This is probably going to be (it is) one of the most difficult pieces I’ve written of late. I’m a little embarrassed, a lot pissed off, and even more ashamed to call myself a Methodist.
For those of you who’ve not read the stories I’ve written about my childhood, I was raised in a protestant family as a preacher’s kid. When I was twelve I accepted Christ into my life. Well, I thought I did. It wasn’t until years later I realized I did so to gain approval and acceptance from my father. I mean come on, what does a twelve year old really understand about spirituality?
According to what was drilled into me, Jesus knew when he was that age.
Me? Not so much.
During this wonderful life journey of mine I’ve been a sometimes practicing, most times not, Christian. And yes, there have been many times I’ve strayed, got back on track, and strayed again. It’s how this forgiveness thing works ya’ll.
One thing I’ve learned along the way and what I’m most proud of, is my core belief — nothing is more sacred than my fellow human beings.
Don’t get me wrong. We all breathe the same air, and the blood running through our veins is the same color, but as humans we have major philosophical, religious, and cultural differences.
That’s what makes us a unique species.
A lot of my fellow human beings would like nothing better than to see me dead or kill me because of those philosophical, religious and cultural differences. There’s also a lot of my own tribe here in America who won’t hesitate to rail against the way I think, the choices I make, or things I believe.
I said we were unique, not the same.
That’s how the United Methodist Church blew it.
The United Methodist Church demands sameness.
In 2016, the governing body of the Methodist Church proclaimed in its Book of Discipline that while it recognizes the “sacred worth” of all human beings the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The Book of Discipline also bans any financial support of LGBTQ-based groups.
That’s right — Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals, and Queers are incompatible with Christian teaching according to the United Methodist Church.
I’m sure you noticed they didn’t say Transgenders aren’t.
Read on — this shit gets crazy.
Back in 2016, when they were challenged, the Church threw the problem over the fence choosing to defer their decision. Instead, they performed a classic political move and formed a committee to investigate the possibility of revising every paragraph in the Book of Discipline referring to “human sexuality”.
Investigation takes a lot of time.
Ask Robert Mueller about that.
But the LGBTQ community continued to play full court press which forced the Methodist Church to meet again just this year.
Here’s what happened.
This February, the delegates of a special congress which convened to specifically address the LGBTQ issues, chose the “Traditionalist Plan”. The Traditionalist Plan states that the Methodist Church affirms its previous stance on homosexuality. In essence, the delegates voted a sum zero game. They win, the LGBTQ community loses, game over.
Oh that’s not all.
Not only did this specially convened congress slap the face of the entire LGBTQ community with their sanctimonious decision, but they took care to close all previous loopholes which had allowed LGBTQ members to be elected to serve any position including the clergy.
And — AND — the Methodist congress enacted more stringent measures to PUNISH ministers who participate in same sex marriages. Hit ’em where it hurts. Suspend them for a year without pay and if they do it again, suspend them from the church.
That’s right excommunicate their ass from the entire damned religion…permanently.
On it’s own merit, choosing to deny a human being’s fundamental right to practice like-minded religous belief is pretty bad, but the Methodist congress wasn’t finished with their hipocracy.
According to the Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline there is no policy which excludes transgenders from practicing Methodist faith up to and including being ordained as a Methodist pastor.
Yeap, that’s right. A Transgender can be a Methodist pastor.
In a pitiable attempt at maintaining a modicum of ethical fairness the Book of Discipline does however give the rest of the LGBTQ community a way to practice the Methodist faith and serve an appointed position — even be ordained.
They can accomplish this as long as they take a vow of complete celibacy.
LET THAT SINK IN.
According to the Methodist doctrine. Any member of the LGBTQ community can serve an appointed position including being ordained as a pastor if they vow never to be a practicing Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual or Queer.
How fucking magnanimous of them.
Guess what? If you are LGBTQ and you somehow take the plunge and become an ordained minister, the Church still has a Catch-22 leash around your neck. Why? Because a pastor of the United Methodist Church can’t perform marriage rituals for the LGBTQ community:
- Unless the pastor wants to be suspended a year.
- Unless the pastor wants to be excommunicated.
And you can’t be a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual or Queer Methodist minister:
- Unless you take a vow to remain celibate and never, ever break that vow.
- Unless you only perform marriage ceremonies for straight people like me.
HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?
Since when does the United Methodist Church get to decide who’s gets to be a Christian or spread the word of God and who doesn’t? I thought God did that.
What makes the United Methodist Church the ultimate answer on what is and what isn’t Christian teaching? Again, if you believe in God and Christianity then you should know God will be the ultimate answer on whether you hit the mark.
Not the United Methodist Church.
It was always preached to me that God said, “Where two of you gather in my name there shall I be also.”
I can see it now. A practicing Methodist and a group of people are trapped in a train car teetering on the edge of a damaged bridge. The Methodist extends a hand to the fellow passengers and calls for prayer because through prayer God will protect them.
One by one the Methodist’s fellow passengers take his hand and the Methodist asks one question.
“What’s your sexual preference?”
“You’re not a Christian. Next,” calls the Methodist.
“You’re not a Christian. Next.”
“You’re not either. Next.”
“Thank God, a Christian finally,” the Methodist proclaims.
“I don’t believe in God,” the Transgender replies.
“We’re screwed,” moans the Methodist.
The United Methodist Church, the church of my father and mother, the church of my grandparents and for so many years my church as well, just blew it. If they want to deny a human being the ability to practice religious aspirations as a Methodist then so be it.
Maybe it is finally time for me to write that resignation letter.