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Bishop's Stand Is Too Weak For Some Churches

Response to Bishop's Statement on Calif. Holy Union Services
Date: Friday, February 26, 1999 8:06 PM
To: Unofficial Confessing Movement Forum

Bishop Kenneth Carder of the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church has weighed in on the same-sex unions in Sacramento, saying,

"The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline states: 'Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches'.

"The performing of a 'holy union' of two women by a group of United Methodist clergy in Sacramento, California, does not change the position of The United Methodist Church on homosexual unions. Pastors who participate in such ceremonies are thereby subject to being charged under the provisions of the law of the church."

With all due respect to Bishop Carder and episcopacy leaders, why can't we have a simple answer from these men whom we have elected in a representative system? What answers do we need?

  1. Such homosexual unions are wrong.
  2. They are wrong because they violate the Holy Scriptures.

Why, oh, why do Bishop Carder and other bishops insist on invoking The United Methodist Book of Discipline as the governance of what is right and wrong? Are we, as Christians (and Methodists second), not to be governed by the Holy Bible? Is the Book of Discipline not merely a set of denominational rules and guidelines based, ostensibly, on the principles of the Scriptures?

Many of us are troubled by this issue which continues to tear apart our denomination and which, I fear, will lead to an ultimate split between evangelicals and liberal theologists. We are crying out for our bishops to substantiate the Bible as the rule of primacy in our church as to right and wrong, not with the Book of Discipline held up as if it is the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

I respect Bishop Carder's taking a stand against the practice. However, I still believe he does not go far enough. His is a public stance on denominational and governmental principle in the church-----not on Biblical commandment. When are those of us who sincerely believe we need more definitive leadership from our bishops going to receive it in an unvarnished, uncompromised public word. Or are we in a mode, as the late Bishop William Cannon once wrote, where "some leaders of the church are so afraid to offend, that if the Devil himself came to their front door, they would be afraid to offend him."

Chair, Administrative Council
Andrews Chapel United Methodist Church
Jackson, Tn.

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