Homosexuality and the Church
We, United Methodists (or should we change that to disunited Methodists?) will soon be selecting delegates to our 2016 General Conference. Among the things sure to be considered will be another request or demand to accept and perform homosexual marriages and admit practicing homosexuals as pastors. I understand this has been proposed and regularly defeated for about forty years at the General Conferences. The observation will be made that some Presbyterians and some Episcopalians accept and perform homosexual marriages. (Of course some Presbyterian congregations have declined to do so and have separated from those who accept this, and some American Episcopalian congregations are now Anglicans because of this.)
I have several homosexual friends. They are good friends. I have and would continue to welcome these friends to worship with me. The Bible identifies their practice of homosexuality as a sin. Some of the things I do are sins too. Their sins are different than mine but no worse than mine. The problem as I see it is that I am trying, with God’s help, to overcome my sins, and these friends and others are trying to have their sins declared no sin. To choose to sin is called a transgression. One might think that this is worse than a sin we fall into, but there is no evidence of this in the scripture. However the more we sin the easier it is. One important thing to be sure of is that God loves us in our sin, but He despises any sin itself. They are referred to as an abomination to God.
Some of my friends suggest God made homosexuals that way, and they can’t help themselves. One could say the same thing about others to excuse any sin. It seems that when God created people He knew we would sin and it would take a lot of effort on the part of the Holy Spirit and a lot of sacrifice on the part of His Son to get us past the sinning and make it our choice to make His way our way.
Our government and courts have declared it is illegal and discriminatory to not allow homosexuals to marry someone of the same sex. Sometimes being discriminatory is essential even to living. We need to stay away from the places where Satan prowls like a hungry lion waiting to devour us. Thankfully there still is separation of church and state, so they cannot dictate these rules to the churches. An even greater problem than performing marriages for homosexuals seems to be putting our denomination’s approval on the sin thereby becoming a potential stumbling block for others.
Some proponents of changing the rules have said the only mention of a prohibition of homosexuality in the Old Testament is against males. I’d suggest they read the book of Romans for a different perspective. Some have argued that the prohibition against homosexuality is out of date; it was for a time when as many fighting men as possible needed to be produced. They forget the concept of the remnant. They forget that God always wanted his people to recognize that the victories we have are His doing. Others might wish to also have our brand of sinning declared to no longer be a sin, but perhaps we need to recall that Jesus is quoted as saying, “I have not come to abolish the smallest part of the law or the Prophets – but to fulfill it.”
To cast doubt on part of the scripture declaring it old and outdated is to cast doubt on the totality of scripture. It is all old. It’s never outdated.
God help us, we sheep are threatening to go astray again. Lead us back again. The people who made our discipline were right in this area. May we keep it the same.
Jack Clark, Member of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Syracuse, IN, Bible study class leader,
Administrative Board Chairperson, Annual Conference Delegate, and former District Lay Leader