Friday, May 02, 2008

mournful - updated

For those of you who are unaware of the language that was passed yesterday, I wanted to post it. The original petition was this:

¶161 G) Human Sexuality. We recognize that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when that gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the church, and society. We call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift. We also recognize our limited understanding of this complex gift and encourage the medical, theological, and social science disciplines to combine in a determined effort to understand human sexuality more completely. United Methodists, along with other Christians, have struggled to find principles for applying traditional teachings to contemporary understandings of human sexuality.We recognize that sexuality is part of the larger human mystery, to be received and acknowledged in grateful responsibility. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us. We deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sexual relations, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. We call for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for children thus abused. We believe that the Church family should support all families in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth, and adults. We challenge all members of our community of faith to commitment, integrity and fidelity in their sexual relationships.We know that all are God’s children and of sacred worth; , yet we have been, and remain, divided regarding homosexual expressions of human sexuality. Faithful, thoughtful people who have grappled with this issue deeply disagree with one another; yet all seek a faithful witness. We continue to reason and pray together with faith and hope that the Holy Spirit will soon bring reconciliation to our community of faith. The fire in our disagreements points to a deeper human mystery than we knew. We believe that the Spirit has brought our collective conscience to acknowledge this mystery more honestly, and to make our claims with greater humility before God and our neighbors. We therefore ask the Church, United Methodist and others, and the world, to refrain from judgment regarding homosexual persons and practices until the Spirit leads us to new insight. In the meantime, let us seek to welcome, know, forgive, and love one another as Christ has accepted us, that God may be glorified through everything in our lives.

The petition that was passed as follows: G) Human Sexuality-We affirm that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We call everyone to , responsible stewardship of this sacred gift.
Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. We deplore all forms of the commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children and for adequate protection, guidance, and counseling for abused children. All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence. The Church should support the family in providing age-appropriate education regarding sexuality to children, youth and adults. We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All need the ministry of the church in our struggles for human fulfillment, 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 consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all. We will live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. . We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

So this is the wording that is now in our social principles. If you notice, the UMC now condones marital rape, and does not support sexual education through the church or schools, only through the family. This is oppressive to ALL God’s children, not just the LGBT community. The only ‘good’ thing about this is that the last sentence was reinstated. So, the UMC does implore families and churches to not reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. This statement does not jive with the rest of this petition. It is hypocritical and contradictory. Families and friends can accept their family members and friends, but the church doesn’t?? WHAT?? What message is this sending? To me, it’s a conflicting, hurtful, fearful message. The original petition was beautiful. You did not have to agree with homosexuality to support that statement. By passing this minority report as a principle, the UMC has kicked the LGBT community to the curb and beaten us while we’re there. A more beautifully worded response was posted by Sue Laurie on the RMN website at:
I am hurting. We all are hurting. I had to read symbolism into the cloudy skies that greeted us this morning. I have to hope for a brighter future. We were supposed to be building a future of hope at this General Conference. Instead, the plenary attempted to block this hope with fear, and hatred. We will prevail. And we will be back in 2012.

I also want to lift up the joys of this week in the despair: the worship service Sunday, the anti-homophobia and heterosexism petition passed, the Judiciary Council members, the defeat of anti-trans petitions, and the wedding tomorrow. We are the church. And we are here to stay.


David said...

I think you're being unnecessarily, though understandably, despairing about this. The final wording does not condone marital rape (where do you read that?); nor does it state explicitly that sex education should be confined to the family; nor is it saying the church doesn't have to accept gay members - quite the contrary, it seems to me.

There is a distinction between loving acceptance of someone as a friend, family member and brother / sister in Christ, and accepting (condoning) all they do. In fact, as a Christian, if you really believe that someone's active gay sexuality is harming them spiritually, you have a loving duty to tell them so. Just as you also have an absolute duty to continue to love and welcome the person you have thus 'chastised', and also to accept criticism of, and disagreement with, you on their part.

The original wording did effectively call for the UMC to abandon the traditional understanding of active homosexuality as a sin, shared by many other churches throughout the world. It's a big ask, as they say. But the fact that they couldn't move as far as you might have wished does not mean they are kicking you when you're down, as you put it: an inability (yet) to abandon the view that gay sexual activity is wrong in principle is absolutely not the same as, nor a licence for, homophobia; and if it does occasion homophobia, that is arguably a greater sin than the sex acts in question, and should be condemned as such.

Meanwhile, gay persons that are hurting at the church's continuing condemnation of gay sex as sinful should see this hurt as one way in which they are called to share in the sufferings of Christ, and so grow in faith and love for all their brothers and sisters, even those who don't condone their sex lives.

Michele Naughton said...

The post I put up did not have the strikeouts I thought it did. I corrected this morning, so the correct petitions are now in the post. Sorry for the confusion.

Michele Naughton said...

Again, I realised I forgot something in my original post.. lack of sleep is getting to me. It's finally updated the way I wanted to originally post. Bear with me, I'm still new to the whole blogging world :)

Matt Algren said...

I'm so sick of code words. David, you've attempted to slip just about the most offensive thing past us with purdy words in your last paragraph. Say what you mean and stop trying to slip something by the stupid fags.

It's a nice trick, telling us that we're accepted (unless the pastor really wants to reject us, in which case, you know, go to it) BUT gays can't get married and golly, sex outside marriage is bad. So I guess we're stuck, right?

Fancy that. But you love us, you really do. Really. It's just that we have our own set of rules (defined by you, since you're in the 95% majority). You're doing it for our own good, and we should just be glad that you stopped where you did.

One could almost say that we're separate but equal. (I don't know if that phrase is known across the pond. You'll have to look it up to see how it turned out last time we tried that approach.)

And yes, It DOES mean that they're kicking us when we're down. I'll be damned if I'm going to thank the supposed men and women of God who take great pleasure in strapping on their steel-toed boots to do the kicking.

And take pleasure they do. Make no mistake, there will be celebrating to beat the biggest Easters in some churches come Sunday.

Am I bitter? Absolutely. I'm bitter because the plantation owner wants me to thank him for my whippin'. AGAIN.

David said...

So Matt, do you not think you should try to love those who hurt you by rejecting your sexuality? You say straight people define a special set of rules for gay people. But equally, you can't force people to accept you only on your terms. What I meant at the end of my comment is that the best way ultimately to overcome the barriers of misunderstanding and fear between straight and gay Christians is not to treat the whole thing as a conflict that the 'pro-gay' cause will eventually 'win' (Michele's comment, "We will prevail. And we will be back in 2012") but to continue trying to dedicate oneself to love, holiness and Christian witness, irrespective of one's sex life.

I personally, as a Christian, believe that an active gay sex life is not compatible with wholehearted commitment to the call to holiness. But I certainly don't regard this as a licence to pass judgement on gays - one of the reasons being that I'm bisexual myself. Now, please, don't come out with any stereotypical, judgemental response to some effect that I'm not 'properly gay', or that it's very convenient for me to 'reject' active homosexuality because I can always find solace in straight sex - because it's just not like that. In any case, I'm sure you wouldn't react that way; but the fact you assumed I was straight is an illustration that judgemental attitudes can work both ways.

If you really want to know what I think in the matter, I'd recommend you check out the last post (on sexuality and vocation) in my own blog.

Anonymous said...
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Michele Naughton said...

David, in response to your question about marital rape, I found a fellow blogger who answered much more eloquently than I could. If you care to read:

David said...

Thanks for the link, Michele. I've left a comment on that post, too (hopefully, not as 'preaching').

Matt Algren said...

David, absolutely we're called to love our neighbors and such. That calling doesn't extend to allowing them to keep punching us in the gut because they have been told they could do it for centuries.

As for whether you think homosexual sex is 'compatible', I don't care. It's your responsibility, if you're going to speak or give an opinion on the issue, to inform your opinion. And the information is clear. Homosexuality is not a sin. The condemnation that we've been told about just isn't there.

What I've told others in the past is that at the very least, there's confusion and disagreement on this issue. And condemning someone to only partial (at best) inclusion in the Church based on a less-than agreed upon evidence is a horrific miscarriage of justice.

Of course, the UMC has now refused to acknowledge that there is even a debate about it, which I'm pretty sure is covered in the 'bearing false witness' clause at the front of the Bible. For 36 years, longer than I've been alive, we've been actively disagreeing about this, and with respect to leaders of the movement, some of that time has been spent trying to soft-sell this. I wonder if it's finally time to press the issue and force people to make a choice.

As for whether you're straight, I made the assumption, for good or ill, based on your blog. Specifically, the entry from 21 September 07 in which you expounded on how homophobia is good and reasonable in sporting situations.

I'll just leave it at that.

David said...


Thanks for your conciliatory remarks. For the record, as an RC myself (showing my true colours), I happen to accept the official view (which many of my co-religionists don't) that homosexuality itself is not a sin but that homosexual acts are (not an easy one to compute; but there is, in theory, a valid distinction). However, I've also gone on record as saying that I regard gay sex within loving, faithful relationships as much less of a sin (if there are degrees of sin, which is surely a sensible assertion, with reservations) than many forms of heterosexual practice. It certainly is not in my view, in this context, a 'mortal sin' (whereas rape, within or outside marriage, clearly is); although again, if you believe in the redemption of the cross, mortal sin is a rather difficult concept to accept (I guess if somebody deliberately repudiates divine grace through a determined act of will, or an accumulation of such acts . . .).

Anyway, I have a sense of the huge disappointment and grievance that the recent decision of your church has caused you; and I'm sorry for that.

By the way, I didn't say homophobia was a 'good' thing, in an absolute sense, in sporting contexts; but I did say you have to be contextual in your assessments of how serious, psychologically and morally, apparent displays of homophobia are. Homophobia, like racism, is a very emotive word, which can be used too loosely to condemn people who disagree with you. But I guess it's also too easy to condemn those who readily resort to such terms if one has not, like them, been the object of homophobic or racist discrimination.

God bless.