This past week Jenny and I were at the Great Plains Conference Orders Meeting in Leawood, Kansas. The bishop addressed the current controversies (plural) concerning the issue of homosexuality in this speech. I understand and support the bishop’s desire to uphold United Methodist Doctrine and Polity, but on the issue of homosexuality I find myself disagreeing with the church’s official position. I have no intention to leave the church, and I do not intend to violate The Book of Discipline, but I will voice my disagreement through the institutional channels that are available to me.
Why do I stay? Because I believe the United Methodist Church has gotten the matters at the heart of the gospel correct. We combine an emphasis on the preeminence of God’s great love and God’s desire for social and personal holiness in a way that no other church does. When it comes to the core of the gospel message, I believe we are closer to the truth than any other church (and I would trust that members and clergy of other denominations feel the same way about their churches). I can’t think of another significant theological or doctrinal issue where I disagree with the church’s official position (actually I can’t think of any other disagreements period, but I’m pretty sure there are some out there somewhere).
I could write a lengthy post on why I stay, but Rev. Jeremy Smith has already laid out many of my arguments in an excellent post arguing against schism. He’s making what he calls “a progressive argument” against splitting the UMC in two (which is what happens when a whole bunch of people leave a denomination at once). But if his perspective is reversed, the same lines of reasoning become a conservative argument against schism. I encourage you to take the time to read it.