The United Methodist Divorce

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By the time you read this, there’s a very good chance that the members of the United Methodist Church (UMC) that my husband I attend will have already cast votes over whether or not to disaffiliate. Let me tell you why we believe this United Methodist divorce is necessary.

Let me start in the New Testament. In Luke 5:32, Jesus tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners, and that was pretty unsettling for the religious Jews of the day. How could this guy who was whispered to be the Messiah make Himself unclean by associating with criminals, and prostitutes, and tax collectors?

Jesus’ ministry made people uncomfortable. Talking about sexuality is uncomfortable, and for years we’ve avoided talking about it in church for that very reason. But let’s get right to the elephant in the room—the ordination of practicing homosexuals and same-sex marriages sanctioned by the UMC.

Listen to this excerpt regarding human sexuality from the UMC Book of Discipline:

  • We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons….
  • Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage….
  • We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth,… and all persons need the ministry of the Church as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self.
  • The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.

Let’s re-read one of those last bullet points: “All persons need the ministry and care of the Church as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God.”

What does it mean to be in a reconciled relationship with God? When we sin, we rebel against God and we push Him away. In order to be brought back into a good relationship with Him—in order to be reconciled–we have to repent of our sins. And to repent, we have to identify and acknowledge sin. We should never celebrate it or sanction it.

Some Progressive voices in the UMC believe that we Traditionalists aren’t showing the love of Christ and that we want to exclude LGBTQ+ persons from our church. They say that we are judgmental. But what we truly believe about judgment is stated in the Apostles’ Creed:

…On the third day He arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

Did you read that? HE shall come to judge us. We believe that we must leave judgement up to God because He alone will judge the earth.

The truth is that both Traditionalists and Progressives believe the same thing about judgment. And here’s another surprise—we both love and welcome the LBGTQ+ children of God. No kidding.

Where we differ is that we Traditionalists support our Book of Discipline which states that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching.

We also stand firm on the Scriptural definition of sin and repentance, and the Scriptures are consistent in their prohibition of same-sex unions in both the Old and the New Testaments.

Therefore, we believe that an unrepentant practicing homosexual may not be ordained as a minister, nor may a same-sex marriage union be condoned by the church. To do so would be putting the church’s official sanction on sin.

Progressives, in contrast, want to remove any restrictive language about LBGTQ+ individuals from the Book of Discipline. They don’t just want to ignore the sin–they want to sanction the active practice of homosexuality so that it is no longer called a sin.

As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love. We’ve been conditioned to believe that showing tolerance and love is the same thing as being Christian. But it’s not. Showing Christian love also means holding one another accountable to the Scriptures.

The truth is that today’s UMC is made up of two groups with very different opinions existing within one church. We see the inspiration and the authority of the Bible differently. We have different sexual ethics. We disagree on marriage and ordination. We understand our mission differently. These are not small matters that we can overlook any longer.

I view disaffiliation as the best way forward, a way that allows two very different perspectives to continue worshipping as their beliefs dictate. And I pray that the inevitable United Methodist divorce can be amicable.

 

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18 thoughts on “The United Methodist Divorce”

  1. Very timely… my observation is that anyone who thinks this doesn’t affect their family just needs to shake the family tree a bit and see what falls out.

    Reply
    • Our church voted not to disaffiliate by a very slim margin. Mike and I are shaking the UMC dust off of our feet and working with others to plant a new church.

      Reply
  2. Those progressives in your church want to be able to sidestep a sin. If they won’t confess it as a sin, which the Bible says it is, then His judgement is what they have as a stumbling block they wish to remove, which is a sin. When one sin is sidestepped, how many follow?
    Those progressives would likely wish to re-write the Bible. Does that make them on par with the Traditionalists who adhere to God’s word?

    Anglicans(Episcopalians) have had this same problem for decades, and have splintered so many times that the religion is barely recognizable.
    Progressives in any dimension, seem to share one thing, expediency for themselves.
    If a progressive, in any church, thinks that He will come to judge the quick and the dead, but sidestep a particular sin, well… I pray for your successful separation.

    Reply
  3. Good article. I agree with any Christian who affirms the truths of the Bible. If “progressive” Methodists refuse to do that, I agree, true believers should leave their church.

    Reply
    • Although our church voted to stay UMC (by a hairline margin), those of us who are Traditionalists will leave (have left, actually), and we will plant a new church guided by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.

      Reply
  4. These divorces are unfortunate. However Jesus made it clear that we must believe in Him and what He did for us on the cross. Jesus, not religion full of man’s interpretations, is ALL we need. Believe in Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to your purpose.

    Reply
    • I agree. Sadly, our church voted, very narrowly, to stay UMC. Those of us who voted to disaffiliate will leave and establish a new church, guided by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.

      Reply
  5. Think of it more like AFFIRMATIVE RULES of a club. To be in it you need to be “X”, not that you cannot be “Y”.

    If you have to be “X”, and X has always meant that you uphold [read “ADHERENCE”] A, B, C, in an outward, overt, manner. If you cannot be “X” the only way to be in the club is to try to change the rules of the club [read LACK OF ADHERENCE].

    The “Rules” are a unique and encompassing part of the whole purpose of the club. If you don’t want to be in it, don’t join.

    Reply
    • The rules of the UMC “club” will most definitely be changed by the Progressive faction as more churches disaffiliate. Sadly, our church will not disaffiliate. We needed a 2/3 vote to disaffiliate, and we only got 65.6%. We’ll be planting a new church that believes in the sanctity of the Scriptures.

      Reply
  6. This isn’t just happening in the UMC. Southern Baptists are facing similar problems with the 2019 decision to affirm CRT (Critical Race Theory) and Intersectionality
    The difference being that most SBC churches are autonomous whereas the UMC churches were so intertwined with the denomination it’s difficult even when they vote to dis-affiliate
    I have been an SBC pastor for 23 years and have recently been working alongside several UMC churches as they have dis-affiliated
    It’s a sad reality we face today, but Christians must stand

    Reply
    • The Book of Discipline of the UMC will most definitely be changed by the Progressive faction as more churches disaffiliate. Sadly, our church will not disaffiliate. We needed a 2/3 vote to disaffiliate, and we only got 65.6%. We’ll be planting a new church that believes in the sanctity of the Scriptures. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  7. Progressives could not destroy the church from outside so they infiltrated knowing many already inside would adhere to their worldviews on abortion and homosexual rights. Ecumentalists teach that Jesus is not the only way to God, that the paths are many and varied. Many of the ancient heresies are on the rise again.

    Reply
  8. I would have loved to find a Wesleyan Covenant Association church, but we don’t have one nearby. I have been attending a Southern Baptist Convention church lately.

    Reply
  9. The true problem is that Methodists have elevated their vaunted book of discipline above the Word. When progressives have successfully defined sin as not-sin, they will toms the Bible in the trash, as they have always wanted to do. The scriptures are perfectly clear on homosexuality being a sin. Anything that disagrees with this needs to be abandoned and shunned.

    Reply
  10. This saddens me. However dose not suprise me. I worked for a UMC as the Church Secretary. I began a few months into Covid 19. The Church was still online at first. The Pastor was a Democrat and I align with Republican beliefs He let me know he supported gay marriage. First time Id ever heard a Pastor say that! Wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately..we have many nowadays in America. One day the Pastor came into my office, sat down to pray and talk like every morning. He stated the ways to get ahead in life were: Sex, & the people you know. ( He is married & knew I am married also). I was shocked. I believe the way to get ahead in life: Complete Education, have Children after Marriage. (Abstinence till Marriage; assures Children will have Fathers). Children need both Parents in the house. The Pastor also requested records dating back from the 60″s of Church members. This was during the Repurations talk. I eventually had to find another position. I did not believe he was a Good Leader for the Church. And felt horrible for the Church. God Bless America. GOD BLESS & KEEP HIS CHURCH.

    Reply

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