It is time for United Methodists who believe in open hearts, open minds, and open doors to reclaim some words and phrases. Here are some examples:
First, “Good News” – Really Good News is that we are called to love ALL and to treat all people equally and with justice. It is not good news to treat people unequally who have done nothing wrong.
Second, “Orthodox” – literal definition is “right opinion.” Traditional beliefs or opinions are not always right beliefs or opinions, and traditionalists do not have a monopoly on right belief or right opinion. You cannot justifiably call your views about not treating people equally “orthodox” or “right opinion” just because that is the traditionalist view. If that were the case, treating women as less than equal in society and having slaves would also be orthodox views, but we have hopefully come to realize that it is neither “right opinion” nor “right belief” to do so.
The Good News movement in United Methodism is not Good News just because they use the words “good news,” and United Methodists who call themselves “orthodox” are not necessarily of the “right opinion” or “right belief” just because they are traditionalists.
Third, “Sin” – The use of the word “sin” in reference to a person or an action that does no harm moves the term “sin” into the realm of functional irrelevance. One’s sexual orientation is not a sin because it does no harm. Blessing the marriage of a same-sex couple is not a sin because it does no harm. Marrying a person who is of the same-sex is not a sin because it does no harm. Ordaining persons who are GLBTQ is not a sin because it does no harm. Rejecting, condemning, and judging persons who are GLBTQ is a sin because it does great harm. Putting ministers on trial for performing same-sex marriages is a sin because it does harm to both the minister and persons who are GLBTQ who experience the non-acceptance and judgment of the church through these unjust actions.
Finally, “Confessing” – It is time for a new Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church to share the Good News that love, justice, and acceptance are for all and not just for persons who happen to be heterosexual in their sexual orientation. I must confess that is really good news! Confession is necessary in the United Methodist Church, but I would suggest it come in this form: let us confess that judgment and exclusion are neither good news nor orthodox, but rather sin. Our response should be “repentance” – another good word to reclaim.
The great challenges of the world require so much from all of us, including those of us who are members of the United Methodist Church. It is our moral responsibility not to perpetuate the unequal treatment of those who have done no wrong. May we all experience love and justice, grace and peace.
Note: Two words I neither want to reclaim nor revisit: “church trials.” To hell with them.