Being in the Middle

SkyMcCraken1United Methodist news circles and the blogosphere have been roused of late regarding same-gender marriage ceremonies. The news, however, is mostly only news to us United Methodists. My casual, un-scientific poll of people outside of the UMC tells me that this is largely unnoticed by the greater society.  Outside of the UMC and a few Facebook pages, few really care or are even watching. Overall, United Methodists are losing their influence on America. In 1970, there were over 10 million UM’s amidst 203 million Americans. In 2010 however, that number was down to 7.6 million UM’s.. amidst 308 million Americans (from the General Commission on Archives & History). We are in decline in the U.S. No wonder few are losing sleep over what the United Methodist Church does or does not do.

It’s not that same-gender ceremonies are an unimportant issue. They are — regardless of what “side” you might support. But most of the arguments that I am witnessing on blog pages, on Facebook, and in denominational articles come from an American perspective. For some denominations that’s the only perspective that matters, but for a long time now, the United Methodist Church has been a worldwide denomination, and in the UM conferences of Africa, West Africa, Congo, and Philippines, membership has gone up 3 million people since 1999 (State of the Church Report, 2011). While it is always hasty to make broad generalizations, these areas of our church tend to be more traditional in theology and doctrine.

The worldwide nature of the UMC sets up a situation that most American UM’s are unused to and frustrated by — something that transcends our either/or, Democrat/Republican, Harley Davidson/Japanese motorcycle, Duke/Kentucky basketball way of thinking, for there are others to think about or argue with besides ourselves. Such are the realities of being a world-wide church.

I haven’t found that social media has helped the situation much; indeed, I think it has made finding common ground even more difficult. To borrow from Martin Buber, some have left an “I-Thou” way of seeing others and adopted an “I-It” demeanor on this issue. By doing so, we objectify those who disagree with us.

For some UM’s, same-gender marriage ceremonies represent a civil rights issue. For other UM’s, it is not about civil rights but rather an ecclesial and doctrinal matter. For our African brothers and sisters, however, many take great offense at equating same-gender marriage and civil rights, as they live with the reality that Apartheid resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands South Africans. For them, there is no comparison. In African provinces, homosexuality is not just a doctrinal/ecclesial matter, it is a legal one as well. With conviction, they cannot be party to changing church doctrine on the matter, as their societies make such actions not only illegal but punishable by imprisonment or even death. For us as American UM’s, to ignore this part of the argument is to ignore a large part of our United Methodist Church. Again, such are the realities of being a world-wide Church. There are more issues, more cultural aspects, and more contextual realities than just American ones.

To love God is to love people. All people. Regardless. But it also means to embrace tolerance. Tolerance is not kowtowing, tolerance is to offer respect amidst the differences. And inclusivity – as opposed to being generic – means embracing all as children of God.

The question that we face is how tolerant and inclusive can we be as a denomination? Can we still see others as brothers and sisters even when they are as convicted as we are in matters where we do not agree? Are those who strongly advocate same-gender marriage willing to say that they have the absolute truth on the matter (in light of Reinhold Niebuhr’s words that to be Christian means living in the tension of having and not having the truth)? So sure that they are willing to disrupt UMC gatherings of likewise faithful and convicted people?

I’ve always maintained that the Church is to be counter-cultural and “maladjusted” by worldly standards. No matter what the polls or opinions or trends say, we are called to be in the world while not of the world, and our discernment of what God wants should trump popular opinion. At the same time, we are likewise called to support the civil rights of individuals as a concern for social justice. These things are not diametrically opposed.

The reason why I have no problem with states deciding whether or not they issue a marriage license for same-gendered couples is because such (getting a marriage license) functions under civil authority. It is a state issue – not a church issue, (which a Christian marriage ceremony is). It doesn’t mean I agree with it — indeed, I don’t agree with how easy the state makes divorce, or abortion, or how cavalierly some states deal with capital punishment. While we Christians should never water down our beliefs or witness, we dare not depend on the state to make our stands for us – we are Christians first, and citizens second. Our calling to be Christ’s is a higher calling. I love my country – but I love God much more. And while the Church is a human institution, hopefully it is led by people led by the Holy Spirit – and I continue to believe that it is the best hope of making disciples for the transformation of the world. Being United Methodist is, for me, the best expression of the Christian faith. I stand by its beliefs and submit to its authority – even when it pits me against friends and family. It’s what I vowed to do.

When it comes to doctrine and belief, the theological milieu in the UMC gets muddier still. Some are liberal. Some are orthodox (or generously orthodox, rigidly orthodox, or neo-orthodox). Some are conservative. Traditional. Postmodern. Post postmodern (always something new – or nothing new – under the sun). Some think Christ was really born of a virgin. Some say that’s an ancient legend (and everything in between). Some say Christ was really crucified and risen. Others say that miracles violate the laws of nature and must be discounted. Further, and most confusing to the average person in the pew, some say that Christian beliefs are based less on any one truth and more upon your “circle of interpretation.”

My goodness. Where do we stand?!?

McCracken_crucifixionMy short, inadequate, but I think faithful answer is this: I don’t see how Christians can place themselves anywhere else other than the middle. Not the middle as we Americans define middle. More than just the via media. The REAL middle. The place where Jesus was on Calvary. Crucified between a man who wanted Jesus to prove his power and fix things, and a man who knew that one day, he would get far better than he deserved.

I think that’s where God would have us: holding the hands of both. It’s not clean, in fact it’s quite messy. Yet, I’d rather stand in the middle and place myself in God’s will rather than my own, because left to my own devices, I’ll end up wanting a Jesus who will fix things rather than trusting Him to take us where we need to be.

That is the danger of taking the extreme positions on either side in our denomination – we run the risk of going where they want, rather than where God would have us.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.

Sky McCracken

The Rev. Sky McCracken is the District Superintendent of the Paducah District of the Memphis Annual Conference.

Join the conversation....

  1. Thank you Rev. Sky,
    Indeed, it’s difficult to compromise when the conservatives have the upper-hand, we don’t approach the table as equals, if “liberals” speak, it’s knowing that at any time we could be brought up on charges against the BoD, even if we haven’t acted contrarily to it. The dialog has slowly been shut off over the past 40 years, to where some feel the only recourse is to disrupt.
    Similarly, it’s difficult to dialog when our conservative African brothers and sisters lack factual knowledge about LGBTQ people, and we’re keenly aware of the violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people in African countries by Christian conservatives (UMs, Anglicans, et al)– it’s not about marriage, or even civil rights, it’s about basic human rights, and the “sacred worth” of all people. But again, I’ve met Africans who have been very supportive of LGBTQ rights and DO see the comparison between LGBTQ rights and civil rights (UMs, and of course, the very public words of Bishop Tutu against homophobia). More locally, in the USA, people who are LGBTQ, African American, and UM -for example- certainly see the comparison between the racial civil rights movement and the LGBTQ equality movement.

  2. Scott Spencer says:

    To talk about the legality issue in Africa is amazing! Yes, it may very well be illegal. Yes it may very well end in death. However, in the not so distant past, it was ILLEGAL for many things (it was illegal just 40some years ago in Oklahoma for blacks and whites to marry!). What are the extreme positions in our denomination? One extreme says homosexual behavior under any circumstance is sinful. And the other extreme welcomes gays and lesbians as sisters and brothers in Christ. I am not sure your explanation of the middle, or via media, is really explained or helpful. One side sees itself as prophetic and actually working for change. The other side sees itself as resisting a turning away from God! What is the practical implications of your suggestion? Hold the hands of both extremes? Finding danger in the extremes?

  3. Scott Spencer says:

    I also think that being in SOME places world-wide does not make us a global church! If we want to talk global church, let us talk to the Catholics. There are many places in this world other than the USA, Africa, and the Philippines. If we listen to the UMC mantra, we would have to believe God is not interested in Latin America, Asia, or the Middle East! Let us be honest when we refer to the UMC as “global” church!

  4. Thank you Rev Sky for contributing this most welcome and illuminating article. Still, I see our denomination heading for inevitable schism and maybe that’s not a bad thing. God will reveal Himself in Truth. I am a traditional, orthodox, Methodist and find it very disconcerting that we have allowed our doctrine to be blown in the winds of “political correctness”. What’s next? Will we be ordaining Atheists in the name of being “inclusive”? Will we be required to remove the Crosses from our Communion Tables because it may “marginalize” or “disenfranchise” the unbeliever next door? This IS a doctrinal/ecclesial matter and without unity on doctrine we are no longer a “Church”.

    • DL,
      Your comments highlight the schism that we have created or allowed to be created. Bringing political, philosophical, secular, and intellectual dialogue into the church in an attempt to explain God and his Word as revealed in the Bible has replaced, in many ways, the discussions we should be having. Unless we’re filtering everything through Scripture, theology, and doctrine, then we’ve become of this world and not in it. Left, right, or middle really have no place in our church. God is not left, right or middle; He is God and transcends all this. Of course God is all inclusive, all love. But, not on the terms of those seeking Him. It is on His terms. The Gospel does not mean that those seeking salvation get to set their own terms of salvation. Those terms are set by God and we all must seek His way, not our way. The inclusiveness advocates often have this all wrong. They constantly argue that Jesus was all inclusive, and stop the discussion there. He certainly is all inclusive if those seeking him confess of their sins, turn from their prior sinful orientation, and follow Him in a new life. I cannot continue in my sin and claim to be a follower of Jesus, and He will not be my advocate in such an arrangement. Bottom line, the UMC needs to dispense with worldly ways and get back to God’s ways — that being getting back on message of the Gospel the Good News (the greatest news in all of human history) of Jesus Christ that this fallen world so desperately needs. That’s what will turn our church around and we will start making a difference.

  5. Sky,

    thank you for your articulation and effort to speak to/from the wide middle. Labels are restrictive; I do not know what my label is. I am a centrist who leans “left” on some issues, theological/political/social. I am a centrist who leans “right” on others, theological/political/social.

    But being a centrist does NOT mean one is a wishy-washy, sitting-on-the-fence non-decider. The struggle is that the wide middle between the often screechy voices at the far left and the far right is difficult to represent, and sometimes puts one at odds with both ends for not committing fully to the causes/perspectives of either in full.

    I generally see myself through the lens of process theology rather than systematic theology because of how I experience grace as the free-flow transformation of “always becoming” through God’s always creating/resurrecting power. This means little is ever static.

    It is difficult these days not to be overwhelmed by anticipatory grief at the possibility of schism in the church that brought me back to Christ after 20 years of atheism, and introduced me to grace as a process, the Wesleyan quadrilateral, a healthier view of evangelism and mission, and is the denomination that gave birth to my call to ordination.

    But because I believe in Resurrection I have hope. I choose hope. Maybe there is a way to maintain unity in our diversity, but it will have to be a very different unity than exists now. Maybe there isn’t, and maybe schism will give rise to a rebirth of Wesleyanism, even if it is within a newly created branch of Methodism as a new denomination. I do not know which fork I will choose. I pray I never have to.

    Either way, I choose hope, partly because I find in this blog the promise of others who may feel similarly, brothers and sisters who are often silent in the wide middle. I choose hope, partly because I find in this blog pinpoints of light that may lead us through the darkness if we take our eyes from ourselves and our need to be right, and focus our eyes upon Jesus.

    Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

    Thank you, Sky. I pray others join you as a loud chorus of hope and promise. May Jesus lead us through the middle way.

    Rev. Mark Whitley
    Senior Pastor
    Verdigris United Methodist Church
    Oklahoma Conference

    • Dear Rev Whitley,
      Thank you for your comments. You go on to say that you believe in Resurrection almost as if it has become a matter of opinion in our church. Adam Hamilton, in one of his books, states that people come up to him after Easter Service and ask him if he really believes in Resurrection. Wow, people in his Methodist church, attending Easter service, asking that. I find that shocking. I remember reading where Paul dealt with that, was outraged, and concluded that to not believe in Resurrection would equal an end to this new church. What is going on in the United Methodist Church today? While we have fought for the past forty years over this ugly, damaging, sexual issue, have we let our theology and doctrine go up in smoke? Are we now a church that believes that a debate over the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus is nothing unusual and not to be that concerned about? Are we still a church of the Bible or a church of individual designer faith? What do we believe in 2013? What about the Gospel, the Good News? Is that out of style, old fashion, offensive, politically incorrect? While we strive to carve out paths that do not offend, that do not show disrespect, that advocates inclusiveness for nothing in return, and that dispenses love to the point of enabling, are we ignoring the cross and what Jesus did there? Who are we, where are we headed, and what are we doing?

  6. MethodistPie says:

    This is exactly the kind of voice that has been missing from our debilitating intermural crossfire. Thank you, sir.

  7. Dear Rev. Sky,
    I like the others, appreciate your willingness to wade into an area of controversy that is all too often pockmarked with unseemly engagements. I recently read, “As in any revolution, the temptation is to join the frenzy and begin shooting at whoever we are told is the enemy…it is wrong to be rude, even in the name of morality [or social justice]” (pp. 12-14, Peter Hubbard, Love into Light).

    I love the way our local UMC extends open arms to all who long to know what it means to be a person in whom Christ dwells. It makes me sad to think any seeker of Jesus with a same sex attraction might be traumatized by the belief that his or her struggle is unlike anyone else’s. I love my LGBTQ friends with the same truth that Jesus offers to us all.

    That being said, being new to the UMC, I am not sure where it comes down on the authority of Scripture, but I am deducing from your above essay, that the UMC does not hold a strong opinion here? However, this, I believe, is the crux of the matter. When we refrain from embracing a theology that upholds Scriptural authority (2 Timothy 3:16), we are indeed left to wrestle with question, “My goodness. Where do we stand?!?”

    Because our God is a God of truth, it seems to make sense that we could expect His written self-revelation to be truthful in what it affirms and what it disavows–no matter the subject in question.

    Grace and Peace,
    Charlotte Angles

  8. Rev. Mark Whitley says:

    WAD,

    I wish I had smart, articulate, and encompassing answers to your great questions. I think there are many clergy and laity who wrestle with those questions, privately and in corporate discussion. I certainly do.

    Regarding my statement about the Resurrection, it is not just that I believe in it and proclaim it, but it is the basis of my theology of pastoral care.

    Without getting overly theological, and offering an over-simplified synopsis, if the Resurrection is everything scripture and tradition claims it is, and there truly is “victory over death,” then, to my thinking, there has to be “victory” over every KIND of death, e.g., biological death leading to the hereafter, death of employment, death of marriage (divorce), death of health, wealth, independence, etc. Even death of a denomination as we know it.

    The Resurrection is, at its simplest, the absolute promise that there is new life on the other side of every kind of death. Not re-animation of what was, but the creation of something new that in someway has never existed before. Even Jesus was not a re-animated corpse according to scripture, but a “glorified” body. This promise of new life on the other side of death is, for me, the only real source of true hope in the world.
    As pastor, if I don’t have that promise then I’m not sure what it is I really have to offer that is different from what Dr. Phil or any other secular therapist has to offer. The promise of the Resurrection certainly is the source of MY hope.

    So that is why I have hope – why I choose hope. Even if the United Methodist Church “dies” as I know it now, I trust that God will “resurrect” the Methodist church in some new way or ways that ensures “the people called Methodist” continue to have a place at the table.

    I just returned from a couple of weeks in Hong Kong. Christ’s church is alive, thriving, and growing there even as we see the decline of the church here and in Europe. God is saving the church in whatever form God chooses for those who choose to be faithful. The church isn’t dying, it is just moving where the Spirit will move. This is some of what Sky was pointing to in his blog post.

    I know that many others will take exception to my theology and praxis, but this is how I have worked it out in my personal faith and my pastoral ministry.

    Be at peace, WAD,

    Mark

  9. I read Rev Sky’s rambling post three times trying to figure out the point he was trying to make. I am a little slow sometimes. The best I could tell was that loving God means embracing tolerance but I fail to see the connection. Tolerance of sin is not a loving act. What am I missing here? And to borrow a phrase from Goldwater “extremism in defense of Christ is not a vice.”

    • Sorry to have rambled, Kevin. I am sure I could have been clearer.

      There is a large different between tolerance of person and tolerance of sin – which is why I referenced Buber’s “I-thou.” And my words and pleas for tolerance are to those on both extremes who automatically shut out anyone from conversation (or worse, call them names) because of stance. We may disagree, perhaps should disagree, but do so without high school forensic hijinks or playground antics.

      • Disagreement is fine. We have those all the time. Isn’t that why we have conferences so that different proposals and viewpoints can be aired and voted upon? When disagreement turns to defiance, disobedience and oath breaking then the time for tolerance ends on my part. There is no point in talking with people who cannot keep their word.

  10. John Battern says:

    I’ve never met a United Methodist that agrees 100% with everything in our doctrinal statements and social principles. We are a diverse people with wide ranging beliefs. We seek to reach out to both sides. That’s something I believe most UM’s love about their church.

    There’s another element in the image of the cross standing in the middle and that is that Christ going to the cross was an act of obedience. In the midst of our “middle-ness” we still must be obedient to our covenant, regardless whether we tend to lean toward one direction or the other.

    Unlike Pubilius, I have never heard of anyone being brought up on charges for speaking their mind. (The UMC is very large & I realize I don’t know everything that happens & I’d like to hear of a specific case where this is happened). On the other hand, individuals who ACT in disobedience should expect to be held accountable. Dialogue helps the church, disobedience does not.

  11. Jay Jonson says:

    It is unbelievable that someone would say that since some African nations have draconian laws against homosexuality (some of which, like the proposed kill the gays law in Uganda are actually promoted by right-wing Christians from America and others are remnants of British colonialism), we should be sensitive to their perspective. No. Unjust laws are unChristian and people who advocate them should not be able to dictate doctrine on such a matter. In fact, I would say that those incredibly stupid laws should be a good reason to cut ties with African churches who support such persecution of others.

    Rev. McCracken’s version of love seems to be as murky as his version of “tolerance.” We apparently are supposed to tolerate uncivilized laws and love those who would kill their brethren.

    • Not all UM Churches in Africa support such laws, Jay. Which ones would you suggest cutting ties with?

      • Jay Jonson says:

        Inasmuch as you are the one who is suggesting great tolerance for these barbaric traditions, it seems to me that it is your obligation to identify the anti-Christian churches that we are in alliance with. The very idea that a church that advocates the imprisonment and, in some cases, the execution of people on the basis of whom they love can be a member of the Methodist communion is disgusting to me. What you are proposing in the name of tolerance is brutal inhumanity and, in some cases, genocide. I wonder how many Methodists have been involved in pushing the “kill the gays” bill in Uganda?

        • Forgive me for not being clear – I meant my question to be, *which* UMC’s do you want to cut ties with – given that we are not an autonomous church? I don’t know that ANY UMC’s are advocating imprisonment and execution in Africa; that’s the law in their land, not necessarily the wishes or beliefs of their churches. My hunch is many UMC’s there are caught in the middle where this issue is concerned.

          • Jay Jonson says:

            I suspect that your hunch is wrong. When the president of Malawi attempted to decriminalize homosexuality in her country, she had to retreat because of the opposition of Christian churches. The Anglican Bishop Tengatenga said not a peep in protest event though he later tried to paint himself as a human rights activist. When his silence in the face of oppression, and his own vicious denunciation of Bishop Gene Robinson’s consecration in the Episcopal Church, came to light, he was denied a prestigious position at Dartmouth. I hope the African Church leaders, especially those who hope to have careers in the West, learn that their oppression of their brothers will not be looked upon with approval. Considering the hysteria expressed by African Methodists at the General Conference at the prospect of removing the hateful language about homosexuality in the BoD, I suspect that many of them are not only complicit in the ugly laws of their countries, but agents who fight any reform of those laws. Insofar as the UMC is complicit in the oppression of African gays and lesbians, to say nothing of American gay people, it is a homophobic organization.

    • theenemyhatesclarity says:

      @ Jay Johnson who said: “We apparently are supposed to tolerate uncivilized laws and love those who would kill their brethren.”

      Should we love those who think it should be a constitutional right to kill babies in the womb?

  12. Gary Bebop says:

    Rev. Sky writes with the deft touch of the “horse whisperer” for his subject. He’s the artisan Methodist leader, if such exists, the quintessential “voice of reason” calmly addressing the clamorous congregation on the verge of violent separation. We recognize the voice and the moment from sentimental motion pictures. It appeals to our nostalgic longings for an unrecoverable unity.

  13. Scott Spencer says:

    You are talking about gays, lesbians, bisexuals, right? Just curious since you only mention same gender marriage and homosexuality. Are transgendered folks included? Language is important and the words we choose or don’t choose reveals much. There are many folks in our churches who can’t bring themselves to use the word “African-American” and they continue to use the words “colored” or “black”.

    I do understand your concerns about the extremes. But I also wonder if anything would ever change in this world without them. When women were elected to General Conference for the first time and tried to be seated, no doubt they were extreme and not part of the Methodist middle. And what of a little African American girl going to public school under the watchful eye of armed guards? No doubt that was extreme. And no doubt there were many who were part of the middle who would have never done that! We remember Rosa Parks today not because she was content with the status quo – not content with what those in privileged position of power thought and said and enforced.

    Indeed, apartheid simply didn’t slip away. Someone had to stand up for change.

    I still can’t figure out what you would have us DO? Hold hands? Of course. But why? To be nice and maintain the status quo? To ask the LGBTQ community to sit at the back of the bus?

    • Scott: we hold hands to stay in contact. To continue the conversations – in person, rather than only through social media. To make sure that everyone is heard, not just the loud or powerful or manipulative voices.

      Passion and truth also comes from those whose voices are often drowned out when we objectify people by their stances, or worse, label them “homophobes” or “deviants.” We hold hands and pray to hear the Spirit, rather than rhetoric. The change that occurs when we do these things is more apt to be “thy will” rather than ours.

      • MethodistPie says:

        To Scott’s concern: I think the alphabet is up to GLBTQIA, with the Q apparently standing for Queer and/or Questioning. The ‘I’ really confuses me. Am I the only one having trouble keeping up?

  14. A little different slant here. The methodist church began to lose its way back in the 1950s. When many folks joined back then–they joined mostly for the sake of joining a “social organization”–as opposed to joining a faith-based Church. The folks were “good” people and the fellowship was ok. But, a quiet experience or a Damascus Road experience with the Risen Savior was no longer encouraged or expected for one to become a member of the methodist church. Sunday School curriculum taught “social gospel” stuff as opposed to “Good News” gospel stuff. Consequently–the fact that “ones righteousness” is as filthy rags to “God’s Righteousness” was lost in the shuffle.

    Until the umc regains its desire to preach the Good News–that all have fallen short–that all must be washed in the Blood of the Lamb in order to be reconciled to Father/Son/Holy Spirit–social issues will continue to dwindle the now weakened umc. A changed heart–one that is filled with Father/Son/Holy Spirit–will/can do remarkable things.

    • theenemyhatesclarity says:

      Exactly right, James. I pray we are not just a corpse that hasn’t figured out it’s dead yet.

    • Amen James. The world so desperately needs the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will the Methodist church stand and deliver again in the Wesleyan tradition? That’s our only hope.

      • Gary Bebop says:

        There are a few out there, like Rev. Sky and David Watson, who believe that Methodism can “stand and deliver” on these preaching points. But those voices are speaking into absolute bedlam right now.

        • Only a “few”who believe that Methodists can stand and deliver? Now that’s a frightening prospect. Preaching points? These “preaching points” are the essence, the core, the absolute definition of Christianity and this Wesleyan denomination. It is past time for our once great church to get back on this message with enthusiasm, fire, authority, and Holy Spirit led determination.

  15. The transmission in my car was stuck in neutral.
    I got nowhere.
    My lawn tractor was stuck in idle.
    I never did get the lawn done.
    A woman is being robbed in plain site for all to see.
    The people walked passed. They remained neutral.

    I see poverty and I ignore the plight of the poor.
    I do not get involved.

    I see a church divided.
    I take no stand.
    The church falls apart.

    Remaining neutral has never been the Christian way.
    When the Apostle Paul was informed of immorality, poor practice and misunderstood teachings in the church Paul took action. The Apostle Paul did not remain neutral.
    When it was made known to Peter, Paul and the other Apostles heretical teachings were being taught and practiced in the church, they did not remain neutral.
    When a man was found to be in an incestuous relationship he was thrown out of the church. Those are not neutral policies or practices.

    All of the Apostles understood secular law and pagan practices where having an impact on the early church and corrected where they found conflict.
    To think laws and norms in the secular world will not have an impact on the Christian Church is simply not true. There are hundreds of example of secular thinking and practice impacting the church, the services they offer and the financial costs associated with ever changing cultural norms.
    History is filled with examples of laws and norms changed and the impact on the culture.
    Secular laws governing drugs, marriage, divorce, porn, taxation, education all impact the church. It is the church that is left to pick up the pieces of bad secular law.
    It is the church who houses the homeless addicted to drugs and drinking.
    It is the church that will council the weary.
    It is the church that will feel the pinch of over taxation.
    It is the poor the church wishes to help that will go without.
    It is the church that runs soup kitchens, food pantries, provides free clothing and help for those that make bad decisions based on secular norms and practice.

    The church can remain in neutral and watch the world go it’s own way or they could get their act together and show the world how good works, humility, honesty, justice, family, holiness and leadership are defined and understood in the Christian Community. The church could show how the principles and practices laid down by God thru his prophets and apostles and recorded for us to learn from can and do work when they are incorporated properly.

    “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. Matthew 5:17

  16. David Keith Wells says:

    Rev. Sky
    You are on to something here. You are being criticized by both sides. You must be perilously close to the truth. I am not exactly sure where you stand on the issue of homosexual marriage in the church and pastors not following the discipline they pledged before God to uphold, but I appreciate the reasoned presentation. One of the things that bothers me about this debate is the absolute metaphysical certainty of some in the discussion.
    God Help us all.
    David Keith Wells

  17. Methodists are already attempting to soften opposition to Methodist blessings of non-human reprodutive ability same-sex marriage in 2016 in direct conflict to the Book of Romans Big denomination split ciming?

  18. Methodists on way to schism @ General Conference 2016 amid all the twisted anti-Book of Romans theology?

Your thoughts?

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 

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