Judicial Council

April 24, 2017

United Methodists Await Top Court Ruling on Lesbian Bishop

Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
April 24, 2017
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org

“At stake is whether or not the United Methodist Church will be a denomination in which our promises to each other have any value.”
-UMAction Director John Lomperis

Washington, DC—United Methodism’s top court will hear multiple cases involving human sexuality during a three day meeting scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Among the cases is a question brought by the church’s South-Central Jurisdiction about the legality of electing a candidate for bishop who is in a same-sex civil marriage. The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s UM Action program has submitted legal arguments to the Judicial Council. A ruling could be handed down as soon as the Judicial Council’s meeting concludes on Friday.

The United Methodist Church declares homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” in its governing Book of Discipline. The church does not ordain “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” but some bishops overlook this restriction on a technicality that non-celibate lesbian and gay candidates for ordination have not “self-avowed” their sexual practices.

In 2016, the denomination’s liberal Western Jurisdiction elected the first openly partnered gay bishop in the 13 million-member global church’s history. Pastor Karen Oliveto, who is married to another woman, was consecrated a bishop in July and later appointed to oversee the Denver-based Mountain Sky Episcopal Area.

The Western Jurisdiction comprises only 2 percent of the denomination’s members and has led the decline in U.S. Methodist membership. In contrast, the global church has experienced rapid growth in Africa, where more than a third of church members reside and generally hold traditional views on sexuality and marriage.

IRD’s United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis, an elected delegate to the 2016 General Conference, commented:

“The United Methodist Church officially affirms biblical standards for sexual self-control.  Our prohibition on clergy sexually active outside of monogamous, man-woman marriage is consistently affirmed by a growing global majority within the church.

“The Oliveto case is a historic, head-on collision between the denomination’s official biblical standards and the reality of how leaders in its Western Jurisdiction have for years refused to enforce these standards.

“The key question with the Oliveto case and others is whether or not certain regions have the right to basically establish their own standards for marriage and sex, rather than having to follow those of the whole denomination.

“When they chose to be ordained with us, United Methodist clergy in every region, including Ms. Oliveto, vowed to uphold these standards. At stake is whether or not the United Methodist Church will be a denomination in which our promises to each other have any value.”

www.TheIRD.org


37 Responses to United Methodists Await Top Court Ruling on Lesbian Bishop

  1. They explicitly and knowingly defy their own Book of Discipline, demanding that it be changed to accommodate their perversions, and of course they mock the Bible as well. If John Wesley were here today he would never stop throwing up.

    • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

      Maybe. He wasn’t a huge change advocate. But his fellows, and those who established the Methodist Episcopal Church in the US most certainly were.

      • You can ignore it, but they are still perversions of God’s created order. Romans 1:26–27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

        Also, you are a liar. Their Book of Discipline couldn’t be more clear — as is the word of God. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

        – 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
        – 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
        – 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
        – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
        – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

        Having said that, I believe that Christians should support and encourage those who are fighting same-sex attraction. And no one needs to grandstand on the issue before getting to the Good News of the cross: http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/evangelism-experiences-1/ .

        * The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

        1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians)
        2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
        3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

        • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

          I am sorry that you feel the need to attack, rather than discuss, and that this issue causes you such anxiety. To me, it is very clear and simple. The BOD is clear; its just wrong, and thankfully changeable so that when we get things wrong we can fix them.

          0% of the 31,000+ verses mention gay marriage, or transgender people, or pet ownership, or milking goats, or cancer, or drinking tea, or changing baby diapers, or a great many other perfectly ordinary things. Because the Bible doesn’t mention something does not mean that there is something sinful about it.

          100% of the various Bible verses that mention sex between men are about lust, abuse, prostitution, and various kinds of idolatry. Sinful in any context. They don’t mention the sinfulness of the same kinds of activities with men and women because those were covered by marriage laws, and because abusing women in these ways wasn’t considered that big a deal (see Genesis 19 and Judges 19 for examples). Even John Chrysostom, in one of the earliest commentaries on Romans (written in the mid 300s), specifies that Romans 1 is about lust and excess, not love.

          • “I am sorry that you feel the need to attack, rather than discuss, and that this issue causes you such anxiety. ”

            Such predictable “Christian” Left weasel words. I was discussing, not attacking, you are just a thin-skinned snowflake who can’t debate honestly. And it is a pathetic attack on your part that it is causing me anxiety.

            “To me, it is very clear and simple. The BOD is clear; its just wrong, and thankfully changeable so that when we get things wrong we can fix them.”

            Hahahaha! Thanks for the concession speech! You ADMIT the Bishop has been consciously violating the BOD. If she didn’t like it she should have chosen a more apostate denomination.

            “0% of the 31,000+ verses mention gay marriage, or transgender people, or pet ownership, or milking goats, or cancer, or drinking tea, or changing baby diapers, or a great many other perfectly ordinary things.”

            LOL. More concession speeches. “Gay marriage” is an oxymoron and has been for thousands of years even in atheist countries. You cheat by pretending otherwise.

            “Because the Bible doesn’t mention something does not mean that there is something sinful about it.”

            But it does denounce homosexual behavior in the strongest possible terms. Being committed to your sins doesn’t sanctify them. You are so disingenuous! What a wolf.

            “100% of the various Bible verses that mention sex between men are about lust, abuse, prostitution, and various kinds of idolatry. ”

            You are stupid or a liar. Those verses just matter-of-factly describe the behavior. ZERO mentions of prostitution (and there were ZERO mentions in recorded history of lesbian temple prostitutes — you wolves ignore that).

            “This is not to say that there hasn’t been longterm prejudice against gay people and there relationships. Of course there has been, together with prejudices against Jews, and supposed witches, and Catholics, and black people, and on and on. All with plenty of scripture to back them up. And all wrong, contrary to the will of God.”

            Logical fallacy: Non sequitur.

            And as if you knew the will of God!

            Thanks for outing yourself.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            LOL wow, alrighty. You call me a liar and freak the hell out, and I’m the snowflake? Okie doke. I apologize if my discussion of scripture makes you feel threatened, horrible lying wolf that I am. You have a fantastic day.

          • You know nothing of scripture. Jesus was talking to people like you: Mark 12:24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”

            Romans 1:26–27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

            Again, the Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

            – 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
            – 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
            – 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
            – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
            – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

            Having said that, I believe that Christians should support and encourage those who are fighting same-sex attraction. And no one needs to grandstand on the issue before getting to the Good News of the cross: http://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/evangelism-experiences-1/ .

            * The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

            1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians)
            2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
            3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            LOL do you just randomly copy and paste this, rather than having an actual conversation with someone who has taken the time to engage you?

          • Another pathetic, fact-free reply. I have referred to specific Bible verses and made specific claims, and refuted your fallacious sound bites that reveal your ignorance and malice (e.g., the prostitution bit). You don’t want conversations. You are tone-deaf to the truth because you are a spiritually dead wolf. I hope God redeems you someday.

  2. Dan says:

    By no coincidence, the chapter being studied in my Bible class this morning was 2nd Thessalonians, chapter 2. St. Paul writes about the “man of lawlessness” in this chapter and it should serve as a warning to those defending the bishopric of Ms. Oliveto. As an adjunct to this passage our pastor pointed us to Romans, chapter 1, beginning at the 18th verse, which describes God’s wrath on unrighteousness.

    I pray that the Judicial Council will listen and deliberate with wisdom, guided by the true Spirit of God, remembering that although he loves us unconditionally, Jesus is much more concerned about our holiness than our pleasure.

    • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

      I wonder what you would have said to those slaves who rebelled, and the people who helped them, in open lawless defiance of Deuteronomy 23:15-16, and Ephesians 6:5-8?

      • Dan says:

        Well, if you are a book of resolutions following Methodist, you would advise them to eschew any violence, and turn the other cheek. Deuteronomy concerns OT ritual practice, from which we have been freed by Jesus’ atonement for our sins because we can never be justified by the law.
        Regarding Ephesians, Paul is setting out an example that relates to how we should be in bondage to Christ. The passages I referenced from Thessalonians and Romans address moral law, from which we have not been freed.

        • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

          …alrighty. I assume you would say the same about turning the other cheek and eschewing violence to their oppressors?

          Thanks for that, re Deuteronomy. Ephesians is talking about literal slavery, Dan, as he is talking about literal marriage. He is spelling out the Christlike way to be a slave, to be a master, to be a wife or husband. He also uses slavery as a metaphor, later, which is apt for him because he considers literal slavery a good and just thing. And just as folks are using certain passages to justify anti-gay policies in the church, so this very passage was used only 150 years ago to justify slavery. Together with Paul’s letter to Titus, especially chapter 2, and his letter to Philemon. So, the Bible tells slaves clearly and repeatedly, by word and example, to submit to masters, even if they are treated harshly, and not to rebel. And yet they did. And Christian people helped them, in open defiance both of Scripture and of civil law. And we know that it was a good and a holy thing. So, what do we make of this?

          • Dan says:

            One last comment. The Ephesians passage talks to both slaves and masters, exhorting both of them to treat each other with good will bearing God in mind as their heavenly master. This passage was a letter from St. Paul and was intended for Christians in the the community at Ephesus. I imagine that Paul was mindful of the cosmopolitan and commercial nature of Ephesus and hoped that a godly bond between servants and their masters would show those outside the Christian community how, no matter one’s station in life, they should treat other’s with the same type of love that God had already shown them in the sacrifice of Christ.

            One other point. Love and inclusion into the Christian community is open to all who with true heart repent of their sins and place their whole faith in Christ. This does not mean, however, that every behavior is endorsed. Almost all gay folks I know did not consciously choose their sexual attraction, but they can choose how they act on it, just like heterosexually attracted persons who, it’s said to say, are all to commonly inflamed by their lustful passions and act in ways contrary to God’s will. IMHO, if Karen Oliveto was open about her same sex attraction and also publicly stated her intention to remain celibate, since she considered same sex activity outside the will of God, I would not have any problems with her being a bishop. Unfortunately, I doubt she would do this, and I also have serious concerns about the lack of orthodoxy in her professed beliefs.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Of course she would not take a vow of celibacy. I mean, I don’t know her THAT well, but since she is married that seems an unreasonable thing to ask of her. Since the idea that there is such a thing as Methodist “orthodoxy” — an idea which frankly runs counter to everything I know about Wesley and Methodism — is very new, I can’t say whether her beliefs are “orthodox” or not. But if you are gleaning your understanding of her beliefs from anything other than her own sermons, lectures, and statements — say, for example, from our friend Mr Lomperis’ ridiculous sensationalized and even wholly falsified descriptions of her supposed “anti-Jesus, pro-demon theology” — then I suggest you walk away from Juicy Ecumenism and look for some primary sources to inform your understanding of Bishop Oliveto’s professed beliefs.

          • Macy Rivera says:

            This is not an individual issue for Olivito. You must remember that the current issue, which the “A Way Forward” was created, is to get us beyond division. Her trial is going to be monumental and will lead the way for all homosexual rulings. Consider the entire UMC when you speak of this current problem with Oliveto. This a 40+-year-old problem that is FINALLY being forced to be dealt with. Either we will split, or discipline will be applied to all.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Amen ?. Or faithfulness and sanity will prevail, changing the Discipline so that it can be fairly applied to all.

          • Nutstuyu says:

            She chose to get “married” after already being ordained. Clearly she had no intention to be celibate in conformity with her ordination vows. But then I guess you’ll be just as strong of an advocate for the next pastor “caught” having an affair–seeing as how he’s really just a self-avowed polysexual…and neither the BOD or Bible condemn that. (I mean, King David, a man after God’s own heart, had SEVEN wives plus dozens of other sexual partners).

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Thanks for that, Nutstuyu. Marriage is not a sin, regardless the gender of the participants. Being married does not make a person polysexual, whatever that means. Pastors caught in affairs do enormous, painful damage to their spouse, children, and their church because of their betrayal and lack of self control. Being married does none of those things.

          • Macy Rivera says:

            Correct. The BOD states that an openly-gay, practicing homosexual cannot have a job. Oliveto came out and identified herself as a “homosexual”. She identifies with, and follows this lifestyle. There is not abstinence here. Consider this: If a pastor with an alcohol problem stops drinking and doesn’t touch the stuff again, he is doing what he vowed to the church. He is performing abstinence, and he is not an alcoholic with an alcohol problem. If he professes to be a pastor who drinks freely, and is seen in the bar, then the Church will have a problem with that Pastor. Ms. Oliveto is “drinking” and openly doing it before GC. She is protesting to get the church to modify its rules and beliefs to meet her personal lifestyle of Sin. Maybe we should offer a program to help these people to strengthen their abstinence. Abstinence can be difficult, but the church does require it. I used the example alcoholism, because it is a difficult problem to overcome which a larger percentage of our country has a problem with. Both require abstinence to overcome. Our clergy has vowed to have abstinence from homosexuality, and is not upholding their commitment to their. The Catholic church requires the vow of celibacy, and the UMC can’t even keep vow of “one man and one woman”. Let’s get the log out of our own eye!

      • bettlewood says:

        Dawn, slavery is imposed upon someone, homosexual behavior is not.

        Oliveti should have had the grace to resign before things escalated to this point.

        • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

          She is honoring the trust of those who elected her. She did not ask to be bishop, did not pursue the office, did not nominate herself. She was lifted up by those who have been powerfully affected by her ministry, and she accepted in fear and trembling. She has had the grace to honor their call, and God’s, while withstanding an army of slings and arrows.

          Homosexuality is God-created, as is blackness. Neither blackness nor gayness make a person evil, and neither are justification for discrimination. Both are human, and both are right to stand against mistreatment and limitations to their freedom.

          • bettlewood says:

            Dawn, I am sorry my friend, but if you are equating “blackness,” meaning people who are born dark-skinned, with homosexuality, you are very incorrect. Frankly, it is insulting to those of African descent to make that comparison. You cannot choose your race- you can,however, choose not to act on sinful homosexual urges.

            Karen Oliveto took a vow at her ordination to uphold the UMC Discipline. She is intentionally breaking that vow, and should resign. Those who elected her bishop did so as an INTENTIONAL act of disobedience, and did so knowing this would accelerate schism in the UMC. This is an act of selfish posturing on the part of Karen Oliveto.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            You make an awful lot of assumptions there, Bettlewood. You may indeed know some who find the comparison between blackness (it doesn’t need the scare quotes, it’s an actual thing) and homosexuality to be offensive; I know many who draw the comparison themselves. One family in my church for example, from Nigeria, said in discussion just a few weeks ago: “before, it was us who everyone treated as though we were disgusting, who discriminated against us. Now, it’s gay people. I know that it is wrong when people treat my family this way, and so I know it’s wrong for people to treat gay people this way, too.”

            According to the people who elected her, the ones who were actually present and have spoken for themselves, Bishop Oliveto was elected because she was an extremely worthy candidate, among other worthy candidates. They were faced with the question: do we reject this obvious choice because she is married to a woman, or do we elect her and let God handle the outcry that will result? Do we live in faith, or in fear? So, they chose faith. And here we are. Ascribing to them nefarious motives is untrue, and unhelpful.

          • bettlewood says:

            Dawn, it is really a very simple question: has Karen Oliveto violated her covenant with the Church?

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Of course not.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Of course not. But the church violated its covenant with her, and with other faithful gay people, by denying them their right to full participation in the life and ministry to which God has called them.

          • bettlewood says:

            Dawn, when Karen Oliveto took her ordination vows that included faithfulness to the UM Discipline, what was the UMC Discipline’s position on homosexuality?
            (hint: here’s a link to the qualifications for ordination:
            http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/para-304-qualifications-for-ordination)

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Thank you for the link. I took those vows, too, some time ago. Two things: the word “discipline” in those vows does not mean the Book of Discipline. It means the disciplined life of a United Methodist. No God-loving Christian would ever pledge their life to a human-created and oft-changed book. That would be the very definition of idolatry. Our rules do say that being gay prohibits a person from serving as clergy, but to break that rule — which of course she has done — is not to break any sort of covenant. Which is why you don’t hear or see anything about that in the current legal proceedings, despite the rantings of those who oppose her. Second, you may notice that the vows also include a commitment to seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people. This is an echo of our baptismal covenant, part of which is to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” When those vows conflict with a rule, then the covenant wins. Even if it upsets people, even at the cost of one’s life and ministry.

          • bettlewood says:

            Dawn, you are trying to be ambiguous here, and it won’t work.

            Qualifications for Ordination, Section 1.j. reads:”Be accountable to the United Methodist Church, accept its Doctrinal Standards and Discipline and authority, accept the supervision of those appointed to this ministry, and be prepared to live in covenant of its ordained ministers.”

            I see a capital “D” at the beginning of the word “Discipline.” What does that mean?

            You seem to think that the ordination covenant is sort of a buffet table, in which you only take from it what you like and ignore the rest.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            No, I was pointing out that the vows we take, and the way the ceremonies lead up to it explain and consecrate them, do not mention the book of Discipline. It is not ambiguous. Yes, this new list of qualifications has been ammended recently to say the Discipline with ancapital D, but even these qualifications are not vows. A rule as most definitely been broken; just not something so soul-deep as a covenant.

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            Oops, I see that you posted a link to the qualifications for ordained ministry, rather than to the vows themselves. The vows are what forms our covenant; that is what I responded to. A link to the service of Ordination, with the vows embedded, is attached.

            https://gbod-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/legacy/kintera-files/worship/2017-2020_Ordinal-FINAL.pdf

          • bettlewood says:

            Dawn, does one apply for a job without first learning the requirements for that job? Or does one simply deceive his/her potential employer and hope nobody leans the truth- or try to force the employer to change the requirements to accomodate onesself?

            Sounds to me like K.
            Olivetto did the latter, don’t you think?

          • Nutstuyu says:

            Where exactly does this “right” come from?

          • Dawn M. Flower Blundell says:

            According to our constitution, God.

  3. MikeJ2 says:

    It will be interesting to see what the decision is. Today’s elite class seems to worship the Sacred Sexual Self-God. “I must obey self-God, not man!” (a twist on Acts 5:29) leading to anarchy. But maybe the Methodists will stand firm where others have faltered.

  4. Skipper says:

    If John Wesley were here today he would promptly remove as members those living perverted lifestyles. He would let them know what would need to change in their heart to become a Christian and Methodist. He would impress upon them the dire situation of their souls as flagrant sinners in need of a savior and salvation. Surely the Judicial Council will show our holy God the respect He and His holy Word deserve and act in like manner.

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