The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, Vice President and General Manager of Good News, an organization that has advocated for the retention of the current United Methodist teaching on homosexuality, released a statement this afternoon in response to the letter from 111 UM clergy identifying themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI).
“Unfortunately, the statement comes across more like a manifesto for an orchestrated campaign to influence General Conference than a ‘Love Letter to the Church,’” Lambrecht wrote.
Regrettably, it asks our global denomination to abandon clear scriptural teaching and 2,000 years of Christian understanding. We recognize that this public relations campaign is designed to overwhelm our denomination’s infrastructure until traditionalists abandon their theological moorings. The statement once again emphasizes the determination of many within United Methodism to act in defiance of the church’s teaching, reaffirmed for over 40 years. For the most fruitful future of United Methodism, we believe the delegates should resist the pressure to go along with a culture that has discarded biblical values regarding sexuality and marriage. In order to have a growing and vibrant denomination, delegates should remain true to an orthodox, Wesleyan understanding that promotes scriptural holiness through repentance, obedience to Scripture, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Lambrecht addressed the concerns raised by the letter writers about their need to hide parts of themselves as they carry out the work of ministry:
The letter talks about LGBTQI persons being forced to hide parts of themselves in order to engage in ministry. No one is forcing LGBTQI persons to hide their identities. That is a choice that they are making. The church has always been straightforward about what is acceptable behavior for clergy. Having same-sex attractions or being LGBTQI is not a bar to ordained ministry. Engaging in sexual relationships outside monogamous heterosexual marriage is a bar to ordained ministry. The line is clear. It is LGBTQI persons who have chosen to cross that line and yet pretend to fulfill their ordination vows. Such an action constitutes a fundamental lack of integrity that undermines the doctrine, discipline, and unity of the church.
Lambrecht concluded by differentiating between the core identity of the individual and the behaviors in which they engage:
The only resolution of the conflict proposed by the writers of the letter is that the church should “see that all persons are made in the image of God and welcomed into the community of faith.” The church already declares that all persons are made in the image of God and welcome in the community of faith. All behaviors, however, are not affirmed by the church, whether they be gossip, lying, theft, greed, or sexual sins. It appears that the only resolution acceptable to the writers of the letter is that the church affirms same-sex relations, which would contradict the teaching of Scripture and would violate the consciences of many United Methodists. It is the authors and their fellow activists who are creating a zero sum game that makes compromise difficult, if not impossible.