Timothy C. Morgan at Christianity Today wonders if gay marriage is destroying the Methodist church, which is a rather odious thing to say.
Yes, the UMC is on the verge of schism. Liberal progressive Methodists want to the church to be inclusive, conservative Methodists do not; and for the past few years, the two factions have sparred back and forth regarding the church’s official position on homosexuality and gay marriage without an agreement having been reached.
“Irreconcilable” disagreement over same-sex unions is once again prompting debate over splitting the historic United Methodist Church (UMC), one of America’s largest denominations.
“If we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two. If, in reality, we are two churches, it may not be wise to pretend any longer that we are one,” concludes a statement last month from 80 traditionalists from across the UMC, which has 7.7 million U.S. members. (An additional 4.4 million members are overseas.)
Many traditionalists say their differences with progressives are now “irreconcilable.” The UMC, the largest of the historic mainline denominations, has been holding the conservative line on homosexuality for years. Two other major mainline groups, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), permit the blessing of same-sex unions and credential openly gay clergy. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) now allows ordination to occur without reference to its fidelity/chastity clause. In 2012, conservative PC(USA) members created the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians to uphold bans on same-sex unions and openly gay clergy.
The answer to Mr. Morgan’s question, then, is “no”.
80 of 7.7 million jumping ship does not a schism make. Nor is it the fault of gays that these doddering dunderheads have, in their infinite arrogance, remained intractable on positions that, in the 21st century, have become increasingly untenable.
If there is to be a schism within the UMC, it will not be the fault of homosexuals or their right to enjoy the same legal protections and benefits as the rest of us schmucks. It will be because of granite-headed regressive curmudgeons, somewhat like the ones who write for Christianity Today.