It will come as a shock to some of y’all—the ones who write to tell me I’m going to hell for talking bad about the president and accuse me of being “pro-abortion” (that isn’t a thing, by the way)—but Duh Hubby and I are longtime United Methodists and have taught Sunday School for a combined 40 years. We love us some Jesus.
Duh teaches grown-ups and I taught kids because, well, they’re less scary and you can always keep their attention by withholding the Rice Krispy treats. That might work for adults as well, but I don’t want to test the theory.
We were married 30 years ago in the same Methodist Church we attend today. It’s our “church home” as they say and when we are there a peace descends upon our world-weary souls and we can breathe normally again.
All this is by way of saying we were watching the Methodist conference in St. Louis this week closely and, well, this one’s gonna leave a mark.
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To catch you up, the world’s third largest denomination voted to uphold its ban on gay marriage and LGBTQ clergy members. Many preachers have performed gay weddings and liberals (guess who) have been in favor of taking a more progressive stance on this issue. But delegates voted 53 percent to 47 percent to keep the ban going.
It’s embarrassing. It’s discriminatory. And please don’t tell me from your perch high up in the Tree of Sanctimony the Bible condemns homosexuality and that’s that.
One of the most vocal Methodists on this subject smugly reminded me of this recently via Facebook. But isn’t she divorced? According to the Bible that’s on par with being gay. She also, I suspect, enjoys the occasional fried shrimp plate (don’t we all?) which Leviticus, that lighthearted romp of an Old Testament book, strictly forbids right along with gay sex. It’s the same. A wash. Is that a tattoo I see on a young conservative Methodist? Another “abomination.” Is the upright Dad’s Hugo Boss dress shirt a cotton/poly blend? That’s also an abomination, strictly speaking.
And what of the Methodist couple whose young adult son has been a trial to them for years? If they’re so quick to trash the gay members of our church, should I remind them Deuteronomy suggests taking their trifling offspring before the elders, admit he’s “rebellious, a glutton and a drunk” and letting them stone him to death before their eyes? That’s a hard pass, I’m guessing.
Want to see a conservative Bible beater squirm? In Luke, we are reminded Jesus wants us to share in a big way: If we have two shirts, we are asked to give one to someone in need, same with food. Which makes him a Democratic Socialist, I’m pretty sure.
Hours after the vote, our pastor assured us our church will “welcome all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and remain committed to the belief that God’s grace is available to all.”
Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.