Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3 NKJV~
The United Methodist Church will become two. Except that it has been two entities within one for a long time.
It was easy to see it coming. There have been two sides within United Methodism for many years. But as one side continued to move away from scripture and the other side stood true, a break was inevitable and is now on the horizon.
Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times says the split comes as the denomination’s “administrators were poised to enact punishments on those ministers within the ranks who gave the thumbs-up to gay marriages. The punishments would’ve taken the form of year-long bans without pay — leading to outright removal from the ministry ranks for repeat offenses.”
The majority of elected delegates within the denomination (many from Africa and fewer in America) want to follow orthodox, biblical teaching that homosexual behavior is sin.
The minority denies that the sexual union between two people of the same sex is sin.
There can be no compromise.
Yet the two sides have been dwelling under the umbrella of John Wesley for a very long time. It would seem that the side of tradition will take Wesley with them.
And the other side: whose are they?
They can point back to no Christian hero of the ages. This new perspective on sexual sin–or its existence only as bigotry–is, well, new. That is to say unparalleled in Church history.
The Methodists are not the first to split. Two years ago, the Mennonites split over the same issue.
Perhaps future splits will be less dramatic–less newsworthy. But liberals within denominations are drawing a new line in history and the line is about LGBT issues.
Many conservative Christians are not missing the point. Greg Coles leads worship at his church. He refers to himself as “gay” but is committed to living a celibate life.
He writes: “Adopting the word gay was not, for me, an attempt to declare a totalizing new identity which superseded my identity as a follower of Christ. It was simply an attempt to communicate as honestly as I could to as many people as possible. Along with many other same-sex-oriented Christians, I have found that words like gay, lesbian and bisexual—words collectively known as sexual identity labels—can facilitate important conversations about vocation and obedience to Jesus for those of us with non-normative experiences of sexuality.”
If they haven’t already, conservative churches need to have that conversation.
This controversy is out of the closet–so to speak–where it has been brewing for decades.
Just published a year ago, my book Restoring the Shattered presented the divide within the denominations–not between them. “It’s a schism that’s hidden within the folds of denominations. Many misconceptions we have about each other’s traditions reside within this divide between orthodox and liberal thinking.”
The schism that was hidden within the folds is hidden no more.