umc logoChett Pritchett, Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, writes in response to what is certainly a victory for those who wish to have a more congregational style of polity,

While it is important to celebrate this just resolution as a way forward, both the complaint and the need for just resolution in complaints regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons and those in ministry with these persons, are inherently unjust from their genesis. Bishop Talbert, drawing from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Augustine, has made this abundantly clear in his articulation of the concept of Biblical Obedience: “an unjust law is no law at all.” I hold the same to be true: that an unjust resolution is really no resolution either because the unjust law – anti-LGBTQ language in the Book of Discipline – still exists.

Chett and other progressives have made it clear — any victory that does not completely do away with the conservatives, the Book of Discipline, and Church unity – is not victory. This “my way or the highway” mentality reminds me of the way Ephesians 5.22—24 is read and (ab)used in fundamentalist churches, wherein the women must be completely submissive to their husbands. This means that there is no room for dialogue, no room for compromise, no room for disagreement. What the husband believes to be right is right without question (or input, for that matter).

St. Paul’s passage here does not stand alone as many would have us believe, but falls after Ephesians 5.21 wherein the Apostle (or, perhaps, a student of the Apostle) commands us  to be subject one to another. There is likewise the ancient hymn, preceding any written tradition, wherein we are told to take upon ourselves the self-sacrificing humility of Christ (Phil 2.3–11). Christ won at all costs, but the cost was not another person — but himself, in self-denial and in humiliation.

Neither side, by the way, really wants to do that. Neither side really wants to win. They want to conquer. Don’t think I am giving a free pass to the conservatives. Their complaint about this is that it happened (like the Book of Discipline allows) and did not proceed to a trial, unlike the complaint from the Left which is, and I am paraphrasing, “it didn’t mandate that we win and all the conservatives leave!” On the other hand, I imagine that if a trial had occurred and the Bishop defrocked, we would see the conservatives elated and whispers of “Time for you folks to leave” ascending with incense. Let’s not kid ourselves. Many in the corners want a denomination built with conformity, not unity. They want the “weaker vessel” to submit, wholesale.

Until one side is laid waste, no “win” will be sufficient.

Our only real victory is in Christ, not in harming one another.

By the way, I do not think the resolution is a good thing. This amounts to a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” defense which I imagine others could use later. Imagine if we did that with every aspect of the Book of Discipline, with every action used against one another. Further, I think these slap on the hands motions does nothing but to exasperate the situation rather to offer any real healing. This is, in no sense, prophetic. This is politic.