Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, S.C. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

A flourishing United Methodist church considers a way out

Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, S.C., will be considering its next moves after a special session of the United Methodist Church’s legislative assembly later this month. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

LEXINGTON, S.C. (RNS) — The Rev. Jeff Kersey looks out over his massive church complex — 70 acres in all — and calls it The Promised Land.

Every Friday morning, the senior pastor of South Carolina’s largest United Methodist church walks the property with a group of men to pray over Mt. Horeb, its leaders, its message and its people.

Those prayers could soon put Kersey and his church — a thriving congregation with a $5 million annual budget —  at odds with the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination.

Later this month in St. Louis, a special session of the United Methodist Church’s legislative assembly may vote on whether to drop language in its rulebook that bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained as ministers and forbids ministers from officiating at same-sex weddings.

If it does, Mt. Horeb, a conservative evangelical church in the heart of South Carolina, 17 miles from Columbia, the state capital, will likely cut the cord.

And the denomination, which claims 7 million members in the U.S. and 12.5 million worldwide, will lose one of its most flourishing churches.


RELATED: Historic United Methodist church sees ‘hopeful’ time for LGBTQ Christians


Three years ago, Mt. Horeb built a $17 million auditorium, replete with state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities and ringed with private prayer rooms where ushers offer one-on-one intercessions for those who need it.

The congregation finished 2018 with $2.4 million over budget. It has multiple ministries dedicated to reducing poverty in the town of Lexington. And last month, when it asked 500 members to sponsor a child in a developing country, 700 signed up.

Among its members are former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who during her tenure as governor opposed gay marriage.

“Our church is thriving and growing in incredible ways because we’re faithful to Scripture and welcoming people and fulfilling the mission of God here,” Kersey said.

Mt. Horeb — the name refers to the mountain Moses descended from with the Ten Commandments — is one of many Methodist churches facing a momentous decision.

People head toward the exit through the central hallway at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

If the General Conference votes to allow individual churches to ordain and marry LGBT people — the so-called One Church Plan — more conservative churches will likely bolt. If the assembly votes to keep or strengthen the prohibitions on ordination and marriage — the so-called Traditional Plan — liberal churches may back away.

Regardless of how the vote goes, churches on either side are ready to walk.

"I have publicly on many occasions said that both sides tend to underestimate the strength of the other," said Bishop Mike Lowry of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.

Many expect the conference to be a turning point in the history of the denomination, founded in 1968 through the union of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church.


RELATED: Kenyan United Methodists oppose allowing LGBT clergy, pray for church unity worldwide


Already, an organized conservative group is waiting in the wings. The Wesleyan Covenant Association is openly working to separate from the denomination if the rulebook is amended.

The group's website describes the WCA as “a landing place” for congregations that want to maintain “an orthodox, Wesleyan Christianity.”

Some 1,500 United Methodist churches — nearly all of them in the U.S. — have joined the WCA, including Mt. Horeb.

While that’s a fraction of the denomination’s 44,000 churches worldwide (31,867 in the U.S.), many more disaffected congregations may join once the special session concludes.

Members of the WCA say they value doctrine above denominational loyalty. And that doctrine, outlined in the denomination's Book of Discipline, holds that the "practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

Holding fast to that doctrine is one of the reasons Kersey thinks Mt. Horeb has been so successful: It has remained true to Scripture amid rapid societal change.

“I’m a believer that the church has to transform the culture, not the culture transforming the church,” he said.

Kersey argues that a slide away from orthodox Christian tenets is one of the reasons for the decline of mainline denominations — most prominently the United Methodist Church in the U.S.

A 2012 study by Donald R. House found that while the United Methodist Church has suffered through decades of declining worship attendance, the rate of decline has increased markedly since 2002. By 2030, an estimated 30 percent of the denomination’s churches — or about 10,000 congregations — may close.

Other studies show that evangelical churches are also facing stiff headwinds.

Mt. Horeb appears to be bucking those trends.

The Rev. Jeff Kersey stands in the cavernous auditorium at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In November, with the blessing of his leadership team, Kersey sent out a congregation-wide letter explaining the various plans that will be up for a vote at the special session and declaring his support for the Traditional Plan, which would keep LGBT restrictions in place.

Out of a membership of close to 5,000 people, Kersey said he received three emails from people who said they disagreed with him.

Martha Thompson, who chairs the church’s leadership team and is a delegate to the special session in St. Louis, said she welcomed the letter.

“This was new to a majority of our membership. So I was glad Jeff did it,” she said. “There were some who weren’t in favor. But the overwhelming majority of people I’ve spoken to were glad that he did it."

Thompson cited the success of the monthlong Advent offering after the letter was sent as proof of the congregation’s support. The church raised $313,000 for that one offering — more than many small Methodist churches’ entire yearly budget.

Both Thompson and Kersey said they don’t want to exclude anyone.

Kersey said he recognizes that there are LGBT people attending the church and said he sees them like he sees everyone else — as people of sacred worth.

“On any given weekend here, we see people struggling with adultery, pornography, same-sex relationship," he said. "We don’t ask questions. Everyone is welcome to come here with the understanding that we’ll share with them God’s best plan for their life, which is based on our understanding of Scripture.”


RELATED: United Methodists should acknowledge reality that they are no longer united (COMMENTARY)


So far, Mt. Horeb has not taken any concrete steps to sever ties to the United Methodist Church.

Unlike some conservative churches that have withheld their allotted annual dues to the denomination, called apportionments, Mt. Horeb has faithfully paid its share (about $403,000 last year).

This weekend, the church will host some 600 United Methodists for a statewide men’s retreat. As the largest church in the state conference, it also has one of the best facilities — not to mention a ready supply of volunteers who will greet and serve participants at the meeting.

But in subtle ways, the church is readying for a split.

Though the large marquee outside the church still bears the flame and cross — the trademark symbol of the United Methodist Church — a recent website upgrade does not. The website features a mountain range, or a slanted letter M, as its logo.

The church no longer flies the United Methodist flag. And recently it dropped the flame and cross from its weekly bulletins handed out at its four Sunday services — two traditional and two contemporary.

Church leaders point out that any decision about parting from the denomination would need a two-thirds vote of the membership. Then there are thorny property and pension considerations to be worked through. (Some clergy and laity have called for a "gracious exit" plan that would provide guidelines for churches transitioning out of the denomination.)

Another group has also pleaded with delegates to the St. Louis session to defer any exit plans until after the denomination’s next regular quadrennial general session, in 2020.

But for some, the decision to leave seems just a matter of time.

“I think Mt. Horeb is getting ready to do it,” said Thompson. “That’s the direction our church is going.”

Comments

  1. Good to see a Methodist church that (finally) believes the Bible.

  2. 174 years ago the Southern Baptist Convention was formed because Southern Baptists disagreed with the American Baptists that slavery was wrong. So they formed their own church dedicated to the idea that slavery, which the Bible condones, was a good idea that ought to keep on going. The Southern Baptists are still with us, and while they can no longer profess to condone slavery, it’s safe to say that they remain a haven for people with overtly racist tendencies.

    So now, 174 years later, we have Methodists wringing their hands because gay people want to be ministers and honest about who they are (oh, the horror!) or because two people of the same sex who love each other want to get married. For these Methodists that is their bridge too far.

    As a gay person, I’m reminded literally every single day of just how much people all around the world utterly DESPISE people like me with every fiber of their being. Just now for instance, listening to NPR in my car, I was reminded with a story about the horrible conditions that exist for gay people in Chechnya. It’s so bad gay people aren’t even allowed to flee the region – that must remain so they can be tortured and killed:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/world/europe/chechnya-gay-people-russia.html

    And now I come home and read this story. Just another day in the life of a gay person struggling to survive in a hate-filled world.

  3. ” whether to drop language in its rulebook that bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained as ministers and forbids ministers from officiating at same-sex weddings.” Tell them to go to the United Church of Canada – they accept atheists teaching there.

    “If the General Conference votes to allow individual churches to ordain and marry LGBT people — the so-called One Church Plan”, they’ll stop being a church of Christ

    “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” absolutely

    ““I’m a believer that the church has to transform the culture, not the culture transforming the church,” he said.” MLK – “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state,” King wrote in Strength to Love, a sermon collection. “It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

  4. homosexuals cannot be pastors Elag. One needs to be a Christian to be a pastor in most churches.
    Marriage is reserved for a man and a woman –

    22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
    25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Ephesians 5
    No mention of anything else
    Christians don’t despise you, as much as you would like to use that excuse, they don’t want you to die in Hell

  5. Well bless your heart. In exchange for your kindness in instructing me, my maid Minnie made a nice chocolate pie with that good Mexican vanilla and a little something special. May I offer you a slice?

  6. Interesting how convinced these people are that Jesus was a bigot. Or maybe they are just projecting their own bigotry onto Jesus.

  7. Interesting how convinced you are that “these people” believe Jesus was a bigot.

    There is no evidence of that in the article.

  8. “…gay people…honest about who they are…”

    Bah!

    They are not honest about the fact that they are sinners prone to the sin of homosexuality, so NO, they are NOT honest about who they are.

  9. There will be many Methodist churches here in SC and in the rest of the South that will leave. This is a very conservative state.

  10. Yes, isn’t your state’s motto “First to secede, never surrendered?” What a source of pride that must be.

  11. There doesn’t need to be evidence in this article. People that think homosexuality is a sin claim that this is Biblical and that it comes from Jesus. They are wrong of course, it isn’t Biblical and Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

  12. It’s ‘While I Breathe I Hope’, but they are proud of their willingness to secede.

  13. Sounds like the guy who wrote Ephesians, whoever he was, was having some serious marital issues. Maybe she used the rolling pin on him once too often.

  14. Not really, I’m ashamed to tell you that I normally consider the source of the comment

  15. It was (the consensus) Paul who wrote Ephesians. He was single.

  16. Jesus said a marriage should be between a man and a woman.

  17. Would it be so hard to let individual Churches vote anonymously on this subject?

  18. A number of the leaders of the Wesleyan Covenant Association are themselves divorced-and-remarried, in some cases several times. This is straight-up contrary to the “clear teaching of Scripture” (Mark 10:2-12; Matthew 5:31-32; Luke 16:18) and the historical traditions of Methodism. Until 1940, the Discipline would not permit someone divorced to be a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, much less a minister. But shhhhhh, we’re not supposed to talk about that! Because it’s all about the homos “faithfulness to Scripture,” amirite?

  19. No.

    The Bible, both Old and New Testament, are clear in condemning homosexuality, as well as other forms of sexual immorality.

    Jesus is recorded as approving only one form of sexual expression: heterosexual marriage. He never said anything indicating approval of homosexual relationships.

    And after the New Testament, the Church – through the writings of the Church Fathers, the canons of the local and Ecumenical Councils, and through the liturgical tradition, never spoke of homosexuality as anything but a sin for the past 2000 years.

    So “People who think homosexuality is a sin” are spot on in that belief.

  20. People who teach that homosexuality is a sin stand in a 3,000 year Judeo-Christian tradition which, as a life-long atheist, you despise.

    It is Biblical and Jesus said he was not changing one jot of the Law.

    Btw, he also did not mention pederasty, bestiality, petty theft, high treason, fornication, or a host of other specific offenses.

    He didn’t have to.

  21. The saddest thing is Rick, claiming to be supporting one another, they just push each other further down the road to Hell because of their lack of honesty, or knowledge of reality.

  22. The LGBT lobby just loves to bring up divorce and remarriage.

  23. The template is the Episcopal Church, and all this has been seen before.

  24. Nah, what I love is seeing Christer wackaloons like you tie youselves in a knot to explain how you’re just spreadin the love o’ Gawd!

  25. Did you lose your way trying to find the path back to JoeMyGod, speaking of wackaloons?

  26. No no, I’m just enjoying y’all spouting off about how very committed you are to your ludicrous “faith”. Keep it up–there’s nothing funnier!

  27. “Shhhhhh”, everybody. It’s Testimony Time for LeavenedGhee:

    “Heaventree … [from] 9 months ago [to] 2 years ago … I’m a Bible-believing patriotic white Christian … I LOVE the Bible! … Solid Bible teaching is the way to go! … When I was in Sunday School [at a] Baptist Church, I seem to remember **something** about crucifixion in the Godly Christian Bible. Maybe Our Lord ‘n’ Savior Jesus Christ could recollect what it was … [Anyway] Jesus … states … in Jn 15:1 that he is a vine. No ifs, and, or buts … if you don’t believe that was literally the case, then you’re gonna roast in hell for ever and ever and ever.”

    Let’s hear it for LeavenedGhee!

  28. What a sterling example of Christian charity you are to us all, truly Christlike. It brings a tear to the eye

  29. I WANNA JOIN “Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, S.C.”!

  30. Sometime this century, people are going to find out that Conservative Religion went down the tube of worthlessness while believing that dissing and marginalizing LGBT people is the #1 purpose of Church. I am grateful to be older at this time, because it is both a sadness and a WORLD DANGER that every sharpie and manipulator on earth now knows that all you have to do to overcome free and freedom-loving people is get them to fracture and blow up Christianity on THIS magnetic mound of minutiae. They can take millions of Jesus people and transform them into Blind Bots quite simply. Putin already did it. Trump too. Now Bolsonaro. More are probably coming. Big nations fully in submission to the heist of human rights—-with WHAT exactly propounded as a replacement for Good Guy Spirit?

  31. Yawn….we just gotta hate on these Christians, we got little else going for us!

  32. You know it’s the “Last Days” when the Atheists start providing the correct Bible information.

  33. They will be disappointed when they are unable to just walk off with church property. They keep claiming that they can nuke their way through years of litigation to make it more to painful not to let them, but the episcopal church already settled such cases for us.

  34. Same tired things were said about allowing divorce, contraception, and women as pastors.

  35. If you’re looking for an evangelical Methodist denomination to join, check out the Free Methodist Church.

  36. Since reality evidently includes Hell, does it also include a talking snake?

  37. It’s just a winnowing of the wheat. These things must take place before the Heavens are rolled up. Not one dot or tittle will be left undone.

  38. Romans 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    Does it sound as though God approves of LQBTQ conduct ? I wonder. . .

  39. Actually he didn’t word it that way. Check your Bible to see what he actually said!

  40. The difference: Divorce is seen as a tragedy from which you repent and recover. Nobody has a parade to celebrate divorce.

  41. Yonat, you approach these issues with such even-handedness. Thanks for your reporting.

  42. It all depends upon the bylaws. The Episcopal Church has different bylaws than the Methodists.

  43. The Episcopal bylaws were actually based on those of the Methodists.

    And the only reason there was any litigation to begin with was because certain Episcopal churches never officially recognized those bylaws in their deeds, so they argued they were not beholden to them.

    They lost their case because breaking the organization’s requirement concerning the deed was not grounds for dismissing their claim.

  44. “Does it sounds as though God approves of LQBTQ conduct?”

    Clearly, whoever the control freak was who wrote the Letter to the Romans does not approve. Do we have any independent, third party confirmation that what the control freak claims in the letter actually reproduces God’s thoughts on the subject? Do we have any independent, third party confirmation that God Himself is a control freak?

  45. If you want to know anything about the Bible, ask an atheist, they know

  46. Iron, how can one vote on whether scripture is true or not?

  47. Odd, how they think someone not following scripture makes homosexuality an un-sin

  48. Scripture, you can spit at it, deny it, or even speak badly about it, but you cannot overcome it

  49. “you cannot overcome it”

    If this is true, then why all the fuss? What rattles True Believers is that fewer and fewer people are talking seriously those parts of Scripture that mandate bigotry, and the True Believers can no longer impose their bigotry on society as a whole.

  50. What rattles non believers is that they can refuse to believe for so long and then the Lord makes Himself known to them. Their unbelief cannot negate the reality of Christ

  51. Actually, Jesus makes Himself known to us non-believers all the time. This world is full of vulnerable people in need. As I mentioned before, just the other day I saw Jesus standing on a street corner. She was holding a “Please help” sign.

  52. must have been for you. He recognized that you need help

  53. There is it is Matthew 19, a passage about divorce, that is usually mentioned as proof that marriage is between one man and one woman. Though people need to read the full passage.

  54. I am proud to say that the UMC is my second church home, and I applaud its standings on key spiritual and cultural issues. I am a member of a fellow Wesleyan church, but the UMC comes closer to my spiritual, cultural, and societal “beliefs.” I treasure the Wesleyan via media stance.
    Please, UMC churches, don’t let charismatic leaders use fear of “the other” to divide your denomination.

  55. Sad! Jim, being conservative versus liberal or any of the other labels used to describe “the other,” doesn’t make it right to divide a via media Wesleyan denomination.

  56. I always thought Jesus made it clear the rules were here to help us not be a burden to us.

  57. That would be Paul again. The one who reiterated the ban on homosexual activity, confirmed marriage between one man and one woman put women under the headship of men. His authority includes Galatians 1:11-12:

    “11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    He also claims that Jesus came to him and revealed much to him.

  58. Do we have any independent, third-party confirmation that Paul had a revelation from Jesus? Maybe he went off the donkey head first.

  59. We’re not rattled – this is your problem. I have no issues with the growth of liberal churches.

  60. In both the OT and the NT, homosexual activity is a sin. In the NT it was Paul who condemned it as Jesus said nothing but was aware of Leviticus. One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that the Bible is inspired of god.

    I loathe the anti-gay stance but it’s in there and that’s the way it’s been for thousands of years.

  61. By becoming Biblical Christians,traditionalists can worship God any time any place without a denomination or a physical building.

  62. Lots of talk about money. Natch.

    No talk of divorce to speak of. Natch.

  63. The real difference:

    Heterosexuals can do whatever they want, divorce, remarry, divorce, remarry, as often and as badly as they wish. EVEN THOUGH KESUS SAID THAT UNLESS CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES ARE MET, MARRYING A DIVORCED WOMAN IS ADULTERY. They can repent as often as they wish, as sincerely as they wish. Sock puppet Jesus will always, always forgive them.

    But I’m ou’re right. No parade. Just ignoring the clear cord of Jesus himself when it applies to you.

  64. Funny they were nowhere to be found a few years back when a few states were working on “covenant marriage,” trying to stem the tide of rampant divorce. All I heard was a lot of liberal caterwauling about how the bad ol’ Christians want to drag women back the dark ages or somesuch foolishness.

    If there’s a lesson to be learned from the way the church has been battered by easy divorce and remarriage is that we should be as wary of flouting God’s laws as we would be of a rattlesnake. The proper response to sin in our midst is not to condone and celebrate more sin. It is repentance and renewal of our commitments to the lord Jesus and to each other.

  65. When asked why He repudiated divorce, He referred His interlocutors back to the original creation design in which God created male and female and joined them together to permanently become one flesh in the form of their mutual offspring. Divorce, therefore, is wrong because it does not comport with that design. The Church repudiates polygamy for the same reason.

  66. Christ said to follow Him, which entails following what He taught

  67. susan, sorry, got confused there – there is also:

    1 Corinthians 7 – Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”

  68. Written by Luke:

    Saul’s Conversion

    9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

    5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

    “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

    7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

  69. Read your comment, and 2 questions:
    1. What is ‘the Wesleyan via media stance’?
    2. What do you mean by, “fear of the other”?

  70. We need to understand one thing:

    The LGBT lobby is not interested in improving society, anyone else’s rights, the long-range future, or any things of those kinds.

    It is interested in getting what it wants, right friggin’ now, come hell or high water, over your dead body if need be, and getting a leg up on those “Christers” and others who annoy.

    To read the eyewash from the LGBT lobby is to see the eyewash from the pro-abortion retreaded is to see the Nazi eyewash about the value of lives retreaded.

  71. “Their unbelief cannot negate the reality of Christ”

    Correction . . . Your belief cannot negate the reality of delusion/fantasy/hallucination.

  72. The Acts of the Apostles is not an independent, third party confirmation. Luke, after all, was one of Paul’s devoted and loyal companions.

  73. They may be based on them, but the outcome will be determined by how exactly the Methodists worded their own version.

  74. “The Episcopal bylaws were actually based on those of the Methodists.”

    In a word, “no”. The Episcopal Church preceded the Methodist Church.

    “And the only reason there was any litigation to begin with was because
    certain Episcopal churches never officially recognized those bylaws in
    their deeds, so they argued they were not beholden to them.”

    Also incorrect.

    The status of the ownership of individual parishes depends on the origin of the parish itself and the laws of the state in which it is located.

    A number of parishes in original colonial states owned the property and buildings outright and, after the ordination of women began, separated themselves from their Episcopal diocese. The only remedy was for the diocesan to terminate the priest, which simply meant the priest and parish would associate with one of the Continuing Churches.

    Newer parishes were often built with diocesan loans and the diocese kept a legal interest in the property and buildings.

    As a result, the Episcopal Church adopted the Dennis Canon was adopted in 1979

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Canon

    seeking to impose a trust, in favor of the Episcopal Church, on property held by a local group of Episcopal adherents to discourage a local group from withdrawing from the Episcopal Church.

    As the article notes, the results have been mixed.

  75. Do you have a certificate demonstrating that you’re of sound mind?

  76. The full passage supports the conclusion that marriage is between one man and one woman.

  77. Did you read about God hating divorce at JoeMyGod or did you buy a “Son O’ God” comic book?

    Generally speaking the notion that “Heterosexuals can do whatever they want”, except in a few sects like the Episcopal Church, seems to be the result of a fevered imagination.

  78. Homosexuality is not sin. What is sinful is to judge. That’s repeated many times in the Gospel. You might want to take note.

  79. “Look to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” Luke 17:3.

  80. Well, Pierre, since I am sitting in an airport with nothing better to do, I will take the trouble to inform you concerning the religious ignorance you so frequently display. Normally, I don’t bother, but I am bored.

    Malachi 2:15…

    15 Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his.[b] And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!”[c] says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,[d]” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

    But I’m sure, in keeping with how you and your fellow travelers will pervert your own holy book to your own unholy purposes, it must mean something else entirely.

  81. Sabbath was made for humanity not humanity for the sabbath.

  82. Jim, Jim, Jim. You messin’ up, dude. The PC-Police knows how to deal with uppity atheists.

    When Nancy Pelosi’s little “Equality Act” becomes law someday, Goliath gonna sizzle YOUR bacon too, just like all these No-good, Bible-believing Christians a-running around here!!

  83. The Methodist bylaw, called the “trust clause,” has its origins in the 1797 “Model Deed.” I think we can determine which came first.

  84. So gay people are “welcome” at Mt. Horeb as long as they understand their second-class status and that the church considers them to be the same as murderers and rapists. I mean, with a generous offer like that, who could refuse?

  85. And if Evangelicals had their way in America, gay people would be hunted down, tortured and killed here too. They would be every bit as cruel and inhumane as Chechnya or any Muslim nation. They can’t do it in America, so they go to other countries to help them write laws singling out gay people for arrest, imprisonment and execution.

  86. One thing I’ve noticed all my life is that conservative Christians are often incredibly sure that they know the mind of God completely. Their interpretation of the Bible is the only one that matters, is the only one that is correct, and it is definitely the one that they will push on others. They have learned that Christianity is a weapon that is to be used to beat on others, but when it comes to them or their own it is the salve of healing and forgiveness. They don’t look at the log in their own eye, but constantly see the sliver in the eye of another. And they love to talk about how they take the Bible literally, while refusing to acknowledge that there is no such thing as a literalist and everyone interprets. And their thinking is highly crystallized and inflexible and their minds are closed as are their hearts. And, of course, they love to talk about how the Bible is the word of God without consideration of the fact that Jesus said nothing about sending a book, but did talk about sending a “counselor” who we interpret as the Holy Spirit. It threatens them to think the Bible is a book written by ancient people trying to understand God and failing. It’s a wonderful resource, but it is not the one and only word of God. Thinking that it is is called Bible worship and it puts that book above the Holy Spirit, Christ, and God himself.

    Here’s the bottom line. God made us all. He loves us all. If you’re looking at other people and saying that they are sinful and they’re going to hell because they’re gay, then you’re not learning much from the history religion where religious people have been wrong time and time again. They have been ignorant time and time again. And that ignorance has led them down dark paths. Why can’t people figure that out? Why can’t they acknowledge and follow the last and greatest commandment that Jesus gave, which was “love one another.” We’re all sinners and imperfect, so let God do the judging. The job is really above our paygrade and the Bible specifically warns against it.

  87. Wisely you avoided addressing “Generally speaking the notion that “Heterosexuals can do whatever they want”, except in a few sects like the Episcopal Church, seems to be the result of a fevered imagination.”

    In your post

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/religionnews/a_flourishing_united_methodist_church_considers_a_way_out/#comment-4337860833

    your wrote:

    “JESUS SAID THAT UNLESS CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES ARE MET, MARRYING A DIVORCED WOMAN IS ADULTERY”

    and now you provide Malachi written somewhere between 500 BCE and 400 BCE, a bit earlier than JESUS.

    Of course my point was that you’re citing Scriptures at all – given that you’re a self-described atheist, opponent of “Christianists”, was well-described by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice:

    “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
    An evil soul producing holy witness
    Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
    A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
    O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”

  88. The Episcopal Church does not fit the definition of a “sect” though its clear you intended to use that term not as an accurate description, but as a mild insult.

  89. Actually Jim there are problems with the passages by Paul in Corinthians, Timothy and Romans. Corinthians and Timothy according to some scholars are talking about pedofilia and catamounts. In Romans he is saying the cost of sin is that men and women will trade natural sex for unnatural sex! The “unnatural” sex isn’t the sin it is the cost of committing a sin!

    Leviticus is a whole collection of dos and do nots with no emphasis placed on any one over another. To claim that the passages “man shall not lie with man as with woman” must be obeyed and the others can be ignored is to be hypocritical. But into all of it or reject all of it!

    The passage many point to from Jesus about man marrying woman is actually a passage about divorce Mathew 19.

  90. I disagree.

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sect

    sect – noun

    A group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.

    ***

    Since 1976 the Episcopal Church, along with downsizing to about half the size it was then, has acted alone – at times despite Anglican censure – to promote the ordination of women, abortion, same-sex marriage, and so on.

    Vis a vis the larger group of Anglicans to which it belongs it is a sect.

  91. Evidently it means we should toss out the guidebook when we reallly really wanna.

    I bet Jesus really really wanted to bypass the cross, too.

  92. If you mean “catamites,” and not large cats (which would take us down a different road, of course)…there is a koine greek word for the practice to which you’re referring, and it isn’t the far more general one Paul used.

    The cost of willfully committing the sin is that God gives you up to it and allows you to be overcome and enslaved by it.

    As far as Leviticus goes, you are another one who evidently needs to be schooled about the Jerusalem Council and Noahide law.

  93. We have to work grounds Jesus is breaking these rules he points out examples of other people breaking rules when they are a burden rather than a blessing.

  94. They aren’t second class. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They just need to repent of their sin, like every other Christian did

  95. Jesus said David was right to break the rules when they caused nothing but suffering.

  96. but we do not neglect the assembling

    Hebrews 10:25 King James Version (KJV)

    25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

  97. Any documentation to say he is a “control freak”?

  98. Mark, I’m praying for the Episcopal church at this time.
    There is a segment trying to return the assembly to Christian values. One outstanding Bishop – Love – is standing up to Curry and the apostates and He really needs our prayers. There are several segments of the church standing with Bishop Love, and they need as much help as we can give them, starting with prayer.

  99. homosexuality is a sin:

    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22
    If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13
    Christ condemned it throughout the Bible

  100. Jesus never said David was right to break the rules about the showbread.

    What He said was that the Pharisees were hypocrites for revering David, who broke the actual law in this and some other ways, yet nit-picking at Him and His disciples for plucking a few heads of grain to eat which was NOT unlawful under the Torah at all, merely a rabbinical rule.

  101. You obviously don’t understand common English. As I said either you accept all of Leviticus or you reject it all. WHICH is in line with the Jerusalem Council! So perhaps you are the one that needs to educate yourself.

  102. Go to Acts 15 and read about what the Jerusalem Council decided about Gentile Christians and the Torah. There will be a quiz…

  103. That does not adjudicate what Jesus taught about Gods rules.

  104. Well for starters, sleeping with another man’s wife and arranging his death…

  105. Perhaps this will help you, iron:

    Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”


    John 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

    1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

    Christ commanded “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22

  106. Clever evasion.

    Any independent, third party documentation to prove that whoever wrote the Letter to the Romans was speaking on God’s behalf?

    If we are to believe the letter, “God gave them over to shameful lusts”. So according to the letter, their participation in shameful lusts is God’s doing. Is this another example of God forgetting to use his higher level critical thinking skills? Or is the writer of the letter forgetting to use his?

  107. Don’t need third party. The last time I tried to help you with that, you didn’t understand it.
    God gave them over to shameful lusts meaning, He abandoned them to their fallacies

  108. Please get serious. Jesus magnified the Ten Commandments such that any sexual activity (even lustful thoughts!) outside a man-woman marriage is adultery. Therefore, no one can boast they are without sin.

  109. “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”- Mark Twain

  110. LOL! Scared? I would be too if I were you.

    I’m still waiting for you to supply the koine Greek word for pedophilia that you almost tried to pass off as the word for homosexuality several months ago, then chickened out of specifying it when you realized how obvious its etymology was.

  111. “So they [Southern Baptists] formed their own church dedicated to the idea that slavery, which the Bible condones…”
    The Bible reports slavery as a part of everyday existence in the ancient world; it does not “condone” it as a great idea.
    Please quit projecting your own prejudices into Biblical interpretation — which is precisely what Baptists did 174 years ago!

  112. Wait. You expect a religious body to conform to your beliefs? Why even considering joining such a body?
    Why haven’t you established your own church? Or is it the friction against those you despise the point of all this?

  113. Mt. Horeb Church is to the UMC what Sen. Manchin (D-WV) is to the Democrat Party — a remnant of sanity and pro-American values.

  114. I did not know it was an issue; Which liberal churches are growing?

  115. I’m all for Bishop Love, but to the old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” we can add “The smart left a long time ago.”

    After 1980 any evangelical or Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian who hung around was living in a delusion.

  116. Some of those dissenting churches may be trying to bring the church back to reality. I don’t know if it can be done with a majority that has gone apostate/heretical or not, but with God, nothing is impossible, and this assembly certainly needs His help – they are leading far too many people to Hell

  117. ” They don’t look at the log in their own eye, but constantly see the sliver in the eye of another. ” good thing you don’t do that
    “And their thinking is highly crystallized and inflexible and their minds are closed as are their hearts. ” Keep sharing the love, my friend
    “Jesus said nothing about sending a book, but did talk about sending a “counselor” who we interpret as the Holy Spirit. It threatens them to think the Bible is a book written by ancient people trying to understand God and failing.” l Gosh, you mean Paul – commissioned and taught by Christ did want Paul to write letters to the churches?
    “He loves us all. If you’re looking at other people and saying that they are sinful and they’re going to hell because they’re gay, ” Christians don’t have to say it, Christ did for us:

    Leviticus 18:22 – 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

    Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
    as far as “love one another”, you missed some of that quote:

    Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”


    John 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

    1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

    Christ commanded “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22

  118. The dilemma of preserving one’s conscience within a liberal church body hit home for me!
    The only thing sadder than watching churches die is watching them remain ignorant as to why they perish. I was baptized and confirmed into what is now a part of (liberal) mainstream Protestantism—the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA]. There I learned the richness of faith and the Scriptures, the significance of Jesus, and the Creeds.
    Since the 1960s, its “Christianity” consisted of lockstep kowtowing to the left-wing platform of the Democrat Party (those guys who now even boo the name of God), chock-full-of saccharine pieties under euphemisms like social justice, equality, reproductive justice, economic justice, and fair share. Those were merely clever masquerades for a toxic blend of “blame America first” screeds, socialist activism, abortion-on-demand, discriminatory racial quotas, LGBTQ-mania and hostility to free enterprise now supplemented with fascist street displays to enforce these ideas.
    The socialist economic model (which has historically always failed) was covered by a holy veneer: Jesus had morphed into a barefoot Marxist hawking mainly “economic justice”. The response of congregations within liberal Protestant churches? An unprecedented stampede —- right out the front door. Sanctimony is useless when it yields no results or manufactures new lies to preserve its credo-impoverished existence. Or maybe they merely suffer from bad karma.

  119. Thank you for the link!
    Not at all surprising: It’s the old “If Jesus were around today, he’d be a loyal Democrat.”
    The giveaway was the name of socialist Jim Wallis (who reveres Obama) among the clergy signees.

  120. From where I’m sitting, and I’ve been watching it at varying degrees of closeness for 45 years or so, for the Episcopal Church the party is already over, they just haven’t figured it out.

    The church is nearing bankruptcy, has lost half its membership, is considering selling its NYC headquarters, is in a state of non-communion with other Anglican churches, and over half its membership is disaffected former Catholics.

    The Catholic Church has made it relatively easy for Anglicans to become Catholics, there are some sound Continuing churches in intercommunion with other Anglican churches, and there are some doubts as to who is going to attend the next Lambeth Conference in 2020.

    The conference for 2018 was not scheduled because the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was not reasonably certain that the majority would attend a primates meeting.

    Anglican strength now lies in Africa, and there appears to be a new Reformation recentering Anglicanism there.

  121. As the Church decided, the moral laws in Leviticus bind Christians, the cultic laws do not, and “either you accept all of Leviticus or you reject it all” is just plain silly.

  122. Ironically you have quoted part of the Bible that some people are using to justify allowing gay marriage.

  123. I’ve gotten a glimmer of hope after correspondence with a few people, Mark.
    You may very well be correct, but these people, and Bishop Love, have given me a lot of incentive to pray for the assembly – lol – gosh, I’ve even stopped condemning the assembly because of the correspondence! lol.
    I won’t back down on curry being a heretic, whatsoever, but I think I’m going to pray for the Lord to show us He can bring a lost assembly back to Him – even if they need to start a new
    church to shake the dust off the episcopals.
    Sounds like the United Methodists need prayer also.
    We just cannot sit back and let satan take them over without a good fight.

  124. Susan has been trying this bluff game for as long as I’ve read.

    She copies some ditty off Alternet or other such source, and then finds out that the material is LBGT or other propaganda based on nonsense.

  125. I was mistaken that Jesus made no other examples when teaching that humanity is Master of the Sabbath.

    It is curious though that he held up in example I’ve one of us for Bears engaging in actions contrary to Jewish law which didn’t even have to do with the Sabbath.

    What make you of that?

  126. No, it does not justify homosexual marriage Iron. If one loves Christ they will do as He commanded. He condemned homosexuality. He taught that marriage is a man and a woman.

  127. Curry loves the job, loves the benefits, and loves the pulpit.

    If only he loved the Faith.

  128. You may not have noticed but I didn’t say I was one of them.

  129. They are welcome to be Christians.

    Same sex physical congress conflicts with being Christians.

    That’s a problem for you?

    Don’t join.

  130. “God gave them over to their shameful lusts” does NOT mean that their shameful lusts are God’s doing.

    It means that they chose shameful lusts, and when they would not reform, they were no longer in a relationship with God.

  131. So how many have they hunted down, tortured, and killed here so far?

    My, my, what a fevered imagination.

  132. Every time you throw “according to
    some scholars” into one of your zany attempts at exegesis we find out it’s some LGBT “scholar” that no one takes seriously.

    Give us ONE source for this.

  133. If he only loved Christ. I’m trying very hard not to get on my soap box about him……

  134. The kindest contemporary description of the the Episcopal Church is “the United Way at prayer”.
    We should pray for all Anglicans who endeavor to “keep the faith handed to the Apostles”.

  135. Big difference: The divorced often seek to repent, make amends and move on.
    They do not seek to sanctify their behavior.

  136. “And if Evangelicals had their way in America, gay people would be hunted down, tortured and killed here too…”
    Outside of the Westboro Baptist looneys, I know of no evangelicals who advocate that.
    However, I understand the Iranian government offers free skydiving lessons* to all who identity as gay!
    *without parachute

  137. Wow, where’s the compassion and love of Christ in any of these comments? What we have, as I’ve read and tend to agree with, is another round in the fight between Pelageus and Augustine that’s been going on since the 4th century. There’s a lot of theology behind all of this, and it’s not just who’s gaining members and who’s losing. The Coliseum was full when the Christians were fed to the lions but that doesn’t make the Romans right.

  138. Christ is with us whenever two or three are gathered (Matthew 18:20).

  139. Indeed, I’ll try a simpler version. It looks like Jesus is saying if the circumstances are right humans should suspend or possibly discontinue adhering to Old Testament rules.

  140. Like I already said, He said nothing about discontinuing any rules — provided they are actual Torah and not something the rabbis made up.

    If you go back to Samuel and read about the actual incident, you’ll find that the high priest who gave the showbread to David was killed shortly thereafter.

    The gist of it is still that the Pharisees were able to hold David blameless for breaking an actual law, but were blaming Jesus and His disciples for breaking no law at all. They were phonies.

    Remember what David’s son later wrote: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.” Prov. 16:2. Rationalize at your own peril.

  141. I seriously doubt there is any more need for same sex practice now than there was in either Moses’ or Jesus’ day. Probably the percentage of people who “really wanna” is about the same today as it was then.

  142. In Moses’s time a person who couldn’t reproduce was a danger since they still consumed resources.

  143. A person who will not reproduce, as Western Europe and Japan are discovering, still consumes resources without replacing his own labor and revenue.

    Please do not posit immigration as a solution, as this is merely kicking the can down the road. The undeveloped world will not remain so forever, and their people will eventually flee parenthood and responsibility as well.

  144. Thanks for proving my point. You want to persecute others, not love them. “Love one another” was what Christ said when his death was near. All you can do is use a selective reading to pass judgement on others and condemn them, something the Bible says not to do. I’m sure that makes you feel superior and righteous. Do you have the same attitude towards divorce and people eating shellfish and the requirements for women on their periods or do you just use the Bible when you want to justify your hatred and bigotry?

  145. Have you any idea how many children we have in the foster care system just in America?

  146. Have you any idea how many unwanted children were thrown to the wild animals (the pre-Imago Dei alternative to foster care) in the 1st century when Paul was giving the Gentile believers of Corinth the news about same-sex practice being wrong?

  147. Glad to hear you say that yes there are a lot of children in foster care.

    what’s more Christianity is now one of the widest spread religions on the planet.

    There is no danger of our ways going extinct from lack of reproduction.

  148. Well that’s refreshing. Around here I’m used to hearing the 2000-year-old news flash about Christianity’s imminent demise.

  149. Do your own research Shawnie. Or are you afraid of what you might find. Try googling Malakoi and Arsenakatoi

  150. Malakoi and Arsenakatoi were taken care of over a year ago.

    You were told you were FOS, that this interpretation was the work of fringe “queer” theologians, and yet here they are again.

    Rather than wasting time popping those particular balloons again, here is the answer:

    https://www{DOT}equip.org/article/is-arsenokoitai-really-that-mysterious/

    https://evangelicalbible.com/apologetics/homosexuality-the-christian-perspective/

    In checking this just now, I see your take on it at websites like “queergrace” and “gaychristian”.

    The suggested exegesis has zero history earlier than the mid-1950s at the beginning of the LGBT lobbying.

    Try explicating atheism. You probably can score higher on that than on scriptural exegesis or theology.

  151. We did this several months ago, too. I told you exactly what those were. I’ve done all my own research on all this, now we all want to examine yours. How about you look up and report on the decisions of the Jerusalem Council? How about you supply that word for pedophilia that you claimed was the word for homosexuality, so it can be taken apart in open view?

    Scared? I don’t blame you.

  152. Looks like you beat me to it.

    We did this same song and dance way back when, and she ran out on her argument then, too. Most gay apologists are (understandably) terrified to offer any but the most superficial of arguments — certified by unspecified “top men,” of course.

  153. Yes, I really do recall this EXACT go around.

    What it is interesting is that she made the EXACT claim, got the EXACT response, and a year or two later here it is again.

    The topic, of course, is:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_curve

    and in this case it apparently is a proof that at least one old dog can’t learn new tricks.

  154. I would suggest before you try to judge me further, you read a Bible

  155. This footnote would’ve added a nice touch of transparency & credibility to your call for diplomacy and not taking sides and for not missing them “lions” too much:

    “Michele … 6 years ago … I don’t want to be endorsed, I want to be loved and respected for who I am, and I want to be treated like everyone else … I want to be able to be as open with the person I love … Being lesbian isn’t about what I do, it’s about who I am”.

  156. Do you really believe that? Even here in redneck country the conservative Christians are happy to have Hell as the final solution and I don’t know any (these days) that are that drastic about punishing them on Earth except denying them dignity and equality. I’ve been here since 1972. Times have changed, even in the provinces.

  157. This often happens when atheists in particular try to argue this from the Bible. They of course have no interest in the biblical truth of their position but are merely seeking to persuade those who do not know any better. If a vague and unsupported theory with unspecified “top men” as the authority will suffice for that purpose, they’ll repeat it whenever and wherever it might convince someone.

    Those who desire the biblical truth of the matter, of course, require more than that.

  158. Our correspondent can always be counted on to access the same websites for the same canned blather, which means it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel.

  159. Yes, my wife is currently going through the ordination process. In fact, denominational founder B.T. Roberts wrote a book titled “Ordaining Women” in 1891.

  160. Yes, my wife is currently going through the ordination process. Denominational founder B.T. Roberts wrote and published a book titled “Ordaining Women” in 1891.

  161. Does man have the right to redefine what God has characterized as sin? Clearly not. Yet that is what is being contemplated here – and has been done by other Protestant denominations. Can an exultation of sin be a matter of ‘choice’ made by individuals in a Christian church’s leadership? No. But that’s what the Methodist Council of Bishops seems to advocate.

    When Jesus was able to get all the scribes and Pharisees to drop their stones and walk away from the adulteress, He didn’t turn to her and say: “enjoy your perfectly acceptable alternative sexual relationship!” No. After telling the woman that he would not condemn her, Jesus told her to “go, and sin no more.”

    We should learn from this story (John 8). We must not condemn our homosexual brothers and sisters. We are all sinners. But we all must acknowledge homosexuality as a sin – and not give homosexuality an official seal of approval through ordination or marriage.

  162. John 8 (the story of the adulteress presented to Jesus by the Pharisees on the Temple Mount)

    Jesus persuaded the Pharisees to drop their stones and walk away.
    He then told the adulteress that he would not condemn her, then told her to go and sin no more.

    A great model for us Christians to utilize when contemplating human sexuality and sin.

    I, as a Christian, do not condemn those who engage in homosexuality. But to be true to Scripture, Christians must acknowledge the practice as sinful and encourage practicing homosexuals to stop the sinful behavior.

  163. Gay people would and should be as welcome as those who participate in other forms of sexual immorality, such as adultery, polygamy, incest. For that matter, gay people would and should be as welcome as those practicing financial crimes.

    So, just like a church shouldn’t hire the member that continues to steal and embezzle to be the church’s financial secretary, the church shouldn’t marry or ordain those members practicing sexual immorality.

  164. No, it’s not sinful. Being gay is not a choice. It’s just the way they are like I am straight. I made no choice, it was just that I started looking at girls in a whole new way at some point. People used to use the Bible to justify slavery. They were wrong, just as you are.

  165. This is the issue that pushed me toward the Catholic Church, whose teachings on human sexuality are the only ones that are consistent. Of course, in practice, there are all kinds of problems going on in the Church, because we are all fallible humans; but the Church’s unchanging teaching on sexuality (marriage, divorce, contraception, homosexuality, etc) reflects the light of Jesus Christ and the fact that the Church that Jesus established has never ceased to exist, and never will. The “escape route” from denominational madness and ever-increasing fragmentation leads to Rome. I have been a Catholic now for about 6 years, and I am now beginning to understand “peace that transcends all understanding”

  166. Of course it’s sinful. Even Jesus indicated that all forms of sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage made someone ‘unclean’.

    See Matthew 15: 17-20 (NIV)

    “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

    See also Mark 7: 18-23 (NIV)

    “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

    By asserting that ‘adultery’ and ‘sexual immorality’ are both unclean activites, Jesus reiterated that all forms of sexual immorality set forth in the Old Testament were still sinful.

    You may have a strong disposition toward any form of sexual sin, but you sin when you act on that disposition. According to scripture, we must accept our sin and seek forgiveness for our sin.

  167. For me, it all comes down to love. Love God with all you are. Love your neighbor as yourself. We are not told to love those who fit our conditions. We are told to love all. When denominations start to exclude people because of their color or their gender or ANYTHING ELSE, we fail to follow that commandment.

    God made some people homosexual. Who would choose a life where they are constantly condemned and even brutalized? No, it’s not a choice.

    We can use Scripture to justify almost anything. Want to murder babies? Psalm 137:9. Gather slaves? Kill innocent bystanders? It’s all there.

    Choosing to exclude and child of God is anti-Christian.

  168. Hi Duane,
    Your are certainly not alone in your beliefs–especially the “love” part.

    Universal love is correct–the application always calls for wisdom.

    Denominations excluding people who act homosexually? Who –which might this be?
    “God made some people homosexual” ? What?

    Did God make some people liars? Some adulterers? Some gossips? Some thieves? Some slave owners? Some who are not their physical gender? (if so–then they all get flags, parades and pseudo-supporters who need to feel a vicarious importance for being “loving”)

    God is getting a lot of credit these days for very odd things, including bad belief–which always precedes bad behavior.

    Reality#1
    Homosecuality is a behavior–not a new type of human being.
    Homosexual is an adverb–not a noun.
    Homosexuality is always a choice because it is a behavior, not a genetic predisposition.

    People acting out homosexually are condemned and conflicted enough within on their own without hatred from others.
    Homosexual behavior, just like adulterous behavior, is never condoned in the scriptures by God, though always forgivable where repentance is made.

    True compassion is telling the truth. Such love and truth are inseparable.
    https://openhandspublications.com/2019/01/29/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-gay/

  169. You’re right, which is why statically the church doesn’t stand out on the matter of divorce when we should. In my annual conference there were people who tried to pass some rules about marriage and divorce through the church to send to general conference 2016. Sadly their very good work didn’t pass, mostly because people did not seem to understand that the covenant with God in Christians marriage is not the same as the certificate you get from the court house. I would say there are many things that we have given into culturally and we need to turn the tide. Bring back accountability through classes and Bands. Work to reduce divorce, first by better teaching what marriage is from the Christian perspective and why God hates divorce so much. I wasn’t old enough to be there to make the decision to let divorce slide in churches- but I am here now with many others to call the church back to joyful obedience to the One God who gave up all of himself for us. We also give into the culture of the American dream with materialism and hedonism seeping into how we do life. I’m not saying we should be poor, but I am also saying we are blessed to be a blessing and I’m not sure the church is living it. We are called to care for the orphan, but in our “Christian Country” foster kids have no where to go. And there is so much more. But rather than say- you don’t follow this part of the word, so why should I follow what is hard for me- we should be saying – following God is hard, let us hold on another accountable in love and strive with the help of the Spirit towards holy perfections. That friends would be much closer to the heart of the word and I think of Wesley’s theology.

  170. Rumor is that John Wesley may show up to vote. His stance is:

    “I will be recommending another Commission to study why an omission of all things biblical concerning the potential attempt at normalization of homosexual behavior (just like adultery and other destructive behaviors mentioned in the scriptures) can be anything other than delinquent and abhorrent — much less celebrated by appointing any clergy/leader/pulpiteer openly–proudly engaging in–supportive of– these behaviors.

    Homosexual is an adverb–not a noun or a new form of human being. There is no such thing as an Adulterous or Homosexual Christian–only Christians who, if they act out such sinful desires, will meet the discipline and reproof of a loving God (Hebrews 12) and hopefully the correction of loving brothers and sisters in a body called the church.”

    As we are seeing, the Pastorate and Priesthood are presently professions left open to the unrepentant and unvetted and uncalled and likely unsaved. God save the Methodist church from heresy, unbelief, further destruction and further loss of witness to a lost world.

    https://openhandspublications.com/2018/08/03/local-methodist-pastor-dr-lemon-is-hurt-and-crushed-he-even-cried/

  171. Reading these comments, it is obvious that there are deep divisions in the Methodist church. Both sides are convinced of their righteousness and there is little chance of either side changing the others mind. Regardless of whether the One Church Plan or the Traditional Plan is adopted there should be a mechanism provided for churches, or whole conferences, to exist the UMC and form a new denomination. There are 5 different plans to do this, which will be voted on at the St. Louis conference, starting next week. Ultimately the people will vote, either with their feet or by an orderly and respectful separation.

  172. they do wonderful works, Sir – and there are many Christians within this system.
    but satan too quotes the Bible and mixes Truth with error.

    ‘Beware the wolf in sheeps clothing – Jesus Christ

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