thoughts on the UMC decision (and a few questions for the Love Warriors)

umc decision

This week the United Methodist Church convened a special session of their general conference for the following purpose: “to act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity.” In other words, to decide how the denomination would proceed in regard to same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly LGBTQ+ clergy.

The decision of the UMC was to affirm their historical position, what they call The Traditional Plan. How this is practically carried out is still to be seen.

The decision sparked a fire of protest (doesn’t everything these days?) from the outrage mob- this time the blast was felt from the Left, but an oddly religious-sounding Left. Glennon Doyle, the Oprah-praised blogger and progressive prom queen, had this to say:

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“Tonight, the United Methodist Church – the third-largest religious institution in the US – voted to double-down its opposition to marriage between children of God who are queer; and voted to reinforce its prohibition against children of God who are queer serving as clergy.
On this night, this is what I need all of you to hear:
God did not kick you out of the church tonight, Loves.
Tonight, the church kicked God out of church.
Being rejected by church is not the same as being rejected by God.
God is not church.
God is not religion.
The gatekeepers of institutions are not God.
(But they are often desperate defenders of their own relevance.)
God loves you more than any institution God created for you: This means God loves you more than the toxic denomination in which you find yourself or the abusive marriage in which you find yourself.
When you need to go, you GO, and you take God and God’s Love right with you.
When religious folks decide they love any institution more than the individual souls inside those institutions—they’re missing the mark.
Not only is church not God, but church does not officially represent God, either. There is no one church that represents God. If you still want church—you can have one. There are churches all over the place that already have places set for you at their table. Be welcomed home to a church that does not just tolerate you, but celebrates you.
Also this: During the 3-day Methodist conference, many LGBTQI+ clergy members and congregants stood courageously – in the image of God – to proclaim and defend the full divinity of all queer children of God. Many ally ministers – under the threat of defrocking – did the same. We send deep gratitude and admiration to these love warriors. If the moral arc of the church bends toward all God’s children, it will be because of your righteousness.
Amen. G”

Shew! There’s just so…much…here. Where do I start? Okay, I don’t know Glennon (obviously) so I’m not quoting her just to have someone to pick on. I’m sure she is a nice gal. But some of y’all reposted/referenced this on the socials this week and brought it into my feed, and of course I have #thoughts about it, so here we are.

First of all, Glenn, who made you spokesperson for God?

Ya got a lot of statements up there about who God is and who God isn’t…just wondering, where are you getting your information? Are you by chance, referencing the Bible on this? If so, we can talk about what the scripture actually says about marriage (between man & woman), and both the practical (procreation) and spiritual (foreshadowing for Christ & His Bride) significance it inherently holds, but it seems like you’re referencing another authority here. Perhaps it is yourself?

Ya also have a LOT to say about the Church, The Church, THECHURCH, and some implied *feelings* along with it. Another question- what do you think the Church is actually for? Like, why does it exist? Do you think- just spit-balling here– that the purpose of the Church is to serve the will of Christ, the actual head of the Body? Just seems a bit like you might be fashioning your idea of what church should be according to your will, not His.

I do agree with these statements:

Being rejected by church is not the same as being rejected by God.
God is not church.
God is not religion.
The gatekeepers of institutions are not God.

Any group of humans, any group (including the LGBTQ+ community), is prone to hurting one another because we are sinful! We are not perfect, we are selfish, we hurt each other. It sucks, but to assert that one group or person (just take a glance at the comments on her post to read about the “perfection” of a few chosen ones, if you dare!) is more “good” than another just comes across very…self-righteous. No Christian adhering to orthodox scriptural teaching will claim that. We are sinners saved by grace. That’s kinda our whole thing.

But this is what the progressive left (or theologically and/or socially liberal) preaches- that you must earn your righteousness by virtue signaling. By being a “love warrior.” By standing up to the man…in this case, the man being over two thousand years of church doctrine on marriage, held consistently and unanimously between Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox believers.

Only now certain denominations in the West are challenging this doctrine and feeling the repercussions for it. All the way back in 1998, the Anglican Lambeth conference faced a similar doctrinal decision (re: the acceptance of homosexual congregants into the communion) and the vote came down with an overwhelming opposition from the African and Asian bishops. It seems that the pro-inclusion agenda, being led by the Western clergy and their particular shade of imperialism, was not welcome. Eleven years later and the Methodist conference, made up of ministers from around the world, experienced the same thing. It is too much to suggest that maybe the church in the United States should sit down for a minute and listen? I get it, we’re used to getting our way on pretty much everything, but maybe we should shut up for awhile and let the church in the East take some leadership. They seem to be spending less time on Instagram and more time in their Bibles.

And finally, dear Glennon, just because a Christian chooses to disagree with you on a matter of marriage, does not mean that we are rejecting you. Can’t you see the difference? You mentioned the imago Dei in your fellow neighbor, those of queer orientation (and assuming you are also respecting the full worth of those not queer?), as if another person’s opinion has any effect on it at all. It does not. That is the point. The imago Dei -or image of God- is inherent to every person, of every circumstance, period. It is not “full divinity” (kind of weird wording and sounds like you are equating a person with God? But maybe not…) and does not imply any inherent righteousness, but it is endowed by God, not man, and therefore cannot be stolen or harmed by man. It can be ignored, sure, and we see evidence of this all throughout our culture, for many people (did you read up on the Born Alive Act, by chance?) But the point is this- when someone disagrees with you on a matter of sin, and I think this is the part that really sticks in your craw, it does not mean that they are rejecting your worth as a person. We are all sinners and we all bear the image of God. It is the dichotomy of our kind and why we need a Savior that knows us and loves us, but is not like us.

There’s a lot more that I could say but I’ll leave it at this- I agree with the sentiment that the church as a whole is fracturing. We’ve kind of been doing it ever since we started. And the place that I’m coming to is this– may we, as a Body of Believers, press ever deeper into the One who died for the church. May we search out Christ himself, in the gift of scripture and by the presence of the Spirit, beyond everything we thought we knew about Christianity, and may we not tire until His return. The Church, as a living and breathing organism, belongs to Him alone. And while the Institution of Church has provided much help in this endeavor, I am also wholeheartedly looking forward to the day that we can shed our denominational and confessional differences and be united as one Bride, wedded to Christ the Groom.


Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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