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12.03.2004    |    "a teaching moment"
Well, that's one thing you could call it. Thus unrepentant lesbian Irene Stroud comments on what should be an unexceptional, and certainly not newsworthy event -- her defrocking as a Methodist minister. Leave aside that perhaps women should not be ministers in the first place. The Methodists have apparently discovered that some small part of their denomination is still moored in Scripture.

Or at least in "Methodist law." The AP story, via the New York Times tells us the basics:
A lesbian minister who lives with her partner was defrocked for violating the United Methodist Church's ban on actively gay clergy -- the denomination's first such decision in 17 years.

A 13-member jury made up of Methodist clergy convicted the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud on Thursday, the second day of her church trial. Methodist law bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals"' from ministry. The panel voted 12-1 to find Stroud guilty; nine votes were needed for a conviction.

Jurors then voted 7-6 to defrock Stroud, the bare majority necessary in the penalty phase of the trial, though her supportive congregation in Philadelphia has said Stroud can continue performing most of her duties.

...Stroud said she was saddened by the verdict but also saw it as a teaching moment that showed how divided her denomination is over homosexuality.
Well, yes, that mushy "teaching moment", which is what those who feel they can commit any sin without consequence or need for repentance often say when they are brought up short by their more orthodox brethren. It isn't clear why Methodists, or any other denomination that claims to be Christian, should need a "teaching moment" to assist them when black-letter Scripture spells it out plain as day. In both Testaments, in case you were wondering. "It" being the clear statement that homosexual behavior is a sin; literally an abomination to the Lord.

So, the Fluffy Bunny Christian asks, hey, aren't we all sinners? And doesn't God love us anyway? And isn't He all about forgiveness? Well, Fluffies, yes, yes, and only half right. God most certainly knows we are all sinners. Were it not so, why would we need to pray for His forgiveness? And I do believe that while God hates sin, He desperately loves us sinners. As to being all about forgiveness, that has to be true, but only if we turn to God and repent -- that is, change, and sin no more.

If God isn't all about forgiveness, what else might He be about, asks the puzzled FBC. The answer is in Scripture (Revelation 20:12, for example), and, for those who can't be bothered to crack open the Book, in the Nicene Creed: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. He being God in the person of Christ Jesus. God is also about judgment, people. We each of us have been given a second life when we were born again in Christ, but we are also under God's judgment as to how we live those lives.

Homosexuality may be "natural" and not just a choice. The same has been claimed for thieves and murderers -- they can't help doing what they do; they've a mental defect that is hardwired; they were abused as children, etc. etc. God did not create sin; we do and have since the Fall. Even one who has a calling to minister in Christ's name may be a sinner (they all are, just as are you and I). They must not, however, celebrate sin as "a lifestyle choice." Any more than a thief or murderer should be celebrated before they repent. If they don't repent, fine, God will judge them -- but let us not hold such up as paradigms of goodness.

Which is what a minister of God must at least try to be. And which Irene Stout can not be so long as she clings to her sin and claims it to be goodness. Perhaps she is a kindly and well-educated woman, and has gifts of the Spirit. Actually, from what I've read, she is and does. That's not the point. She wishes to be a minister in a Christian church, not some Church of the Lesbian Druid. This entails agreeing to certain things, one of the non-negotiable biggies being Scripture as the foundation for our faith.

Toss this aside because it's got those ever-so inconvenient passages about "abomination" and "judgment", and it is no longer a Christian church, but something else. Which is what the Methodists and others, especially the Episcopalians, are at grave risk of if they don't repent.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.