In the Crosshairs, at the Crossroads: Perspectives of LGBTQI Delegates
Series introduction: Given that the fate of LGBTQI people is at the center of the struggle over the future of the UMC, and that LGBTQI people represent only 2% of the General Conference 2019 delegates, the experience
- Rev. Gregory Gross, UMC: Care For The Children!
The Sin of Patience
Dr. Dorothee Benz
What will it say about the followers of John Wesley – not to mention the followers of Jesus Christ – if in this historical moment of crisis the United Methodist Church does nothing? What message does it send if the church decides to get rid of some pieces of discrimination and keep others and celebrates this as victory? What moral cover does it give to those who build walls on our border, pass legislation targeting queer kids in need of foster care, or seek to disenfranchise Black voters with voter ID laws?
Are “all people of sacred worth,” or just some?
Underlying all acts of discrimination and exclusion is an act of othering, of treating a human being or a class of human beings as somehow different (e.g., inferior, more dangerous, less intelligent) and therefore not worthy of the same rights, respect, etc. Whether we admit it or not, we cannot single out people for disparate treatment without this act of othering. And conversely, if we fully, truly recognize other human beings as fundamentally the same as ourselves – as equals – it becomes impossible to systemically mistreat them.
For LGBTQI United Methodists, this simple truth has long been the source of immense grief and pain underlying the specific harms of the church’s codified discrimination against us. Our Book of Discipline says “all people are of sacred worth,” but if church leaders really believed this, LGBTQI people would not
None of these things would be possible if our siblings in Christ truly saw us as their siblings in Christ.
It’s shocking, really, that we as a church have legislated LGBTQI people into subordinate members. Of some worth, maybe sacred-ish worth, but not sacred worth.
It’s shocking, too, that as we approach this special General Conference – called expressly to resolve the church’s impasse over homophobia – that the complete elimination of discrimination is not considered a possible outcome. The best we can get, we are told, is some version of the One Church Plan.
I don’t disagree with the assessment that the votes for full repeal of all the anti-queer provisions in the BOD are not there, but I do vehemently disagree with the willingness to settle for this as the horizon of our vision and our demands.
The Simple Plan is the moral baseline for this General Conference. It is the only plan written with non-token LGBTQI involvement, and the only one that does not re-inscribe discrimination into some other part of the denomination.
If we can’t even imagine a UMC without anti-LGBTQ discrimination, if after a half century of struggle we cannot insist that the only acceptable and just outcome would be an unqualified recognition of our sacred worth, then we should just close up shop now. We have no business calling ourselves Christians.
Of the many, many lessons and imperatives offered to us by MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, there is this at the very end of the Letter:
“If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood [sic], I beg God to forgive me.”
There comes a time when patience is a sin. May we not be guilty of that sin as we enter and emerge from General Conference.
Dr. Dorothee Benz is a delegate to General Conference from the New York Conference. She is the founding chair of Methodist in New Directions and serves as its national representative.
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Jeni Markham Clewell
Patience seldom births justice. Integrity sparks actions that witness to our faith! Thank you, Dorothee and Jeremy, and Martin too ❤️
Marilyn D. Kinelski
I totally concur! I am ashamed to be a United Methodist. I have been told, that it is good to have discussions and to differ. I do not wish to differ with God! God has told us to love one another!!!!!! And, that is how I have been raised. EVERYONE IS A CHILD OF GOD! NO ONE IS EXCLUDED! Everyone should be able to answer the call to preach and to marry whomever one loves.
The church should devote time with its mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Thank you So speaking trth
The truth is setting us free. Thank you Dr. Benz.
This is so true. The simple plan is the only plan that offers all Methodists the all inclusive love that Christ taught.
Otherwise we only continue to teach exclusion which is nothing like the Christ taught.
Thank You! Dr. Benz. Plainly spoken truth, well said.
John Bradley White
Thank you, Sister Dorothee! I would only feebly add, Dr. King’s sense of “time.” “…the time is always ripe to do right.” Exclusion is NOT right. It is not Jesus’ message of “love first.” Remember Jesus did not found an institution, he founded a “movement of the Spirit” (Michael B. Curry, “CRAZY CHRISTIANS: A Call to Follow Jesus,” New York: Morehouse Publishing, p. 114). I would much rather be on the side of the Jesus Movement than that of polity.
I would vote for the Simple Plan. The passage of The One Church Plan would however, cause a great number of the more “traditional” members to leave, making it much easier to pass something better. I do agree, however, in feeling uncomfortable with the One Church Plan allowing whole regions to discriminate, but since it take out the “incompatibility with Christian Teaching” clause, it removes the main justification for discrimination.
Please consider the following. The Bible tells us this truth: The sexually perverse are given to Satan until the end. “For ® God has put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast (Satan), until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Revelations 17:17). The cross reference tells us who God gave to the beast. They are the sexually perverse; all those who practice oral and anal sex. ® “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections for even their women did that which is against nature” (Romans 1:26). This is speaking of all who practice the sex of Sodom and Gomorrah. They have taken the mark of the beast. Oral sex marks a person as belonging to Satan just as a branding iron marks a rancher’s cattle. (Vile means evil, despicable, base, low, wicked, and abominable.) These people have been in bondage, captured. No deliverance will be offered to them until the end. Until the last days. The first coming of Jesus, the end of sin, and salvation is promised to come in the last days. God is good. In the end, in the last days, God will show his goodness in spite of man’s rebellion. He will pour his truth out on all flesh.
Scripture regarding the last days:
1. In the last days there will be no belief in God. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelations: 3:19).
We will have deliverance from sin in the last days. Deliverance from sin is how we will arrive at heaven on earth. http://www.alawfromeden.com
That was taking a lot of Scriptures completely out of context.
Are you sure about that oral sex part? I am asking for a friend.
The story of Lot in Sodom (Gen. 19) teaches us that we have inherited a large part of our sexual morality from a culture in which a man could say “Rape my daughters instead” and still be considered righteous.
It may be worthwhile to think carefully about what other mistakes they may have made.
“There comes a time when patience is a sin” Dr. Benz, the pure wisdom of that statement is far too great to ever be quantified. Many times, the “virtue” of patience acts as a cover for those who are too afraid, too busy, or too comfortable to follow the teachings of Jesus. In the coming days, may our delegates be brave enough, strong enough, and faithful enough to emerge from this cover of patience and stand up for the full inclusion of the LGBTQI community