No truce in the house divided

Hoosier pastor Kent Millard has proposed a truce within the denomination on the issue of homosexuality.

His basic point is that after 40 years of fighting over the issue neither side has won and it distracts from putting the denomination’s energy into feeding hungry children and eliminating malaria and AIDS.

I was not surprised to see that the third comment on the UM Portal Facebook update about Millard’s article invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” implying that calls for a truce are the moral equivalent of telling MLK to stop stirring up so much trouble in the South.

Millard may not have helped his case by saying the truce would be temporary, meaning once we have eliminated all poverty and disease then we could turn back to fighting over the issue of homosexuality. He has either a curious definition of the word “temporary” or an uncommon confidence in the ability of the United Methodist Church to bring about the apocalypse.

I don’t know whether Millard is a lectionary preacher, but I find it a bit ironic that his call for a truce comes the week the lectionary gives us Jesus saying he has not come to bring peace, but division.

Division we have. That must mean Jesus is here, I suppose. I hope so. We surely need him.

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4 thoughts on “No truce in the house divided

  1. Oddly I was reading “Restoring Methodism” by the Scotts and noticed that they also called for a “moving-on” from the polarized church politics and wanted to get back to the big issues. MLK applies here too.

    The problem is that to some people, accepting the status quo is also not biblical, ethical, or humane. Thus the conflict persists until the Holy Spirit guides our hearts out of this mess and onto the next one.

  2. I love the UMC, but 40 years is getting to be ridiculous. A truce does not solve anything in the long term. As painful as it might be in the short term, I am coming around to the idea of amicable separation.

  3. @Jeremy: I’d argue “ethical and humane” have no meaning for Christians outside of “biblical,” but I follow your point.

    @Larry: I’m not sold on the idea of holding on to United Methodism for the sake of United Methodism, but I’m not persuaded that a split will solve any real problems. Our real problems are lack of holiness, zeal, and fruit. I don’t see how a split helps us in any of these areas above and beyond what could be done without a split. I may be wrong.

    1. On the one hand, I agree with you about what we lack. On the other hand, there are significant differences of opinion within the UMC on those very things. If you cannot fundamentally agree on what constitutes holiness (and what is incompatible with holiness), or what to be zealous about, or what fruitfulness looks like, then good luck getting very far. A truce doesn’t resolve those questions. A separation at least allows people of like minds about what those things mean to move ahead rather than rehash a 40 year old fight. An imperfect solution? Absolutely – I believe such a “solution” pains the Lord, but I don’t see any other way around this impasse. With a truce, I think we still end up being de facto two separate denominations sharing in some good causes, a vision for the church that must also equally pain the Lord.

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