Why Gay Couple Barred from Leading Worship Will Keep Singing with Hillsong Church | Sojourners


Story for me high highlights distinction United Methodist doctrine tries to make. These two men support and care for each other but do not engage in sexual activity. By our doctrine, as I understand it, they are doing what we ask of all unmarried people.


14 thoughts on “Why Gay Couple Barred from Leading Worship Will Keep Singing with Hillsong Church | Sojourners

  1. Do you agree with them being asked to step out of their leadership positions? If we asked all ‘sinners’ to step down, we’d have nobody to serve.
    What they don’t address: what will happen when they do eventually get married?

    1. If a man had a knife in his hand and said he was going to kill his neighbor, do you wait until he actually kills his neighbor before doing something about it? There are three types of sinners in this world. Those who sin unknowingly. Those who sin, but daily strive to be obedient to the Word of God and live in a posture of repentance and humility. And those who knowingly sin against God and have chosen to continue in that sin in a posture of rebellion and pride. The later group should be removed from any form of leadership immediately. Would you agree?

  2. I think the fact that these two men do NOT engage in sexual activity QUALIFIES them to serve in church or worship leadership. Celibacy in singleness is the UMC standard. When they choose to engage in homosexual sex, then they should be asked to step back from church leadership. Participation in church activities and worship should remain open. Sexual orientation is NOT at issue, but sexual BEHAVIOR is.

    1. The fact that these two men do not engage in sexual activity qualifies them? But that would mean Peter and even Jesus got it all wrong. Right? Haven’t we been warned about such as would say and teach these things. I would encourage you to read and study and meditate on 2Peter 2:1-3. I would have thought the standard for UMC would have lined up a bit more to God’s standard.

      1. No, they are not qualified because of their celibacy. Other talents and gifts may qualify them to serve. However, people who show no regard for United Methodist /Christian sexual standards should be disqualified from leadership in the church.

  3. There are two institutions in this world created by God. The family and the Church. These are our tangible portions of the Kingdom of God on earth. If you were the enemy of God what would you attack?

    “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 2:1-3

    The word “heresies” here means “to choose” in Greek. It carries the understanding that when people decide they will believe in a false doctrine it is by their own free will. Generally, there is a conflict in their heart with the true word of God…something they do not wish to conform to. This opens them up spiritually to deception, because deep down they are seeking a way to avoid coming under the complete authority of God and His Word. This applies to the leaders as well as their followers.

    In describing the leaders, Peter tells us that “by covetousness they will exploit you,” and this phrase contains a Greek word that has a special meaning.
    The word used here is “pleonexia”, and it means more than covetousness. It means “evil ambition,” or “the desire to have more.” It is by no means always a sin to desire more; there are many cases in which this desire can be honorable. We should desire more knowledge and wisdom. However, pleonexia means the desire to possess that which no man has the right to desire, much less take. It is an unholy ambition which desires to not only have what other people have, but also exploit them both in the lustful sense, and in the sense that they may be controlled.

    Peter says the method of false teaching is deceptive words, which could also be translated as “cunningly forged arguments.”

    1. If the sin, though, is a specific sexual act, then where is the sin in two men (or two women or a man and woman) sharing a domestic relationship that is non-sexual? The old play/TV Show the Odd Couple was surely not an arrangement the church would condemn. Sharing a home and sharing a bed are different things, yes?

      If we have no reason to believe they are lying about being celibate, how are they in a state of sin?

      Is it merely the intention to one day marry that does it for you?

      1. We know from scripture that sins can be committed both in our minds and by our actions. God tells us in the gospel of Matthew that we can sin in our minds: for example by being angry with someone or by lusting after someone.

        “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court . . . “ Matthew 5:21-22

        Here we are told that a person can commit the sin of murder both by action and by being angry. God restates this truth in the following passage,….”You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

        Personally I have discovered by these words is that a person can sin by giving in to an inner emotion or passion and then dwelling on that emotion or passion. James 1:14-15 tells us that sin does not occur until we have decided to give in to our internal feelings.

        But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15

        James reveals that sin does not occur when the emotion, thought, or passion first comes. But if those thoughts are not resisted, then sin occurs when we give in to the emotion, thought, or passion by dwelling on it. Also, once we have given in to our feelings by acting on them, we have sinned. Is this not Jesus’ message in the following verse.

        “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. Matthew 15:18-19

        Therefore, a person sins by dwelling on something that God has told us to avoid. When we sin on the outside we demonstrate to God, to others, and to ourselves that we have already sinned on the inside. God has asked us to resist the temptation to sin by fleeing from it. We are not supposed to see how close we can come without sinning. Fleeing starts with avoiding thoughts about the sin.

  4. I would even present to you John Wesley’s notes concerning the above scriptures.

    2 Peter 2:1
    “But there were false prophets also – As well as true. Among the people – Of Israel. Those that spake even the truth, when God had not sent them; and also those that were truly sent of him, and yet corrupted or softened their message, were false prophets. As there shall be false – As well as true. Teachers among you, who will privately briny in – Into the church. Destructive heresies – They first, by denying the Lord, introduced destructive heresies, that is, divisions; or they occasioned first these divisions, and then were given up to a reprobate mind, even to deny the Lord that bought them. Either the heresies are the effect of denying the Lord, or the denying the Lord was the consequence of the heresies. Even denying – Both by their doctrine and their works. The Lord that bought them – With his own blood. Yet these very men perish everlastingly. Therefore Christ bought even them that perish.

    2 Peter 2:2
    “The way of truth will be evil spoken of – By those who blend all false and true Christians together.”

    2 Peter 2:3
    “They will make merchandise of you – Only use you to gain by you, as merchants do their wares. Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not – Was long ago determined, and will be executed speedily. All sinners are adjudged to destruction; and God’s punishing some proves he will punish the rest.”

  5. Badminton can be amusing, chasing the shuttlecock, back and forth over the net. So it is in postmodern Methodist debates. It pivots of exegetical nuances. But John’s earlier post featuring N.T. Wright (Did you watch all of it?) suggests a different angle for thinking about this; that is, to examine the presuppositions that entangle our worldviews. Tom Wright says this is God’s creation and the best outcome for human flourishing is to reflect to others the New Creation (not self-creation).

    1. I did listen to it. I’ve been wrestling with whether I thought Wright’s general approach made sense given his audience … but that’s a topic for another day.

      Do I think God’s fulfilled creation includes anal sex? No. But could it include two men sharing an apartment in the New New York City? Sure it could. In this fifth act (to use Wright’s terms), we are almost always working with a mix of the earthly and the heavenly.

      I guess to me the question is ultimately pastoral. If our goal is to have these two men end up in the kingdom of heaven, do we do that best at this point and with them by affirming the choice to remain celibate or by saying the intention to marry bars them from leadership?

      Obviously, I can’t answer that since I don’t know these men or the setting at all. But I am trying to work out the implications of our UM doctrine which clearly separates condemnation for temptations and attractions from condemnation for actions.

      As always, I appreciate your contributions.

  6. It is hard to argue about a specific case with only a cursory set of facts provided by one story. Nonetheless, I see a difference between what is prudent and what is sinful. I would certainly urge people to flee from situations where they are likely to be overwhelmed by temptations. I think that is wise and prudent. And perhaps in the case of worship leaders you can argue that setting a bad example on the prudential side is a reason to remove them, although I’d want to have a long talk about that and see if we are being consistent in how we deal with that. Being a “disorderly walker” — to use a Wesleyan phrase — was almost always tied to acts not temptations.

    I think the call to holiness is a call to celibacy in singleness.

    As I’ve been in dialogue with you about this, I do soften on the issue of whether the worship leader should have been asked to step down. The engagement does signal a clear intent. If a worship leader confided in a pastor that he was planning on committing adultery, but was waiting until the time was right to do so, I would certainly have problems with that person remaining in leadership.

    And yet, I am not naive enough to think that any church has a leadership that does not fight temptations of one sort or another. And, just to put some teeth in this, I’ve heard more than one pastor display in sermons and in private conduct a strong attachment to money and seeking after wealth. If we live in a culture that glorifies sex — and we do — we certainly also live in a culture that glorifies wealth and money, and yet many clergy and other church leadership cozy right up next to those temptations with nary a word about breaking the 10th Commandment disqualifying someone from leadership.

    I’m not suggesting Duane or Gary would excuse that behavior, either. I just am working through why I am more concerned about actual, active sins more than proposed or future ones. I’d love to be in a church where contemplated sin was the biggest issue we had.

    I appreciate the engagement.

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