Reclaiming Words for Love and Justice: Confessing, Orthodox, Sin, Good News


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.

About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Reclaiming Words for Love and Justice: Confessing, Orthodox, Sin, Good News

  1. Excellent article, thanks for sharing, Mark.
    Let us also reclaim “Wesleyan”. There is absolutely no discrimination, bigotry, hatred or homophobia in the theology of John Wesley. Christian Perfection, Perfect Love, the Gospel of Grace is about loving God and Loving each other… “As I have loved you”.

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