Skip to comments.In GBCS article, UM elder argues against celibacy for single clergy
Posted on 07/02/2010 7:42:20 AM PDT by ZGuy
For the second time in less than a year, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), an official agency of the denomination, has published an article arguing that sexual relationships outside the covenant of marriage are not necessarily improper.
An Ordained Single Woman and the Discipline, published June 7 as part of the Sex and the Church series in GBCS weekly Faith in Action online newsletter, contends that sexual relationships should not be off-limits for unmarried UM clergy.
Last August, the controversial series featured an article by Unitarian sexologist Debra Haffner who wrote that one can have a moral, ethical sexual relationship regardless of whether one is married or single, 16 or 35 or 80, gay, bisexual or straight.
The current article, written by a divorced, female United Methodist elder, takes issue with language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline that states that a failure to remain celibate in singleness is a chargeable offense for UM clergy (¶2702.1). The writer, who is not identified by GBCS, asserts that the exchanging of covenant wedding vows is not necessarily a dividing line between moral and immoral sexual relations.
[The] demand for celibacy [on the part of] an unmarried clergyperson leaves little room for the hearts search to find a home in our human world.
We are extraordinarily confused by years of theological tradition and imaginative biblical reflections on: the perpetual virginity of Mary; a supposedly celibate Jesus; and effusively generous women errantly assumed to be asking for forgiveness from some sexual sin .
Yet, I cant look at this great creation of such deep, creative erotica as found in an orchid, the mossy green of the deep forest a passion of a thunderstorm, a hill of daffodils the rich textures of rock and sand or the sun setting across the city in the evening announcing a coming nighttime of dreams without wondering what if [final ellipsis in original]
I cannot look at this great creation without wondering where we might find ourselves if we insisted that rather than just say no, we explored what expressions of rich, loving, abundant, heart-filled, kind, honest, truly mutual, vulnerable human sexuality might look like.
Though our delusions are rich, I think we all know that a wedding and its exchanged promises are not the dividing line between moral and immoral sex . To label true expressions of intimate, sexual love of our unmarried ethical leaders as innately immoral seems a bit off .
What if within this context of the 21st century, we focused on the way that good sex, within a trusted relationship, is mutually healing, mutually humbling, touching, mutually vulnerable, connected to Gods deep and powerful mysterious grace?
What if we determined that our sexual expressions of this love is [sic] part of Gods creative, wild, abundant abandon, and part of a for God so loved this fecund, creative, wildly [sic], passionate, colorful, diverse, energy-filled world.
Imagine a Church that talked like this . Imagine a Church without the attitude that a wedding or a hymen is the dividing line between moral and immoral .
Imagine how many of those things that everyone is afraid of embodied in a fearsome rule such as that in Discipline ¶2702.1 would dissolve as we began to truly govern ourselves knowing when moral sex is ready to be manifested with a partner and when it is not.
In an editors note preceding the article, Faith in Action editor Wayne Rhodes noted that the author of the column requested that it be printed anonymously due to the strong opinions expressed and the nature of the Disciplinary strictures on her role as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church.
Responding to the article via a letter to the editor, North Georgia Conference layman Mark Smith criticized the General Board of Church and Society for acting as a willing conduit for unbiblical, nontraditional and unwise views on sexuality. By publishing such a piece, GBCS continues to be a lightning rod for denominational division, he wrote.
Mr. Smith also characterized the writer of the column as demonstrating narcissistic myopia in supposing that shes presenting a new, more positive perspective on sexuality.
What her article [advocates] libertine sexual practices, and among unwed Methodist clergy, no less is exactly what Jesus warned against and is exactly what the ancient Israelites were told by God to resist . And it is precisely what has wreaked untold havoc on our own society the major victims being women and children since the sexual revolution of the 1960s .
We dont lessen sin by supposing it to be something else or by using creative language to explain it away. Thats what children do. We are supposed to aspire to spiritual maturity.
The Rev. Jim McConnell Another letter to the editor, from the Rev. Jim McConnell, a retired clergy member of the Texas Annual Conference, argued that the Book of Disciplines moral guidelines for UM clergy, including those governing appropriate sexual behavior, are important and necessary standards for clergy and models and guides for lay persons.
He said such standards reinforce key biblical and traditional values of restraint, boundaries and covenant.
[Restraint] is at least in part an expression of love because it denies self for the sake of another .
Boundaries protect the vulnerable. They also help keep those of us in positions of power or authority from inappropriate behavior that would injure others or ourselves .
Covenant expresses caring, dependability, and faithfulness . God has repeatedly covenanted with Gods people and said something like: You can count on me and I am counting on you! The marriage relationship is described as a covenant and I believe expresses the same kind of thing. A husband or wife says, You can count on me and I am counting on you!
In launching the Sex and the Church series last year, Bishop Deborah Kiesey (Dakotas Conference), president of the General Board of Church and Society, and Jim Winkler, the boards chief executive, issued a joint statement saying the series would help provide needed education to our children and ourselves.
The Sex and the Church series is overseen by Linda Bales Todd, director of the Louise and Hugh Moore Population Project at the General Board of Church and Society.
Paragraph 2702.1 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline reads as follows:
A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference, local pastor, clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶2702.4) with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in a heterosexual marriage; (b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings, including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies; (c) crime; (d) failure to perform the work of the ministry; (e) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church; (f) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (g) relationships and/or behavior that undermine[s] the ministry of another pastor; (h) child abuse; (i) sexual abuse; (j) sexual misconduct or (k) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or sexual harassment; or (l) racial or gender discrimination.
Somehow I missed the Chapter and Verse reference for her recommendation from the Bible.....oh, that’s right, they’re Methodist.
Has this person even READ the Bible? Scripture makes it clear we could never satisfy the "heat's search to find a home in our human world" because the "human world" is not and never has been our "home". As Christians we are in the world but not of the world. Heaven and a pure relationship with God is our home and what the heart is really looking for. Our home is where we will spend eternity. We won't find that in "our human world", not through unbridled indulgence in our lusts or anything else other than accepting Jesus as our savior and being indwelt with the desire of the Holy Spirit to follow his commandments.
I love the UMC for many reasons, but the left wing of the church is destroying it.
I can’t imagine why they would want to run the risk of pastors or their partners conceiving children out of wedlock. (Oh, sorry kid, my, um, ‘heart’ was on a “search”.)
The Biblical admonition against fornication is there because fornication hurts children, breaks hearts, exposes people to disease, and undermines character. God isn’t just making stuff up because He likes ordering people around.
The naivete of “sexual freedom” is appalling.
Why stop there? Have swingers parties (with keys in a bowl) at the next “singles mixer”. Why not?
Abortion means pretending you never got pregnant in the first place.
Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the homosexual agenda or moral absolutes ping list.
FreeRepublic homosexual agenda keyword search
[ Add keyword homosexual agenda to flag FR articles to this ping list ]
FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]
Is the United Methodist Book of Discipline binding on Methodist churches in the same way that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is on RCC congregations? At least around here, the UMC is extremely, and vocally, pro-homosexual.
1Cr 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
That pastor was right,they are not Christians.. Poor John Wesley is turning over in his grave
The Book of Discipline is binding, but the process of having it enforced is so lengthy, and the probability of any question being sent to the Judicial Council first, which will take more time and be subject to extreme word parsing, is so certain that most attempts at enforcement get lost over the years.
The UMC is on the precipice, in my opinion, and I’m an elder in the denomination.
It’s amazing what people will blatantly disregard just to satisfy their own desire to sin.
I’m sure the media will somehow try to compare this to those who think Catholic priests should be allowed to marry and try to say that celibacy is somehow impractical, but this is VERY different because Methodist ministers are free to marry.
I’m a UM elder, wagglebee, and there is no way that this is similar to the situation in the Catholic Church.
We have our own here arguing in favor of perversion being the official policy of the church.
I assume that a widowed Methodist minister can remarry, can one who is divorced remarry while their spouse is still alive?
Yes to both.
The nature of any divorce could lose an elder his/her license and/or eligibility to pastor a church.
Okay, so a pastor who gets divorced because he is having affairs would not necessarily be allowed to remain a pastor?
Thanks for the info. Precipice sounds about right, unfortunately.
There is the possibility he could “keep” his ordination, but it’s also possible the bishop would not permit him to lead a church.
All will be required to enter a long period of counseling and reflection outside of leadership of a church, AND, they would never be reassigned to the same church in which their problems overflowed. (That as a courtesy to that particular church, not as an attempt to hide anything.)
After that period, the bishop has discretion based on progress/change in the counseling/reflection time.
Precipice is correct. The healthy places are the overseas areas other than Europe, and in a few places in the US: Georgia, for example.
so the UMC is now Episcopalian lite? Another anti-Christian “Christian” denomination.
After further reading of the article I am left wondering what part of “THOU SHALT NOT” does this person not understand?
Yeah - who would wan’t to imitate the celibate life of Jesus, anyway!
In the Bible Jesus forbids divorce and remarriage unless you are protestant. Henry VII inserted an addendum to Matthew. They are given complete sexual license.
You know xzins.. there are a few Pastors like you in the old mainline churches..people cling to them and hope they never retire..
For the most part UM,Pcusa,UCC have become Christian in name only.. they are more interested in social action replacing the gospel .
We see something similar in the seeker friendly evangelical churches going the political or new age direction ...
We are closing in on the return of Christ ....the birds have nested in the mustard tree, the leaven of false teaching is growing the church.. soon ..very soon we will see the King
I’m close to hanging it up, RnMom. Some recent stuff here in our own UMC area has me depressed beyond measure. I’m doubting that I can in good faith trust children’s spiritual training to anyone outside our own county.
Our district superintendent, opposed to some recent goings-on, quoted a statistic from Barna that says that 91% of our youth today see no problem with same-sex marriage. He said that many evangelical churches are aligning with that. I assume it’s for “seeker friendly” reasons.
I have delivered some hard sermons on the subject this past month. I intend to write an article for local/regional papers broadcasting this error on the part of the denomination.
Popularity won’t follow.
You know I've never bought into the idea of women having senior pastoral roles in churches. If that makes me a sexist, then I can live with that. But it seems to me that having women pastors is just a small step on the road to apostasy. A literal reading of Paul's epistles clearly states that this is an error. However if you use a "liberal" interpretation on this subject, I guess you can allow for it. But when you allow for liberal interpretations of what appears to be the plain text of scripture, you eventually lead yourself to liberal interpretations of what is and is not sin and what is or is not holy.
I don't think Whitefield had a female clergy in mind when he started the Methodist Church. I think that if you trace the history of that movement, you will find that it corresponds to the whole social gospel movement that is destroying our churches and turning them into dens of depravity.
I have NEVER agreed with the "seeker friendly" approach and it has nothing to do with being a Catholic (truth be told, there are plenty of "cafeteria Catholics" who take the same approach).
When our Lord called the Disciples, He called them, He didn't negotiate with them, He called and they dropped what they were doing to follow Him.
After the Ascension, the Apostles had one difference AMONG THEMSELVES over circumcision, but they NEVER watered-down the Gospel. People became Christians knowing exactly what it meant, there was nothing to negotiate. Christ said that the gate is NARROW, it's open to EVERYONE, but it's still narrow.
Truth is truth...Jesus told us this would happen ...and blessed are you
Why have a church at all?
Or then can get an "annulment"from the Catholic church ...same thing except the church gets money
Why don’t they just fess up and admit that their god is Satan.
As I recounted here at FR my UMC pretty much kicked me out for raising some uncomfortable questions for our two pagan “pastors” (two left wing racialist political agitators) about the GBCS role on taking the lead in sending Elian Gonzalez back to slavery. GBCS was the bag man for hiring “Elian’s father’s lawyers” and footed most of the bill.
Ever since I have referred to the entity as the United Marxidist Church and a full fledged member of the liturgical wing of Comintern. Nothing I have seen since leads me to reconsider those conclusions. There is no idea too left wing for the GBCS to embrace.
I know that some of the congregants are Christians, fewer of the clergy, and virtually none above the DS level.
I’m a refugee as well. It took me years of mourning to get over what happened to the Methodist church of my youth. Finally, I found a Traditional Anglican church. We are using the same liturgy that we used in the Methodist Episcopal church of long ago, before the mergers and “modernization” — as if you could improve upon the Bible. Christ’s words were prophecies of what is to come IF we can establish His Kingdom on earth, and clearly, that has not happened yet! The Bible is just as relevant today as ever.
Keep it up, xzins!!! There is no component of liberty more fundamental than the legitimate married family.
I can't post an audiofile of this one, but I would like to direct anyone interested in listening to a good sermon on traditional marriage to click here, then scroll down to "Issues to be addressed for the Church to see revival", and click on the link labeled "Marriage."
"It is for procreation, yes; but also procreation under a Covenant with God. Children are the hope of society...."
In our Diocese there is no fee for the tribunal. I asked a pastor maybe 10 years ago and he said he had worked to end the charging of a fee precisely because of complaints like yours. Now it is funded out of the Diocesan budget/cathedraticum, etc.
I’m so naive: I read the headline and thought the offishul person was saying that all young ministers should get married. That was shocking enough.
But hey, sleeping around .... parTAY!
Or then can get an "annulment"from the Catholic church ...same thing except the church gets moneySame thing? Nope, it is a recognition that no valid and binding marriage actually existed.
Is there a fee?
The current fee for a formal annulment case is $400.00. Fees for other types of cases may be only $25.00. The annulment fees cover approximately 1/3 of the actual cost per case. The remainder of the Tribunal budget is subsidized by the people of the Diocese through the parish assessments and the annual stewardship campaign.
The Petitioner receives notice of the fee at the beginning of the case. The fee may be paid in installments.
It is important to know that the progress of one's case or the eventual decision of the Tribunal is never affected when someone is unable to pay the fee.
What troubles me about it is there is no biblical precedent for men calling what God has joined together as invalid... as if it never occurred.
I know too many cases where it was valid for 25 years and then suddenly called invalid by the church that married them and baptized their children .
The church declares the children are then the product of fornication and illegitimate in the eyes of God.. because He never recognized the marriage
To many of us on the outside looking in it looks like a convenient way to allow divorce by changing its name.So the church can claim “Moral superiority” by saying they do not allow divorce..
Divorce or annulment is a sin, I have a God that is in the forgiving business.. so just like any sin repented , God sees it no more.
Many Protestant pastors will not remarry a divorced person unless the divorce was before they were saved ... others will if the party is clearly repentant..
I hate divorce, I hate annulments but we are a fallen race subject to our fallen nature.. praise God for His mercy
There is no defending this article and our General Board of Church and Society that enabled its being written and broadcast. They are lapsed into heresy.
Time to nail your 95 Theses to the door and wait for the inquisition.
I will keep you informed.
“Let my people go”
What troubles me about it is there is no biblical precedent for men calling what God has joined together as invalid... as if it never occurred.
Rightly or wrongly, that's not what the Church thinks it is doing.
The concept of invalidity can't be a problem, can it? If it turns out they're brother and sister, or Oedipus and Jocasta?
Then we go to a marriage contracted fraudulently. He married her for her money only, and was planning on having a serious extracurricular love life once he got his part of the loot. If a person MEANS to perjure himself, can the other party to the deal still be bound? Is there a deal at all? Or what if there's the romantic gleam of the moon off the barrels of her father's shotgun? Is an oath taken under duress binding? or valid?
Then we move to what if one or both of the parties are incompetent. I used to tell the people over whose weddings I presided that if I got one whiff of alcohol, then the wedding was off, until everyone was sober.
As my alleged ministry progressed, I got more and more focussed on explaining the vows, on going over what "for better or for worse," implied, and on, as I said, doing my best to assure that the only way they could get an annulment would be if one of them was committing deliberate fraud.
Yeah I had spiritual advice and suggestions and all, but the main thing was doing my best to clarify just what it was they were promising.
I don't see how anyone can question that there are abuses of annulment. I have no clue how anyone (or IF anyone) thought Teddy Kennedy was competent to commit matrimony. That is, if I were king of the universe I would have no qualms about annulling a Teddy The Hutt marriage. I would have serious qualms about allowing him to pretend to a sacramental marriage. Serious.
But I think the principle makes sense. And few principles are so good that they cannot be abused.
and why are the methodists paying attention to a Unitarian?
I feel so bad for you Pastor..
You are a wise man Dawg
....I have no doubt that there are marriages that one party was unaware of the truth of the other.. but they dont last 25 years
They have drifted so far..they may not care