This “issue” isn’t going away.

Let me just start by saying that I know I’m not an issue.

It’s the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church that seems to think I am. Wait, no. They don’t think. Exhibit A in their statement calling for charges to be brought against Bishop Melvin Talbert for performing the wedding of a gay couple:

“The Council recognizes the deep divisions and pain in our church over these issues. United Methodists are not of one mind, and followers of Christ and people of conscience hold conflicting views. These issues require continuing honest and respectful conversation as well as prayer throughout the church.” (bolding is mine)

I am a person, a child of God. My gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer brothers and sisters are people, children of God.

And yet we are explicitly referred to as issues in the Council’s statement. Issues are things that can be pushed to the side, can be ignored, can be buried and left alone. People can’t be. People are living, breathing creatures who exist, who have feelings, who love and are loved.

It’s much easier to brush “issues” aside, so maybe that’s why they chose that word. Issues don’t talk back. Issues don’t fight back. I don’t know if that’s why they used the word “issues”. I’m thankfully not in their heads.

What I do know is that no matter what you call me, Council of Bishops, I am not going away. I was born into the United Methodist Church. My father has served the United Methodist Church for over 40 years – first as a consecrated Diaconal Minister and then as an ordained Deacon. Church, particularly the United Methodist Church, has always been an integral part of my being.

Yes, I left for a while. I needed to wander and play in the Episcopal Church for a while. But I made the choice to come back to the United Methodist Church. Even after a brief job with one didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, one of which centering around this “issue”, though not my sexuality directly but over my refusal to condemn it in favor of trying to make the group a safe space for any young person who came through the doors.

I got the Book of Discipline thrown in my face. That lovely (yes, that’s sarcasm) bit about how we “issues” (I’m inserting that word now, it’s not actually present in the Discipline, at least not here) are children of God (See Council?? that Discipline you’re so wedded to? IT knows that we’re people and children of God!! Why can’t you see that??) but that our behavior is “incompatible with Christian teaching”. I should point out in fairness that at this point I was not out even to myself – I still saw myself as essentially asexual. And I left again.

But I came back.

I came back because I know there is a glimmer of hope. Through my father, who never once did anything but love me for my entire life, even when I came out to him, I learned of the Reconciling Ministries Network. I learned that there are people in the United Methodist Church who DO believe in equality for all. Who remember that our baptismal covenant says this:

“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?”

Want to read that again Council of Bishops?

“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?”

In our baptismal covenant, we pledge to RESIST INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION!!!!!

And yet you call the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered people, and queer people ISSUES??? You call for trials of bishops and ministers who choose to embody the vows of the Baptismal Covenant? Vows that we repeat and are reminded of every time there is a baptism??

Am I wrong in thinking that the Baptismal Covenant should outrank the Discipline?

Did you ever think that maybe the Discipline is a form of oppression?

There are a lot of us who do see it that way – who do see the Discipline as a form of oppression and who are choosing to actively resist it. “Issues” as you would call us who aren’t going away. We are people. We are children of God. We are United Methodists. And we’re not going away.

As painful as it may be to stay and fight, it’s only through fighting that any change will happen. If we all left, nothing will ever change.

No one ever said resisting oppression would be easy.

But speaking for myself, this “issue” is going nowhere. I’m in it for the good fight, no matter how long it takes. I for one, meant it when I promised on Pride Sunday to “accept the freedom and power God gives [me] to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves”. And if you’re the oppression, I WILL resist you.

I made a promise. And when I make a promise, I never, EVER break that promise.

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7 thoughts on “This “issue” isn’t going away.

  1. Great post! Being raised Catholic where pedophile priests are more welcome that those of us with “issues” juts leaves me shaking my head. It will be interesting to see what happens with Pope Francis but as long as people like Cardinal Dolan are still in place I don’t have much hope. Good thing people like him don’t control my faith.

  2. Beth, Mom and I are so very proud of you and your statement! We love you and are so very happy that you’re back in the United Methodist Church to join us and many others in righting this wrong. Love, Dad

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