Friday, October 28, 2005


In Virginia, a pastor recently decided that one of his flock could not become an official member of that flock. He noted that this gentleman ("Adam") was overweight, had been for some time. He felt strongly that "Adam" could not join a United Methodist Church because part and parcel of joining this denomination is the repentance of sin. "Adam" would not repent his evil ways of overeating, and would not admit that his gluttony was even a sin. So "Adam" was refused membership.

I made this up. Can you imagine the uproar if this were true? And can you imagine how many millions of Christians would be ineligible for membership in their denominations if churches actually began deciding whether or not to admit people to membership based on their sin standing? Based on their willingness to renounce their wicked practices such as overeating or house pride or bad tempers?

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to only keep out those whose sins are readily apparent. So, to be fair, churches would have to do background checks. Will the adulterer be willing to say it's wrong and give up the affair? The lush his bottle? The slothful her heathenly housekeeping ways? And how, exactly, will we measure and quantify the sins of pride or envy?

OK. I didn't actually make up that story. But I changed one fact in it. In Virginia, a pastor decided that "Adam" could not join his United Methodist Church because he was gay, and unrepentant of that "sin". Let's pretend that I think being gay or, as Pastor Edward Johnson tried to frame it, having gay sex is a sin.

I don't. But let's pretend so I can argue fulminate and froth at the mouth longer. No, really, let's pretend because there's no point in arguing whether or not being gay is a sin. It's a belief issue, ultimately. But I think there's plenty of room to argue, and perhaps convincingly so, that picking on one sin (sic) is insulting, discriminatory, and against God's teaching.

How does Pastor Johnson have the gall, the unmitigated nerve to pick out this sin (sic) out of all other possible sins for enforcement? And then try to worm his way onto his high horse, high road, by saying (through his attorney) that "(he) was not drawing a line at a homosexual person, but at homosexual practice, which we think is an important distinction". Going for one of my favorite, most stomach-turning logics, Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.

But I understand that many conservative Christians genuine believe that logic. So I'll give it to them. The logic that defies comprehension is the one that attacks one particular sin (sic), and one only, while leaving the multitude of other sins unexamined and unpunished. What makes this sin (sic) so much more bad than the others? I don't recall Jesus saying that this was the worst one or anything, in my years of church attendance.

Not having the best Bible recall, I googled "Jesus worst sin". I found a multitude of opinions on the topic. The worst sin is ingratitude, saying no to God, betrayal, even religious hypocrisy. Well, it seems like a large dose of religious hypocrisy to pick out one sin (sic) as the worst, refuse a soul admission to membership of a church on that basis, while ignoring all the other sins. And I assure you, Pastor Edward Johnson is ignoring all of those other sins. Because it would be a lot bigger news if he were refusing membership to the obese, the envious, and the ill-tempered than it is for a representative of the Christian church to once again slam its doors on a gay person.

The only good news regarding this situation is that the United Methodist Church has, for the moment, been placed on a unpaid leave by the denomination. But it is news right now because the Methodist hierarchy (high court) has listened to an appeal by Johnson and is awaiting news on its decision.

At the same time, it is also considering the situation of the Rev. Beth Stroud, a lesbian pastor who was defrocked for being an out gay pastor. This defrocking was reversed and is now on appeal before the high court.

From this WaPo article, apparently the UMC believes that gay people are valuable, but not valuable enough to serve as pastors. Nice. A little two-tiered system of worth. Reminds me a bit of nineteenth century attitude toward slavery. I hope (and pray) that the UMC will come to its senses and affirm the intrinsic worth of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. At the very least, I pray that the UMC will affirm the intrinsic unfairness of a pastor who picks and chooses his sins (sic).

Until tomorrow,


Blogger Kansasgal2 said...

very interesting concept about "ADAM" have you heard about Wal-Mart concidering making it very difficult for "out of shape" persons to hire on, and even giving younger inshape persons advantages such as educational benefits, all in the mode to "save" money on their insurance payouts! Is this not "discrimination"?

3:37 PM  

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