Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Aftershocks Continue...

Many of you may not have been around Q&R this far back, but in November 2005 I began this blog as a place to process and vent about a decision made by the United Methodist Church regarding the authority of a pastor to determine who could and could not join the UMC. The statement stemmed from a case in Virginia where a pastor refused to let a gay man join the church solely because he refused to "repent" of his sinful homosexuality (and sinners who refuse to stop sinning shouldn't be allowed to be in the church??). The bishop of the VA conference suspended the pastor for insubordination after several attempts to reason with him, and the action was appealed up to the Judicial Council (the UMC's "supreme court"). In Decision #1032 the council stated that "the pastor in charge of a United Methodist church or charge is solely responsible for making the determination of a person's readiness to receive the vows of membership." This decision has led to all kinds of discussion throughout the UMC - and not even mostly about homosexuality, but more generally about membership in the UMC - what it means and what the steps are to being admitted.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHM) hosted a consultation the middle of February to invite people from across the denomination to converse together about the implications of this decision. These are people from all levels and political opinions and the UM News Service wrote a nice article on the consultation here. I'm posting it because I think (1) it's interesting that there is enough conversation going on that one of our boards decided it needed to be formally addressed; (2) the article does a good job laying out several of the issues involved with this decision; and (3) I think it's important for people, especially those of the United Methodist Church, to understand what's going on and what the conversation is all about. SO, I encourage you all to read it for yourselves and share your thoughts....


Big Unit said...

Like I have said before: it is amazing how someone else's sin is worse that your own.

Anonymous said...

Does that mean you think being gay is a sin?

Big Unit said...

I don't answer to anonymous'. BTW, all my friends are sinners just like me.

mandyc said...

Anon - I don't know if you were asking Big Unit or me, so here's my 2 cents. I don't think any loving relationship is a sin - LOVE is of God. I think we all have tendencies to abuse/misuse our sexuality regardless of who we are attracted to and that IF you consider homosexuality a sin (which I would dispute) it shouldn't be any worse than anything else we condemn people for. I don't understand why we can have pastors that are adulterers, or alocholics and that's ok when someone who is gay can't be ordained at all.

Big Unit said...

Very well put Mandy. Why do some consider this sin or that sin worse than another. Two personal observations: one from the Church of Christ - which we are part of. The CoC's don't have instruments because they aren't mentioned in the NT. We didn't realize that when we first attended, it doesn't bother us; we like it because we are uplifted each and everytime we attend. Our particular church is somewhat progressive and looked down upon by some other CoC's because we occasionally have instruments and they are thinking of having a second service w/ instruments. My what a stir that is causing. My thoughts are: where does the Bible say to use computers, amps, mics, meet in big mega churchs, etc?

My other example: from my work; a small museum based around the OK landrun of 1889. We have a large barn that is used for events such as weddings and parties. We would like to fix it up a little nicer and add a small catering kitchen but some on our board inist that we must use a "period" sink, etc. My arguements are that this isn't even a historic building (built in 1970), the kitchen wouldn't be in the public area; furthermore, if we wanted to be historic we would take out the electricity, lights, heating, and if we did want to have an event have to clean the manure out and move the hay. If you want water the creek is two miles down the road or should I say up hill both ways.

Oh yes, 3rd pet peeve: The Boy Scouts of America. First let me say that I have been one since I was 8 and will be one until I die. They have a duty to God clause which I love, however, you only have to believe in any god/dess (if hipchick is reading), it can be any form of god, higher power, budda, whomever as long as you believe in a "god". Several years ago a young man went all through Scouts even earning Eagle (something only 2% of all Scouts earn, yes I am one of them). He then stayed on as an adult leader, something even fewer do. Well, it came out in conversation that he didn't believe in any sort of God. Complaints were made and he got kicked out. I say if you don't have to believe in THE GOD why not no god?

Why can you drive your beemer to the megachurch but can't have a piano.

Why can you have lights and heat but no sink.

Why is it all right to be an alcoholic, an adulterer, a speeder, cheat on your taxes, use God's name in vain, or any other sin but not all right to be gay.

BTW, I hope I still didn't answer your question Anon.

Mary said...

Wow- this is a great thread I totally missed. I think that's the most talking I've been privileged to hear from big unit :))

I have a question big unit and mandy c. - I took a theology class a few years back that focused on searching for faith in America. We spent a great deal of time discussing why attendance in mainstream protestant churches was declining while attendence in more conservative, evangelical churches was on the rise. Since you each fit a side of that equation so to speak (I'm not one to normally categorize, so forgive me this time) what's your take on why this shift is occuring?

As for the topic of the post-I enjoyed both of your postings. My view of sin is anything that separates you from God. Except in cases of extreme fanaticism (which have nothing to do with gender), I just don't see how loving someone separates you from God? and big unit- I feel the same way about instruments :)) I know there were instruments in the OT- psalms talks about lyres, tambourines and harps and songs of David- doesn't that count? ;))

As for exclusion- I think that just may very well get in the way of your relationship with God. Why would anyone want to reject someone from service, worship and God's word? That I will probably and hopefully never understand.

Just my 2cents.

Big Unit said...

Ok I have more:
Why is it all right to hate the President but not the Dixie Chicks?

Why is it all right for some churches to not have women ministers (preaching that is, they quote a woman should be quiet in church) but they can have women children ministers.

Why build a car that goes over the speed limit?

How can the President send us to war WITHOUT Congressional approval?

Justification without justice?

I might think of more later but I can't wait to see some responses.

Big Unit said...

Mary, help me with your definitions of each: mainstream protestant churches vs. conservative, evangelical churches. To me they are mostly the same.

I think the rise in the large (I'll call them tv churches for lack of a better term) is in part because of the annonimity. You can go to church, clap, scream, shout, and get your god fix in on Sunday but live how you want the rest of the week because there isn't any personal accountability. I also think those churches tend to preach health and wealth with a bunch of anticdotes and stories not much Bible. Large tragedies and wars tend to make people go to church more as well; I think it is a just in case - what if the world really is ending maybe I better go to church. Just my opinions. \

Another why: why is it all right to say separtation of church & state but pray after a tragedy?

BTW, the word verification cracks me up - fiiprap. So until someone can tell me where "kmg365" comes from that is how I am signing out.


Big Unit said...

How can the courts say a 12 year old can decide where they want to live (somewhere with no rules vs a good home w/ rules) but say a 12 year old can't consent to sex?

How can the courts say abortion is wrong but convict someone for murder if they kill a pregnant women's baby?

How can you be old enough to vote and to fight for your country but not drink?

How can the NCAA (college athletics, I know you all aren't sports fans, except Mandy and the Pats) ban Native American mascots and names because they might be offensive to Native Americans but NOT ban the Sooners - the people who came in and stole the Native Americans land. Not to mention that Oklahoma literally means "red people". How much more offensive can those be? Will anyone join me in writting to the NCAA to make OU and the state of OK change their names or else they can't be in any post season play (I believe that is the current sanction)?


Mary said...

Big unit- can't wait to answer all your questions, but I have to go to work, so more later :))

As for the definition- mainline protestant- methodist, protestant, luthern, less strict baptist (I can't remember which was which in the split- American I think), etc. Not as strict, more open, more liberal compared to fundamentalist churches.

Conservative, evangelical- the conservative right, they follow literal interpretation of the bible, very strict, fundamentalists, pentacostal, adventist, southern baptist, would fall into this, etc.

My understanding is Mega churches are not prospering well regardless of their belief system ? and Catholicism is only growing because of the growing Hispanic population in the US.

The stricter churches are experiencing growth, the mainline- decline. Just wondered why you thought this was :)

Mary said...

Big Unit-

1. Dixie Chicks are cute and can sing. GW is not cute and can barely talk- my favorite this week was tur-nae-ders. Otherwise known as tornados in the Midwest among those that speak English as a first language :)

2. Sorry I didn't understand

3. Cars must be able to speed to provide revenue for under funded police departments.

4. As Bill Maher says, "it's good to be King." Congress is unnecessary in a monarchy.

5. I think that's just excuses.

6. The difference is they can keep a 12 year old from living somewhere- good luck preventing sex. You gotta win where you can :)

7. No comment.

8. I don't want 18 year olds drinking and driving, muchless drinking and driving a tank!

9. It's good to be King- besides what else rhymes w/ scooner? Solution- become a Jayhawk- they were abolitonists, a much more worthy cause and a better chance of winning tomorrow !!!

So why did Missouri vote down the cigarette tax and pass stem cell research last year- "i still want to smoke, just figure out how to grow me a new lung?"

Big Unit said...

Thanks for the thoughts Mary. Made me smile after a long hard day.


Mary said...

Thanks Big Unit- that makes my day!!!

Kindness Makes Greatness 365?
Kiss My Grits 365?

Big Unit said...

kmg365 - relates to troubles occupation but before her time. Thanks for guessing. Keep guessing.


mandyc said...

which of trouble's occupations are you referring to - she's had so many!

Trouble said...

rampart, this is squad 51...

i copy - an amp of D5w and lactated ringer's at kvo.

Mary said...

Dextrose 5% in water- it comes in amps?

kvo? got me there.

If it was before her time- did she have a past life?

Big Unit said...

Rock on Trouble! D5w and lactated ringer's were the answer for EVERYTHING!! What are those Trouble?

Trouble said...

whoa! i can't believe i said d5w! i totally mean d50. obviously i have low johnny and roy level right now.

kvo (keep vein open) it is an iv rate (synon. with 'tko' to keep open)

unit, you are really good at distracting us!

Mary said...

Thanks trouble- good thing I only sell drugs- no admin involved :)

This may be too personal for a blog, but I was just curious how you 2 know each other? You guys are a riot!! and there is obviously a great deal of mutual admiration there- it's so enjoyable to "see" :)) Thanks for letting me crash your discussions :)

Big Unit said...

Trouble & I used to work together.

Mary said...

Very cool- thanks.

Big Unit said...

Mandy, Trouble, & others - how about tackling some of my whys? I would love to hear other opinions or your whys.

mandyc said...

I refuse to take all the bait, but I will say that separation of church and state isn't what people generally make it out to be. We can't (and generally don't) have any state sanctioned religion (i.e. a theocracy like in England where the King was also the head of the Church of England). If you have a govt entity (Presidency, Congress, state schools, etc.), they can't espouse one particular faith as being "the religion" we're going to follow - that's not to say that there can't be religion/prayer in those places. People are always going to pray - and there's nothing wrong with that.

Mary said...

To Mandy's point - on the philosophical side, the issue is you don't want people to check their beliefs at the door when they show up for work or to run the country because you want them to make moral, responsible decisions and much of that is inseparable from their beliefs. The problem is how do you keep one person's belief's intact, yet not so forceful that they are offensive to someone else that may have different beliefs. Someone praying at school, work, in the government doesn't really impact my life, however the decisions they make based on their spiritual belief system, that manifests itself in their prayers, does impact me. Sometimes those decisions are in accordance with my beliefs and sometimes they are not. So as long as people are in charge- true separation of church and state- not really possible nor probably desireable :))

On a not so serious note, I would say something attempting to be witty, but I can't come up w/ anything. I did learn tonight that Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase 'separation of church and state' in a letter, rewrote the New Testament- he apparently thought it was all screwed up the way it was!! So thank HEAVENS he believed in separation of church and state !!!

Hey Mandy- what's the record for the most number of posts on a single thread on your blog?? :))

Big Unit said...

wow, Mandy & I agree on something. Mary, someone is always going to be offended - and that's ok.

Mary said...

It's ok as long as I'm not the one offended :)) Kidding, only kidding.