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The United Methodist Church and Homosexuality

Part 3 of three parts

2016-MAY: Reaction to the compromise
(Cont'd). Bishop elected in western U.S.
from LGBT community. More reactions.

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay

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We use the acronym "UMC" to refer to the United Methodist Church.

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What the readers of the Washington Post article think about the UMC's 2016 General Conference's compromise (Continued):

More postings by readers of the article in the Washington Post 1 are:

  • Ben Calvert posted:

    "There should be no debate. It is wrong to allow gay pastors and gay marriages. The church is not a place for political correctness. It is a place to follow Scripture."

  • "cbaum3212" posted:

    "God burned Sodom and Gomorrah down to the dust because it was filled with Gays."

  • Tom Thompson posted:

    "Why is it that Christians so seldom ask themselves "what would Jesus do?" A majority want to be inclusive and "Love Thy Neighbor", but almost as many want to continue the hate and discrimination because the issue, however vaguely, concerns SEX!"

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  • "Katlick" posted:

    "Jesus would say, 'Go and SIN NO MORE." 
     
    Love thy neighbor means to get them away from hell by not condoning their sins and yeah, it has everything to do with SEX! 
     
    Don't fall for the devil's trap under hate and discrimination.

  • "chance3" posted:

    "Jesus said, 'Go, and sin no more,' and that includes gays!!!"

  • "Luthergrove" posted:

    "Gay life 'incompatible' with the Christian faith and I for one, will leave the UMC if this is ever accepted by the UMC."

  • Ben Calvert posted:

    "If you are gay then you are sinning. You like your sin so you want it to be okayed. Doesn't matter what the Methodist do but you cannot be a sinner and get to heaven. Jesus wants to forgive but that means repentance on the sinners part. You cannot live in sin and be a Christian. 1

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2016-JUL-15: Western District of the UMC elects a LGBT bishop from the LGBT community:

The UMC's Western Jurisdiction consists of the denomination's eight most westernly U.S. regional conferences: the Alaska, California-Nevada, California-Pacific, Desert Southwest, Oregon-Idaho , Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, and the Yellowstone Conferences.

Almost two months after the 2016 General Conference ended, the Jurisdiction elected Rev. Karen Oliveto as the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop. This was in spite of the denomination's Book of Discipline which states that same-gender relationships are "incompatible with Christian teaching." Bishop Oliveto is married to another woman, Robin Ridenour. She is the minister at of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, CA.

After her election, Bishop Oliveto eloquently said:

"I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God. I want to thank the candidates who I have journeyed with these past few days, for the grace with which we walked with each other. And know I stand before you because of the work and prayers of so many, especially those saints who yearned to live for this day, who blazed a trail where there was none, who are no longer with us, and yet whose shoulders I stand on." 2

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Bishop Bruce R. Ough is the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. He issued a statement saying:

"... Any elder in good standing is eligible for election as a bishop of the church. ... Being a self-avowed, practicing homosexual is a chargeable offense for any clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, if indeed this is the case. ..."

"There are those in the church who will view this election as a violation of church law and a significant step toward a split, while there are others who will celebrate the election as a milestone toward being a more inclusive church. Others will no doubt have questions as we find ourselves in a place where we have never been. Still, others will likely see this election as disrupting or even rendering moot the purpose and work of the Commission currently being formed by the Council. ..."

"Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable. We are confident God is with us, especially in uncharted times and places. There is a future with hope. We invite your constant and ardent prayers for the witness and unity of The United Methodist Church. May God guide us as we seek to maintain unity in the bond of peace. 3

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Webmaster's response to a comment: [bias alert]

A reader of the article on The Blaze web site, who uses the pseudonym "8YRSOFHELL." posted a comment. She or he said:

"Why couldn’t they start their own church instead of infiltrating churches that do not have the same beliefs? Help me out here LPHP or anyone else on the Blaze." 2

I, using the pseudonym "ocrt" responded:

"I think that most LGBT advocates and their allies within the United Methodist Church were born into and raised in that denomination. They are not infiltrating from the outside; they are advocating from within.

One of the core problems is that those UMC members who favor discrimination against the LGBT community sincerely believe that when they pray to assess God’s will, they receive the response that God agrees with them. Meanwhile, those who favor equal acceptance of persons with all sexual orientations pray and also sincerely believe that God agrees with them. So each group feels that they are carrying out the will of God. Compromise is thus impossible. See a pilot study at http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_pray.htm

It is a pity that nobody seems to be discussing this." 2

"Godrulz" also responded to "8YRSOFHELL.":

"Hi 8YRS,

It’s simply the age old struggle between good and evil. Good appears to be losing at the moment, but it’s only temporary." 2

And so, the same conflict that was seen over slavery and women's ordination/status in the UMC is being repeated today, but with the LGBT community.

The past conflicts were caused by some in the denomination proceeding more quickly than others towards accepting racial minorities and women as equals. The resolution to both conflicts came after a great deal of pain and conflict. But both were resolved in the direction of equality towards the other group.

I fully expect that opposition towards equality for the LGBT community will similarly fade in the future within the UMC denomination, and that they will accept sexual minorities -- and their marriages -- equally.

I often wonder who will be the next group to seek equality. I also wonder whether the UMC and other religious groups will be able to learn from their past experiences and accommodate change more quickly.

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This topic continues with a 2018 recommendation of the Council of Bishops.

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References used:

  1. "With talk of schism over gay issues, United Methodists vote to pursue a ‘new way of being’," The Washington Post, 2016-MAY-18, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. Carly Hoilman, "Methodists Elect 1st Openly Gay Bishop in Defiance of Ban," The Blaze, 2016-JUL-16, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  3. Bishop B.R. Hough, "COB President Addresses Western Jurisdiction Episcopal Election Results," UMC Press Center, 2016-JUL-15, at: http://www.umc.org/

Copyright © 2016 to 2018by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2018-MAY-18.

Author: B.A. Robinson
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