Giving Up the Discriminatory Clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline

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For Lent I am going to continue giving up the discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline that judge and marginalize my siblings who are LGBTQIA+. During Lent, as I have before Lent and as I will after Lent, I am going to live and love and be in ministry as if those discriminatory clauses do not exist. I will not treat my LGBTQIA+ siblings any differently on any matter than I do my cisgender hetero siblings. We are all family, we are all in community, we are all beloved children of God, we are all of sacred worth, we all deserve to be married by our ministers within our church communities and within our church buildings, and we all deserve not to be barred from full participation in the life and ministry of our churches simply owing to our sexual orientation or gender identity.

During Lent and beyond, I affirm openly that we are all sinners, but that has nothing to do with our sexual orientations or gender identities. Our sin has everything to do with our willingness to harm others. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline harm others who do no harm. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline are therefore the product of human sin. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline replicate the sin of Sodom, the sin of lack of hospitality in community. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline were born out of fear and are often expressed through hate. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline do not represent the way of love, grace, and justice in our world. The discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline have been given the status of law, but in their injustice they are no laws at all.

During Lent and after Lent, I will do penance for any time I may have knowingly or unknowingly treated people differently because of my fear of the consequences of living fully into a renunciation and rejection of these discriminatory clauses. During Lent and after Lent, I will repent from any vestiges of sinful adherence to these discriminatory clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. During Lent and beyond, I will reaffirm my Wesleyan and Christian commitment to do no harm, and I will reaffirm my baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves – even when, especially when, they present themselves in the pronouncements, policies, and practices of my own church.

The United Methodist Church’s fetish for exclusion has distracted us from recognizing that the whole creation is groaning in travail. In a world of injustice, poverty, war and violence, destruction of creation, and climate change that is hurling us towards an unlivable climate; we do not have time to be bound by discriminatory proclamations and practices that perpetuate fear, injustice, despair, and division in a world that so desperately needs love, justice, hope, and community.

If my rejection of the sinful discriminatory clauses of the United Methodist Book of Discipline prompts my denomination to reject me and cast me out from ordained ministry within the walls of the United Methodist Church, so be it. I would rather be excluded for including than be included for excluding, and as John Wesley affirmed when the church of his time worked to put constraints on his ministry, the world is our parish anyway.

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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5 Responses to Giving Up the Discriminatory Clauses in the United Methodist Book of Discipline

  1. Debra Drew says:

    Thank you! May all clergy and lay people follow your lead!

  2. Scott Spencer says:

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR WITNESS

  3. Janet Boone says:

    I thank you, Mark, for your voice for justice for all of God’s children

  4. LoisAndersonAmos says:

    Very well said! Thanks for saying what needed to be said.

  5. Trina Bose North says:

    Thank you. This sounds like the work of Lent. Dear God, may Easter come!

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