Read: Ephesians 4:1-3
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Most of you know that the United Methodist Church has been discussing, debating, arguing, and fighting over LGBTQ issues (30+ years). Other denominations have done so also, (Presbyterian, Episcopal, ELCA Lutheran, UCC, etc.). This May General Conference will consider allowing the UMC to split. It’s happened before: years before the Civil War the Methodist split North/South over slavery. The North claimed that slavery was evil and unChrist-like. The South claimed that there was nothing in the Bible that prohibited slavery. Both sides were right. It was an ugly fight and the Methodist split. Years after the Civil War the Methodists, North and South, reconciled and the church came together again.
Many see parallels between the church’s struggle over slavery, and its current struggle over sexuality issues. It is possible that the church will decide to split once again. For years it was my belief that disagreement on these issues didn’t justify a split, that there is room for Christians to disagree and remain in fellowship together, as we have with other social issues. I may have been wrong about that.
It is disappointing that many of God’s people aren’t even willing to listen to one another. I believe that Christ’s church can and should model for the world, how people who hold different opinions can respectfully listen and discuss things without digressing into name-calling, judging, rejection, and accusation. That hope is shared by many. It was John Wesley who coined the phrase, “let us agree to disagree”.
The UMC has published a book that some churches are using to help people listen, learn and discuss these issues. It is written by people on both sides of the issues, to cover the perspectives in a fair way. The book is “Living Faithfully”, and we have 6 copies in the Church Office. If you would like to learn more I encourage you to check out a copy. It may help you know why you believe what you believe, and it will help you understand those with whom you disagree. The book is designed to promote respectful dialogue – that’s how it should be in Christ’s church.
Pastor Rob Nystrom