Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UMC Amendments or Brokenness?

There are some significant amendments to the Book of Discipline and to the structure of the United Methodist Church. You may check them out here. These were passed at General Conference 2008, but need a passing vote from the Annual Conference members of all Annual Conferences.

While I am VERY excited for the United Methodist Church to acknowledge its global nature, I am very disappointed that we are taking innocuous steps toward accepting homosexuality.

For clarification, one amendment regarding membership in the Book of Discipline comes after a controversy of a pastor denying membership to an openly practicing homosexual. The pastor was unjustly defrocked without pay by his bishop until the Judicial Council voted his actions within UMC pastoral discretion. Unfortunately, the bishops banded together under a concern of episcopal authority and wrote a weak letter in support of the offending bishop's actions.

At stake now, is the very essence of membership. It is about being in a "club" or is it a vow of discipleship and faithful living?

Membership is not a "right." Membership is a declaration of lifestyle and intentionality to discipleship. If homosexuality is a sin, as the Bible clearly indicates and as the UMC has stated, then the act of unrepentant homosexuality is an obstacle to membership...

Just as unrepentant adultery, lying, stealing, lusting, pride, greed, overboard consumption of resources, etc., are wrong and should be a red flag for membership, so too should unrepentant homosexuality.

We can't pick our sins just because out culture says that something is OK. Why have membership if anyone and everyone has a "right" to it? Isn't that just the same as constituent? To be fair, I have noticed that many vibrant and growing churches dismiss "membership" as status all together.

I may have to evaluate if I do another membership class...Why waste the time of people getting up front and saying, "Nothing's changed. I sat in some classes, and now I stand up here taking vows that anyone could take and not mean."

It seems to me that we are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back as we continue to water down what it means to be disciple of Jesus Christ.


revcat said...


exauditu said...

This is an issue I've struggled with ever since that episcopal letter in 2005 (the issues of which, by the way, were presented much better in Bishop Tim Whitaker's commentary on the letter).

I agree with you that discipleship is radical in nature - that it demands much of us, including our transformation. In this respect I want to agree that church membership should require certain things to embrace and certain things to renounce. But that episcopal letter reminded us of prevenient grace - that God goes before us and that we are chosen by God long before we do anything.

How can we hold grace and discipleship TOGETHER in our polity regarding church membership? That is THE challenge here!

Mark said...

If we were talking about salvation, prevenient grace might be more relevant; however, we talking about oaths/vows of discipleship!

Don't get me wrong, I think there are homosexuals who will go to heaven...I just have very difficult time letting people take oaths they don't mean...for their sake and mine.

Isa said...

Well, I did not know I should live to see the day where a fan of Star Trek should write : "homosexuality is a sin".
Very disappointed.

Mark said...

I doubt there are many hardcore Trekkies who would state "I follow Jesus" either! But I do!


Thanks for your comment :)

Pastor Chris Roberts said...

Mark, great comments. you are right on.