The 2008 United Methodist General conference had generally good news for orthodox Christians along with some bad news. The May 3 entry here has a good summary under the heading of Legislative Update.
The Bible lists greed, envy, gossip, slander, lust, gluttony, coveting, jealousy and more as sins (everybody squiriming now?). It also notes that homosexual behavior is a sin. The difference is that we don’t have groups in favor of the first list of things disrupting the General Conference and tarnishing the denomination.
The pro-GLBTQ (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/questioning) theology groups disrupted the conference as usual with help from some conference leaders who failed to perform their duties. Here’s some background from news releases:
In an act of witness in front of delegates to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, more than 200 people declared that the denomination’s policies and practices against homosexuality are “sinful” and that “sexuality is a gift from God.”
To say that “sexuality is a gift from God” and use it to support behaviors the Bible clearly describes as sinful is simply wrong. Using that reasoning one could support every perversion known to man.
And to say the UMC policy is “sinful” seems rather odd to me. What is their standard for sin? If they claim it is the Bible, how could upholding the word of God be a sin as defined by the word of God? The burden of proof is on them to prove from the Bible that the behavior they are encouraging is truly a “gift from God.”
The 15-minute demonstration was in reaction to the April 30 decision to retain the denomination’s decades-old proscription in the Social Principles and other parts of the Discipline describing homosexual practice as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Delegates voted 501-417 to keep the stance and also passed a resolution against homophobia and heterosexism, saying the church opposes “all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice or sexual orientation.”
One witness, speaking on behalf of the protesters, told the General Conference that when The United Methodist Church refuses to accept and honor everyone’s call to professional ministry, it refuses to abide by the rules of Methodism’s founder John Wesley: do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.
That is a non-sequitor. There are all sorts of people whose “call to professional ministry” shouldn’t be honored. These enemies of the Gospel speak in generalities, but if you just peel back a layer and fill in some specifics it is easy to show where their reasoning fails. To claim that those adhering to the Book of Discipline on matters of sexuality are refusing to abide by the rules is morbidly ironic.
Krumbach declared that the “anti-gay policies of The United Methodist Church are wrong and sinful in the sight of God” and in the act of witnessing “we reject the lie that homosexuality is a sin and that by standing, we affirm that sexuality is a good gift of God.”
That is a lie. Our policies aren’t anti-gay, they affirm gay people as having worth and decry violence against them. The policies just line up with the Bible, which is kinda clear about homosexual behavior being sinful. After all:
- 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
- 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
- 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
- 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
So if you want to have a “church” based on pro-gay theology then that is your right. Just don’t pretend to be intellectually honest and claim that you are in concert with the clear teachings of the Bible. Part of the problem is that so many people haven’t studied the passages in question. This is really not a difficult thing to prove.
Our pastor, Chappell Temple, was quoted at length in various articles about the conference. He is the brilliant, loving leader of Lakewood United Methodist Church who has studied this issue extensively and has had the courage to speak the truth about it. I pray that the apostate Bishops and leaders in our denomination will be convicted by his words and that orthodox Bishops and leaders will be encouraged to speak the truth in love as well. Too many of our denominational leaders love the world more than the love God, and the behavior at the conference was exhibit A. I praise God for people like my pastor.
The Rev. Chappell Temple of the Texas Conference said there were numerous delegates who were “dismayed, saddened and outraged” at the act of witness. People are questioning whether such action would have occurred if the General Conference would have changed its stance on homosexuality, he said.
Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey, the presiding bishop prior to the action, halted the legislative assembly and recessed the conference. Chappell said, “He should have said those wishing to leave can do so. We were held captive. The altar was desecrated; the singing was presumptuous, self-righteous and accusatory.”
While noting the pain resulting from the church’s decision and stance, Temple also said it was wrong to lay guilt on those trying to follow Christ and listen to Christ. “I understand that the (act of witness) was a compromise, and what was allowed was simply blackmail, it was extortion” and was disrespectful to people of different views.
“For a person to give a long, one-sided speech, and for a bishop to speak and call for reconsideration, goes against everything that we hold together and as holy covenant,” he said.
During the witness, Krumbach said the voices of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people have not been heard, but Chappell disagrees. “They have made witness the entire week,” he said. “No one is happy about where we are, and their demonstration implied that somehow we’ve heaped burning coals on them.”
Delegates, he said, are trying to hold the church together “not for artificial unity, but for a unity of heart that strikes at the very root of Christian conference.”
I couldn’t be more proud of my pastor, and I pray that God will lift up other courageous and orthodox pastors as well. I know that will impact his popularity with many people in positions of power.
Satan has a foothold in the UMC, as evidenced by the support of so many national leaders who stood in solidarity with both the disruptive pro-gay theology groups and the pro-abortion groups. Weak church discipline has allowed these false teachers to gain positions of authority, but it isn’t too late to save the UMC.
I also appreciate Bishops such as Lindsey Davis:
I think the church is right. I think we are very much in sync with historic Christianity and very much in sync with 99.9 percent of Christians in the world,” he said. “I make no apology for our position. It is biblical, and it is in keeping with 2,000 years of Christian tradition.
The U.S. church continues to shrink but it is growing around the world. Praise God that the growing African churches, for example, tend to be much more orthodox. My trips to Kenya confirmed this for me. We had the opportunity to worship and interact with countless Kenyan Christians and they are much more orthodox and evangelistic than the average U.S. congregation.
We need to remember that God wins in the end and our duty is to be faithful to his word today.
Responding to pro-gay theology – the best piece I’ve read on the topic. Very thorough, readable and compassionate.
Problems with pro-gay theology – a series I did last year on the various ways these groups misuse and/or misinterpret the Bible.