Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Who Moved My Cheese?

I remember those early days when I started exploring other religious faiths and other branches of Christianity.  Among the ones I decided to try giving some equal time to was the Methodists.  Maybe they weren't as strict and fascist as the Catholics I'd be raised with.

Then, shortly after 9/11, an interfaith service was held at a sports stadium in NYC to help everyone begin to heal.  Religious leaders from all faiths were brought in -- Jewish, Catholic, pagan, you name it.  And among them was a Methodist minister.

Who was defrocked afterward for officiating a ceremony with nonChristians.

And that was the end of my interest in the Methodists.

Gay rights is becoming a major battleground.  Just yesterday, for example, the high council of the Presbyterians voted to not only allow gay clergy, but to redefine marriage in their own constitution to allow gay marriage.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church allows gay clergy and lets individual clergy decide for themselves whether or not to bless a gay union.  The Catholic church is losing members and money thanks to their hardline antigay stances, and are even seeing a revolution in their own ranks as people tell them to suck it.  The Episcopalians were openly supportive of gays, but when a gay man was made a bishop, a schism happened and there are now two branches of the Episcopalians, all separated by that one act.  The United Church Of Christ just flat out supports gay marriage -- no technical definitions, no saying certain things can't be done, they just say, "Go for it."  Into this comes the Methodists, who accept gay members, but they can't become clergy and, in response to the growing wave of then commitment ceremonies and now gay marriages, forbids its ministers from officiating at a same-sex union, despite hundreds of their own clergy vocally and publicly calling the administrative body out on this.

The Methodists are covered by the Book Of Discipline, and this is where its position on gays is spelled out.  Everyone must uphold The Book.  Accidentally thrust into this was Frank Schaefer.  In 2007, his gay son decided to get hitched in Massachusetts, where gay marriage had been legal for three years at that point.  It's his son, what dad could say no?  So Schaefer went and blessed his son's union.

Well, someone in Schaefer's congregation blabbed.  In 2013, Schaefer was put on trial for not upholding the Book Of Discipline.  He was given a 30 day suspension.  He was asked if he would continue to uphold The Book, including that part about no gay marriages.  Schaefer gave an evasive answer, which anyone knows means he would gladly defy it but he's trying to play nice with the bosses.  The bosses knew it, and defrocked him.

Schaefer is appealing his defrocking.  His representative says the defrocking was a punishment for something he might or might not do, not something he has done.  Yeah, he's got a point, but let's face it -- since his defrocking, he has become an outspoken advocate for gay rights in the Methodist community.  Him presiding over another gay ceremony is as certain as the sun rising.  I'm not even sure why he's appealing it, everyone knows what is going to happen.  He's going to eventually defy the established order again -- he won't stay in his box or he will be labeled a hypocrite.  And the church will bounce him.  This is just asking if we have to sit through the whole movie or can we skip to the end credits.

Now, the church has its laws.  They may be in conflict with what the majority of their congregation wants, but they have their laws.  However, if the church stands by those laws, the church needs to do something -- it needs to own up to it and take every last bit of flak they get.  No hiding behind tradition, no hiding behind Scripture, no hiding behind interpretation.  They need to state that this is what they believe and that's all there is to it.

And when people abandon them because they are being intolerant assholes, they need to accept that, too.  All actions have consequences, and too many church bodies think they should be shielded from such consequences because of whatever.  No.  We are being threatened with damnation by you.  You are being threatened with extinction by us.
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