teaching by commanding people to rebuke one another to avoid leading someone into sin in Luke 17:3-4. He also says to forgive over and over if he comes to you for repentance. These are the teachings of Jesus. If he wanted us to ignore sin and not rebuke others for sinful behavior altogether why did he encompass the levitical reference and then teach this to his disciples ?

From a scriptural viewpoint, it's a very serious business - if an entire denomination forsakes the rebuke of a sin like homosexuality, then the entire denomination is in violation of Jesus's command to love one another and worse will be subjected to God's wrath. It is not only responsible for people to speak up about this sin, it is literally commanded. Unless someone can make a clear case from Scripture that homosexuality is not a sin, we should feel bound to rebuke it. I have yet to see such a case.

Kyle C said...

I have never seen anyone make a cleas case from the scripture that Homosexuality is a sin. I know thousands of people that have twisted the scripture so they can feel good about hating people but that is about it. Larry how do you feel about divorced people? The methodist church allows divorced people and there are a lot of scriptures that clearly state the only reason for divorce is adultry and I could find a thousand people who will tell you that if you get remarried that is a sin? Would love to hear your comments on that one Lar.

John said...

Sally, I'll accept that God calls us to be inclusive. Now does he:

1. Call us to a life of personal holiness?

2. Call the church to encourage people toward holiness?

3. Call the church to expel those who repeatedly refuse to live holy lives?

Larry said...

Thanks for the question Kyle.

There are two parts of Jesus's commandments to love one another - not hating your neighbor and bearing grudges, and rebuking sinful behavior. Jesus follows that up by saying that part and parcel to this teaching is that you must forgive a person who repents and you must do it as many times as they repent.

Divorce and remarriage as you have pointed out was labeled by Jesus as an act of adultery, which last I checked was still a sin. Yet Jesus also said that we should forgive that sin if a person asks for repentance. Jesus died on the cross to enable that forgiveness.

I would doubt that any Christian would stand up and say that serial divorce and remarriage is acceptable Christian conduct and wouldn't be a sin. The church is right to teach that divorce should only be used in cases of adultery as that's what is taught in scripture. That's not going to stop people from sinning by divorcing for other reasons, but as part of a loving witness from a church, they need to be reminded of that sin and brought to repentance for that sin. If Jesus condemned it as adultery, but offered the option of forgiveness, why would the Church do anything less?

My perception is that you were trying to tangle me into justifying divorce as acceptable while treating homosexuality as different. I don't. They are both sinful and need grace and repentance just as any other sin. I don't doubt humanities ability to repent and I don't doubt Jesus promise to forgive us our sins.

But if we refuse to recognize sin when it is brought before us and fail to repent of it, Jesus's teachings in scripture are clear as to what the consequences will be.

In regards to the scriptural case of homosexuality being a sin, what scholarly resources have you studied that failed to make the case?

I have read plenty of well researched, well documented cases explaining how scripture as a whole condemns any form of same-sex behavior. I have also read the converse arguments from the other side that have been well researched and well documented. What I have found is that using exegetical and hermeneutical study, the clear conclusion from scriptures is that any form of same sex behavior is clearly sinful. The other sides arguments are based primarily on experiental, political or cultural context arguments and cannot refer to scripture for support but only seek to disprove what is plainly written in scripture by elevating their culture, experience or political views over what is written in the scripture.

Kyle C said...


Based on your views toward Homosexuality to be constant with scriptures I do not believe we can so easily overlook Divorce. Yes the divorced person must ask forgiveness for sinning and also they must work towards reconciling with their ex. If they refuse to do this they should be denied membership into the church or excommunicated. If the spouse has remarried then they must vow before the church to remain celibate to stay in the church.

Yes I know you do not want to discuss divorce in the harsh terms that you do Homosexuality and alas most Christians that hate homosexuals do not wish to hold the same standards to anything else.

Sorry but the Bible I read says nothing about Homosexuality at all. However it is very clear on divorce and it is high time that people start pointing that out to all the Homophos out there.

Anonymous said...

Andy, could you list those verses that mention same-sex situations in the New Testament, please. Apparantly I need a refresher. Thanks!

Shelly :)!

Larry said...


I don't really understand your response. Perhaps I was unclear. I read scripture as declaring divorce sinful the same as I read scripture declaring homosexuality sinful. I said that in my earlier post. Both sins are open to forgiveness and grace - is that a hard concept to grasp?

Anyway - for someone who denies the existence of homosexuality at all in the Bible and wants to use derogatory names instead of discussing the issues, I'm not interested in any further dialogue.

Thanks for the converation.

Larry said...


The passages in the New Testament that specifically mention same sex situations are:

Romans 1:24-27, I Cor 6:9, I Tim 1:10, Jude 7, and Acts 15.

Jude 7 is actually a reference to the homosexual behavior that occured in Sodom.

As I posted earlier Acts 15 refers directly back to the Levitical laws which includes Leviticus 18:22 that explicitly states a male is not to lie with another male.

Hope that helps.

Kyle C said...


Sorry if you think it is a derogatory name, I think it is a FACT!

God bless you,