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.
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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.