More about Bishops (or why RMN is dividing us…again or is it still)

unity005As is to be expected these days, the Reconciling Ministries Network has issued a response to the statement of the central conference Bishops. You can find the Bishops statement here and can find the response by RMN here and of course, should you choose to, continue reading my thoughts on the matter here and here. Please read the two statements in full as I will only reference parts of them.  Now, on with the show…

From the RMN response: “It is imperative that we speak unequivocally to the homophobia and violence found within the body of the pastoral letter.”

There is more to follow, but let’s take a moment and deal with this first. There is violence and homophobia in the pastoral letter…not sure where, but ok. Nowhere in the letter is violence suggested toward anyone, nor is any sort of fear mentioned. RMN produces great rhetoric that stirs emotion and effectively slanders (technically it is  libelous as it is in print)  the Bishops who signed the letter, though. That seems to be the only purpose of such language. To continue from where the quote leaves off:

Unfortunately, the vociferous and well-placed condemnation of global inequality and the historic abuses of power is significantly weakened of its prophetic authority because the bishops turn immediately from condemning abuse of power to upholding it. (emphasis theirs)

Again, nowhere in the letter is the abuse of power suggested to be a good thing at all. Perhaps the folks at RMN are reading something completely different than I am, but there is no mention of condoning abuses of power at all. The Bishops do mention, several times even, that those who have taken a vow to uphold the BoD of the church should do so. They even appeal to the church going back to biblical principles (whatever that actually means) as well. I will say that I believe in that appeal to be going back to focusing on those things that we hold as standards of faith. There is a lot of teaching in the UMC that is contrary to those standards of faith currently, and the Bishops are correct in having a desire to go back to proper teaching as the UMC understands it.

The letter fails to acknowledge the causal relationship existing between the plight of refugees, LGBTQ persons around the world, and systemic oppression; homophobia and transphobia, not unlike economic imperialism and colonialism, exist for the manipulation of the weak by the powerful.

Um…what the letter did was treat all of the refugees and displaced as the same. It spoke about them as victims and appealed to us to help and pray. What exactly is bad about this? No, they did not specifically mention LGBTQ refugees, I’ll give you that, but they also did not mention hetero refugees, or left handed refugees, or…you get the point. They had no need to as this is not a problem that has anything to do with LGBTQ individuals, but rather has to do with large masses of people that have been displaced due to war, terrorism and/or religious fanaticism. That is happening to large groups of people with regard to much of anything such as sexuality.

Yes, the Bishops treated all the refugees as equal (that is to say, equal in their desperate need for our help and prayers), and RMN is not happy about that. Shame on you Bishops for treating people equally and not extending your letter by several lines to recognize numerous individual groups. As for the remarks on homophobia and transphobia, it is just more garbage rhetoric to stir up emotions and deflect attention from anything else and laser focus it back on those evil homophobes….it is a tired tactic that unfortunately works. It is not an appeal to unity; it is a demand for capitulation. It is not an attempt to find a way forward; it is nothing more than an affirmation of us versus them. This does nothing to unite us, and does everything to divide us. How strange it is that those so dedicated to “justice” subscribe to policies that serve only to tear apart the church they claim to serve.

Before continuing, I do want to take a moment to comment on some of the laws that are found across the world that indeed criminalize, and in some cases call for the death of, LGBTQ individuals. These laws are unequivocally wrong, are sick and disgusting and should be spoken out against and opposed. I also want to note that is not at all what this letter was about. The statement by the Bishops is an appeal to the UMC to unite under the Faith and Order of the UMC (that practice by the way includes the ability to change things in our ongoing search for truth), not a political statement on the state of laws in some nations.

The UMC has spoken out about capital punishment, etc here. The specifically related sections are ¶ 164A. No, we did not single out any specific group here, we just went ahead and spoke out against all of it.

Reconciling Ministries Network rejects ecclesiastical teaching, policy, or leadership that refuses to fully embrace Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer persons as living members of the body of Christ.

OK, well good for you, so does the UMC. Contrary to popular belief, there is no UMC policy that does not recognize a person who claims faith in Christ and has been baptized in a Christian church “as living members of the body of Christ”. I get so tired of hearing that there is.

We will not be silent about the presence of LGBTQ persons, in African communities and United Methodist Churches everywhere, who are forced under pain of death to hide who they are and who they love.

Good, the UMC is not silent about it either. See the above opposition to the death penalty, torture, etc. as it applies to everyone.

We will not hide our anger and grief as The UMC continues to collude with anti-Christian forces that seek to eliminate the diversity of God’s good creation.

Now see, this just really pisses me off (pardon my language). Vague and unspecific accusations again designed not to promote conversation etc. but designed rather to state clearly that if you do not agree with bus, you are in opposition to Christ. Who are these forces? What UMC policy seeks to eliminate the diversity of God’s creation? It is crap, and on top of that dangerous crap and inflammatory crap.

RMN will continue to “draw the attention of our denomination to the stark realities of needless suffering and pain in our world as a result of global terrorism, unjust political systems,” and the abiding religious oppression experienced by LGBTQ refugees everywhere who are told that they are “incompatible with Christian teaching” and cut-away from the body.

Next thing that really pisses me off. The actual doctrine of the church does nothing claimed above. It does say that sexual relations between two people of the same gender is a sin, yes. The action is sinful, and thus incompatible with Christian teaching, much like telling a lie is. The Action.

Once more, in bold even, THE ACTION. Saying anything to the contrary is purposeful misinformation that should be stopped.

It is a lie. Yep, I said it, RMN is telling bold faced lies to try to promote their cause. They have stepped over the line of civil discourse and disagreement to the end justifies the means. While calling for a big tent where all are welcome, they have only succeeded in saying that all who think as we do are welcome. They have decided that it is fine to slander and print libelous comments to achieve their goals.

To sum up, the Bishops statement appealed to the rule of our church, our faith and practice and scripture. The response of RMN appealed to emotional response based on inaccurate statements and lies. It can not be said any simpler than that. It is left to you to decide which promotes the unity and mission of the church.

 

 

You Might Also Like

13 Replies to “More about Bishops (or why RMN is dividing us…again or is it still)”

  1. This is not my fight, not being a UMC person, but the Bishops’ statement is clearly homophobic, and explicitly endorses policies, civil or religious, which target the LGBTQ community for attack. It does not draw careful lines and endorse only polite policies of exclusion and criticism, but calls for a strong attack on the “policies” of LGBTQ community, without apparent limitation. Once you call out a class of people as a destructive presence in the Church, you have declared them enemies of the church, and, like it or not, authorized their eradication by any means necessary. Beyond all that, while calling for action against the LGBTQ community, the statement never speaks a word of caution or criticism against those who perpetrate violence against members of the LGBTQ community.

    So yes, the statement endorses violence against the LGBTQ community.

    And yes, there are countless refugees in Africa and around the world, and in the streets of America whose persecution is the result of the violence orchestrated by the Church against the LGBTQ community, and the statement reserves not a single word of concern whatsoever for those refugees from the church’s persecution. This is probably because whether they are refugees or not, they are enemies of the Church.

    Your tunnel-vision and lack of compassion are disturbing.

    1. My tunnel vision? Interesting. The Bishops statement did nothing of the sort that you described. It did not endorse any sort of violence and actually called for the church to help and pray for an end to violence. It is not tunnel vision on my part, it is taking the Bishop’s statement for what it was and not adding anything to it or assuming that because something was not specifically mentioned it was somehow a tacit endorsement. I am not at all sure where you find I lack compassion, but so be it. As you said it is not your fight.

      1. Not my fight, but I am part of the world which is watching. Your leaders do not act in a vacuum. As a Christian, when your leaders claim to assert the truths of the faith, my faith, I am implicated in their work. So while it may not be my fight, it actually is. I take very seriously the charge from Bonhoefer, ‘silence in the face of evil is evil itself, not to speak, is to speak.’

        You cannot avoid the message of the statement, and you cannot ignore what was not said, when it should have been said – “not to speak is to speak”.

        And after re-reading the statement I was unable to find any language with respect to LGBTQ people calling for prayer, discernment, dialogue, engagement, and no language regretting or decrying the violence which has been inflicted on LGBTQ people and their families in the name of the Church and the Church’s homophobic teaching. It is quite clearly a declaration of war against LGBTQ people within the Church’s communion. There is no suggestion in the statement that LGBTQ people deserve the same care, compassion or love of the Church as any other Christian. They are causing dissension and something must be done to overcome them. Their biblical premises are denied any legitimacy. I am most troubled by the fact there is no room in the statement for love of one’s enemies. By your uncritical endorsement of such a flawed and loveless statement you demonstrate the same lack of compassion expressed in the statement. Instead of seeing what is to be seen in what the statement says and in what it refuses to say, all you can do is to attack those who point out the statement’s profound flaws. That is where you demonstrate tunnel-vision.

  2. Your article would read a little better if you would take the time to proof-read it. There are quite a lot of typos and the at least one sentence that does not make sense because of it. Thank you for your analysis. I think it is right on target.

    1. My normal proof reader was feeling ill today, so she took to napping and I did not wait for her to wake before posting it. I am sorry for that. My typos are a bit legendary. On the flip side, if typos are the worst thing I am accused of today, then it has been a good day. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  3. Is there any middle ground left in our increasingly polarized “holy conferencing?”

    Can the General Conference do at least two things to bring us together?
    ………….(Perhaps through motions from the floor?)

    1) INSTITUTE a wide-based theological study on “Recreational Sex and Sexuality in the 21st Century”
    and deal with the real consequences of a rampant sexualized society that allows and promotes:

    • Casual/Consumer sex among friends and strangers,
    • Teen and younger sex,
    • Adultery, the Divorce Rate, Polygamy and Multiple Remarriages,
    • Internet Pornography and Soft Porn in TV/Movies/Entertainment,
    • Non-married living/sexual arrangements,
    • Sexual abuse of children and adults,
    • Sex Trafficking
    • Is sex overrated? (…and more related topics?)

    Our society has become deeply and tragically sexualized
    yet we as a church have no clear and contemporary response to it and it’s corrosive effects.
    It’s time we address this.

    2) INVESTIGATE if the recognition and blessing of “Covenant Families” may be a Book of Discipline way to affirm same sex individuals who deeply love each other, but call them to a higher, Godly, Christ-defined love based on abstinence from intimate sexual acts rather than sexualism in all it’s forms?

    (I note that “Eros” is not a part of the N.T. vocabulary. We only read of “Agapé” and “Phileo” love.
    I also note that intimate sexual activity seems to be a very small part of many homosexual couples.)

    Do we not ask parents/relatives and their children, siblings and others to have boundaries on their intimate sexual activities with each other?

    What would such initiatives like these contribute to a deeper Holy Conferencing among us all?
    I believe that these would be two positive outcomes coming from General Conf. could begin to unravel the knot we find ourselves in.
    (I’ve written more on this at: http://pastorterry.blogs.com/esoundings/)

  4. Re: “why RMN is dividing us… again or is it still”
    Just the opposite. RMN is a movement to unify the divided UMC. “Draw the Circle Wide” is the focus. No United Methodist should ever be singled out and excluded from full membership. Period.

    “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28)

    1. As Joel said, no one is excluded from membership, as a policy of the UMC, despite what some say. (So long of course that they profess faith in the risen Christ and are baptized) To say otherwise is a lie.
      Their (RMN) focus may be to draw the circle wide as you say, but the result is not bringing anyone together. When you go about calling Bishops of the church and anyone who happens to share their viewpoint on scripture homophobic, transphobic and perpetrators of violence, you are not bringing anyone together or drawing any circle wider, you are rather drawing a line in the sand and saying if you are on the side not us, then you do not belong. I don’t give a care what their motto is, their actions show the truth, and that truth is that if you do not capitulate to what they want and believe, then there is no place for you nor will there be if they have their way.

  5. The gay radical left are the most evil people on the earth. They hate everyone who disagrees with them. The Bishops from Africa were more liberal than they should have been. The evil gay radicals are a cancer that is eating and destroying the United Methodist Church…it needs to be cut off before it kills the Church completely. We need to proclaim again that we stand on the authority of Scripture and the revealed will of God in it and not on the shifting sands of public opinions. We must not let the flesh rule us, but the Holy Spirit. Many fought against their homosexual desires because they loved God and wanted to please Him more. As I look at the pictures of their families with all the wonderful children and grandchildren…I think of what they would have missed if they had not obeyed God instead of their flesh. To love God is to obey Him! And God is good, all the time.

  6. I have no dog in this fight either.

    I found the overall statement of the Central Conference bishops to be inspiring, even the part that affirms what the scriptures say about the lived reality of @ 97%. I do not see any sign that the bishops intend to harm anyone with this refreshing affirmation. Perhaps it is appropriate that bishops from the mother continent spoke to the enduring realities of our species.

    Maybe for reasons of space, the RMN response on behalf of @ 3% failed to fully explain its central claim. If a Central Conference bishop reads it, he will search in vain for a concrete reason why he cannot consistently oppose post-colonial imperialist ideology without also opposing the male-female dyad as some do in the seats of post-colonial empire. Nevertheless, the RMN statement pays the bishops the courtesy of trying to meet them on their own ground so far as it can understand it. And in a brief space, it begins to present what postmodern identity politics is all about– recognition.

    The two statements fly past each other. They seem to have come from different mindsets in different cultures on different continents– because they did. Here below, commentators see in their silences what they will.

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.