L.G.B.T.Q ISSUE AND THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

I am posting the notes I used during a study and discussion on the issue of LGBTQI at local chapter of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, First United Methodist Church, Davao City.

L.G.B.T.Q  ISSUE  AND THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

 

Definition of Words:

Homosexuality Sexual preference for and sexual behavior between members of the same sex.

Lesbian– Refers to a homosexual woman. (Lesbianism- sexual orientation of  women to other women.

Gay-(n) – a homosexual man. Refers to a man who has sexual preference for and sexual

behavior to other men.

Bisexual- Relating to or having a sexual orientation to persons of either sex.

Transgender– refers to a persons who through surgery or medicine has changed  his/her gender  identity. Anyone who acts or live the life of an opposite sex, Example: a man who pretends to be a woman, dress like a woman, acts like a woman thus many people in the community  may think he is a really a woman.

Queer – Deviating from the normal; Used as a disparaging term for a gay or homosexual person.

The issue of L.G.B.T. had always been a subject of discussion and concern during the last two decades of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. In the two General Conference that I attended in St. Louis Missouri and Pittsburgh PN, the gay caucus had been very active promoting favorable  perspective on LGBT. In fact they are one of the very hospitable groups helping first time delegates to the conference.

During the recent last two General Conferences they gay caucus group demonstrated at the session of the General Conference to the extent of disturbing the session, and in one Genera Conference the police presence had to be called to restore order.

The votes on homosexual petitions at the General Conference had been increasing. It was my observation that the votes against any petition on homosexual issues comes from the Central Conference, particularly from Africa and the Philippines.

The 2016 General Conference in Portland Oregon will be decisive on the issue of LGBT. The USA Supreme Court decision of allowing same sex marriage in the US may draw more votes from the US Jurisdictions delegations that may change The United Methodist beliefs and practices on homosexuality.

It is fitting that pastors and members should study this issue on homosexuality. Let us study our present church stand and why do we believe it. On the other let us also discuss and study the perspective of those promoting LGBT concerns.

Let me share some perspective and belief of those in favor of the practice of LGBT.

                      Perspectives of some LGBT groups on this Issue

The scripture lessons that are mentioned prohibiting the practice of LGBT are time bound. This means that they are only effective and true for a specific time of our history. There are scripture lesson that are timeless, which they are applicable for all time.    (UMC Bishop and Filipino Biblical Scholar)

The greatest commandment of God is love: love God and love your neighbor. Thus this means that our relationship, faith and community, love should prevail in our life and in all circumstance.

When love becomes the reason for our life and action than it is right.    (Love prevails.group)

In the USA right all the rights and privileges given to a married couple of man and a woman is also given to a same sex marriage persons, such as:

  1. Inheritance
  2. Insurance
  3. Conjugal property
  4. Pension
  1. Taxes privileges
  2. Privilege to adopt children

There were practices in the community of the early church which have been observed strictly but now found to be discrimination to some early believers, such as:

     Discrimination against Women in church

“The women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.”  I Cor. 14:34-35

     Slavery

“Slaves obey you human masters with fear and trembling.”                      Eph. 6:5

“Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.”   Mtt. 24:46

“If you were a slave when you were called, don’t let it bother you.”       I Cor7:21

Now time had changed these church practices which have been sanctioned by the Holy Scriptures. The United Methodist had been one of the first denominations who have who decided to permit women to be ordained clergy and consecrated as bishops.

The same is true with slavery, time had changed the church perspective saying, “all persons were created free!”

The changes of these two early church practices took time, and also created splits and turmoil in our Methodist churches. As our Biblical scholars say, “these practices were time bound, it had to go.”

Countries Practicing Same-Sex Marriage.

The Netherlands =  In 2001, the Dutch parliament legalized same-sex marriage. The parliament also gave same-sex couples the right to adopt and divorce.

Belgium =  In 2003, Belgium’s parliament gave same-sex couples full marriage rights, including  tax and  inheritance.

Canada =  In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage. Some Canadian provinces had already granted same-sex couples the right to marry.

Spain  = Spain’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, despite heavy criticism from the  Catholic Church, which remains a force in Spanish society.

South Africa = South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006. Some religious institutions and officers may still decline to administer same-sex marriages.

Norway  = Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway in 2009.

Sweden= Sweden’s parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009.

Iceland =  In 2010, Iceland’s legislature voted unanimously to approve same-sex marriage.

Iceland elected Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world’s first openly lesbian head of state. In 2010, she married her partner.

Portugal =  In 2010, Portugal legalized same-sex marriage.

Argentina =  Argentina’s legislature approved same-sex marriage in 2010. It was the first

country in Latin America to do so.

Denmark   = In 2012, Denmark’s parliament approved same-sex marriage. In 1989, it became  the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners.

Uruguay  = The country’s parliament approved same-sex marriage in 2013 with the approval of the country’s two legislative houses and President Jose Mujica’s signature.

New Zealand= New Zealand’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in2013.

France = French President François Hollande signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 18, 2013.

Brazil = Brazil’s National Council of Justice allowed same-sex marriage on May 14, 2013.

England and Wales   In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II essentially approved a measure to allow same sex marriage in England and Wales.

Scotland =  The Scottish parliament approved a policy legalizing same-sex marriage on Feb. 4, 2014. However, churches and certain religious groups can still decline to administer same-sex marriages.

Luxembourg  =  June 18, 2014, was the day that Luxembourg’s parliament approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage and child adoption. The bill took effect in the following year and was heavily supported by Xavier Bettel, the country’s first prime minister.

Finland = Finland’s parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2014, and the

country’s president, Sauli Niinistö, signed the law in February 2015. The law will not go into effect until 2017.

USA  = Legalized same-sex marriage Oct. 2015

                         UMC Book of Discipline on LGBT:

“Marriage: We affirm the sanctity of marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rest upon such marriage whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Par. 161.B, p.109, BOD 2012

“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” Par. 304.3 (Self-avowed practicing homosexual is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee on ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual- Judicial Council Decision)  p.304 BD 2012

“A bishop, clergy member…local pastor…May be tried when charged…With one or more of the following offenses:…(b)practices by declared The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual unions; or conducting ceremonies which celebrates homosexual unions or performing same-sex marriage…” Par. 2702.1 BOD 2012

“Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual union shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” Pat. 341.6 BOD 2012

“No annual conference board, agency…shall GIVE United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.”

Par.  806.9/ 613.19,  BOD 2012

This beliefs and practices as stated in our Book of Discipline is of course based and grounded on the Holy Scripture.

So let me share a Biblical perspective on the issue of homosexuality.

                                Biblical Perspective:

Sexual preference for and sexual behavior between members of the same sex, is considered to be an immoral style and behavior pattern throughout the Biblical revelation. Only heterosexual preference and behavior patterns are approved in Scripture confirming to God’s plan in the creation of man and woman. Moreover, all sexual behavior is to take place in the context of  marriage. Sex is considered so long as it takes place within this parameters.

The Bible makes no distinction between what some today refer as “homosexual orientation” and homosexual behavior. Sexual desire or feelings are never mentioned as such in  Scripture, but homosexual behavior is strongly condemned  as a deviation from  God’s will for human beings.

Therefore, it stand to reason that any homosexual inclination, feeling or desire must be seriously dealt with as a potential dangerous temptation much like those temptations of a heterosexual nature such as the desire to commit fornication or adultery.

Biblical references to homosexuality are relatively few.

Genesis19:1-11 tells of a story of an attempted homosexual gang rape at the house of lot by the wicked men of Sodom. Verse 5 mentions specifically the homosexual intentions of the men of Sodom (“to know” referring to having sex). Lot considers this behavior wicked (v.7).Raping his daughters was considered the lesser of two evils (v. 8).  This evil of Sodom is mentioned elsewhere (Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:49-50; 2 Peter 2:6-10;  Jude 7) in the strongest terms of condemnation. The term “sodomy” has its roots here. A similar story is found in Judges 19:22-30.

In the Holiness Code of Leviticus , homosexuality is considered an abomination (18:22

“You must not have sexual intercourse with a man as you would with a woman; it is a detestable practice”) and such behavior was to be punish by death (20:13 “If a man has a sexual intercourse with a man as he would with a woman, the two of them have done detestable. They must be executed; there blood is on their own heads).

In the New Testament the early church also considered homosexuality as sinful behavior. Although Jesus never mentioned such behavior, probably because the problem never arose during His ministry among Jewish people. Paul clearly condemned homosexuality. Romans 1:26-27 considers homosexuality to be a sign of God’s wrath upon blind sinfulness. Such behavior as a degrading passion, unnatural, an indecent act, an error, even worthy of death, Romans 1:32)

“That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations. Also in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males perform sinful acts with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies….Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practice deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them.”

        Some of the Corinthian Christians apparently had been homosexuals

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Don’t you know that people who are unjust won’t inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral, those who worship false gods, adulterers, both participants in same sex-sex intercourse, thieves, the greedy, drunks, abusive people, and swindlers won’t inherit God’s kingdom. That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. “ Paul implied here that homosexual behavior is forgivable through the gospel and that any homosexual temptations should be resisted as seriously as those toward fornication,  or adultery.

       Paul also taught that homosexuality was contrary to sound doctrine.

   (1 Timothy 1:10, “They are people who are sexually unfaithful, and people who have intercourse with the same-sex. They are kidnappers, liars, individuals who give false             testimonies in courts, and those who do anything else that is opposed to sound teaching.”

       St. Paul wrote to the early Christians strongly telling them to live lives worthy of being God’s children. Here are some of his exhortations:

“We appealed to you, encouraged you, and pleaded with you, to lives worthy of the God who is calling you into his own kingdom and glory” 1 Thess. 2:12

“So put to death the parts of your life that belongs to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed.” Colossians 3:5.

“Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for a holy person…Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure or greedy those… persons won’t inherit the Kingdom of Christ and God” Eph. 5:3

The Bible does not recognize homosexuality as biologically constitutional or heredity (as a kind of third sex), but sees its roots in the sinful nature of man- a psychosocial, learned behavior expressing rebellion against God and calling for redemption. Such persons are responsible for their behavior.

This is a complex psychological problem with many possible roots or causes, calling for both Christian compassion on the part of God’s people as well as God’s redemptive power through the gospel. The ministry of the church to homosexuals should include: conversion, counseling, education, and support group relationship.

               General Conference of the UMC 2016 Portland, Oregon, USA

        What now? As I said earlier I encourage that this issue on homosexuality should be studied by the leaders of the church down to the local congregation.

The 2016 General Conference in Portland Oregon will be decisive on the issue of LGBT.

So I also recommend that our delegates to the 2016 General Conference should seriously consider that they are the delegates of the conference they are representing. So it is proper that they should consult or get the decision or stand of the conference they are representing regarding this issue and vote accordingly to the conference perspective.

This is how it works in the General Conference.

Petitions on many issues are sent to the General conference and these petitions are assign to a legislative committee for study. The petitions approve by the committees goes to the conference session for consideration and approval.

        Possible example of petitions on homosexuality:

Petition to revise the Social Principles: Par. 161.B, p. 109, BOD 2012 by deletion and substitution.  “Marriage: We affirm the sanctity of marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, shared fidelity between  (delete the wordsa man and a woman. (Substitute it with the following wordstwo persons who love each other. . We believe that God’s blessing rest upon such marriage whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that defines marriage as the union of ( delete the words)  one man and one woman. (substitute the deleted words to)     two persons who love each other. Par. 161.B, p.109, BOD 2012

                               When revised it then read this way:

“Marriage: We affirm the sanctity of marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, shared fidelity between two persons who love each other. We believe that God’s blessing rest upon such marriage whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that defines marriage as the union of two persons who love each other.” Par. 161.B, p.109, BOD 2012

        If this petition is approve by the General Conference revising this part of our Social Principles, it means that homosexuality is as good as approve belief and practice of The United Methodist Church.

        Now, let me share some things which I think are important in our study of the issue.

One General Conference of the Methodist church, some time ago created a committee to study the issue whether homosexuality is acquired or in-born. Atty. Beltran from the Philippines was a member of the committee. According to him the report of the Committee was that homosexual tendency is both acquired and inborn. When I asked him, in-born? He told me that the committee had seen and interviewed several persons who have both female and male sexual organs. Some may call them hermaphrodite. The fact that there are persons who have both female and male organs at the same time, this may prove that there are persons who are born with homosexual feelings and tendencies.

      Now on the belief that there are parts of the Scripture that are time bound and timeless, several important questions should be considered.

*      Assuming that there are time-bound parts of the Bible, who decides what part of the Bible are time-bound?  Who decides when the parts of the Bible have already lapse and are not applicable anymore?  Will it be the law making body of the country or the head of the country? This is what happened in the US, the Supreme Court decided homosexuality is lawful and should be practice.

Several persons have been charged in court and found guilty of discrimination for not supporting same-sex marriage. A president in one African country promulgated a law that polygamy is legal and should be practice in that country.

How could we say that a secular personality by their action declare that our long time scriptural practice in the Bible has already ended?

*      Will it be the faith community, the church, who declares that such and such part of the Bible is time-bound and is now ending? Who? the leaders, such as Bishops and or delegates to the General Conference?

*      Could it be that the time-bound text cited above such as ““The women should be silent in the churches, ” I Cor. 14:34-35 and  “Slaves obey you human masters with fear and trembling.”     Eph. 6:5 are not doctrinal teachings but just affirmation of a traditional practices for good relations in the community? If so tradition changes with time and good practice.

*     On the other hand, you will note that the practice of homosexual is considered as sin:

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Don’t you know that people who are unjust won’t inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral, those who worship false gods, adulterers, both participants in same sex-sex intercourse, thieves, the greedy, drunks, abusive people, and swindlers won’t inherit God’s kingdom. That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. “

Paul also taught that homosexuality was contrary to sound doctrine.

   (1 Timothy 1:10, “They are people who are sexually unfaithful, and people who have intercourse with the same-sex. They are kidnappers, liars, individuals who give false testimonies in courts, and those who do anything else that is opposed to sound teaching.”

Accepting that God through St.Paul taught us that homosexuality is sin, can we, the Christians today, change God’s word and say IT IS NOT SIN ANYMORE!

More Concerns:

Some are concern that the practice of same-sex marriage in more than 20 countries and if also approve by religious groups such as the Christian churches may lead to the acceptance and practice of polygamy and polyematry in our communities.

Polygamy is the practice of a man marrying more than one woman.

Polyematry is the practice of a woman marrying more than one man.

The practice of polygamy and polyematry are found practice by some tribes group and some countries have special laws making it legal.

What now?

I suggest that we seriously study the issues on homosexuality, same-sex marriage not only on the perspective of the Bible but also in the context of our Filipino tradition, beliefs and practices.

After seriously studying the issue on homosexuality, do you continue to believe the present stand and practice of the UMC on this issue?

In case the decision of the General Conference 2016 approves that homosexuality, and same-sex marriage are acceptable beliefs and practices of The United Methodist Church.

What would your stand be?       What action would you take?

What do you think?

Some conservative Methodist in the USA are suggesting and are even planning to submit petition to the General Conference for an amicable split or separation from The United Methodist Church if it approves the practice of homosexuality.

Some groups from the Central Conferences may also petition for autonomy.

Would you think that such an issue is so important that it may break the church?

      Let us prayerfully study and give serious importance on this concern because it will surely affect the mission and unity of the church.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in DEA Reports. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s