June 14, 2013

Liberal Dishonesty on Lesbian Activist Denied Ordination

Sexually liberal activists have now set their sites on United Methodist Bishop Jim Dorff of the San Antonio Episcopal Area of the UMC.  (Photo credit: UMNS / Mike DuBose)

Sexually liberal activists have now set their sites on United Methodist Bishop Jim Dorff of the San Antonio Episcopal Area of the UMC. (Photo credit: UMNS / Mike DuBose)

By John Lomperis (@JohnLomperis)

Once again activists seeking to overthrow biblical standards for sexual self-control in the United Methodist Church are not letting the truth get in the way of their orchestrated, well-funded campaign to undermine and paralyze our denomination.

The official United Methodist position in our governing Book of Discipline could hardly be clearer. We officially say that “sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage,” that our church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching” (Paragraph 161F). We also define marriage as a “covenant … between a man and a woman” and even “support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman” (Paragraph 161B). Clergy candidates “shall … agree for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel and in consideration of their influence as clergy, to make a complete dedication of themselves to the highest ideals of the Christian life as set forth in” those statements (Paragraph 310.2d). All ordination candidates must “agree to exercise responsible self-control by … fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness” (Paragraph 304.2). And as if this was not clear enough, we also say that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” (Paragraph 304.3).

Yet knowing all this, a partnered lesbian activist named Mary Ann Kaiser, chose to go ahead and pursue ordination anyway. Knowing full well about her openly active lesbianism, University United Methodist Church (UUMC) in Austin, Texas, where Kaiser serves on staff as the unordained Youth Director and Justice Associate, chose to challenge United Methodist standards by endorsing her candidacy for deacon’s ordination. UUMC has also chosen to deliberately violate church law by formally affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN), which is probably best known for demanding church endorsement of varieties of extramarital sex (especially but not limited to homosexual practice) in angrily disruptive protests of United Methodist General Conferences.

In addition to her professional social-justice activism and efforts to influence youth, Miss Kaiser also blogs frequently for RMN.

Even a sympathetic secular media profile last month readily understood that “[s]ince she plans to exchange marital vows with [her lesbian partner] in Maryland in the fall, Kaiser is barred by UMC law” from ordination.

Miss Kaiser was “open about her [lesbian] relationship” with her district committee on ministry. But with her district being known within the Southwest Texas Annual Conference for its concentration of heterodox clergy, the District Committee on Ministry voted to kick the problem upstairs to the conference board of ordained ministry, endorsing Kaiser’s candidacy despite her unwillingness to live by the basic standards of the clergy covenant.

In a pattern reminiscent of an unruly child testing his parents in a silly battle of wills, the aforementioned RMN appeared to dare church officials to do something with an announcement in April that Kaiser was indeed a candidate for ordained ministry, is a partnered lesbian, will be legally wed to her partner at RMN’s upcoming fall convocation. For good measure, they also threw in a picture of some public display of affection between Kaiser and her partner. This was also promoted on the liberal “UM Insight” website, which often includes posts from liberal caucus activists.

A couple of days later, the Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church called attention to this and asked “Anyone want to call on her Bishop and Board of Ordained Ministry to uphold the Discipline and Scripture itself?”

Thankfully, the conference Board of Ordained Ministry voted to discontinue Miss Kaiser’s candidacy, an action sustained by the clergy session of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference in the first week of June.

Now following the lead of the well-funded RMN and their powerful secular allies, some activists are feigning to be shocked, horrified, and outraged. In an e-mail to supporters, RMN strongly claims that Kaiser “was treated inhumanly,” without specifying how.

RMN seemed well-prepared by launching a Twitter campaign to protest the ordination denial very soon after it happened, instructing online activists to spread RMN’s inaccurate talking point that Kaiser was denied ordination for “simply identifying as a lesbian” while completely ignoring the realities of her practice and the fact that her same-sex attractions would not automatically bar her from ordination if she were willing to abide by basic Christian standards of self-control.

I tried to set the record straight in a recent interview with the Christian Post.

Shortly thereafter, Rev. John Elford, the pastor of UUMC (which remains in violation of church law with its ongoing affiliation with RMN) requested a bishop’s ruling of law, claiming proper procedure was not followed.  Seeking creative ways to get biblical standards and the clear intent of church law overturned on alleged technicalities is a longstanding tactic of sexually libeal United Methodist activists. Professing a (newfound) respect for church law, RMN has is championing this new line of challenge, urging pro-homosexuality activists to flood Bishop Jim Dorff’s email account. The case will ultimately be reviewed by the Judicial Council, the denomination’s supreme court.

This is all part of a wider, nationwide campaign of attrition being orchestrated by RMN against the United Methodist Church.  Since the global denomination overall is moving in a more orthodox direction on sexual morality, sexual liberals do not have the votes to change church policy at our governing General Conferences – and are even losing ground there. At the last General Conference, RMN ultimately gave up on even gave even seeking to change the ban on ordaining self-avowed practicing homosexuals.  So now RMN and its powerful secular allies are pursuing a nationwide campaign to try to destructively wear the church down by encouraging renegade clergy to endlessly defy settled church law on the issue.

Miss Kaiser chose to keep pursuing United Methodist ordination despite knowing the requirements full well and not even needing ordination for the sort of lay job she has. The clergy supporting her candidacy are doing so in known violation of the very church law they covenanted before God and the church to uphold. If they are not willing to keep the clergy covenant responsibilities, there is no integrity in these heterodox clergy insisting on keeping its benefits.

This extended, unnecessary, affirmation-seeking stunt by a lesbian activist amounts to hijacking the church’s time and energies by using the ordination process as a platform to attack our church’s standards – when she is not even interested in making the basic personal commitments necessary for United Methodist ordination.

Jesus said that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). But others would rather selfishly break the whole church than follow biblical standards for sexual self-control.

Is that really the kind of attitude needed in Christian ministry?

16 Responses to Liberal Dishonesty on Lesbian Activist Denied Ordination

  1. At the risk of sounding cynical, I have to ask, Does anyone really believe that this Mary Ann Kaisar is burning with the desire to be ordained so that she can serve Christ and His church? I can’t read people’s souls, but actions are pretty revealing, and to me it’s obvious she is a publicity glutton who likes to play martyr, trend-setter, lightning rod, and several other roles. She seems aware that most of the UM bureaucrats are wimps when it comes to enforcing the denomination’s actual rules, and they seem to be willing accomplices in this very dramatic Passion of the Oppressed Lesbian. I’m not buying it. If she’s certain God is calling her to ordained ministry, she will find a warm welcome in the UCC, Episc, or ELCA, but it’s clear she enjoys making the UM nabobs squirm, knowing how committed they are to “diversity” and “inclusion” but (in theory) also committed to the Book of Discipline.

    No heroes in this story, alas, just a lot of spineless office-holders and one very bratty individual who thrives on attention.

    • Donnie says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      As far as the blogosphere goes, the only people I’ve seen defend her are people who routinely preach universalism and other heresies. Pretty much troublemakers who seek to preach a false gospel and cause discord among Christians.

    • jelford2409 says:

      I do. I’m her pastor. Isn’t there a commandment at work here? Something about bearing false witness perhaps.

      So let’s review. You know nothing about Mary and clearly you haven’t even taken the time to read her blogs about what she does and why she’s pursuing ordination. The UM church is her family, Jason. Is that what you do with family members when you find out they’re gay? Toss them out. How sad. And how un-Jesus.

      The world is changing. The church is changing. Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and the whole emergent movement are changing. Fewer and fewer Christians are fooled by the kind of cherry-picking fundamentalism that goes on here. You will have to explain to your grandchildren, though, why you continued to persecute LGBTQ folk and I imagine that will be a difficult conversation. We will continue to pray for you. (And, yes, Jason, we do pray in liberal, progressive, reconciling churches.)

      • robertthomason says:

        Why not follow your own admonition and not bear false witness against the others here. Other than those who are members of your church, what do you know about their heart? Nobody is being tossed out. It appears to me that your version of “my way or the highway” is also un-Jesus, what ever that is. Either the clergy follows the Book of Discipline or they need to change it. Persecution is a strong word and to imply that the Book of Discipline is persecuting homosexuals is illogical and intellectually vapid. Is not the Book of Discipline based on biblical principles? If so, then you are saying it’s the Bible that’s wrong in this situation and if that’s true then the basis for Christianity is undermined as nothing in the Bible can be taken as eternal. If the world is changing and it is, there’s nothing new in that, G_d is not. At least that’s what I was taught in Sunday school at Denman Memorial Methodist Church.

  2. Kay Glines says:

    The UM church has been ordaining gays and lesbians for decades, not fully “out” to the world at large, but “out” to the committees and boards who waved them through the process. Over time the inevitable happens, more and more clergy are either gay or pro-gay, and it becomes very unlikely that any board is suddenly going to start abiding by the Book of Discipline.

    Frankly, the UM’s stance on ordaining gay clergy strikes me as hair-splitting. If it’s wrong to have gays as clergy, why is it OK to have gays as youth directors, music directors, etc? The usual rule of thumb is that clergy are held to a higher standard than laity, but this Kaiser woman serves as her church’s youth director and “justice associate” (feel free to comb through the New Testament for a precedent), and it’s unlikely that youth who come to her for “counseling” are going to be concerned over whether she is technically ordained or not, all they’ll be thinking is that an adult in a position of authority in their church told them it was just fine to engage in whatever sexual behaviors they like, because sexual pleasure is one of the core goals in the Christian life.

    This denomination seems to be beyond hope. Why do faithful people still support it? I wouldn’t dream of attending a church that actually brags on its website that its youth director is a lesbian activist and urges its members to e-mail the bishop to voice their support. What parents are handing over their daughters into this woman’s care? Does it occur to them that someone who knowingly (and openly) violates Christian standards of morality would have no scruples about crossing the sexual boundary between adult and child? The problem with doing away with one standard is you risk doing away with all of them, which seems to be the liberal agenda.

  3. “it’s obvious she is a publicity glutton who likes to play martyr, trend-setter, lightning rod, and several other roles.” and you got all this from WHAT statement? Have you ever asked Mary Ann about her heart on this issue?
    Is it possible that there is indeed a call on her life FROM GOD and she is being required by the Holy Spirt to stand in opposition against the rules of man to serve the God that called her to the position for which she is asking? Is that at ALL possible, or must she be as you described her.
    First women had these equality battles, and still do in some denominations.
    This will be a non-issue in a decade or so.
    When I read one of the final phrases of this post : ” sexual self-control” to describe homosexuality (which is a NORMAL variation of human sexuality), I thought WHEN OH WHEN is this author going to march BOLDLY out of the 1970’s and educate himself on this issue?
    Sexual orientation is not a sin and more accurate readings of the Scripture without the modern (past 50 years of cultural influence) would reveal that to the author and the posters.
    Before 1946, NOT ONE Bible read ‘homosexual” — it IS more accurately “prostitute”, “catamite”, or one of many words that have NOTHING to do with people in long term, committed same sex relationships. NOTHING.
    Pick up Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality and read it in humility.
    Assessments like JPT’s are extremely presumptive.
    And yes, I know both Mary Ann and her pastor.

    • raybnnstr says:

      That is poppycock. I’m looking at my Greek NT, the word used in 1 Corinthians 6:9, malakoi, does not mean “prostitutes,” it definitely refers to homosexuals. This “urban legend” that, because the Bible didn’t contain the actual word “homosexual” prior to the RSV is nonsense, our ancestors weren’t morons, they knew what homosexuals do in the bedroom, regardless of what terms the various English versions use. I wish that people who have never read a word of Greek would stop acting like authorities on matters that are beyond them. The pro-gay side obviously has its own agenda, so that side is hardly unbiased.

      Sorry, but I guess we don’t agree that ethical standards are something that change like fashions in women’s shoes. The New Testament was written in a very immoral, sexually obsessed society, yet the apostles told Christians to live better lives than the immoral people around them. You seem to think something magical happened in the 1970s, that God just looked around and said, “Wow, lots of promiscuity going on – guess I’ll give these people a break and tell them, Go for it! Enjoy! Live like pagans!”?

      I agree with Jason Taggart, this Mary Kaisar is just a self-absorbed publicity glutton, and if ordination is that big a deal for her, the UCC would be happy to have her, she’d fit right in with that crowd, and considering their membership losses, they could use all the new members they can get.

    • John Lomperis says:

      With all due respect, I was not around in the 1970s, so not sure how I will ever “march out of” them. 🙂

      • raybnnstr says:

        John, the 1970s was (among other things) the decade when the various sexual minorities (aka, “oppressed,” “victims”) followed up on the no-strings sex mentality of the 1960s. If pre-marital sex was OK, why not gay sex, adultery, groups, etc? I gather from some of the literature by gays and lesbians that they regard the 70s as some kind of golden age, though I don’t know how any Christian could see it that way. Try to imagine how different things would’ve been if the AIDS virus had been discovered in a period of sexual restraint. Camille Paglia, hardly a right-winger, has pointed out that, in a sense, every sexual liberationist of the 1970s is responsible for the AIDS epidemic. In an America where committed relationships were the rule, we might never have even heard of AIDS.

        I know – ancient history that you probably find very boring, but perhaps it will help you understand us dinosaurs better.

  4. raybnnstr says:

    Ever notice that there is no such thing as a “humble activist”? They may pretend they’re working on God’s behalf, but what you notice in them is assertiveness and vindictiveness, never humility, love, and not even self-doubt. I think “Christian activist” is an oxymoron. We can love our neighbors and do a great deal of good in the world without taking on the role of obnoxious, in-your-face, strutting activists.

  5. […] PROGRESSIVE FIRST, Christian NOT so much, akshully– “Once again activists seeking to overthrow biblical […]

  6. Donnie says:

    Reblogged this on donnie2016blog and commented:
    For me, the split in the UMC can’t happen soon enough. I wouldn’t even care if it was the traditionalists leaving. Let the liberals have the UMC name, it’s tainted enough already.

  7. Vince Talley says:

    I think one main problem in discussing ordination is that the liberal mind frames everything in the language of “rights,” as if every person has a “right” to be ordained, so if some person gets excluded, their “rights” have been trampled on. No one has a right to be ordained, I mean, just showing up and saying “I wanna be a minister” isn’t enough, and even in churches that require a seminary degree, even the MDiv by itself isn’t considered enough, there has to be a “call” from God. the liberal churches are so influenced by the rights ideology that they fear to deny ordination to anyone, and judging from their cavalier attitude toward theology and moral teaching, it doesn’t look like God’s call is a factor in choosing whom to ordain. This ridiculous controversy in Texas would completely disappear if these ordination committees focused on this woman’s actual qualifications, which appear to be nil, than on her “passion for justice,” which means that “God” to her is the Being who rubber-stamps her political agenda. If there were any justice in the hiring of church workers, she wouldn’t be able to get a job anywhere.

  8. Ray Worsham says:

    Dear Reverend Elford love of Mary is our charge. Loving someone does not mean giving them everything they seek, as I am sure your prayers have revealed to you over the years. Yes, the world is changing as God’s word through scripture revealed. There is one truth that is unchanging and it does not require that sin be set up to lead the church. We all must have courageous conversations in our life, sometimes about whose we are and whom we serve. Your church has rules and laws and you do not agree with those, although at one time you committed to upholding them. If you cannot now uphold them, you do indeed need to find a religious organization that reflects your belief and join it – not continue in juvenile rebellion. to the one you used to serve.

  9. […] Then he declared that God wants a “fully inclusive” church.  He said, “I want to be a part of the journey.. I want you to know there are many bishops who wish to be a part of the journey to have a fully inclusive church.”  He specifically thanked Bishop Melvin Talbert for “all the work” he has done in his activism, and told Tweedy that he needed to hear what she had said.  He also apologized for disappointing some of the activists in some of his administrative duties, in apparent reference to the liberal outrage directed at him for his role in preventing the illegal …. […]

  10. […] other workshop I attended was led by RMN staffer M Barclay (formerly Mary Ann Kaiser), about whose ultimately failed publicity-stunt attempt at ordination I have written. She shared about her own more recent experiences as a transgendered individual who has […]

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