Driving back from Tennessee in the rain makes me contemplative and, because modern technology is awesome, I was on Facebook and came across this blog post from Sarah Howell on the Facebook page of Reconciling Ministries Network of the United Methodist Church.
Maybe “of” is too strong a word above. RMN is a group of Methodists who are advocating for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church where the church’s official stance is that “sure gays and lesbians we like you enough to take your money but ‘homosexuality is (still) incompatible with Christian teaching’.” So RMN is sort of a side group within Methodism.
Luckily Green Street is a reconciling congregation. We “officially” became reconciling in October 2009 but in truth we were reconciled long before that. What I love is we are accepted as just a matter of course just like black, white and hispanic folk, rich and poor folk, saints and sinners, rather than because we are gays and lesbians. As my friend Ray Morgan once said, “we love you just because you are Katie.”
Anyway, back to Sarah’s blog above. If you didn’t read it, she is discussing the use of the word “condone” in the Methodist’s Book of Discipline, our book of rules and regulations more or less. She says that condone is used in the Book twice, once to not condone the use of violence during acts of civil disobedience (which she says is acceptable) and once to not condone the practice of homosexuality. Both times condone is used to disapprove of something on it’s face, without any attempt to study or give serious thought to what it is they’re disapproving of.
In the first instance it’s fine according to Sarah. Not condoning violence during an act of civil disobedience makes sense without much study. Violence defeats the purpose of civil disobedience.
In the second instance it’s hurtful. By not condoning the practice of homosexuality, you are disapproving of a person, not an act or an issue. A person fully formed in the image of and completely loved by God.
Sarah argues that a different word and humbler terms are needed in order to have conversations around homosexuality in the UMC. I agree, but I never understood having the debate in the first place.
To me disapproving of homosexuality is like disapproving of rain – you can but it’s going to rain anyway so you may as well learn to live with it.
If the UMC really is about “open hearts, open minds and open doors,” then all of us, All of Us, had better start rethinking how we serve our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.