Most of you know my story. I was raised a fundamentalist. I was educated, indoctrinated, and carbonated. Well, not that last bit. However, the time came for a needed change. So, when I went looking for a place where I could find the same God I saw family members worship and serve, the same God who spoke about justice, and the same God who created this world I found the United Methodist Church. I could actually go anywhere I wanted. I could go somewhere that was about me, but in the end, I wanted to experience God free of baggage. Yes, there are (theological) differences I have with the United Methodist Church, but I am not attempting to force a change or force people out who are different than I. I have no need to re-create the United Methodist Church in my image, believing that it is part of the Church universal and thus is part of the Body of Christ. I seek rather to do my part in the UMC.
Now, let’s meet Chad. Chad is a current pastor in the United Methodist Church but is only a pastor in the UMC because he could not be a pastor in other places due to his divorce.
I quickly discovered that there were several denominations that were not options for me because I have a divorce in my former life.
This is a rather selfish use of the United Methodist Church, in my opinion, and hides much of Chad’s previous theological stances. Further, he demonstrates that he, not wanting to change himself, is more than willing to attempt to force others to change. If Chad was called to be a pastor (and I am not challenging that) and then suffered a divorced, maybe he shouldn’t be a pastor. That’s actually my former belief system. Instead, he decided to leave to go find a place a little bit more liberal so he could become a pastor and now because he meets others who are a bit more “liberal” than he, he wants them to leave. Note that Chad wants those who believe (simply believe!) in inclusion to leave the UMC. While he can pretend to admire our integrity, his comments say otherwise.
Let me quote my friend Chad,
We who are calling for church law to be upheld and who defend the biblical and traditional view of marriage do not want to rid our churches of gay people. We only want you to either repent of calling what God calls sin a blessing or to leave. Period.
Let me, from the position once held by Methodists and still held by those who rejected Chad’s call to ministry rewrite that:
We who are calling for church law to be upheld and who defend the biblical and traditional view of marriage do not want to rid our churches of divorced people. We only want you to either repent of calling what God calls sin a blessing or to leave. Period.
You get it, don’t you? Not only is Chad attempting to reject others like he was once rejected, but he is not suggesting they amend themselves according to his vision as well as those who support inclusion. Chad was welcomed into the UMC not because they thought him a rockstar, but because of the history of inclusion and theological reflection. Now, he wants to insure that others do not enjoy that same benefit, even for simply believing a different way.
Let’s break this down a bit further. Did you know that Chad may not be welcomed in some annual conferences as a pastor? Annual conferences are allowed to restrict divorced people from serving as pastors. There are many United Methodists who would not view Chad as capable of serving as a pastor because he has broken “God’s law.” (I do not support that position.)
He then attempts to give something of a send-off to the “progressives” (I find that funny, because in many congregations, Chad is a progressive) by looking to the women who fled other denominations in order to answer the call to ministry and to be accepted as full and equal members in the Church. Chad doesn’t seem to remember the time when women could not be ministers in the United Methodist Church (or, rather, its predecessors). What happened? They worked on it. Yes, it took a long time, but eventually the “biblical position” of a male-only clergy was changed to a “biblical position” of a gender inclusive clergy. Of course, he politely calls this “biblical obedience” whereas in so many churches and congregations, Chad or an ordained woman serving as pastors are signs of biblical disobedience.
Finally, Chad’s often used analogy of marriage and divorce as schism continues to fall flat. We are not married to one another but to Christ. His use of this, I believe, betrays more about him than he realizes. His misuse of Scripture doesn’t speak well of the Duke education he tries to hide, either. If, as he points out, the disciples were commanded to leave if people didn’t receive the words of Jesus… then I guess rather than a schism, there needs to be a lot of transfers out of the United Methodist Church from both sides.
By the way, it is the United Methodist Church, and not simply the Methodist Church. That hasn’t exist since 1968.
Chad, I’m praying for you. Come home.