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Devilish Logic for the Scripturally Ignorant

The Case for UM Pastoral Disobedience

Excerpts from this opinion writing:

The Beth Stroud case: What would Jesus do?


January 3, 2005

I applaud the decision by the Rev. Beth Stroud of Germantown to appeal her recent defrocking as a minister of the United Methodist Church on the grounds that she is a practicing lesbian.

Isn't Christianity supposed to be about Jesus' message of tolerance, acceptance, loving thy neighbor and forgiving one's sins?

As times change, our social and cultural institutions evolve as well. These include our established religious rules and practices. Prior to changes that took place in the 1960s and thereafter, many of our churches were racially segregated, rules regarding divorce and remarriage within many denominations were strict and impractical, and the Catholic Church and some other Christian sects required women to cover their heads in church.

Today, women serve as pastors at many churches, worshippers can attend services dressed in casual attire, and most clergy will not think twice about officiating at a biracial wedding ceremony. Only the most narrow-minded of conservatives would deny that these changes have made the world a nicer place and made church life more inviting.

A church certainly has every right to set its own internal standards and define the rules that will govern its members. However, this is the 21st century, and a church cannot remain strong in today's society, nor capture the imagination of the next generation, if it clings to repressive, outmoded customs, especially when those practices fly in the face of the true meaning of Christianity.

At a press conference following the decision to remove Stroud from the ministry, Rev. Fred Day of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown shared a remark allegedly made to him by presiding Judge Bishop Joseph H. Yokel: "The day will come when the church will apologize to Beth for this decision."

I look forward to the day when we hear that apology. The United Methodist Church, and society at large, will be better for it.

Mary Shaw is a [Philadelphia] writer and activist. E-mail mary@maryshawonline.com


. . . but, God said:

The below New Testament verses are from the Contemporary English Version

Some godless people have sneaked in among us and are saying, "God treats us much better than we deserve, and so it is all right to be immoral." But these people insult powers they don't know anything about. They are like senseless animals that end up getting destroyed, because they live only by their feelings. These people grumble and complain and live by their own selfish desires. They brag about themselves and flatter others to get what they want.

[2 Corinthians 11]
But now I fear that you will be tricked, just as Eve was tricked by that lying snake. Anyway, they are no more than false apostles and dishonest workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for Satan's servants to pretend to do what is right?

[2 Peter 2]
Sometimes false prophets spoke to the people of Israel. False teachers will also sneak in and speak harmful lies to you. But these teachers don't really belong to the Master who paid a great price for them, and they will quickly destroy themselves. Many people will follow their evil ways and cause others to tell lies about the true way. They will be greedy and cheat you with smooth talk.

They think it is fun to have wild parties during the day. They are immoral, and the meals they eat with you are spoiled by the shameful and selfish way they carry on. All they think about is having sex with someone else's husband or wife. There is no end to their wicked deeds. They trick people who are easily fooled, and their minds are filled with greedy thoughts. But they are headed for trouble!

They brag out loud about their stupid nonsense. And by being vulgar and crude, they trap people who have barely escaped from living the wrong kind of life. They promise freedom to everyone. But they are merely slaves of filthy living, because people are slaves of whatever controls them.

When they learned about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they escaped from the filthy things of this world. But they are again caught up and controlled by these filthy things, and now they are in worse shape than they were at first. They would have been better off if they had never known about the right way. Even after they knew what was right, they turned their backs on the holy commandments that they were given.

This is also what our dear friend Paul said when he wrote you with the wisdom that God had given him. Paul talks about these same things in all his letters, but part of what he says is hard to understand. Some ignorant and unsteady people even destroy themselves by twisting what he said. They do the same thing with other Scriptures too.

My dear friends, you have been warned ahead of time! So don't let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.

[Romans 16]
My friends, I beg you to watch out for anyone who causes trouble and divides the church by refusing to do what all of you were taught. Stay away from them! They want to serve themselves and not Christ the Lord. Their flattery and fancy talk fool people who don't know any better.


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