I had dinner last night with some other members of the East Ohio delegation after we all had a busy and at times frantic day in committees trying to get through our legislation. They had heard the news about the Trust Clause but they all wanted to know the answer to the same question: what was the logic behind the vote?
The discussion came from two camps and while I don’t agree with either, I understand both and was pleased to see that both came from missional perspectives.
The first was from of our brothers and sisters in the African delegation. Their discussion was that if the members of a church want to go away, they should be allowed to. In matters of faith we are better to be associated with those of strong faith and morals than to be yoked with those who do not. It is important to remember that in many African countries homosexuality is viewed quite dimly, often criminally. In fact in some countries where United Methodism is present, the practice is a capital offense. I don’t mean to cast this continent as homogeneous, but in our committee the opinions did not vary from this position.
The second argument was that we’re tired of fighting. We have discussed and debated and t varying extents fought over this issue every four years since 1972. It has wormed its way into every legislative committee, every aspect of this General Conference. I honestly had no idea how bad it was until I got here. Even long-term delegates were surprised at where we had come. Protesters were present even during communion at opening worship, offering communion in the name of their cause. Deeply passionate arguments about how rules for discussion were to be interpreted were based along these ideological lines.
The argument is that this topic has diverted our attention away from our mission. In previous posts I have lamented that our focus is so much on this one issue that the true work of the church is nowhere to be found.
I must say that this argument is growing on me. As comedian Chris Rock is fond of saying “I ain’t saying it’s right, but I understand.”
I still believe we are better of together than separate, a United Methodist Church rather than a divided one. I hope and I pray and frankly I expect that when this issue comes to the floor for the whole body to consider we will realize the seriousness of this issue and vote it down.