Usually, when I hear the phrase “gay agenda”, it makes my skin crawl. Not because I have a problem with gay people; actually, just the opposite. I have a problem with the people who are always droning on about “the gays” and their “agenda”. Yesterday, though, was different. On his Facebook page, Chad Holtz posted a link to a blog by John Shore titled “Group of Methodist Ministers Succumb to Gay Agenda!” Now, you’re probably thinking this sounds just like the sort of thing I hate. And, in another situation, you might be right. But, two things put me at ease. First, it came from Chad Holtz, a man who’s well-known in the UMC for his support of the LGBT community. Second, this sentence under the header told me I had nothing to worry about: “Trying God’s Patience Since 1958”. Anyone who follows their name with something like that has to be cool. And, I was right. Shore was writing about a project called “We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality“. Over 900 Methodists in New York and Connecticut have decided to provide marriage to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. And, also, regardless of the fact that such a practice is against the rules of the United Methodist Church. They’re breaking the rules and I couldn’t be happier.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that rules, laws, regulations are good, necessary things and that, without them, chaos would reign. Sometimes, however, there are some rules that cry out to be broken and the UMC’s policies prohibiting the ordination of LGBT people and same-sex marriage fit that bill to a tee. Some of my brothers and sisters in the UMC vehemently disagree to the point of threatening to leave if the rules are changed. Other more moderate people aren’t sure what how they feel about this, but they have problems with such acts of civil disobedience. While I can understand this reticence, I also know that there are times when the only way things change is because people of faith purposefully do not obey the rules.
If Martin Luther King had not organized a bus boycott or marched across that bridge in Selma Alabama, , would segregation still be the law of the land? If Martin Luther hadn’t nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wurtemburg, or if others had obeyed the Edict of Worms, would the Church still be selling God’s grace to the highest bidder? If the early Christians obeyed the rules and worshipped Caesar, would Christianity still exist, let alone be one of the world’s major religions? And, if a certain Jewish construction worker had listened to the religious leaders of His time and stayed home in Nazareth, had He obeyed the Roman officials and not stirred up the people with talk of deliverance, had He followed the rules where would we all be right now? Civil disobedience has a long has a long and storied history in Christianity. Sometimes, it’s the only way to affect change.
To say that I’m thrilled about the We Do project is like calling water, wet. It’s true, but it’s a massive understatement. It is my most fervent hope the this movement sweeps across the United Methodist Church and these archaic, out-dated, discriminatory rules are removed from the Discipline. I ain’t holding my breath till it happens, though.