The intension behind the controversary on sexuality is one of complexity to say the least. The notion is one of bringing individuals to faith in Christ. That’s a good thing, right? Sure, it is! It’s the goal of the church, the mission, the instructions that Jesus left us with, tell me if I’m wrong! We are to go out, and to preach the Gospel to all of His Creation.
One of the biggest concerns for all of us is this: what will a church split do to the witness of our faith in the world? Will it unify the church, will it unify both sides? Will it enhance the mission, will it show the world exactly “who” Jesus is? Probably not. Instead, it will only serve to fulfill the passions of many.
If the United Methodist Church continues on the path that it is on, it will most certainly split into several factions. If this happens, the message to the world, and more importantly the current culture, is one of “confusion and uncertainty.” I hate to use this analogy, but it is appropriate, if the UMC splits then we will be confirming a message to the culture that we really don’t know what we believe and stand for! Think about it, the culture will be vindicated in its rationale to “not get involved with the church” because even they don’t know what they stand for, or believe! I can't tell you how many people I have had this discussion with! In effect, it would “politicize” the denomination, like Republicans and Democrats. Polar opposites!
By splitting into “progressive and traditional” denominations, we are affirming that God’s Word, the Scriptures, are irrelevant, outdated, inaccurate and unworthy of being followed.
If we recall the teachings of Jesus two thousand years ago, there were many if not most, that could not accept what He was saying. I know, this is a very complex situation, yet simple. Many turned away from Jesus because of the difficulty of understanding and application of what He was saying. At one point, Jesus asked the Disciples, “are you going to leave me too?” Imagine, this was at the start of what would become the church!
The people of Jesus’ day were being separated by what they would accept, what they understood and how far they would go to follow God. It really was based on the “hardness of their hearts” toward God. They wanted to follow God, but under their own terms. Unfortunately, God doesn't work that way.
Today, no one wants to be known as “exclusive” or “unwelcoming.” I don’t either, especially in the church that I am serving! But if a church divide takes place, we will end up with two factions. The “Traditional” church will be one of older, Bible believing members that are seen as unwelcoming, outdated hypocrites. A “Progressive” church will be seen as one of more modern, culturally accepting, sexually diverse people that accept whatever lifestyle the individual prefers. Both of these churches are losers!
Why? Because it removes Jesus from be “Lord” and places the interpretation of what is acceptable to God in the hands of each individual. Why? Because it nullifies just about every lesson that Jesus preached. Why? Because it enhances the problem that led humanity into trouble in the first place … pride and something less than total devotion to Christ!
I “get it” that clergy want to grow their churches! They want to “reach” new people for Christ, but at what cost? Heresy? Is that worth it? Is changing God’s Word lifesaving, or is it life condemning? At times it becomes all-important to justify our actions, direction and goals. Nothing wrong with that, unless it causes us to lose sight of the “mission” of the church. In the UMC, we are called to make “Disciples for Jesus Christ.” A beautiful goal. But a Disciple is one that is called to follow the Master, not to discredit Him, which is so easy to do! Unfortunately, the discrediting of God’s Word started many years ago within the confines of the Christian Church, especially our seminaries. What has been taught for years has been eroded away through our own “pride from knowledge” as for years God’s Word has been studied, debated, tested and tried. Yet somewhere in the process our “own” understanding has taken the place of the original meanings and constructs. We have succumbed to the temptation of knowledge without wisdom. Its kind of like what has been taking place in the Human Genome Project. We can manipulate DNA to change things for the better (we think), but should we?
The trend in the culture today is one of independence, individualism and acceptance. We want to accept all people to be the person that God created them to be. But who gets to identify what God has called us to be? Is it what we think and feel? Is it the fulfillment of our natural desires and preferences? Was the choices that Adam and Eve made in submission to God, or were they simply exploring who they were created to be? Don't get the wrong idea here, we are all fallen in the eyes of God, and many times need to be corrected by God and set back on the path towards His righteousness. So again, the questions remain: Is the Christian Church on the right pth, or the wrong one?
Share where you think we are heading, and what needs to take place. This article is simply one side of the debate in the UMC, however, it is not final, and I personally am still learning each day what the perspective of those on the other side of the debate believe. In Christian unity .... can we have this discussion ...?