WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Two homosexual men in North Carolina have filed a complaint against their United Methodist minister for refusing to “marry” them, stating that he has failed “to perform the work of the ministry”.Now, at first glance, this article might have you thinking, ‘Here we go – they said they wouldn’t force churches to perform homosexual marriages, and now we see they were lying’.
And the phrase ‘work of the ministry’ brings to mind that the United Methodist Church has some sort of mandate within their constitution which orders their ministers to perform such things.
Well, the UMC’s Book of Discipline is pretty clear on the subject:
The United Methodist Book of Discipline outlines that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination.*It also forbids ministers from hosting or participating in “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.”If this is the case, the couple has no leg to stand on: the church makes it clear there will be no homosexual ‘marriage’ celebrated within the church.
There’s just one problem: the pastor has violated these rules before; the question is, why is he so concerned about following them now?
How’d he break the rules? Well, by allowing one of the men of the couple to occupy ‘“the current chair of the Leadership Council”’; by allowing that same man to lead their ‘praise and worship portion of the service’, and by allowing the couple to become ‘engaged’ before the congregation ‘during a Sunday service’.
At least three times this pastor has flouted the rules. At least three times he has celebrated homosexuality –and make no mistake, allowing an openly-active homosexual (read that as an openly unrepentant and unregenerate sinner) positions of power, influence, and importance within the church hierarchy is celebration. It is also ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’.
So, why is he balking now? I mean, he admits that ‘If there was any way for me to be a co-signer with the complaint, [I would]’. But he ‘declined to officiate the ceremony because he feared the consequences’.
What consequences? He’s broken the rules at least three times now, and in my opinion, it strains credulity that the United Methodist home-office is unaware of this. If they haven’t punished him yet, why in the world would he think they’d punish him now? That horse is our of the barn; it’s too late the close the doors now.
Preachers and pastors, it seems, have strayed from the idea that they do not get to pick and choose which rules out of their denominational or individual church’s Rule Books they will and won’t obey. And this makes perfect sense, because Christians on the whole have strayed far from the idea that our Rule Book – the Bible – is also not up for picking and choosing. If you’re a pastor or preacher, you follow the rules; if you’re a Christian, you follow the rules. Of course, there will be times we louse that up, but thank God we’ve got a God who is longsuffering.