August 10, 2014

Garrett-Evangelical Goes Gay?

The President of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has written a blog post signaling a year long period of “conversation,” during which the seminary will examine its stance of the issue of homosexuality, and its role in the current battle within the United Methodist Church (UMC) over its stance on homosexuality. Garrett-Evangelical (colloquially just called “Garrett”) is a UMC-affiliated seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Its current president, Dr. Lallene Rector, was inaugurated in March of last year.

In a blog post entitled “All People Are of Sacred Worth,” Dr. Rector writes that Garrett must do better than the “minimal” non-discriminating statement on sexual orientation that was written in 1997. She implies further that Garrett was looking to hire or appoint someone to lead this effort. “I am currently engaged in finding a person(s) to help facilitate this process.”

The language of Dr. Rector’s post is conciliatory at many points. She notes that there are both liberals and conservatives alike at Garrett, and that they’d be approaching the issue with an open mind. Human sexuality, she writes, is a challenging issue that United Methodists struggle with. She even includes a quote from Ephesians 4:4-5: You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism . . .”

But even beneath much of the neutral language, Dr. Rector’s stance on the issue bleeds through. For example, Dr. Rector says we should “call to memory the split we suffered over race for nearly a century until 1939 and our delay until 1956 in ordaining women as elders. We caution ourselves to learn from history and not to make a similar mistake again.” Of course, the mistake in both of those instances was not liberalizing quickly enough, and comparisons between the civil rights movement and the current gay rights movement are made almost exclusively by supporters of the latter.

“I am aware of the “7 scriptural references” to homosexuality in the Bible,” Dr. Rector writes, but quickly adds, “and I am also aware there is no escaping ourselves in the effort to discern true meaning(s) of various passages. Many of us read the Bible from a “canon within the canon” approach. We appeal to a biblical perspective, a verse, or a commandment to provide the lens against which we measure and interpret other parts of the Bible.”

Her characterization of the traditional reading of the passages mentioning homosexuality is (perhaps unintentionally) rather insulting. According to Dr. Rector, many of us feel “anxiety and discomfort” about “different sexual practices… Sometimes we manage our discomfort (unawares) by appealing to the Bible and by concluding, ‘The Bible says . . . about . . .’ This seems to settle it for us. We can feel not only morally right, but we can also avoid the great discomfort of dealing with the differences in others that beset us.”

So basically, people read the Bible to disapprove of homosexuality because deep down they’re bigots. And they believe they are right about their interpretation of those verses because it makes them feel morally superior. If Dr. Rector does plan to address the issue with an open mind, she has some work to do.

It’s worth noting that the title of Dr. Rector’s piece either intentionally or unintentionally alludes to a Garrett campus group called Sacred Worth, dedicated to promoting the “dignity, rights, and issues of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and Tran gendered communities at the seminary, in the church, and in society.” According to the Garrett-Evangelical website, the faculty advisor for that group was previously Dr. Lallene Rector. (EDIT: The original post read that Dr. Rector was currently the faculty advisor. However, the communications coordinator of Garrett notes in the comments that the website was outdated, and has been updated.)

Also worth noting is that Dr. Rector’s bio claims she attends First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, a famously liberal and Reconciling congregation. Chicago Temple is currently in the middle of its own discernment period, and has a “Marriage Equality Task Force” currently deciding whether or not to abide by the Book of Discipline. In the blog post, Dr. Rector claims she was “in communication” with two congregations in the Northern Illinois Conference that were considering using their facilities for same-sex marriage. She bizarrely neglected to mention that, in all probability, one of them was her home congregation.

Of course, even if Dr. Rector was coming from a more moderate position, and even if the seminary ultimately comes down on the side of the Book of Discipline in a year’s time, Garrett-Evangelical is a United Methodist seminary dedicated to instilling United Methodist teachings. The very fact that it’s approaching the denomination’s teachings with an “open mind” is problematic. Which other traditional Christian teachings will Garrett be evaluating and “having a conversation” about? Only time, and the persistence of any outspoken minority, will tell.


35 Responses to Garrett-Evangelical Goes Gay?

  1. Jeff Stevenson says:

    Garrett has zero interest in being guided by the Bible or Christian tradition. It could take a lesson from Seabury-Western, the Episcopal seminary next door – which no longer exists. When Paul’s command “Be not conformed to this world” is ignored, institutional death follows.

    Fwiw, the UM seminaries “went gay” years ago, with students being open about being gay, so the seminaries haven’t followed the Book of Discipline since back in the late 1970s. Apparently Garrett’s present “quandary” is not about tolerating homosexuals – it passed that milestone long ago. Like the gay movement in general, the goal is no longer toleration but an in-your-face “You better CELEBRATE homosexuality or we’ll call you a BIGOT!”

    • Walker Brault says:

      So it’s against the Book of Discipline to even continue in a christian education if you are lgbt? There are many options available to people after completing seminary, not just becoming ordained (which is the only thing, other than marriage, that the BOD explicitly prohibits).

      And characterizing the entire movement as “You better CELEBRATE homosexuality or we’ll call you a BIGOT!” is just as bad as characterizing the entire “anti-gay” movement as bigots. Yes, some on both sides are and they are usually the loudest voices, but that doesn’t make everyone that way.

      • C. Y. Cheng says:

        @walker Braille.
        The critical issue is not the career path after seminary. The issue is not being obedient to Christ our Lord by placing one’s sexual desire as one’s primary identification. Disobedience is coming out of self-centeredness, which is sin. If we don’t agree on this point, there is practically no common ground for any meaningful dialogue beyond stating the positions.

        • Walker Brault says:

          Very few people are placing their primary identification in their sexuality. Almost no one in the movement wants to be identified primarily by their sexuality. Yes there are some that do, and they are often the loudest, but the majority do not. They want to be treated as humans. They wanted to be accepted as a child of God, broken and in need of his grace.

          Yes there’s a problem when we act out of self-centeredness. Yes there’s a problem when we act out of selfishness. But wanting to be treated like a human being is not selfish or self-centered. Characterizing an entire movement by the beliefs and actions of a subset of them is just as bad and it takes away from their humanity. Both sides are guilty of it and both sides need to recognize that it’s happening.

          • C. Y. Cheng says:

            Thank you for your time in reply.

            I am very puzzled by the statement that “They want to be treated as humans. They wanted to be accepted as a child of God, broken and in need of his grace.” God in Christ calls us to repent, to abandon our indulgences in sins, and to follow Him.

            Every Christian depends completely on God to keep our heart and guard our soul from the evils we face in every moment of our days. Among so many other vices, unclean sexual desires are equally distributed among heterosexuals and homosexuals, and they are equally sinful —unless we start to pick and choose what we like and dislike in the Bible.

            Christ came to save us exactly because we are broken and we cannot fix ourselves. But after we are saved, we cannot and must not indulge in our brokenness while saying it is not fair to say we are broken — “we are just fine.” Isn’t it as simple as that “healthy people” simply have no need for the doctor?

            God set the standards. God asks us to be holy because He is Holy. How can we be saved if we don’t repent and accept God as the center of our life?

          • Walker Brault says:

            First off, I was a little confused by your third paragraph and would greatly appreciate it if you could possibly word it differently. It’s a tad hard to follow and I’m not sure if you said exactly what you wanted to say.

            Secondly, I apologize about the length of this reply and think that it would be beneficial to move this conversation to another open venue so that it’s not too difficult for others to find other conversations they want to participate in.

            Everyone picks and chooses bible verses, regardless of which ‘side’ we choose to stand on. Often times this is simply which things we place a greater weight on. Other times we just completely ignore verses and never talk about them and yell at people when they bring them up.

            It often feels that many on both ‘sides’ focus too much on the rules instead of the bigger picture, the relationship with God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They get so bogged down with what the rules say, and how to follow them, that they never realize that we were meant for more than rules.

            This seems to parallel the Pharisees all too well. They were always asking Jesus which of the laws were greater and if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. We by nature are relational beings: we were meant to build relationships with each other and God. But all too often these get pushed to the side because the rules say we have to do something else.

            In the book of Matthew, Jesus is asked which of the commandments is greatest. He replies “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love comes first. He goes on to say that “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:37-40 CEB).

            The laws of the old testament were a means, for the Israelites, to an end, to love god and love neighbor. In the new testament, Paul along with the other writers, make decisions on which of the laws are truly ‘needed’. In Romans 14 Paul tells us that “Someone who thinks that a day is sacred, thinks that way for the Lord. Those who eat, eat for the Lord, because they thank God. And those who don’t eat, don’t eat for the Lord, and they thank the Lord too” (v 6) and “I know and I’m convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is wrong to eat in itself. But if someone thinks something is wrong to eat, it becomes wrong for that person (v 14). It’s not completely about what the bible says, it’s about what your relationship with God allows you to do (and the bible is a wonderful place to find some answers). I think Paul sums it up very nicely in v. 17 by saying “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (I highly recommend reading the entire chapter)

            It’s not about the rules, it’s about God, and our relationships with him. There are many things that we all may think aren’t sins, and in the eyes of God they very well may be and there are many things we may think are that aren’t. What’s important isn’t which rules we do or do not follow, it’s that we are following or not following them because doing the opposite violates our relationship with God. Everyone’s rules are a personal matter, sharing them does help keep us accountable but we shouldn’t impose our rules on others just because they are right for us because they very well might not be for them.

          • Jeremy says:

            Sexual immorality is a ‘rule’ that is very well defined. If you’ve read so much of Romans you should know this well. Is Christianity about having a relationship with God the Father through Christ Jesus by the Spirit of God because of His amazing grace? Yup. And in that relationship we are told that if we truly love Him we will do what He has commanded us to (rules).
            I agree that we pick and choose far too often, which sins we are going to call out and which ones we aren’t. I believe that we should be trying to help people caught up in sexual immorality of every kind and not just focused on LGBT issues. Pornography is a bigger issue in the church than I believe it has ever been. But the point is that in our relationship with God we have been given boundaries. Boundaries that when they are violated affect our relationship. C.Y. Cheng’ point is that you can not continue in any kind of sin (sexual or otherwise) and also have a true relationship with our loving God. Did Christ tell us what the greatest commandment was? Yup. Was it the only commandment we were given? Nope. This is another commandment Be holy (set apart) as I am holy (set apart).
            If we are going to have a conversation and try to discern ‘true meanings’, lets have one about the sanctification of the believer. Not about what we are going to decide is right or wrong or what we will tolerate or allow or celebrate. God calls us not to be conformed to the image of this world. That means sin is sin is sin. There is no discerning or interpreting what is and is not sinful behavior. If an action is not motivated out of your love for God and your desire to please Him it is motivated from a self-centered and selfish desire. There’s not an in-between or grey area there. So then we don’t need a list of rules to tell us what is right or wrong, but this simple paradigm, “Am I going to bring glory to God in doing what I am considering doing?”

          • Walker Brault says:

            You seem to be making two completely different arguments here. The first is that there are written rules that we have to follow and they’re very well defined with no wiggle room, and the second being that it all comes down to the question “Does this glorify God?” This is something that you claim has no gray area. However, everyone has a different definition of glorifying and what the best way is which creates a massive gray area. When we are told in the bible what the ‘best’ way to glorify God is, it is often qualified, either explicitly or implicitly, that it is in a certain situation or for a specific person/group of people.

            “you can not continue in any kind of sin (sexual or otherwise) and also have a true relationship with our loving God.” (from your comment) We are all, by nature, sinful, there is no way that we can completely escape sin. No matter how hard we try, we will always fall in to sin. Because of this, by your logic, we can never have a relationship with God. Just because someone does something that hurts you, physically or otherwise, mean that your relationship just vanishes and doesn’t exist in a ‘true’ form any more? No, the dynamic of the relationship may change, but it doesn’t go away.

  2. Tasha Sargent says:

    A slight correction for your blogpost. The student group section of the Garrett-Evangelical website is outdated. We are in the process creating a new website for the seminary and some pages on our current website have not been updated recently. Dr. Rector is not the current faculty advisor for Sacred Worth or WomenIMAGES, the other group she was listed as a faculty advisor, nor was she for the past year. The website has been updated to reflect the current faculty advisors for both groups. Our apologies for the outdated information on the website. – Tasha Sargent, Communications Coordinator at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

  3. Gabe says:

    I love it when people have to show us that the “true” meanings of the passages is exactly the opposite of the plain meaning of the words. When my children ask me for cookies before dinner, and I tell them “no”, they don’t have to worry about a “true” meaning that really tells them to eat as many sweets before dinner. I’m so glad that gnosticism is alive and well in the church.

  4. Terrance L. Thomas says:

    I find this dialog sadly comical. It’s funny the Bible and the faith has been used to justify all manner of foolishness from slavery, Jim Crow, spousal abuse, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and with each on folks have come back and said “nah we were wrong about that thing. Let’s look at it again.”

    Somehow we think this issue is exempt from re examination. Somehow we think its Christlike to want to push a group to the margins.

    I truly wonder how many of you would have fought to keep my ancestors enslaved or a continued second class citizenship space under the guise of Biblical inerrancy.

    Dr. Rector is right…it’s time to check our hearts and truth in our actions when it comes to these faith positions.

    Terrance L. Thomas
    Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary
    MDiv/MSW
    GEBS-Co Chair

    • DMurphy says:

      Your argument is self-defeating. In the examples you’ve given, each of those misused the scriptures to justify unchristian behavior. It’s exactly what is being done by the LGBT community with the full support of too many well-educated Christians who should know Christian doctrine much better than they do. It’s as if our seminaries have stopped reading the bible at all. I’m afraid Malcolm Muggeridge was correct in his assesment that we’ve “educated ourselves into imbecility.”

      Dennis Murphy
      Kingdom of Heaven
      Justified by the blood of Jesus Christ
      Child of The Living God

    • Lephteez Arfoneez says:

      Hmmm.

      I see a syllogism:
      “Christians supported slavery,
      therefore,
      Christians should feel guilt and should support homosexuality.”

      Sorry, does not follow.

    • Terrance L. Thomas says:

      They are neither self defeating or incorrect..

      The examples I gave were based off of things that are in the bible…say Paul’s exhortation to slaves and the curse of Ham or even Paul’s suggestion that a woman can’t teach or be in leadership….

      Yet we’ve come to see that some of those things we as the Body of Christ was so sure we had correct we had wrong..

      So is it not possible that we misunderstood…again…

      At least lets have the dialog…don’t shut the conversation off being out of whatever issue you have in your heart.

      But let me ask you this: How should we treat the LGBT community as it relates to legal rights and as a body of believers…?

      Lastly, stop it with the effeminate nonsense…it cheapens who you are…

      • Linda says:

        Sounds like you have some issues accepting Paul’s letters as inspired Scripture. That’s you right to do so, but you have to realize that if you dump Paul, you’re stepping completely outside the Christian tradition, so you’ll have to invent a new religion. There never has been a Paul-less Christianity.

    • Sandy Naylor says:

      What is your evidence that gays are a group that is being “pushed to the margins”? Ellen Degeneres is one of the most-loved entertainers in America, and plenty of actors, singers, and even politicians are openly gay. There is almost zero stigma today in America to out yourself as gay, but plenty associated with being openly Christian. Check your calendar, this is 2014, not 1500, America is a post-Christian society where the academic and political and entertainment elites openly embrace sexual perversion but frown on people with morals. Christians, not homosexuals, are the ones being pushed to the margins – does that concern you at all, or do we deserve to be ostracized?

      • Zeke says:

        They have you so well-trained.
        But the facts are that In the majority of states, homosexuals can be denied employment or fired for being gay, denied visitation rights and the ability to make medical decisions for partners, and can be denied housing. Legally. They weren’t even allowed to openly serve in the military until recently. This is quite a bit more serious that being ‘frowned on’, don’t you think?
        Where is the evidence that Christians are being pushed to the margins? In a country where 3/4 of citizens identify themselves as Christian?

        • mikeg says:

          Another moan from the Whine Club.

          Every time some whiner brings up this “fact” about people being fired for being gay, I always counter: Give us data on people BEING fired, not the fact that they CAN be. Not once – not once – has anyone replied. The implication is that the poor gays are being fired by the thousands – but zero evidence it actually happens.

          Whining is very unmanly, real men don’t do it.

  5. Lephteez Arfoneez says:

    So, Christians have been getting the Bible wrong for 2000 years – misinterpreting Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6? I don’t think so. Who understands the mind of Christ better – Paul the apostle, or a gaggle of effeminate theology professors? That’s a no-brainer.

    • MarkWest1 says:

      “effeminate theology professors”? How does such a clear expression of bigotry help this discussion?

      • Lephteez Arfoneez says:

        LOL. I learned long ago that the PC crowd defines “bigotry” as “saying anything we don’t agree with.” So in practice, a Christian speaking the truth is going to get tagged as “bigotry,” so I’m used to it. My wife and I left the PCUSA years ago, one factor being our perusal of the websites of the PCUSA seminaries, specifically the faculty bios, where it was quite obvious that our denomination was employing open gay and lesbians, most of whose published books and articles showed that they saw the key mission of the church to be promoting the homosexual agenda – so we are ex-PCUSA, us about and several other thousand people. Feel free to visit the faculty section of any liberal seminary website, I stand by my accurate description of “effeminate theology professors,” except in the case of lesbian professors. Happily, these denominations with their huge membership losses will not be around much longer.

      • Ken M says:

        Nope, sounds pretty accurate!

  6. Realitycbd says:

    Garrett’s hyphenated name is due to it being the merger of Garrett with the Evangelical Theological Seminary, operated by the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB), which merged with the Methodists in 1968 to form the United Methodists. I knew some EUB members who were NOT happy about this merger, fearing the Methodists’ liberal would infect the EUB schools – which it definitely did. There is nothing remotely “evangelical” about Garrett today.

  7. the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

    2 Questions:

    1. Does Garrett get money from apportionments from the United Methodist Church?
    2. If these changes are made, will Garrett still get that money?

    Thanks in advance,

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  8. Another step in a continuing journey- what’s the destination?

    • C. Y. Cheng says:

      The obvious destination is the complete abandonment of Jesus Christ our Lord as our Savior. Mankind is more than good enough to redeem themselves, the very concept of sin and the need for Messiah are fundamentally insulting to the “dignity” of human race.

  9. mamaditto says:

    How do these yahoos with credentials obviously gotten from a CrackerJack box end up in charge of seminaries? Y’knowFolks, the late,great William F. Buckley once said he would rather be governed by citizens chosen randomly from a phone book than the gaggle in Wash,DC. Methinks this would be a good approach within United Methodism. Choose people out from church directories.

  10. Eagle Rock Tom says:

    Good for Garrett! It’s always been open to LGB folks. There were gay students there when I was a student there in the late sixties and early seventies. It was not a secret, though nary a word was spoken about it. They are reflecting the best of current Biblical scholarship, which is what one would hope ALL of our seminaries would do.

    • DMurphy says:

      There’s no need in Christianity for “current Biblical scholarship” except to make excuses for our sins and try to justify ourselves instead of trusting in the gospel of our salvation: that we are all born into Adam and justified only through the blood of Jesus Christ. We need seminaries holding fast to the truth, which is unchanging from generation to generation, despite the world’s attempts to erode it. Our amazing, loving God who died for us is still the same God who is holy and will judge the world in righteous judgment. Praise be to God that He’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the great I AM!!!

  11. Christian Communalism…when will they ever learn the Truth.

  12. Ken M says:

    When I lived in Richmond, VA, I occasionally used the library at Union (Presbyterian) Seminary, and I was always struck by how effeminate most of the male students seen, plus a fair number of very masculine women. I’m not saying they were all gay, nor am I saying that a pastor has to look like a pro football player, but honestly, I do think one factor in the decline of the left-wing churches is that lots of men (and women too, frankly) like their pastor to be a manly man, and so many recent seminary graduates from the liberal strongholds seem more like milksop social workers than men on fire for God. The most successful evangelists in history were charismatic males who could mesmerize an audience, Billy Graham being the best known living example, but Billy Sunday, the former pro ball player was the gold standard. This is just an observation, not a game plan, and I doubt there is any likelihood soon of the liberal seminaries starting to “man up.”

    • MarkWest1 says:

      Thanks, Ken, for making my day. I thought some of you who post here really believe the stuff you write, but this comment was such a caricature of absolute sexism that I know you’re having fun with us. Better luck next time.

  13. Keith Buhler says:

    Open-mindedness is like open-mouthedness. Too much open mouth and you never take a bite — too much open mind and you never take a stance.

  14. Chris Madison says:

    Wow. I joined this discussion a year late. Here is how I would frame this discussion. First of all, what is scripture? Scripture points to an on-going relationship between God and covenant people of God. There are several covenants in the Bible: one with Noah i.e., the rainbow after the flood, two, the covenant with Abram and Sarai, who become Abraham and Sarah, and then the covenant spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in the 31st chapter, and then the covenant with the Church, which Jesus spoke about at the last supper. All of these covenants hinge on a relationship with a “people.” Israel is a people The Church of Jesus Christ is a people. The scriptures flow out of that relationship between God and God’s covenant people. We can differentiate between the people of God, i.e., in covenant (as in tribe), and those who are not part of the tribe or covenant people of God. Scripture has been the defining body of knowledge for the Christian church from the beginning. The Reformers spoke of Sola Fidei and Sola Scriptura on the continent. In England the Reformation was somewhat different. But, nowhere did the Church of England turn away from the authority of scripture as the guiding document of the Church. So, here we are in the early twenty-first century. There are those who believe that the scriptures fall short in areas: slavery, relationships between men and women, and more areas could be named. Others see scripture as the Word of God, meaning scipture speaking to us through revelation from God to us (covenant people of God, us). It appears to me that some today want to look back at scripture and decide what to use in it, or what to throw away. We aren’t the first generation to do this. Marcion did it in the 2nd century. But, the canon has been formed and will not change. Canon is a measuring stick used to guide the covenant people of God in our life together and in the ways we relate to the world. Personally, since Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, I am not going to throw away Paul’s witness in any of his letters in what we call the New Testament. Paul worked very hard to connect God’s saving work in Christ with the Law of Moses. Who are we to throw this effort away? Jesus himself did not simply discard the Law of Moses. He said, 17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 NRSV. Jesus also said, “and scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35). I am sure that someone may say I am “prooftexting.” But, in the schools where I learned Bible, Kentucky Wesleyan College and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, we did take scripture seriously. I know that I am not a Ph.D. level Bible scholar. I am a pastor and hospital chaplain, and the views expressed in this response reflect my viewpoints, not those of the UMC or St. Elizabeth East Hospital. So, now what? If we say that Jesus is not the Son of God or the Second person of the Trinity, not to mention the Savior, he is another religious avatar. He was and is certainly a great one! But, I don’t see him this way. And while I have friends who are Universalists, and friends who are fundamentalists and evangelicals, I see myself as an orthodox, Wesleyan, who understands that in mystical traditions, experience with God (however we define God) is……common. What to do with the issue of relating to homosexuals and the LBGTQ communities? In every church I have served there have been people who have had “friends,” who cohabited with them. Were they manly men, or effeminate men, or masculine women. Yes. All of the above. I have been their pastor. I have not performed same gender unions and have not supported ordinations of self avowed praticing homosexuals. This doesn’t mean that worship is only for straight people. Anyone can worship God in any of our churches. But, how do we relate to folks who see themselves not as “sinners,” because they see their sexuality as “inborn” and not chosen? That takes us to science and its knowledge and then we must decide how the scriptures relate to science and experience for those whose experience may not be the same as ours. I am not a big fan of the Scopes monkey trials. I do not know or care if God created the world and everything in 6 24 hour days. I do care, though, about how my faith informs the way I look at the world. And, as far as I know, the Bible I read in Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic doesn’t really cover such things as quatum physics or the speed of light, or DNA. And, it doesn’t address human sexuality in the way science does (and there is probably more than one way to address sexuality). The Bible I read does call us to safeguard the dignity of people. The Law of Moses does this in the Holiness Code in Leviticus. Look at the expressions related to “You shall not uncover the nakedness of…….” Leviticus 18:7 -18:17. Maybe we ought to consider this scripture, because it is prohibition of breaking sacred relationships in families, i.e., such as incest. I don’t have a final answer to this series of questions. I do respect the authority of scripture and believe that scripture is the authoritation guide to our life together in the covenant people of God. But, then, I also see scripture as a growing sense of who God is from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. And, I see Jesus as the incarnate representation of who I understand God to be and the way I understand that our life needs to be lived. I know that this answer will not be agreed to by some. But, this is where I stand. I am an orthodox, Wesleyan Christian, who recognizes that there is common ground with other faiths and philosophies. And, I tend to think that love (agape, that is), is common ground. I will pray for my colleagues and friends from seminary days as General Conference, 2016 approaches. God bless.

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