In the conversation about homosexuality in the church, nothing new has been said in years. I have heard and read and understand the positions of those who speak from all of the various perspectives in the issues. And honestly it has become so boring that I hardly pay attention any more.
The General Conference has an opportunity to speak the truth, as it does every four years. And the truth is that there is a lack of consensus in the United Methodist Church with regard to the compatibility of homosexuality with Christian teaching. That’s the truth. And that’s what the General Conference should say.
Because here’s the deal - we have got to stop arguing about this. The inter-denominational argument is hindering the mission of the church, and making it increasingly difficult to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is ugly; it is bitter; it is hateful. And it has to stop.
We have shamefully proof-texted the question until you’d think all that we knew of scripture were those little snippets that we hurl relentlessly at one another to prove our point.
We have accused one another of not loving God or of not loving neighbor with such ferocity as we willfully ignore the inherent irony of our words.
We obsess over this one issue with a kind of ghastly fascination that is in no way appealing or attractive or missional or faithful to who we are supposed to be as the Church.
We must stop; and we must tell the truth. And then, we have to be okay with the ambiguity of the truth. This is not a simple issue. There are multiple distinct positions on the question, and there is simply no consensus in the United Methodist denomination, and the General Conference should say that out loud.
Of course, I understand how unpopular my perspective is. There will be, “But it’s a sin and we should say it’s a sin” and there will be, “But the status quo is unjust and so we have to change it.” These responses will come from the either/or people on all sides of the question.
But this is not an either/or question, and so it shouldn’t have an either/or answer. The question for General Conference is not “Is homosexuality a sin” - the question is “What should the United Methodist denomination say about it.” It would not be truthful to say, “The UMC thinks homosexuality is a sin.” It would not be truthful to say, “The UMC thinks homosexuality is not a sin.”
The honest thing to say, the missional thing to say, the faithful thing to say is just the truth. Some of us think it is, some of us don’t; some think it’s a choice, some do not; some of us are legitimately homophobic, most are not; some think it is a sin but that doesn’t mean we should exclude, some do; and on and on and on. There is no consensus, and we needn’t pretend there is.
Now, can we please focus on the business of helping people become disciples of Jesus Christ who are changing the world, for God’s sake?
(Full disclosure: My personal belief, which is no secret, is that being gay is not a sin. I do not believe the Bible ever describes a mutually loving and respectful covenant relationship between two people of the same gender. Such a relationship is neither affirmed nor condemned anywhere in Scripture. I am hopeful that the United Methodist Church will be fully inclusive. However, I am not intending to write today about my personal theology, but rather what position I feel the General Conference should take.)
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