And the Gays Score a Knockout!

I don’t want to become a one-horse issue poster, but…UGH!

Here’s the background: a soccer coach at Belmont University was terminated because she told her class that she and her partner were expecting a child. Since then, the university revised its policy to include anti-discrimination language regarding sexual orientation. Yea for Belmont.

Because Belmont University used to be closely tied to the Southern Baptist Church, good folk from here in the buckle of the Bible belt (Nashville, Tennessee) felt compelled to weigh-in on Belmont’s policy change. I made the mistake of reading some of the editorial comments (and comments on the comments), and I let it get to me.

Here’s a quote that summarizes how the folks who were displeased with the change felt:

“The cause of Christ took a direct hit” (Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector, the state newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention).

None of the arguments I read for or against the policy were new. As usual, no one’s mind was changed by the back-and-forth quoting and interpreting of scripture. So why did it affect me? Why the “UGH!”? It’s because my own denomination, the United Methodist Church, also states in it’s Book of Discipline (the official book of policy for the denomination), “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” Yea UMC.

That statement isn’t new, either. What’s new is I am starting to pay attention. I am starting to let myself think. I am quickly losing patience.

UGH! indeed.

As long as that statement remains a part of the UMC’s official policy, then it’s official policy must agree that, in this situation, “the cause of Christ took a direct hit.” To be fair, I need to acknowledge that the church has some wishy-washy wiggle room because the very same page of the Discipline affirms the civil rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation. How does the church reconciles the two statements?

Honestly? I don’t care. I want to be a part a church that has the balls to live out its beliefs. If my sexual orientation is incompatible with Christian teaching, then kick me the hell out of the church. If the church isn’t comfortable doing that, then shouldn’t it require me to go to some reorientation boot camp to help set me straight? At the very least, shouldn’t it get me in a prayer group full of really butch guys? (On second thought, that would be a bad idea. Maybe butch women?) None of that has happened in the 34 years (since I was twelve I guess) that I have been a member of the United Methodist Church. Either the church doesn’t care much about my soul, or it doesn’t put a lot of stock in this hurtful statement from the Discipline. Which is it?

Ok. Calm down, Doug. Even in the midst of inconsistency, frustration, anger, and fear, there is grace. Remember how you felt when your Sunday school class joined the reconciling movement? And didn’t 33 retired United Methodist bishops recently speak out against the very statement in the Discipline you’re ranting about?

The problem is, I get tired and impatient, especially when there’s so much hate in the world. A world where some Christians say Jesus is being beaten up by the advancement of gay rights. (Uh, yeah. I gots moves! Wait until you see the next combination uppercut I’ve been working on.) A world that some Christians say is so impacted by homosexuality (from the Exodus “about” page). (Really? I had no idea I was that powerful! And please don’t use the word “impact” as a verb, especially in the past tense).

Let me be clear: I need to be part of a church that, in no uncertain terms, embraces the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. I believe the day will come when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people will be completely welcome in the United Methodist Church. I’m just not sure I can wait for it.

17 thoughts on “And the Gays Score a Knockout!

  1. doug, I am going to do this in best way I i know how… from a techno geek to another techno geek.

    Raised as an independent Baptist, NOT SOUTHERN OR ANY OTHER WEIRD OFF BRANCH, I find that there are some crazy extremists out there. For ANY religion. So just to let you know, I am not one of those, as I have fallen by the wayside of my upbringing and teachings, and gone a little more ‘worldly’ than my mother or the church would ever agree with.
    Now that’s out of the way..

    1.)The discipline is not supposed to be the end of all ends, so let’s clear that up. I don’t care what denomination you are. There is no other book above the word of God. The Bible. So I am going to rule out any arguments that deal with that book, because it is a man made book. Man inspired, not God inspired. So there is no further argument about what that book says.

    2.)God got rid of 2 cities for homosexuality. 2!. not 1, not a group of people, not one guy.. 2 cities!! then turned the guy’s wife (Lot), who was supposed to find one moral man and couldn’t, into a pillar of salt for even looking back.
    Reference: the Bible.

    3.)I agree with your point that the church should at some point put you with a prayer group. NOT like what you proposed. Maybe a friend of yours. Or maybe someone who cares for your soul. You shouldn’t go extremes like you did, when people start to get defensive, as it seems that you have.
    don’t stick you with a bunch of captain america, redneck, gay hating, toothless retards who want to do nothing but hit you, because that would be retarded.

    4.) You are correct about Christ’s inclusive love. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. NOT HATE THE PERSON. Many people have gotten away from this. Especially the ‘redneck’ division of any denomination you come across. It has gotten seriously out of control. So as I have learned to live, I tend to have friends of all kinds, denominations, beliefs, races, and orientations. Do agree with all of it? No I do not. BUT that doesn’t stop me from being friends with that person. I can still include them in my ‘circle’ of friends. I am to pray for them, and not FORCE or try to persuade them into my beliefs. If someone is forced, they will never truly be happy or they will know they were forced, and someday revert back to their sin. As noted in the recent movie Inception, if you haven’t seen it, you should. They make that point in the movie, that people will not change their minds if they know it isn’t their own idea, they have to come to it on their own.

    My overall point from #4 there is, I am responsible for me and me alone. When Christ comes back and we stand before Him at the Judgment seat of Christ, guess what we get to talk about? ME. No one else. He cares about what we did. So if I did the christian thing and love you as person, but hated the sin and prayed for you, but you never chose to change, your “blood” is not on my hands. Now if I were to know about your sin, and never talk to you about it, and never pray for you, then I am responsible and your “blood” is on my hands. Only you can change your heart. This is why God gave you free will. Even He knows He cannot change you, He wants you too, but because He made you with free will, you decide. He leaves the invitation open for you at any point in your life. Another good movie reference for this is Bruce Almighty. That was a GREAT movie!

    there’s my two cents

    Just saying brotha… praying for ya…

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  2. To Rusty G.: In reading your comment, I couldn’t help but be thankful for your attitude and willingness to express it. You really did sound as though you had put a lot of thought into your opinion and where willing to back it with prayer and even friendship.
    And here is my HOWEVER: It has been a human tendancy to take our stand against sin, or draw the line in the sand against evil and injustice to the point of not just hating the sin but the sinner. Hence, we have created civil wars, ghastly laws and punishments, and even physical and/or emotion death to the “sinners”. Thanks be to God, for some that has changed, to the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin”. I believe we are called to take another step. In the transformed world that the transforming love of God calls us to create, there is no need for any word other than LOVE. That’s what I see on the cross! There is no reason to separate men and women; gay, straight; Christian, Muslim; blue eyed or brown. The transformed world will be a beautifully diverse creation in which we look at each as loved. Period – just loved. Sound like heaven? Yep. Thanks be to God.

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  3. All I have to say is “I can has grace,” thanks to Doug’s passion to challenge and love for the UM church…here’s hoping that the Holy Spirit is working to transform all of our hearts and eyes to see the people of God with more fullness. I remember my OT professor in seminary teaching us that the hebrew word for “heart” can also be translated “imagination.”
    So, “Lift up your imaginations…” We lift them up to the Lord.

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  4. Doug, I love you and Frank. You all have an amazing family and hopefully the changes at Belmont will be real and not just a statement on paper for PR. Because of my position in education I cannot begin to tell you how many people I know who are in the “closet” because of the true fear of losing their jobs. If a school wants to get rid of someone they can create reasons to fire you. Most people would never fight the dismissal in court because they would never get another teaching position.

    As far as the comments by Randy G, I would encourage him to study further.

    “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…” The Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an “abomination.” Similarly, Jude 7 declares, “…Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” So, homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged.

    I can not tell you whether or not true homosexuality (not random promiscuous acts with the same sex) is a sin, but what I can do is show you verses in the Bible that tell us that God loves us. He knows that we have ALL sinned, yet he still loves us. God sent Jesus Christ, His very own son to die for ALL of our sins in order that we can be saved and have life eternal in heaven. So why is it that some people think that homosexuality is the single sin that can condemn us to eternity in hell?

    Anyone can be saved, no matter what sins they are guilty of committing. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” ALL have sinned. Not just gay people. Even good people have sinned and no sin is unforgivable except the sin of turning our back on God.
    My beliefs are:

    1. The Bible says, “Whosoever…”
    2. Jesus never said anything against homosexuality.
    3. We are all equal at the foot of the cross.
    4. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it.
    5. Salvation is for anyone who asks for it.
    6. God knew who we were before we were born. Or God knew you were gay before you were born, and it was ok then and it’s ok now.
    7. God has plans for us-prosperity, a hope and a future.
    8. God is love.
    9.God wants fellowship with us. ( I know it sounds kinda churchy-so please feel free to tweak if you can come up with something better)
    10.God’s church is not a place of spiritual alienation.

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    • I heard an interpretation once (I know that’s a loaded word, but I believe that there is no way in the world to read anything without interpreting it, the Bible included) that went something like this regarding the Sodom and Gomorra story:

      When the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) talk about homosexuality, the issue is temple (as if foreign gods) prostitution. It’s not about relationship, but people into objects and sex into a commodity in some kind of screwed up form of worship.

      God has enough, and threatens destruction. The travelers (God’s messenger’s in the story) visit Lot to warn him. Like some kind of horrible gang banger riot, a crowd gathers and wants want to rape the traveling messengers. This has little to do with male-on-male sex and more to do with breaking all of the extremely important rules relating to hospitality. Contrast the way the visitors were treated by the townfolk with way Lot welcomed them into his home (he even offered his daughters to the rioting crowd in their place) and with the way they were treated when they visited Sarah and Abraham.

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    • Here is the first issue i have. Homosexuality is a sin, which you did say in your statement about sodom and Gomorrah.

      ” So, homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged.”

      So I’ll go with Sodom and gomorrah here.

      First let’s establish family.

      Genesis 2:21-25
      God made man and woman, and man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.

      So we have established family. Father and mother, husband and wife. Not mother and mother or father and father. Not husband and husband or wife and wife.

      Moving into the two cities

      Genesis 19:5
      And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

      The same phrasing used to describe the raping of lots daughters (homosexuality)

      Genesis 19:24
      Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
      19:25
      And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

      So God is saying it IS a sin. Otherwise the cities never would have been burnt down. 
      Same goes for the flood. God flooded the world because of sin.

      That’s my idea on that.

      Secondly, I would like to say that I never stated homosexuality is the ONE sin. The problem is, people seem to think there are levels of sin. Or ones that can keep us out of heaven or can damn your eternal soul to hell. Sins are all the same in God’s eyes, it is us as humans who seem to change the rules to fit our needs. Like we think lying isn’t as bad as killing. But sin is sin, & because heaven is a perfect place, sin is not allowed, but through Christ’s blood and him dying on the cross, as you stated previously, we are ‘pardoned’ or forgiven. That is the only way we are allowed into heaven, because God no longer sees our sin, but His Son’s blood.
      So please make sure that there is never just ONE sin. They are all the same.

      God also knows that people choose to be gay. God doesn’t make them gay. This goes back to my point about free will. He gives us a choice. BY NO MEANS are we born gay. It is un-natural. So I want to clarify, we were not made gay or born gay, it is a lifestyle that one chooses.

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      • There’s no way I chose to be gay. I tried to be straight and I couldn’t pretend any longer. Some pretty awful things resulted from living that lie. But by God’s grace, three wonderful children also resulted from living that lie.

        I could go into details but some of it is just too painful and personal. Maybe I will tell the whole story on this blog one day, maybe not. The point is, there is no way, no way, no way (did I say there is no way?) I chose to be gay. I am not living a lifestyle choice. I’d be gay whether I was living with my partner of 11 years, or if I was still in my marriage of 10. I’d be gay if I were on a deserted island. If I’m right, I’ll be gay in heaven. If you’re right, I’ll be gay in hell.

        Why am I suddenly thinking of Dr. Suess’s Green Eggs and Ham:

        I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, [gay] I am!

        I know I’m not changing anyone’s mind here, because that just never happens. I just had to respond to your saying I chose to be gay. There’s no freakin’ way that’s true.

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  5. Doug,
    I cannot dispute that with you, as the only thing I will say is I will revert back to Genesis when the first family was set. There is no verse in the Bible about the way we are born. I’ll use Genesis 2:21 again.
    I also cannot dispute your happiness. I cannot tell you what makes you happy. Only you can, but again this is all based on your choice.

    I will say this though, I heard this on NPR a few days back in their “All Things Considered” program yesterday (http://www.npr.org/2011/02/03/133463774/religious-groups-tackle-an-x-rated-secret?sc=17&f=). This talks about porn in the church. Porn will make some people happy. But this doesn’t make it right. I cannot dispute these peoples happiness, again, I am not these people, but it doesn’t make it right. People’s happiness is what seems to get in the way. It is part of our human nature to make sure we are happy ourselves. This is not always in line with what God commands or what God wants for us.

    Still praying for ya!

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  6. This “being gay is a choice,” stuff just flies all over me. If you ask 10 or 10,000 Gays if they chose being gay over being “accepted” by their families, peers, and society 99.9% will tell you it is not a choice. I get so sick of the Right Winged biggots trying to justify there stance by saying it is a choice to be gay. IT IS NOT A CHOICE! Besides my personal experiences I can take you into a class full of Kindergarden students and pick out the boys and often, though not as obvious, girls who will grow into adults who love those of the same sex. I also state again that too many who preach against homosexuality fight New Testament Christianity with Old Testament History. You are just as judgemental as the next and you submerge it in your self-rightous old testament law.

    Jesus Christ came to earth and died on the cross for the sins of all human beings not all but the gays. Jesus did not once say the term Gay, Homosexual, Lesbian or anything related to it. He did speak to fornication and adultry which I think the hetrosexual community is pretty good at… but sin is sin and if forgiveness is sought it is granted. God created me he created Doug, he created you. God wants me to love everyone as He would love me. Yet, sometimes when you have people refusing to sell you a home, or give you a job, or let you have a child because of who you get into bed with every night it is difficult to love them. It is hard to see a couple who have devoted their lives to each other be separated in their senior years because the “family” is not going to let that “Lesbian” get hold of their mother’s money or your partner of a lifetime is in intensive care and you can’t see them because you aren’t “family. Even the Right Wing poster boy George W’s family says everyone should have a right to marry whoever they wish. Dick Chaney’s daughter is a Lesbian and she and her partner couldn’t adopt but had a child together through the wonder’s of science.

    I was married for many years to a church of Christ preacher so don’t hit me up with..”I am not judging you, God is…” I am aware of who will judge me and I am so greatful it is not the mortal men of this earth who tear down one form of love while they pickett soldiers funerals and chant, cheat on their spouses, hurt their children, and raise a whole new generation of biggots. To my mind it isn’t too far from burning crosses on front yards. It is time that the “Bible Belt” moves on to the love and Grace God offers everyone of His children in the New Test. Peace to all.

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  7. Several points in all of this strike me:
    1. Sodom and Gomorrah were obviously destroyed not for one sin alone.
    2. It seems obvious that it was the rape that was condemned, not the homosexuality per se.
    3. There are at least 8 different kinds of “marriage” described in the Bible.
    4. According to scripture, women are of little or no value (Lot’s treatment of his daughters emphaizes that) and were indeed even thought to be evil in and of themselves. Therefore, women should have little or no place in our churches or church organizations. (Try that on any woman pastor or bishop.)
    5. Also, it is assumed that the earth is the center of the universe. Or, since Biblical times, did God move it so that it is no longer the center of anything?
    What we have learned about the universe and human beings is to inform our reading of scripture – not to change it, but to see what God’s true intention was for us then and now. Sciences, including anthropology, sociolgy and psychology, have always reinforced the truth of scripture, not weakened it, when we do not close out minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit.
    All references to exclusion of homosexuals from marriage and ordination in the Book of Discipline must be removed as unscriptural.

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