#Facepalm Friday: Gay Methodist Caucus Embraces Promiscuity

on October 4, 2013

While my colleague, Alex Griswold, ably reported on the convocation of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) “ChurchQuake” convocation held over Labor Day weekend, large parts of the gathering apparently had plenty of goings-on about which organizers did not want IRD (and by extension, the general UMC public) to know.

But thanks to social-media use by some participants, who unlike Alex were not barred from the any part of the program, some of the more secretive parts of the unofficial gay Methodist caucus’s annual rally have come to light.

Especially of note is a recent blog post by the Rev. Becca Clark of Vermont. Clark distinguished herself as a delegate at the last UMC General Conference with her passionate defenses of unrestricted abortion, leadership in an illegally disruptive protest by pro-sex-outside-of-marriage activists (for which protesters have not reimbursed the six-figure cost they imposed on our denomination), and after arguing in her sub-committee that it is categorically wrong to use male or “hierarchical” words for God, pridefully declaring “I don’t have a king!” For what it’s worth, her blog post also features a picture of her with other leaders of an MFSA/RMN-related social media project at the RMN convocation (which one of her co-leaders recently made very clear was a “conversation” rather limited in its openness to participation from respectful, informed non-liberal United Methodist voices).

Here are her own words about a secret RMN workshop defending “polyamory” (i.e., the practice of having concurrent multiple sexual partners):

But the workshop was a little on the 101 level for me and I got distracted looking at Twitter, where people were posting from the “queer sexual ethics” workshop. Some tweets intrigued me, some made me uncomfortable, and some were things with which I strongly disagreed, the latter two often about poly. I’m kind of all about monogamy, and I know that my approach to polyamory sounds just like the approach to homosexuality I fight against: “It’s just not what I think marriage/relationships/etc are.” So, I engaged in workshop polyamory, and decided it was time to spend time with the queer sexual ethics workshop because it was pushing the edges of my comfort. So that’s what I did. And I’m not going to go seek out poly relationships for myself any time soon (or ever, I imagine), but I learned a lot about new perspectives to me and I think I can be a better ally because of it. I love anything that encourages me to stretch myself.

Elsewhere, she sent a tweet indicating that one of the secret workshop leaders, Jamie Michaels, framed “polyamory” and “kink” as among the non-traditional sexual orientations/identities that the church should celebrate.

A couple of other insider tweets from the gathering are worth highlighting.

Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, the self-described “radical” secretary of the RMN board of directors who was recently selected to represent the UMC’s North Central Jurisdiction on the powerful Connectional Table, bragged that RMN’s student outreach program, in which she has long been involved, is so cutting-edge that it “talks about polyamory.”

An RMN activist named Kari Collins tweeted from the conference (perhaps quoting one of the secret workshop speakers) that “[i]t is important that sex workers [i.e., prostitutes] have the chance to practice justice and mercy in their own work” and that “we have (closeted) sex workers in our movement.”

This would seem to confirm the worst suspicions about one of the secret workshops, on “Queer Sexual Ethics,” which was advertised as “broaden[ing] discussions of same-sex love to include sexual lifestyles that had been marginalised through a concentration on things like marriage rights” and accepting “a variety of alternate sexual styles.” The leader, Theodore Jennings of the United Church of Christ’s Chicago Theological Seminary, is probably most notorious for asserting that Jesus Christ was homosexually active.

It is striking to see folk in the RMN crowd (at least among themselves) pushing the logic of their movement’s rejection of biblical sexual boundaries to the extreme of embracing promiscuity and even prostitution.

But this does challenge the naiveté of fooling ourselves into thinking that church embrace of the LGBT activist agenda involves no more than same-sex couples celebrating “holy union” services, remaining strictly celibate beforehand, and staying monogamously committed for life thereafter.

  1. Comment by Donnie on October 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Honestly, I’ve never understood why RMN congregations were allowed to remain members of the denomination. This is just more proof that we’d be better off with a breakup.

  2. Comment by Donnie on October 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Also, remember how progs mocked those of us who said legalized gay marriage will lead to legalized polygamy? Yeah….

  3. Comment by Pam on October 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for posting verbatim what Becca actually wrote.

    Either you totally misunderstood what she said – in which case you ought to be embarrassed by your own incomprehension – or apparently you don’t think it’s immoral to bald-face lie about what someone said.

    At any rate, by including her actual words, we can see that she didn’t say what you are claiming she did. At least that’s something. How come the commandment to not bear false witness doesn’t matter? Or does God not care if we lie about those who we believe to be wrong?

  4. Comment by John Lomperis on October 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    The issue is not Becca’s saying that she’s “not going to go” running around committing adultery herself. It is the revelation that part of the more secretive/exclusionary parts of the RMN convo included addressing “polyamory” (aka, promiscuity) in an apparently accepting way.

    Interesting logic: when I quote someone verbatim, I am somehow guilty of a “bald-face lie” and “bearing false witness” in some vaguely unspecified way. But when heterodox clergy consciously lie through their teeth about accepting, and committing to preaching and maintaining, core UMC doctrine, in order to get ordained, such self-serving dishonesty is apparently no problem.

  5. Comment by Tom on October 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Pam, can you provide specifics about the supposed lie please?

  6. Comment by Jeff Allen on October 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Mr. Lomperis merely said that Rev. Clark’s words revealed that there was a secret RMN workshop on polyamory, not that she supported such a practice. In other words, he didn’t lie at all. However, Rev. Clark did say, “I love anything that encourages me to stretch myself.” What she should have said was that this is categorically wrong and that she rejects such a seminar in no uncertain terms.

  7. Comment by Jeff Allen on October 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks, John. You and the IRD do a great job of keeping UMC ministers like myself informed. You’re doing the Lord’s work. Keep fighting the good fight.

  8. Comment by John S on October 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

    The liberal congregations, RMN and other such groups are not going to leave the UMC. They want the cachet of “mainstream” acceptance. The UMC, focused so desperately on numbers, is not going to kick anyone out.

  9. Comment by anon on October 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Clark is a real piece of work. The sheer hate and vitriol she spew across Twitter during General Conference – if it have come from a male conservative – would have gotten them defrocked with a haste.

  10. Comment by Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry on November 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I am not Methodist but I am gay. I do not believe in “queer theology” any more than I do in “straight theology”. I do not embrace “feminist theology” or “politically correct” theology. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Liberation-Inclusive-Gender celebratory-Covenant Faithful Equality-THEOLOGY, the above mentioned schools of theological thought are just sophistry and whether it is “post modern relativism” on the Left or counterfeit evangelicalism on the Right it is merely a tempest in a tea pot!

  11. Comment by Alfred1957 on September 27, 2015 at 12:14 am

    These people need to legitimize their behavior in an almost maniacal manner, the church must stop thinking about numbers and cut them out before more damage is done.
    Who put all these gay and lesbian directors into power? they have to go too.
    If not they will drag everyone down with them like a great millstone around the churches neck.

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