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Homosexuality and War - Where DOES the UMC Stand?
UMC Social Principles are confused and incoherent

by D. Stephen Long


A Letter to UMAction
by D. Stephen Long
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Recently you ran my picture and an essay in your UM Action that extolled my defense of Christian orthodoxy at the 2000 Exploration.  You noted my willingness to abide by the United Methodist Discipline on its teaching of sexuality.  You were correct and I appreciated the confidence you placed in my representation.

I get beyond frustrated at the current United Methodist hierarchy's -- its bishops, General Boards and seminaries -- refusal to stand under obedience to our discipline and the vows we take at our ordination and baptism, vows which include implicitly and explicitly our willingness to be obedient to our church's teachings.  Those teachings are located in the UM Articles of Religion and our Confession of Faith.  These articles and this confession, rather than the commentary in "Our Theological Task" and the confused and incoherent "Social Principles," are the binding documents.  Refusal to be obedient to them constitutes a "chargeable offense".

Thus I was surprised at your recent misrepresentation of the United Methodist Church as advocating an "official stand on just war" (Dec. 2001 UM Action, p.1).  Where do you find this in our official doctrine?  In fact, the official teaching of the United Methodist Church to which we have pledged obedience is found in Article 16 of our Confession of Faith and it says, "We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ."  How does this fit with a supposed "official just war stance?"

I am willing to abide by the Social Principle statement that says homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching."  I am willing to do this because of vows I took at ordination and baptism that require my obedience irrespective of my individual preferences.  And I am willing to do this even when it costs me friends who mean a great deal to me.  Why is the IRD and UM Action not willing to do the same when it comes to the question of war?  Where is your willingness to be obedient to the Discipline of the United Methodist Church?

Explain to me how the saying "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching" and "war is contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ" differ such that the former is prohibited and the latter permitted.  If the IRD and UM Action is to be consistent, then either you must develop a "just homosexuality" position or abandon your apology for war in violation of the United Methodist Church.  Until you do so, I will continue to believe that just as the current hierarchy of the UMC primarily wants to force the Church to be chaplain to the Democratic Party, the only real alternative the IRD and UM Action represent is that they want the Church to be chaplain to the Republican Party.  Neither movement seeks faithfulness to Holy Scripture, the official doctrines of the UMC or the Christian tradition we have inherited as a Wesleyan holiness movement in the Church catholic.

If you want to change the official teachings of the UMC I would understand.  I myself am tempted to the just-war tradition and could perhaps be persuaded that this is what the UMC should have as its official teachings.  But it is not, and to say otherwise is to misrepresent the facts.  Thus we must be obedient even when this requires sacrifices on our part


See Homosexuality and War - Here Does UMAction Stand! for UMAction Response

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