The United Methodist Church, in a recent announcement, said its organization is going to break into two factions over the issues of LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage.
That’s not really a surprise.
What is more of a surprise is that a church — any church — can get by with calling itself a place of Christian worship while scoffing at basic biblical principles of sin and God’s will. But so goes the fickle, devious hearts of humankind, yes?
Anyhow, in February, the headline was that the church was on the cusp of a breakup over a dispute within the delegates’ ranks over the marriage rights of same-sex couples and the ordination of gays.
In August, the headline was that the church had moved a little closer to breaking into separate wings, due to the internal disputes over LGBTQ rights and the teachings of homosexuality as sin.
Now comes this, from The Washington Post, the 2020 look-ahead: “United Methodist Church expected to split over gay marriage, fracturing the nation’s third-largest denomination.”
The announcement to split, which still has to be approved in May at the United Methodist Church’s regular global conference, came as its administrators were poised to enact punishments on those ministers within the ranks who gave the thumbs-up to gay marriages. The punishments would’ve taken the form of year-long bans without pay — leading to outright removal from the ministry ranks for repeat offenses.
The plan creates a progressive-minded wing of the United Methodist Church — one that will allow gay unions and gay marriage ceremonies and gay clergy and that will openly embrace LGBTQ rights — and then a second branch, a more “traditionalist” Methodist Church with stricter focus on biblical teachings.
The traditionalist wing will get $25 million in upstart funds and in return, cede any ownership rights to Methodist Church assets.
As for the congregants?
The Hill reported that churches will have to take votes to join the traditional Methodists, or do nothing if the decision of its members was to remain in the progressive-like Methodist wing.
This could be a Methodist church affair; a mind-your-own business, this is Methodist Church business-type affair. But it’s not; it’s bigger than the Methodist church.
There’s actually a larger matter to mull here and it’s one that concerns the entire Christian community, the whole grouping of declared followers of Jesus Christ, and it’s one that goes like this: The Bible doesn’t lie. Ministers might; pastors can; churches as bodies and staffed entities certainly could and would, if pragmatics and politics trumped enough traditional teachings. But the Bible as a book?
Its words are infallible. And it should be the priority go-to for individuals — even for those individuals who think their church leaders do just fine telling them the word of God. The Bible, in the end, will light the right way.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.