Northern Illinois Conference Leaders Press Hard To Abandon Christian Faith In Favor of Homosexuality
Here is a heart-felt letter sent by a lay person from the First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois to his fellow members.
I, along with a handful of FUMC members as well as our pastor, attended this past Sunday's Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) meeting to discuss the issue of homosexuality, "Can We Talk?". This emotionally-charged issue is being billed as having the potential to split the United Methodist Church--it appears that this is NOT an exaggeration.
We listened to homosexuals speak, as well as parents with homosexual children. Let me tell you, it was an emotional and eye-opening experience.
As many Methodists have done, and still do, I simply ignored this subject for years, thinking that it wouldn't affect any church that I would be a part of, and also thinking that "if we ignore it, it will go away." However, several months ago I felt compelled to become informed, and I have since studied the subject deeply.
I offer to anyone who would like to read more on this subject, some of the highlights of the information I have gathered. As it happens, I have more data in favor of normalizing homosexuality within Christianity than I have in favor of the traditional Christian perspective--I suppose this may be because it takes more effort to change something that it does to maintain the status quo, or perhaps the small population of homosexual advocates are simply more energized to address the issue.
The most important thing on this issue (as is typical in any discourse) is to understand BOTH sides. The data that I have has not been massaged or distorted, rather I have the original texts unedited by the original authors on both sides of the issue.
As members of the UMC, we should know about what is happening in the UMC outside of our own Church. We should be aware that the NIC is perhaps the strongest conference nationwide (worldwide) in favor of normalizing homosexuality. Most conferences are firmly in favor of traditional Christianity. The UMC "big deal" every four-years General Conference will be in May 2000, and the outcome of the issue of homosexuality is unpredictable (who knows what can happen when so many clergy and average members gather and vote--all together "in one room").
This past June at the NIC Annual Conference, those in the NIC in favor of normalizing homosexuality made a public statement that only one of the NIC delegates chosen to go to the "big deal" in May is not firmly in the camp of the movement to normalize homosexuality. The clear statements made by various NIC delegates, as well as by Bishop Sprague himself, is that homosexual behavior is certainly not sinful, it's consistent with Jesus' teaching, and that homosexual families consisting of same-sex parents with or without children should be an active part of the Church like any other person or family. Bishop Sprague has made a written declaration that today's Christian will be led by the Holy Spirit to a new, modern interpretation of the Bible because we need a clearer understanding of the Apostles.
After having read the personal writings of scores of professed homosexuals, their trials and tribulations, I have a personal viewpoint that Christians are being called to welcome and help those who believe they are homosexuals, and I mean help in every way possible. A person can't help but feel very compassionate for anyone who has had so much difficulty in their lives as so many professed homosexuals say they've had.
We all (me included) must get over our "fear of the unknown" when it comes to interaction with a professed homosexual. Christians are called by Jesus to accept all sinners! And so, we must help all professed homosexuals as they struggle with the sinful behavior of homosexuality. Let me warn you though, the homosexual advocates have convinced their constituency that "love the sinner, disapprove of the sin" is HATE speech, so we must never make this quote. Using inciteful language is of no benefit whatsoever. (Although we have to call a sin, a sin!)
We don't ask people when they walk through the door of our Church if they have committed adultery, and we don't stand around waiting for them to confess of their sins to us. We must support everyone in their struggles to shake free of the shackles of sinful behavior and the sin of homosexual behavior is no different. However, we are not God, and we cannot know when a person might be able to overcome sinful behavior; we cannot set schedules.
Certainly as Christians we should not sanctify homosexual behavior--it's a sin. "Same-sex unions" do exactly that! Such a ceremony tells the participants "go home and have sex with each other, and don't have sex with anyone other than your partner, and your behavior is what God has intended for you."
We know that God created all human beings to have sexuality--a gift from God which is to be a significant aspect of our lives. The Bible makes clear that this gift, in today's language, is HETEROSEXUALITY. It should be our hope that every human being can experience God's wonderful gift of sexuality, and if a person has difficulty experiencing this gift from God, then we should be here to provide whatever help (encouragement, etc.) that we can.
Churches must be welcoming to persons struggling with their sexuality, rather than shunning anyone who might appear to be "a sinner." For a person to resort to homosexual behavior because they don't have an alternative or any help from loving people is a crying shame, for which we should feel shameful.
The major problem with normalizing homosexuality is that it lures people who are having problems with sexuality into a lifestyle which is not by God's design at all. If you haven't paid attention to the homosexual advocates, you may not be aware that they are absolutely against anyone (Christian or otherwise) counseling a professed homosexual to help the person change their behavior (whether it be a change to abstinence or heterosexuality). I know this sounds unbelievable: that a group so embracing of freedom of choice will not allow a professed homosexual to seek counseling.
The homosexual advocates want to make it tantamount to malpractice for professionals to counsel homosexuals in this way; and they accomplished this feat just months ago (December 1998) as announced by the American Psychiatric Association in opposition of "any psychiatric treatment such as 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy designed to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual was adopted by unanimous vote . . . There is . . . evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive. . . . [running] the risk of harming patients by causing depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. The APA joins the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics in making a policy against reparative therapy."
As in so many things political, it is ironic that a loving, compassionate action of a Christian can be labeled as "HATEFUL" by a homosexual advocate.
If we believe the Bible is truly the Word of God (which is now being debated among the clergy in our own NIC), we cannot believe that homosexual behavior is anything but sinful and condemned by the Bible. The Bible makes direct and unequivocal statements against such behavior (as well as many other kinds of behavior); the homosexual advocates refer to these as "clobber passages;" meaning that they are used like a hammer to hit professed homosexuals on the head if they want to claim to be Christian.
By the way, even though at first glance one might think that a Christian has to simply open the Bible to know that homosexual behavior is sinful, this is not the case. Self-professed Biblical scholars within the Church have provided interpretations of the original Hebrew Old Testament and original Greek New Testament (the "clobber passages" are found in both) that claim that homosexual behavior is not sinful. Any average person with a Lexicon can clearly see that these interpretations are faulty and without merit, but the reply by the "scholar" to a non-scholar is that the Lexicons are simply false "dictionaries" of the meaning of Hebrew and Greek. OK, I guess that ends the debate, if we don't even know how to translate ancient languages.
So, if we don't know what the Bible says from a secular point of view, what about from a faith point of view? The leadership of our NIC wants us to question our faith in the Bible as the Word of God, and rather allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to find a new interpretation of the Bible. I question two things: Has the Holy Spirit been faulty for the past 2000 or 4000 years when guiding all the past thousands/millions of human beings who interpreted the Bible? and secondly, if we don't know what the Bible says on homosexuality, how can we know that Jesus spoke of love? After all, Jesus' human hand (not necessarily Divine according to many) didn't pen the New Testament and all of the quotes attributed to him. The bottom line for the Northern Illinois Conference Leadership is: Let's just pick out of the Bible what we want to believe in and ignore the rest. Break the Church free from all these rules!!!!
Our traditional Christian faith teaches us that the Bible is the Word of God (it actually says this in the book!), and therefore to question the Word of God is of course to question our faith. What does a parent do when a child desperately asks for something that the parent knows might be harmful? The parent may attempt to reason with the child, but if the child persists with simply "I want to!" and can't understand reason, then the parent must simply say "No!" Then when the child responds with "You don't love me!" the parent responds with great compassion, "Oh yes I love you, and that is why I know that this will not be good for you, and I must forbid it." Have Christians lost the ability to be good, firm, loving parents?
Michael L. Gonzalez
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