United Methodist Church Doubles Down on Discrimination
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH DOUBLES
DOWN ON DISCRIMINATION
It was with great sorrow that I read about the UMC decision to continue discriminatory policy toward the LGBTQ community.
There are many issues in this debate but for me it comes down to hate is hate no matter how much you dress it up in religious clothing. It is sad the way bigotry hides so well in religious circles within a church that has an idolatrous relationship with old, out dated, Biblical interpretations which primarily reflect a longing to return to the 1950s. This is a church that would gladly be a church of that culture. And a church which refuses to consider new research on the meaning of important Hebrew and Greek words.
In late high school the United Methodist Church was the center of my life. I went to a college associated with the Methodist Church in West Virginia and then to seminary at Boston University. And for approximately five years I was an ordained Methodist minister. This issue was just beginning to emerge as I was leaving the church and has been a source of concern and conflict since that time. The church that welcomed me then refuses to welcome people I love now.
The exclusion is neither Christian nor Biblical for many reasons.
- It excludes and entire population from God’s love which is universal and above all forms of prejudice.
- The very lame excuse is often voiced that God loves LGBTQ people but not their behavior or orientation. That is a bit like saying that God loves African Americans in spite of their color. I once sat in a meeting where a woman proclaimed to an African American “I love you because I know your soul is white.” Or, that God loves women in spite of the fact they are not men as long as they walk behind their husbands. Or that God loves me in spite of being old, over weight and mostly bald. A God that loves with those conditions does not love the people I love and is simply a graven idol.
- This policy is also exceptionally inconsistent. The Bible also condemns usury, which is charging interest for loans. Will the same people who voted to continue discriminating against LGBTQ community vote to throw the bankers out of the church? The Bible condemns wearing two different kinds of cloth in one’s clothing. Will they vote out all fashion designers from their church? Jesus himself NEVER said anything about gender orientation. But he did condemn divorce. Will these people exclude all of the divorced people? The hypocrisy is amazing. The discrimination is upheld by cafeteria fundamentalists who are unable to adjust to new understandings of what Hebrew and Greek words mean.
- The church today looks a great deal like the Sadducees and Pharisees of the time in which Jesus lived. They were the groups far more interested in the speck in their neighbor’s eye than the log in their own. Far too often this is today’s church especially the evangelical right-wing church.
It is so unfortunate the One who came to bring reconciliation to all of God’s children is used in such a divisive way. In other issues like civil rights and equality for women the church eventually caught up with Spirit which fueled those movements. But in this issue, they dig their heels in with total resistance. This feels like one more nail in the coffin of the institutional church.
The good news in all of this is that there has been intense push back. There are progressive voices within the UMC who are speaking truth in this situation but for now the discrimination continues. This debate is not over, and it is entirely possible that the UMC will split into at least two divisions.
I know that if I was still a member, I would be cancelling all commitments to it. I would not be able to live within such discrimination and idolatry.