March 29, 2017

“Mexit” for United Methodist Sexual/Theological Dissenters?

One of United Methodism’s most distinguished theologians has suggested a “Mexit” facilitating orderly departure from the denomination for dissenters from the official church teaching affirming marriage as male-female.

William Abraham of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas proposed Mexit at a conference of 28 theologians addressing United Methodism’s debates over sexuality, hosted by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry on March 9-12 in Atlanta.  The event was called “Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.”

But Abraham, with some others present, did not think church unity possible with dissenters openly defying church teaching and law, including last year’s election by the church’s small Western Jurisdiction of an openly lesbian and partnered bishop.

“I think that the way ahead lies with an exit plan for those who cannot accept the canonical teaching and practice of the church rather than a plan for division,” Abraham announced, coining the term “Mexit” for this Methodist departure.

Abraham suggested “those who disagree with the teachings and practices of the church should follow through on their own convictions and recognize the moral obligation of exiting The United Methodist Church.”  

The over 12 million member global United Methodist Church affirms sex only within male-female marriage, prohibits celebration of same sex rites, and ordains persons who are celibate if single or monogamous in male-female marriage.  This teaching has been debated at the denomination’s quadrennial governing General Conference every four years since 1972.  The traditionalist side has always prevailed.  

Due to the denomination’s growing membership in Africa, where over 40% of the church lives and where the church is conservative, United Methodism has not followed other USA Mainline Protestant bodies in liberalizing its teaching about marriage and sex.  As United Methodism continues its 50 year decline in America, ongoing church growth in Africa almost ensures the denomination will retain its orthodox teaching.

“The relevant point is that the debate is now over,” Abraham said.  “The United Methodist Church has stood firm across the years; there is not going to be a change of mind and heart. So the time has come to recognize the moral obligation to allow The United Methodist Church to abide by and implement its decisions.”

Abraham warned against a general denomination-wide split for United Methodists:

If we are driven to explicit division then we all know that the consequences will be radical and long-lasting.  Think for a moment of what it might mean for our seminaries, colleges, and universities.  A whole raft of legal and ecclesial changes would ensue that would be abruptly out of control.  Or think of the impact on a host of local churches.  Many would be torn apart at the seams if decisions have to be made on what group to join. 

Instead of such a split, Abraham said “it is time for progressives to be given their own space to follow the will of God as determined by their own best judgments rather than mine or by those represented in the decisions of the General Conference.” He further explained:

Clearly this way of moving forward would be preferable to the disruption caused by formal division where votes would have to be taken across the whole denomination. In case of exit we work with the default position of keeping as much as possible the way it is for now. Those exiting would be treated fairly as far as property and assets are concerned.

In advocating a “Mexit,” Abraham said:

Those who have already decided to walk alone should be given the opportunity and freedom to follow their convictions in their new edition of Methodism. Equally, those who support the canonical teaching of The United Methodist Church should be given the freedom to uphold and implement their convictions. As we move forward we should seek to be as least disruptive as possible.

Abraham urged that the “only way to avoid the option of more permissiveness and antinomianism is to develop the canon law that sets relevant standards for sexual morality for membership and ordination.”  And he further warned:  “If we do not take up the option of an orderly exit for those who reject the teaching and practices of the church, then we are headed for division.”  

Such division, Abraham noted, would entail “massive constitutional changes, potential votes all the way down into local churches, and ongoing litigation in the courts.”  It would be less disruptive to “implement an exit for those who cannot accept the teachings and practices of The United Methodist Church on matters related to human sexuality.”

Extending the debate within United Methodism on marriage and sex serves little purpose, according to Abraham.  “It is implausible to think that any new arguments or information is going to make any significant difference to where the various protagonists stand on the contested issues before us,” he said in Atlanta.  ” The discussion has gone on for over forty years.”

Besides Abraham, the Atlanta event included professors from the 13 official United Methodist seminaries in the U.S., along with independent Asbury Seminary, which graduates the most ordinands to the church, and a Mozambican seminary, plus a Scandinavian theologian.  Each theologian shared a paper, all of which will be published in a book later this year.

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59 Responses to “Mexit” for United Methodist Sexual/Theological Dissenters?

  1. GregRoar says:

    My gut says the folks for whom this is prescribed would much rather have a division wreaking havoc and going to the courts than simply up and leave. The Up And Leave option has been before them for decades.

    • davidt57 says:

      Up and Leave was an option, but a very expensive one, as they’d lose church property or have to purchase it. We ought to offer an Up and Leave Without Financial Penalty option. But there are probably a bunch of Progs who would want to stay and “fix us,” as they truly see it as a justice issue. So we’ll need to build in stronger enforcement of the Book of Discipline that crosses jurisdictional boundaries, so they’ve got a bit more motivation to Up and Leave.

      • Troy says:

        I agree with most of your insight, but you seem to come to it from an “us and them” mentality which is far from John Wesley’s understanding of theological differences. Wesley held strong and strict beliefs, but he accepted those who believed otherwise as long as they sought God with all their hearts.

        • AkronMike says:

          Those advocating non-Biblical beliefs regarding sexual relations have ‘left’ the church already. Let them go and let them buy their facilities at a reasonable price. Then, the Biblically-based Methodists can carry on God’s work and grow the Church.

          • Troy says:

            Your “biblical” view of homosexuality has very little biblical support… Every human is broken and trying to be made whole again. Why not split the church between those who live simply to give all they can to charity and those who just give their excess (or not at all)? That would be more likely to be John Wesley’s concern.

          • AkronMike says:

            My ‘biblical view’ is supported by the Gospels. See Matthew ch 15 & Mark ch 7. When Jesus lists ‘adultry’ and ‘sexual immorality’/’fornication as some of the things that make man unclean, what do you think we’re the ‘sexual immorality’/’fornication’ of which he spoke? Man can’t redefine sin. Plain & simple.

          • Al Campbell says:

            Okay. If this view has little Biblical support, then AkronMike can show support for his position. Troy indicate for me Biblical references that do support Mike’s position if you will.

          • Reformed Catholic says:

            FWIW … the ‘let them buy’ the property has been tried in the PC(USA) by those who create an issue for those conservative congregations who want to leave.

            In many cases the denomination had no hand in funding the building or growth of the church. I suspect much the same in many UMC churches, so why force they to pay a ransom in order to peacefully leave.

            What is wrong for the “progressives” to do, is just as wrong for the “conservatives” to do.

        • Andy says:

          Give me a break! John Wesley wouldn’t have anything to do with the UMC as it is today. He would see these dissenters as who they are, the devils advocates. He would not argue for unity.

  2. john says:

    Finally a smart solution and very logical one but I agree with GregRoar that the progressives will not be happy with such a logical conclusion. After all, were the rules not in place when they spoke the words to uphold our rules upon joining?

  3. Marcus Goldman says:

    And again as it has been, the leadership at the top chooses to ignore the words of our Lord Jesus. Sometimes Mr. Abraham following Jesus means leaving all behind and starting over again. Luke 14:25-27

    “Abraham warned against a general denomination-wide split for United Methodists:

    If we are driven to explicit division then we all know that the consequences will be radical and long-lasting. Think for a moment of what it might mean for our seminaries, colleges, and universities. A whole raft of legal and ecclesial changes would ensue that would be abruptly out of control. Or think of the impact on a host of local churches. Many would be torn apart at the seams if decisions have to be made on what group to join. ”

    Luke 14:25-27
    Decide if You Can Follow Me
    25 Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, 26 “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! 27 Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.

  4. Been_There_Done_That says:

    This is undoubtedly the best option for the faithful members of the UMC. The apostate must be made to go their own way, not the other way around. Don’t make the same mistake as the Episcopalians and Presbyterians. The church belongs to those who are loyal to its teachings.

    • Nutstuyu says:

      Well the PCA and EPC continue to grow by leaps and bounds with massive churches leaving the wacko PC(USA). So in a way, they’ve done the same thing as Abraham as suggested, but in reverse.

      • Been_There_Done_That says:

        I am glad that evangelical Presbyterian churches are growing. My point is that they never should have had to leave the PCUSA in the first place. The heretics within PCUSA that support sodomy, radical Islam and late term abortion should have been kicked to the curb. The burden of leaving and starting over should be on the radicals and not the faithful adherents.

        • HGHolcomb says:

          Unfortunately the PC(USA) waited too long to face the issue and allowed the LBGT faction to force a split. Requiring over 2/3 of a congregation to vote to leave the PC(USA) and the financial issues have almost destroyed the PC(USA). Unless the UMC acts soon it will be just like the PC(USA). Although the EPC and PCA are now growing, the losses to the Presbytian Church as a whole will never be recouped as many like my family have left the Presbyterian church and will never return.

  5. DogTags says:

    Let the goats separate themselves from the sheep. Satan’s first successful tactic with tempting humans was to add ambiguity to God’s Word where there was none. “Did God really say…?” Genesis 3:1. The doubt it produced in the minds of Adam and Eve led to their disobedience. Now, many insist on an ambiguity in what God said about human sexuality in order to excuse their sin.

  6. SugarTown Scott says:

    This approach makes so much sense that it will never be agreed to by the ones that would benefit most from it.

    I wholeheartedly believe that the main goal of the same-sex marriage movement was never about “equality” or acceptance and was ALWAYS about destroying the church..the only thing more powerful, in every sense of the word, than their utopian vision of big government.

    Remember, these are the same people who when politely informed that a florist’s/baker’s/photographer’s etc. religious convictions forbade them from working a same-sex wedding- sued rather than going down the street to the next florist/baker/photographer who would have gladly taken their money.

    Plus, if they broke off on their own, it would expose how ridiculously small this “movement” truly is.

  7. Skipper says:

    The dissenters have been made to feel too comfortable for too long to just leave peacefully. They will need a push in the form of accountability for their Moral Madness. No more dropping charges for promoting same-sex relationships because it is such a serious offense against God and so destructive to the person’s relationship to God. In other words, we must do more than “retain orthodox teaching.” We must uphold Christian Living in our day to day living.

  8. Nutstuyu says:

    If this kind of thing actually worked, then they would have also formed their own version of Boy Scouts. But of course they didn’t. They kept hammering and hammering until they worked their way into another institution to destroy it from within. They are not interested in having their own space–they seek to infiltrate and destroy everyone else’s in the name of “tolerance”.

    • Troy says:

      Their own version of boy scouts? I was an eagle that met at a UM church. Not sure what you mean…boy scouts is about nature, camping, and citizenship, not religion…

      • Skipper says:

        I was an Eagle Scout myself, with the God and Country Award. In January the Boy Scouts began accepting Trans-gendered children (that is girls thinking they are boys). To allow or encourage a child under 18 to change their sex is child abuse, plain and simple. Shame on B.S.A.! Real Scouts don’t support child abuse.

        Concerned parents have started new scouting organizations, such as Trail Life USA, to replace the older corrupted organizations (the Girl Scouts were already taking Trans-gendered children).
        Guess who said this – “No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws.” That was the founder of scouting, Robert Baden Powell. The Christian religion is the source of Scout Values. B.S.A. no longer supports or respects Scout Values. But without Scout Values, it’s not Scouting.

  9. Bob says:

    Guaranteed appointments will keep some clergy in the church to remain employed. Going out and starting a new church does not always work well for conservatives who have left. However, I would think the whole Western Jurisdiction will leave anyway. Local churches here are already losing members over the issue and many more conservatives in the West will leave those churches for other denominations. We once proposed a missionary conference in the Western Jurisdiction for evangelicals. It did not go anywhere. What a shame!

  10. Cinemashow says:

    So, the Progressive should have their cake and eat it too? Leaving is always an option. If your sexual morality, such as it is, convicts you, there is no price to high to follow those convictions. However, there will be a Higher price to pay later on…

  11. Lyle M Miller Sr says:

    There should be no debate on this matter. Jesus made it very clear in Matthew when he responded to the Pharisees when they questioned him about divorce by reminding them that in the beginning, God created man and woman and that marriage was between a man and a woman. Those who would divide the church on this matter are trying to rewrite Scripture to meet their secular desires, i.e, sex in any manor one wishes to engage it, and specifically in its most unnatural way.

  12. Lyle M Miller Sr says:

    This is an excellent article and those liberals who are bent on living in sin and denying Scripture would do well to up and leave us and let us become the “United” Methodist Church again, United in the Spirit of God as our guide for living.

    • Troy says:

      The “United” part is simply a borrowed word from the United Brethren we engulfed 50 or so years ago. Why can’t you be united in the Spirit of God with people you disagree with?

  13. the_enemy_hates_clarity says:

    Pass legislation/constitutional amendment that says:
    1. Any complaint alleging same sex marriage/relationship or performance of a ss sex ceremony is immediately forwarded to a 3 member commission that holds hearings every month. Only one commission is necessary for all the US. They would be done online.
    2. Trial is limited to “are you in a ss relationship marriage/did you perform a ss ceremony?”
    3. Failure to answer/evasive answer is considered an admission.
    4. Trial will last 1 hour, each side gets 1/2 hour. Schedule 6 a day. No counsel, just the complainant and the respondent.
    5. No appeal.
    6. If convicted,respondent is immediately removed from clergy membership.

    In every one of these case, the violation is clear. You would have a lot of trials for a few months, and then they would no longer be necessary.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  14. SCBluCatLady says:

    I say give them the same treatment conservatives have gotten in other denominations. Why not just depose them or whatever the UMC equivalent is? As for property battles, would it be too jarring for them to leave with their property? When the Diocese of SC left TEC, it was the progressives who found themselves without parishes in some places. Those parishes that were already predominantly progressive kept the buildings but many left conservative parishes to find other places. Granted, they still sued us in court to get all property…. Some just are not satisfied with doing their own thing. They must *convince* everyone else of the supposed *superiority* of their twisted ideology.

  15. Pete says:

    As Christians we are to abide by Biblical teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We, in the last 5 decades or so have not taken those teachings to our families, neighbors, community and beyond as we should have and now allowed the ” world view” to set a foothold in the church. Apostates in the pulpit and congregations have been busy to disrupt and tear down the church. Past time to stand our ground against all that are out to destroy Christianity from within our any form.

  16. Al Campbell says:

    Isn’t Mexit at its foundation the same as a division? It still going to be Methodist A and Methodist B with 40 more years of debate who should be called A and who should be B.
    I agree this horse has been beaten too long already. Radically changing the book of Discipline on this matter that is presently aligned so closely with scriptural intent will cause many members to exit the Methodist Church and find other places to worship.
    The “line in the sand” has been clearly laid out. It is time for the Methodist church to make a decision and stop placating people on such a non- gray issue.

    • Troy says:

      It’s a very gray issue. Biblical evidence is scant, and most resort to non-factual arguments. (When i was a child, i was forced to watch a sermon calling gay people “dogs or worse” because of their same-sex desire.)
      The Book of Discipline is a very modern document, not canonical. The United Methodist Church hasn’t been around for very long in the scope of Church history. There used to be (and still are to an extent) many methodist groups with varying beliefs.

      • Palamas says:

        You would do well not to try to argue anything on the grounds of church history. There is no precedent in the first 19 1/2 centuries of the church for acceptance of homosexual behavior. The Church in the East, the Roman Church, and all Protestant churches agreed on this subject. It is only since some late 20th-early 21st century Christians decided that the world knew better than God regarding sexual ethics that this has become an issue at all. As for the biblical evidence, the subject may not be addressed frequently, but what material there is is unanimous in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. All its advocates have to stand on is purely secular reasoning combined with an insatiable will to power.

        • Troy says:

          You should read your Church history a bit more…There is almost no clear biblical material related to homosexuality outside of the same passages that say a woman is unclean for some time after her period.

          • Palamas says:

            Until you actually engage with what I said, I assume you know nothing of church history. I challenge you to find one official church statement from before 1970 from any broadly orthodox denomination that grants validity to homosexual behavior. As for the Bible, you statement indicates to me that you are even more ignorant of it than you are of church history. I see no point in arguing with one whose understanding of the subject at hand comes entirely from the back of a cereal box.

          • Troy says:

            I was a Bible/Theology major at Asbury University (college back in those days). I assure you I know church history backwards and forwards. Plutarch believed it to be the least serious vice since it was based on love and all Christians should appreciate love in all its forms. Thomas Aquinas said homosexuality was the same sin as having sex for pleasure instead of reproduction. The Church leaders that condemned homosexuality have most often used an argument regarding general revelation and the natural order rather than Scripture to condemn it.

          • Palamas says:

            Let’s see: 1) Plutarch wasn’t a Christian. His opinion is irrelevant to the teaching of the Church. 2) Thomas did NOT say that homosexual behavior was “the same sin” as sex for pleasure. He said it was contrary to natural law because it was impossible for it to be generative. Aquinas, in fact, did not have any problem with sex for pleasure and the expression of love, as long as it was open to the possibility of generation. 3) The fact that natural law and general revelation have been used in Catholicism (far less so in Protestantism and Orthodoxy) is irrelevant. Scripture has also been used, and you continue to evade the original challenge: find an official statement from before 1970 by any church that can be characterized as broadly orthodox that approves of homosexual behavior. You haven’t because you can’t, and nothing you may have learned as Asbury University will enable you to do so.

          • Palamas says:

            You’re kidding, right?

          • Troy says:

            I played by your rule.

          • Palamas says:

            Well, that settles it then. The UCC statement, from a few months before the start of 1970 and from a denomination that even then was no longer even broadly orthodox, demonstrates…something. Of course, that speaks not one whit to my initial statement: “There is no precedent in the first 19 1/2 centuries of the church for acceptance of homosexual behavior..” But congratulations on finding this. You’ve successfully beclowned yourself.

          • Troy says:

            You made rules that were outrageous. I followed them. You lost.

          • Marcus Goldman says:

            Debating someone like Troy reminds me of Eugenie Scott’s quote, “Trying to play chess with a pigeon, it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory. People like Troy have issues and it only inflates their self worth to spew their crap and have someone acknowledge his/her existence. And Troy, no, you lost big time there little chief. Have a nice day.

  17. Pantocrator says:

    As we continue the voyeuristic intrusion into others’ sex lives, the U.S. government is militarizing the police to tear apart Hispanic families, deport mothers, fathers, and students, grope innocent people and children in airports, spy on our citizens, and detain hard-working neighbors in publicly traded for-profit prisons. Day by day, we read of policy changes to rape the the environment, obfuscate and frustrate scientific research, extend impunity, alienate allies, undermine women’s rights, prepare for war, and introduce class privilege into healthcare, education, budgetary policy, and tax policy. It’s all racist, all fascist, all evil, and this by Scriptural and Disciplinary standards of our faith.

    Any orthodox Christian should find the Alt-Right movement, now legitimized in the U.S. government with the help of 81% of white “evangelicals” to be apostasy. So where is the outrage? If openly supporting the Alt-Right agenda is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” then why not press for an exit of Alt-Right fascists and brainwashed fanatics from the church? Why not divide our properties and let the racists, the sexists, the classists, the supremacists, leave and live in peace to have their own colonial white’s only church and nation?

    Because these people are related to us, our friends, our family, and our fellow clergy? Because they are generous? Because we value unity over morality? Because we depend on them for our employment? Because that kind of sin isn’t a deal-breaker for us?

    If not, why not?

  18. John S. says:

    The liberals will not go quietly into the night to their own house. It defeats their purpose of enforcing a new norm on the church and society. (There is also a big pot of money they would lose out on.) They will stay, they will fight, the will linger on. There might be an outward acceptance of a portion of the big pot but it’s purpose will be to establish a safe base from which to support the troops that have stayed behind to fight the good fight.

    A split, and they would be given more than their fair share of what is leftover from the lawyers, would be seen as admission that the other side is weak and feels it would not prevail in the long run. Thus this would encourage the liberal wing and its enablers (we just want peace) to continue the good fight.

  19. Troy says:

    Does anyone know who the Asbury representative was?

  20. tomcfuller says:

    Abraham is right on target. Our choice is a controlled split, an uncontrolled chaotic split, or no decision and a continued slow hemorrhaging to death. Modern theological liberalism resembles, in many ways, ancient Baalism, though they would never admit it. Promiscuity, followed by child sacrifice. Worship of the Earth, and imaginary gods who have human failings and bless the same in us: gods that are made in our own image. My gut says we don’t have the guts to face this and part ways amicably. Our leaders must admit that we have unreconcilable differences, and a divorce is unavoidable. No more study committees, putting it off. I’m standing with the orthodox Wesleyans.

  21. feslop says:

    Episcopal conservatives who, in conscience, could not remain with the US church sought alignment with other Anglican bodies and found horrendous fights over property that has consumed 20M+ in legal fees. Presbyterians learned something from that ongoing fiasco and arranged for conservative exist to the ECOP and other Reformed evangelical bodies, typically ‘returning the dowry’ plus a hefty penalty to keep the furniture. For the UM church conservatives who hold the keys to the house appear very willing to work a plan such as what Billy suggests, without penalties to our liberal brothers and sisters. Sadly, I suspect the approach will be that for conscience’s sake they will not obey and also will insist to stay. That approach will guarantee a connectional train wreck but if some folks it is worth ‘burning down the village to save it,’ so it may happen. I pray not.

  22. Hayward Banes LaChapelle says:

    I’m thinking maybe we evangelicals should leave.

  23. TxPastor says:

    A few years ago Bill Arnold and David Watson made a proposal they called the A&W plan later to be named the Covenant Unity Plan or CUP.
    This plan laid the ground work for what Dr. Abraham talks about. These ideas were presented as resolutions at GC. My very limited understanding of what happened at GC these proposals seemed to have some traction but were set aside when the decision was made look to the Council of Bishops for leadership in this matter. And yes, I advocated for this plan as much as I cold in my limited circle of influence. But I agree with others this may actually be our best solution. At least it is the best I have seen.

  24. jwlung says:

    The problem is, they won’t mexit. The Clergy in my own church, as far as I can tell, are moving to entrench the pro-gay agenda in anticipation of what they hope will be an accommodating compromise coming out of the Commission. There are not homosexuals to support the multitude of clergy just dying to come all the way out.

  25. MikeT50 says:

    We must be willing to recognize the desire of the spirit motivating the dissenters, which in reality can only be the total destruction of all churches. This will be done either by fracturing them into smaller factions or compromising them into total corruption. They do not see the need for striving for holiness because they can’t miss what they do not possess.

  26. MikeJ2 says:

    Why would they Mexit? If they hang around long enough, they will take control of the buildings and institutions, which they could never build anew on their own (not enough followers). It’s a similar idea to what some financial takeover guy said, years ago, “The best place to drill for oil is on Wall Street”.

  27. MparkH says:

    Consider the possibility that the Holy Spirit is leading us to a new understanding of scripture on the issue of same-sex marriage. It’s happened before. In fact, you see it happening in the bible itself, as the early church decided in the book of Acts that circumcision and food purity weren’t required for new Christians. It happened again when we came to the conclusion that slavery was no longer acceptable, and yet again when we ordained women. I think the most important question we need to be asking is, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” and not, “What do you think about same-sex marriage?” If your heart is as my heart, then give me your hand. Romans 14 is a fruitful read.

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