Doing Harm in the United Methodist Church

Anytime I hear traditionalists say that everyone in the United Methodist Church is being harmed by our divisions over the acceptance and affirmation of persons who are LGBTQIA+, I have to ask:

How many United Methodists have been bullied for their heterosexuality or for being cisgender?

How many cisgender heterosexual United Methodists are homeless because their parents have rejected them because of their sexual or gender orientation?

How many cisgender heterosexual United Methodists have been denied marriage and ordination in their church because of their sexual or gender orientation?

How many cisgender heterosexual United Methodists have harmed themselves or taken their own lives because they have been rejected by their families, peers, and a church they thought loved them because of their sexual and gender orientation?

How many cisgender heterosexual United Methodist ministers have been put on trial by their church because of their sexual and gender orientation?

If we United Methodists really take seriously that we are to do no harm, at the very least we must stop equating the harm that cisgender heterosexual traditionalist United Methodists think that they are experiencing with the immense harm and death experienced by our LGBTQIA+ siblings because of the United Methodist Church’s refusal to fully include and affirm all persons.

Let’s be clear, persons who are LGBTQIA+ do not commit suicide at a higher rate because they are LGBTQIA+. They commit suicide at a higher rate because they are bullied, mistreated, and rejected by persons who they hoped would love them but whose words and actions are anything but loving. Persons who are LGBTQIA+ are not homeless at a higher rate because they are LGBTQIA+. They are homeless at a higher rate because they have been kicked out of their families’ homes and not welcomed and affirmed in their church homes. LGBTQ+ suicide rates and homelessness rates are not owing to any sin by persons who are LGBTQIA+, they are caused by the sins of those who are treating them like shit rather than welcoming them as family and as full members of the Beloved Community.

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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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