Friday, May 4, 2012

Methodist Madness

Where I stand politically: Unapologetically I am a liberal. I believe that all people are equal regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and yes, even religion. In some ways, I suppose I like the idea of less government because I would like everyone to live and let live, however, I believe that everyone should have the right to various opportunities like education, health care and nourishment. Perhaps I miss something along the way, but none of this seems too complicated to me. It's not the job of the government to determine who marries who but it is the job of the government to ensure that those people have a chance for good health care since our capitalist society has significantly put it out of reach for not just the poor, but much of the middle class as well.

Where I stand religiously: I became part of the Methodist church somewhat by accident, but for the last 18 years it has been part of my life. I worked at a Methodist summer camp for 8 summers. I attended a Methodist undergraduate school and graduate school. I am roughly 9 credit hours away from a Master’s of Divinity which would allow me to become ordained however; I do have a Master’s of Theological Studies from Emory University. I have worked at 5 different Methodist churches. I was married in a Methodist church. My daughter was baptized in a Methodist church. I teach religious studies and I am sure to always give John Wesley a shout out.

The Methodist Madness: During the last week the international United Methodist community has convened in their ritual 4 year cycle to discuss both structure and social issues that are pressing.  United Methodists are the largest denomination in the United States but interestingly the African and Asian constituencies have grown tremendously. Their representation at the Global conference is evident and perhaps may be one of the primary reasons for a stale mate in voting particularly with social issues. These countries are traditionally culturally quite conservative thus this is reflected in the last few votes regarding our homosexual brethren. The votes have been said to be close, my opinion not close enough, but still no changes have been made. It disheartens me as I look at the future of the church and it angers me on behalf of family and friends. The perpetual disenfranchising of the “other” to me is the largest smack across of the face of Jesus our society can offer.
My brain and heart desperately try to understand how Christians can repeatedly cast stones, became the judger, hate their neighbor as they proclaim other Biblical texts as support for their ignorance, fear, and violence. The lack of education of these voices is evident as those that have truly studied the text can explain its content within its context. Perhaps, I could for a moment set aside the academic argument against this hateful campaign but as I do I am refueled by the words of Christ himself. Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  We are called as Christians to be lovers. We are called into acts of grace and compassion. We hope is for freedom, equality, and joy through love.
The other part of my frustration is purely out of a concern for my Methodist church here in the States. If our international Methodists are not progressive in their social stance, do we have to be bound by their short sighted judgment?  Must we wait to see if the rest of the world would like to become socially progressive to be accepting here and now? Clearly it reads in Romans 2:1, “Therefore, no excuse you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself.” I don’t want to wait for them. I want us to do what is right, now.
What can we do to stop the Methodist Madness?

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