Am I ignoring the earthquake?

A woman stood in her ramshackle hut polishing a brass lamp with a rag, working hard as she could to clean it to a brilliant shine. The only odd thing about this was that her house stood in the midst of ruins. An earthquake had shattered the street itself and brought down houses and shops on every side of her. That her little hovel had somehow stood was remarkable, but cleaning the brass missed the greater calamity.

This little parable comes to mind when I read this post by Ron Belgau.

I had an exchange not long ago with Dean Snyder seeking to understand how his arguments about gay marriage are materially different from the arguments of polygamists. We did not really come to a mutual understanding.

But today I am reminded by Belgau’s post that it is not wise to narrow our attention to only the most pressing issue of the day.

We should look around the neighborhood, as well. We should look because the advocates who shed tears and sometimes hurl names at the church have often correctly noticed that our denomination appears to have come to terms with all manner of heterosexual sexual behaviors that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets did not appear all too happy about.

People who point out these inconsistencies, of course, rarely are advocating that we as a church go back and strive for biblical standards in these areas. The message is more often: “Hey, you are giving the fornicators an easy time. You don’t say much when a man divorces his wife and abandons his kids because he’s gotten tired of being married. Why not treat others the same way?”

For me, at least, this is an important question to deal with. I have more than once asked someone who is advocating for change in the United Methodist Church’s social principles and law to share with me their holistic theology regarding sex. Don’t tell me merely why you think this provision in the Book of Discipline is wrong. Help me understand how your theology speaks to our sex-crazed culture.

It is only fair, of course, to turn that question on myself. Does the status quo of United Methodist teaching on sexuality provide an orthodox and holistic theology about sex? Does it witness to the ills of our world with a gospel answer? Does it speak in a comprehensive way, or is it a divided witness that has already been compromised by accommodation to heterosexual practices that have no basis in Christian holiness? If our only interest was in heterosexual sexual behavior and attitudes, does the current official witness of the church reflect sound Christian theology?

What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Am I ignoring the earthquake?

  1. There are many mornings when I sit on the sunny patio ruminating about what’s really going on in the church, not just the American church, but the global church. Surely we are infested with false prophets. But even when muddled minds and apostasy prevail, we are STILL called to accountability by Jesus Christ. The bar has not been lowered for postmodern times.

    1. Maybe this will cheer you up.
      Go back and reread Matthew 19 7-12.
      Once the apostles question is answered by Christ and the realization they are stuck homed in Christ offers them the only alternative.
      I have a feeling all questions ceased that day.
      No one can tell me Christ did not have a sense of humor.

  2. “Does the status quo of United Methodist teaching on sexuality provide an orthodox and holistic theology about sex? Does it witness to the ills of our world with a gospel answer? Does it speak in a comprehensive way, or is it a divided witness that has already been compromised by accommodation to heterosexual practices that have no basis in Christian holiness?

    Here we go again!
    Back to rehashing and not moving forward.
    The UMC has spoken.
    The Biblical teaching of one man one woman is clearly defined in scripture and if anyone has a problem believing that truth they can read the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the history of the church related to the topic. We can learn how Eunuchs came to be by reading early historians and the early church fathers. We can learn how the early Christians lived and what practices were accepted and rejected. We can read the First Council of Nicæa Canons and see the topic of eunuch was addressed.
    You cannot find the word homosexual in scripture because the word did not exist at that time.
    What you will find is narrative that describes the practices of homosexuals.
    You cannot find the word abortion in scripture because the word abortion did not exist at that time.
    Narrative of the child in the womb does exist in scripture.
    You will not find the word transsexual in scripture but you do find the word “eunuch”, effeminate” and other descriptive words that clear up any misunderstanding.
    The only alternative offered by Christ to marriage is offered in Matthew 19.
    Haven’t these challenges to orthodox historical position been addressed enough?

    So the issue should be settled and the church should move on.

    1. Hey d! There is an alternative. Rather than wait for the UMC to move on maybe it’s time for me to move on! O, wait a minute, that’s just what I did at the direction of God. And I am glad I did. Excuse me while I go fly a kite with George Banks!

    2. But I was not asking to rehash the issue of same-sex relationships. The critique that I am responding to is that the church as a whole sold the farm in the 1960s when we learned how to live in peace with the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce, and other aspects of heterosexual sexuality.

      That is the conversation I was trying to go take a look at.

  3. You are correct. We are ignoring the earthquake.

    Our churches have become stagnant silos due to years of neglect. Poverty is still right outside our doorstep. Schools are failing down the street. Crime is on the rise. Discipleship is a four letter word.

    And we continue to debate sexuality. Both sides would say just do it our way and we will move on. Meanwhile the earthquake continues.

    1. You make the question even bigger than I was trying to.

      Maybe I should have summarized the blog I linked to more.

      The point of that blog was that the church sold the farm on sexuality in the 1960s. I’m wondering if this is a valid critique and if our UMC doctrine reflects the cultural standards or the biblical/Christian standards.

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