January 15, 2013

United Methodist Bishops as Echo Chambers of Secular Culture


United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck of Chicago has generated a brouhaha by announcing to her Northern Illinois Conference her support for legalizing same sex marriage, which is currently before the Illinois legislature. She admits that United Methodist clergy may not conduct same sex unions, which their church law prohibits. And she admits her church officially disapproves of homosexual practice. Then she asserts The United Methodist Church also “holds the teaching and a long tradition (albeit a struggle every inch of the way) of civil rights.” And she claims: “Marriage equality is a civil rights issue; it provides for all what is afforded to some.”

Here’s what Bishop Dyck omitted. The United Methodist Church has an official position on marriage in civil law, not just within the church. And that position, which the 2004 General Conference ratified by 77 percent, declares: “We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

If Bishop Dyck is publicly speaking about marriage in civil society, shouldn’t she, as a bishop charged with faithfully transmitting her church’s teachings, at least acknowledge what the official stance is, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist? Of course, she is not alone among the bishops in pretending United Methodism has no position on same sex marriage in law. Bishop Grant Hagiya of Seattle actively campaigned for legalizing same sex marriage in Washington state without reference to his church’s teaching. Recently he blogged:

Personally, I celebrate the signing into law of the legalization of same-sex marriage for our state. It is an historic moment for the people of this geographic region, and it marks a secular turning point in the liberation of those who have too long been oppressed in our current times. I celebrate with those who will be free to enjoy equal health and security benefits through the state institution of marriage.

Bishop Hagiya did write: “I also personally grieve over our United Methodist Church polity that will not recognize same-sex marriage.” So like Dyck, he grudgingly admits his church won’t celebrate same sex unions. But he never references what United Methodism says to society about marriage in law. Last year Bishops Larry Goodpaster and Al Guinn publicly opposed North Carolina’s marriage amendment defining the union as man and woman.

The whole Council of Bishops has maintained radio silence over their church’s stance on marriage in civil law. I cannot recollect a single bishop who has publicly acknowledged it. It’s the stance that dares not speak its name. The bishops pretend that Christianity and United Methodism have consensus views about U.S. foreign and military policies, or immigration law, but has nothing to say decisively about marriage.

United Methodism’s marriage stance is not the only ignored official church stance. The 2000 General Conference declared that most Christians believe war is preferable to tyranny, aggression or genocide. But the bishops collectively refused to cite this stance in their response a year later to 9-11, despite good faith efforts by Bishop Joe Pennel. (Bishop Tim Whitaker did cite it in an essay or two.) The bishops, with the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), continue to pretend that United Methodism is pacifist.

The same is true on abortion. In 2000 the General Conference opposed partial birth abortion and has subsequently urged other limits. Excepting Bishop Whitaker and one or two others, the bishops are serenely silent, as is GBCS. Occasionally over the years General Conference has spoken about global religious liberty and persecution of Christians. But the bishops have on that topic been quiet as church mice.

United Methodist bishops in the U.S. collectively, and with few exceptions individually, when speaking to public issues, merely and banally echo secular conventional wisdom as found in liberal newspapers, liberal academia, or among liberal advocacy groups. There is no drawing upon the rich resources of our Christian moral tradition. This sad habit for our bishops dates back for most of 50 years or more. As United Methodism becomes more global, I’m hopeful for a day when more bishops will sound like bishops rather than echo chambers of secular American culture.

Meanwhile, for an intellectual defense of marriage that official United Methodism is currently unable or unwilling to offer, check out the new book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense,” by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T Anderson, and IRD emeritus board member Robert P George. It is endorsed by Pastor Rick Warren and Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Let’s pray for a time when a United Methodist bishop also will defend marriage.

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56 Responses to United Methodist Bishops as Echo Chambers of Secular Culture

  1. eMatters says:

    The problem is a lack of church discipline. These wolves in sheep’s clothing crept into leadership positions and it must be very hard to get rid of them.

  2. Richard Rudesill says:

    Church discipline? What is that?

  3. herev says:

    Grateful that Bishop Dyck, as well as my own Bishop Larry Goodpaster, supported legislation in civil law that allows for equal rights in society while yielding to the collective will of the General Conference and The Book of Discipline in it’s restrictions on the church. Wolf in Sheep’s clothing? No, offering their own necks for slaughter in defense of those marginalized by the church and society.

    • J P Logan says:

      “Offering their own necks for slaughter”?

      Oh, please. What could possibly happen to a UM bishop taking a liberal stand, other than getting publicity, of course. One thing that’s consistent about liberals, whatever they do, it’s “courageous.” I’m surprised they don’t make UM bishop action figures for little boys to play with, they would knock GI Joe right off the shelves. Nothing says “hero” quite like some far left clergyman.

      • herev says:

        ok, What I was suggesting was the onslaught of verbal attacks–which Bishop Dyck has certainly received, but I can see that you might think that is what they seek and call it publicity. As to the rest…Hero? Not my heroes–no way but I do have respect for most of our Bishops…far left? If you speak of me, you have me completely mixed up with someone else…no one who knows me even a little would consider me far left. Anyone who knows me beyond the surface level would never refer to me as “left” at all…But, yes, I am a “clergyman.” So you got something right.

        Now, as to the action figures. My first thought is that they’d not sell very well, but then again, if you made them into bobble heads, I buy at least one for each Bishop in my own conference and for those I know outside…

      • J P Logan says:

        When you use words like “slaughter” and “attacks,” you make it sound like there is some genuine threat to this bishop and her ilk. The reason lefties make the Religious Right sound so evil and powerful is that, by definition, any statement that might upset the Religious Right is “courageous.” I’m guessing the bishop isn’t checking her closet for assassins or hiring a bodyguard. She isn’t “offering her neck” or risking anything. I know how the liberal mind works, and what you call the “onslaught of verbal attacks” (such as what I’m writing at this moment) is something a lefty adores.

        I’m an ex-UM. I worked at their publishing house for years. Their bishops, “general secretaries,” etc, are a sorry lot. They don’t get to those positions by being models of saintliness – or courage. They are time-serving courtiers, and they move up the ladder by kissing up to the liberals who are higher on the ladder. Part of the game is doing what this Sally Dyck is doing, making a public statement that she thinks will upset conservative Aunt Edna in Dubuque. I have ten times more respect for Bob the accountant who is a UM layman and tries to live a life pleasing to God. Sally Dyck doesn’t give two hoots about whether her statement is in keeping with the Bible or the Wesleyan tradition. It made her fellow lefties happy and, she hopes, rattled Aunt Edna. The appeal of liberalism is easy to see – makes no demands on a person at all. Just say things that upset conservatives. what a cheap, shallow religion, a long way from “taking up one’s cross,” isn’t it?

      • herev says:

        ah, I can see more clearly now. Generally no greater critic of any religion, denomination, or movement than one who is an “ex.” Explains a lot. Again, I cannot defend liberalism as I am not a part of that movement. I’ve seen politics in all levels of almost every denomination that I’ve been able to experience. Never pretty. I hate that this left you with such an impression. I do find it generally unhelpful to conversation to make such judgments on one’s motives. But as you have already decided what the motivation of not only Bishop Dyck, not only all Bishops, but nearly the entire denominational structure, I can see where you would judge them harshly for the motives you have read into their words and actions. I can’t speak for all of them, of course, but I can say that nothing stings more than having someone suggest that things I do because (right or wrong) I believe Christ, Biblical Hermeneutics, and a sense of right and wrong demand it are actually done because it is somehow in my best interest. Those are the attacks I speak of. The ability to minimize those into something not only harmless, but actually sought after is generally only found in the mind of a psycopathic bully. But I’m sure that doesn’t apply to you. And I would hope that most who work at our publishing house know that liberalism is not a religion, it’s a philosophical description of any number of movements or interpretations.
        Again, this is not me, but I can see where, as you like to apply fictitious motives to those you don’t know, you would want to label me as such. I wish you well in your continued endeavors. Peace out.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      At least that NC bishop’s last named isn’t spelled Goodpastor. What a pathetic excuse for a bishop he is. Typical of what Candler turns out, unfortunately.

  4. eMatters says:

    Well said, J P. I am also ex-UM. I saw my former pastor get passed over for Bishop even in a very conservative (maybe the most conservative) conference just because he AGREES with the Book of Discipline and the Bible. Yes, you read that right.

    He had people admit to him that he was the best qualified but that they wouldn’t vote for him. One lady asked him incredulously, “Why do people hate you so much?” even though he has a very calm demeanor and a great balance of grace and truth. They hate him because he speaks the truth.

    If you are in the UMC and aren’t working to change it then you are part of the problem.

  5. Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

    Your characterization of Bishop Dyck’s stance is a bit of an exaggeration. She admits the official church position and acknowledges that what she believes is in disagreement with that position. She does not launch into a negative attack on the Discipline and is clear about the limits of her view in practical terms. It is humble but unapologetic about an honest tension between two sides on this issue. It is difficult to respect alternate positions and remain faithful and in ministry together. That is what Bishop Dyck and those of us who agree with her are trying our best to do.

    • herev says:

      amen and well said. You must be one of those liberal adherents of the liberalism religion too. Whatever any of that means…I wish others (on both sides of this issue) could see that walking the line of tension is what this is about. We can’t simply exclude those whom we disagree with. The Bishop (along with others) has done a great job in recognizing the tension and speaking what (if only just for her) is an attempt to seek justice amid the tension. Blessings

      • Ray Bannister says:

        “We can’t simply exclude those whom we disagree with.” Why not? Ever read the New Testament? Lots of dire warnings against false teachers. They could be excluded from the churches. Today, of course, they don’t get excluded – they become bishops and retire with nice fat pensions.

        Linda Richards talks about the need to “remain faithful.” “Faithful” to what? Not the Bible, definitely. “Faithful” to the pressure groups in your denomination? Definitely. There is no way for clergy to be “faithful” to the Bible, or 2000 years of Christian moral teaching, and accept behavior that the Bible clearly condemns. And there is no “honest tension between two sides on this issue.” One side is clearly wrong, one is right. We’re talking about a very serious spiritual and moral issue here, not something minor like what type of wafers to use at Communion.

        You liberal clergy and your euphemisms – “seek justice” = cave in to whatever left-wing pressure group is the loudest. “Respect alternate positions” = force the churches to accept beliefs and practices that are clearly against Christian teaching. ‘Remain faithful” = do whatever you can to push the liberal agenda. Odd use of your 3 years in seminary, isn’t it, learning the right vocabulary to try to sugarcoat your agenda in the hope that the stupid laity will go along with whatever you say?

        Since I don’t belong to your tribe, I won’t use euphemisms, I’ll just say it bluntly: your beloved bishop is a false teacher. She has no business being a bishop or pastor or any sort of spiritual leader. Having an MDiv or doctorate doesn’t change that, nor does having sycophantic parish clergy cheering her on, maybe in the hope that some day you’ll be filling her shoes. Agreeing with her should put you on the fast track to bishop.

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          I don’t want to be a Bishop. How dare you label me as a liberal who does not respect Scripture just because I see something different in scripture regarding this issue. I have total respect for scripture. Do not be so sure you know what an awful and unspiritual person I am. I will avoid the temptation to try to label you.And like Bishop Dyck, I will strive to be faithful to Christ.

      • Ray Bannister says:

        I did not say you were “awful and unspiritual.” Don’t put words in my mouth, and don’t try the victim routine. Clearly you don’t “respect Scripture.” Yeah, I’m familiar with the mantra – “We take the Bible seriously but not literally.” In practice, that means “we ignore or distort the Bible to fit our social agenda.” You do “see something different in scripture regarding this issue” – you see what isn’t there, approval of something that is obviously condemned. If you think any “alternative lifestyle” is fine and dandy, and you yearn for the day when you can marry two men or two women, that’s your prerogative, but there is no way you can square that with the unambivalent teaching of the New Testament. Instead of trying to tilt the UM further left, you should have the honesty to leave the Christian ministry and sign on with the Unitarians, since they place no value on the Bible and are willing to support whatever trendy cause comes along. They are ridiculous, but at least they don’t pretend to be even remotely Christian.

        I have a pastor friend who was UM, is now PCA. I gave him the link to this article and comments, and he got a kick out of seeing how liberal UM pastors stick up for their bishops, just like the sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. What would your denomination be like if the clergy were as loyal to Christ as they are to a gaggle of
        trendy, shallow, Politically Correct bishops, people who can’t even abide by their own church’s Book of Discipline?

        Shoutout to Rev. Ralph: Doesn’t this make you glad you abandoned that sinking ship?

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          Ray – PS Does your PCA Pastor friend know that the PCA now allows for the ordination of homosexual persons?

      • Paul Hoskins says:

        The PCA does NOT ordain homosexuals. You are thinking of the PCUSA, the declining, unblical mainline denomination. The Presbyterian Church in America split from the PCUSA years ago. The PCA is Christian, and growing.

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          Declining unBiblical mainline denomination. Wow. Judgmental unfounded untruthful description. End of discussion.

      • Ray Bannister says:

        You seem to be fact-challenged. The PCUSA indisputably is declining (losing members) and is mainline (although becoming sideline). Nothing “judgmental” or “untruthful” or “unfounded” about Paul’s post, except you might think “unbiblical” is negotiable, although it isn’t. Is this the best you can do, respond to simple statements of fact with “judgmental”? That word might silence the people in your pews, it doesn’t work on conservatives. We’re used to that slander, it rolls off like water off a duck’s back. Btw, it is also FACT that UM is also a declining, unbibilical maineline denomination. Call that “judgmental” if you like, it’s still true.

        Your side is so out of touch with reality. You confuse the PCA and the PCUSA (HUGE difference–one is growing, one is diminishing – guess which?), and you can’t cite any biblical support for your position on gay marriage (because there isn’t any). The best you can do is throw out the all-purpose slur “judgmental.” “End of discussion.” It sure is. You lost this one, reverend. Better stick with discussing issues with your own side, you can’t handle being challenged. In any real debate over issues, the liberal side has to lose, always.

        I assure you there is nothing personal in all this. This is all about the issues, not personalities. I pray daily that Christians (both laity and clergy) will leave the mainlines and find a Christian fellowship that is God-centered. It hurts me to see the clergy taking a clear stand against moral standards, but this has been going on since the time of the apostles. I know liberals don’t believe in a Last Judgment, but I do, and pastors who lead their flocks astray will have a lot to answer for.

        Have a nice day.

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          your side is so out of touch with reality? Judgmental. Untrue. Until you can write one response without characterizing “my side” and disparaging my integrity, my congregation (that might work with the folks in your pews) and my ministry, you have no credibility with me. Stop attacking persons, characterizing beliefs you know nothing about, and assuming you know what I believe.Then and only then will I respond with a thoughtful look at the scriptural basis of my faith. Learn to discuss ideas and beliefs without disparaging the person you are discussing with!

      • Ray Bannister says:

        Same old line. “Judgmental.” “Stop attacking.”

        You still won’t cite the biblical sources for your stance on the issue, Reverend.

        I didn’t disparage you, said not one word about your “integrity.” I debate issues, not people. All you can do in response is to accuse me of doing ad hominem, but I don’t ad hominems, I leave that to the liberal side, since it’s all they have. “Logic” and “liberal” never occur in the same sentence.

        You accuse me of “characterizing beliefs I know nothing about.” Are you kidding? You think I don’t understand the liberal stance on social issues? I know them real well, and whatever their source, it’s not the Bible.

        Yeah, I know: “Judgmental!” Is that what seminary taught you to say when someone engages you in debate?

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          You still don’t get it. You are so sure you know how”liberal” I am that you can’t be bothered to find out what I do believe and why. Almost every line you post to me is judgmental. I don’t believe or think in any of the ways you continually insist I do. But since you can’t resist the urge to needle me about being “liberal” “not concerned about scripture” etc. I feel it would be pointless to try to discuss scripture with you. It feels to me as though when it comes to what I think or believe or discern from scripture; your response is: “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts!”
          Since you seem to know what I believe and think better than I do, You are welcome to your distorted understanding! End of attempted communication,

      • herev says:

        wow, the vehemence in the words of this man are quite telling. Normally I would recommend counseling.

        For the last time, I am not a liberal, never have been. I have not now or ever expressed any words indicating that I actually believe or act in the way you keep saying. I do believe, as I said, that despite however we may feel in the church about homosexuality, the sinfulness of it, marriage within the church of GLBT folk, or ordination of same–we should, as followers of Christ, fight for their civil rights…the least of these…as I believe Jesus would.
        Now, realistically, I don’t believe that I can change your opinion of that. Even though I believe (because of my Biblical studies and because of my faith and because of my desire to follow Jesus and the teachings of the Bible–not in spite of them) that this is the proper way for Christians to act, speak and believe, that does NOT mean that I question your faith, your love of Christ, or your devotion to Scripture. You, however, have suggested that those who disagree with you are less than you in all those terms. You have attributed and assigned motives and beliefs where they do not exist. You have been insulting and judgmental–all personal attacks, while claiming to only want to engage the issues. You have claimed to know the “other side” while proving with your words that you do not.
        Yes by the way, I have read the New Testament. seems I remember a story where Jesus rode one of your kind into town. But that’s not a personal attack, I’m just speaking of the issues. I never mind debate. I never mind those who disagree and disagree strongly But to do so in the manner you use while claiming to be above it all is evidence of foolishness and given your love of Scripture, I’m sure you know what it says about arguing with a fool. I shall leave you to your anger and venom. Good day sir. May all the blessings you deserve be yours..

      • herev says:

        and one more thing. As a debate expert, surely you realize that when you say: ” I don’t ad hominems, I leave that to the liberal side, since it’s all they have.” I’m sure you actually DO know that “since it’s all they have” IS an ad himinem?” Perhaps not as expert as you thought

      • J P Logan says:

        You people do stick together, don’t you? Call me “vehement,” but overlook the vehemence of that enraged harridan who screams “judgmental” because she is too dense to debate. Not one word – not one! – about how she used the Bible to back up her position on gay marriage. What an attitude. I pity her poor congregation. “I went to seminary – shut up and listen, and don’t contradict me!”

        You say you’re not a liberal. Oh, please. The UMs have a lot of people like you, nice respectable “moderates,” except it’s just a cover. Applying Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 about caring for “the least of these” – you apply that to gays, an extremely well-organized and loud political force – you think Jesus had a social movement like that in mind when he spoke of “the least of these”? Knowing how the liberal mind works, I know how “the least of these” can be selectively applied., but until reading your rambling rant, I have never seen it applied to the topic of gay marriage, but when dealing with theolibs, truth really is stranger than fiction. Fighting for the “civil rights” of gay couples is what Jesus had in mind? So, Jesus is going to separate the sheep from the goats – and you’re among the sheep because you support gay marriage? Deep exegesis there, Rev. When a Bible clearly passage means A, and a reader swears it means Z, the reader might call that “creative interpretation.” I call it “lying.”

        I guess in some hick burg like Kornapolis, NC, calling a person a “donkey” would be regarded as supremely witty, not to mention a way to score points in a debate. Funny to spend 3 years getting an MDiv, but you’re so inept at debating the Bible and theology that all you can do is call the opponent a “judgmental” donkey.

        You and that Linda Richards person from Peoria keep saying I misrepresent your views. Actually, you’re mad because I’m NOT misrepresenting, I’m dead accurate. Your naive parishioners buy the line about “committed to the Bible,” but I see that for what it is. You know you can’t sneak your social-political agenda into church without making the laity think you’re really committed to the Bible. Naturally you’re going to squawk when someone sees the act for what it is. I respect the Unitarians, because they don’t call themselves Christians and don’t even pretend to honor the Bible, but the mainliners are on the same page as the Unis but won’t admit it. My former pastor, now PCA (that’s the evangelical church, not the looney-left one), used to talk about how he hated annual conference, said he didn’t mind spending time with clergy, except that they weren’t Christians (apparently Candler and Vandy put the students through some form of brainwashing that de-Christianizes them). He influenced about 30 UMYF members, not one of whom is now Methodist, nor even remotely liberal. What a guy, someone with a heart for God, not some stooge of the political left.

        Your recommendation about counseling is amusing. Liberals are so sure of yourselves that you see anyone who disagrees with you as dumb, mean, and demented (I think that’s called “projection”). Easier than actually engaging in civil debate, isn’t it? I’ll pass on the counseling, since I don’t take advice from some obese left-wing parson in a in a Southern podunk. Our exchange makes me appreciate my own pastor a lot more, not to mention being glad I got off that sinking UM ship, with its left-wing bishops fuming because the bishops from Africa actually want the denomination to be, well, Christian. I’m hoping those guys will just cut the ties, let the UM in America go the way of the UCC and Episcopagans, smaller and smaller, lots of empty pews.

        Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side . . .

        • Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

          You and Ray Bannister have constructed an image of what I believe based on nothing more than your assumptions that I am an unscriptural liberal United Methodist. You don’t know one thing about me other than that I agree with Bishop Dyck. herev and I have been characterized in totally unflattering terms. I would not venture to assume I know your core beliefs just from what you have posted. But the vehemence of your disdain for what you think I believe is unmatched in anything I have ever encountered. It is truly pointless to try to discuss with either of you when you can not stop labeling, assuming, and attacking. Until you can totally drop the false accusations and assumptions I will not try to discuss scripture or the Christian Faith with you.

    • herev says:

      Linda, I have enjoyed this after stepping back. it goes like this:

      the Master debaters (who must have never taken a debate class) have come to a discussion place to debate. (I’ll use you, but it applies to both of us).

      Linda says, Way to go Bishop.

      Mater Debaters say with eyes rolling back in their heads, which is simultaneously spinning around: AHHH, you believe X but not really, your just saying that to kiss the bishop’s butt in hopes you can be a bishop.

      Linda says: no, actually no on both counts. I don’t believe that and I don’t really want to be a bishop. Master debaters say”

      But you DO believe X, now defend yourself you inept coward, don’t you know how to debate?

      Linda says: I’m not here to debate and besides, that’s not my stance on things.

      Master debaters: Quit lying, tell the truth. I know what you believe and what you are more than you do, but you got all that edumacation in the cemetery and never learned how to debate, cuz you can’t defend that anyway (?). You should just curse God and die.

      Linda: NO, SERIOUSLY, you are misrepresenting what I believe, so how can this be even a discussion, much less a debate. If your interested in what I actually DO believe, let me know, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you. Master Debaters:

      See! I told you, you’re a coward who has learned in the cemetery how to fool your congregation, but I’m way too much smarter than you.

      hmm, so poor ole Linda has been had, shown up, and exposed. Her “true” beliefs that aren’t even real because she’s only saying it cuz stating this on the internet is apparently the only prerequisite to being elected Bishop have been brought out to the open and she won’t even admit the truth within the hidden secret motive and then defend her secret truth and back it up with the bible.

      yup, I guess the master debaters won.

      • Ray Bannister says:

        Well, yes, we did, although your longwinded synopsis is nowhere near the truth.

        “Reverend” Linda posted her approval of this very liberal bishop’s stand on gay marriage. She claimed she has “total respect for Scripture, also “passionately committed to Scripture.” I asked how that can be true when she supports gay marriage. She eloquently replied “Judgmental!” She used the same eloquent response when Paul H referred to the PCUSA as “declining,” even though the numerical decline is a matter of public record. “Judgmental!” is not a viable response to FACTS, but “Reverend” Linda couldn’t actually defend her position, so she came up with that stunning riposte “This discussion is ended.” One reason I object to women clergy is that this is typical of them – they take everything personally and regard any honest and rational debate as threatening. It appears there are numerous UM he-hens who are just as touchy and high-strung. It is sad to see so many like that in the ministry. Imagine if the apostle Paul had got his feelings hurt and walked away every time he encountered a critic. Of course, Paul had a mind like a steel trap and a vocabulary that was not limited to “Judgemental!”? I had read somwhere that the UM seminaries have no academic requirement other than possessing a BA, not even requiring the GRE to be admitted. It shows.

        The “debate,” such as it was, boils down to this: “Reverend” is a liberal but doesn’t like being called one. You can’t be pro-gay marriage and be anything but a liberal. Period. Fact. What I don’t get is, why does it bother her being called what she is? She accused me of “false accusations,” but they’re not false. We have several frequent (and garrulous) posters on this site who are very open about being liberal – in fact, “in your face” about it. Their positions are stupid and unbiblical, but at least they’re honest.

        I really pity that church she serves. There are probably some good and decent people in it, maybe even some Christians, yet the conference stuck them with a stealth liberal, someone claiming to be “passionately committed” to the Bible but supportive of behavior that the Bible condemns in no uncertain terms. And speaking of stealth liberals, the Rev in NC was evasive when asked if he was pro-life – which means pro-abortion, since pro-lifers aren’t ashamed of their position. This is the same dude who said he was for “the marginalized,” but I don’t know anything more marginalized (and defenseless) as an unborn child. Two rich gay guys wanting to get married? Stick up for them, they’re “marginalized,” bless their dear hearts. Child in the womb? Kill it if you feel like it, that’s a woman’s right.

      • herev says:

        and there it is. He’s not a conservative, he’s a fundie. If you don’t agree on EVERYTHING with me, you are not Christian. fundi mantra. I will grin when we meet in heaven. Hope the shock doesn’t kill you all over again…

      • Ray Bannister says:

        Trust me, it would, but it won’t happen. Two different religions. My New Testament contains a verse about conforming to the world. Maybe yours doesn’t.

        “Fundie” from you, “judgmental” from “Reverend” Linda. Make it all fit on a bumper sticker and libs will lap it up. getting “judgmental” from you two falls into the pot-calls-kettle category. Did the seminaries teach you to hate conservatives, or did you already have that?

        How far will you take the “marriage equality” mantra? Children? Pets? Fenceposts? You put yourself on a very slippery slope there, and you don’t strike me as the type who would ever buck the crowd. If the distinguished and saintly bishops OK polygamy, or pederasty, you’ll beat the drum for them.

        I will pray for your parishioners. Maybe they will find a Christian church to call home. or maybe the conference will just move you around for 30 years so that every podunk in NC gets its fill of the religion of Political Correctness. The UMs are notorious for recycling sermons, and bad sermons at that. Decaffeinated Christianity, lets the people sleep in the pews. By the time you retire, the UM might be down to 5 bishops, so just through attrition you might get a shot at the big time. I foresee a Wikipedia entry that begins this way: “The United Methodist church was a denomination that existed until . . .”

        Say hi to the guys at Krispy Kreme.

  6. Rev. Linda A. Richard says:

    Ray Bannister- You are so far away from knowing what I think or believe I don’t even know where to begin. I am passionately committed to scripture and the Christian Faith. Instead of condemning my faith or Bishop Dyck’s, why don’t you quit judging people on the basis of what you think they believe? I can not adequately discuss the scriptural basis for what I believe in this forum. But don’t think that’s because I don’t have a scriptural basis. And please don’t make any more false assumptions about the legitimacy of my ministry. Please note that I have gone out of my way not to label or attack you.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      There is one thing we can agree on: you said “I cannot adequately discuss the scriptural basis for what I believe in this forum.” Why not? “But don’t think that’s because I don’t have a scriptural basis.” Well, that’s exactly what I think. You have a golden opportunity here to try to convince some conservative Christians that you are “passionately committed to scripture” and at the same time pro-gay-marriage. Take a crack at it. I mean, this is a BIG issue, one that every Christian needs to give some thought to, especially clergy, and some of those nice laypeople in Peoria might regard you as some sort of authority.

  7. Mark says:

    The same liberals who are now sanctimoniously endorsing marriage for same-sex couples have told us for decades that marriage is an outdated social institution.

    The same liberals who gave us the shack-up culture (along with all the resultant societal dysfunctions) are now finding a renewed interest in the institution of marriage. One can be forgiven for having suspicion based on those facts alone.

    But let’s be clear: arguing for marriage redefinition is arguing against historic Christianity. This is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. It’s a matter of rationally processing Scripture and (previously) settled Christian teaching.

    Did these bishops not understand Scripture before taking their vows? Or were they victimized by the intellectual chicanery and mental gymnastics so often practiced at liberal theology schools?

    Did these bishops not undertake to uphold the Discipline when they were ordained? Of course they did.

    If these bishops no longer support teachings which they swore to uphold then the only honorable thing for them to do is turn in their credentials and join any number of shrinking post-Christian churches where it would not be hypocritical to hold the positions they have chosen to endorse.

    As it stands, these bishops dishonor the vows that they took, the church they serve and the historic teachings of the faith they ostensibly embrace.

    • eMatters says:

      “As it stands, these bishops dishonor the vows that they took, the church they serve and the historic teachings of the faith they ostensibly embrace.”

      Well said. Same thing goes for the pastors. They lied at their ordination vows or just changed their minds later. Either way, if they were honest they’d find employment elsewhere.

      • herev says:

        ematters: for the sake of information, would you list the lies told at my ordination? I remember well the vows I took.

      • eMatters says:

        If you are a theological Liberal, you lied at your ordination vows. Theological Liberalism isn’t a little different than Christianity, it is the opposite. The opposite on who Jesus is, on how can be saved, on what marriage is, on what the word of God is, and so on. Side note: Any female thinking she can be a pastor is at least in the “saved and confused” category, if not apostate.

        If you are not a theological Liberal, then welcome to Christianity.

      • eMatters says:

        By the way, I wasn’t addressing you specifically. I simply noted that those who hold those views lied at their ordination vows or changed their minds later. Your question sure sounds like an admission . . .

      • herev says:

        wow, ok. hmm, I am not a theological liberal, however, I recognize that those who are while professing their faith in Christ, are by definition, Christian as they do in fact profess a faith in Christ. AS to the female pastor thing. There’s a female pastor in the town near mine. I’ve known her a long time. I’ve seen God’s works accomplished through her words, actions, and loving spirit. I believe and affirm God’s calling on her life. Besides, I get to sleep with her every night. so, on that point, we shall agree to disagree.

  8. eMatters says:

    “marriage within the church of GLBT folk, or ordination of same–we should, as followers of Christ, fight for their civil rights…the least of these…as I believe Jesus would.”

    Re. the least of these: So fighting for the most-favored class in the country — the one that the mere criticism of can many people fired — is battling for the “least of these?”

    So championing the gov’t recognition of unions that God calls sinful qualifies as standing up for the “least of these” and something Jesus would fight for? Sure.

    Do you support the unrestricted and pro-taxpayer funded abortion policies of the Democrats? Does the legal crushing and dismembering of 3,000+ unwanted and defenseless human beings each day in the U.S. fall under the “least of these” umbrella for you?

    • herev says:

      yes, in my opinion, Jesus was very clear on sticking up for the marginalized in society. I think in terms of their civil rights, Jesus would be first in line to speak on their behalf. I understand those who disagree and don’t question their faith, but I do believe it.
      As to abortion, not the point of this thread, but as a political libertarian, I do not support government funded abortion policies. no

      • eMatters says:

        Glad to see you are against taxpayer-funded abortions, so presumably you didn’t vote for Obama.

        I can’t help but note that the person who brought up the “least of these” was silent on the unrestricted abortion part. Surely anyone quoting that verse would want to champion the rights of the 3,000+ unwanted human beings who get crushed and dismembered daily in this country. At least the LGBTQX people are alive to even have the debate about civil unions. It is hard to see why you’d speak up for them but not the unborn.

      • eMatters says:

        “Jesus was very clear on sticking up for the marginalized in society. I think in terms of their civil rights, Jesus would be first in line to speak on their behalf.”

        I encourage you to read the entire Bible — all of which Jesus agrees with, btw — and look for examples where Jesus dropped his “repent & believe” message so he could go champion sin.

      • Tommy Conder says:

        Lol, yes. I’ve read it. And studies. And prayed. All those and still, this is what I believe.

        As to voting, no. As a libertarian, Obama would be my last choice.

        As to the abirtion issue, it’s just not the topic of this thread. Many issues are not the topic of this thread. Not discussing them does not suggest for anyone that its not important. Blessings

      • herev says:

        lol,thanks, I have read it all, cover to cover many times. And through my reading, studying, and prayer, I stand by what I have said for my beliefs. I see no conflict at all. I am not endorsing same sex marriage. I am not advocating for a change in church doctrine. I am simply saying that in civil matters, I believe it is the right thing to fight for equal rights for all. To me, and that is just me I speak for, I believe it is the right thing–the christian thing to do.

      • herev says:

        as to politics–again. I don’t think this is the place for that discussion, but I’ll play along for a little while I suspect not answering will create some secret I’m trying to keep in the minds of a few on here. No, I did not vote for Obama. as a libertarian, I find his policies the furthest thing from my own thinking. why the abortion issue was not brought up? this is a thread about a united methodist bishop supporting equal rights in civil law for homosexuals. There are many issues that do not come up, but that doesn’t mean any of them are unimportant. this thread is about that and so, no, I would not have thought to bring it up here.

      • eMatters says:

        I brought up abortion because you insisted on the anti-biblical idea that fighting for gov’t recognition of same-sex relationships was an example of helping the “least of these” and something that Jesus would do. My point is that protecting innocent but unwanted human beings from literal destruction would be “slightly” more in line with helping the least of these and was interested to see how consistent you were.

      • Dan H says:

        eMatters, I read the exchange between you and herev and I felt like throwing a brick through my monitor. Do people actually think this way? He takes the Matthew 25 verse about “the least of these” and applies that to two men wanting to marry? and the real kicker, “Jesus would be first in line to speak on their behalf.” But apparently that Jesus doesn’t care about the unborn. What Jesus are they referring to – I mean, NOT the one in the Bible.

        I don’t believe this character when he says he didn’t vote for Obama. His posts give the impression he is an adult talking down to a very dimwitted, gullible 3rd grader, like “I TOLD you I didn’t vote for Obama and TOLD you I’m not a liberal, and I TOLD you I read the Bible, so that’s that!” That feeling of smug superiority typical of liberals came through clearly.

        This was educational. We learned that the word “marginalized” is now to be applied to one of the loudest and most persistent pressure groups in the country.

        Lord help the Methodists, their worst enemies are inside the church, not outside.

    • herev says:

      thanks Dan for joining the absurdity. I have answered honestly. I never, not once, suggested that Jesus doesn’t care about the unborn. Not sure what words you are reading, but they are neither my words or my thoughts. ematters and I were having what I thought was a pleasant exchange. I cannot defend myself against the accusation of being a liberal any more. On the Internet, you only can accept what someone says or choose not to. Regardless of your opinion (or mine) of the gay marriage issue, if you understood the difficult issues for gay or lesbian couples when it comes to not being able to have the same protection under civil law as heterosexuals, you can see the marginalization is very real. Jesus spoke of several in the dissertation in Matthew 25, all of whom were marginalized in his society. I do not, for one, believe, that he was giving us a list that was specifically only to include those he mentioned. There are many groups that are marginalized by the church or by society or by social norms. It is my opinion (and yes, I get to have one and actually state what it is that I believe) that the GLBT community is one of those marginalized. I have NOT said word one about changing the status of its sinfulness, marrying in the church, ordaining them–not one word.

      And really, I don’t think I could care less about anything more than whether or not you believe I voted for Obama. Had you actually read my words, you might have noticed I’m a Libertarian. (if you’re not familiar, you could look it up). Libertarians tend to believe that the government should stay out of our bedrooms, gay or straight. I don’t think the government should tell me who I can marry (as in life partner) or who i can marry (as in clergy). but IF they decide to get involved as they have done with requiring licenses, etc.,,then they should do so in a non-discriminatory manner. And there is no way any self respecting libertarian would vote for Obama’s near socialist agenda.

      But anyway, you have chosen, (unlike ematters) to not care what I tell you about me or my beliefs but rather to join with the others and try to insist you know better what it is that I believe. I can’t do anything about that, nor shall I be overly concerned. Information sharing helps us get to know each other across the philosophical divides, but only if you let each side actually state their own opinion rather than supply a fictitious one for them and then trounce them for it.

      • eMatters says:

        “We learned that the word “marginalized” is now to be applied to one of the loudest and most persistent pressure groups in the country.

        Lord help the Methodists, their worst enemies are inside the church, not outside.”

        Dan H, you are right.

        “Libertarians tend to believe that the government should stay out of our bedrooms, gay or straight. I don’t think the government should tell me who I can marry (as in life partner) or who i can marry (as in clergy). but IF they decide to get involved as they have done with requiring licenses, etc.,,then they should do so in a non-discriminatory manner. And there is no way any self respecting libertarian would vote for Obama’s near socialist agenda.”

        Kudos for not voting for Obama. Seriously.

        I think the confusion is on why gov’ts have traditionally recognized marriage. It is because by nature and design male-female couples produce the next generation and because they are the only unions that can provide a mother and a father to a child. Gays and lesbians can’t, so why encourage it? I agree with the notion that “marginalized” is a poor word choice for the most favored and protected group in the country.

        I hope you don’t apply the “gov’t out of bedrooms” slogan to abortion, because that’s not where the unwanted human beings are killed. And the role of gov’t is to go wherever crimes are committed. The question is whether is should be a crime.

      • herev says:

        Proud United Methodist here…seriously. I don’t have that confusion. For me, the government has no place–period. I have friends who are straight who have children and the children have suffered from multiple marriages and divorces. It shows in the personality and social skills of the children.. I have friends who are lesbian and have an adopted child. they’ve been together for nearly 20 years and have raised a very bright, well adjusted child. If the goal of the government is to raise well adjusted children, then I think we should surrender our freedom now. I do not see this as the government’s job (it’s the church’s), but if it IS the government”s job, they are doing a lousy job of it. Many, many, many benefits come to married people in the way of tax breaks, estate laws, etc. The same are denied to same sex couples. for ME, the government has no place to step in and regulate between the two. A legally single and consenting adult should have the right to marry another single and consenting adult.

      • eMatters says:

        “A legally single and consenting adult should have the right to marry another single and consenting adult.”

        But you’ve played the typical slight of hand of the LGBT lobby: Assuming the redefinition of the word marriage while arguing for the redefinition of the word. That is begging the question.

        Gays have the same right to marriage as they do to square circles.

        If you want to fix estate laws without redefining marriage, be my guest. Those are ghoulish (do you really want the gov’t to profit when you die?).

        Same thing for hospital visitation and the like. There are plenty of solutions that don’t require teaching kindergarten children that LGBTQ preferences are all “normal.”

        And even in the make-believe world of oxymoronic “same-sex marriage,” your argument pretends that it is against the law for them to get “married.” That isn’t the case at all. They can get married in all sorts of apostate churches, with plenty of fake Christian pastors — including many Methodists — who will be glad to perform the ceremonies. But getting benefits from the gov’t is a different story.

      • herev says:

        I think you and I are close–not quite, but close–to arguing different sides to the same coin. Let me try to illustrate what I mean. Using my marriage as an example. We were “married” by the church. it was in a church by an ordained elder. AT THE SAME TIME, the state required that we get a marriage license to benefit from all the laws and privileges that come from a “marriage” by the state. So, we were “married” by the church and by the state–two separate things. The state has chosen to use the word marriage for us in this civil contract that allows us tax breaks, survivor benefits, etc.

        I have not argued one bit for a redefinition of marriage or that the church do anything differently in any way. Instead, I am arguing that the state, since it has chosen to interfere with this institution of marriage–should not discriminate in its handling of said “marriage licenses.” As it is not a church, nor in this country a proponent of any one church, it has no business denying said license.

        So, I propose the church is the only one responsible for marriage–period. churches can marry whomever churches desire according to their doctrine. But this would have no bearing on any state contract or state (including Federal) benefits. If my wife and I chose to enter into one of those civil contracts, we could do so as a separate issue.

        Same should be true of GLBT community. Marriage is reserved for the church and has no bearing on state contracts. But for those contracts, the state cannot discriminate.

        In short, to answer your post more directly, I suggest the state has already redefined marriage. they did so not only in issuing the marriage license, but in granting divorces. it is they who have already done this. I merely suggest they do it indiscriminately.

        As to the Methodist issue. I can speak from many levels here, but not in all. In my area, while many have pledged and spoken of a desire to do such marriages, no one has done so—and if they did in this conference, they would be prosecuted under church law. there are other conferences that may act differently, but in the only cases I’ve ever heard of around here, they were summarily dismissed and defrocked if they did.

      • eMatters says:

        No, we’re actually 180 degrees apart. You are redefining marriage as a union of some amount of people of any sexes, as long as the church and/or gov’t says it is a marriage. I’m saying what it has always been: A union of a man and a woman. Your argument commits the logical fallacy of begging the question.

        I hope your conference has the teeth you claim it does.

      • herev says:

        thanks. Im enjoying the dialogue. I usually like to try to learn, to understand and to have a “meeting of the minds” which does NOT mean agreement, but rather understanding of the other’s viewpoint.
        In this case, I need your help in understanding. I have not intended to “redefine marriage” in any way, shape or form. I’m not suggesting a redefinition as I see it. I have not anywhere ever that I know of, but especially not in this thread argued anything for MARRIAGE (as in a church ordained worship service joining people together in matrimony) other than one single man and one single woman, married in the church by an authorized clergy person. My comments in the beginning use the common language of “marriage” which could mean civil ceremonies or church weddings. I’ve altered that based on my dialogue with you to use “marriage” only in reference to the church.
        Instead, I’ve intended to suggest that the government is defining marriage already (and that I don’t believe it is their job). HOW they define it varies from state to state; some states define it as only man/woman, while others allow same sex civil contracts to be recognized as marriages. I’ve also said that some churches may be currently doing this and calling it marriage.
        What I thought I was saying was that we ought to at least strip away from the government its involvement in all marriages and only allow them to recognize civil contractual unions.
        This would have the effect of what I desire, which is to have the government NOT discriminate, and would be supported by what you said when you said,

        “If you want to fix estate laws without redefining marriage, be my guest. Those are ghoulish (do you really want the gov’t to profit when you die?).
        Same thing for hospital visitation and the like. There are plenty of solutions that don’t require teaching kindergarten children that LGBTQ preferences are all “normal.””

        Then churches will do what their doctrine allows. My church does not allow same sex marriages or unions or anything of the like as a service performed by a clergy person recognizing or blessing any union between anything other than a man and a woman. But, whether you and I like it or not, other churches (as you have indicated) already do perform and bless such unions.
        So, help me be a better communicator. How does this suggest that *I* am redefining marriage?
        personally, I have no intention of any same sex marriages, unions, or the like. Even if I wanted to, I am forbidden from doing so, and despite earlier suggestions, I take my ordination vows (which cover faithful devotion to scripture, etc) and my covenant relationship with the the Church, the Bishop, and the Book of Discipline seriously.
        I have not, nor shall I violate that sacred trust, especially not in some sort of protest.
        Thanks for your continued conversation. I am always eager to learn and understand.

      • Mark says:

        Herev, it sounds as if you think the state has no vested interest in a particular definition of marriage.

        But that is not the actually the case, and it has certainly not been the case historically.

        Recognizing the potential for procreation, recognizing the biological and psychological complementarity of the sexes in nurturing each other and their offspring, recognizing the unique societal stability and personal health resulting from traditional marriage, etc., the state has historically affirmed such marriage as having particular utility to society. While all major religions have always endorsed this point of view, you cannot marginalize arguments for traditional marriage by relegating them exclusively to “religious” concerns (although, as a Christian, I personally take those concerns very seriously).

        Once you set aside the notion that heterosexual marriage has a particularly unique value to society, then the sky’s the limit. Using such reasoning one should have no problem with state marital endorsement of same-sex couples, or polygamy, or any number of combinations of people of legal age (e.g., why should a man be barred from marrying his daugter–or, for that matter, his son–if they are both willing, of legal age, and of coherent mind?)

        As an aside, does it strike anyone else as hypocritical that many of the same liberals who have argued for decades that marriage is an outdated social institution now find marriage critically important insofar as it can be granted to same-sex couples? I know there are many true believers in this cause, but such posturing really does smack of politics.

  9. Linda Richard says:

    Ray Bannister- I took a break from this diatribe but felt compelled to respond to a couple of things you said about me and my ministry. First you said you pitied my congregation because they probably have some decent folks there who got stuck with such a liberal Pastor. Believe me- no one feels stuck. We have a vibrant compassionate ministry together.But one thing you said is true; you don’t like women clergy. Awe now the truth comes out. I have been serving those decent people for 8 years and will do so for at least one more. They would respond that you are totally mistaken! You assume that because I am a woman I take everything personally. No I don’t. Yet you continue to attack my integrity, my belief in scripture etc. I have been a Pastor serving faithfully for 30 years. You sir, are the one who is mistaken. If the vehemence you show in discrediting my ministry is any indication, then it would be pointless to try to discuss Scripture with you. Your negativity is officially the most offensive and untrue characterization of the Christian Faith-My Faith I could ever imagine. You will go off on my accusing you of being judgmental. Ray- I don’t have the words to describe how totally un Christian you are. The congregation I serve would find your attitude totally unacceptable.

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