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Homosexuality and War - Here Does UMAction Stand?

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

by D. Stephen Long


From: Mark D. Tooley mtooley@ird-renew.org
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2001 11:51 AM
To: 'D. Stephen Long'

Thanks for your note.

By "official stance," we were of course referring to the language added to the Social Principles at the 2000 General Conference. This language acknowledges that most Christians believe war is justified in some circumstances such as aggression, genocide and tyranny. I agree that the Social Principles are not doctrine, thank goodness. But they are "official" stances of our denomination, for better or worse. So too is the Book of Resolutions, as awful as it is.

The EUB Confession of Faith states that "war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ." I agree that war and bloodshed will not exist in the consummated Kingdom of God and were certainly not part of God's original plan for His creation. However, both the Apostles Paul and Peter acknowledged the civil authority's responsibility to wield the sword in defense of order. If the EUB confession were at odds with the Scriptures, which gets higher authority? However, I do not believe there is a contradiction. Christ warned that he who lives by the sword dies by it. Yet he never admonished soldiers to abandon their profession when he met them. Opposing war as a way of life or a routine matter of policy is not the same thing as saying war, even defensive war, is forbidden is all circumstances. Just as Christ never expressed absolute opposition to all war when waged by just authority, as confirmed by at least two of His apostles, neither do I think the EUB confession is a sweeping rejection of all military efforts.

The same confession says that "as Christians we recognize the governments under whose protection we reside..." What does "protection" mean here? Protection implies law and order, upheld by police and military forces. What else could it mean? It is also important to note that John Wesley subscribed to historic just war teachings, though he never wrote extensively about it. What else is the United Methodist Church if it is not Wesleyan?!!!

I oppose homosexual practice not simply because it is the current stance of my denomination but because it is forbidden by God's Word. Likewise, I believe in the just war tradition because I believe it is based on Scripture. The Wesleyan movement has never, as a whole, rejected war under all circumstances. Neither does our current Discipline, including the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith that you cite. I hardly think that just war teaching implies adherence to the Republican Party! Wasn't there only one dissenting vote in the U.S. Congress in their vote to authorize the current war against terrorism? And weren't World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War all waged by Democratic presidents with support from Democratic-controlled Congresses?

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