Acknowledging Our Differences

Jenny, Liz, and I are still on vacation, and I don’t yet want to wade too deeply into the issue of same-sex marriage in general or the supreme court’s decision in particular. However, I saw an article that I very much want to respond to. The article in question appeared in The Week and was written by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. The title was: “Why Christians are so upset about same-sex marriage” and the title was an accurate summary of the article. Both the title and the article are wrong in that they fail to acknowledge that not all Christians are upset about same-sex marriage. Some Christians are upset, but other Christians are rejoicing. Abilene First UMC contains people in both groups. While I fall squarely in the subset of Christians who are rejoicing, it would never occur to me to imply that all Christians are responding in one way or another (and by logical extension that those who are not responding in that manner are not Christians). I simply know too many faithful and devout Christians who disagree with me.

Some of the petitions going to General Conference in 2016 acknowledge the readily verifiable fact that United Methodists are not of one mind on the subject of homosexuality. Such an acknowledgment is an honest place to start and a necessary first step to keeping United Methodists united as we work our way through this issue. It is out of line with the Christian virtues of humility and modesty to suggest that “our side” (whichever side that may be) speaks for the whole church.

On a personal and professional note: As the pastor of a church where my parishioners are not of one mind, it (the frank acknowledgment that Christians are not of one mind on this issue) is a necessary first step that I might serve as a shepherd to the entire congregation. I want to be a pastor to everyone who is part of First UMC, not just those who agree with me. Today I rejoice with those who rejoice, but those faithful and devout Christians who weep have my sympathy.