Many of those on the left, the progressives or whatever name you wish to apply, who argue for inclusion consider it an injustice that LGBT people are not welcomed into the UMC with open arms. Thus, they go to great lengths, some of them do, to seek to rectify that — even to the point of destroying the Connection. Some actually try to maintain unity and work within the proper channels. We have seen destruction threatened by a group calling itself “Love Prevails” (LP) and likewise demonstrated. Some have taken this way out of hand while others have demonstrated their usual fairness.
Before we go further, let me call attention to this manifesto. Note, only about 2000 people have read it — and 1900 of those have read it since yesterday when someone discovered it and shared it on the Facebook forums. There are less than 10 people in the group, I believe. If you follow their twitter account, which has only a few followers, you will the same people over and over again.
Indeed, I believe when we deny personhood to a person, it is a grave injustice. I believe we should do whatever is in our power to right those wrongs. Yet, while we are talking about personhood, those who oppose this view talk about sin. We will not quickly rectify that, given the notion of “X” is a sin still remains for many things the great majority of Christianity no longer considers a sin — such as divorce-and-remarriage. But, I want to get back to power, injustice, and the notion we can extract more injustice out of a situation.
LP states they will:
In membership vows, we promise to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. However, in doing so we are complicit with policies and practices we believe to be bothun-Christian and unconscionable.
For too long, the cost of injustice has been hidden by our loyalty to the institution. Beginning now, we will redirect our time and treasure to efforts aimed at ending discrimination against LGBTQ people. We will divest our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness from all structures within the church that support the status quo. We will widely publicize our actions and rationale.
They plainly state they will break their vows to the United Methodist Church, their fellow Christians, and their local congregations. They will in effect became active anti-theists in attempt to shape the United Methodist Church. Believe it or not, along side the theology of personhood just now in development, there is a theology of oaths.
I note that Article XXV ends with “but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.”1 Let us take this last clause — the cause of faith and charity — as our good standard. In doing so, we note that taking the oath and keeping the oath is a prophetic calling. It is not ours, then, to simply take them nor break them, but to hold them as part of our mantle — if we are prophets indeed. Those, to break them becomes an injustice and a grave one considering our membership vows, not to mention ordination vows, are made to God.
Scripture itself speaks to this, numerous times. It speaks to breaking our word to our brothers and sisters. It would seem that the whole of Proverbs are rants against breaking a promise, of claiming the high positive even in the face of injustice, and avoiding foolish fights. And yet, Love Prevails ignores this and promises to stand against our Christian duty to obey our vows made to one another and to God — as well as our Wesleyan conviction that this is part of the prophetic mantle. Yes, they seek justice, but they do so by threats, fear, intimidation and breaking their vows to God and us.
The same goes for those who would desert the Covenant because of this or that. If we continue to break our words to one another, there will never be an end for our division. Division does not start in any action but destroying our vows to one another and God. It is not about homosexuality or a poor interpretation of Scripture — it is rather about how we have come to ignore our vows to God and one another through the United Methodist Church.
There needs not be schism even yet — rather, those who break these vows should be disciplined as such. Schism is the separation of a body in twain. Rebellion is the rejection of laws, oaths, and covenants by one group in an attempt to either overtake or replace another. Further, note that only about 100 people have read the manifesto on the site, only about 7 to 10 people show up, and the group exists only in force. To schism over a group like this rather than working to achieve something the sane can live with is to burn down the house because of a spider. To suggest, even if you cannot read Wesley because you have something in your eye, that Wesley would have ordained schism (remember, he said he would only schism if he was forced to do something he could not Scripturally support) because of this rather than acknowledging Wesley would’ve dropped the hammer is to misunderstand the discipline part of the book of discipline.
And no, they aren’t the only ones displaying these tactics. Regardless of who displays them, they are committing an injustice — and don’t we have enough of that already?
- Conservative United Methodists say split over sexuality is ‘irreconcilable’ (religionnews.com)
- .00064% of the #UMC just called for schism – what that really means (unsettledchristianity.com)
- It may help the #UMC if we stopped lying about one another, a response to @goodnewsmag (unsettledchristianity.com)
- United Methodist Church Divided Over Gay Marriage (reason.com)
- Responses to ‘a time to rend’ (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
- 6 Questions for the #UMC Schismatics: Progressive Edition (pastormack.wordpress.com)
- See Wesley’s Sermon 23. ↩