It saddens me greatly that after all these years the controversy and division within the United Methodist Church continues to this day despite numerous meetings at local, district and general conference and several votes. The controversy of course is the reaction of leadership and lay persons to same-gender polices. Make no mistake, this issue continues to divide the church and I believe that the damage done over the years, yes years, has harden hearts on both sides of this very emotional question. What began as something just kinda hanging around outside the tent of fellowship has managed to find a door and a voice within the fellowship. A few years back the arrival of the social justice warriors changed the discussion to a debate which has escalated to an all out battle for the heart and soul of the Methodist Church. It should be noted that pursuit of social justice has always been a Methodist thing.
From its founding, Methodism was a Christian social justice movement. Under John Wesley‘s direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including the prison reform and abolition movements. Wesley himself was among the first to preach for slaves rights attracting significant opposition.
Today, social justice plays a major role in the United Methodist Church. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church says, “We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people to free and fair elections and to the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, communications media, and petition for redress of grievances without fear of reprisal; to the right to privacy; and to the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.” The United Methodist Church also teaches population control as part of its doctrine.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice#Christianity)
So…..other than the subject matter, this is quite in character for the Methodist Church at this or any time, might say it is part of their DNA. It is not my intent to question the faith, sincerity, or credibility of the people within or without the church for their views but I do intend to be honest and forthright in my personal view of the current situation. I believe that the emotion brought about by same-gender questions which have damaged the church and have been an on-going thing for years have made it impossible to reach a reasonable, reconcilable solution to this matter. I would like to introduce another aspect to an already long list of considerations. I present you with the consideration of intent. Consider the following.
Definition of intent : PURPOSE
It is recognized that other factors also influence the direction of this purpose and they are….. Aim, Significance and Sense. Using these four points read and consider the following scripture from Genesis 1: 26-28
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
What do you see as the intent in these verses? Keep in mind we are reading God’s intent. If intent has as place in this issue, then verse 28 contains the other three, Aim, Significance and Sense. At this point it is only fair that I remind you that I was a Methodist for well over thirty years. I did not leave the church because of same-gender issues but because I felt that the word of God was being, I will be nice here, marginalized to accommodate the changing attitudes and direction of societal change and the rush to remain relevant in the cultural changes of the day. There will always be scriptural differences and interpretations of the written word, consider the huge number of commentaries and other biblical studies available today in this digital age. It is my opinion that this whole matter should be about the intent of these verses we are looking at today. To me there is no wiggle room in these verses. There is by definition purpose, aim, significance and sense. I will even go as far as to say the Christian view of marriage has been regulated to personal preference and the societal and cultural direction of the day does not share the Christian view of marriage. Marriage is but one facet of this issue. There is also the biblical fact that this type of relationship or activity associated with the same-gender life style is not compatible with living a Holy life. For now we will not pursue that thought, it is not my wish to lecture or judge at this point, let’s return to Genesis.
Some things in this first chapter are worth noting. The word beginning may not mean the absolute beginning of all things. God’s creative work begins with something already there. There is the view that believes of course God ordered all these things to happen and what is taking place is the beginning of the ordered creation, worldly as well as spiritual; God’s hand upon it all. God passed judgement on it all “and God saw that it was good”. To this point and the things that followed we see that God’s intention includes the elements of beauty, purpose and praise. Back to those verses which are the subject of today’s blog.
I hope you will read these and pray over them. The real substance of this issue that has torn the church apart has many elements and those who seek to impose their will have skillfully pivoted from the God’s command to live a “Holy” life to the call of cultural and societal’s “social justice warriors”. Something wonderful happens in these verses. God creates male and female in “our image” not referring so much to looks but rather to the substance within. We have been given gifts that will enable us to take on the responsibilities given to us by God in these verses. And now that something wonderful happens. From the very beginning God establishes a power sharing relationship with humans giving them this command.
28. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
The same-gender debate to me is about scriptural integrity. How can we allow God’s intent to be prevented to accommodate what is basically the selfish desires of any group. It is a very simplistic argument, from a layman’s view, sitting in a pew. So…..the bottom line here is how do we do as commanded by Christ and love all people? The real question which has been put aside is, how does the church defend the faith, the word as written and seek to live a Holy life among this hate and strife? You read the verses, pray and let the Spirit lead you.
Life is Good