Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pilgramage of the Ostrich?

YOU HAVE TO DOWNLOAD THIS The Methodist Church has been on a journey for the last decade or so. this is over the issue of Human Sexuality. Anyone who has read a british paper knows that the Anglican Church spasms into factionislsm any time that anyone goes near the idea of human sexuality let alone discusses it. That said, the methodist church appeared to have learnt from the mistakes of the Mother Church and be taking time to go through all the issue to reach an end conclusion. As ever the end results are not always that pleasing. That said I am not only deeply agreeved, I am also deeply upset at the end report bringing suggestions that will limit the love of God that the Methodist Church can pour out. I shall guide you through the report, picking out key paragraphs to try and explain this anger and hurt I feel. Here we go first, with a moment of my quack theology. The most amazing thing, for me, is the idea that God loves each and every one of us an has created us all in his image. We are then provided with free will to do as we wish. Yet the whole bible talks about respect for one another and the sharing of love and joy. Sexual intercourse is just another corner of that. indeed it can be a deep and meaningful moment in any relationship and I, personaly, belive taht the only type of sexual intercourse that could be religiously frouwned upon is that that is willy nilly one night stands for personal gratification. That is it. Who is doing what to whom is no issue because we aer using our god-given bodies to bring pleasure to other people. Therefore pleasing all and sharing a deeper meaning of love. I am not a homosexual and yet I feel the pain of a whole group of people who are only out for acceptance for their love. They have sh*te relationships as well as deep ones. Yet why does two of the same sex really upset anyone? Soddom and Gommoroah? No, that was about promiscuity and could equaly have had males with female concubines etc.. Lets be honest sex is about more than a means to an end (procreation) and as a body of christ, centred in love, we need to ensure this is shown in all we do. So then, to the report..... It starts with a resume of the previous reports and has a brilliant paragraph whihc is coming in light of the discussions at previous conferences. These discussions we each edged in different ways and the one at last years' conference saw an honest and reconcillorary conversation whereby conference said sorry to its' self for the hurt it caused when disagreeing with peoples' sexuality. Yet there we no definate decision out of it, only a connexional hug. Yet that was all that was needed because the full report could come to this years conference.... Yet what became clear was it could be an outcome of the agreement to disagree and productive outcomes from that (ie an opt out system or something for those who feel unable to preside over civil ceremonies). I felt enthusatic and optomistic. This paragraph continues to do so....
B2 The primary purpose of the Conference is to discern the will of God. Sometimes this is best achieved through quiet and prayerful reflection and the seeking of consensus. However, God’s will can also sometimes be discovered through conflict, debate and challenges to refine or modify our thinking. The process by which this happens may not always be comfortable but, if ultimately we gather new, shared insights into God’s will for ourselves, the Church and the world, it is constructive.
It then goes on to comment on the way that we don't have to reach a yes or no, right or wrong but conclusions have to be reached. That said, it does then conclude that
The Working Party believes that the Church is not always best served by the Conference being asked to make a definitive ruling on every topic that might be brought before it, particularly if the topic is one upon which there are diverse or even mutually contradictory views within the Church.
This would begin to provide issues when it comes to progressive theology. Progressive theology that is random one year and mainstream the next sometimes needs a statement by a radical conference to make mainstream what isn't initaily thought....anywho I digress and back on track. All of this comes together in the subsequent paragraphs and is summated by
B6. This suggests that the will of God may be that the Church (through the Conference) is not called to make ‘definitive’ statements or pronouncements on every issue. The result of our deliberations may not be a ‘win’ for one view or another, but perhaps a synthesis of initially divergent views, a compromise or even an outcome completely different from anything initially envisaged. The New Testament does not gloss over the nature of such debates and the cost to those involved. Yet it also bears witness that the Church can express a common mind (as in Acts 15) that bridges differing viewpoints and perspectives.
A good way to say the methodist chruch can state that some belive x whilst others believe y and the Methodist Church leaves indiduals to make their own mind up and hs no definative view. Not my favourite view but one i can live with. SO we are halfway and the report has gone almost full circle on deciding if and when confernece should make a decision on a contentious topic and if it should wether that be a definitive on one view or another or an acceptance of many.... So what does it recommend? It comes to the conclusion that the Derby Resolution of over a decade ago holds ulitmate precidence and means that Methodist Churchs cannot have official civil ceremonies in it. That is horrendous - how can we, a loving people really hold back from allowing people to express their love for each other before god? Therefore, ulitmately, we have gone no-where on this pilgramge. It seems the seside air must have made us giddy and therefore a more dour scots conference will keep us back in check. Whilst this report hasn't been acepted yet it is the official reccomendation from the working committee and so many people within the church are scared to approach the issue they won't engage. That said, hopefully the horrendous end results of this report (of which I have only reported on some) will be thrown into the long grass. That said, Methodist Conference is a funny thing and I wouldn't be surprised if the report was passed - so please can all people going vote against the report. It is a travesty and shows no pilgramage, more the popping of the head above teh paprapit then sticking it back in the ground again.... Indeed the end result of this report reminds me of a Flanders and Swann song entitled The Ostrich. It is all about an incoming nuclear attack but it hopes that by sticking its head in the sand nothing will happen, forgetting that its inaction leaves teh rest of its body very exposed....
Peek-a-Boo, I can't see you, Everything must be grand. Boo-ka-Pe, they can't see me, As long as I've got me head in the sand. Peek-a-Boo, it may be true, There's something in what you've said, But we've got enough troubles in everyday life, I just bury me head.
Take Care Y'All John


  1. Hi John

    Not read the report yet, and as I'm v busy and about to go on holiday I shall have to digest it on my return.

    A few points to consider though:

    This is a contentious subject and you mention we have to be open and loving to all, well remember also the faith of the many people who have yet to come to a stage in this pilgrimage that you have come to. Yes it may be over ten years since the derby conference, and in that time the methodist church has come a long way. But I don't feel it is yet in a position to make a decision one way or the other. Not only could a decision be damaging to our homosexual brother's and sisters, but also to those people who will think the methodist church has stopped looking at the bible for authority. I'm not saying that this latter group of people are right, but their views are deeply rooted in their faith in both god and the church, and we should continue to lovingly nurture this faith. Not only those in this country, but also remember the impact the british conference has internationally, there are perhaps many methodists where the pilgrimage has not even started. I know this post is sounding as wooly as I guess the report is, but without a precedent for a same sex blessed union in the bible, it does make such a decision difficult indeed.

    who knows where we will be in a further ten years...

  2. Hello Moog,
    I can understand the logic behind your comments but would say to that that we can't wait for others to pilgrimage. Can we really claim, ourselves, that ten or so years has got us nowhere at all?

    "Not only could a decision be damaging to our homosexual brother's and sisters, but also to those people who will think the methodist church has stopped looking at the bible for authority"

    Would be grand if the end result was to leave it upto individuals to make their own mind up, yet what we are given is the forced negative. Thereby implying to most that the Methodist Church doesn't look upon them in a postitive way.

    "I'm not saying that this latter group of people are right, but their views are deeply rooted in their faith in both god and the church, and we should continue to lovingly nurture this faith"

    Oh I completely agree. Yet we can still nuture someones faith in a loving way- even if the church "officialy" provides room for disagreement on an issue.

    "I know this post is sounding as wooly as I guess the report is, but without a precedent for a same sex blessed union in the bible, it does make such a decision difficult indeed."

    Not at all, it is a viewpoint for a debate, one which is healthy to have

    Warm regards

  3. See you in Edinburgh, John.

    I share yourdisappointment at this report

  4. I know our theology clashes completely, in my apparantly "fundamentalist" position... so i'm gonna disagree with you! I often wonder if the Methodist Church has lost it's biblical roots. Infact a lot of the time I'm convinced it has. I haven't read the report just yet either, but by the Methodist Church making a decision which they believe to be Biblical (if thats why they have made the decision, like I said, not read the report YET)- that isn't being unloving to people. You can disagree with something that someone does without rejecting them. The church doesn't like drinking but they still like me, and I drink. Thats an absolutly terrible example, but the prinicipal is there. I don't agree with what a lot of my friends do(even some of my Christian friends), or what some of them believe in, but that doesn't mean for a second i dont love them, or respect them.

    If I'm honest I'd probably vote in favour of the report, from what you've said. That doesnt mean I'm rejecting people, or that I dont love or respect the people that it seems I am somehow "persecuting", cos I do. Deeply! But that doesn't mean I compromise on what I believe to be right and wrong.

    But then I spose we're all different :o)