LGBT Faith News

United Methodist court filings detail proposals for averting schism on sexuality

The United Methodist Judicial Council hears an argument in 2014. Photo courtesy of UMNS

(RNS) —Documents filed with the United Methodist Church’s top court are shedding first light on specifics of long-awaited proposals to avoid schism in the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

The three plans were published Tuesday (July 17) as part of the docket for the United Methodist Church Judicial Council’s October meeting. The denomination’s Council of Bishops is asking its top court for a decision on whether those plans and related petitions are constitutional.

“We are asking for this so that we can gain greater clarity about constitutional issues within the three plans, and in service to and support of the delegations, who will do extremely important work in a very limited amount of time,” Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, said in a written statement last week.

The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga, director of communications for the Council of Bishops, described the request in an email as “a pre-emptive move by the bishops.”

The three plans were expected to be made public earlier this month as part of the Commission on a Way Forward’s report to the upcoming special session of the General Conference on sexuality, but their release was postponed until they could be translated into all the official languages of the global denomination’s General Conference: English, French, Kiswahili and Portuguese. That work is expected to be complete by July 30, but the Council of Bishops noted on its Facebook page that it has “no control over the Judicial Council procedures and deadlines.”

At the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., delegates had voted to defer all proposals on issues related to sexuality to a specially appointed commission and left the door open for a special session.

The denomination’s rulebook, the Book of Discipline, states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained as ministers, appointed to serve or married in the church. But United Methodists long have been divided on their beliefs about sexuality.

The Commission on A Way Forward concluded its work earlier this year, and bishops recommended one of the three plans it put forward: the so-called One Church Plan. Its report to the special session of the General Conference, scheduled for February 2019, also includes the Connectional Conference Plan and Traditional Plan, as well as proposed legislation to put each into effect.

Here is a brief summary of each plan:

One Church Plan

The first of 17 petitions that would enact bishops’ recommended plan begins with the words, “We agree that we are not of one mind regarding human sexuality.”

The One Church Plan acknowledges “persons of good conscience” can interpret what Scripture says about sexuality differently. It affirms both those who believe it does not “condone the practice of homosexuality” as well as those who believe it “calls us to reconsider the teaching of the church with respect to monogamous homosexual relationships.”

Related petitions would amend the Book of Discipline to remove the language about incompatibility with Christian teaching and marriage being limited to a man and woman. They would allow regional decision-making bodies called annual conferences to determine whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy and allow individual churches to vote whether to perform same-sex marriages in their buildings. They also would clarify that no clergy would be required to perform a same-sex marriage and would allow them to transfer or be reassigned if their beliefs conflict with those of their churches.

Bishops could not prevent or require a pastor or church to perform a same-sex marriage under the plan, and they would not be required to ordain LGBTQ clergy, who could be ordained instead by the larger jurisdictional conference’s College of Bishops.

A copy of the UMC Book of Discipline rests on a table during an oral hearing on May 22, 2018, in Evanston, Ill. Photo by Kathleen Barry/UMNS

Traditional Plan

The Traditional Plan would clarify what is meant in the Book of Discipline by a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” That would include those who have publicly stated or told clergy they are “a practicing homosexual,” or those in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union.

It would make a way to recommend a bishop for an involuntary leave of absence or retirement and a Council Relations Committee to hear those requests, creating a “process by which the Council of Bishops may hold one another accountable.” And it would strengthen current complaint procedures and penalties in the Book of Discipline.

It also would include language that bishops are not allowed to consecrate, ordain or commission “self-avowed homosexuals” even if they have been elected or approved by the appropriate church body, and it would require bishops to sign a statement certifying, “I will uphold United Methodist standards on marriage and sexuality in their entirety.” If they do not, they would be subject to review by the Council Relations Committee.

As part of the process to determine whether to ordain a candidate, the plan says the Board of Ministry “shall conduct an examination to ascertain whether an individual is a practicing homosexual, including information on social media.”

A church or annual conference that differs in its beliefs about sexuality would be allowed to leave the denomination to form its own “self-governing Methodist church,” and clergy would be allowed to transfer to those churches.

Connectional Conference Plan

The Connectional Conference Plan would create new connectional conferences from the denomination’s existing jurisdictional conferences inside the U.S. and central conferences around the world. Central conferences either could become their own geographically based connectional conferences or vote to join one of three “theologically based” connectional conferences in the U.S., which would align like-minded congregations on matters of sexuality.

The plan would include sections regarding sexuality in the parts of the Book of Discipline that those connectional conferences could change or adapt to “more fruitfully accomplish our mission in various contexts.”

The so-called Traditional Connectional Conference would define marriage as between one man and one woman, would not allow same-sex weddings or LGBTQ clergy and would express a “covenantal commitment to a more traditional understanding of the doctrinal and moral standards of the church with enhanced accountability.” Like all proposed connectional conferences, it would choose its own name later.

The Unity Connectional Conference would acknowledge members “are not of one mind regarding biblical interpretations related to human sexuality.” Clergy would be allowed, but not required, to perform same-sex weddings. Similarly, annual conferences could decide to ordain LGBTQ clergy, and local churches could decide to receive them.

In the Progressive Connectional Conference, all clergy would perform same-sex weddings, all annual conferences would ordain qualified LGBTQ clergy and all churches would welcome LGBTQ pastors who “match the needs of the congregation and its ministry.”

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

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  • homosexuality is a sin.

    “The Committee for Bible Translation released the 2011 New International Version of the Bible, one of the changes made to the text was to make verses that address homosexuality clearer.

    These included 1 Corinthians 6:9, having the term “homosexual offenders” changed to “men who have sex with men” and Leviticus 18:22 having the phrase “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman,” changed to “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.”

    “The 1984 NIV rendering … did not make clear whether homosexual activity per se was being condemned or whether only certain kinds of ‘offensive’ homosexual activity was being condemned,” explained Douglas J. Moo, chair of the committee, in a 2012 interview with CP. “The updated NIV makes clear that the Greek words here indicate any kind of homosexual activity.”
    https://www.christianpost.com/news/west-virginia-church-ejected-by-baptist-denomination-over-pastors-lgbt-activism-223599/

  • We’ve lost a long time friend.

    Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

    He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned, but overbearing, regulations were set in place.

    Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teenagers suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they had themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer paracetamol, sun lotion or plaster to a pupil, but could not inform the parents when a pupil became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

    Common Sense lost the will to live as churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home, but the burglar could sue you for assault because you protected yourself and your own.

    Common Sense finally passed away after a 7-year-old child was suspended from school for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

    Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I’m A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized that he was gone.

    If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

    http://nicerdays.org/3am-joke-obituary-common-sense/

  • Exactly what do you think will happen if churches start giving gay people the nod of approval? Please, be specific. Those of us who are your constant target have a right to understand the root cause of your incessant, over-exaggerated hyperventilation every time an article about homosexuality appears. What on earth are you so afraid of? Did someone hurt your feelings?

  • It’s better to not be a member of a church. That way, they don’t tell you what to think and you don’t have to try to tell them what to think. I was raised Methodist and am grateful to no longer be there for this mess. If this fight is what church is about, ditch it. You’ll have a better spiritual life elsewhere. You can give money directly to people who need it. You can volunteer with a homeless shelter, an animal shelter, Habitat for Humanity, any number of things. You can read your Bible, pray all you want, sing hymns at home. You can write about Jesus in the comment section. You do NOT have to go waste your time and money with groups who cannot think about anything but dissing the LGBT people. There is a famous religious song called “In the Garden”. Look it up. Live it.

  • Churches – or assemblies calling themselves churches – won’t change the mind of Christ than- who taught that homosexuality is a sin.
    I just don’t want to see people end up in Hell without having been warned about liars who care nothing for Christ, nor their eternity.
    Now tell me what Christ has done that you think is wrong that you want to direct those He created to love, to Hell? (edited)

  • Methodists, it’s up to you. You’re all loved and cared for by God, both gay and straight alike, okay? But this is it. You pick the Traditional Plan, you’ll get to survive, you’ll begin real healing of your wounds. Won’t be easy, but you’ll rise up. But you pick **anything** else, you are ultimately asking for THIS (and yes, I’m skipping the details, but it is an actual United Methodist location):

    http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Stull-Cemetery-cemeteries-and-graveyards-730745_700_691.jpg

    So, crunch time is near. This is your “valley of decision.” Do you want your denomination to go back to being a major Jesus salvation, sanctification and revival powerhouse, like in the days of Wesley? Or would you prefer to wind up in … the photograph?

  • If the Traditional plan is chosen, I predict that it would rend the UMC into at least two separate churches. A traditional Methodist Church, tied to an anti-LGBTQ position and a progressive Methodist Church, committed to the ministry of all the baptized, including LGBTQ folks, their ordination and their monogamous marriages. And like Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. both churches would find themselves in similar circumstances in the different parts of the world

  • I’m reminded that evil itself in all its forms is a mystery. If God enables each person each and every day to arise, go hither and yonder and do this and that, and to fall asleep, then one can reasonably conclude that God cooperates with, or concurs in, human evil since any one person can commit evil while awake. There is no universally accepted explanation/justification for evil. Truly, a mystery.

  • Sadly, the NIV has stepped farther away from the original Hebrew and Greek autographs by surrendering to and then promoting false understandings of the content of the passages in question. Adding English words and phrases that have nothing to do with translating the original language.

    An example – Lev 18:22
    The translation of this verse found in English versions is wrong. Below, we have presented the verse, and will take it apart word by word to show what it actually says.

    ואת־זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה הִוא

    V’et-zachar lo tishkav mishkvei ishah to’evah hu:

    (Transliterated using modern Israeli Sephardic pronunciation.)

    ואת – V’et – This is two words. First, ו V’, which means and. This word cannot exist by itself, and therefore is attached to the word that comes after it, that is, את – et. This word means with. So the first two words of this verse are And with.

    זכר – zachar – This word means male. Hebrew has no indefinite article (a, an), so when the definite article (the) is not used, as in this case, an indefinite article is understood for purposes of translation. Therefore, this word translates as a male. The verse so far reads And with a male.

    לא – lo – This word is the Hebrew equivalent of our words no and not. It is used in this case to negate the verb that follows it. Because English has a more complicated verb structure than Hebrew, it will take more than one English word to translate the next Hebrew word, and the not will need to go in the middle of those words, so we won’t add this word to our translation yet.

    תשכב – tishkav – This is a verb. Unlike English verbs, everything we need to know about tense and person is contained in this one word. No additional pronouns or tense markers are needed. The root of the verb is the last three letters: שכב sh-k-v, and it means lie down. The first letter of the word, ת t, is not part of the root, but indicates person and tense and even gender. To translate tishkav into English will require four words, as well as a parenthetical note to indicate the gender of the pronoun. The word translates as Thou (masculine, that is, speaking to a male) shalt lie down. The previous Hebrew word, לא lo, negated the verb, so we have And with a male thou shalt not lie down.

    משכבי – mishk’vei – This is a noun. The base form of the noun is משכב mishkav, and it can be seen that the last three letters of the base, שכב sh-k-v, are also the three letters of the verb root above, meaning lie down. This noun means bed. Hebrew nouns have more than one form. In addition to having singular and plural forms, many nouns also have absolute and construct forms. An absolute noun stands alone, with its own meaning. A construct noun is grammatically tied to the noun that follows it. In translating to English, this usually involves placing the English word “of” between the two nouns. A good example is the Hebrew בית־לחם Beit Lechem (Bethlehem), which in English translates as House of Bread. This is because the first word, בית Beit, is in the construct state. Mishk’vei is in the construct state, meaning bed of.2 It would be a good idea to explain a bit about Hebrew prepositions now: Hebrew has prepositions that correspond to ours, but doesn’t always use them the same way. For example, when people leave us, in English we will say that we miss them. But in Hebrew, the verb to miss is used with a preposition, and we say that we miss to them. The same works in reverse, that is, sometimes English requires a preposition when Hebrew doesn’t. If a preposition can be derived from context, Hebrew will sometimes leave it out. In English, we nearly always need it. Therefore, we need to insert the English word in before the words bed of, in order for the sentence to make sense in English. The verse so far reads And with a male thou shalt not lie down in bed of.

    אשה – ishah – This is the Hebrew word for woman. Since there is no definite article (the), it is understood to mean a woman. And with a male thou shalt not lie down in bed of a woman. Since bed of a woman is awkward in English, we would use our possessive case, and say “a woman’s bed.” And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman’s bed.

    Punctuation as we know it was not part of the original text. Even modern Hebrew Bibles contain only one punctuation mark, which looks like a colon ‘:’, but serves only to point out the end of a verse (but not necessarily the end of a sentence). English is very difficult to read without punctuation marks, so we insert them as we translate. After the word woman, we may insert either a semicolon, or a period, to indicate that the following words are not part of the first phrase, but simply offer further information about it. And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman’s bed;

    תועבה – to’evah – This is a noun. It translates as abomination (i.e.“a hateful thing”). Without a definite article, it translates as an abomination. Hebrew word order often varies from ours, and this is one case where this is true. In English, this will be the last word in the sentence, so we will hold off on adding it to the translation until we have finished with the next word.

    הִוא – hu – This little word serves so many purposes, not only for readers of the Hebrew text, but also for those today who wonder about the accuracy of the Hebrew text. You see, this word is a grammatical error made by Moses.3 Moses was well schooled in the arts and sciences of ancient Egypt, but not in the tongue of his own people. Although he evidently spoke Hebrew well enough to be understood, like so many today, he did not always use proper grammar. His meaning remained the same, but the grammar was wrong. Let’s say that again: His meaning remained the same, only the grammar was wrong. The word הוא hu means both he and it. It means it when applied to masculine nouns. But to’evah is a feminine noun, so Moses should have used the word היא hi, which means she and it. It means it when applied to feminine nouns. (All Hebrew nouns are either masculine or feminine; Hebrew has no neuter gender. This gender concept is grammatical in nature only, and has nothing to do with men or women, per se. For example, in Hebrew, a table is masculine, whereas, in the Romance languages, it is feminine. It has nothing to do with the nature of the table; it’s simply grammatical.)

    So what does Moses’ error do for us? It doesn’t change the meaning, as we mentioned above. It still means it. But the significant thing is that the error has never been corrected. Why? Didn’t anyone notice it? Of course, they did. But the Jewish people consider the text of the Hebrew Bible so sacred, that they will not alter even simple grammatical errors. The Jewish people considered even the shapes of the letters of the alphabet to be holy. The most they could do about the error was point it out, without correcting it. They did this by using the vowel point for the correct word with the incorrect word: הִוא The resulting word is more or less unpronounceable, but serves to alert the reader to the error. (The Hebrew alphabet itself has no vowels, only consonants. The reader was expected to be able to supply the vowel sounds from context, etc. By the early medieval period, Hebrew was developing dialects, partially due to the fact that there were no vowels to tell people how to pronounce it. The Rabbis and scholars devised a system of dots and dashes to represent vowels and alterations to consonant sounds. These vowel “points” are placed inside, above, below and next to letters, but may not touch the letters. They are not considered part of the text. Today they are used in Bibles, prayer books, song and poetry books, and children’s books, but are rarely used in newspapers, novels, etc.) And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman’s bed;

    Our next point of grammar involves the present tense forms of the verb to be. In English these forms are am, art, is and are. Hebrew has such forms,4 but almost never uses them, except in reference to God, or when absolutely necessary for context. The reason for this may be that the forms are too close to God’s name in Hebrew. While this may seem awkward to us, there are many other languages that don’t use the present tense of the verb to be. For example, Russian has become so used to ignoring the forms, that some of them are completely obsolete. (The Russian equivalent of am [есмь] can’t even be found in a dictionary or grammar book anymore.) They get along fine without those forms, and so does Hebrew. But English can’t, so we have to insert the appropriate forms when translating: And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman’s bed;it is

    Finally, we put in the words an abomination: And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman’s bed; it is an abomination. This is the correct translation of Leviticus 18:22. It can be seen that, rather than forbidding male homosexuality, it simply forbids two males to lie down in a woman’s bed, for whatever reason. Culturally, a woman’s bed was her own. Other than the woman herself, only her husband was permitted in her bed, and there were even restrictions on when he was allowed in there. Any other use of her bed would have been considered defilement. Other verses in the Law will help clarify the acceptable use of the woman’s bed (Lev. 15).

  • Common sense was lost when we allowed mentally deranged hatemongers like Sandi access to the internet to post their rantings and ravings.

  • sandinwindsor, along with floydlee and one or two others are deranged haters of gay people. They are the “God Hates Fags!” of the RNS site. For starters, they believe gays are vermin to be eradicated, and call for gays to be treated as total outcasts in all areas of life, and stripped of all of their legal and human rights. They spend every waking moment on this site just waiting to pounce on any story that mentions gay people. They are completely obsessed with all things gay, and they have spent countless hours on here spreading their hatred of gay people. If you disagree with them they will damn you to hell. They believe that they alone speak for God and have been specially appointed by God as the final arbitrators of what God says as well as the authority to damn people to hell. They are actually mentally deranged and in need of psychiatric care for their delusions and their obsessive hatred of a specific people group. They’ve succeeded in giving the RNS site the reputation as a hangout for the religious crazies and hate mongers. It will do you no good to argue with them – they’ll just damn you to hell

  • Free will. Folks can choose to do evil. Folks can choose to do good. Folks can choose not to do anything at all, which will sometimes be siding with evil and sometimes siding with good.

  • When one sins, is one really free? From a Gospel perspective, Luke 15’s three parables tell us that a sinner is “lost”. One who is “lost” is not “free”. The sinner cannot find his way back to God. The shepherd and the woman, both representing God, “rejoice” upon “finding” the lost sheep and the lost coin, both representing sinners. The father, representing God, “rejoices” over “finding” his lost son: “…your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” The sinner cannot restore himself to life or find his way back home. God initiates what is necessary to restore (spiritual) life and true freedom. However, God also knows we will sin, fall short of the moral mark. What does Jesus tell Peter and, by extension, us? Initiate forgiveness. We know from psychology that forgiving “the other” benefits the one doing the forgiving, not necessarily the offender. If God instructs us to initiate forgiveness, will God not do the same when we sin? It is God’s prior forgiveness that heals us and enables us to express our repentance. The name “Jesus” means “God saves”, not “God saves if”. God’s love is unconditional, “no strings attached”.

  • However, in the 3rd parable, the father didn’t go looking for the lost son, as the shepherd looked for the lost sheep and the woman looked for the lost coin, the son made his way back to his father on his own, instigated by his abject experience. The father didn’t find anyone, the father was accepting when the son returned.

    I think that the idea “one who is lost is not free.” is a statement that you’ve made out of whole cloth and doesn’t ring true to me.

    I’m beginning to wonder what strange theology you follow! It doesn’t sound like bog standard Christianity.

  • “Haters of gay people” is a mantra.

    It fits into this script:

    “You must comport with my views, drop 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian belief, and interpret the sin of the city Sodom to be a failure in hospitality, or you are a hater of gay people.”

    Under those circumstances most Christians accept the epithet of hater of gay people.

    From time to time gays take time out on Disqus from patting each other on the back and pointing out that “religionists” “are actually mentally deranged and in need of psychiatric care for their delusions and their obsessive hatred of a specific people group”

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/joemygod/chatter_away_overnight_open_thread_423/#comment-3987904815

    to troll religious discussions and insert drivel like that to which I am responding.

  • The churches will, like the Episcopal Church has, become post-Christian.

    They will cease calling people to a moral life.

    They will, as the Episcopal Church is in the process of doing, redefine God to suit their own purposes.

    For a view of where that leads, look to Berlin in the Weimar Republic.

  • I believe what you term “anti-LGBTQ position” is what most of Christianity calls “Christianity”.

    Oh, and what you call “progressive” most of Christianity calls “heretical” and/or “post-Christian”.

  • So, got tired of patting each other on the back over at JoeMyGod and decided to go trolling for religionists?

  • You’re likely correct. Large numbers, even a majority, doesn’t make them correct. It just means they have an opinion.

  • Absolutely.

    3,000 years means nothing at all when you have Mary Baker Eddy, David Koresh, or Joseph Smith.

  • Your opinion, but it doesn’t mean that I haven’t.

    I just don’t feel a need to reinvent the wheel when his translation and explanation of the Hebrew is so well done. Mine’s a bit rusty since seminary.

  • Don’t forget William Miller, Aimee Temple McPherson, Alexander Cambell, Barton W Stone, Jim Jones, etc, etc, etc. A lot of folks have started movements among Christians, some bad, some not so bad.

  • Christ never said a word about homosexuality and you know it. And don’t tell me that because St. Paul did therefore Jesus did too. It’s not the same. But St. Paul did tell women to keep their traps shut in church, so maybe you need to heed that and shut yours. You’d be doing everyone a favor.

  • Which does seem to indicate “Large numbers, even a majority, doesn’t make them correct. It just means they have an opinion” may not be all that well-grounded.

  • I am not even going to bother poking holes in it.

    It is the sort of half-baked gay exegesis and translation that passes for enlightened in some circles; e.g., the sin of Sodom was being inhospitable.

  • It’s one thing to do the Christian equivalent of halachic midrash — interpreting the text to derive laws and rules — but it’s another to explicitly change the translation to reflect what you think it means, especially when that translation, like the NIV, is not accompanied by the original text. Leviticus says “do not lie with.” Why are God’s own words not enough?

  • Is that you, Ms. Tuesday? Welcome! Obviously neither myself nor Sandi are “deranged haters”, so that’s that. Instead let’s look at the “God Hates” gig. Here’s a recent RNS post from me:

    “A strange theology of hatred, in which God hates you so much that you can’t even choose plain old repentance, salvation, and healing in Jesus Christ even if you WANT to choose Him — such a theology can never help anybody, gay or straight. It can only pour salt in wounds, and there’s a lotta wounded people in the house.

    So anybody who believed in John 3:16, of any flavor, HAD to repudiate the WBC message. The very few good things WBC did — (the WBC helped persuade authorities to restore order to one city’s local park that had been so wildly overrun by illicit gay “solicitation” that it was actually listed in Damron’s Address Book!) — were quickly forgotten or ignored. The “God Hates” message was just overwhelmingly wrong.”

  • It’s all very well and good, but it states in a “just so” manner that mishkav means bed, as opposed to the possibility of a sexual meaning, which is consistent with the surrounding verses, as well as with other contextual uses of mishkav, cf. Gen. 49:3.

  • Christ never taught that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, he never uttered a single word on the subject, which means you’re a liar, just like the illegitimate president you continue to defend.

  • Christ was an observant Jew.

    He specifically stated that not one jot or tittle of the Law was changed by his coming.

    Observant Jews considered homosexual relations in the same league as bestiality, an abomination.

    Christ, therefore, never specified homosexuality as a sin.

    He also never specified bestiality, incest, pederasty, fornication, or genocide as sins.

    I don’t believe you’ve got a case going there.

  • This is so simple. Just go by what the Scriptures say. Any form of homosexuality, any kind of sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is forbidden. Just obey the Scriptures. No need for conferences. Just obedience.

  • Christ was an observant Jew.

    An observant Jew who was handed over by the Jewish authorities to the Roman authorities to be killed because he was not observant enough.

    As for Jesus and Old Testament law, Jesus does say this in Matthew 5:

    Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    The commandments to which he was referring were his famous Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) from the Sermon on the Mount which directly precede the words I just quoted, not any commandment written in Old Testament Law. Thankfully Jesus does tell us which laws are the most important in his New Dispensation:

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ (Matthew 22:37)

    Those are words you latter-day Pharisees all too often ignore to the detriment of your immortal soul.

  • That it is interesting spin on the commandments he was referring to, which Christianity until the 20th century with unanimity considered to be the moral (non-cultic) law given in the initial revelation, including homosexual behavior, bestiality, incest, pederasty, fornication, and so on.

    Scrap that and you can shuffle the deck for a new deal, which of course is what led you to your current digs since “Jesus does (not) tell us which (of the moral) laws are the most important in his New Dispensation”.

    Unfortunately that has more in common with a cult than a Christian denomination.

  • Sorry, I just have to laugh a little on that one.

    Arbustin, you FINALLY got your comeuppance, just like the rest of us homophobes! So there!!

  • Billy Graham defended Richard Nixon long after the jury was in. Franklin Graham continues to defend Donald Trump long after the jury is in. Like father, like son.

  • But in addition to that, what Bob conveniently fails to mention (as usual) is that all churches are dwindling.

  • Except for the Catholics, the Southern Baptists, and the Orthodox of course.

    Worldwide the Catholics have experienced exponential growth.

  • Actually Hell was created for satan and his angels. People put themselves there though.

  • If only it was Adam and Steve in that garden! Then we wouldn’t be arguing about this all the time.

  • Then stay the hell away from Franklin Graham’s site. He advocates killing people for being gay.

  • No, homophobes just made that up for attention. That’s all you people are good for.

  • More or less exactly, so why does the NIV feel the need change the translation to “sexual relations”?

  • A problem in translation is getting the “sense” across the language barrier.

    Agree or disagree that appears to be what they were attempting.

  • That doesn’t mean being gay is a sin. And in any event, I think you misinterpreted what I was asking Sandi: why does the evangelical New International Version of the Bible feel the need to change what it supposedly believes are the infallible, inerrant words of God? It’s a rhetorical question, I get what the answer is: it’s to promote their own **interpretation** of the text.

  • In third world countries in the southern hemisphere where people can barely read. True enough.

  • Yes it is what they’re attempting. Btw, that JSTOR article indicates sort of my point: the pshat (plain meaning) of the text is to prohibit male-male anal sex, not male-male sexual relations in general. For the NIV to print the drash (interpretation) without even so much of a footnote, when they are promoting “God’s unchanging word,” is to me a questionable philosophy.

  • Charlotte, I am saved, and washed in the blood of the Lamb. Christ has me inscribed on the palm of His hand, and I will be spending eternity with Him, and not in Hell.

  • That was Christ who said that. Then He turned around and died for homosexuals so they don’t need to spend eternity in Hell.

  • Your understanding of the third parable directly contradicts not only the overall message of the three parables but, more important, v. 32 — “…he was lost and has been found.” Who did the finding?

    I did not devise the statement about the meaning of “free”. It came from my reading. If you disagree, so be it.

    Your last sentence reflects your feelings. You’re entitled to your feelings and to express them, of course, but sometimes doing so does not advance your attempt at argumentation.

  • They wanted to assure there was no misunderstanding. It is explained in the quote arb

  • The NIV tried to strike a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought or literal and phrase by phrase translations to produce a more modern English language text than the King James Version.

    It has taken a number of hits (all translations do) from critics and undergone a number of revisions.

    This discussion illustrates why one should not “proof text” from translations without some research of both the original language and the consensus interpretation at the time.

  • Who did the finding?

    Good question, because based on a plain reading of the narrative, it certainly wasn’t the dad.

  • Jesus’ words in Matt. 19:4-5 effectively kill gay marriage forever. He totally rules it out by pointing out:

    (1) Its designer and originator (the God of the Bible, who created male and female),
    (2) God’s primary ingredient of marriage (male and female, i.e. gender complementarity),
    (2) and its unique result (an actual, God-designed, God-empowered “one flesh” marital union of the two unique gender complements, which is impossible to achieve with same-sex gigs.)

    So Jesus effectively denies the legitimacy of ANY same-sex “marriage” at any time on Earth. Men and women are not interchangeable, neither on the outside nor on the inside. Gay marriage is therefore not even a marriage.

  • So you’re going to accuse Arbustin of that stuff? You may want to find some new material instead.

  • Airbustin clarified their remarks, which I misinterpreted, in case you cannot read.

  • Those are not Jesus’ words. Christianity is not even a real religion, just a bunch of lies, made up for attention.

  • Tell it to the Franciscans whose very existance was founded to serve these souls.

    You’re an elitist with likely racist tendencies who interiorly looks down at the poor and those from the Southern Hemisphere including Africa, while telling everyone you’re all about them.

  • The “dad” represents God — “based on a plain reading of the narrative,” not to mention (as I wrote earlier) this parable’s tie-in with the other two stories comprising Luke 15. Furthermore, only God can raise someone to life again (v. 32). The semicolon, used in most translations, connects two results, to wit, restoration to life and return home.

  • At this very late date, the language in the Book of Discipline is just a pejorative, crass insult that only the morally, theologically and intellectually bankrupted bigot can support.

  • Sadly, you’re so caught up in repeating yourself over & over, that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Moving on.

  • There you go again, expecting everyone to follow your religion. That’s not how the 1st Amendment works, y’know.

  • I have exactly the same question Elagabalus. There are many things that are written about in Scripture that Christians don’t follow (not wearing clothing made of mixed materials, not following most kosher laws, not keeping Saturday as the sabbath, and on and on). An, yet, the have latched on to the “prohibition against homosexuality” — something that Scripture does not even have Jesus mentioning. This preoccupation would be merely very curious if it did not cause so much pain and harm.

    How can people put all of the responsibility for this on Jesus, a man who, according to Scripture, chose to associate with and help all of those whom society rejected and who preached love of God and others, and who railed against those who were more preoccupied with the letter of the law than with treating others justly.

  • Come back and tell me that when you can actually read more than just an English translation.

  • I’m grateful you’re “moving on”.

    I was getting tired of repeatedly correcting you.

  • This is strictly an economic fight: the “progressives” in the UMC have no love for the conservatives and they really don’t want to be associated with them. However, without the one church plan, they would have to leave the UMC and start their own denomination – without any of the real estate or endowment of the UMC. If the UMC were to divvy up the resources between the progressives and the conservatives, then the progressives would not benefit from the more substantial giving made by the conservatives going forward – which would mean the ultimate demise for the new progressive denomination. Essentially, the progressives not only want to have their cake and eat it – they also want to eat the cake of the conservatives.

  • So Christ has given you a new translation because you claim to be able to read original languages, eh? He chose someone calling himself David Allen to reveal the good news that so many others – reputable people, have missed all of these years – 2000 or more of them, but He has shone the light from Heaven on you and your understanding on how people have been wrong since God must have been with Sodom and Gomorrah, as He destroyed them for their immorality – one component being homosexuality.
    So, did the Lord confess that sin to you also David, when he shone the light from Heaven on you with this new wisdom that no other person has ever seen, or probably will again, or do you just take that for granted too.
    No homosexuals were escorted out of Sodom and Gomorrah, David.

  • No, I blog under my real name. I may be one of our fellow blogger’s worst nemeses.

  • What do the scriptures say about pedophiles and sexual predators? Note that Ben in Oakland has the audacity to defend a sexual predator and pedophile who, among other things kept a boy locked in his hotel room for days while he was drugging and raping him, by asserting that his victims were “trying to find their true nature” and “searching for the right man”.

  • You are known by the company you keep. Note that Ben in Oakland has the audacity to defend a sexual predator and pedophile (on another Disqus site) who, among other things kept a boy locked in his hotel room for days while he was drugging and raping him. Ben asserted that his victims were “trying to find their true nature” and “searching for the right man”.

  • knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21English Standard Version (ESV)

  • My point is that Scripture should not always be “obey[ed]”. Scripture justified slavery, and the Christian/Catholic Church upheld its morality because of scriptural justification. It wasn’t till December 1965 that Vatican II condemned the practice. Even though Jesus approved humane treatment of obedient slaves, Christians over the centuries would increasingly call for its abolition, scriptural justification notwithstanding. Scripture should not always be the final word, as the church’s history with slavery demonstrates.

  • Enough to let you know that your ignorance gets innocent people killed. I guess you don’t care about that.

  • You’re only this great wonder in your own mind.

    The refuting is that it’s here for others to see the alternative and decide for themselves, your uneducated drivel from English translations over and over or access to scholarship from the original languages.

  • thank you but I don’t believe I am a great wonder, I just believe Christ – something you should learn to do, rather than how badly you make yourself look now, trying to write your own scripture

  • I have to laugh at the use of their term “progressive” – progressive right back to Sodom and Gomorrah and Gibeah

  • Sorry, I’ve been away from this part of the article for a few days and missed your comment on how I wait here panting for the next comment. (edited)

  • question that I don’t understand……to whom is it hateful to not want to see them die in Hell?

  • Has no one clued you in that Jesus is God and that He dictated Leviticus 18 to Moses?
    Has no one clued you in that Christ, as the 2nd person of the Trinity agreed with destroying S&G?

  • That tells you to whom they are listening deep in the conscience, eh?

    Evil always disguises itself as good, and describes good as evil.

  • What goatie evidently fails to realize is that SHE is doing the exact thing she is being critical of. She IS telling us what to do [think,] namely not to join a church. Goatie, try rereading your comment and inserting “I” or “me” in place of all the “you’s.”

  • I tried “noting” that but did not see where he did that at all. I surmise that DDT believes that arguing against A means I believe B. Also that mentioning A means I necessarily support A. Oi!

  • FriendlyGoat happens to be male, with about 40 years of church experience. People have no real way of knowing why they should be Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Adventist, Orthodox or out following millionaire mega-preachers. They are indoctrinated by the happenstance of their presence here or there. They will be more thoughtful about the whole by not having joined any one of them. Once joined, one is hooked. I was hooked for a long time. Unhooked is better.

  • Christ didn’t say I needed to understand sin to help the people have a relationship with Him.

  • The Pope has a symbol of Satan he wears on his pointed hat…both sides. The symbol of rebellion. Wonder why the early Catholic Church discarded the Book of Enoch?

  • Your push to ruin religion is rooted in your rebellion to God. It isn’t political but hate filled people like you who have an agenda to destroy society try to spin it.

  • I keep forgetting that muggles often conflate “пiggа” with “пiggeг,” and mindlessly label use of “пigga” as indicative of racist behaviour, whatever racist even means which you undoubtedly can’t provide a valid definition for. I suppose I better not use “niggardly” either, huh sweetie?

  • “Weird” or not, the Christian canonical gospels portray Jesus approving slavery. The Church used sacred scripture to approve of the practice.

    My point earlier? If a blogger tells us to “Just obey the Scriptures”, s/he can demonstrate consistency by approving a practice, e.g., slavery, that churches — including the Church of Rome — condemn today. If our fellow blogger happens to be a black person, s/he should logically (obediently?) submit to his or her master. (I doubt this individual would do so, but it just goes to show how some bloggers can be so sloppy in their commenting, i.e., not *thinking*, about the possible repercussions of what they write.)

  • Don’t have anything to give up for something I don’t think exists. No self destructive habits, mostly positive and happy things in my life.

    On the other hand, god appears to be a drug for many people.

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