I feel compelled to comment on the article by William McElvaney (March 2 Reporter) concerning the church’s stance toward homosexuality.
The UM Social Principles are quoted as saying that “the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” As a child of a Jewish mother in Nazi Germany, I know something about prejudice and exclusiveness. Within weeks of coming to power, the Nazis were operating their first concentration camp at Dachau, rounding up homosexuals, gypsies/Roma, mentally handicapped and clergy. Of these, only the clergy could change their so-called orientation to gain their freedom. All others, due to an accident of birth, could not. Certainly homosexuality was not chosen as “a practice.”
To justify attitudes within the church through use of phrases like “incompatibility with Christian teaching” is to follow common social misconceptions and prejudices rather than to follow the teachings of our Lord and to embrace the basic two commandments he left us. To point to Paul’s teachings to justify the church’s position is to overlook the theology and to lean on his own social agenda, shaped by his own cultural milieu.
In matters regarding acceptance, I would hope that the Methodist Church can lead, to include and embrace, to heal and to promote Christian love for all.
Member, FUMC Denton, Texas
This is background for Bill McElvaney’s argument on behalf of those he identifies as GLBT. He contends that an unknown number of persons have been and continue to be harmed by language that entered the United Methodist Social Principles in 1972.
The words “we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching” were part of a report presented to the 1972 General Conference.
The 25-member Study Group on Social Principles was chaired by Bishop James S. Thomas, one of the kindest, most compassionate persons ever to occupy the Methodist episcopacy. The study group held several listening sessions, one at what was then my family’s home church, FUMC of Park Ridge, Ill., best known as the home church of ordinand Hillary Rodham.
One member of the study group was a United Methodist Publishing House journalist colleague of mine. He told me that the group spent more time over the words “incompatible with Christian teaching” than on any other portion of the report’s approximately 10,000 words. Some members, he said, wanted even tougher language. Some wanted nothing.
But my friend noted that the phrase’s imprecision was not so much a compromise as a guarantee to create conflict, uncertainty and confusion. And so it is.
Member, Highland Park UMC (Cox Chapel)