The body of Christ includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons. All around the world, and throughout the course of history, the church has baptized queer babies, raised them in the faith, and relied on their many gifts, skills, talents, resources, and passion as it has sought to be food for the world. Today is no different.
We are bishops, we are clergy, we are laypersons.
We are musicians, we are church administrators, and we are missionaries. We teach your children and we are your children. We are your siblings and we are your parents, your neighbors and your friends. We are the body of Christ as sure as Christ Jesus is raised from the dead.
Despite this fact, The United Methodist Church (The UMC) is the only mainline protestant denomination in the US that has failed to dismantle anachronistic policies that continue to harm the bodies, minds, and spirits of LGBTQ persons and their allies.
And yet, a movement of Biblical Obedience is being brought to term within the body of Christ at last. More United Methodists and persons of faith than ever before have heard the clarion call of Biblical Obedience and devoted themselves more faithfully to ministry with and for LGBTQ persons—refusing to honor policies that fail to acknowledge the LGBTQ face of the body of Christ. United Methodists are heeding the call to marry qualified persons of the same sex, to support and ordain LGBTQ candidates for ministry, and to do so knowing that, as St. Augustine once said, “an unjust law is no law at all.”
The Connectional Table of The UMC exists to cast a vision for the church as well as to steward resources for the implementation of such a vision.
As The UMC prepares to gather in 2016 for General Conference, the global denomination’s top lawmaking body, The Connectional Table recently overwhelmingly affirmed a legislative proposal called “A Third Way.”
The proposal grants clergy the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to marry persons of the same sex, ends church trials for clergy who do so, and allows each Annual Conference of the global church to determine LGBTQ suitability for ordination.
As a compromise, “A Third Way” would result in de facto segregation since The UMC’s dispute around the fate of LGBTQ persons is, generally speaking, regionally defined. So, even as it reflects movement toward inclusion, the proposal retains a discriminatory stance against LGBTQ persons and therefore cannot be the end of the story if Christ is to be the author. It is at best an indicator, alongside so many other events over the last few years, that God has already settled this matter.
God’s justice will be born among us—an uncompromised celebration of LGBTQ persons everywhere.
As the prophetic imagination continues to grow, as Biblical Obedience is brought to term, as more and more United Methodists discern the body, and as the church moves inexorably toward the General Conference in 2016, Reconciling Ministries Network calls the whole church to grow into the full stature of Christ and to end the ongoing harm committed against LGBTQ members of the body of Christ—for we know how this story ends.
It is a story inscribed into the wounds of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer persons who have endured the labor pains of exclusion, discrimination, and oppression; and, it is a story, gloriously inscribed onto the resurrected body of Christ —yesterday, today, and forever—alpha and omega—beginning and end.