A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sex and Schism #1: One Issue Obsession

I have not yet said much about the current challenges facing my denomination, the United Methodist Church in reference to homosexuality and the divide we face. There are several reasons for this: I am not sure how we can have a coherent discussion about homosexuality when we UMs don't have a coherent account of marriage and human sexuality in general. I also am conscious of the fact that this is such an emotionally charged issue on both sides, I don't know if I want to go through the mental exhaustion necessary to enter the fray. It's exhausting enough just reading everyone else's views. I also am not sure I have anything to add to the conversation. So much has already been said. And finally, while I believe this subject is important, it seems to me that our obsession over this issue is an indicator of something deeper-- a loss of our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. How I wish we were as passionate about fulfilling Matthew 28:19 as we are about debating sex.


One other thing has kept me silent. I greatly dislike the name-calling and personal attacks on individuals on both sides of the debate. To be sure, there are those on both sides of this argument who are staying focused on the argument, but others are so obsessed with this one issue, they seem to assume that anyone who takes a different view somehow has nefarious motives. I am the first to admit that at times I am not above name-calling. It is an act over which I need to ask forgiveness and repent. But as a periodic name-caller, I can certainly say that it does not further the discussion. I understand that some people on both sides have a sense of outrage, but I can say unequivocally that your outrage will win no converts.

People are complex. It is, therefore, unfair to cast aspersions on them because they disagree with people on one or two issues. I find that people who are obsessed with one issue, whether it's over sex or abortion or capital punishment etc. are so honed in on that one issue that those who disagree with them must be eliminated from the debate by insult and personal attack.

In May of 2007 right after the death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, more than a few people who disagreed with him on various issues posted and wrote disparaging things about him. I am certainly no fundamentalist, but I thought it quite unfair for people to judge a man's character based on whether or not he subscribed to their moral vision. So, I wrote a post outlining many of the ministries he started that revealed his social conscience-- things that many did not know about his ministry because they were not really interested in knowing; they simply preferred to attack the man's character.

My friend, Joel Watts wrote a post along the same lines in reference to Maxie Dunnam on some of the personal attacks he has had to endure. Joel and Dunnam do not agree on homosexual practice nor do they have the same position on schism, but Joel rightly will not disparage his character. He writes,
As we go about this struggle, let us not forget that those on the other side may be people of deep convictions who have previously stood against the injustices of the world-- they just disagree about this particular issue.
I have friends and colleagues in ministry on both sides of this issue. In the midst of the current debate, I refuse to assail their character. Those who are calling for schism should not be referred to as tea-partiers, and those who are calling for a change in our Book of Discipline in reference to homosexuality should not be compared to those who promote orgies and polygamy.

By all means let's continue to have the debate, but let's argue the substance and leave the ad hominem attacks in the bin of logical fallacies.

I will have more to say in future posts.

In the meantime, let's try to work up some serious passion for the Great Commission. Jesus seemed to think it was important.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Great points all Allan. I have had much the same thoughts as you but after some of my recent readings and experiences regarding issue of trust, I felt compelled to write on the issue of broken trust. Looking at responses, I see how quickly the focus of my post gets hijacked. There are more important things for us to be focused on for sure but we'll find it hard to discover that ground if we keep trying to respond to arguments that aren't even being brought up. -Ken Hagler

Allan Bevere said...

Ken,

The issue of trust is big. If we were to manage to find a solution to this issue that makes everyone happy (doubtful), there will need to be some serious attempts to build up trust once again, particularly from those who have willfully violated the Discipline.

A covenant cannot survive without trust.

Duane Warren said...

"And finally, while I believe this subject is important, it seems to me that our obsession over this issue is an indicator of something deeper…"

Precisely. For one side "winning" would mean taking a victory lap in celebration of the misguided belief they have redefined what truth is.

For one side "winning" would mean taking a victory lap in celebration of the misguided belief they have preserved their denomination.

Both sides will lose no matter the outcome.

Duane Warren said...

As just a guy who fills a seat in church and not a pastor...I will elaborate on my earlier thought if you will allow. I sincerely do believe that there remains a remnant of good churches out there today. However…. most others are repositories of apostate assemblies infested with dark heresy. These religious institutions are decomposing corpses that make up the bulk of what the world sees today as church. Look….none of us is blind…..the world is turning away from the church in great numbers, unimpressed and wanting nothing to do with the foolishness on display. The world sees hypocrisy, greed, and unending confusion from church leaders who cling to incongruous doctrinal views that do more to separate than join the body.

The lost world makes it a point to avoid the proverbial “church experience” because demonic wolves seek to capture and control all who enter the door, using abusive practices derived from twisted doctrine. Although the world’s view of the “invisible church” is unknown and therefore mysterious, their view of the “visible church is known and reason enough to stay away from this person named Jesus Christ. Satan has succeeded in destroying the witness of true Christians because the world lumps all believers into one pile without the benefit of discerning true believers from false. The Bible talks about this scenario in Matthew 13:24-30 whereby God has, is, and will allow the false to abide with the true until such time He separates the wheat and tares from one another.

It takes an assertive effort, under the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit, for believers to grow until he or she can discern truth from error. The need to search the scriptures daily to see if these things be true, with help from an open Bible and ever present Holy Spirit, is imperative in the final hours of this age (Act 17:11).