Countercultural Methodism

April 29, 2019

Countercultural Methodism

United Methodism is becoming countercultural after a century or more of American cultural conformity. This transition is required for its survival but it will be rocky.

When passed at February’s United Methodist General Conference, the Traditional Plan excited widespread indignation in America. A large and historically liberal Mainline Protestant denomination had not only reaffirmed historic Christian sexual teaching, it had strengthened it. History was not supposed to move in that direction, at least according to secular prophets.

Friday, the denomination’s top court again okayed most of that Traditional Plan, making it now law for the 12.5 million member global church. Some disappointed church liberals still hope for revocation at the next General Conference in 2020. But the wiser among them realize that membership trends, with growth in Africa and decline in the American church’s most liberal regions, preclude such hope.

After the General Conference, many U.S. clergy published newspaper ads in large urban areas denouncing the Traditional Plan and affirming their own more progressive views. They essentially apologized for United Methodism’s countercultural stance, in sync with historic and universal Christianity, that sex is for husband and wife.

Perhaps there should have been similar newspaper ads after the much less noticed 2016 General Conference, which revoked much of United Methodism’s longtime support for abortion rights. The church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which the church helped found in 1973, was cancelled. And the church deleted its 40 year old support for Roe v. Wade. United Methodist support for abortion rights began in 1970, preceding even the Supreme Court ruling three years later.

For most of the last century United Methodism and its predecessor bodies have followed American culture on key ethical issues to the neglect of historic Christian teaching. Methodism was commonly called “America’s church” and it typically echoed what American culture declared as verities.

Methodists were not fundamentalists or holy rollers. They were mainstream and respectable, espousing no opinions that would disturb the secular culture. Church agencies, bishops and related schools were all predictable officiants for blessing conventional secular American opinion.

This marriage between Methodism and American culture endured so long as that culture accepted at least non-threatening Mainline Protestantism. But secular culture has become impatient even with emasculated religion. And Mainline Protestantism, after over 50 years of decline, no longer even offers significant political or cultural cachet.

Generations of United Methodist clergy were trained in American cultural conformity by their church’s seminaries and hierarchy. And many are now befuddled that their church, thanks to its global membership and irrepressible evangelical subculture, is moving towards nonconformity.

This adversarial stance with American secular culture is discomfiting. And these clergy were never trained to deal with it. Hence many have responded with newspaper ads and online petitions assuring the secular culture: “We are still with you!”

Many of these clergy trained in the ways of cultural conformity eventually will leave global United Methodism to create new liberal U.S. denominations that avoid countercultural adversity. These new denominations will fare as well as other declining Mainline Protestant denominations.

Shorn of these clergy, including most U.S. bishops, nearly all the official seminaries, church agencies and other institutional forces for cultural conformity, global United Methodism will have to develop new resources as a countercultural force in America. There will be new seminaries and other forms of theological training, new publishing and media outlets, new less inert agencies, new concepts of episcopal leadership, new focus on soul-winning and church planting, new understandings of Christian community that is joyfully countercultural.

There are traumatic and exciting years ahead for Methodism as it painfully detaches from American cultural conformity and relearns how to be more fully part of the universal church. Who will teach us? Who will lead us?

Some will wonder if it were not safer to have remained a dying Mainline Protestant denomination, a process with which we were at least very familiar. We will have to trust, wait and behold what dangerous greatness lies ahead.


56 Responses to Countercultural Methodism

  1. Earle Bryan Carrubba says:

    I retired last year. I was 71. Thought I’d get ahead of the game, besides, my wife is in failing health, and I am sick to death of charge conference and statistical data and so on and so on. Gonna think about it. May jump back into the fray. Have always loved a good fight. Twenty-three year Navy veteran(66-89. Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer). And frankly, salvation is worth fighting for.

    • Mary says:

      Hope you stay in, Earle!!

    • Licensed Local Pastor says:

      Get back into the fight Senior Chief!! The denomination that will come out of this coming storm will need in the words of 1 John, Fathers who have known him who is from the beginning.

  2. Wayne says:

    The great Bible teacher David Pawson said it best, “the church follows society downhill, 15 years behind”. That has become a pretty accurate pattern.

  3. Pudentiana says:

    I am convinced that the prayers of our predecessors are in concert with the prayers of faithful living saints are uniting with the Holy Spirit to pluck this brand from the burning. Hallelujah! Christ is risen and He will lead His Church into the 21st century with power, truth and grace.

  4. Bradley Pope says:

    When will this realistically happen with our Bishops, Ministers & seminaries all chasing hard after cultural approval? Are we talking a generation or a decade from now? I don’t have a generation to wait around while my children are taught to be cultural Christians by our church leadership…what does a regular Methodist lay person do in the meantime when there are so many other good options to jump to?

    • Chris Downey says:

      Jesus said, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:19
      We need all believing Methodists to stay the course. It’s a privilege to be even a small part of this epochal movement of God.

    • Lawrence Kreh says:

      I have asked the same question, especially in my area (California). For now I as a layperson attend, with my son and grandkids, a congregation of another denomination while remaining active in the California WCA until a viable Methodist option exists in my community. Yet I choose not to leave my Methodist roots and Wesleyan theology just at the time so much good is at stake for future generations.
      We all have some sorting out to do, don’t we?

    • David Samuelson says:

      It is in fact happening already. Pay attention. Get ready. The best is yet to be.

    • David Samuelson says:

      It is happening now. Look around and you will see it.

  5. Dr. Lynn D. Moore says:

    Your best article yet! And its prophetic tone is hopeful and encouraging to so many Methodists! To God be the glory for the things He will do among us and through us for the transformation of the world!

    • Jean Lash says:

      I agree that Mark Tooley has out-done himself. Excited to be part of the new conservative Methodist movement!

  6. Andrew Hughes says:

    Thank you for your faithfulness and spiritual discernment Brother Tooley.

  7. Duane says:

    Counter Christian Methodism-no thanks.

  8. Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret.) says:

    I don’t think I’ve read a better piece on this site.

    Someone please send a link to this article to the heads of the various UMC Boards & Agencies, the Council of Bishops, and the Deans of the UM-related Seminaries.

    “Church agencies, bishops and related schools were all predictable officiants for blessing conventional secular American opinion.”

    Standing ovation for that statement.

    “Many of these clergy trained in the ways of cultural conformity eventually will leave global United Methodism to create new liberal U.S. denominations that avoid countercultural adversity.”

    I doubt that will happen. Cranking up a “new liberal U.S. denomination” will be very difficult in an environment where there are already too many churches that fit that description seeking to attract a declining demand.

    “There are traumatic and exciting years ahead for Methodism as it painfully detaches from American cultural conformity and relearns how to be more fully part of the universal church. Who will teach us? Who will lead us?”

    Great questions. Perhaps it’s time for the laity to assume a greater leadership role. That model would, of course, threaten many among the clergy.

  9. Richard says:

    All the comments above are so very well stated, better than I could have said. Thanks to Mark and each of you. I hope N. C. Conference Pastors and lay leaders are reading this as it counters somewhat their Sacred Witness: Open letter, published after the February G.C. results.

  10. Diane says:

    Meanwhile nearly 100 young UMC kids in a single congregation have refused to be confirmed because of the adoption of the Traditional Plan. My UMC-raised family members, all senior citizens who live across the country from these young people, have vowed to never step inside a UMC church again.

    Your version of evangelism is creating more “nones”.

    • MJ says:

      Woe to the adults who have misled God’s children. May God have mercy.

      • An Arkansas Traditionalist says:

        Yes, those children did not come to that conclusion on their own, but were influenced. Woe upon the heads of the ones who lead others down wrong paths.

    • Patrick98 says:

      Diane,
      I think you are using the wrong verbs. “To be confirmed” means that something is done to them. “Confirmation” is confirming for yourself the vows that were made on your behalf when one is baptized as a child. “Confirmation” is professing your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and publicly expressing your belief in Him as born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, being raised on the third day, and ascending to heaven to continually intercede for sinners like us. These young people are not rejecting the UMC by refusing confirmation, they are rejecting Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe. I pray that one day they will publicly confess his name as Lord.

      • td says:

        Actually, you are both right. Confirmation is God pouring out the Holy Spirit on the person- like on the Church at pentecost- and it is the person accepting that Spirit by professing their belief in the teachings of the Church. It is both something that is done to them and something that they affirm and willingly receive.

        In this situation, it makes little sense for them to say that they are refusing confirmation; it would probably be more correct to say that they are refusing membership in the UMC. Membership in the UMC is not the same as being confirmed, so there is probably some bad catechesis going on at the Church as well.

    • Reynolds says:

      Diane,

      Can you provide proof of your statement?

      Thank you,

    • Joan Wesley says:

      And for the 50+ years before this mess came to a head the American United Methodist Church has been experiencing a consistent and uninterrupted numerical decline that has the capability to make the church disappear all on its own. Obviously the reason for this decline is that people have been deciding they want none of what the UMC has to offer.

      • David says:

        Much of the decline can be attributed to demographics. The MEC/UMC reached its peak when the outsized Boomer generation was being born. Over 20% of the early Boomers are now dead and this will obviously increase in the next decade or two left to them. Meanwhile, birthrates fell to below replacement levels after the Boomers. Church numbers would fall for no other reason than the aging out of the membership with fewer children to replace them. Also northern churches had lower birthrates than southern ones. Hence the southern evangelical take over of the church would have happened even without the Africans. Then there is the steady drift to secularism and the rise of the “nones.” This happened decades ago in Western Europe and Canada and has belatedly reached the US. Population aging and decline is common in many advanced countries. It is probably most acute in Japan where interest in marriage and having children has fallen off. P.S., Japan does not have gay marriage.

        • td says:

          You are both right: the church has been in decline due to both societal/demographic trends and its lack of providing and reaching out in ways that people are searching for. In the end, these are really one and the same thing.

    • Steve says:

      Diane speaking approvingly of lying in a prior post: “sometimes it’s necessary that one…must conceal their identity to be God’s faithful servant…(employ) deception to serve God”. Not that her stories seemed believable in the first place.

    • David Samuelson says:

      Those separating themselves are going to get cold out there in the dark.

    • Paul W. says:

      By 100, I would assume Diane is actually referring to the 8 confirmands at First UMC in Omaha who decided not to join the UMC as a form of protest. This is an RMN affiliated congregation which advertises it’s LGBT youth/young adult group and participation in Pride events.

    • Tom says:

      Something something millstone around the neck…

  11. Pat Trammell says:

    Mark, I agree with many of our Brothers and Sisters in their comments. Your best insight yet.

    Christ has indeed “plucked us from the burning,” and leads us to a new day. For my children, and their children, I cannot wait!

  12. Evangeline Howard says:

    As one who escaped the apostasy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, because a faithful shepherd led us in the right way (NALC), I now attend a country UMC because of location. I have watched this unfold, with angst and prayerful trembling. Yes, the seminaries are the problem! Sound theology can be found online, the Institute of Lutheran Theology.

    • Mike says:

      Evangeline: and at Asbury Theological Seminary, which has wisely stayed independent of the UMC since its beginning. I graduated from there with my M. Div. (thankfully), and believe it is another reason for the ongoing, faithful renewal movement within United Methodism over these past 50 years. Many pastors who graduated from Asbury have been faithful biblical ministers across our denomination.

      • Loren Golden says:

        “Many pastors who graduated from Asbury have been faithful biblical ministers across our denomination.”
         
        Many, perhaps, but not all.  According to the bio of the current pastor of the UMC congregation where I grew up (in a small town just southeast of Wichita, KS), this gentleman graduated from Asbury.  However, that did not stop him from writing in his blog, “For many years I have stood with and spoken out with the many wonderful people who are LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendering, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual). I continue to do so. I affirm all people whether you are heterosexual or LGBTQIA. You are loved. All of you. Every one of you.”

  13. Dr. Jeffery Neufeld says:

    There is, of course a disconnect that you are ignoring. It took a whole lot of help from non-U.S. delegates to help you win the “culture war” or “counter culture war” or whatever you want to call it. It also took a lot of non-UM money from the foundations that have supported you in this battle which has been much more about politics than it has about religion—but I digress

  14. Perhaps those young people chose not to be confirmed by an officiant who ranks the amount of a person’s sacred worth by whether or not they reflect scripture taken out of historical context. Perhaps they will move to a church where the words of Jesus Christ offer salvation, love and acceptance to all. Thank goodness that a loving Father reigns and that His is only judgement we face!

  15. Leon M. Green says:

    And remember to still pray for those who lost their way. Judge not; gloat not; offering grace and mercy.

  16. Barry Sharp says:

    Last time I checked, Methodist and Wesley were always counterculture from theology to practice. Wesley wasn’t to welcome in the Church of England’s houses of worship, both Wesley and Asbury supported the crown during the American Revolution and Asbury was against slavery. Circuit riders wasn’t a very traditional model for church. Seems to me that going ultra conservative to the point of punishing those who think different goes against Wesley who taught us to live and let live as the things that join us are greater than the things that seperate us.

  17. James Bortell says:

    Dear friend,
    As a UMC minister and leader for more than 50 years I don’t feel the movement you favor is countercultural. Many in it are supportive of a president whose views and ways are rooted in the worst expressions of greed and self service. Many deny what is happening to our planet by our greed and ignorance. Many are anti-science. Many who favor abolishing Roe want to do nothing for infants and children that cost money–they are pro birth not pro life. Many see American nationalism as “Christian.” Many see nothing wrong with what is being done to children and refugee parents on our southern border. I could go on and on.

    The Institute is not a UM organization but a secular organization with a secular agenda.

    I feel like the church I have loved and served has been hijacked.

    • Dan W says:

      Pastor Bortell you seem to be confusing the UMC with a political party or political action committee. I have been a Methodist for 50+ years and I do not know these “many” Methodists you describe (slander) in your comment. I don’t need a “minister” like yourself preaching the political “cause of the week.”

  18. Ben U says:

    Your version of the UMC is anything but loving and Christ-like.

  19. Tony Heine says:

    Well said, Mark. Stay faithful and obedient. God will sort out the rest. The Church is the body of believers, not the roster of members in a particular denomination or institution. God has as much respect for these institutions as He does for persons. It is His Church that will live in eternal glory with Him.
    May God turn the hearts of those who have gone astray towards Himself. They are lost and delusional like the people of Nineveh in Jonah’s day who could not tell their right hand from their left. These lost souls cannot tell if someone needs to use the boys’ room or the girls’ room.

  20. Paul Cooper says:

    If there is a split into two or more new denominations, I believe “United” should not be in the name of any of them. As we know, it came from the EUB name in the 1968 merger. The current language in the BOD that’s causing all the turmoil began appearing later. We are neither United nor united now and, from all indications, won’t be in the future.

    • Diane says:

      Amen! However, others use the term “United” and maintain diversity. The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are free-church denominations. Congregations are autonomous and may choose to cooperate with or covenant with the wider expressions of church, whether denominational, ecumenical, or in interfaith contexts. These denominations have for decades been in an official partnership with each other and share a common Global Missions office. Several UCC conferences and Disciples’ regions have joint camping facilities. There’s a huge diversity of belief and practice in regard to human sexuality (and other issues as well) – no one and no church is “out of line” if they disagree with the majority. Many clergy in these two denominations have dual standing.

      I have been a part of both denominations, with a preference for the UCC because it’s churches tend to be more risk-taking in tackling issues requiring serious education, reflection and discernment – with a confession of “if we err, we do so on the side of love”.

  21. Dean Snyder says:

    In the 1970s, as a pastor, I began listening to parishioners who were gay. After studying Scripture, psychology, and ethics, and doing lots of self-reflection about my own homophobic feelings, I became convinced that homosexuality is a variety of human affection, rather than a “perversion.” Writings by Carlyle Marley, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and others were helpful. Those of us advocating a change of mind were hardly reflective of the culture at the time, either within or without the church. Some of us paid a price. So I can only conclude that culture-friendly or counter-culture are not very good criteria for evaluating theological and ethical reflection. I am amused that the same people who were scorning our thinking in previous decades because it was counter to what everyone knew to be true are now condemning it because it supposedly reflects the larger culture.

    • Joan Wesley says:

      I lean towards the belief that overall the progressive movement is a cultural one for several reasons. First, because this did not become an issue until there was a cultural sexual revolution. Also, it is not unusual for the verbiage used inside the church and outside the church are identical. Furthermore, I believe it is these cultural inspired voices that have kept stirring the pot on this issue, making it impossible to have a rational conversation about anything. My feelings about many very verbal progressives is that their stance on sexuality does not bother me near as much as their verbiage and tactics do; they exhibit a type of harsh fundamentalist Christianity that I do not want any part of. There is also the reality that just like the culture, the question is no longer just about same gender relationships it is expanding into all manner of sexuality and there is no end in sight as to where this will end.

  22. Richard S Bell says:

    I have offered Mr Tooley proof from Scripture, in accordance with traditional methods of interpretation, that God wills the Church marry homosexuals just as it marries heterosexuals. If Mr Tooley had accepted my offer and had read my essay with an open mind, he would no longer assume that Christians who advocate same-sex marriage are just courting approval of secularists. He would understand that Christians who advocate same-sex marriage are courting approval of God.
    I offer you my essay, which has been critiqued by many learned and mature conservative Christians, including eminent seminary professors. They have caused me to enlarge and improve the essay, but not one has impugned any of its important arguments. Ask for a copy of the latest version by email: rsbell@ameritech.net

    • Paul W. says:

      Untrue. I read your document. It’s just mind-numbingly long special-pleading wrapped in a weird easily debunked eisegetical framework.

      Worse, you state that by reading it, the reader is not allowed to reveal any details of your essay! From what i could tell, your real goal is to attempt to sway a subset of readers who are fairly Biblically illiterate to hopefully be swayed by your academic-sounding essay while keeping knowledgable folks from critiquing your specious arguments.

      Perhaps you might think this harsh? Then give me and others permission to post your essay online so that your “proof” will be open to examination and critique. Otherwise, your continued posting needs to be treated as disingenuous spam.

      • Richard Bell says:

        It is a work in progress, though it has progressed pretty far. I keep finding conservative works related to the subject and keep enlarging or improving the essay because of them. That is the only reason — yes, the only reason! — I give it limited distribution. Thinking I limit distribution in order to seduce fools is foolish, without reasonable grounds. Actually, I seek readers who are knowledgeable folks able not only to critique but to refute my specious arguments. I have sent drafts of my essay unsolicited to the most eminent Christian scholars opposed to same-sex marriage, asking for their severest criticism. I am a conservative alienated from my fellows by advocacy of same-sex marriage. That makes me and them sad, but I will continue to propound the truth as my Lord is the Truth.
        Nothing you say is harsh, provided that it is reasonable. But that leads me to pose some questions.
        1. Are you knowledgeable and able to refute my specious arguments?
        2. If your answer to Q1 is yes, did you send me the refutation I asked you for?
        3. If you got as far as Q2, you understood it as rhetorical; why did you not send me the refutation?
        4. Where do you suggest I post my essay on line?

        • Loren Golden says:

          “Where do you suggest I post my essay on line?”
           
          If you really want people to read and critique your essay, sir, then get a blog, post it there, and then link to it here. BlogSpot and WordPress both offer blog space for free.
           
          Few readers on this site want to give you their contact information. And besides, it is most unwise, in this age of identity theft and programs that troll the web looking for personal e-mail addresses, to post yours in such an insecure manner.
           
          “Are you knowledgeable and able to refute my specious arguments?”
           
          Go to the article, “Will the LGBTQ Progressive Agenda Capture the UMC in February 2019?”, posted January 9, 2019, on this website ( https://juicyecumenism.com/2019/01/09/will-lgbtq-progressive-agenda-capture-umc-february-2019/ ), scroll to near the end of the comments section, and you will find my refutation of the specious arguments you posted in several comments there.

          • Richard S Bell says:

            I took your advice and read your comments. Having done so, I am even more strongly motivated to urge that you read my essay. (Please, overcome your fear of giving another your email address. I assure you that my real name and my email address are known to many hundreds of people, relatively few of them friends, and that it has not put me in danger.) Below are my responses to five things you say that seem most important to you. These responses are a very small part of the case for God’s will that I make in my essay.

            1. “Leviticus 18.22, which proscribes male homosexuality, is part of the Moral Law, which unlike the Ceremonial and Judicial Law, never passes away (WCF §19.5). This same proscription is further reiterated in the New Testament under Apostolic Authority (Rom. 1.24-27, I Cor. 6.9-11, I Tim. 1.8-11, Jude 7).”
            Leviticus 18:22 proscribed not homosexuality but homosexual conduct. Likewise, the condemnations in NT are condemnations of homosexual conduct, and these are prophetic judgments of conduct that violated the Seventh Commandment rather than statements of Moral Law.

            2. “In the first five verses, the Lord through Moses commands the Israelites, ‘You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.’ (v. 3) Then He proscribes twelve forms of incest (vv. 6-18), knowingly and deliberately engaging in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period (v. 19; compare Ezek. 18.6, 22.10; this is distinct from a man who happens to be engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife when her menstrual period begins [Lev. 15.24], which is part of the Ceremonial Law).”
            The Lord through Moses gave commandments that we call the Holiness Code, which distinguished the Hebrews as belonging to the Lord – as holy. How were they distinguished? By not doing as they did in the land of Egypt or in the land of Canaan. The Ten Commandments are Moral Law. The Holiness Code was not Moral Law, although some moral laws were mixed in here and there. You think the incest taboos, for example, were moral law? To the contrary, it is clear that the Moral Law does not forbid consanguineous sexual relations. Consanguineous sexual relations were consistent with the order of God’s creation before and after the Fall. Eve was Adam’s clone, yet God commanded her and Adam to produce children in the natural way. The grandchildren of Adam and Eve were issue of sexual relations between brothers and sisters, who must have married one another, having no alternatives. Also, consanguineous sexual relations were within God’s providence much later, as the children of Noah’s sons were almost certainly in the same kind of society as the children of Adam and so were married to siblings. Most significant is God’s blessing the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, who were brother and sister; Genesis 20:12. Nowhere in Scripture except in Leviticus 18 and 20 and in the Deuteronomic code are any of these marriages even implicitly impugned, and it is obvious that marriage taboos in the Old Testament are not Moral Law. Christians (and non-Christians) agree that it is right to deny marriage to siblings because of custom and good social policy. Even primitive people know that issue of consanguineous sexual relations are at great risk and social scientists agree that exogamy is important in extending and strengthening social relations; national interest opposes consanguineous marriage and it has been forbidden more or less in nearly every organized society that is known. God had good nation-building reasons for giving the ancient Hebrews legal restrictions on marriage of consanguines (and affines), just as God had good nation-building reasons for giving them all other Additional Commandments. According to Robert Gagnon,
            Each of the laws [in Leviticus 18:6-23 and 20:2-21] has as its intent the channeling of male sexual impulses into a particular pattern of behavior, a pattern conducive to the healthy functioning of a people set apart to serve God’s holy purposes. Within that general intent, though, the reasons for banning specific forms of sexual behavior vary.
            The laws against incest (18:6-18) may have had as many as four aims: (1) protecting females (both blood relations and in-laws), including girls, in the intimate context of an extended family from the predatory sexual habits of male family members; (2) reducing sexual temptations within the family and preventing infidelity, which breeds alienation and distrust in one’s spouse and could result in the dissolution of a family; (3) reducing intergenerational conflict, disorder, and dishonor that would arise through sexual rivalry within the family; and (4) ensuring healthy offspring by limiting inbreeding.
            Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, p. 137.
            This is so obvious that I need not even raise the question how to reconcile various statements of marriage taboos in Leviticus 18:7-11 and 20:11-21 and in Deuteronomy 20:30 and 27:20-23. I only observe that those taboos are irreconcilably different for men and women, which implies that they are not moral rules but political rules.

            3. “’Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.’ (vv. 24-25).”
            On the basis of this passage, you may reasonably say that these prohibitions were Purity Law and that the ancient Hebrews’ violating Purity Law would have had consequences as dire as dispossession of their land. This passage does not justify an inference that these prohibitions are Moral Law, binding on us.

            4. “Homosexuality is a sin against God, because it utterly divorces sexual intercourse from His intent for it in procreation. God created the first two members of our race as male and female, brought them together in covenantal marriage, and commanded them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’ (Gen. 1.27-28) ‘Did he not make them one with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.’ (Mal. 2.15) To dress homosexuality in a veneer of ‘marriage’ does not thereby make it holy and acceptable in the sight of God, because it is plainly obvious that the production of Godly offspring is impossible for two people of the same gender.”
            Against your inference from God’s command to procreate, there stand the teachings of Jesus and Paul, who made plain that the command is no longer normative. Christian tradition – at least, Protestant tradition – has understood this. The Church does not understand procreation to be an essential purpose of marriage and so it has not required procreational ability as a condition of marriage. The Church marries people who do not even have all necessary reproductive organs, and it marries them without scruple. The Church’s practice and conscience are right in this respect. An important purpose of marriage in the Bible was at first procreation, because God intended that sexual intercourse and protections afforded by the family cause eventually the earth to be populated with human beings, but Jesus and Paul taught that procreation is no longer an important purpose of marriage because God’s intention has been realized. Jesus and Paul taught that God now prefers his people be celibate, so that they give all to him instead of giving some of themselves to a spouse. Indeed, celibacy is a better anticipation of our future lives in heaven, all of us unmarried. God provides marriage to accommodate those of us who cannot now be as he prefers.

            5. “Furthermore, marriage in the Bible is used by the Prophets and Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to point to the union of God with His People, of Christ with His Church, wherein the husband represents God or Christ, and the wife represents the Church or the Old Testament People of God (Is. 54.5-8, Hos. 1-3, II Cor. 11.2, Eph. 5.22-33, Rev. 19.7-9, 21.2,9-11), and this economy is nowhere in Scripture reversed. . . . Conversely, there is no revelatory or redeeming significance in same-gender ‘marriage’.”
            Marriage is an apt metaphor for God’s relations with his people not because it is in essence a relationship of male and female; marriage is an apt metaphor because its ideal is mutual commitment and self-sacrifice. Mutual commitment and self-sacrifice do not presuppose the difference between the sexes. The ultimate purpose of Christian marriage is not legitimizing the satisfaction of uncontainable sexual desire (though Paul said this is a purpose of marriage). Nor is it companionship (though God gave Adam his Eve so he would not be alone). Rather, it is as Paul stated: the ultimate purpose of marriage is to serve as a context for expressing mutual submission and love of another as Christ loved his Bride. Is this purpose served by marriage of homosexuals as it is served by marriage of heterosexuals? Yes. It has not been proven that homosexuals as such suffer any special disability in mutual submission or Christ-like love. Homosexuals, as readily as heterosexuals, can approach the ideals of Christian marriage.

  23. Tracy says:

    Do the research yourself:
    https://rmnetwork.org/who-we-are/history/

    It was no accident, but a very organized concerted effort to indoctrinate people. Money and funding, unfortunately, persuaded some to ignore and try to rewrite the Bible, you know, because God didn’t really mean that for 21st century people. I urge everyone to follow the timeline and you will see how we got to this impasse. Time to decide where you stand and know this cannot continue without a separation and branching into two ministries or no one will be able to effectively do ministry at all. I have certainly been guilty of not paying enough attention to what is going on in our United Methodists churches and conferences and the propaganda that is being promoted and put out there. I urge everyone to realize that there is not a way together, but we can and must stop harming each other and let the healing begin. We cannot continue to be so vicious to one another. Be silent no more, traditionalists pay attention to what is happening in the Methodist Church. Doctrinally speaking, our Methodist discipline foundation is very firm and directly from the Bible, God’s Word. (I am speaking to myself and those in my conference and church, who were led to believe that it doesn’t “really” affect us what another far liberal conference or church is doing.) Yes, it most certainly does impact our ministry! We must always show compassion and love for all, but not vitiate our beliefs and dishonor the many saints who sacrificed on our behalf, so that we may have the church today.

  24. Greg says:

    Mark – where can we get the pic? Did you source it somewhere and I missed it?

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