David Gushee: Christians, Conflict and Change Faith Institutions Opinion

The Methodists gather to argue about gay people again

The Rev. Gil Caldwell, center, joins a protest of the United Methodist Church’s stance that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” at the denomination’s 2000 General Conference in Cleveland. He was among those arrested for disrupting the quadrennial meeting. Photo courtesy of TruthinProgress.com

For the next week or so, leaders of the 7 million member United Methodist Church will meet in Portland for their quadrennial General Conference. More than one hundred petitions related to human sexuality, mainly (of course) LGBT issues, will be considered by the 864 delegates, continuing a debate that the UMC has had every four years since 1972.

READ: Methodist General Conference to discuss LGBT issues — again

That’s forty-four years of debate. Over one issue. When it started, Richard Nixon was president. Gasoline cost 36 cents a gallon. The Vietnam War was in full swing.

Forty-four years of arguing over one issue.

I am not an expert on Methodists and I don’t know what’s going to happen at this quadrennial meeting. But I do have a prediction: there will be no agreement. Either one side will win, or the other side will win, or the can will be kicked down the road.

This issue does not seem to be resolvable through dialogue, at least not in any venue larger than a family, a group of friends, or the occasional local congregation. Since it can’t be resolved by dialogue, it comes down to politics — organizing, money, campaigns, power, votes. All of which invites deep cynicism in Christian contexts where the official language includes talk of moral discernment, the Holy Spirit, and God’s will.

A key player in the United Methodist fight is the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). Just prior to this conference, the RMN released a brave, plaintive statement from 111 Methodist LGBT clergy members, deacons, elders, and candidates for such offices. Outing themselves in this statement, these clergy risk discipline or dismissal under current UMC policy.

The statement is framed as a love letter from these religious leaders to the denomination. You baptized us, they say. You trained us. You helped us see and exercise our gifts. We love this community. We have served faithfully and kept our covenant promises to you. But “You have not always remained faithful to us.” Why? Because “you have required that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities.”

The statement continues: “We are told to simply leave.” But, “is leaving home ever that simple? We are United Methodists…” Don’t make us leave, they say. But if you do make us leave, rest assured that there will always be a next generation of vulnerable young LGBT people in your pews. They are at risk of suicide and despair because of the teaching some of you are offering. Stop hurting them, please.

Notice the kind of appeal this is. It’s an appeal for compassion, for inclusion, for acceptance, for dignity. It rings with the language of family — we are part of your family, don’t kick us out — which resonates especially if you know anything about the number of homeless LGBT kids who do get kicked out of their families or feel the need to flee. I think it’s also an appeal for recognition of courage — we are risking everything to plead for your acceptance, Won’t you soften your heart?

And the answer will be NO. From many. Whether a majority will say no will be tallied by the votes.

Why this no? I don’t need to be at the meeting. I know what people will think, and what they will say, because I’ve been in a hundred of these “conversations”: Because the Bible says a clear no in Genesis 1-2, Leviticus 18, and Romans 1. Because God designed humans as male and female and sex as male for female. Because it is not part of Christian Tradition. Because no Christian Leader that our side respects agrees with you people.

Because the church is not permitted to bless sin. Because the church does not want ministers who embody aberration and sin. Because we don’t want to lose members who will leave if we accept you fully, including whole countries in some parts of the world. Because we are well and truly freaked out by gender and sexual orientation diversity. Because we don’t want our children to be influenced by you. Because we yearn nostalgically for “back in the day” when these issues didn’t even exist, or at least, no one made us think about them.

It’s a titanic clash, epic, truly tragic, unresolvable, filled with conflict and pain. To me, by now, the arguments are stale and circular. What I mainly hear is the howl of pain of a small minority of Christians (and many traumatized ex-Christians) crushed under the wheel of a 2000-year-old religious tradition that cannot quite figure out how to account for their existence. It’s all so very, very sad.

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David Gushee


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  • You’ve seen the pictures of little black children, on the way to school, walking through a crowd of angry white people. I remember one picture with three young white women, probably in their teens, faces distorted by anger and hate. I’ve often wondered if they think about how ugly they looked then. I wonder, do they feel the same way about black children today as they did then? I suspect they wish that picture would be lost to history, because they have changed.

    That same sort of change is happening in the general population’s attitude toward our LGBT brothers and sisters. It started later for them, but I believe that Martin Luther King, Jr. line about the “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” applies here as well. We can see the change happening; we’re just not there yet. Some denominations have made the change, eventually the Methodist Church will as well. I wonder how those who make angry hatefilled speeches this week at the General Conference will feel about what they said in say ten years.

  • Like America, Methodists are divided. We are the church of Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton. Like America, we are the best and the worst. Half of our members wish we were more christofascistic, like the Southern Baptists and the Pentecostals; half wish we were more like the Episcopals and the Unitarians. Eventually something will happen but we don’t know what, yet. The situation is complicated by the right-wing group within the UMC’s alliance with the Institute for Religion and Democracy – that name sounds like a cobwebbed office in the basement of a humanities building at a small liberal church-related college, but it something quite other than, nothing less than the religious right’s organizing headquarters for disrupting the Mainline Protestant denominations, primarily the Methodists. It is funded by the eccentric extremist billionaire Richard Mellon Schaife of Pittsburgh, he of the “get [Bill] Clinton” disinformation campaigns of the 1990s. These are the same bunch behind “kill the gays” legislation in African countries, and they have provided funding for keeping African delegates to the GC happy and voting with them. With the Africans allied with the right-wingers in the Southeast Jurisdiction, and the Filipinos divided, perhaps the best we can hope for is some sort of decentralization where we can ordain LGBT clergy and they can exercise an option not to. Like America, the right remains strong in dying, white, rural America, in church politics as well as the governmental kind. Like America, the antigay stance is a deal-breaker toward church affiliations in the vibrant parts of our nation.

  • This
    is the reason I left the Methodist church. I’m not willing to be part
    of a denomination that thinks it’s OK to treat LGBT brothers and sisters
    as second-class citizens, and the hypocrisy of their “Open hearts, open
    minds, open doors” slogan that isn’t backed up with action.

    As long as the non-American delegations have the numbers to vote down LGBT inclusion, it will never happen. Either schism will be the end result, or more and more people will simply give up the fight to change Methodism and leave. If Methodists can’t make the leap to accept LGBT brothers and sisters fully, maybe they deserve to die as a denomination incapable of acting Christ-like, or be reduced to insignificance.

  • It is indeed deeply sad. As noted by an earlier commenter, sadly representative of the polarization in our nation — fed, watered and fertilized by the Institute for Religion and Democracy … an organization committed to “returning mainline churches to biblical orthodoxy [or destroying them in the process].” They took their best shot at the Episcopal Church and failed — inflicting collateral damage along the way. And now they’re driving the schism threat in the UMC.

    As a survivor of the Inclusion Wars in the Episcopal Church I will argue that the impasse is not, in fact, unresolvable — although the road to resolution is paved with conflict and pain. And more round-table discussions, dialogues and mediated conversations than I you can shake a stick at. In the end it takes leaders willing to listen to the Holy Spirit calling us into all truth and not the IRD calling us into the House of Fear. Fear of the other. Fear of loss of power. Fear of schism.

    Episcopal Bishop Barbara Harris once called this struggle “the death rattle of the patriarchy” and I believe more and more that she was exactly right. Prayers ascending for the UMC. For all those yearning for the Good News of God’s redeeming love available to absolutely everybody. And today most especially for those who read the headline “The Methodists Gather to Argue About Gay People Again” and are reinforced in their conviction that they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. And who would blame them.

    No wonder Jesus wept.

  • I used to be Christian. I am gay. I remember as a teenager screaming silently because I knew I was going to hell for something I also knew I could not change. Oddly enough, I didn’t kill myself because I knew I would go to hell right away instead of whenever I died later, and teenagers have the ability to put unimaginable things off.
    When I came to my senses in my twenties, I realized I had been tormented and abused by religion. Never again. Never. Religion is evil.

  • I’d like to thank Tom Downs, Kangaroo52 and RoundRocker for your insightful comments. There’s much I agree with in all, but some I don’t. I do not think the current official position and language of the BoD will ever be changed. If any changes do come about, I would expect the situation to become even more egregious.

    There’s still a sizeable contingent of “orthodox, Bible-believing” people in the U.S., including some Bishops. Michael Lowry of the Central Texas Conference comes to mind. Just before conference he gave a speech to a meeting of people identifying as “orthodox,” and it was loaded with dog whistles. He published it on his own blog as a 4 part series, and I wrote a response here: http://wp.me/piyp0-26m

    Then you have Asbury Seminary as the main factory for elders in the south especially, and you can bet they aren’t teaching tolerance.

    These people will remain a force within the Church, as we don’t like change. I live in Tampa, and volunteered with RMN for the week of GC in 2012. I remember one lady being recognized because this was her 10th consecutive GC as a delegate. I have no clue how she votes, but think about that for a minute. That means, that from her conference, no other voice came from that delegate seat for 40 years. Every attempt to impose term limits is met with the same aggressive opposition by groups like the IRD, as they do with any changes that might affirm LGBT people. They know that would begin to bring younger people into those seats.

    So, we have the remnant of the orthodox combined with the Central Conferences (Africans), and the IRD and other organized groups fighting viciously to expand the representation of the Central Conferences…so there will not positive changes to the Discipline, and there could very well be negative changes such as mandatory disciplinary actions, etc.

    I can’t imagine any sort of meaningful schism in the U.S. Church, because here we remain divided. Certainly there are some churches which have aligned themselves with the Reconciling movement, but they remain a minority, and even in many of those churches, there are people who would never support a separation. Combine that with the many churches that are not aligned, or are against acceptance, or at best, divided over it, and you might see a few churches breakaway, but it won’t be enough to make a significant statement in a church already losing members in the U.S.

    I toughed it out for all the 56 years of my life up to last year, and finally threw up my hands. While not joining the Reconciling movement, my church, Palma Ceia United Methodist here in Tampa, had at least adopted a welcoming statement that included sexual orientation. We got a new appointment two years ago, an Asbury Grad, who unilaterally, and without consulting the Church Council, removed the statement from everywhere is was published. When called out about it, he made an extremely untruthful presentation to the Church Council claiming it was a violation of the BoD. I filed a complaint with the Bishop asking for a Just Resolution. The Bishop conceded the statement was not a violation of the discipline, that the minister didn’t have the authority to override a legal action by the Church Council, but he wasn’t going to make him put it back. So I gave up and walked away. This new Bishop had, not a few months before, delivered a major sermon at one of Florida’s largest churches talking about how we had to stop beating LGBT people over the head with the Discipline. Here was his perfect chance to put action to his words, and he failed. While there has been backbone shown by a few current Bishops, in generally, our episcopacy is not a bastion of bravery.

    We will come out of this General Conference with even more people hurt and angry, and they will, because of a lack of action, walk away. You have to read Bishop Lowry’s article to understand, that the position of the those who see themselves as orthodox is that they are fine with a smaller membership, so long as it is a membership that sees the world as they do. While not stating it outright, Lowry essentially calls for schism to rid the church of those who are not doctrinally pure. So, I think the church will putter along and continue in decline here. There will be bright spots, but they will not be the majority.

    And the difference between the UMC and the other protestant denominations who are more progressive is that we waited too long. The Central Conferences, under the guidance of the IRD will continue to grow in influence, while the declining U.S. membership will allow those groups to argue for a lessening of influence. In short, we missed the brief window to fix this, and now I fear there is no fix available. Boy, I’m sorry, I got on a long rant there, and I hate to be Debbie Downer. No one would like more than me for the Church to open it’s doors fully, but I am afraid we can’t.

  • Pensions and benefits, rent-free living and a secure job where you talk about how wonderful you are to a crowd every week…sounds like a good deal. Sort of like tenure.

  • David Gushee seems to make the argument in this essay that if only those who preach against homosexuality would soften their hearts, this conflict would be resolved. I disagree. If I was creating Christianity, Jesus’ atonement would cover everyone, & everyone would meet together in heaven the instant they die. Thank God, though, I’m not in charge. What little we know of God is in His scriptures & by His Holy Spirit. As far as I can tell, by both of these authorities homosexuality is condemned as sin. I don’t hate homosexuals, & I don’t mind worshiping with them, but I will not acquiesce to changing God’s word to accommodate sin, be it my own or someone else’s. I don’t think homosexuality is worse than my sins, but it’s a sin.

  • So what are your sins? Why don’t you give us a list so we can judge how serious they are?
    Lots of questions.

    You seem to be saying that if God were as reasonable as you would like to be, then everything would be a lot better. Is that what you’re saying?

    And what about the sin of not believing that Jesus died for your sins. That’s a pretty bad sin. Is it worse than your sins? Will people burn in hell forever unless they believe that Jesus died for their sins? Does that sound like a reasonable god? Is that what you would do if you were running things? What if they failed to get the Christian memo? Does that sound reasonable?

    What about all of the other sins? What about divorce, except for adultery? Do you mind worshipping with those people? Should those who are divorced except for adultery get unmarried right now?

    You are right about one thing, though, and there is no question about it. ” if only those who preach against homosexuality would soften their hearts, this conflict would be resolved.” If only they did what Jesus said, and stopped worrying about other peoples’ sins. But more importantly, if only they would start being concerned about all of the other sins in the world, and not obsessed with homosexuality, someone might start thinking that they are not really so concerned about mistaking a social prejudice for the word of god.

  • John, I am so sorry to hear how religion has totally messed you up. I get it. However, religion is NOT the way of Jesus. The good news of Jesus is forgiveness of sin, patience, long-suffering and grace; all things unearned and totally free.

    I am sorry that people representing Jesus have falsely claimed a gospel of exclusion. Jesus came to break down all the religious presuppositions, proclaiming a gospel of love and embrace. It breaks the hearts of most Christ-followers that Jesus has been wrongly represented to you.

    With love and compassion…

  • Bigots like yourself seem to have trouble with the uncomfortable parallels between how they act now, to how bigots acted then. If you believe Christianity depends on treating certain people badly as a matter if right, then it should be little wonder people turn away from it. There is,nothing of moral or societal value to such beliefs.

  • Your version of a loving embrace appears indistinguishable from a waving fist. Why bother?

  • So where the heck are you when fellow Christians make such obnoxious claims on behalf of their belief in Jesus? You feel the need to address outsiders on such matters but fail to correct those who claim the same faith as you.

  • Spuddie, you do not know anything about me or how I address fellow followers of Christ on this issue.

    I am not addressing “outsiders” in my post, but calling-out the “religious” and pharisees of our time to preach the gospel of Christ, which is a gospel of inclusion and forgiveness; whoever doesn’t need to be forgiven should cast the first stone…

    My apologies if you did not fully grasp whom I was directing my comment toward..

    I appreciate your passion.

  • “People are largely sheep who go along with whatever will keep them from persecution.”

    I had to chuckle when I read that. I would have said . . .

    “Christians are largely sheep who go along with whatever [they’ve been led to believe]* will keep them from being sent to Hell by their loving god.”


  • David Gushee, who in this article celebrates being in the “mainstream” of UMC thought and practice (as if “being in the mainstream” was EVER a reliable prescription for truly Biblical positions) is typical of United Methodists who believe that LGBTQ believers will eventually “go away” if they say NO WAY loudly and often enough. It is time for LBGTQ believers, their families and their friends to walk away from this flawed and heartless denomination. God has already abandoned UMC; it is just a matter of time before it dies on the proverbial vine.

  • Oh that tells me EVERYTHING I need to hear about people who sympathize with “mainstream” UMC thinking because they are still unreconstructed, bigoted Confederate racists who think we ought all to return to the 1950’s.

  • You use the term “Christian” as if it has some ontological absolute to it that somehow you have grasped, and that those who disagree with you are missing. Beyond that your very use of the term “fruit” to describe others seems grossly inconsistent with the “love your neighbor as yourself” mandate.

    If, as you claim, people are largely sheep then it’s nearly impossible for anyone to not be a sheep. Therefore being Christian doesn’t stop you from being a sheep, it just makes you a different kind of sheep. Unless somehow being Christian makes you a non-person, which as noted above is problematic since we’d first have to determine what a Christian is apart from one’s own understanding of it.

  • You demonstrated your prejudices fairly obviously and are a bit thin skinned. They aren’t criticizing me, they just hate Jesus. Suuure it is.

    If “the Savior” has you as a representative, it begs the question could he have done better or is he just that worthless?

  • I’m a bit confused. Is the writer supporting the LGBT community, or the traditional Christian beliefs? His wording would imply both, switching from paragraph to paragraph.

  • Society has improved a lot, on many levels, since the time you speak of. Your analogy proves the opposite of what you want it to prove.

  • Well aren’t we just filled with all kinds of self assignEd holiness, Self righteousness, and self importance!!!!i

    We’re so powerful!!! FEar our power!! WE can cajole entires societies into doing whatever we want them to. WE can even convince them that the idea of wholly imaginary destructive lifestyle is simply that: entirely your imagination.

    As is your persecution.

    Imagine us saying that we have rights as citizens, taxpayers, and even people of faith!

    AS the other one of the three stooges said, THE NOIVE.

    Thank the God I don’t believe in that your beliefs about your perfection have no force in civil law.

  • Your church destroyed itself over women priests, abortion, and homosexuality.

    Your battles may be over but your church is finished.

  • Sorry, the Gospels are more than about “inclusion” which sounds like PC nonsense from The New York Times or some trendy college professors.

    You need to familiarize yourself with the Old Testamant.

  • Hi Frankie, it would be helpful if you were a bit more specific in your assessment of my lack of familiarity with the OT.

    To start, I am not of the LGBTQ community and I do believe that God designed us as male and female counterparts. However, I do believe that anyone in the LGBTQ community can live a Christian life. For me or anyone to say that they shouldn’t be welcomed into the body of Christ would be antithetical to God’s work of healing and restoration that everyone of us needs.

    The gospel is a gospel of inclusion, starting with the OT. God made a covenant with Abraham saying that his–Abrahams–people will be a blessing to all nations, not just the Jews (Covenant of inclusion, not exclusion). That covenant is fulfilled in Jesus, who came not for the religious who thought they were “in,” but for those who desperately knew that they were broken and needy (i.e. tax collectors, lepers, the blind and sinners).

    However, I did not say that the gospel is one-dimentional. To say the gospel is inclusion and nothing more would rob the good news of its multifaceted beauty. But for the specific purpose of responding to this post, inclusion is paramount in my opinion.

    The gospel is: that the long-awaited King of Israel has finally arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. But Jesus did not come as a political powerhouse, overthrowing the Roman empire and liberating the Israelites, as the Jews had hoped. Jesus came for everyone, Jews and Romans alike. King Jesus is not just king of the Jews, but King over the entire cosmos. The good news is that the kingdom of God is here on earth and it welcomes all who repent (change one’s mind) and believe.

    The kingdom is not only available to “socially acceptable” sinners but to everyone; this is the gospel.

  • Ironically said during a time when we have a black president finishing out his second term. I think plenty of other posters have already chimed in on the appropriate response here Mr Jim Crow.

  • “Stop comparing africans and fruits. ”

    And history now adds your words alongside the hate-filled images of those three young women Tom Downs mentioned. And I suspect in twenty years or so, you’ll wish these words were lost to history.

    I’ll not argue about your claim that Christians have a higher standard for morality than any man’s. But your choice to use “fruits” as a slur… that was egregious. You didn’t need to do that. Jesus wouldn’t have done that. When saved the adulteress from the mob, he didn’t tell her, “Go and sin no more, you slut.” And he didn’t tell her, “Don’t come back to the temple until you stop sinning.”

    So much for your “higher standard”. Jesus wants you to be his apostle, not his enforcer.

  • Please know that many Christians are acting out obedience to the bible by LOVING and ACCEPTING all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and welcoming them into their churches. God is still with you. Christ is still walking beside you and holding your hand, whether you feel that presence or not. I invite you to put your conviction of “never” aside, and take a look around you (web searches as a starter) to find a welcoming congregation that embraces ALL people. Don’t let the people who give religion and Christianity a bad connotation keep you from the joy and love that is already there for you. I’m saying a prayer for you right now that you will open your heart back to God and gain a sense of His presence in your life. May you have peace in knowing that other Christians will support and love you. May you be able to be able to shut out the words of those who claim Christianity, yet want to judge you in their own right. The bible is very clear: there is only one judge – GOD, and no one on earth has the right to judge or condemn you.

  • You would have been accurate if you had said . . .

    “. . . we [Christians] have a standard which is higher frequently lower than any law of man or any opinion or feeling and it states that, knowing the truth myth, we shall not encourage the lie reason or excuse the lie reason, but fight the lie reason with the Truth Myth.”

  • I have never belonged to any religion or believed in the divine authorship of any putative “sacred text”.
    I believe that for any religion to retain what credibility it can muster for its allegation that it represent the inalterable will of God,it must NOT “change with the times”,which exposes it as having been a fraud to begin with.

    I believe that there is no rational basis to treat the misbehaviors around which the “LGBT community” is built as other than misbehaviors that ideally ought never to occur…and am disgusted by the incessant whining that to impose the censure these misbehaviors deserve is an attack on those prone to those misbehaviors as people.Are eye tests “bigotry” against the blind?…are drunk driving laws “discrimination” against alcoholics?Does being critical of stealing express “hatred” for kleptomaniacs?

    A religion is a set of beliefs,propounded as divine commandments.If a religion wants to make same-sex sex acts a condition of salvation because they say Great Gayhovah demanded it,let them.But any religion that says the Bible is their guide looks ridiculous setting aside clear condemnations…and any time any group defined by wanting to do something other than what a religion says is required by their deity comes to that religion and demands to be allowed to do their own thing anyway,they need to be answered,”our job is to teach people to stop believing what you believe…get with our program,or start your own.” (Add whatever penalties their religion believes applies to the latter option if so inclined).

    Let popular opinion sway the definition of your faith,and you’re admitting God didn’t define it.

  • Society improved for everyone, except for old white bigots who hide behind their religion, their fond remembrances of the good ol’ days when those uppity others knew their place, and their privilege.

    BTW, I am old and I Am white.

  • A very wealthy follower of the man who said, “give away all that you have and follow me.”

  • Glad to hear there are no sinners in your churches. It makes them far more attractive.

  • And let an ancient, vicious, and very durable prejudice exist, based upon bad interpretations of texts from 2000 years ago, guide you and your condemnations and judgments of people you know nothing about…

    and you are admitting that the definition of your faith– love your neighbor, judge not, treat others as you would like to be treated– has nothing to do with your God.

    But you knew that.

  • Indifferent….as a Christian, I don’t relish it…..but as a Catholic, I stay out of other churches affairs.

    My point is this: anything liberalism touches, it destroys. That’s my position, Ben (p.s. I hope the Raiders stay in Oakland !).

  • First, what is this “LGBTQ” thing ? Now there’s a “Q” ??? What the hell…..LOL

    Second, yes, anybody can live a Christian lifestyle.

    Third, if someone doesn’t want to live a Christian lifestyle for whatever reasons, that is also fine with me. I’m not gonna lose sleep over it.

    The issue here is misfits trying to change established Christian doctrine to accommodate modernist nonsense. The essence of ANY religion is to act conservatively as in CONSERVE certain essential truths. The most important of these are moral values, particularly those in the field of sexuality.

    If someone doesn’t want to accept that, fine. If they want to form a new church based on 180-degree opposite morals, fine.

    But stop trying to subvert established churches.

    Having said that, I have no dog in this hunt since I’m not a Methodist.

  • There is habitual sin, for which most responsible churches take steps to address in a believer who sins habitually. Occasional slips are easily dealt with in simple prayer. Habitual sinners are repentant, and take steps to rid their life of habitual sin. Most LGBT pride themselves in continuing to live in sin, and then feign “Oh, I cannot help it.”

    But what you are trying to say is unless a church has 100% sinless persons as members, why not habitual, unrepentant sinners also?. The answer is simple, as Jesus said, “Except ye repeat, ye shall perish.”

  • Right, we do have a black president…one who is racist and associates with racists himself.

  • But he did tell her “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t say “Keep on doing what you are doing, it’s part of your genetic DNA makeup.”

  • You’re born in sin, buddy. You wallow in it. You are, according to your own words, riddled with it. That’s just Christian belief.

    Your attempt to divide it into habitual sin is a further attempt to justify yourself at the expense of others. Let me know when you start condemning on a regular basis every single person divorced and remarried who didn’t divorce because of adultery.,

  • So you are going to say rape, slavery, incest, and genocide are OK because God sanctioned it all in the OT?

    Will we get reasons why rules of Leviticus only apply to others but not yourself?

    Please elaborate.

  • If a Christian lifestyle is so bereft of humanity, compassion, morality or even basic decency, as you seem to describe it, there is, no value in it.

    Simply a club of malicious busybodies who want to feel better about themselves and pretend they have divine sanction to act badly.

    There is no morality in your religious morals. Nothing worth caring about. Society could do itself a favor and get as far away from such types as possible.

  • Frankie, the sanctimonious tone that you are using makes me wonder if you might want to spend some time reading Luke 15 and examine your own heart. Remember, Jesus said all those who think they have been upholding the law, all the self-righteous, do-gooder, hypocritical type “older brothers,” who look down on others, will not enter the banquet. And they don’t enter NOT because Jesus is not welcoming them, they do not enter because they refuse to go in and be with “those” people. Their pharisaical spirit has ruined them.

  • It’s not a question of “not welcoming”, Shannon. It’s a question of on WHOSE terms: the church’s or the person’s ?

    Sure, church’s need to help people. But that is FAR DIFFERENT than saying they are going to treat all beliefs, behaviors, and choices the same.

    Would you like to incorporate atheism into Christianity so as not to exclude atheists ? Ultimately, that is what you are saying on a micro level.

  • Fine, then do it. What you want is moral relativism and everything is equal nonsense.

    I don’t.

    And as I am not a Methodist, as I said before, this doesn’t concern me so if any of you are Methodists, have it out amongst yourselves.

  • Excuse me,I made clear at the outset that I belong to no religion.
    And loving your neighbor includes taking on the continuing task of insisting that they correct their behavior no matter how bitterly they resent the correction.There is no excuse NOT to be “prejudiced” against wrongdoing.

  • The Bible doesn’t sanction those practices. Slavery is an ambiguous term since it isn’t intrinsically evil depending on the level of economic advancement.

  • Cute, Shannon….and you might recall that Jesus said he came not to repeal anything in the Old Testemant and that he never said “anything goes.”

    Pharisees and others were hypocrites. There’s nothing hypocritical of those wanting to preserve church teachings, whatever church it is.

  • Rom. 1:26–27, 1 Cor. 6:9–10, 1 Tim. 1:8–11 and Jude 1:7 clearly teach that homosexual behavior is not acceptable to God.

    Now some respond, “But Jesus never said homosexual behavior was sin.” Well, that is a rationalization. First, there are lots of sins that Jesus never mentioned, but which are listed by the Apostles, such as from Paul and Jude (above, homosexual sin). Also, two things are being ignored about Jesus:

    1. when He said “God made them male and female” He implied that this is the way God wants it to be for Christians and,
    2. Jesus is “the Word of God”, so whatever the Word says comes from both God the Father and Jesus the Son, through the channel of the Holy Spirit, so Paul and Jude’s words are also the words of Jesus.

    Now many a LGBTQI person has claimed that they became a Christian, prayed for God to take away their homosexual behavior, but nothing really happened. Well, there is going around these days the concept of “easy-believerism” in which an unsaved person acknowledges they are a sinner and believes Jesus died for their sins, and is maybe baptized. This is not enough to get one born of God.

    There are 4 elements to being saved. They are:

    1. acknowledge I am a sinner (1 John 1:9)
    2. believe Jesus died for my sins and rose again from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3, Romans 10:9)
    3. repent of all my sins (Luke 13:3-5)
    4. surrender to ask Jesus to be Lord of my life (Romans 10:9)

    While I cannot speak to every case in the world, in my 50 years of evangelism, I have never known persons to become born of God without this formula, which is based on Scripture. Also, everyone who was born of God by this formula, had a significant transformation in their life, including, but not limited to, no more addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, criminal behavior, and/or other habitual sinful behavior.

    The invitation to LGBTQI people is to come to Christ in true repentance, and total desire to let Jesus be Lord of your life in every aspect of you life, along with of course trusting that Jesus’ death on the cross provides you with total forgiveness and the cleansing you need.

    This is my prayer.

  • Yes family! Jesus taught how and why to take a brother and treat him like a tax collector because of sin. Paul did the same. This family push by Gushee ignores a lot of scripture to present a false picture of the church.

  • Really? Jesus called a woman a dog. When she admitted she was, to which she replied, but even they get the crumbs, He blessed her with what she wanted. You seem to not know Jesus very well with your “fruit” comment. How do you know He wouldn’t have called a homosexual a fruit?. Fruit is light compared to calling a woman a dog.

  • Unfortunately, there are lots of non-believers who want to call themselves believers.

    I believe in truth-in-advertising.

  • Oh so you don’t even have the bible to fall back on to justify yourself. Good to know.

  • sure. that must be it. Having the law reflect your prejudices against whole groups of people is a good thing.
    No one was pulled into anything. The law stopped supporting them, and decent, kind, compassionate, and intelligent people realized that racial hatred benefits no one.
    You are still absolutely free to be as big a bigot as you like. You just don’t get the law on your side. And decent people will call it as they see it.

  • Oh yes it did. Especially when the misdeeds are against heathen folk. There are even rules and passages concerning how to take sexual captives of defeated womenfolk.

    Slavery is not ambiguous at all. Never was. Owning people as property. It’s a pretty straightforward definition in general and in the Bible. Of course if you want to depict Moses and Co. as just being overly whiny over forced servitude, go ahead.

    The fact that the Bible does not condemn slavery speaks badly for those seeking moral guidance from it in this day and age. It is universally condemned in a more enlightened modern era as a per de evil and at times an element of genocide.

  • The only moral relativism here is your own.

    You seek to justify all sorts of bad behavior under the claim god sanctions it. Anything is OK if you can proof text scripture to claim it is “god’s will”

    Religious folk really have to stop using relativism to describe others or as an epithet. It too often described themselves far better than others.

    I am holding you to a moral standard that is unconditional. That doesn’t look for excuses to avoid treating fellow people humanely. That doesn’t use arbitrary rules to avoid responsibility to others.

  • Lol!

    White Christian privilege being taken down for being nonsense is hardly even close to equivalent to racism and discrimination of minorities.

    “Reverse racism” is much like “voter fraud” and “welfare queens”. Something whose existence is claimed at length but lacks factual support for its existence or is infinitesimal to the point if irrelevance.

    Having to deal with expanded civil liberties works. It forces bigoted nabobs to act civil to others and removes legal excuses for malicious actions. You can be as big and loud a bigot as you want, but if you were going to harm others in service of it, you pay the price.

  • Except without a modern economic system, slavery-barter-indentured servitude were how things were done back then. What, you thought there were labor unions and a thriving middle class back in the day ?

    No, pre-mercantilistic society was pretty primitive. Slaves were often captured in battle. A code for how to treat them was humane.

    Slavery 2,000 years ago was not anything like what you saw in ROOTS in 1977. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  • The question studiously avoided is “why is a loving, committed and supportive same sex relationship wrong?” Quoting out of context disparate scripture is no real help.

  • But ethically, why is it a sin? I envy your simplistic analysis, but it is willful ignorance to claim the Bible is clear on this.

  • Oh the irony! “The issue here is misfits trying to change established [religious] doctrine to accommodate [revisions].” Seems like Frankie clearly describes Jesus and the Apostles.

  • It’s not as if there were any valid argument against my position,no matter what you pretend.

  • There is no one in all of Christianity who believes that every single command in the Bible is binding on Christians. There is no one in all of Christianity who does not believe that we have to apply our own judgement, our own understanding of God and God’s will, to our reading of Scripture.

    If there was, they would be far, far too busy acquiring sheep and birds for sacrifice to spend much time on Internet discussion forums or attending General Conference. They would be too busy attempting to reinstitute debt slavery and war slavery, to stone their children for disobedience or at least change earthly law to allow said stonings. They would be advocating for requiring women to marry their rapists.

    Levitical law is frequently incompatible with modern life and morality, which is a good thing. It is up to us as Christians, individually and as denominations and congregations, to apply our own judgement, our own discernment, to the millennia-old book we hold sacred, and claiming to oppose the basic dignity of a group consisting of millions of people simply because the Bible says that loving and having sex with the people they love and have sex with is wrong is the worst sort of spiritual laziness.

    It is spiritually lazy to declare sin, to declare “incompatible with Christian teachings,” that which you yourself will never be tempted to do while ignoring the dozens of prohibitions and orders you find odious but that would impact your life. Leviticus 18 bans sex during a woman’s period, but we don’t see the Methodist Church banning those who do that from the clergy. Leviticus 19 – a mere chapter later – bans crossbreeding animals, sowing mixed fields, and wearing clothes of mixed fabric, but we don’t see the Book of Discipline explicitly calling out ligers and nylon blends. Barbers and those who patronize them are not thrown out of churches and leadership positions, forced to hide their professions and wear wigs to keep their trimmed hair and beards hidden for fear of excommunication.

    Why one verse in Leviticus 18, when all the rest of these things are ignored?

    Because it’s mostly straight people making the rules and writing the Book of Discipline, and nothing makes a person feel more righteous than judging someone else’s sex life.

    We are called to discernment, and to turn our discernment inward first.

  • Try reality. Compassion. Science. Knowledge. Take your pick.

    But there is no valid argument for your position.

    Thanks for playing.

  • Now the whole DNC “black plantation” nonsense. Maybe if conservatives didn’t spend so much time sucking up to racists and finding new and interesting ways to attack various minorities and the poor they would get a wider diversity of voting base . Something than rich folks (who are making their way to the door as we speak) and white trash troglodytes.

    Blaming “liberal media bias” doesn’t help when you have people committed to fictional nonsense (supply side economics, creationism, climate change denial, attacks on public education…). Reality is biased against you in most cases.

    Forced busing, racial quotas and affirmative action? We’re you recently dethawed after being frozen in a block of ice since 1970?

    Nobody is talking those subjects much outside of the cross burning crowd anymore. It’s all about mass incarceration, social welfare, abuses by law enforcement, gentrification and exploitation of the poor…

  • Actually, try me. I’d love to hear your valid arguments FOR your position. This ought to be interesting.

  • So you are saying Moses was just being uppity when he demanded, “let my people go”. That the whole exodus story was just about Israelites,being ungrateful to their masters. That’s why nobody venerated the story anymore. /sarcasm.

    It is clear the Bible only considered slavery wrong when the people involved were those the authors cared about. Such subjective morality is typical of scripture.

  • You misinterpret all of the above,which properly understood are on my side no matter how popular the misinterpretations.

  • sure there is.

    We don’t hate you. we love you. We really really love you. We just hate your grievous, grievous sin, and…

    your child molesting, disease spreading, freedom endangering, sin delighting, morality despising, nature rebelling, god defying, Chrstianity insulting, promiscuity loving, Rome declining, sexuality perverting, faith hating, religion denigrating, marriage destroying, military endangering, free-speech curbing, on-Jesus crapping, society undermining, innocent recruiting, marriage attacking, holiness oppressing, family eroding, sacred institution destroying, god’s-messengers-victimizing, speech denying, future-of-humanity threatening, perversion flaunting, Scouts infiltrating, priesthood undermining, virtue despising, muslim loving, and chicken-sandwich abhorring…

    …take a breath…


    And really, how could anybody see anything like hate in that?

  • “… wrong is the worst sort of spiritual laziness.”


    It’s the worst sort of spiritual, moral, intellectual, humane, scholarly, and human laziness.

  • And yet, you still will not tell me what they are– properly understood, of course.
    So, try me. Let’s hear it.

  • “Why one verse in Leviticus 18, when all the rest of these things are ignored?”

    Do you really want an answer? For there is a quite simple and straightforward one that is easily found in the NT by anyone who cares to read it.

  • Reality is that sexual dimorphism would not evolve without a reason…if one sex were good enough we would not need two.Evolve it has,and the sexes exist for each other…that there are two determines that only opposite-sex sexual relationships (whether or not each particular one is reproductive) ought to exist in the species.That it is possible to fail to adhere to this norm does not justify doing so…it just creates an error that a reasoning species needs to avoid,not pretend that other species violating the norm makes it any more proper for humans than the existence of species that eat their young provides us with a valid role model.
    The pseudoscience trying to find excuses for its existence amounts to saying that boats need barnacles on their hulls…that it does exist doesn’t mean we’re not better off without it,and that
    some people want to do something stupid doesn’t mean that anyone should do it or be told to indulge their desire.
    The “compassion” cited by defenders is really “compassion fatigue”…they get tired of telling the incorrigible to correct their ways,so tell them the comforting lies they want to hear instead of the
    opposite truths they need to hear.Which is really writing them off as the helpless slaves of their bad instincts,and no better for them than it is to tell alcoholics to go ahead and get drunk at will.

  • This comments section is just horrifying. I am disgusted by the name calling and the total lack of compassion and care for people who are struggling to be accepted for who they are. This is not Christianity. This is bigotry parading around in its Sunday Best.

  • Perhaps he is attempting to do what the press is supposed to do – present each side without comment. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as the old TV show said. Personally, I felt it belittled those of us who take the Bible at its word, and favored those who take a stand based on relativism.

  • Leviticus only counts when it’s applied to others but not when you have to follow it. Because it’s religious belief. It doesn’t have to be rational or consistent.

  • Religious folk have to stop using the term relativism. Especially when referring to beliefs outside their own.

    The term is far more appropriate to their version of morality. Where arbitrary rules are given preference over human relations and any act can be justified by calling it “god’s will”, no matter how atrocious it may be.

  • everyone has a cross to bear. As Christians we should help each other carry that cross. There is no sin in having same sex attraction. There is only sin when it is acted upon. All are called to a life of chastity. Sex outside of a man/woman marriage is always sinful.

  • Leviticus is part of the Old Covenant which was binding on the Jews. We are part of the New Covenant, that is what we are bound to.

  • Most of the super-rich vote Democratic. Nice try.

    Mass incarceration ? Don’t do the crime and you won’t do the time.
    Asians and Jews spend much less time in jail and have very few incidents with cops — are the cops pro-Asian and pro-Jew ? No, they just know how to act civilized and not like animals when confronted with an adult or a police officer, unlike Michael Brown.

  • Not a closed discussion Shawnie. There are plenty of websites for people who want private chats.

  • So whom does supply side economic theory benefit again? Corporate welfare? Huge tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy? Deregulation of banking, securities and financial instruments? Draconian immigration laws with huge loopholes in employment visas open to abuse by employers?

    Yet you are deluded enough to think the super rich are democrats.

    “Don’t do the crime and you won’t do the time.”

    If you are white and/or of means you usually don’t do the time if you do the crime.

    I can only facepalm so much from reading your stuff.

  • Oh that’s easy! Love one another as you love me. I prefer it stated in First John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

    That’s why the call to unnatural celibacy for gay couples curses them not only to be alone, but also to not know Gd.

    But you deflected MY question. Wanna try again?

  • If christians can eat shrimp and cut their hair, they can accept LGBTQ people also.

  • “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” the article states.

    LGBT Christians will easily disagree.

    It could also be said that ‘the practice of some Christian teachings are incompatible with mature minded people’.

  • The Bible does condemn slavery in 1 Timothy 1:10, which by the way, also condemns homosexual behavior. In the past, it was not “the church” that promoted slavery a few hundreds years ago, but individuals who did not obey the Word of God.

  • Thanks Katie. It is tough to read through, but sadly not an uncommon feature of comments sections on anything to do with gay or lesbian issues. Comments on trans issues are generally far worse, if you can imagine that.

  • Sad to see so many of these comments are playing out exactly as Mr. Gushee described in his piece. Tragic, unresolvable, and very, very sad.

  • There is not likely a single LGBTQI person that does not condemn slavery. In fact, 1 Timothy 1:10 condemns slavery. Oh, but wait, this verse also condemns homosexual behavior. So, if the church is to condemn slavery per this verse, it is compelled then to condemn homosexual behavior as well. Conversely, if the church is not to condemn homosexual behavior, it would be free (God forbid) to not condemn slavery.
    That said, there is forgiveness in Christ for all, but on God’s terms, not one’s own way of doing things. These terms are:
    1. acknowledge I am a sinner (1 John 1:9)
    2. believe Jesus died for my sins and rose again from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3, Romans 10:9)
    3. repent of all my sins (Luke 13:3-5)
    4. surrender to ask Jesus to be Lord of my entire life (Romans 10:9)

    Some LGBTQI will say they have done the above, but still think habitual homosexual behavior is OK As an evangelist for almost 50 years, I can tell you this is not the case. People who have come to Christ, that I know of personally, do not cling to their old life style, but grow into a new life of Christ in a personal relationship with Him, and take steps to end their sinful behaviors. They are even empowered by the Holy Spirit for this effort. Very, very few “go back” to their old ways, especially habitually, and those conversions are suspect as not real.

    My LGBTQI friend, Christ offers you a new life, and a transformed life, but only on His terms, as listed above. Just as all others must repent of their sinful behaviors (adultery, fornication, hatred, alcoholism, drug addiction, wife abuse, child abuse, etc), so too, you must fully repent.

  • OK…Because the Torah itself was never given to Gentiles. No one ever cared how much shellfish Gentiles ate, nor what kind of fibers they wore, nor how they farmed, nor how they shaved. However, there was a much simpler and more ancient standard of morality that was always expected of “righteous Gentiles.” It is sometimes referred to as “Noahide.” In a nutshell it included basic principles of justice as we understand them today, plus the expectation of sexual purity and humane butchering practices.

    Even the Torah itself makes reference to this more ancient standard when it speaks of the immoral sexual practices of the Gentile nations which Israel replaced (Leviticus 20). It tells us that it was for all these practices that God judged and rejected those nations — hundreds of years before there ever was a Torah.

    Accordingly, when Gentiles began converting to Christianity and your basic question came up before the Jerusalem Church (made up of Torah-observant Jewish Christians, many of whom had known Jesus), the Jerusalem Council declined to require any more of those Gentile converts than that which was always expected of righteous Gentiles

  • …cont. That may easily be found in Acts 15, where they spell out the basic moral requirements as, pretty much, everything covered by the law of love, plus avoidance of sexual immorality and improper butchering, and also avoiding the appearance of condoning idolatry by eating known pagan sacrificial meat.

    In more Biblically literate times this used to understood as a matter of course. Now people throw out this shellfish-mixed-fibers-etc argument like they’ve discovered something new and revolutionary when it was all asked and answered 2000 years ago. And those who are patiently and painstakingly instructed about it (looking at Ben) simply go on making the same argument as if it were never answered at all. And this is most likely because they are not really interested in an answer but in creating doubt among those whose Biblical and historical knowledge is lacking and convincing them of a position more convenient to the secular world’s purposes. I hope this is not your purpose as well.

  • Sorry that my answer posted in two parts…I hit post by mistake and on my tablet it is easier to simply continue with a second post than go back and edit.

  • If you are using OT prohibitions such as those against homosexuality, then it very much is “the church” using your arguments. Just not the convenient parts for apologetics. It’s a common measure of Christian excuse making bull that they use the OT to sound tough but disavow it when called kit on doing so. There are no rational arguments for doing so. but when one is trying to use religious beliefs to justify behavior, you are foregoing rational arguments from the start.

    The NT also has words to say about how hard a master needs to beat his slaves. Slavery was never prohibited in most of the history of Christianity as being proscribed by scripture. The Catholic church being notorious for promoting slavery of non Christians or failing to speak in condemnation of it going on all around them. Plus see the apologetic response afterward by FrankB where he was saying slavery wasn’t so bad and for some reason necessary to ancient economies.

  • No, Shawnie, it is YOU that prefer not to explain it.
    The word ABOMINATION is used to describe some POSSIBLE expression of homosexuality. It is also used to describe shellfish without any doubt. So claim that ABOMINATION means horriblehorriblehorrible in one case, and means nothing in the other, is dishonest..

  • Yeah religion tormented you. An idea with no hands and legs. With no face. It tormented you because it didn’t agree with you like it doesn’t agree with an adulterer, a liar, a blasphemer, a sinner. It’s existence is what you despise and its different view is enough so you can call it evil.
    Ironically you seem to not too much think that it might be just your view that religion is evil. No compromise here.

  • Well I can assure you, at least some of them will look back and will be proud. Do you know why? Because they refused to be with the herd and they refused to be dictated by people pointing unfair parallels. They refused that it should be dictated to them what is “marriage” and what is not and they would be laughing as when confronted with a choice between speaking and be called a bigot by “moral” people or keep quiet and accept what is thrown at them, they choose the harder one – one that was better for them and made a decision with same independence – like LGBT want to have – that society was discouraging them from having.

    When a man stands for himself – even if he is sore in eye of all because his view is “outdated” – I can personally say it is the best moment of his life. It is far worse to be in fear and accept what you know to be wrong than to be restrained in doing what you think is your identity. For latter can be viewed as “bad luck and bad times”, former is always that affects the self-respect.

  • Irrelevant. Whether you call it an abominatiin or something else, Leviticus states that it was one of the practices for which God judged and rejected the Gentile nations. It doesn’t say He judged them for shellfish.

  • How convenient is it to always find an irrational basis to an idea that people have that differ from your own…

  • “the practice of some Christian teachings are incompatible with mature minded people”

    And these mature-minded people will be what you consider to be mature-minded? Oh!

  • And you decided that they were atrocius. That is relativism and hypocrisy – both bundled in one.

  • All of humanity finds such acts atrocious.

    Under no circumstances are genocide, rape, slavery, discrimination or bigotry, good and moral acts or beliefs. If you needed divine guidance to tell you that deliberately harming or killing people is wrong, you lack any connection to humanity most people are born with.

    Relativism is saying that god allows such things and according to your scripture and the nature of this discussion already has done so. That it only depends on whether those on the receiving end are of your faith/sect. Hypocrisy is religious people claiming that unquestioned adherence to arbitrary rules has anything to do with morality. Nor is acting out of self interest with divine punishment or reward expected. Even further hypocrisy is denying the relativism of religious morality which bases what is right or wrong not on the act and it’s effects on others, but who giving you the instructions.

  • Ah, that “live a Christian Lifestyle” thing, catch phrase with no meaning except what the use at the moment wants it to mean. Long before I was even aware of people with different sexual orientations, that “Christian Lifestyle” has been a puzzle to me.What the heck is a “Christian Lifestyle,” anyway?

    I’ve heard “not living a Christian Lifestyle” charged against so many people for so many reasons, known and unknown, it seems to be a one size fits all charge for “not being good enough” against anyone not in compliance with one’s own opinions.

    It is also a handy catch all phrase to put someone down without having to name whatever it is they think is wrong about them. How many have been hurt and confused by that charge, of “not living a Christian Lifestyle,” to justify someone’s rude treatment, while never able to get them to tell us what it is, exactly, we are doing ‘wrong.’
    Reminds me of the Obama detractors that justify their hostility with “because of his failed policies.” And unable to get them to say what specific failed policies they mean.

  • Indeed, John. One of the only early martyrs to be specifically mentioned in the NT was Antipas, head of the church of Pergamos. According to tradition, the Roman governor ordered him to declare Caesar as Lord, which he refused, whereupon the governor asked him: “Antipas, don’t you know that the whole world is against you?” To which Antipas simply replied: “Then Antipas is against the whole world.”

    The Caesars are long gone and the Roman governor is unremembered, but Antipas remains a hero of the faith for ALL time.

  • _”All of humanity finds such acts atrocious.”_
    Can you provide a source?

    _”Under no circumstances are genocide, rape, slavery, discrimination or bigotry, good and moral acts or beliefs.”_
    And who determied that. You? Why not you include wearing pink shirts on that? On a more serious note, if really all humanity find it atrocious and God does not exist, then why those people that in your view forged God’s command allowed for these atrocities. They and people who actually commit this obviously do not find it atrocious.

    _” If you needed divine guidance to tell you that deliberately harming or
    killing people is wrong, you lack any connection to humanity most people
    are born with.”_

    Argument from popularity. Can it be said of gays and transgenders that they lack connection to most of humanity?

    _”Relativism is saying that god allows such things and according to your
    scripture and the nature of this discussion already has done so.”_

    Only God knows how is that relativism…

    _”That it only depends on whether those on the receiving end are of your faith/sect.”_

    If you really read the article it was about Christians and methodists saying to other Christians and methodists that they are wrong despite they belong to the same faith.

    _” Hypocrisy is religious people claiming that unquestioned adherence to arbitrary rules has anything to do with morality.”_

    See your second sentence. I would rather have be dictated by God, then by Mr. Spuddie.

    _”Nor is acting out of self interest with divine punishment or reward expected.”_

    It is not surprising that a people who hate bigotry (pssstttt… I am talking about you) are actually ones painting with broad brush the people they are not even associated with.

    _”Even further hypocrisy is denying the relativism of religious morality
    which bases what is right or wrong not on the act and it’s effects on
    others, but who giving you the instructions.”_

    Even if there was a weight in this remark it stands hillariously lighted by the fact that you actually are arguing about effect on others – where ‘others’ obviously forms your favored class.

  • I would say a lot better than being cats. No matter how much you care for and tend them, they will always run for milk before you.

    *That is “racist” to cats, but I think you get the idea. Sorry cats – that was just an example.

  • Ever hear of crimes against humanity? Such concepts never existed under any Church’s doctrine. Try the UN charter, maybe peruse the Humanist Manifesto.

    One certainly can’t rely on the Bible to be a source condemning atrocity. So I guess it’s OK to you. Moral relativism in its purest form. Just what you accuse Luther’s of.

    Maybe get some understanding of human beings. They don’t like being murdered,robbed, raped or enslaved. Even on the most basic level, the idea of reciprocity is more moral than divine command and does not require one iota of religious belief to justify it.

    If God has to tell you not to harm others in order to keep you from doing such things, you are just a psychotic on a divine leash. It’s not an argument for popularity, it’s saying that your premise paints a poor picture of you. That you have no morals or understanding of what they are.

    You would rather be dictated by God than act with any humanity or morality. You are a true relativist. Anything is OK if you can roof text scripture to justify it. Like every one who has committed atrocity in the name of their faith. From Saul to ISIS

  • People don’t raise and control cats to be eaten. A shepherd tends their flock so their sheep can be killed and consumed. Take whatever you want from that statement. 🙂

  • Oh yes you are so brave in relying on generations of prejudice. Justifying treating people like garbage because you claim “God says it’s OK” /sarcasm.

    It takes no bravery to act maliciously. To attack and demean others. You not a martyr. Your a whiner. A bully who is being shocked by that people don’t tolerate their mischief anymore.

  • Rev. 2:13. Church tradition supplies the details.

    I suppose in modern parlance Antipas would have been told: “Don’t you know that you’re on the wrong side of history?” LOL!

  • “So, if the church is to condemn slavery per this verse [1 Timothy 1:10], it is compelled then to condemn homosexual behavior as well.”

    Thanks for confirming your unwillingness or inability to think rationally and challenge the assertions of ancient people who had nothing more than ignorance to work with in their futile efforts to understand their world. If you are incapable discerning the difference between slavery and ‘homosexual behavior,’ then you are obviously drowning in a sea of holy hogwash.

  • Jenell, (I’m sorry if I have your name wrong 🙂

    “Christian lifestyle” is what we all seek to live, as followers of Christ… read the Beatitudes, the whole of 1 John, and many others. It should not be used as an interrogation method, but a barometer, or compass. It should be a term that is used out of love not judgement.

    Honestly, I fall short often, and believe we all do, but that does not mean we don’t seek to continually move toward wholeness in the sanctification process.

    I judge no one. I have botched it up more times than I wish, that’s why I am thankful that we worship a God of love, forgiveness, patience, and grace.

    I’m an alcoholic, do you know the number of times I have not “lived the Christian lifestyle”? It is about a conscious effort/surrender to the One who can cause change. Living in Christ is not about the self, but about the other, and ultimately about God’s desire for us.

    Not sure where President Obama comes into play in this discussion.

    I appreciate your passion. I wish I could hear more.

  • The beauty of the Protestant movement is that, if you can come to terms with leaving you current denomination and church, there are many other Protestant branches that are more accommodating. My own denomination has openly welcomed LGBT+ for a long time. We were also the first denomination to accept African-American’s and women into our ministry. For some it is way too liberal but for others, they fit right in. If members of the Methodist community feel they are being left behind, they do have other options. Yes it is traumatic to change your faith but sometimes your faith changes before you do.

  • And funny! That’s exactly what Christians say who accept gay people not despite what their bibles say, but because of it.

    For the creator of the entire universe, he manages to be spectacularly unclear about what he wants to say, you get one thing, and it is what it is. Others get completely the opposite, and it is what it is.

  • “That’s exactly what Christians say who accept gay people not despite what their bibles say, but because of it.”

    They may say that, but when you dialogue with them in depth you invariably find that they can not take their arguments all the way to the desired goal without either discounting, or altogether throwing out, part of scripture. That isn’t an option for us. Jesus said we are to heed EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of God — and it is a rather dangerous thing to be encouraging others not to (Mark 9:42).

  • “All of humanity finds such acts atrocious.”

    LOL! “All of humanity,” throughout most of recorded pre-christian history (as well as throughout much of post-christian history outside the west, and even continuing up to the present day) , found slavery perfectly natural and acceptable. Only Christianity EVER came up with a rationale for rejecting it. The only reason YOU consider it atrocious is because of the influence of Christianity on the west. Assuredly you would not have been the lone abolitionist in the pre-christian world — you ‘re not sufficiently self-aware to swim against the current.

    “Innate empathy.” ? Thanks for my morning chuckle!

  • Yes but interestingly cats do not realise this. Seeing a bowl of milk placed in front of them every morning and evening, they believe that their “tender” is obliged to them. You know the feeling of being the priveleged class. The question then becomes –
    Till how long the owner will entertain them? As far as I know, one-way relationships do not last long.

  • If only your comment could decide bravery of a man…., people would look at it second time.

  • Yes, and while we wait for things to “naturally” take their course, the individuals who are marginalized along the way can…?

    What would you have them do? Just wait their turn? Tell them that justice is coming soon and they just have to wait patiently, while everybody who is “resentful” at having to change dies off or changes their minds? Should we do this with everyone who suffers injustice? The poor? The religiously persecuted throughout the world? Those who suffer under the thumb of oppressive governments?

    Apply this mode of thinking to any time great change caused resentment. The American Revolution, the Protestant Reformation, the Holocaust. Should the people marginalized before and during those events have waited for things to change “naturally?”

  • This whole argument will have no conclusion because the foundational religious assumptions of conservatives and progressives are diametrically opposed. Conservatives have an absolute and rigid understanding of Biblical authority. They have little or no tolerance for or interest in historical, social or literary context. If you pull out one thread of Biblical Authority, the whole biblical story is in danger of unravelling, so that’s very, very threatening. Progressives, on the other hand, are more interested in the sacred conversation being carried out in scripture. They see contradictions in Scripture as authors from different situations in life address the same moral issues in a variety of ways. Progressives consider their faith deepened and stretched by how the biblical message is carried out in different times and places. These aren’t just different languages you’re speaking. You’re, like, different species.

  • _”Ever hear of crimes against humanity? Such concepts never existed under
    any Church’s doctrine. Try the UN charter, maybe peruse the Humanist

    On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.

    From which Manifesto is it may I know?

    _”One certainly can’t rely on the Bible to be a source condemning
    atrocity. So I guess it’s OK to you. Moral relativism in its purest
    form. Just what you accuse Luther’s of.”_

    What is “atrocity”? Define it please?

    _”Maybe get some understanding of human beings. They don’t like being
    murdered,robbed, raped or enslaved. Even on the most basic level, the
    idea of reciprocity is more moral than divine command and does not
    require one iota of religious belief to justify it.”_

    One thing people surey do not like is a stranger on internet telling them what is and what is not – especially about themselves.

    _”If God has to tell you not to harm others in order to keep you from
    doing such things, you are just a psychotic on a divine leash. It’s not
    an argument for popularity, it’s saying that your premise paints a poor
    picture of you. That you have no morals or understanding of what they

    Let us remove all laws barring non-believers then. And see whether they do fine without any “leash”. If crimes by atheists do not increase, I will accept “Divine Leash Theory” to be wrong.

    _”You would rather be dictated by God than act with any humanity or
    morality. You are a true relativist. Anything is OK if you can roof text
    scripture to justify it. Like every one who has committed atrocity in
    the name of their faith. From Saul to ISIS”_

    So that you come along and insert extra stuff in it and then claim me to follow even that. I remember Animal Farm.

    1. Do not murder – Ok
    2. Do not steal – Ok
    3. Do not rape – Ok
    4. Do not enslave – Ummm. ok

    Some years later

    5. Accept Gays – Aghhh.. Ok
    6. Marijuana is ok – ?
    7. Prostitution is a right – Really?
    8. We protect porn by first amendment – What?
    9. Accept new definition of marriage (and you cannot argue it because we have just realised that is a fundamental right – after 150 years) – Please stop it
    10. Transgenders in your Bathroom (bye bye privacy laws) – GAME OVER! You cannot fool me relativism!

    How long will you keep them in your control by crying rivers about murder and rape and slavery and thefts. They will realise one day Spuddie. That you want them to be exactly how you want. Like God. The difference is just that he actually has an authority.

  • If people like OJS were writing the narrative, he might have been told “quit rocking the boat! Wait until people accept your position!”

  • Well, all of this argument about one irrelevant church and their antihumanism is largely pointless. The Methodist ruling class will dig their heels in. Their congregants will vary on interpretation and implementation. The church and Christianity will splinter further. The people who agree with the ruling class will continue to scream about the sky falling and those arguing with them will continue to be exasperated at their unsubstantiated claims.

    Secularism will march along, interrupted by catastrophes and charismatic, religious bigots with deep pockets and wide networks, and churches will evolve or rot into dust, as they always have.

    And history will forget what was said here, remembering only the loudest incidents, condensing massive political turmoil and tumult into a few decisive paragraphs in a history book read by a child who wonders why we had so much trouble with something so ludicrously easy to understand.

  • I know, it’s hard to not to apostatize when the rest of the world is pressuring you to, but you’ve come so far already. Go ahead, all of the cool kids are doing it, why not you?

  • Read economic treatises before Adam Smith’s WEALTH OF NATIONS, Katie.

    I didn’t say slavery was good or even economically efficient (it wasn’t !!). I said it was the custom and the norm and thus could not be called intrinsically evil.

    Paying someone $0.50 an hour was considered very generous in the Depression. Would you say that was generous today, Katie ?

  • Conservatives aren’t necessarily absolute and rigid. But we understand that not everything can be changed.

    And we’ve already seen what happened to those liberal mainline Protestant churches which embraced all forms of modernism. They destroyed themselves.

  • Your logic is lacking. An intrinsic evil is “intrinsic”–which means it is evil by its very existence. Cultural normativity has no bearing on an intrinsic quality. Being paid 50 cents an hour during the Depression has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this discussion. You are not bright enough to bother with.

  • Right, your proved my point: slavery, like capital punishment, is not intrinsically evil.

    I accept your defeat.

  • So that means you think notion of sin is irrational too because it differs from the personal idea you have about the world. Never saw that coming! Confession!

  • I hate to break it to you, but after 28 Feb we do not have more Feb (unless it is a leap year). We have March. Hope that helps!

  • I believe you may have missed my main point in favor of the obvious absurdity, the point of which was to illustrate my main point.

  • No, I leave that kind of argument up to Christians and other “do it my way or else” religionists.

  • Exodus 21:20 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.

    Exodus 21:21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

  • Agreed, because in 1972, when the UMC decided to disenfranchise our LBGTQ sisters and brothers, being LBGTQ was still on the DSM 5 as a mental illness. Later, in 1976, the psychiatrists and psychologists, after some in depth study, learned that being LBGTQ was an inborn characteristic, that the person had no choice in the matter, therefore being LBGTQ was taken off the DSM 5.. How can you call someone a “sinner” if he/she has no choice? I am of below normal height, at just under five feet tall. My family consisted of shorter people, thus, I am short, and I had no choice in that matter, just as two of my family members, one, now deceased, one living were born to be gay or queer (undetermined sexual orientation.)

  • Perhaps because we still are a racist nation???? Did you study anthropology? If you did, you would have learned that we ALL came from Africa! Yes, billions of years ago the continents were together. Look at a map and you will see how they would have fit. As humans moved, and migrated our skin colors changed. Those who moved, or migrated north or far south of the equator, had lighter skin as they did not need the protection from the harmful rays of the sun. We are all one people, OJS, and in the beginning, your ancestors were black, although you and too many others can’t or do not want to, realize this fact.

  • What would Jesus do? I believe he would accept everyone.What you believe or don’t believe is between God and you.As for religious organizations their laws and rules continue to put you in a box, to where we can never see God. Have you ever thought of an afterlife,I don’t think we will have hundreds of religious organizations to where we all have to be as we where on earth.We all will be there,and the love we have on earth will determine the closeness we have to God.

  • Come now, we are NOT sinners, my friend, we are an evolving people. As John Shelby Spong, and better yet, put his name in a search engine, and learn about him and his sensible take on the “ultra religious.”

  • Try the UCC, they are often Open and Affirming congregations. Open and Affirming is similar to Reconciling Congregations. You, also, may like the UU Church

  • I thought that Christians followed Christ, Wasn’t he someone in the NT not the Hebrew Scriptures????????
    Some of the NT stories are stories from the H,S, retold, that is known as Midrash, but The NT brought Jesus, who tore down walls, he did not build them to separate us from others.

  • The “Q” to which you refer means that the person is groping for a sexual identity. They know that they do not fit in to being either completely male or female. What does a person’s sexual identity have to do with their competency in their profession, or how they treat others, if they are kind, compassionate, competent, and non judgmental ???

  • Maybe if liberals would lie less, we could have a decent conversation. Or is that wishful thinking?

  • Oh how witty….if it were true. Religious types have a nasty habit of being the most pervasive 1iars out there as well as the most shameless ones.

    I am more than happy to deal with accusations of lying from conservatives. But in the majority of situations I have to explain the actual facts to the conservatives. I am constantly confronted with misrepresentation or just using canned nonsense arguments which don’t make a lick of sense.

    Like the “DNC black plantation” screed or “you are the real bigot because you oppose using color of law to discriminate against others“. My favorite being, “you are playing the bigot card” because the speaker is not refuting that being called a bigot is somehow incorrect, but they are just overly sensitive to its use.

  • Katie, you ought to run for the office of God! Why not? You act as if you know what goes on in other people’s heads, and why they do what they do. Oh wait, you keep being wrong on your appraisals of other people. So transparent, so weak. The whole Biblical story has never been in danger of unraveling. It is truth to those open to seeing it, and dangerous to those who refuse to try to understand it. It scares many, except those who are humble, and are open to God. Not you Katie, in case you confused the two.

  • So sad that you think you have found flaws in the Bible. It probably took you 20 seconds to decide that you were right all along, eh? Didn’t spend much time looking for the truth, just looked for so called ‘flaws’. So sad for you. What was the “one” that you found?

  • While it is true I have found numerous flaws in the bible, the important ones are those which the christain is aware of, fights against, denies, and yet, still knows they are there.

  • What a horrible way to think! You would have people deny their humanity in order to satisfy your own blood lust in christ!

  • You aren’t making any sense. I haven’t denied anyone their humanity. I don’t know what you mean by ‘blood lust in Christ’.

  • Christianity worships the bible verse, even when they have to make up one in their head. Idolators.

  • Jesus is a myth, the bible is not to be worshipped, and the supposed word of the so called god is Bronze Age dogma, from those who feared the thunder.

  • Christians do not worship bible verse and do not make up bible verses. Please show me how I am denying someone their humanity.

  • Go choose a denomination that updates their theology every 5 years.

    The rest of us don’t want trendy fads.

  • There is not a man or woman on this planet who is free of sin. Who are they who dare to cast stones? How do they dare to judge someone else when they must face their own judgement one day? How will they answer? Were they kind, loving, caring people or harsh, judgmental hypocrites who were certain of their own perfections and blind to their failures?

  • Well, now, it’s that interesting. If the religious folks’ morality is arbitrary, what is non-religious peoples morals? At least the religious have a standard, where the standard of most non-religious moral basis are determined by the moment, which is what makes it relative. Therefore, relative is perfectly good word to use.

  • No you don’t have a standard, you have rules. Ones which give enough loopholes and exceptions to excuse clearly immoral and atrocious behavior. Having a rules is not having morals. Morality is about measuring ones actions against their impact on others. Religious standards are about how one treats themselves regardless of how it impacts others. If you want a good example of a non theistic moral standard, see the humanist manifesto (it’s on the web if you care to read it).

  • As a former Southern Baptist, previously holding tightly to the tenant that gay life is sinful and a choice I understand where OJS is coming from. In fact, to this very day I feel extremely ill at ease when I see gay couples kissing or otherwise expressing outwardly their feelings for one another. However, after years of soul searching I have come to realize it is my own bias and upbringing that causes me feel this way. When I was in kindergarten I stood on top of the jungle gym at school and yelled racial slurs at the black people that were passing by. This was something I learned from those who had influence in my life. I now look back on that incident with shame. How must those black people have felt realizing that yet another generation was being taught these condescending, bigoted terms. I feel so fortunate when I think about what a gracious and merciful God I serve. I pray that those people somehow know that the ignorant little girl on the jungle gym has grown up to become much more merciful and gracious and strives daily to be Jesus’s hands and feet to the world.

    Something to consider is that this bible which has been written and rewritten in new languages and interpretations is bound to be confusing. Our English language is limited by it’s lack of words to express and convey meaning the way that other languages do. A classic example is the word love. We have one word that can be interpreted many ways while the Greeks for example have several (agape, eros, philia & storge.) The point I am trying to convey is that while the original scripture was pure there may have been messages lost or misconstrued when the originals (which we no longer have any copies of) were translated many years later by human beings into the various other languages that are in the world today. With that in mind I believe we have to use the brains God gave us to interpret scripture based on the time it was written, to whom it was written and the purpose for which it was written. We can still glean insights today from those passages that were written so long ago, yet we must be careful not to go against the principals of God that we know to be true; to be self-evident. We know that God is loving, patient and kind. We also know that God created all people. We also know that God does not make mistakes. We also know that only God can judge the hearts of men. We also know that not one of us is perfect. We also know that when Jesus came he reached out to the sinners and condemned the arrogant Pharisees who were outwardly Pius but inwardly full of sin. With all of this in mind I simply cannot believe that God would create anyone who should be considered an outcast based on things they cannot control. I have seen firsthand people who were obviously created differently than others and I believe it is a sin to condemn them based on fear simply because they are different.

  • You seem to have all the answers and definitions. What are these “rules” you keep talking of? I’ve been a Christians since I was a teen, and I have never been given a list of “rules.”

    This is interesting because I grew up in a home that embraced the humanist manifesto. We were Unitarian-Universalists and believed that God was a fairy tale, a crutch, etc. My parents put on a great front, but it was all about them getting what they wanted, or thought the world owed them. And it was all subject to a mood swing. The rules at home were turned upside down when it convenienced my father.

    The consistent God of the Bible is a much better deal than one of human making. We Christians don’t always do it right. I am sorry, you seem to have been injured by someone who didn’t have the right idea. However, your lack of believe in the God of the Bible doesn’t effect either God or myself.

  • I have seen more dishonest, immoral and frankly silly behavior by people declaring themselves as Christians than any other group.

    By and large most seen here feel this natural need to make up stuff in service of their faith. Worse still is the constant claim that malicious behavior is merely the word of god and not really their own actions.

    Religious morality typically excuses any and all actions, no matter how atrocious if one claims divine sanction. That is not morality. That is the opposite of moral thinking.

  • I believe there are reasons heterosexual men, in particular, are threatened by gay men. It’s because those who are into macho behavior are threatened because gay men do not represent that, stereotypically speaking. Also, gay men are seen as obviously affectionate toward other men. Heterosexual men want that, but they can’t because they may be seen as gay if they are touching other men. That is not true in all cultures, but it certainly is here. So, I think that is a HUGE part of the threat that straight men feel, whether they know it or not, and I am guessing most often they do not. Therefore, I think we need to get out of the Bible verses and look at the cultural reasons.

  • Most of the super-rich vote Democratic.

    Yeah, like the Koch brothers and their crowd….big liberal Democrats those guys…/sarcasm