Dear Friends, You have probably heard by now that United Methodist pastor Beth Stroud had her orders removed for being a lesbian, then recently reinstated. If you have read Enter the Rainbow before, you probably can guess my position on this whole issue. But just in case, here it is in a nutshell:
1) I do not consider homosexuality to be a sin and, 2) Even if it was a sin as many believe, one's sexual orientation has very little to do with one's call to ordained ministry. I, for example, am not "that heterosexual preacher," I'm just a preacher. A sinful yet forgiven preacher just like Beth Stroud, and 3) There are a lot more important things for the Church of Jesus Christ to say and do than obsess about sex all the time, and finally 4) Homosexuality is not a sin. (Or did I mention that already?)
With that in mind, I want to invite you to check out a couple of the Methodist blogs that I have listed over on the right hand margin. Start out by going to Shane Raynor's blog - http://www.wesleyblog.com/ There you will read Shane's conservative United Methodist opinion and a string of comments that represent a spectrum of perspectives on this issue. Most are anti-gay, but every now and then a voice of dissent can be heard, even a few from some guy called Andy B. who, last I heard, dwells in a rainbow somewhere.
But most importantly, read the interview that Shane did with Beth Stroud. I disagree with him staunchly on this issue, but I respect him highly for his reasonable questions and respectful tone. He is clearly a person of integrity and decency. I admire and respect his willingness to keep the conversation going here in virtual space.
And most of the comments on the Wesley Blog are reasonable and respectful, too. Oh, a couple of people express their bitterness and hatred, but they are a minority. (I think those kind of folks need to quit taking themselves so flipping seriously!) Surf around some of the other blogs on that list to read some of the myriad of opinions out there. Not only what we have to say matters, but the way in which we say it matters, too. If you choose to comment on my blog (or another one) about this issue or any other, I know that you will do so in a respectful and reasonable way. Try not to attack, just state your own belief. State it with passion and depth, but do so in love and grace.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that, in spite of having her clergy orders reinstated, Beth has chosen to refrain from resuming her clergy duties until the case is fully resolved. For what it is worth, she is a servant of the church with an extra portion of level-headedness and authenticity. She knows that she has a divine call to be a minister, and she is patient enough to wait until the church figures out something she already knows! Please pray for the church, for the United Methodist denomination, and for Beth as this conversation continues.