When I was in college in 2000, General Conference had a heated debate over the homosexuality issue. I read about it in the local secular newspaper. As I sat at the kitchen table staring that newspaper article, I said to my mother, "Mom, I cannot be United Methodist anymore. It is not a decision, really. It is just a reality. THIS is not me." My mom said, "But if you leave The United Methodist Church, who will be left to give your voice?" I thought a lot about that. If I left, the denomination would still be called "church" before the world, and the world would associate it and its positions strongly with Christ, whether for good or for ill.
The reality is that, like it or not, the church as a whole bears a strong witness to the world as a body. And a body that is divided -- even if it is divided into sides that are faithful over here but unfaithful over there -- this inevitably presents a very confusing and not particularly effective witness to the world.
We believe in a God who can raise the dead. We trust that is so in the lives of the broken, in the cities that are devastated, in nations ruined by war. It is what we are called to do as Christians. And as United Methodists, through Christ's strength we have excelled! We are the first to respond to any devastation and the last to leave. But it is inevitable that we are going to give up here? We stick with people even when everyone else runs away. Will we abandon those who we each believe are stuck in the prison of false theology to provide a quicker fix? We are a part of international bodies that work for increasing ecumenical unity within Christ's body worldwide. But we can't even stick together ourselves? Wait, a church split is not who we are and it is absolutely contrary what we believe about God's resurrection power in Christ Jesus.
I am writing this for really one reason -- I want to ask you to pray. And, I know this is hard, but do not pray that The United Methodist Church as a whole will be changed to your position. Instead, whatever you believe, pray simply for our Lord to: "Break the lies regarding homosexuality in our church, in our nation, and in our world and make the truth prevail!" Then praise God that God can do this! And leave it at that in humility. Because, as James says in his rather strong words about "conflicts and disputes among you... God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
Originally posted here: http://holyconversationsatstpaulsumc.blogspot.com/2014/05/is-church-split-inevitable-over_27.html