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Trial date set for Pennsylvania pastor who officiated son’s same-sex wedding

 

Pastor Frank Schaefer1 Trial date set for Pennsylvania pastor who officiated son’s same sex wedding

A Nov. 18-19 trial has been set for the Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., who officiated at the same-sex wedding of his son five years ago.

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

A Nov. 18-19 trial has been set for a pastor in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference who officiated at the same-sex wedding of his son five years ago.

A complaint was filed one month before the statue of limitations ran out and word of the trial became public Sept. 20.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pa., said he “followed his heart” when his son, Tim, asked him to officiate at his wedding in 2007.

“In some sense it was a difficult decision because I knew I was putting my career, my ministry, on the line, but in another sense it was easy because my heart told me I had to do this,” he said.

Schaefer said when his son first told his parents he was gay, he also told them he had contemplated suicide. Schaefer said that as a pastor’s son, the messages Tim received from the church and from the culture in Lebanon, Pa., caused him to feel something was wrong with him.

“He prayed to God that God would change him and make him ‘normal’ and when that didn’t happen he became suicidal,” Schaefer said. “When he came out, my wife and I just loved and supported him and told him there was nothing wrong with him. I said, ‘You were created in the image of God just like everyone else.’”

The wedding took place in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages are legal. The couple lives in Hull, Mass.

Support, other reactions offered

Schaefer said he has received a lot of support from his congregation. His district superintendent called a congregational meeting in May when the complaint was filed. “A lot of support was voiced for me at that meeting … that was a great evening for me,” he said.

He added he is worried about the pending trial and his future as a United Methodist pastor.

“I have been ordained for 17 years … it is scary to think about what could happen to me. I don’t want to lose my credentials of course; I love being a minister, I love ministry.”

Schaefer said he is hoping at the trial the jury will be lenient because “it was my own son I did the ceremony for.”

The trial will take place at Camp Innabah, Pa. Retired bishop Alfred Gwinn will preside over the case. Bishop Peggy Johnson is episcopal leader for the Eastern Pennsylvania area. The prosecutor will be Christopher Fisher, a pastor in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and director of United Methodist Studies at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, Pa.

“The complaint is confidential under our church process and I am not at liberty to provide any comment,” Johnson said. “I am in prayer for all involved in this process, and I urge everyone to join me in lifting up in prayer each of the persons involved.”

The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht is the vice president and general manager of Good News, an unofficial evangelical United Methodist caucus, and has been following the case.

“Sadly, our church is once again being led down the path of a costly and divisive trial by a pastor who chose to disregard the prayerful and consistent teaching of our church that Christian marriage is the holy union of one man and one woman,” he said. “As a father, I share Rev. Schaefer’s desire to affirm his son, but there are ways of doing so that do not require a pastor to break the Discipline and the covenant that all United Methodist pastors agree to uphold.”

Church law

The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, since 1972 has stated that all people are of sacred worth but “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Church law says that marriage is to be between a man and a woman and bans United Methodist clergy from performing and churches from hosting “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.”

The denomination has had several trials for pastors accused of officiating at same sex unions and guilty verdict sentences have ranged from one year to 20-day suspensions.

The most recent case was in 2011, when the Rev. Amy DeLong was convicted of performing a same-sex union.

Other charges

Three other United Methodist elders are facing complaints — all in the state of New York.

A complaint was filed against the Rev. Stephen Heiss, pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church, Binghamton, N.Y., for officiating at his daughter’s same-sex union.

In a letter to Bishop Mark J. Webb, episcopal leader of the Upper New York Conference, Heiss said he has officiated at several other same-sex unions and plans to officiate at another wedding in the future for two women.

Heiss has been receiving letters of support on a blog, letters to the bishop, started in early September. As of Sept. 23, 85 letters have been written, several from members of Tabernacle United Methodist Church.

A statement was issued from the episcopal office in July, and Heiss and Webb met to discuss the issue in August. A second meeting took place Sept. 20 and Webb extended the process for another 30 days.

In October 2012, the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired seminary dean and elder, officiated at the same-sex wedding of his son. Some clergy in the New York Annual (regional) Conference filed a complaint against Ogletree after his son’s wedding announcement appeared in the New York Times.

The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy is also facing a formal complaint in the New York Conference that she is a “self-avowed practicing” lesbian.

* Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

 

 

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  1. Inman Moore, Retired United Methodist Minister

    There is all kinds of scientific evidence that homosexuality is a fact. It is not an “acquired taste.” Gays are gay because they are gay just as I am straight because I am straight.
    It is high time to realize that the words of Leviticus about homosexuality are outdated. Jesus, in his “Sermon on the Mount” refuted a number of passages in the Old Testament with his “Of old it was said—, but I say unto you.” Understanding the message of inclusion that Jesus proclaimed is to understand that Jesus is saying today, “Of old it was said that homosexuality was a sin, but I say unto you that gays are children of God just as straights are children of God.” Bishop Desmond Tutu had it right when he said, “There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.”

    I love the Methodist Church. It is high time we joined the rising tide of understanding that gays should have the same status in society and the Kingdom of God as straights. It has been said by a segment of Christians that accepting gays are causing us to lose membership. It is my contention that we are at a place in our society that the non-acceptance of gays will cause us to lose our present generation of youth and will cause us to lose future generations.

    1. Laurence Nelson

      I agree! It’s time to include all of God’s children!

      Who thought up “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” – Nice Slogan! – To Bad They Are Just Word’s!

      When it comes to our Book of Discipline, Conference and Pastors (Because they have no choice to enforce it or face being removed from their pastoral appointments,) they are just word’s!

      Several people have asked me why I go to church who’s BOD discriminates against me –
      I am really not sure how to answer that – OH WAIT – Yes I do! I LOVE JESUS AND HE LOVE ME! I have been told that since I was a little boy.

      LGBT people may be welcomed in our congregations, but they are may still discriminated against by those in authority because the conference’s BOD. They are discriminated against when it comes to being married.

      Why would anyone want to be part of a discriminating religious organization now a days?

      1. John J. Shaffer

        I have no idea what I would do if I attended a church regularly that taught things I find offensive. But I have a clue, based on some church visiting I have done where I attended Sunday School classes taught by individuals who were racist. Even though a visitor, I challenged the teacher, but I do not know what happened afterwards, as I was just a visitor.

        I went to an United Methodist Church in the Boston area where the teacher said that 1/2 of United Methodist clergy were non-believers. His proof was that they had read John Cobb’s books or been in classes where John Cobb’s books were used. I challenged him and he was flustered. Afterwards, several class members thanked me. I was so upset that a local church would allow some one that ignorant into a teaching role that I didn’t stay for worship.

        I didn’t bother to find out if the pastor was pleased with that kind of teaching.

        However, I am so pleased at what is happening at Claremont School of Theology (where John Cobb taught) that I have made a significant financial donation to the school. They are on the cutting edge of interfaith education and will help lower the heat of what is happening world-wide. And that is a good thing, in my view.

        I also had an Islamic scholar teach the Islamic faith in my own local church for two years and over 45 people attended, including many from the community. I have done my part to create some informed understanding in our world. And no, no one was converted to Islam, but without exception, the students appreciated knowing more about their neighbors. I do believe that some one once said that we should “Love Our Neighbors”. What a concept.

        1. Stephen York

          John, I applaud everything that you just wrote. The Bishops of the UMC should be required to sit at the feet of John Cobb and take professional development at Claremont.

      2. Charles Spickard

        “Why would anyone want to be part of a discriminating religious organization now a days?”
        ANSWER: Simply because they are openly committing an act that has been proclaimed in God’s word many times as SIN. Would you like to have as your pastor a man that was known to be a child molester? SIN IS SIN! Homosexuals are welcomed into our congregations with the hope that they can become enlightened and be eligible to enter the kingdom of God.

    2. John J. Shaffer

      Inman Moore:

      Your words capture what I have come to believe. When I finally was trusted enough for individuals to reveal that they were gay or they had family members who were gay, I found that they were no different than myself in so many ways.

      When I was working on my views in the 1980′s, one of those with whom I was in dialogue came to a worship service in my church. He happened to be a person who ‘worked out’, so he looked like a jock. One of my members was very anti-gay, but he was also focused on being hospitible to all visitors. We will never know what he would have done if knew that this athletic visitors was gay, but he didn’t have a clue.

      Sadly, the visitor only came once, but he left with a smile on his face and at the time, I had one on my face, too. My openness got him there once, but the stance of the United Methodist Church did not bring him twice.

      Some friends and parents of gay persons are waiting patiently for the church to do the right thing and some have said they will never step foot in the United Methodist Church accepts their children or friends on an equal basis.

      Thanks for sharing your viewpoint and what I believe to be the viewpoint of the gospels, taken wholistically.

  2. Rev. Lyle M.Miller, Sr.

    I am sorry Inman, but I have read considerable which refutes your statements about all kinds of scientific evidence that homosexuality is a fact and not an acquired taste. This is one of the problems we have faced for years in this discussion is that those favoring softening the discipline of our church so we can have a “comfort gospel” that doesn’t cause anyone to react negatively. Those who support loosening the discipline read what they want to read, but I fear seldom read anything from the opposite point of view. My personal experience has been for thirty years is that of being backed into a corner at District meetings and badgered by my so called clergy colleagues on this matter, making all kids of accusations against me, just like some have done in these posts. I don’t need to name names, as they have made themselves clear on where they stand and their thoughts about my personhood.

    1. John J. Shaffer

      I know nothing of your personhood, but you don’t show much evidence of having read material that disagrees with your viewpoint. (I have, by the way.)

      Have you read a book by Howard Bess: “Pastor, I am Gay”?

      Have you read Sara Boesser’s book: “Silent Lives”?

      Have you read any of Virginia Mollenkott’s books? (especially “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?”)

      Please share the books you have read which challenge your viewpoint and also share some of the books you think those who disagree with you should read.

      Just asking.

    2. Pamela dountas

      Why is it that no ones uses early translations of the word or meaning of homosexuality? Where are our theologians that examine the times and audience these messages were spoken? After years of studying original texts and language I know that loving relationships are not a stench to God’s nostrils as stated by my brother.

      1. John J. Shaffer

        I was shocked (and pleased) to learn that the word “homosexuality” was not used in the original King James Version of the scriptures. That supports that what is known as homosexuality today was not known in biblical times (committed same-sex relationships)nor in the 16th century. It is a modern concept and a modern issue.

        Proof-texting is an exercise in futility, in some ways.

        Thanks for challenging a viewpoint that creates a stench in my nostrils. I didn’t know that God had nostrils, but one could learn something new here. We may get an anatomy lesson here before we know it. I have stopped referring to God as “he”, but then that is me.

        When I shared my views once, a man came up to me with the veins on his forehead bulging, his fists clenched and his face red, saying to me: “why do you make such a fuss over something that is so unimportant”. I didn’t want him to die on the spot, so I was gentle, but what I would have liked to say to him was this: “my friend, please tell me about this unimportant issue that has made you so upset”. “Why are you so angry over an unimportant issue?” But I was gentle.

        And when I conducted his funeral a short time later, my first comments were: “(not named) was a person of strong conviction” and the family members, including his sisters, burst out in laughter. I had nailed him accurately. But as he was dying, he made me promise to preach his funeral sermon and I did.

        1. Stephen York

          For the record, King James was at least bisexual, if not homosexual. This fact of history is neglected by the literalists.

        2. John J. Shaffer

          I wish I had known that in my first church when I was ordered not to read from the Revised Standard Version because it was “communist”. The saints knew that because the book had a red cover. I was kinder in those days and I obeyed. One Sunday I read from four different translations or paraphrases and the saints were very confused, but I didn’t get fired for that decision.

          I did get fired when I lost my temper in the pulpit. I deserved to be fired and my salary immentiately (sp?) increased 300 percent. i didn’t do it on purpose. I had recruited a new Sunday School superintendent in her 30′s and she resigned. I discovered she resigned because she wrote a prayer and several women told her that Christians prayed extemporaneously, they didn’t use read prayers. So she resigned, as she didn’t think a non-Christian should hold a leadership position. Some where in my sermon I said that I got more spiritual value out of a well-written prayer (thank you Jesus for the Lord’s Prayer) than I did out of five minutes of babbling. For some reason a few people took that comment personally.

          I was not yet under officially, hence the ability to fire me.

        3. John J. Shaffer

          The list of persons in human history who have been described as having been homosexual is rather impressive. The human family would have been less without their contribution. However, I would not necessarily include King James in the positive list.
          But I would be comfortable including that artist who painted a few things in Rome and even Elton John and Jim Nabors, among others. Society forced many to hide their sexuality. I often wonder how we know about the characters from centuries ago. In my work with PFLAG I am meeting some very nice people that I am honored to have as friends and know how “turned off” they would be by some of the attitudes expressed on-line here, even those comments dressed up in fancy words of so-called love and concern for the welfare of their souls. But I will not speak for them today. But I assure you they are NOT in our churches.

    3. Charles Spickard

      You said: ” Understanding the message of inclusion that Jesus proclaimed is to understand that Jesus is saying today, “Of old it was said that homosexuality was a sin, but I say unto you that gays are children of God just as straights are children of God.” Bishop Desmond Tutu had it right when he said, “There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.”
      One could probably skew Jesus’s words around to make it appear that He said that black is white and white is black. I suppose that He also said that murder, robbery, and child abuse are OK, just so long as you love the victim. SIN is SIN. We cannot change that simply by twisting Jesus’s words around to suit our whims. God did not create homosexuals. Man did by his deviant ways.

      1. John J. Shaffer

        There is so much evidence to refute what you are saying.

        God did create people who are homosexual.

        But we are down to “he said, she said”, or in this case “he said, he said, he said”.

        I base my view on what homosexuals have said about their own journey.

      2. John J. Shaffer

        You seem to have lots of time. How about doing some homework and list all the famous people who have been labeled as homosexual in human history. It is an impressive list and it would education you about what God has been doing in lots of lives.

  3. Stephen York

    Virginia Mollenkott’s work, “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” is excellent, as is her other work.

  4. Beth Beyer Abbott

    Where in your Bible’s does Jesus say it is our duty to judge another of God’s people? In the Gospel of John, Jesus who is perfect tells the disciples that God has given him authority to judge but he will not. These are not doctrinal things, these are people whom God created. The name calling and self-righteousness of many of these posts makes me want to cry for our denomination and for our world. I choose LOVE.

    1. Charles Spickard

      Matthew 7:20
      King James Version (KJV)
      20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

      1. Stephen York

        Matthew 15: 1-9

        Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said,[a] ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’[b] then that person need not honor the father.[c] 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word[d] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:

        8 ‘This people honors me with their lips,
        but their hearts are far from me;
        9 in vain do they worship me,
        teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”

        Well, hello……….

        1. Charles Spickard

          I am with Jesus 100% on this. He did not say it was alright to commit mortal sins. What He said was it was foolish to observe meaningless rituals and disregard right and wrong. Nowhere in any of the scriptures did Hecondone SIN. Sin is sin, no matter how one tries to rationalize it away for the sake of mere pleasure.

    2. Rev Ellen Rowan

      Some people live out of hearts of love and some out of hearts of fear. It’s easy to tell who they are.

  5. GW bill Warren

    Finally, it is easy to see why Cahrles is so confused about what scipture says and means. He has some mistaken idea that homsexuality and child molesting have a direct relationship. That may be because when Paul advised against same sex relationships, he was commenting on the abhorent practice of Greek men with young boys. That indeed is sin, to satisfy needs with a person of less power.

    However, statisically there are more child molesters among heterosexuals than homosexuals. Charles you have resorted to an incorrect definition to condemn someone that was not created exactly like you and you have no clue about who and what he or she is. Now that is your sin.

    1. John J. Shaffer

      Thanks for reminding me of the fact that many Greek men who had wives and children seemed to think it okay to have sex with young men. Perhaps their wives were grateful??? Who knows??? To understand New Testament sexuality one has to go deep into the culture of that day. Hopefully you have motivated some one to study this issue more deeply to understand Paul’s attitude and teachings in this area.

      That particular issue doesn’t apply to much that is going on in our culture.

      1. Charles Spickard

        Yes, John. Many Greek and Roman men had sex with young boys. Also, many Jewish women were harlots also, but that did not change the fact that both of these acts as well as homosexuality were SIN.

        1. John J. Shaffer

          As I recall, Jesus had more to say about the “sin” of the critics of harlots than he did about the so-called “sin” of the harlots. Wonder if that is true in this case. Jesus might have more critical words for the critics of homosexuals than he would about homosexuals. In fact, I am convinced of it. I happen to have read the gospels through those lens and the critics of so-called sinners were in hot water. The so-called sinners were embraced by Jesus. He even ate with them often. So should we, if they would have us at their table. And we would be wise to shut up about sin when we sit down with them, less the finger point back at us double-fold.

        2. Rev. Lyle M. Miller, Sr.

          You make a good point John, but have left out some important information. Yes, Jesus chastised the critics who brought the harlots and sinners before him. Now I believe you need to acknowledge that he never told that they had not sinned or were not sinning. He also told those critics something important, namely “let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Not the end. He turned to the sinner and said “go and sin no more.” The critics walked away because they could not claim to be free from sin. The same applies to all of us today, including myself who needs to ask for forgiveness every day, though I know many who would say otherwise about themselves, not unlike the Pharisee praying in the temple whom Jesus took to task. We need to remember that humanity doesn’t stay the same, but the Bible tells us that God is the same today as God was yesterday and as God will be down through eternity. Why is it that Human beings who become so educated in today’s world think that they can tell others that God has changed?

        3. John J. Shaffer

          Why indeed?

          Because I have read the Bible and those who claim it is accurate (which it isn’t) can read about God changing his mind on some occasionally and on other occasions the Bible claims God did this or that which would in complete and utter contradiction to what others claim God might or might not do.

          And while I am not as certain as you about some things, I would say that we don’t have any knowledge of what Jesus said in the many times he “ate” with sinners, but I would be of the opinion that he didn’t talk about their sin on a regular basis. Just my opinion, but it is worth as much as say, your opinion or conjecture. And it gives me some comfort in my own heart that Jesus was much more harsh on those holding the rocks than he was on the woman he told to “go and sin no more”.

          Drop your rocks and get rid of the rules that divide us as a Christian (United Methodist) community. Let love rule. And since the Bible is silent on the modern phenomena of same sex committed relationships, let us affirm them where they exist. In some cases as many as sixty years.
          Why try to force people into the shadows?

          Indeed, why make the lepers live outside of the community? When I was traveling in Liberia, I spent some time in a leper colony. Because of their disfigurement, they were unwelcome in their former villages, so they banned together and took care of one another. Worshipping in that tiny village was one of the deepest spiritual experiences of my life.
          Sad to think in biblical times that some believed and taught they were disfigured because of sin and forced to live “outside” the community.

          Jesus embraced them and I am attempting to follow Jesus by embracing my gay brothers and sisters. And I resent and resist your efforts to make it an issue of sin. Hopefully your view will eventually be put on the dust bin of history. Until then, I can just pray for a change of heart and your enlightenment, along with a lot of other United Methodists.

          And please don’t talk about rules.

          Just repent and go and sin no more.

          In one African country, they are on the edge of capital punishment for gays, claiming that “it is in the Bible”. You are not there, of course, but your viewpoint supports their viewpoint. Mine does not.

        4. John J. Shaffer

          And oh, I forgot.

          Shame on me. I forgot, but I don’t think it was because of sin.

          I am waiting for a list of books your have read on homosexuality, pro and con.

          I would find it helpful and perhaps enlightening. I am still giving speeches on this subject and need to know what is out there that has been helpful to you, either supporting your biases or challenging your biases.

    2. Charles Spickard

      Sorry, GW bill Warren, but you must be reading something besides the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible condemns sex between people of the same sex (both genders) in both the Old and New Testaments. No, Jesus did not seem to have addressed it directly, but Paul did’ in more than one book.

      1. John J. Shaffer

        Charles:

        It would be helpful if you responded to the content of Bill’s post instead of talking past it. By the way, it would be helpful if you would let us know what books (pro and con) you have read or recommend on this issue of homosexuality. “Pastor, I am Gay” by Howard Bess was helpful to me.

        1. Charles Spickard

          Sorry, John, but I do not wish to read books on how to sin and disobey the teachings of God’s inspired writers. I prefer to read books on how to be a better Christian and avoid what is clearly spelled out in thr Holy Bible as SIN. I try to get better at avoiding sin as I age, but with people trying to justify sin by trying to explain it away, it sometimes becomes very difficult. Just writing opinions and obeying what the Holy Bible describes as the lust of the flesh, does not qualify as obeying the will of God.

        2. Rev. Jim Brooking

          Throughout this thread the words of Jesus, “go and sin no more” have been used several times. What is the message then to divorced and remarried people (Matthew 5:31-32) who continue to “live in sin”? Your sin is justified because you are heterosexual, so continue to live in sin? What about the literal word of God in Matthew 5: 27-30? Why is the literal word of God used to condemn homosexual acts and NOT heterosexual acts? Is it because, like slavery, the Bible is used to justify one’s own prejudice? No wonder the UMC is declining when the message it is sending is “I’m acceptable to God in all my sin and you are not”! Until we stop being hypocritical and judgemental…we will continue to decline! I am anxious to see what God will raise up from the rubble!

        3. Charles Spickard

          Rev. Jim,
          Doesn’t the Bible state that once adultery is committed the marriage is broken (dissolved)? If a marriage has been broken, it seems to me that each partner is no longer married. Doesn’t it seem then that if neither partner is any longer married, should they not then be able to marry without “living in adultery”?
          No, I believe that the UMC Church is declining because we no longer hold to the beliefs that are set forth in the Bible and are inviting all sorts of sin into our teachings. Sinners should be invited to attend our services and learn the error of their ways. However we have a group within our ranks who do not recognize sin when it is staring them in the face. I am afraid some of us are defrauding God’s word and causing others to serve Satan.

        4. John J. Shaffer

          Thank you very much for finally responding to my question. I didn’t want to come to an unfair conclusion without getting your imput. You don’t show much evidence of having read much on the subject and now you have verified this.

          However, you apparently have not read any books that agree with your viewpoint either.

          Sorry to make your struggle with ‘sin’ so difficult. And Jesus isn’t around to straighten you out, but I have a slight feeling that if he was, you would argue with him, too, if your ideas were different than his. There is a Russian novel that speaks of what it would have been like if Jesus came back. In that novel, some one suggested that Jesus go back and leave them alone.

          But just based on the biblical text, Jesus spoke often of including persons into the Kingdom of God that religious people of that day wanted to exclude. Apparently that has been true through the ages and it is even true today.

          I would really urge you to read Virginia Mollenkott’s writings. It might change your life. If you asked Sara Boesser, she would send you a free copy of “Silent Lives”. That might change your life, too. Howard Bess was a Baptist and his book “Pastor, I am Gay” was a helpful book to understand homosexual issues. Another book on my bookshelf is “Inclusion: Making Room for Grace” by Eric H. F. Law. I actually have not read that book, but it looks helpful.

          Again, thank you for responding to my question and fulfilling my curious nature.

        5. Charles Spickard

          John,
          You seem to think that since I do not wish to read books about how wonderful a homosexual life is, that I do not read. Man is NOT more intelligent and all knowing than God. I have read books by Billy Graham (IMHO the greatest evangelist and Biblical scholar of my life), Dale Evans, and several others who can understand and consciously obey God’s word. Consciously obeying does not mean that we never sin. it simply means that we do not intend to sin or blatantly state that we intend to sin, such as intentionally living a homosexual life style while thumbing our nose at God’s word given us through inspired writers stating that such is intentionally sinning. We simply believe that God exists and guides us or not. We cannot simply explain Him and His instructions away.

        6. Pamela Dountas

          Mr. Spickard, I know it appears that we are try to change you mind. Not at all. Some of us are hoping that with education of the biblical scriptures you will grow to understand our beliefs. We do not want you to sin. Like you we are trying to walk the path Christ has put before us. I know that if I were to sit beside you in worship we would have more in common then not. I will never cast a stone against my brothers and sister who disagree with me on biblical beliefs. I will continue to serve in UMC and be proud to witness the love of Christ to all people. I pray for your good health and happiness.

        7. Charles Spickard

          Thank you Ms. Dountas, for your kind reply. It is good to know that there are those who care about others and are interested in opposing viewpoints. I admit that I might be a bit narrow minded, but when the scripture is so clearly against a particular practice, I can only believe that those who cannot accept that clear simple fact (as I see it, of course) are blinded by Satan with a powerful unnatural lust.
          God created us and He can correct our imperfections. May God richly bless you and may you lead others to Christ even though I may disagree with you on certain issues. And I agree with you that we probably share views on most issues

  6. gwen

    UNCODINTIONAL LOVE IS THE KEY!!! Well said Robin!!

  7. Inman Moore, Retired United Methodist Minister

    We should realize in all these comments that the basic differences we have in discussing the homosexuality issue stems from the way we interpret the Bible. The Bible is indeed a great “Book” and is the sourcebook of Judaism and Christianity. But the Bible was not written by God. It was written by inspired men who wrote what they thought about God in their time. The Bible is the product of the Church. It was the church conferences in those early days which selected the books which make up our Bible. Thus the Church decided what books would be in the Bible out of many manuscripts being circulated in those early days. Since the Church is not perfect, neither is the Bible.

    Our thoughts about many things change. To illustrate, many of those early religious leaders had more than one wife. Today, it is against the law to have more than one wife. Elijah is said to have killed several hundred prophets of Baal. Was that God telling him to do that? If a religious leader today killed several hundred people, he or she would be in prison for the rest of their lives. Abraham thought Jehovah was only the God of the Jews. It took Amos centuries later to proclaim that The Lord, our God, is one God over all the people of the earth.

    Briefly, the Bible is a progressive revelation of the nature and will of God. As such writings in the later books often contradict some of the earlier books. We continually discover new truths about God and the Universe. For example, we are gradually discarding the old concept that all disasters are God’s way of showing his displeasure. Floods, fires, and earthquakes are not signs of God’s displeasure. It should not be any wonder that in continuing our understanding of God we come to different conclusions from humankind thousands of years ago. Our modern day concept of marriage as being between two people is relatively new.

    Out of our new scientific understanding of homosexuality, I believe that God smiles upon the gays who have found partners they love and want to show that love by marriage. Rather than condemning them we should be accepting them. I pray this will happen in our beloved United Methodist Church. We have been leaders of social progress in the past. It is time we do so in the future.

    1. Pamela Dountas

      Thank you for your wisdom of the bible.

    2. John J. Shaffer

      That was very well thought out and very well written. It should be required reading and reflection for Pat Robertson and those who are part of the 2lst century who still hold to the dogma that some how God wrote the Bible and that God some how controls how much rain we got last night.

      Thanks for trying to “communicate” what many of us know and believe, based on scholarship and common sense.

      The reality that a colleague has to face trial for agreeing to officiate at a wedding ceremony for his son makes me wonder what century we are living in. Man’s rules are not God’s rules and God’s rules are not as clear as some would have you believe. And they kept changing even in the Bible. “Don’t touch the ark of the Covenant or you will surely die.”
      If the Ark of the Covenant was still around (and some claim they know where it is), there would be those who would still claim it should not be touched.

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