Majoring In The Minors
Compiled by John Miles
I got a challenging and passionate letter from Paul Dubar this week. Paul makes a strong argument that we are spending too much time on the homsexual issue while the world around us suffers. Next week I want to print responses to Paul's letter. I will print them from shortest to longest, if it is too long I may not be able to print it all. I am sure there will be some pros and cons on this one let us know what you think.
All of us are aware that the homosexual issue is generating a lot of interest with the Jimmy Creech trial in Nebraska, the 90 or so United Methodist Preachers that defied the Ruling of the Supreme Court of the United Methodist Church and preformed a "holy union," and now the Rev. Dell situation in Downers Grove, Ill. Some of our United Methodist Churches have threatened to not pay their apportionments in protest. Others are calling for a special called session of the General Conference to deal solely with this issue. Others are even calling for a split in the United Methodist Church; comparing us to the Titanic (Want we all be glad when all the hype moves to another subject other than the Titanic!) They even say that the United Methodist Church as we know it is going under.
Now, please, hear me carefully. I am not saying that we should accept homosexuality or declare that it is okay in God's eyes or according to the Holy Scripture. But, why did we decide that this would be THE issue, THE sin that would become the proverbial iceberg or straw? We have been losing members from the United Methodist Church for years, why have we suddenly decided that this is THE issue that will bring us down? I really wonder just how God feels about this?
I wonder if God is concerned with ecology, suffering, pain, starvation, abuse, human rights, and extermination of the innocents, just to name a few? Are you aware of the fact that while you are reading this that three species of life form will become extinct from our world? 27000 different species are lost each year. Did you know that we live in a world where 40% of the world's population lives in poverty and suffers from malnutrition, while people in the USA spend 14 billion dollars per year on losing weight and an extra 22 billion on beauty aids! That Michael Jordan earned $20 million to promote Nike Shoes and that is more money in endorsements than the entire annual payroll of all the Indonesian factory workers that make those shoes earns!
Did you know that 88% of the population of the world recognizes the MACDONALD's Arch but only 80% have ever heard of Jesus? And that only 54% knew what the Cross represented! Did you know that every 3 seconds (by the way that is about how often you blink your eyes) or every time you blink your eyes, a child dies of hunger or a hunger related disease? That's 20 in one minute. 1200 each and every hour! That's 28000 a day---every day in this world! Those are not just statistics, those are people just like you and me. Those are souls Jesus died to save.
Do you think that may be God has more on His mind than homosexuality? If God made out a top ten concerns list, I wonder where homosexuality would rank? A problem? Yes. THE problem? THE BIG ONE that will sink us? What do you think God would say? Do you really want to know why the United Methodist Church is losing members? I kept hearing that it was because of our liberal doctrine. I decided to do a study. I studied through 10 years of journals of the Little Rock and North Arkansas Conferences. What I found out was this. We did not lose more members to more conservative churches than we gained. Just the opposite was true.
We gained more from those denominations than we lost. You want to know why we are losing members? We have more people dying than we are converting to Christianity! That is it! Get over the hot button issues and get back to saving souls and the United Methodist Church will be fine.
Last week Paul Dubar wrote in suggesting that the homosexual issue has
John Miles II, Heber Springs Methodist Church
In response to Paul Dubar's letter I say "Preach on brother!"
I already know what God would say about homosexuality. It is written in the Bible, God's Word, the Truth. 'Niff said!
Way to go, Paul!
One of the original and continuing strengths of Methodism has been "balance." (I'll spare you the numerous possible examples.) Paul's e-mail helps put "THE" issue into a more proper, balanced perspective.
I think you need to move on to other topics facing our church. I agree
We need to look at the General Conference issues that will build our church to save more souls.
Racism will also be with us for years to come. If we continue focus on how bad it is that attitude will continue.
J. Harris Moore
I wish we could get beyond the homosexual issue. I wish we could get back to the primary issue of saving souls. I wish we could divert some of the energy the presenting issue of homosexuality is calling for to other kingdom issues. Unfortunately, those who are radically committed to making the practice of homosexuality an acceptable lifestyle within the Christian community will not let us. If we are going to be responsible church-persons we can't ignore the onslaught of that agenda upon the church.
My prayer is that we do not allow that voice to determine the direction of General Conference.
I would tend to agree with Paul Dubar. I think that we have spent too much time not teaching the gospel and too much time teaching social issues. We have become too accommodating in our preaching and have turned away from proclaiming the gospel. I think John Wesley himself would be calling for reform in our denomination and I can only speculate about his stance on the homosexuality issue but I don't think that he would condone it. I think his original questions state something about scripture and living by them, yes? I don't think the United Methodist Church will split but I think we need to have reform in our church.
Here is my response to brother Paul Dubar. He makes a pretty reasonable argument. At the same time, what keeps coming back to my mind is the fact that the homosexual debate is just a symptom of the deeper divide: That of the authority of scripture. While I appreciate his plea to "get back to saving souls", I don't think that will be done as long as we don't even agree on what that means. Are we speaking of the traditional "conversion" or this new age "healing" stuff that is coming down the pike? These days we don't even agree about what "salvation" means.
I have am convinced that ministry can only take place in churches where the body agrees doctrinally. I don't mean that there cannot be ministry if there are some disagreements about trivial things. However, I don't see how anyone can call this issue of scriptural authority a minor issue. I think the only way that this will be dealt with is either a split or a re-organization that recognizes these differences. We certainly don't need more bureaucracy in the system, but I have yet to hear a better solution.
The homosexual issue is not one we chose; it has been forced upon us by a radical minority, who, unfortunately, seem to have the support of a good number of Bishops. Suggestions that the issue is not that important plays into the hand of those who want to sneak past the guards. It is an issue loaded with symbolic import that puts our Church directly in the front lines of the ethical civil war that is raging in our society. It significantly damages our credibility in all other aspects of ministry and must be thoroughly addressed, unpleasant as it is to do so. While I agree that we should not react in unchristian ways, it is completely within our capacity to firmly oppose the gay rights agenda and conduct effective ministry in other areas of concern at the same time.
Michael D. Hinton, M.Div.
Frank & Dorothy Warden, 903 Skyline, Searcy AR 72143-6525
It seems as if everyone who wants to avoid the homosexual issue wants rather than to talk about it, to talk about something else. . . endangered species, how much Michael Jordan earned , name recognition of McDonalds, but not the issue that threatens our church by CHANGING the truth to some modern day adaptation of the Gospel for our convenience.
Yes, God has a lot on His mind and so should we, but we should not allow that to be an excuse to water down His truth and His instructions for us. Marriage is a Holy union to God. He only gave us the one example of how this should be and we ought not to rewrite scripture to appease our worldly appetites. He gave us His Word not to punish us but because He loves us). (By the way, could it be in God's plan for species to become extinct? Where would we be today if T-Rex was still running around or some of the other creatures incompatible with our modern day life styles were still around. Let's not go out and slaughter endangered species, but let's not forget that God has all this figured out).
It's not the BIG ones (issues) that will sink us, it is the cumulative effects of the so called LITTLE ones that will creep up and leave us saying how did we get where we are?
If you forget the foundations of the faith and "get over" the hot button issues and let the principles just coast where they will, what will you be saving souls for? something of God or something of Satan?
To all our Christian friends: The Paul Dubar letter was the most timely correspondence we have read via e-mail in quite some time. During the 60's, America campaigned negatively against drugs and war. They are still negative issues, as is homosexuality. Perhaps, as Paul noted, these may not be the most negative issues before us. With that in mind, let's focus on how we can positively affect the children, so that these issues or any others won't become the stone that sinks, not just the United Methodist Church, but Christianity's free observance and practice. We MUST protect, nurture, sustain, and teach the children -- not just the United Methodist children -- ALL the children. This is where the practice of life begins -- it is also where it will end if we ignore the vital issues involved in Christian parenting, education, and outreach to our own communities and the community-at-large. "Two wrongs don't make a right" is about as over-used as many other cliches ministers, parents and educators still quote. I would submit that we must now know as a church that "Many rights will overcome a lot of wrong." Let's get started with the "rights." Translate that as God leads you. Gladys Rink Youth & Christian Education Dir. First UMC, Clarksville, AR The reason is simple. The "other side" has decided that their homosexual issues are more important than all of the worlds people being lost in sin. "They" have decided that this issue must be shoved, not driven down the throats of all the church and until they "win" in their eyes, they will divert attention from the real issues that God has set us upon this earth to address.
In every issue of every UMNS and UMC publication there is one or more articles on homosexuality. The same cannot be said about delivering the Good News of the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ to the world. We have only about 210 or so paid missionaries n the field from the GBGM, but we have a huge staff that supports the homosexual agenda by their actions in a covert drive to make that the top issue for Methodism.
Until that issue is pulled from the front pages of our church, the work we should be doing to evangelize the world will only be done by small groups of dedicated believers.
Each one of us must ask ourselves: "are we doing Gods work to bring Jesus Christ to all the world or the work of a group of world centered politicians to follow a political agenda?"
Let me start by saying that I agree with the basic premise - Homosexuality is not the main problem, nor is it the only problem we face as a denomination. The problem is quite simply we do not preach the gospel, we preach feel good stuff. God is Love, is what we are preaching and teaching, but we are neglecting the hard stuff, the truth is that Love is one of the aspects of God, it is His perfect love that gave us Jesus Christ to die and to be resurrected. There is also God's mercy, God's justice, and all the other aspects of God that we neglect, except where it will allow us to preach and teach feel goodism, without responsibility.
In 10 years that is 270,000 species, how many different species are there, and where did this number come from anyway? How does anyone know how many species are being lost every year? Where are all these species being killed off anyway? Surely not in this country, we have laws that are quite strict about habitat and other things regarding killing off of ecology and so where is this coming from?
Interesting set of statistics here, again where do they come from? If they are true, why is it that our own Board of Global Ministries is cutting back on missions instead of going forward. Let's free up another 100,000 million or so and send out more missionaries, of course you may have to get rid of some more of those administrators, but then that much bureaucracy is obscene anyway.
Please don't give me empty rhetoric and even emptier statistics, give me the reality, give me the facts, and please before you talk about reaching out to those in poverty, join me in demanding that the funds held by GBGM be released and used where it is needed instead of feathering the nests of bureaucrats sitting in NYC doing that I or anyone else can see. My church has been trying to sponsor 2 refugees. They have gotten to Europe, but we can't get them to this country. My folks at conference level tell me, we don't do that anymore, GBGM no longer funds that type of operation. I have to work with Catholic charities, good folks, but why?
Yes God is concerned, God hates our inhumanity, our ethnic cleansing, our indiscriminate dropping of bombs, our hatred of those different from us. You know what, God hates SIN, it doesn't make any difference what the SIN is, God hates it. I have to tell you that I want to do that which will bring honor to the name of Christ, but it is impossible to do so, when our very structure lends itself to hatred, and to SIN. When money has become the God of the church, not Jesus Christ, then we are in deep trouble. I will be happy to have you join me and others as we cry out for the injustice to stop, for the church to release the purse strings and spend the money feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, teaching them about Jesus Christ, and living the gospel.
John Quigley, Pastor FUMC Kenedy TX.
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