In their April 27-29 meeting, the United Methodist Judicial Council ruled that a policy of the New York Annual Conference that would allow its clergy to marry someone of the same-sex was “null, void and of no effect”. Their reasoning is that conferences can make rules and regulations for governing itself, they “may not legally negate, ignore or violate provisions of the Discipline with which they disagree even when the disagreement is based upon conscientious objections to those provisions.” Every time I see an article on this subject, I get excited, hoping that we Methodists are finally going to live out the Gospel and fully embrace everyone, even “the gays”. And, every time I do, I wind up disappointed. You think I’d learn, huh?
I really don’t understand our reluctance to accept and affirm everyone. Considering we believe in government sponsored health care for everyone and several other rather liberal positions, you wouldn’t think one as conservative as this would hold such sway. But, it does. In fact, there’s a rather conservative sector of the UMC that would like to do away with many of these positions and they’re the ones fighting the good (?) fight on the homosexual issue. I really work hard at respecting their position, even though it’s not easy for me. I know many of them arrived at their belief on this through studying scripture and some serious soul-searching, but I can’t get past the fact that they’re taking a stance that I believe is in direct opposition to the Gospel.
For me, it boils down to this: I am a Christian, which means “follower of Christ” (from the Latin Christianus); or, to put it another way, Jesus is my rabbi. In the first century, when Christianity was established, when one followed a rabbi, he did whatever his teacher did. So, if I’m going to follow Jesus, I should do whatever he did. When Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t spend his time with the well-to-do, ultra-religious people. He didn’t hang out with the folks who were in church every Sabbath, those that followed the Law to the letter. No, he spent his time with sinners, those on the margin of society. He hung out with poor people, hookers, tax collectors and, very probably, gay people. I can’t help but think He’s more than a little pissed at His church excluding these people in any way, shape or form. The Gospel is supposed to be a message of hope to the downtrodden, not a club to beat them into line with. It’s supposed to be a way out of a shitty situation that you can’t get out of on your own, not boot on your neck to keep you in place. It’s supposed to be about redemption and inclusion, not legal jargon that slams the door in your face one more time. I suspect I’m not the only one disappointed in this decision.