An Open Letter to Revs. Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter

Dear Adam and Mike,

We appreciate your attempt to present a proposal that “is a better way forward than the current impasse or the division of The United Methodist Church” over the issue of biblical interpretation related to homosexuality. We especially appreciate that you have identified with us that the current situation in The United Methodist Church is untenable, with the growing refusal of parts of the church to live within our covenant of support and accountability.  But with all due respect, your proposal will only extend, localize and exacerbate the acrimonious debate over the issue by forcing every congregation and annual conference to continue arguing about it for years to come. Your solution would pit many pastors against laity in local churches, friends against friends in our congregations, members against members at every annual conference, and bishops against pastors in the appointive process, all without any assurance that it will really resolve the issue.

Adam and Mike, what you propose is a fundamental shift of The United Methodist Church’s connectional polity to a congregational model, and this is being proposed in order to solve one issue.  We are a United Methodist Church.  Your plan would remove our UM DNA and replace it with a form of church government that Methodists have always thought lacking.  This plan would add major complications to our system of itinerancy as bishops seek to match pastors willing to perform same-sex unions with supportive congregations. Bishops would be called upon to referee disputes between pastors advocating for a liberalizing view of homosexuality and congregations that support our present teachings. Clergy ordained in one annual conference of the church may no longer be acceptable for ministry in other conferences. Our connection to one another would be undermined by significant variations in teaching and practice, as well as constant continuing conflict. We believe our polity is a sound one; it is not the source of our present crisis. Rather, there are two sources for the crisis in which we find ourselves: progressives who willfully disregard the teachings of our church, and bishops who enable their disobedience by refusing to hold them accountable to our polity. We believe United Methodist doctrine, polity and practice are sound and enduring, and we see no reason to change them simply because others are unwilling to live by them.

This plan would also do great harm to the vast majority of our local churches that adhere to United Methodism’s teachings on this matter. Presently, we can say to members who are dismayed and frustrated with clergy who violate the Discipline and bishops who do not enforce it, that our church has compassionate, biblical statements on sexuality, and that we are working for unity around them. However, under this new proposal, traditionalist clergy would have to tell our members that the UM Church does condone the practice of homosexuality, despite what our official stance says.  At that point, many of our members would leave because they would believe that the church had left them.  A two-minded approach would result in an increased decline in memberships and a concomitant reduction in support and enthusiasm for our God-given mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Furthermore, our brothers and sisters in many of the central conferences, representing almost half of the denomination, have told us how a change in our present position would be devastating to their witness.  A first-world solution to our division would be harmful to United Methodists in other parts of the world, many of whom live in an environment hostile to Christianity.  Hearing that United Methodism condones same-sex marriage and ordains practicing homosexuals would only increase the adversity under which many of them labor and potentially expose them to harm.

In addition, this new proposal to allow annual conferences “to determine whether they will or will not ordain self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” would create years of bitter infighting in our annual conferences. Where progressives are in the minority, they would continue, on an annual basis, to bring petitions calling for the full inclusion of openly gay pastors and the approval of same-sex marriage. Far from getting us around or through the current impasse, this plan would exacerbate it and make it the central focus of many annual conferences for decades to come, diverting time and resources from the church’s main mission and ministry.

This new policy is asking us, and millions like us, to approve a practice we deem contrary to Scripture and the teachings of the Church Universal.  We believe that sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are sin.  Fundamentally, this matter is over the interpretation of Scripture. We simply cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings on the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We believe that marriage between one man and one woman is a foundational institution, ordained of God and good for the well being of all people. We cannot forsake our sincere beliefs on this matter in order to keep the church united. Your proposal would put us, who believe that same sex relations are sinful, in the position of having to deny our consciences. This new policy is simply asking us to do something we cannot do.

Finally, what guarantee can we be given that this compromise would end the battles we have fought at General Conference?  What assurance can you give that those who want to change our position would be satisfied with a church that in their minds allows its pastors and congregations to deny justice to homosexual persons?  Justice would require them to continue the fight.  And we would continue to be divided, only more so than ever.

Adam and Mike, we appreciate and share your love for the church and your desire to keep it united. And therefore, we remain open to proposals that would keep us united, but not at the cost of condoning a practice that we believe is contrary to Scripture and the teachings of the Church Universal. Your plan, unfortunately, will not keep us united. In fact, it will only prolong the debate and continue to divert us from fulfilling our shared mission. We hope you will rethink your proposal.

Respectfully,

Dr. William J. Abraham

Rev. Rob Renfroe

Rev. Chuck Savage II

Rev. Greg Stover

Additional signers

Ch, Col W. Scott Adams

Rev. Christopher Akers

Rodney Akers

Rev. J. Scott Allred

Dr. Bill T. Arnold

Rev. Randall Bain

Rev. Larry R. Baird

Rev. Thomas R. Barnard

Kiah Beville

Jan Beville

Julie Boucher

Rev. Dr. Bill Bouknight

Dr. Christopher T. Bounds

Rev. Keith Boyette

Rev. John A. Bright

Douglas B. Child, Sr.

Dr. Kenneth J. Collins

Rev. Robert Collins, Jr.

Rev Beth Ann Cook

Rev. Julia D. Crim

Marcelle Crow

Rev. Dr. Steve Dodson

John Dowell

Rev. DeWayne A. Duncan

Dr. Maxie Dunnam

Rev. Walter B. Fenton

Rev. Dr. Scott Field

Rev. David V. Ford

Rev. Dan Fuller

Nan W. Gorton

Rev. Jim Govatos

Rev. Michael Grant

Jim Green

Dr. Wes Griffin

Rod Groom

Rev. Randy Hageman

Rev. Barry Hallman

Rev. Chester H. Harris

Rev. Norwood N. “Woody” Hingle III, Ph.D.

Rev. Edward H. Johnson

Pamela K. Johnson

Douglas Jones

Chet Klinger

Rev. Charles Kyker

Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht

Rev. Charlie Langford

Dr. Jim Leggett

Rev. Kenneth Levingston

Rev. Garry Livermon

John Lomperis

Dr. Joe MacLaren

Dr. Randy Mickler

Rev. John Miles

Rev. Richard A. Nussel

Robert E. “Bud” Orcutt, Jr.

Rev. Ray Owens, Jr.

Rev. John A. Plummer D. Min.

Rev Tim Prather

Rev. Wesley Putnam

Rev. Glen Raley

Rev. Chris Ritter

Rev.  Dr. Ed Robb

Rev. Burt Robinson

Rev. Garry Ruff

Rev. Jerry D. Ruff

Dr. Stephen A. Seamands

Dr. John Seth

Dr. Branson Sheets

Rev. Ralph E. Sigler

W. David Stewart

Rev. Clélie Stone

Rev. Henry R. Stone

Dr. Timothy C. Tennent

Rev.  H. O. Tom Thomas, Ph. D.

Dr. Richard Thompson

Mark Tooley

Rev. Dr. J. David Trawick

Rev. Guy Weatherly

Dr. Steve Wende

Rev. Jamie Westlake

Rev. Bill L. Wiggs

Rev. R. Kent Wise

Dr. Ben Witherington, III

Rev. Jason Woolever

Rev. Paul Yoder.

Comments

  1. Kasandra says:

    This makes me want to leave the Church. Last week I was against schism. This week I’m shopping for a new Church because I can clearly hear that I’m not wanted. Local congregations are doing wonders at trying to expand their membership through love and understanding, but this article clearly states that the minority doesn’t have a voice. Then I’m not interested in the conversation anymore. I’m tired of keeping my wall up to avoid the pain of people who don’t try to get to know me or my family. To avoid people who won’t try and understand that we aren’t harming this world, we are trying to love one another. Go on and spread your word of God and see how many more people reject organized religion and help create a polarizing view in this world. Keep chipping away at people who want community and fellowship. I’m tired, I’ll do this on my own.

    • G says:

      Peace to you Kasandra, as you go on your journey. I left the UMC a while back for a variety of reasons, and through I miss some of the people, I do not miss this battle. I hope you do not do it on your own, but that you find a church where you can love and be loved. Shalom.

      • Chris Terrill says:

        Kasandra and G,
        Your comments have really resonated with me. Especially “..I clearly hear that I am not wanted” or “… avoid people who won’t try and understand..”. Ironically, I am on the other side of this issue, and I suspect that we, who are on opposite sides of this and related issues, are really in a minority in the UMC. I just have this perception that most Methodists are not very deeply engaged on these issues.

        At this point I have the urge to write a sentence starting “But…” or “If only…”. However, I just think this will lead to a conversation that we really have already had. A few year ago, anticipating that these circumstance might arise, I explored other denominations that might allow me to stay within the Wesleyan tradition, and I found a few. And like you, I am wondering if now is the time to part company with the UMC.

        I think schism is going to occur in our denomination. It may take the form of individuals, like us, seeking a new church home, or be of the form suggested by GoodNews and others, or some combination of the two. I guess the question I’m curious to hear comments about is: Would it be more objectionable to had an orderly division of the UMC into two new (but related) denominations to give us space over this issue, vs us just, in effect, abandoning the present UMC?

        • MX says:

          It’s not “you” that isn’t wanted. It’s your refusal to call a sin a sin. You cannot be saved without repentance.

    • DL Herring says:

      Kasandra, I don’t understand what in this letter would upset you. It’s a clear and accurate statement of the current condition of our Church, and reaffirms the wording of the Book of Discipline that has been in place for over 40 years. The issues of homosexual unions and the ordination of homosexual clergy are just the small tip of a very large iceberg: the real issue is acceptance of the authority of Holy Scripture as infallible in matters of moral, holy, living. Yes, God loves all of humankind and He desires that all will accept the free gift of His salvation through Jesus Christ. But, God hates sin and rebellion and the Bible is very clear that what we do with our bodies does matter! Only God can sit in judgement of our eternal salvation but we are instructed to live Holy lives and we must judge what is Holy and what is not.

      • Mike Moran says:

        We must judge what is Holy, or the General Conference must judge what is Holy?

        • Paul C. Draper says:

          How’s about the holy scripture discern/reveal what is holy and what is not?

          • Margery Schleicher says:

            Who decides what the holy scripture discern/reveal what is holy or not? You or me?

          • Mike Moran says:

            If the word on the page speaks for itself why discuss scripture at all? What need for pulpits? For small groups? For dialogue? Throw away your commentaries and your translations. Don’t share the word, you are only going to encounter questions that are not satisfied by you simply pointing at the book and telling them to read. Be done with it all and bask in the peace and quiet.

        • DL Herring says:

          Mike Moran, We each make judgments of right and wrong (whether something is Holy or Unholy) everyday in our individual lives. That judgment should be based on the unwaivering infallibility and authority of Holy Scripture not what appeals to secular society in pop-cultures’ latest fads and trends. We also entrust the General Conference through the discernment of the Holy Spirit and study of Scripture to also make these determinations for the Book of Discipline. “Homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian teaching” is being faithful to the clear teaching of the Bible.

          • Mike Moran says:

            The incessant circularity is taxing. If someone says they interpret the Scripture differently, you say the Bible is unwavering. Someone says I understand it differently. You dismiss them as enthralled by pop culture. Someone says you are not listening. You say the General Conference discerns the Holy Spirit. Someone gives up talking past you and you shout after them that the teaching is clear.
            The Bible is inerrant; the General Conference, the Discipline, and you are not.
            So the question is, are you willing to read the bible with another without denying their reason and experience?

          • Jeff Redmond says:

            I am interested in how those adhering to the “clear teaching of the Bible” in regards to homosexuality view Paul’s plain-spoken instructions regarding women in the Church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-38. Let’s have our eyes open on where this is going.

      • Douglas Asbury says:

        DL Herring, you write, “the real issue is acceptance of the authority of Holy Scripture as infallible in matters of moral, holy, living.” In writing that, you slander those of us who have a different view of what the Bible says about homosexuality, and you seek to place yourself and those who agree with you on the subject as superior interpretive authorities in that regard – much as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did. In doing so, you violate the Ninth Commandment that instructs us not to bear false witness against a neighbor, and you are guilty of the sin of hubris, which Christian tradition numbers among the Seven Deadly Sins. I encourage you to cease behaving in this way, as it suggests that, though you may claim that you are saved by the blood of Jesus, you may hear, when you approach the heavenly realm, Jesus say the words, “‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.” (Matthew 7.21-23)

        • DL Herring says:

          “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:6-12

      • Rev. William Carlberg Ph.D. says:

        AMEN!
        But don’t forget not accepting a non – Scriptural lifestyle does not mean not accepting the individual. Sin is sin. God loves the sinner (we should too) but He hates all sin – not just some.

        Some people would suggest, if not demand, if we do not accept them they way they choose to live, we do not love them. That is just not so. My sons were “hell on wheels’ when they were teenagers – I was non-accepting of their bad behavior, but it was out of love and a deep desire they lived a productive life for themselves – not non-acceptance of them as people or sons. Not an easy road to travel but from the vantage point of older adulthood – it was the right way, biblical way to go.

      • Gerald Meyer says:

        I have never been a big fan of the book of discipline. That book was written by people who think people should follow it. That is why it is probably one of the least read books of the UMC. Only one book that is required and that is the Bible. Written by God for the people of God. Let he or she that has not sinned cast the first stone. I may not agree with alternative lifestyles but accept that person as an child of God who is seeking answers like me on what should I be doing here on earth to make this a better place to live. And more importantly how to help others including myself get on the road leading to heaven. Those of you worrying about this worldly issue go on and worry about it. My loyalty is not to a church made of stone but of the people inside the church and those outside of it as we move forward in our journey with God, each of us at our own pace. Jesus never built a church. While on earth he spent his time with sinners, the sick, and the poor ministering to their needs. Trying to figure out where the splitting of the church falls????????? Is this a foundation built on sand

    • Ed Alex says:

      If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, He primarily uses His Word to exercise His Lordship over your life.

    • jill carter says:

      AMEN!!!!!

    • brenda smith says:

      I understand your pain and frustration and I did just that after the 2008 GC. But, I’m back as of April 2013. Whatever happens to the UMC I want to be part of things; I don’t want to let the “Good News” people run me off. My place at the table is a free gift of grace from God and no group of Christian Haters can take that from me. I really believe that when social change is inevitable the attacks are increased due to desperation. It remains frustrating and deeply hurtful but Love always overcomes.

      • DL Herring says:

        Do you really think using the pejorative phrase “Christian Haters” is at all helpful? The traditional/orthodox view on homosexual practice as sinful is not hateful or phobic. We would desire that all would confess and repent of their sins and enjoy the fullness of God’s grace. We correct our brothers and sisters living in sin because we love them.

      • Mike says:

        If parents do not wish for a homosexual couple to teach their children Sunday School becuse they disagree with this lifestyle, are they considered “Christain Haters”?

    • Peter says:

      Hello Kasandra,

      Why do you not feel wanted? Everyone is wanted in the church, and everyone has a voice. The reason this conversation is taking place is because there are voices on both sides of the issue. If you are tired or discouraged by the discussion I can understand that. Believe me, there are people on both sides that are tired of the discussion, the acrimony, and the name calling. Unless you have been told otherwise, I don’t think there is anyone who does not want to get to know you or your family, that is what conversations are for. I will say this though, local churches are not supposed to be trying to expand their membership. Local churches are supposed to be sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ. The byproduct of this is that people decide to become a part of local churches. I want to invite you and your family to hear the Gospel and feel the love of Jesus Christ. Find a good Bible teaching church to be in community and fellowship with and you will never have to do anything alone again.

      Praying for you and yours.

      Peter

    • Dave Boesenberg says:

      Jesus gave His all to set us free from sin, not free to sin. Child molesters, rapists and murderer’s have as much right to God’s love as you and me. We confess, repent and receive cleansing, healing and filling in order to carry the same message to others who are hurting and lost. Telling someone they are, going the wrong way is loving and caring, not judging. We have to help each other grow in holiness. I need your help and am honored to offer you mine. God loves you, I love you. Let us teach each other to “Go and sin no more.”

    • Buddy says:

      Kassandra, “I’ll do this on my own” is the perfect illustration of our problem.

      Lot’s of people want to live like the people in Judges where “Everybody did what was right in his own eyes.”

      Others want to do what is right in God’s eyes as revealed in the Bible.

      Now you’re accusing that second group of not listening to you while angrily not listening to them… and you don’t seem to be aware of the contradiction?

    • Maxine Wegner says:

      Hi,

      I am not UM, but wanted to reply to your comment. I go to an ELCA (Lutheran) church. The ELCA also had a split over this issue. I remain in the ELCA, as I feel they are not judgemental. I do not totally understand why people are gay, nor do I think the science community understands. I lean toward thinking that people are born that way. After the ELCA voted to allow same sex couples to be pastors, I have never even heard the subject brought up among our people. I’m sure we may have people who have different opinions on the issue, but no one seems judgemental, as far as I can see. If you are looking for a church that doesn’t seem to be in a fight anymore – you might consider visiting one of the ELCA churches in your community. I think the Episcopal church is another church you might consider visiting.

    • D. Barbaree says:

      I just googled “United Methodists March in Pride Parade” and am astonished by how many UMC churches, including clergy, participated in gay pride parades throughout the country this past month. Is this an issue that the Good News Movement needs to address? Celebrating Gay Pride seems at least as inappropriate as allowing them to perform same sex marriages. Shouldn’t our Book of Discipline include prohibitions against such participation by our pastors?

  2. Thank you! N Eben-tempered, reasonable and compassionate, but firm response. Consider this my signature to the letter.

  3. Geary Rowell says:

    I wish I could have added my name to this list! I fully endorse what has been said in this letter.

  4. Amy Davis says:

    Thank you to this group of pastors for finally standing up for what is right. This has been a sore spot for a long time and I can only hope this will finally start the healing in the conference. God must be hurting over our long battle on this non-issue. Homosexuality is a sin plain and clear in God’s word and anyone that tries to whitewash that is twisting God’s word for their own benefit.

  5. Rob Lindley says:

    Our Church has too much heritage to lose in helping the broken hearted, healing the wounded, and reaching the lost. Our Discipline is fair & compassionate on this matter. Those who think otherwise can find another denomination to represent.

  6. Mary Liz says:

    I am very thankful for your thoughtful words and well stated confirmation of our embrace of the Holy Bible and its language. We must follow Jesus. He was with God from the beginning. That means that he knew the Old Testament well and we have his statements that he followed his father’s words to the letter. I have been so concerned for the pastor in the church facing with Jesus all the conflicted oral language regarding the behavior of people who gave their word that they would follow the Discipline to the letter and then did not. I have been so concerned for the Third World Countries and what they must think of al the dialog and verbal conflict. I know that in each heart that loves Our Lord there is a stand firm confidence that reminds us of Eph. 6:11-12ff. We must speak in love. The greatest word I can give is that one must read the Bible…it will not return to God void…..Thank you….I wept when I read it….

    • Sparky L says:

      These discussions that talk about opposing homosexuality because it is against Scripture are confusing to me. The New Testament clearly opposes divorce. This is stated not once but many times. So…do UMC pastors refuse to marry those who have been divorced for reasons other than adultery? Or those who have committed adultery? Or divorced men who abandoned their wives? No, they do not. I don’t mean to offend,but is it honest to say that you oppose same-sex relations because of Scripture, and then to allow divorced persons to remarry when Scripture opposes that in many cases. I believe it would be more honest to say: “I want to follow the Bible on some things and not on others.”

      • Lil B says:

        Thank you for articulating this. The issue of non-adultery-related divorce has needed United Methodist attention for a long time. No wonder those who approve of same-sex relations have a hard time understanding where and why we draw the line on biblical moral issues — we have been inconsistent on exactly what a moral issue is, and certainly marriage is one! If we are to be biblically faithful on moral issues because they are unchanging, due to being a reflection of God’s own character (which does not change with each situation or era), then the UMC must take a biblical position on divorce and remarriage also.

  7. David J Turner says:

    How can we add our names to this?

  8. jonathan says:

    I concur with you. This will be the greatest mistake if the church does that. #crying

  9. Sue Ogden says:

    As a person sitting in the pew, I am weary of this discussion. One of the things I have loved about the UMC is being allowed to think for myself. So I sit in the pew with liberals and conservatives, and loving them all. But this Good News movement is very dividing and is now telling me how to believe about one issue, and further insisting if I don’t agree/believe the way you are telling me to then I am wrong a need to leave this church I have loved. And while I think both sides have been wrong in how they present themselves, I am laying the blame squarely at the feet of the Good News. When General Conference refused to pass even a statement that we don’t all agree, I realized this really is about power and the desire to tell us all how to believe. If I wanted to be told how to believe and what the Bible teaches without ever bothering to think for myself, I’d take myself over to the Baptist church.

    • Buddy says:

      Sue, where in the world did you get the idea that Good News decided and established what is right and wrong?

      This is not about any particular sin; it is about who decides what is or is not sin. Some of us believe God decides while others believe we can decide for ourselves.

      Your argument is with the God of the Bible rather than Good News.

      • Margery Schleicher says:

        In other words, you believe that you know what God decides better than those who believes God decides differently!

    • Mary says:

      I do not understand how Good News is the one causing the problem. The ministers and groups that are going against the Book of Discipline are the ones causing the problem. They are going against what the majority of the UMC believes and has voted on conference after conference. They have become the “school yard bully.” “If you don’t play the way I want to play, I will yell and scream until I get the game played the way I want it.”

    • Larry says:

      Thank you, Sue Ogden. The Bible is nowhere near as clear on this issue as the Good News followers insist; their insistence that it is shows forth their hubris (IMHO). There’s a difference between their possibly saying “This is how we interpret these Scriptures, which is different from you” — and their repeatedly saying now, “We’re clearly right.”
      It may be a separate point altogether, but I firmly believe the GN position is on the wrong side of history, and in some sense they know it.

      • Cherry says:

        Thank you Larry and Sue Ogden. What we read are translations and interpretations. Did you know there is no word in ancient Hebrew for “husband” “wife” or “marriage” as we have the concept of. This was the translator’s choice of an English word for a Hebrew word. Our culture, family life and government are 180 degrees different. Some denominations teach that any sex – except that is solely for procreation – is a sin, whether between married people or not. Some teach that birth control is a sin. Some do not allow women to preach and teach because that is a sin. Some teach that women should not cut their hair, wear any make-up or jewelry except a watch and wedding ring, or wear pants. Some do not allow their women to shave their legs and do not permit the men to grow their hair to any length or to have beards. Some believe that true baptism can only be by complete immersion and should only be done when a person has reached a certain age. Some believe the elements in communion literally transform into the body and blood. Some teach that wearing the cross is wrong because it is a symbol of an instrument of death. Some teach that any depictions of Jesus is idolotry. Some believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and the devil placed the dinosaur bones here to deceive us. All these “Christian” people base their stances on Scripture. Quite franky – we don’t really know what “Scripture” literally says. I think God wants us to be moral committed people who take care of the ones around us who need help. To treat each other the same way we want to be treated and by doing that, I think we are showing our love of God. I cannot see where heterosexuals who have affairs and/or are divorced can still serve when a faithful committed person in a same-sex loving committed relationship cannot.

  10. jonathan says:

    For your information, in my country Nigeria our government has make it law already againts those practicen it. Because is not part of our tradition in African continent. May God help us.

  11. Rev. Larry J. Vickers says:

    An excellent statement of historic, Christian orthodoxy.
    I am in full agreement.
    May those who read this hear the wisdom and Truth it embraces.

  12. Jenny says:

    Thank you all for faithfully responding to the Lords call, we need obedient and humble leaders.

  13. Rev. John Kay says:

    Thank you.

  14. Jason Kimbrell says:

    Very well written. I am in total agreement.

  15. Kenneth Burcham says:

    Well written! I agree!

  16. Rev. Reed Justus Cent. Tx. Conf says:

    Lets deep up the communications. We don’t to think we are alone. God bless one and all!!

  17. Rev. Byron Putnam says:

    This statement has my full support.

  18. Rex Stark says:

    I support this letter fully!

  19. cjb says:

    Why is this only addressed to Adam Hamilton and Mine Slaughter? There were MANY more signatures than just theirs on the proposal.

  20. Rev. Mike Hoppe says:

    Many more of us would add our names to this list!

  21. Kay Collins says:

    It seems to me that the majority of our denomination have spoken, over and over. We stand by the discipline as it is now written. The powers that be should enforce the law of the church. No one has said that homosexuals are not welcome. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All sinners are welcome; however, sinners may not call their sin acceptable. Yes, adulterers are in the church, but they’re not demanding that adultery be acceptable practice.
    This is simple. We have a discipline. Why would you join a church with whom you disagree concerning a very fundamental belief. Why would you not join a like-minded church?
    Furthermore, why would general conference tolerate blatant disruptive behavior? This issue has been brought up and voted on over and over. There should be a limit to the number of times a doctrine can be brought before the GC and defeated.

    • Betsy says:

      Amen..let’s have the main thing be the main thing..making disciples and growing in living according to God’s command…

    • Mary says:

      AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gerald Meyer says:

      I wonder what percentage of members have actually read the book of discipline 5% maybe 10%. It is an outdated book not voted by a majority of members but a majority of those who attend general conference on changes made

  22. Rev. Mark C Cordes says:

    Dear Goodnews,

    We have lived with your tyranny for quite some time and have chosen a different path. For those seeing understanding see “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” which will explain both our intransigence and our desire to do ministry in the world.

    As you make the middle of the debate look like Verdun ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Verdun) I trust you will note that you will in the end be remembered as that group which in its misguided desire to obtain a Pyrrihic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyrric_victory) win has lost the war for all that it holds dear.

    It is not that there is anything wrong with being conservative.. quite the contrary it is that you fail to see that which is oh so obvious to everyone else (http://www.people-press.org/2013/06/06/in-gay-marriage-debate-both-supporters-and-opponents-see-legal-recognition-as-inevitable/) and in that you betray your arrogance and elitism rather than your grace.

    In short your error is arrogance and a fail to notice that the world has changed around you. Making your JJ Packer Theology and it’s attendant views both historically untenable and also unworthy of present engagement.

    History will remember you as small and foolish while the mission of Christ moves on without you as it should.

    As you redshift (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_shift) out of relevance I trust you will send those of us who remain a postcard from the edge.

    Bye now,

    Rev. Mark C Cordes

    • Peter says:

      Hi Mark!

      Those are very interesting comments. Love your use of history.

      As a fellow historian I have a question.

      What is your view of the last 2000 years of Christian history? Has the Church been wrong the whole time every where in the world, and we just figured it out here in America in the last decade? Now that would be arrogant.

    • Dave Boesenberg says:

      Faithful children of God always have and always will be out of step with surrounding cultures. We are called to be different, not assimilate

    • Joe says:

      I’d buttress your condescending tone and smarminess with references to Scripture and the wise counsel of the Church universal instead of Wikipedia. You do realize that a trained monkey can influence content there, right?

    • DL Herring says:

      Mark, I’m baffled at your opening phrase: “We have lived with your tyranny for quite some time and have chosen a different path.” How is sharing the unedited, undiluted, Gospel and love of Christ tyrannous? And, what path are you on? Our Lord says in Matthew 7:13 ““Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.”

      Further on your post contends that since “the world has changed around you” we need to change to conform to the World. But, the Apostle Paul consistently teaches that as Christians we are set apart from the World. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

      To do as you propose we would be trying to recreate God, or create a new god, in our own image. Of course this would also mean disregarding two thousand years of tradition as “outdated”, and disregarding large portions of Holy Scripture as now irrelevant. We can never yield to do those things.

      I tell you as it is written in Joshua 24:15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

      • Tracey Hammett says:

        Thank you, DL Herring, for stating so eloquently what I could not without hours of Bible study.

    • Rick says:

      Nice display of “GRACE” Rev.

  23. Bobbie Yelverton says:

    Our church is already in trouble. If you tend to go against what most of us believe you will see a greater falling away from our United Methodist church. Respectfully, Bobbie Yelverton

  24. Shirley DeLarme says:

    I can clearly see that, for the writers of this letter, not making life difficult outranks the living of the gospel of love which our Christ lived and called us to. Jesus clearly sought out those whom society marginalized and rejected. Too bad the inerrant construct called United Methodist polity outweighs the gospel.

  25. Sonja LeVan says:

    I have my walking shoes on, but I hope the United Methodist Church does not bend or does not bow to the worldy view and ignores the word of God and Book of Discipline……..I would love to put my name on this letter and I would say “LET US SPLIT”!

  26. Rex Gordon says:

    I like to think that I am always striving to be More Like Jesus.
    More Caring
    More Giving
    More Loving
    More Forgiving.
    Jesus tells us to love our Neighbor. I believe that means to support them and help them. It does not mean to judge them or deny them any of their rights. Thinking has changed over the years on may topics that we can all name. It is TIME for thinking to change around this topic as well. Love your LGBT brothers and sisters. Let them live life to the fullest without persecution. It is TIME. God is Good. All the Time. We should also be Good, All the Time as well. Amen.

    • LB says:

      Jesus’ loving response to the woman caught in adultery (a similar moral sin) was definitely not to stop denying her her rights, nor was it “Go and live life to the fullest without persecution” — It was a compassionate, “Go and sin no more.” And Jesus certainly knows the definition of true agape love better than we do! After all, He not only truly loves — He IS love.

  27. Michele says:

    Well, it is clear to me things will not change and this church will remain forever divided. If we are going to discriminate against people based on who they are, how God created them and who they love, I don’t want any part of it. Shameful!

    • LB says:

      God created them. Not their behavior.

    • MX says:

      “God sends meat but the Devil sends cooks.”

      God may have created us, but the day we came forth from the wombs of your mothers we were attacked by Satan and sin. LGBTs have given in to sin and want us all to follow them on the path to destruction.

  28. GaryBT says:

    So . . . a schism, or amicable separation if that what you want to call it, is NOT a “fundamental shift of The United Methodist Church’s connectional polity to [whatever model you supply], and this is being proposed in order to solve one issue”?

  29. cjb says:

    In fact, as of Wed June 11, there were 2,100 signatures on A Way Forward. Why make it sound as if you are only speaking to two clergymen?

  30. Bryan says:

    Please add my name to the open letter.

  31. Rev. Russell Brownworth, D.Min. says:

    I agree with this response and the way it presents how a high view of Scripture is supposed to inform the culture, and not the other way around.

  32. Bill Reincheld says:

    Consider me signed. Thank you for saying it well.

  33. Michael Lowry says:

    This letter ignores the history and growth of what has become the United Methodist Church. As Jesus commanded slaves to be loyal to their masters, the church once supported slavery. As Paul stated that men are the master of the household in the same manner that God is the master of all men, the church once fought suffrage.
    The Methodist church has for some time been a beacon of progressive thought, and is sorely needed to counter the regressive tendencies of some churches and politicians. We read the bible in the context of the culture it was written and thus do not command women to cover their hair in church.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Michael Lowry and Rex Gordon for your response. When I hear it stated that it is the overwhelming majority that take this stance. (this letter)…I am saddened…..because, from where I am….many of the laity are saddened that this is even an issue anymore. I am afraid that our church (the Methodist Church) is going to continue to decline because many people can not interpret the Bible so literally and if we can not embrace the message Jesus gives us to live in love and grace, practice forgiveness and mercy in all we do….they feel “religion” is irrelevant, judgmental, and divisive.

    • Amy K. says:

      Thank you!!! This is what I have been thinking all along: what about alll the other Old Testament laws that we have taken a pass on? Does anyone think we should return to those traditions as well? How is this one issue different than slavery, or gender equality?

      • Carleen S. says:

        Amy K., there is one major difference between all the other old testament laws and this issue that makes it irreconcilable. Homophobia.

  34. Ed Alex says:

    That sounds about right, but like pelegian in the 4th century the open letter won’t silence them.

  35. Zach Washler says:

    How do we sign on to this?

  36. Pat Campbell says:

    This letter has spoken the concerns I had when I first read the Hamilton/Slaughter letter. Please also consider this my sign-on to the Confessing Movement answer to that letter.

  37. Robb Webster says:

    Good News and Reconciling Ministries are the problem. Neither of you want to make any compromise which will cause a split and exclude people. I use to be a subscriber to Good News but recently I have canceled that and have no interest in the organization. I find you are not willing to compromise and too self-centered. Adam and Michael’s letter outlined your concerns very well. The denomination would not lose its connectional system. It appears all you care about are your views and causing a split. Based on many of your writings it appears to me you want a split. As do the leadership of Reconciling Ministries. I think both groups are self-serving and don’t really care about the denomination.

    • Sparky L says:

      I agree that compromise is the answer. I sometimes worry that we have become so engaged in battling “the other side” that both sides will ignore opportunities for peace when they arise. I believe the Hamilton proposal is such an opportunity.

  38. Guest says:

    I think creating a lay minister to officiate LGBT weddings is better than trying to change up the entire sacrament of marriage. In the sacrament, the metaphor of male + female is clear. Ordained clergy would officiate at sacramental weddings, and a lay minister could be appointed to officiate at LGBT (non-sacramental) weddings. We already have ministers who didn’t exist in the New Testament church – music ministers, youth ministers – so it would not require such a leap of imagination to appoint a lay officer or lay minister to handle LGBT wedding requests, since we already have a precedent for the creation of offices in the church that did not exist in NT times. It would also avoid the problem of moving to a congregational model and/or splitting the church. The lay minister or lay officer could serve at the state or regional conference level, rather than having one at each church, based on the population size and demand for LGBT services in that area.

  39. Guest says:

    ” We simply cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings on the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.” — It seems to me most Methodists have abandoned the Bible’s teachings on not eating pork, and all the other kosher requirements. I suppose when the UMC agrees to become vegetarian (Genesis 1:29), I will believe them when they say they “cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings.”

    • Brett says:

      Guest – Unlike the homosexual behavior prohibition, the Bible did provide progressive revelation on eating laws:

      4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying,
      5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me,
      6 and when I had fixed my gaze upon it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air.
      7 “And I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Arise, Peter; kill and eat.’
      8 “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
      9 “But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’
      10 “And this happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. (Acts 11:4-10 NAS)

      • Tracey Hammett says:

        So when did God clean homosexuality?

      • Tracey Hammett says:

        Okay. God said not to commit adultery (Ex 20:22).

        Thou shalt not covet neighbor’s wife,manservant, maidservant, animals (Ex 20:17).

        Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Leviticus 18:20).

        Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you (Lev 18: 26).

        Jesus spoke about a man and a woman leaving their homes to become one flesh (Matt 19: 4-6)–no other combination is mentioned.

        Jesus told the adulteress to “go and sin no more” (John 8: 11).

        When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, He also said anyone that doeth evil hateth light, neither cometh to the light, lest his dded should be reproved (John 3: 20).

        Sin, even sexual sin, is evil. Jesus came to the world to save it. Therefore, sexual sinners need to bring Jesus in their hearts, repent, and be born again into the light.

        Being a sinner especially in the sexual arena, I repented and was born again. Without Jesus’s salvation, I can not imagine what my life would be like. I still have to fight the visions that remain in my memory, tempting me to become dissatisfied with my life so I might fall. I treasure what He has given me and I don’t want to destroy it. I have to talk with my Lord to help me remain focused on Him so Satan will leave me alone. Satan is SUCH a nuisance. I can only imagine the sexual neediness homosexuals have based on the same sexual neediness I have. God told me not to commit adultery which includes fornication along with any other sexual relationship outside of marriage. As Christians who follow the light we have to fight the darkness; we have to live our life within the scriptures.

        We are to be loving to all sinners. I do not understand how the UMC will fire and remove the license/credentials of heterosexual ministers who have committed a sexual sin, yet think marrying homosexual couples or allowing homosexual ministers is okay. You can’t serve two masters.

        If the UMC bends on this, then how can we say anything in the Bible is worth following? or is true? He told us in Leviticus what nations are to do. Do we want the UMC, one of the founding churches of our nation, to fall? If we do, we will add to the demise of this nation that is quickly falling apart due to disobeying God’s directions.

        I am not sure how your home life was, but when children disobey, they usually receive a punishment. If we allow homosexuality, a non-repentant homosexuality to come into our doors, we are asking for punishment. I do not know about you, but I know and believe that God delivers what he promises because He loves us.

        Stay true to the Scriptures.

        • Sparky L says:

          And what about Scripture on divorce? The New Testament speaks against it many times. Should UMC pastors perform marriages of divorced persons?

          • LB says:

            There already are many UMC pastors who will not perform weddings of divorced person, if the divorce was not adultery-related), especially if the former spouse is still unmarried..

          • Sparky L says:

            LB makes a good point. And I’m wondering, could we do the same with same-sex marriage that we do with divorce? Pastors can decide if they want to perform a wedding or not?

        • As I have read through these comments I see a lot of reference to whether we will adhere to the teachings of the Bible or not. That is a fair question. But who determines what we keep and what we throw out? My perception is that individuals are selective in what they say the Bible teaches and to what we must adhere. Most everyone knows about Leviticus 18:22, and how it is used to condemn homosexuality. I never hear much about Deuteronomy 21:18- 21, which basically says that if you have a rebellious son the way to solve the problem is to have him stoned. Is that Bible teaching still relevant? If not why not? I don’t believe it is, but again question selective use of scripture to prove a point.

          • Sparky L says:

            Most people I know who are concerned about adherence to Scripture are mainly looking at the New Testament, and consider that the new covenant. The New Testament does make statements against same-sex relations and divorce, and probably other things, like maybe charging interest on some loans or other things. Just a thought… I do agree with you about people being selective about what Scriptural teachings to follow.

  40. Roy Jacobsen says:

    Ironocally, Slaughter and Hamilton are not committed to the itinerant system. They have stayed put in their churches far too long and have become de facto congregationalists. it is in the interest of both of their conferences (bishops) to keep them where they are, Its through their “congregationally” oriented lens that they offer this proposal. Sadly, these churches that are built around the personality of one pastor do not last after that pastor departs. Our people are looking for an easy way out of the crisis we are in. There is pain on all sides. We now de facto schism that will become de jure schism some time in the future. Jesus said, “A house divided cannot stand.” The house of the UMC has already crumbled and is already in a state of schism, dysfunction and disarray. Look at GC ’12 it accomplished nothing. The recent debacle at the Connectional Table shows a repeat of the same dysfunction. Frankly, Slaughter and Hamilton have already placed themselves in the pro-homosex group. Their proposal is nothing new, it was proposed by Hamilton and lay member from NY Conference, Fred Brewington at GC 2012. It was defeated then and is the same proposal this time around.

  41. Chad Holtz says:

    Thank you for this. I pray it finds good soil to take root in everywhere.

    Rev. Chad Holtz
    Holston Conference

  42. Mike Moran says:

    This letter could be distilled to a single line. “Fundamentally, this matter is over the interpretation of Scripture. We simply cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings”
    It is the authors interpretation of Scripture that all must accept. All others must be abandoned.
    From whichever side it comes, this staggering intransigence in acknowledging people of faith have always and will always have differing interpretations of scripture is the is the pure force of schism.

    • LB says:

      What is there about the word “detestable” (LEV 20:13) that requires further interpretation? Seems not only clear, but emphatic.

  43. Doug McGee says:

    Amen to this letter supporting God’s Word, and not bowing to a sin endorsed by some in the world. Amen to standing on the Trustworthy and truthful interpretation of The Scriptures, not trying to change one dot or tittle, but being thankful for solid standards that God Himself has given us.

    And thank you for NOT supporting a “politically correct” position that is loaded with problems: there is no scientific evidence [testable, observable, measureable, and repeatable] to support that homosexuals are born that way; there are major diseases, HIVAids is one of them, that are passed on mostly by sex acts committed by homosexuals; there is so much heart-ache resulting by the Church not standing on God’s truth, where those tempted by these sins are not being encouraged to avoid it, with God’s help, but rather to embrace it. with the world’s help.

    Jeremiah stood for the truth, often alone, and he was proven right. Also Joseph of the old Testament, Jesus of the New Testament, and so many others who have stood for the truth will be welcomed into God’s Kingdom with our Lord Jesus saying – “well done, good and faithful servant.” But that pesky devil, the author of lies, keeps telling people that God’s Word means nothing. Well, if it comes down to it, if there are only a few of us standing for the Truth of God’s Word, then so be it. But as for me and my house, we choose God.

  44. George Softly says:

    I am so tired of this debate because of the judgmental attitudes of people who claim to know and love Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus said that we have no right to JUDGE anyone. Only those without sin, maybe? So, since I am a sinner, saved by grace, do I have the right to JUDGE anyone? I know not! With that being said, I believe Jesus loved and cared for everyone, no matter who and Jesus told the disciples that people would know they were followers in the way the loved. In my humble opinion there are people who make the choice to pick and choose which stone that they throw at others because of there need to judge. Enough said…

  45. Becky Jordan says:

    I cannot and will not support a change in church doctrine that defies God’s Word . Is the Bible being changed or rewritten as Revelation chapter 22 warns us about? Are Hamilton and Slaughter more enlightened and divinely inspired than John, or Paul, Solomon, and Moses or Joshua?

    This comment is considered my signature to the letter above from “Good News”.

  46. Dave Boesenberg says:

    No medical science supports.”I was born this way”. Psychology offers no proof-only opinion. Neuroscience shows only how a brain is different not how it got that way. No sound Biblical theology supports “God made me this way. Many would like to rewrite the Bible-sermons adulterers, pornographers, child molesters among others. My life experiences include working side by side with two men, one of whomxthought sext with a cow was part of growing up, the other thought having sex with the family dog was reasonable due to marital problems. My response was not to hate them but to continue to do our jobs, working together, while making clear that having sex with animals was not ok. Rejecting God’s rules in favor of our own is forgivable but is as bad as bad gets. These attitudes do not attack individuals marriages but do attack the moral foundations of our and every society.

    • Mary Taylor says:

      Did the cow consent to the inter-species sex? Was the dog an equal partner in the relationship? How can you compare that to two consenting adults in a loving, committed relationship? The understanding of sexuality has evolved greatly through the centuries. Let’s honor our continuing improvement in understanding.

  47. Pastor Nick Rochester Jr says:

    Why is it so hard for people to accept what God’s Word says on a subject? I am still waiting for anyone who can show a verse or pasxage in the Bible that condones homosexualkity/lesbianism. The Bible is clear on the idea that in the brginning, God made them male and female and through the union of a male and female, new life is created. Even the marriage of a man and a woman is presented as part of God’s plan for creation. It isn’t wrong…or hard…or discriminating for a church to stand up for what is God’s will. I can love the sinner while not condoning the sin.

    • Don Tabberer says:

      What did God’s word say about slavery? about women’s rights? about the death penalty? Is it possible that very smart, thinking Christians sometimes get it wrong?

  48. Ronald Jordan says:

    We are called to love the sinner and hate the sin. I am not advocating that we shun and do not not love homosexuals, because to not love them is in direct defiance of Jesus’ teaching. We accept the sinners -all sinners – but we do not approve of the behavior. The same premise is applied when accepting/loving adulterers, murderers, thieves, and all of God’s children because we have all sinned and come short.

    • David says:

      Ronald- Where are we called to “love the sinner and hate the sin”? Since most in this thread are concerned about reading the Bible faithfully, how about chapter and verse for this. Could we simply agree that this is a worn out phrase usually used to make the speaker feel better about a point of view that is causing significant numbers of people spiritual and emotional pain. Or if you’re going to use it give it some concrete content. How do you propose that the church love LGBT people while telling them that they are sinners and because of that sin second class disciples (if disciples at all)? My sense is that the love you are talking about is merely a sentiment. I am also offended by the comparison of those who identify as LGBT with “adulterers, murders, thieves” as would be anyone who self-identifies as LGBT and is still listening to this conversation.

      • LB says:

        Actually, Jesus Himself said, “love one another “as I have loved you”. And exactly “how” did He(and still does) love us? By loving the sinner and hating the sin. If we’re to love as He loves, we must do the same. An example of how Jesus went about loving people is the woman caught in adultery. He had compassion on her, but He didn’t say, “Oh, that’s OK, dear — just keep on doing whatever seems OK to you.” What He really said, of course, was, “Go… and sin no more.” He didn’t tell her to go and try to stay out of trouble — He spoke very directly and called her sin by its name: “sin”. Jesus demonstrated His love for her in 2 ways — first He had compassion on her, but the second way He loved her was loving her enough to tell her quite clearly that what she was doing was sin, and that she must stop. (And that is real love — agape love — that does not want the loved person to miss out on the Kingdom of God because of lifestyle-sin.) This same Jesus instructs us to love the same way He loves.

  49. Daniel Dorrance says:

    All the disruption and debate at the conference and local church level is going to happen in either case. If the church separates, then conferences and local churches will be debating which church to be affiliated with. So that point is really not relevant to the discussion. It would be a shame if the church were to divide over this issue. United Methodists have so much to offer to the world and continue to do so much great work for Christ. My hope is that we can find a way to compromise on this issue or at least have a long term plan for how to facilitate and frame the continued debate so that we can continue the work on discipleship, helping the poor, helping the sick, helping fight malaria, etc.

  50. Trevor Warren says:

    THE distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever, therefore, imagines that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe, indeed, that “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God;” and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish Church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist. – John Wesley “the Character of a Methodist”

    • Paul W. says:

      Trevor, your quote could leave the wrong impression about Wesley’s views. Wesley definitely did not believe that matters addressed by the Scriptures fell into the category of “think and let think”. Consider the following quotes from the same sermon:

      ‘And the tree is known by its fruits. For as he loves God, so he keeps his commandments; not only some, or most of them, but all, from the least to the greatest. He is not content to “keep the whole law, and offend in one point;” but has, in all points, “a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.” Whatever God has forbidden, he avoids; whatever God hath enjoined, he doeth; and that whether it be little or great, hard or easy, joyous or grievous to the flesh. He “runs the way of God’s commandments,” now he hath set his heart at liberty. It is his glory so to do; it is his daily crown of rejoicing, “to do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven;” knowing it is the highest privilege of “the angels of God, of those that excel in strength, to fulfil his commandments, and hearken to the voice of his word.”‘, para. 12

      ‘Nor do the customs of the world at all hinder his “running the race that is set before him.” He knows that vice does not lose its nature, though it becomes ever so fashionable; and remembers, that “every man is to give an account of himself to God.” He cannot, therefore, “follow” even “a multitude to do evil.” He cannot “fare sumptuously every day,” or “make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.”‘, para. 15

  51. Michael Foy says:

    I said it before and will say it again. I cannot accept anything less then scriptural authority as the highest form of authority. Man cannot be a judge of God’s words to include sinners who sin without regard to repentance or any changing of the heart whatsoever. The church should not entertain splitting into what comes down to accepting sin or not, opening hearts and minds verses closing them to His word or softening the interpretation to allow sinful behaviours to continue in the church. A church is not representative of Christ or the being created in His image when you allow people to believe they are in His image while they are living a reprehensible lifestyle. Have we not learned anything in the Garden by what transpired?
    When the Blood of Christ is applied to a soul, it purges the conscience of dead works and sin.Why allow this sin to reinvent itself, slapping Christs face and picking up the chains of sexual and sinful slavery and putting them back on.
    God said in the Garden,” in that day you eat of that fruit, you shall surely die.” The word of the Lord cannot be broken. That day they ate the fruit they died spiritually, a dreadful death of deaths to God. Do we want enable others to die and have their blood on our hands? We must present the truth and defend it.

  52. M.D. Livingston says:

    Hi, Being fairly new to the UMC, but a borned again believer since 1969. MY conviction of scripture teaches me that it is the inspired word of God. In God’s word it teaches me that marriage and family is for 1 women and 1 man. any deviation is wrong. I am tolerant of others till it is in direct conflict with the word of God. I have a family member who is gay and I love him very much, but he knows i do not believe the way he believes. We should love all people as Jesus does, but we should not go against Jesus teachings in a infalabe, word of
    GOD
    LOVE ALWAYS TO ALL
    Christ Service
    doug livingston

  53. Rev Karen Oplt says:

    Well thought out and written letter. Thank you

  54. Douglas Dowson says:

    I’ve been a United Methodist pastor now for 42 years. I have at no time claimed any perfections in myself but I “am going on to perfection in love.” I can not reserve for myself the ability to claim what is right or wrong. I can not in myself say that one man is going to hell and another to heaven – I am not God and will not presume to become Him as Adam did in the garden.

    I am a repentant sinner always at war with the flesh – I understand perfectly Paul’s lament “oh what a wretched sinner I am, I know what I should do and don’t do it, I know what I shouldn’t do and do it any way.” It is not by anything that I have done that saves me, but only by the grace of God who poured out his blood on the cross..

    In these 42 years God continually confirmed His words in my heart and in the ministry of the church. I can not in good conscience go against the Word of God. I’ve looked closely at the Greek and Hebrew words on sexuality and God has made Himself infinitely clear – sexual expression is reserved for a man and a woman who make a covenant with Him, and only in that relationship. Jesus was very specific – all other relationships he called fornication and adultery. I can not go back on the Word Of God.

    We have all kinds of theology floating around the church today – all theologies must be rigorously measured against the Word itself. Heresy is the willingness of one person to depart from the Word of God claiming their own ability to discern good and evil (now we are back with Adam in the Garden.)

    It is easy to take out of context one portion of scripture or ignore what we scholastically or theologically think is irrelevant. But students of Scripture do no have that luxury if they are to be in keeping with the Lord.

    It’s not like the statement on sexuality was unclear, confused or lacked precision – God said to Moses – the act of unnatural affection for a man with a man or a woman with a woman is an abomination to the Lord. And Jesus clarified it in the New Testament – sexuality in not a right, but a gift of God to the man and woman in Holy Covenant with Him.

    We Americans want to vote on everything, but it’s not our opinion in minority or majority that counts – this is God’s expectations for those who love him. He forgives sin and says go and don’t do it again!

    And Jesus says, if you love me, then keep my commandments!

    Lord help me keep your commandments so long as I live.

  55. Joe Openshaw says:

    I understand Kasandra.It is hard to feel wanted when one is told that because of their God-given nature they are incompatible with Christian teaching. It is hard to feel wanted when I’m told that my sacred worth is less than someone else’s sacred worth. And it’s hard to feel wanted when you know that the people who would stone you (figuratively if not literally) cannot interpret the Bible in view of history and culture of the times that it was written, and not when there was an understanding of homosexuality and the reality of loving, committed same-sex couples, some of whom have lives that are blessed beyond comprehension and who are committed to carrying on the work of Jesus Christ (that being ministering to the less fortunate and providing for the needy, not witch hunting gay and lesbian clergy candidates or denying blessings from God when two men or two women are celebrating their God given love for one another).

    Justice always (always) wins out in the end. That is why I remain in the United Methodist Church. Because justice always wins, and Jesus always wins.

    • Shem says:

      My heart truly aches for Kassandra and the condemnation she has face as well as endured. I believe we all hope and pray Justice wins out. However if we tie our selves history a(n) arbitrary judge instead of G-D the ultimate judge, will justice truly prevail? In response to culture of the times, what about Jesus? If say we that we believe that he is not just a(n) historical figure; he is the son of G-D, lord, and saviorhow can disregard his views on the matter? I’m sure that the population at may have understood homosexuality or even sexuality and all its expressions in nuanced terms but surely Jesus did? Doesn’t it say in the beginning was the word (Jesus), doesn’t he say he came not to abolish the law but fulfill it, and what about Matt. 5, 15, 19 regarding marriage. I’ll say that the church (all of us) have not taken Jesus’s message of love seriously. We have preached condemnation without the slightest flicker of hope and haven’t been welcoming. I myself have been guilty when I was younger and serving the homeless (up to 40% of homeless kids are lgbt). However I don’t think the Bible or Jesus is silent on the matter. Whether people want to obsess over Leviticus and Paul’s letters fine. But we should be following Jesus’s examples and teachings.

    • Carleen S. says:

      And so it shall be, Joe Openshaw. God loves you and God’s love conquers all.

    • LB says:

      Joe Openshaw — your words “because of their God-given nature” make me shudder before God. We are created in God’s image, but we are born with a profound sin-nature (courtesy of Satan, by way of Adam & Eve). And that sin-nature does all in its power to justify itself and control us. It rationalizes what God’s Word calls “sin” — not just homosexual behavior, but premarital heterosexual relations and also adulterous behavior of any kind, as well as every one of the other behaviors that God in His Word has specifically named “sin” — including gluttony, lying and a multitude of others.

      That sin-nature, which prompts and rationalizes our sins, is definitely not “God-given” — to consider it so is to attribute sin to God, an unthinking act that we all should shudder at the very thought of. The sin-nature is put there, rather, by the enemy of God the Father, who is Satan himself, whose end will be the Lake of Fire. God’s Word says sobering things about anyone who attributes the work of Satan to God instead. Although you and I profoundly disagree, I do not wish any harm to you, so please be very, very careful to whom you attribute the nature behind homosexual behavior.

  56. William says:

    Your letter is the truth and I fully agree. “Local option” would result in all out war.

    Our only written source and reference is the Bible. How it is interpreted is the issue. However, with relation to same sex marriage, how are we to interpret the teachings of Jesus on marriage when he said:

    “Haven’t you read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female. For this reason
    a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one
    Flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man
    not separate”

  57. Rev. Keefe Cropper says:

    This debate has gone on for over 4 decades. Can you imagine such an interminable discussion? It’s almost like some Kafka story. There is nothing new to share. As we listened to a recent rehash of the issue I am sure that everyone there could have repeated every argument from either side. We’re not talking about the Gospel or the kingdom or cultural engagement in an increasingly post Christian context. We must reach some resolution! I fear that Rev.’s Hamilton and Slaughters proposal only prolongs the suffering and continual decay. I heartily agree with this open letter!

  58. Guest says:

    As Eugene Peterson says, referring to Matthew 18:15-20, “Our core principle as Christians is unity based on God’s love, not exclusion based on someone else’s sin.”

    • Guest says:

      So we ordain child-molesters, murderers and embezzlers so they won’t feel excluded or marginalized?

  59. Michael Odle says:

    When I gave my life to Jesus in my 30s, there were a number of things I had been doing that I immediately realized were sinful. I quit doing them. In the 30 years since then I have continually measured my life by the Scripture and whenever I become aware that I am doing anything contrary to what it teaches, I begin to work on changing that too. I work on changing myself, not on changing the Bible. This is what we are all called to do, and it is what the Church is called to teach.

    You see, love is not simply supporting whatever someone really wants to do or be. Love is holding up a higher standard, God’s standard, and supporting one another to reach towards it. What I have read in this forum are many heartfelt statements that seem to say if the Church doesn’t let us be whoever we want to be, then that is not love. I’m sorry, but that is love. Jesus saves us just as we are, but does not leave us that way. Each of us, myself included, have things in our lives that we need to change, but it all begins with trusting God and believing his word.

    It is not what I want that matters, but what Christ wants. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19b-20 NRSV)

    I commend the writers of this letter and fully support it.

  60. Amanda says:

    I have been what I call a ‘card carrying’ Methodist my whole life. I have Methodist roots on both sides of my family tracing back to the first Methodist Church in Texas. My parents and grandparents were faithful Methodist who taught me to love God and to read the Bible. One of the things my parents and grandparents also taught me was about Wesleyan Theology and the importance of using Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience when coming to conclusions on matters of theology, and that sometimes faithful Christians come to different conclusions on matters of theology. My parents and grandparents were all proud of the fact that the Methodist Church was one of the first Churches in Texas to speak out against segregation and fought against discrimination, discrimination that they grew up hearing defended by scripture by other Christians. They heard scripture quoted to defend segregation and justify the mistreatment of minorities in their communities and the people that quoted these scriptures believe there was no other way to interpret them. I think scripture has been used and continues to be used as a weapon and that we have to recognize that faithful Christians just might interpret the same scriptures differently. I for one, do not think I know all the answers. I pray for guidance and wisdom, but I know there are others who pray for the same and come to different conclusions. Since I do not think any of us know for certain the mind and heart of God, I just try to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. It breaks my heart to think that the Methodist Church, I love dearly, cannot find a way to reconcile our differences.

    • Guest says:

      Thank you Amanda. Your letter makes more sense than any that I have seen here. I just do not understand the “my way or the highway” attitude of most who are posting. However, until the Book of Discipline changes the way the LGBT community is excluded in certain aspects of the church’s life this debate will not go away. It is our modern day dilemma equal to slavery or women.’s rights. Maybe it even goes further back than that…back to when men were persecuted by religious leaders for believing and proclaiming that the world was round. They even based that persecution on Scripture. God bless your parents and grandparents who taught you well.

      • LB says:

        Then are the Ten Commandments “my way or the highway”, on God’s part? Or is God the One who has the sole right to define what is and is not acceptable to Him? If He does have that right, He has asserted it in His very unambiguous statements about sexuality, not just regarding homosexual relations but also regarding premarital or extra-marital heterosexual sex as well — any kind of sexual relations at all outside of man-woman marriage.

        It’s not “my way” here –my way is irrelevant, until it becomes sin, and then I must face God. He has defined His way on this subject in His Word. In what way is “detestable” ambiguous?

    • Sparky L says:

      I wish more United Methodists thought like you, Amanda. It seems like many on both “sides” want to keep fighting over this issue, instead of accepting that we have a serious disagreement that cannot be resolved at this time. I think we must separate (equitably) or agree to hold different interpretations of what God wants from us. The current pattern of trying to bully and threaten fellow Methodists into submission is destructive to the whole church.

  61. Jim Sutton says:

    It amazes me after all the the years where progressives haimge been pushed to compromise in order to preserve the church and prevent schism, now that the same thing is being asked of conservatives, they can’t see their way to do it.

    • Sparky L says:

      So true. Where’s the empathy and respect? This letter says, “Your proposal would put us, who believe that same-sex relations are sinful, in the position of having to deny our consciences.” That is what conservatives have asked progressives to do for many years now.

  62. d says:

    Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter are not proposing anything new.
    What they have proposed is what the ELCA passed in 2009 that justified full inclusion in their church.
    The Lutheran Church has some great theologians and there was no way to justify full inclusion of GLBTQ persons from scripture so they came up with “”bound conscience.” to justify full inclusion. Bound conscience was a term used by Martin Luther Father of the Reformation. Martin Luther’s bound conscience was bound on sound scripture interpretation.
    Using “bound conscience” as a foundation made justification of personal opinion, not solid biblical teaching, and the qualifier to believe and practice pretty much what anyone chooses to believe and do as long as their conscience is bound.
    The end result of the adoption of bound conscience was a split in the ELCA. Some former ELCA members left to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ 
    Others joined the new North American Lutheran Church (NALC).
    Their efforts to appease everyone and avoid a formal split in the ELCA did not work.

  63. John Mitchell says:

    Reading the Bible through the lens of the sexual revolution is just as likely to lead to error as reading it through any other humanly self-centered worldview. As to the notion that a “committed, covenantal relationship” is all God is really asking us to engage in with each other, is that to suggest that when that relationship ends (except, of course, upon the death of one of the parties) God rejects the now-separate parties to that “committed, covenantal relationship”? And, is it to argue that God also sanctions relationships involving 3 or more in any combination of male-female? How about relationships in which one person is legally a minor? The further we stray from the model of one man and one women for one lifetime the more confident we should be that God is NOT approving of the relationship!

  64. Gustave Schaefer says:

    I would like to wish all the Father’s reading these comments “A Happy Fathers Day” on this 15th of June, 2014. I have two wonderful sons and a wonderful wife as God has intended for me. I am truly blessed.
    Fellow brothers and sisters on both sides of the homosexual issue have given their heart felt arguments on what they believe is correct and true. However, I still have not found nor has anyone provided a complete response as to where in the Bible (New and Old Testament} homosexuality is condoned and same sex marriage is allowed and supported. The response I received when I asked this question before was “it would take too long to explain in this forum”. I wait patiently.
    I leave you with this quote from the New Testament – 2 Timothy 4:3-4. I will not put the verses here but hope you will go to your Bibles and read it.
    Well, the 80 were asked to come forward and they did and I commend them for doing so.

  65. Jim says:

    In reading through the various comments, I’ve noticed that some respondents are still recommending compromise and the seeking of common ground. I would suggest that there exists NO room for compromise when in comes to scripture. And, in a perfect way, this highlights the vast chasm separating the traditional and progressive UM camps. Progressives seem to believe that God’s word is flexible and can be interpreted in any manner that suits the current societal wind or whim. Traditionalists see scripture as holy, unchanging and inalterable. The reality is indeed stark and it is staring us in the face; we won’t change each other. We must simply process the dissolution of the UM church, hopefully with a great degree of Christian charity and understanding. Let our church leaders devise a fair plan and let’s get the work done!

  66. D. Barbaree says:

    I really would like to hear someone (anyone!) address Sparky L.’s question about the Good News Movement’s position on divorce. I have asked many times why conservative United Methodists tolerate a diversity of beliefs about divorce and remarriage. I assume the Good News Movement is dead-set against it for scriptural reasons. Yet I don’t see them putting forth any effort to reprimand those who accept it as okay. Why the big difference between how we react to those who disagree with us about homosexuality and those who disagree with is about divorce. Incidentally, is there any scripture at all that justifies the UMC position on divorce, or have we just given the progressives a free pass on that issue?

    • Pastor David Goudie says:

      While I can not speak for Good News … These are my thoughts. I would say divorce is a sin (there are cases where it is regetably allowed in scripture) … But the results of divorce is from our human nature of sin. With that being said … Can we be forgiven of our sin? Yes… To that then the progressives say then what is the difference between allowing a divorced person become.e a pastor and a practicing homosexual?… And I would say the difference is the progressives say homosexuality is not a sin at all and want to condon it as a lifestyle that one does not need to seek forgiveness repentance and healing from.. And on that end I would ask .. do we really do that or want to do that with divorce … If the church began to promote divorce as a good thing … Something that we do at whim … Without repentance forgiveness and healing then … Some thing to be celebrated and condoned … Then I would have as much of an issue with that … As with the condoning of homosexual practice …
      Or put another way if a person was a practing homosexual but then was convicted of their sin… Repented and saught healing and Restoration from Jesus … AI would have no problem ordaining them… And I believe the discipline would state the same.

      • Pastor David Goudie says:

        Note when I said regrettably allowed in scripture … To clarify I did not mean that I regret that scripture allows it … I meant that Jesus says there are cases where it is allowed (marital infidelity) …and even though it is permissible in those cases … The condition of divorce is still regetable .. Because in a perfect world divorce would not not have been God’s desire for them.

      • D. Barbaree says:

        Thanks for a thoughtful answer, Pastor Goudie. There are only two things that have always confused me about that position. First, we don’t demand that pastors admit that their divorce is a sin. Should that be a condition for their continuing to serve a church? And if they refuse to acknowledge the sinfulness of their divorce do we enforce the same disiplinary action against them that we do of those who don’t acknowledge the sinfullness of homosexuality? Secondly, I dont understand how the UMC can tolerate remarriage of divorced pastors. If they truly repent ed of their divorce but then remarry, isnt that making a lifelong commitment to live in an adulterous relationship? They may be able to be forgiven for a past action, divorce, for what about an ongoing, perpetual one: living in a sexual relationship *after* divorce? Thank you for helping me wrestle with this.

        • D. Barbaree says:

          May I have an explanation for why my follow up questions to Rev Goudie were not deemed appropriate? My last post was screened and not imcluded. It was about the terms for which we allow UMC clergy to remarry after divorce, even though Christ explicitly identifies this as living in adultery. I think the question is very relevant to the discussion, since it deals with the issue of how, apart from the issue of homosexuality, do we deal with clergy who practice a lifestyle that is so clearly incomparable with Christian teachings? Is it or isn’t it incomparable. If it is then why don’t we say so and hold clergy accountable. If it isn’t against Christian teaching then how is it justified? Thanks.

          • Sparky L says:

            I agree that this discussion is relevant and am curious as to why D. Barbaree’s comments were rejected. Were they offensive in some way? UMC pastors do remarry after divorce, some more than once. And pastors also perform marriage ceremonies for members marrying for the 2nd and 3rd times. Is this against Scripture? Is the UMC being selective about which parts of Scripture to take literally and which to ignore? I am sure there are others who know more about this than I do.

      • d. barbaree says:

        I’m still confused. Are Good News Methodists saying that a pastor is only performing, but NOT celebrating, remarriage-after-divorced relationships if he conducts a straight second-marriage ceremony, but by performing a gay ceremony he IS? You can surely understand why I have trouble understanding why there would be two very different interpretations of what is essentially the same action.

        For the record, Sparky, my post didn’t get deleted. It just showed up later than my other one, so I thought something might be wrong.

    • Cherry says:

      It looks to me like basic church teaching (almost any church) is this: A man and a woman can get married to each other (under the proper ceremony of their church) and can have sex. If they have been married before, their partner must be deceased. No one else is allowed to have sex. Any other sexual relations are a sin. As far as using birth control – that is a whole other matter.

  67. Jay Mo says:

    It is distressing to hear all these members of the clergy quoting Scripture to support their views as though they had never been educated about the Bible, about science, about psychology, about history or how to reason, to look at experience, and much less church tradition. It all sounds so uninformed, so arrogant, and so unChristian.
    If the UMC splits that will only add another two denominations to the already almost 1000 different Protestant denominations that exist in North America. All claiming to be right about Scripture. No wonder the West is turning away form religion. Please listen to yourselves.

    • Jim says:

      Jay Mo,
      There is a world of difference between accepting God’s Word as your guide for life and being educated about the contents of the Bible. Too many of our UM pastors, bishops and laypersons have an intellectual understanding of scripture, without having a personal relationship with the one who inspired the Word. I have spent many years of my life in various colleges and universities and can assure you that no amount of experience, education or exposure to the latest pedagogy can substitute for knowing the One who inspired the Word. I, too, morn the pressing likelihood of two more denominations. However, I’d rather see Christians committed to living their lives in accordance to scripture and the discipline of the church, than reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to each fresh salvo of an increasingly liberal society. Though I am hesitant to quote scripture, “for me to live is Christ”…not TMZ or Entertainment Tonight!

      • Chingachgook - The Last of the Mohicans says:

        @Jay Your arguments and that of the cadre attempting to disrupt the church are exceedingly weak. You state that the Holy Spirit is leading you away from (in your words “contrary to”) Scripture. Could it also be that we “traditionalists” are also being guided by the Sprit to resist this? To resist the tides of culture? Has this thought never occurred?

        And since when has the Holy Spirit lead away from Scripture? This is heretofore UNKNOWN which means you and yours are claiming to be prophets. That being the case Jeremiah has some stern words of warning for you and those like you

        You claim we are being “unreasonable” when it is you that is being unreasonable. We state our case based on empirical, logical and yea historical evidence (in case you didn’t know the Bible is also a historical document!) where as you base what you state on what you feel “from your own mind, and not from the mouth of the Lord”

        Finally comparing what some “Christians” did to condone slavery in the USA is a tired old retread of an argument designed to evoke an emotional rather than a factual response which I will have nothing to do with. God lays out a very specific non-arbitrary ideal for human sexuality a theme reiterated by Jesus and throughout Scripture

        Now let us split and have done with it so we can resume the great commission – frankly we do not need more stupidity masquerading as piety in our pews.

        “Why do you send fools to judge my work!?” ~ Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) – The Agony and the Ecstasy

    • They will know we are Christians by our love... says:

      Jay Mo,
      I concur with your observations. Studying Scripture academically and spiritually is a wonderful discipline. It grieves me to see so much derogatory language against our Bishops and leaders who are calling for a grace filled, inclusive church-all within their understanding of academic and spiritual study. To discredit their alliegiance to the Living Word is dis-heartening. However, as several persons have posted, society does have a strong influence on the church. The worldly attitude of hate towards the lgbtq community is evidenced here. May we all use words of love and respect. May the world know we are Christians by our love, not our our hate towards a minority group of Gods children. God help us!

  68. Pery David Hawkins says:

    This article speaks right to the heart of this matter. We should not condone sin in any form. I agree with it 100%.
    David Hawkins

  69. Sam Deibler says:

    I find the certainty enshrined in the Open Letter’s statement, “We simply cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings on the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriage,” to be more than a little disturbing. Do we not believe that the Holy Spirit may be working in our culture to speak a truth that we are only now ready to bear? I believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit in the world that prepared us, contrary to Scripture, to abolish slavery and to ordain women to positions of full authority in our church. Our discussion about the acceptability of committed homosexual relationships needs to be informed by prayerful consideration of John 16:12-15. What is the love of Christ that the Holy Spirit declares?

  70. Jim says:

    I apologize in advance for finding it necessary to contribute once again to this discussion. From the time of my earliest recollections in the church, I can site discussions/debates/bible studies which centered on topics such as divorce/remarriage, tobacco/alcohol/drug addiction and same-sex relationships. As someone who would consider myself a traditionalist, I must confess that I often find myself at odds with the UM church over these issues. Although our church was established within the sphere of an evangelical holiness tradition, the UM’s of 2014 find themselves more preoccupied with living dangerously close to iniquities enumerated in scripture. We distain the biblical call to holiness and, instead, choose to manufacture an alliance with whatever societal trends are the current flavor of the day. At our peril, we willfully ignore our responsibility to be the salt of the world; rather, we dole out a sugary confection of scriptural ignorance and societal compromise. In response, some have suggested that we need to reexamine our church discipline and practice in the area of divorce; as for me, I would welcome this examination and reflective process. Nonetheless, let us not wander from the topic which is bringing the church to schism. With all the love and grace of God in my heart, it is impossible for me to read and reflect on the biblical admonitions concerning sexuality , without understanding same-sex relations as wrong and sinful. This is not an issue of interpretation; rather, it is scriptural fact! As a son of a UM minister…as a former UM youth pastor and camp director…as a Christian who is unable to accept the willful disobedience of bishops, clergy and laity to scripture and church discipline, I say that enough is enough. I pray that we find an acceptable way to dissolve our current unequal yoking and allow both groups to go their separate ways. The sooner we accept the reality that we are not one church, the sooner we can be about the Father’s business.

  71. La Shaine Reynolds says:

    I have nothing against homosexuals. I have some friends that are. But that doesn’t mean I agree with their choice. And I know that God loves His children no matter what. But that does not mean He condones what we do against Him and His word. Can we imagine that John Wesley would have tolerated this kind of immoral position? Surely he would have seen homosexuality in all of its forms as sinful and incompatible with Scriptural truth. As stated in the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church holds that “homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth.” In other words, all individuals are of worth to God. Nevertheless, in keeping with historic Church teaching, it considers the “practice of homosexuality [to be] incompatible with Christian teaching, Based on its teaching, the United Methodist Church prohibits the blessing of homosexual unions by its clergy and in its churches. John Wesley wrote as a purpose for compiling his Notes on the Bible, “To give the direct, literal meaning of every verse, of every sentence, and, as far as I am able, of every word in the oracles of God. I design only, like the hand of a dial, to point every man to this; not to take up his mind with something else, however excellent, but to keep his eye fixed upon the naked Bible, that he may read and hear it with understanding. I say again, and I desire it may be well observed, that none may expect what they will not find….” The first scripture passage to be examined is Leviticus 18:22, which reads, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Romans 1:18-32, speaks to this issue, especially 26-27 where Paul wrote, “…God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men.” These Scripture verses are clear in what they mean. Bishop Griswold, said that in biblical times there was no understanding that homosexuality was a natural orientation and not a choice. “Discreet acts of homosexuality” were condemned in the Bible because they were acts of lust instead of the “love, forgiveness, grace” of committed same-sex relationships. Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible.” I have to agree with Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D. Associate Professor of New Testament of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. “You assume that the absence of “choice” regarding sexual impulses absolves one of moral responsibility for the behavior arising from such impulses. Numerous sinful desires, sexual and otherwise, are not “chosen” in the sense of being manufactured willfully. That doesn’t make them any less sinful – though it can and should inform our pastoral response. Who would choose to be a pedophile if it were a simple matter of choice? Some people find it extraordinarily difficult to be limited to a single sex partner; do they choose their sexual impulses? Some people grow up without an instinctive aversion to sex with close blood relations and then fall in love with one such relative; do they simply manufacture such feelings? Paul describes sin itself in Romans 7 as an innate impulse, passed on by an ancestor figure, running through the members of the human body, and never entirely within human control. The very nature of sin is that it generates biologically-related impulses. Why do you think a biological connection disqualifies an impulse from being sinful? Such thinking is patently un-biblical.” I don’t mean to upset anyone. The Bible is our road map for this life and I have to stand by God and what He tells me to do.

  72. Mike Bozeman says:

    The letter states that what the Bible says about homosexuality cannot be ignored but I guess what Jesus said about divorce and remarriage can be? We all pick and choose scripture to support our views just like the Methodist pastors in the nineteenth century arguing for and against slavery quoting scripture while reading the same Bible. I remember reading about a church called, ‘The Church of Christ.’ A group broke away and called themselves ‘The True Church of Christ.’ The church split with the group leaving calling themselves ‘The Only True Church of Christ.’ Imagine if we were to expend the same amount of energy on debating homosexuality on how to help the poor and broken and the sick and incarcerated.

    • La Shaine Reynolds says:

      I’m hearing all about slavery. What does that have to do with this topic? Is the soul of a man a slave? No it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to lust and passion. I guess if homosexuality is ok with some people then why let a pedophile teach a youth group or be apart of our children’s classes? I’m just saying. Like I said God put these things in the Bible, the Bible is a roadmap for our lives. What He says goes and I will stand up and fight for Him and I would even die for Him.

    • theenemyhatesclarity says:

      Mike, I hope you are not saying that because we miss the mark on divorce, we should also miss it on homosexuality. Our church has failed on the marriage/divorce issue, and people would be much better off if we stuck to Scripture on that issue, just like we are doing on homosexuality. It is never wise to give in to culture.

      But there is another difference. Progressives want us to celebrate homosexuality. No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to celebrate divorce.

      In Christ,

      The enemy hates clarity

      • D. Barbaree says:

        The way the Reconciling Movement is dealing with homosexuality raises a crucial issue: If they are successful in their crusade to defrock pastors for disagreeing with them about homosexuality, how will they deal with the ones who disagree with them about divorce and remarriage , aka “adultery”? Will we have established a precedent for going after other “liberal’ issues that apparently are being kept on the backburner? If the UMC establishes a zero-tolerance policy on homosexuality, what assurance would any United Methodist have they this wont encourage new efforts to establish zero-tolerance policies toward abortion, capital punishment, the Virgin Birth, the Second Coming, etc? I dont see anything from any of the Confessing Movement supporters that indicate that they wouldn’t hesitate to move on to attacking other liberal positions within the denomintion once they have established their power to defrock anyone whom they have determined to be “going against Christian teachings.”

        • D. Barbaree says:

          I just noticed that I got my groups confused in this post. Actually I meant to say: “The way the Confessing Movement is dealing with homosexuality…” and not the “Reconciling” movement. sorry if that led to confusion.

  73. Tom Middaugh says:

    IF The UMC followed the Bible to the letter, would anybody be allowed to attend? Is not “our church” the place were we want “all” sinners to be?

  74. Chico says:

    Jesus in Mathew 19 teaches us that the marriage of one man and one woman is the ideal. The parents have children and raise them, they leave their parents and the process continues. I believe that we should continue to hold this out as the ideal. But alas, there are many of us who do not live up to this ideal and fail in one way or another–divorce, homosexuality, being single but having sex outside of marriage etc.. These can be considered less than ideal “sinful” lifestyles. But there are other sinful lifestyles that chriistians continue to engage in also–not following the land laws of the old testament, not giving up everything to follow Jesus, various common idol worship including spending untold hours watching sports. But somehow we accept these less than ideal sinful lifesyles and we love each other, worship, and pray for salvation despite our failures. Perhaps this is the way we should view homosexuality. Accept same sex couples the way we do divorced couples. The problem comes in where gays want their marriage to be accepted as the, or another, ideal. It is not, just like divorce is not the ideal. If all could accept this perhaps we could find ways to bless same sex partnerships or marriage without holding it out as the ideal and not try to convert others to the homosexual lifestyle through childrens books or telling teenagers to do whatever feels good whether its bi, trans, gay or lesbian. This way we all accept by grace the forgiveness and salvation of the blood of Jesus–we promote the ideal yet accept all in our brokeness.

  75. Tim says:

    In a book I read recently a quote from Augustine seems to fit this problem we have in America and the United Methodist Church. The quote from the book follows:

    Even in Augustine’s day there were already those who would pick and choose the scriptures that suited them and discount the rest. In response he wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels and reject what you don’t like, it’s not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

  76. RM says:

    My guess is at this point no one is still reading the comments. Somehow I seem to keep typing.. To try and find my way on this issue I have really tried to find the heart of Jesus and the spirit of the Holy Spirit message in the New Testiment. I notice that Jesus really only came down on the people who tried to stand between seekers and God. He loved sinners and spent his time with sinners. Seems to me that the clear message here is to let God sort the thing out. Our job is just to love like Jesus loved. Which sounds easy but, clearly isn’t. Then there’s that story from the book of Acts where Peter is chillin on the roof. Either we must say this vision was real or bull bagels. If it’s true it challenges our religious concepts about what is clean and unclean, true or false, good or bad. Basically, when the sheet comes down with all the unclean animals in it and God proclaims them as clean we must then question all the rules, especially from the book of Leviticus. The spirit of the vision seems to be this overwhelming love and acceptance that God has for people, even to the point of questioning Biblical authority. Of course, I’m just a lay flunkie and we know what that means. Sit down and shut up. Maybe the real question needs to be: Does anything we the church do in the 21st century resemble anything Jesus would do? Most of the time I doubt it.

  77. Steve Zinser says:

    Dear Dr. Abraham,

    There is merit in the Slaughter/Hamilton plan. It would be wise to carefully consider it. First, it reflects reality: everyone already is making their own decisions about what they believe. It might as well be official. Let it be by church, by district, and by conference. It will be honest. Second, on the practical side it allows a divided church to share non-partisan health, pension, publishing, and administrative costs. While it would be contentious with education, missions, and social action, since those are mere ‘opinion bodies’ anyway, they could be split. Their resources, leadership, and directions could be split with one half selected for commitment and service to a conservative agenda, and the other half serving a liberal agenda. There would be no need for different buildings or offices.

    The real bottom line is that it might well operate as an extended pathway to a practical rather than a contentious division.

  78. T Reynolds says:

    I was raised in the Methodist church. My parents (and mother) to this day remain Methodist. While I cannot speak as an insider, as a member of the body of Christ, and a concerned friend, I have to say this division is painful for everyone. You can’t wish away difficult passages or take them out of context from the writer (and One who inspired the words) intended meaning. But context is bigger than some make it, and small than others do. I think one thing those of us feeling so frustrated are mostly concerned that we won’t be faithful to God. And that is what we want to be, I really believe. I love God, I am grateful for Jesus and for the church. Jesus told us that “They” will know us by our love. Now we have to remember our love for one another, where it comes from, and resist tearing one another apart, even with these difficult things we now wrestle with. In love I urge you to guard your hearts and your tongues, and your typing. I left the denomination when I was young and more black and white in my judgements. Some beliefs I can not abandon, as I have been taught and believe they are foundational to my faith. But no one will want to hear about that if I am angry and bitter. So mostly, I love others. And sometimes I speak. I am praying for my first church.

Trackbacks

  1. […] latest in the Methodist debate is this letter which addresses a proposal to change the very structure of the United Methodist Church in what can […]

  2. […] Good News publicized an open letter to Adam Hamilton and Michael Slaughter, who had proposed a compromise meant to maintain the unity […]

  3. […] Yesterday Rob Renfroe of Good News, A Forum for Scriptural Christianity posted an open letter to Rev. Adam Hamilton and Rev. Mike Slaughter, challenging the content of their proposal for a means by which the United Methodist Church might remain institutionally united while still divided by issue. The “A Way Forward for a United Methodist Church” post can be read here and Rob Renfroe’s open letter here. […]

  4. […] (June 13): Nearly 90 Methodist conservatives have signed a response to the unity proposal by prominent pastor Adam Hamilton and other progressives, claiming it […]

  5. […] (June 13): Nearly 90 Methodist conservatives have signed a response to the unity proposal by prominent pastor Adam Hamilton and other progressives, claiming it […]

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