Saturday, December 04, 2004

The United Methodist Church reluctantly lops one leaf off the weed

It's all over the news: Methodist Church Defrocks Lesbian Minister. One might blithely have thought it would have been a short and simple trial, since the Methodist Book of Discipline rules that practicing homosexuals cannot be pastors, and since the woman "announced to her bishop and congregation that she was living in a committed relationship with her partner, Chris Paige." That's PC code for meaning she regularly practices perverted sex with another woman. So, she proudly admitted the fact to "her" congregation. No need for a Perry Mason moment there.

But no, this is the UMC, so it had to be complicated, and the vote was not unanimous in spite of her open admission. A vote of twelve to one found her guilty; that is, one of the authorities found the woman who had admitted to being guilty not to be guilty. And even so, only seven of the twelve voted to defrock her. I guess five or six must have found her guilty... but not guilty.

Don't try too hard to understand that one. Maybe it's a Methodist thing.

One should not be too surprised. If a denomination has decided that the Word of God itself is not binding, how can it be expected to hold to any lesser law?

At any rate, while doubtless many within the UMC rejoice at the broken clock being right this time, not much has changed. In an online discussion elsewhere, a poster remarked "Lesbian minister — isn't that a contradiction in terms?"

To this, I replied: "No more so than 'woman pastor.'" A rather surprising conversational firestorm ensued.

But is the Bible any less clear on one issue than it is on the other? True, homosexual acts are univocally condemned as sinful in Scripture. But is "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" (1 Timothy 2:11) less clear?

How can a church, with any integrity, condemn one open violation of Scripture as immoral, while condoning another open violation of equally clear Scripture?

"But," folks sputter, "that passage is ambiguous! And besides, Paul's prohibition is culturally relative. He was talking about a situation going on back then, in Ephesus. Different place, different time. It doesn't hold today."

Which is precisely the argument of homosexual apologists, who to try to de-sin their particular pet act of rebellion against God.

So frankly, I just shrug. As with the Episcopalian Church, so with the United Methodist Church. When they "ordained" women, they rejected the authority of the Word of God. People who are enjoying (or exploiting) the slide hate to hear the phrase "slippery slope," but that is exactly what we have here.

For those who won't draw the culturally unpopular lines where the Bible draws them, the first erasure simply sets precedent for the next one.
"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much."
(Luke 16:10)
True then, true now.


Chelsea said...

I am curious about something. First off, I agree with your article. I was raised Methodist, and have recently realized how unbiblical its theology can be. I was wondering which denominations (primarily, as I know some churches are exceptions)accept women preachers, and which condemn it? Thanks,

DJP said...

My "flip" response is that the apostate ones do, the faithful ones don't. The Episcopalian church does, some brands of Presbyterianism and Lutheranism do; Evangelical Free churches and Southern Baptist churches and Grace Brethren churches and Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) do not.