Friday, April 29, 2005

Hooray for Methodists!

The United Methodist Church reversed itself Friday, deciding to reinstate a lesbian minister who was defrocked after revealing her relationship with another woman.

A church panel voted 8 to 1 to set aside an earlier decision to defrock Irene "Beth" Stroud for violating the church's ban on openly gay clergy.
...
"The church is not free to disregard the standards of justice and inclusiveness that are preached by Jesus Christ ... and are a part of church law," Stroud said after church authorities read their decision at a hotel.

"The ruling gives us hope that the United Methodist Church has the resources to do justice," she said.

8 Comments:

At 12:07 AM, Blogger ats54 said...

As a life-long Methodist, this really upsets me.

I don't understand how something that is CLEARLY against Christian teaching can be allowed and essentially welcomed by a member of the clergy.

Christ brings us in as we are. We are then called to live at a higher standard - that standard excludes homosexuality.

The Church MUST reach out to and minister to the homosexual community, just as it should minister to the poor, the orphans, the widows, the criminals...everyone. But some form of repentance must be required or the Church will no longer be set apart from the "world".

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Infission said...

ats,

I celebrate the decision because - while homosexuality may be against traditional Christian teachings - it is NOT against Christ's teachings. Indeed, affirming the equal dignity of homosexuals - and affirming them for who they are - is, I believe, required by Christ's teachings.

Nevertheless, you can take heart. It is my understanding that the decision was based on procedural grounds. The Methodist church has not, at this point, explicitly reversed its substantive teachings on homosexuality.

Only time will tell whether this is the beginning of a new era for Methodists or a quite narrow decision.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger ats54 said...

infission,

I understand what you are saying regarding Christ's teachings. However, most Christian groups (Churches, denominations, etc.) still hold that practicing homosexuality does not reveal who you are, but who you choose to be.

Standard Christian teaching holds that engaging in homosexual practices is actually submission to temptation. Some Christians are tempted with stealing, some with envy, some (lots) with lust, some with homosexuality, etc.

There are many things that Christ did not specifically mention in his teachings (no matter which collection of gospels are examined). When you are presented with a situation that Christ does not address, you must go back to the Scriptures that Christ himself used - the Hebrew Scriptures. Remember, Christ came to "fulfill" the law, not to abolish it.

This should not present a problem with Christian thought/teaching. Christ accepted his followers wherever they were (spiritually, emotionally, geographically, etc.) but he commanded that they "go and sin no more." Christ does not specifically address homosexuality. In Christ's day, homosexuality was clearly seen as sinful, based on the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures. It seems logical that Christ would accept each and every person that practices homosexuality. He would then command that they "go and sin no more" - referring to homosexuality (and whatever else they may deal with). If this person willingly continues in their "sin", I cannot imagine Christ wanting that person as a figurehead of his Church.


**I know that you and I don't see eye-to-eye on some issues, please don't take anything in my post (what comes to mind is the issue of "which gospels") as a personal attack.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Infission said...

Your post definitely does not come across as a personal attack -- although it might to some (see post above).

I agree that Christ came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. But that begs the question. How did Christ fulfill the law? Surely you are not suggesting that the all Torah applies to Christians. I think Matthew's gospel -- in which Christ asserts that he came to fulfill rather than to abolish -- is quite clear that the technicalities of the Torah do not apply. Christ fulfills the law (the Torah) by directing us away from its technicalities (the holiness codes and dietary laws) and to its spirit. The spirit of the law is to be found in the two Great Commandments.

So the question is: whether (1) the parts of the Torah that condemn homosexuality are part of the Hebrew holiness code which Christ told us was not part of the spirit of the law and therefore not applicable or (2) whether the Hebrew scriptures opposition to homosexuality is part of the law's essential spirit, i.e., whether it it can be derived from the two Great Commandments.

I believe the former. Homosexuality was part of the holiness code and is not part of the law's spirit. It cannot be derived from the Great Commandments.

 
At 1:42 PM, Blogger Infission said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Infission said...

That last paragraph was somewhat unclear:

I mean the CONDEMNATION of homosexuality was part of the holiness code and cannot be derived from the Great Commandments.

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger ats54 said...

Infission,

I think you have hit at the crux of this issue with regard to the Torah.

Unfortunately, I cannot speak as intelligently as I would like to on this matter as of yet. While I have an opinion on it all, I have not yet done the research I intend, and have intended to do for a long while.

But, to briefly give my thoughts on it, I see three ways of distinguishing "sins" in the Torah.

1. Just as you outlined above.
2. There are certain actions (and inactions) that make a person "unclean" while others are considered true affronts to God and/or man.
3. Everything in ancient Judaism (which includes the religion of Christ's day) is really defined by being ordered. You are not supposed to eat shellfish because they are creatures that live in the water, yet do not swim. They are outside of the order that God established from the beginning. The Hebrew word for "holy" literally means "set apart". So, things that are holy are things that are 1st clean, and 2nd taken and set into a new class dedicated to God. Everything has order. Therefore, anything that is out of its God-established order is to be avoided.

This very issue (what of the Torah translates to Christ's message) and the significance of Elijah & Moses in relation to Christ are the first two topics I intend to tackle with my career in Academia. Sadly, that is many years away...

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Infission said...

ast,

You are clearly an intelligent and open-minded mainline Christian. I applaud your willingness to think critically about the Bible. I think the topic you intend to address is pressing, and I have no doubt that you will tackle it with skill and sensitivity. I would love you to send me some drafts so that I can challenge myself and (hopefully) you on the issue. (Obviously, I already have my pet theory, but I'm open-minded too.)

 

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