The other day a lesbian Methodist pastor was acquitted on charges stemming from her sexual orientation and will continue in her ministry. A jury of pastors in Bothell, Wash., deliberated for 10 hours before a majority ruled that the homosexual relationship between Rev. Karen Dammann and another woman, who were recently "married," is allowable under the church's social principles, even though the Methodist Book of Discipline declares homosexual practice to be "incompatible to Christian teachings."
Should anyone be surprised? Having abandoned Scripture and the teachings of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, who believed that the Bible was God's infallible Word to man, it is a short step to rejecting all statements, "doctrines" and "principles" based on eternal truths.
If the church can't uphold an eternal principle involving sexual expression and male-female relations, it puts everything up for negotiation in our increasingly relativistic age where the truth can never be objectively determined.
The conservative wing of the Methodist Church, known as the Confessing Movement, has it right. Its Web page (www.confessingumc.org/tract3.html) says, "The moral relativism of our time rebels against Jesus Christ's gracious rule over human sexuality. This relativism and rebellion have found their way into the United Methodist Church. There are those in the Church who understand marriage as a short-term contract, who desire to legitimize homosexual practice, and who care little about protecting the unborn child and mother. In some quarters of our denomination, premarital sex, extramarital sex and serial marriage are tolerated. A confusion has arisen in our Church between the Lordship of Christ and the reigning cultural virtue of tolerance. The Confessing Movement challenges the misuse of the principle of tolerance to set aside the authority of Scripture and (the) Church's teaching on human sexuality."
In his closing arguments at the church trial, Dammann's counsel, the Rev. Robert C. Ward, articulated a doctrine more befitting "the church of what's happenin' now" than the historical and once doctrinally strong Methodist Church: "We need to be careful about creating rules that exclude people." I guess he's never heard of the separation of sheep from goats, wheat from tares, the saved from the unsaved and the afterlife separation of dwellers in heaven from residents of hell. Would Ward include in his doctrine of inclusiveness practicing adulterers (who, along with all other unrepentant sinners, are listed as people who have no hope of attaining heaven)? How about murderers, thieves and liars? They are on God's exclusionary list, too.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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