Heather Edna is an ordination candidate in the United Methodist Church.
UM Voices is a forum for different voices within the United Methodist Church on pressing issues of denominational concern. UM Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.
Seeing as the “just resolution” in the case of Rev. Anna Blaedel could not identify the harm caused by an ordained elder in the UMC unabashedly unrepentant for sexual immorality, I feel compelled to name the harm perpetuated by Rev. Blaedel: The “unrepentant queer” (Blaedel’s own self-description) reverend preaches, in words and demonstration, a false gospel, the impact of which has eternal consequences and harms those who believe it.
This false gospel explicitly contradicts the most basic statement of the way of salvation spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ: “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Blaedel’s false gospel affirms sexual immorality with the excuse that those who identify as LGBTQ are born into homosexual attractions and that those attractions are somehow essential to their very being. Is homosexuality a special category of sin so different from the other struggles we face as fallen people? If we are all born inclined to sin, how are we to understand this exception? Jesus makes it clear that we are all born spiritually dead: “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6-7) The false gospel Rev. Blaedel promotes denies the power of the resurrection to bring life to the spiritually dead.
Who am I to call out the harm of Blaedel’s false gospel? I am an individual who, if I bought into the philosophy of LGBTQ identity, would identify as queer. From a young age, I experienced same-sex attraction and followed my lust. As LGBTQ vocabulary emerged in our culture, I realized that my inclinations are more specifically described as “queer.” I still face these attractions and determine daily, by God’s grace, not to pursue lust—from remaining mentally faithful in marriage to my husband to saying “no” to media that would fuel unfaithful attractions. In following Christ and in defending the Gospel, I am acutely mindful of 1 Corinthians 6:11: “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
I am an individual who recognizes the impact the false gospel Rev. Blaedel demonstrates would have had on me at a different stage in my life. It most certainly would have fostered confusion about the trustworthiness of Scripture. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” (John 3:10-12). If seemingly straightforward passages in Scripture addressing carnal issues are muddy, how can we stake our eternal hopes on the radical vision and promise of Heaven described in Revelation 21?
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
This is my existential hope, that the power of Christ breaks the bondage of sin in me and all Creation. By denying this power in their own life, Rev. Blaedel preaches a different gospel and harms the witness of the trustworthy Gospel, that the Lord Jesus Christ has power to make all things new. Rev. Blaedel harms those who identify as LGBTQ by denying the power of Christ available to them to be born again and reconciled to God. Rev. Blaedel’s witness of unrepentance says one does not need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. That very much harms the souls who believe it.