The Methodist Church world-wide has over 80 million members. Here in the US there are 12 million members as of 2012. I use these numbers to make the point that even in today’s world of lessening respect for God and Church, this denomination is a healthy, vibrant church full of Godly, Christ loving people who strive to take the good news to all people. After years of debate, kicking the can down the road again will be almost impossible to do. The issue of course is the Methodist stand, or I should say doctrine within church law regarding their stance on same gender practices. The Methodist Book of Discipline states clearly “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” This has been the proverbial thorn in the denominations side for years. After years of discord, mostly between leadership and those seeking change and inclusion, I left the Church. Now within the next two years this decision will be decided. After decades of turmoil the possibility of a split is possible, nine words, all over nine words. I will come back to that later.***
As a layman I certainly am not an expert on Church law. I do try to research the topics I write from the Pew, my goal being to be as accurate as possible. If you find things that in your mind are incorrect please let me know. To me there are two things at play here, Church Law or God’s Law. One you can discuss, debate and even change if the support is there for it. The other while subject to discussion as to it’s meaning and intent is not changeable, it is…
Taking a moment let’s look at the past and find our way forward.
The Oral Law is a legal commentary on the Torah, explaining how its commandments are to be carried out. 613 Laws, yes 613 were still not enough to provide a sufficient guide to Jewish life. The oral law, a commentary on the Torah, seeks to explain what it means and a how to do it guide. A commentary that had become very important because there were events that devastated the communities of rabbinical scholars and students and putting the passing on of the Oral Law at risk.There was a very real chance the oral law would be forgotten if it were not written down.
“This decline in the number of knowledgeable Jews seems to have been a decisive factor in Rabbi Judah the Prince’s decision around the year 200 C.E. to record in writing the Oral Law.” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-oral-law-talmud-and-mishna)
This writing down of the oral law became the Mishna, the name for the sixty-three tractates in which Rabbi Judah set down the Oral Law. The oral laws way forward is not over yet. These writings were studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis. Soon some of these rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentaries on the Mishna’s laws in a series of books known as the Talmud. I am in deep water here and may need to be corrected. My view from the pew tells me this was a long and tedious path because man decided to interpret and explain what God was saying. Their intent was not to just protect God’s word, but to tighten, bring the word and its dissemination under their control and fit it to their goals. I still feel that I haven’t got this right yet. I still am looking for at what point did God’s law become Man’s law?
I have always considered this gender issue to be in my view one of social, civil and legal consideration in the arena of cultural and societal norms, having no standing between God and his people. I have no intention of getting in a food fight with words. However you write it, say it, or interpret it, God made it plain that his creation intent was man / woman, to procreate and care for this His creation. No where does it say anything else that might even suggest something different. I could continue on as the Jews of old did trying to get it right but somewhere in all those words and many books there is the irrefutable fact of God’s word. The Methodist Church like many others have made the mistake of allowing their faith, energy, resources and unity to be hijacked by a social issue that God spoke to a long time ago. I chose to look back at the evolution of the word through God’s people and how in time they became encumbered with opinion and law. We as Christians have done well in assigning sin and blame and doing it in a way that is as far from God’s wishes for us, in the ministry to other people. My arguments may be weak and without the eloquence of those of theological letters but I am sadden at the place this great denomination and its people find themselves****Because of just nine words….
“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
To those of you who do not agree I do not condemn you. We Christians are good at pointing fingers….When we should be extending hands of love. I believe the above statement to be God’s word and I will never accept it to be otherwise. I welcome you to the table and accept you as my equal, as in God’s eyes we are all equal and loved by Him. I will leave the judgement to God and strive to love and respect that which he has created. To my friends of the Methodist Church. May the Holy Spirt lead you to the higher calling of loving one another as He loves us. We know that salvation does not lie in the law………
Life is Good