Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Church and Homosexuality

Practicing Homosexuality has become a burr under the saddle of Mainline Protestant churches. Some have opened it's doors to homosexuals and even allowing homosexual priests and bishops, and some maintain that it is still a sin and are barring the sinner from being a member of their church. And this case of a Methodists priest being suspended for keeping a homosexual from being a member of his church highlights this struggle within the Protestant Church.
A pastor who denied church membership to a homosexual has been banished from the pulpit and denied his salary for one year by the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, despite the admission he acted on his conscience and his action could be defended "in theory" from the Methodist Book of Discipline.

Rev. Edward Johnson, former pastor of South Hill United Methodist Church for the past six years, will appeal his suspension to the denomination's highest court in Houston in late October.

The action leading to the pastor's "involuntary leave of absence" was initiated by Rev. W. Anthony Layman, retired district superintendent for Johnson's region in rural Southside Virginia, following Johnson's December refusal to allow a homosexual man to join his congregation.

"I was trying to show him the church was open to receiving [the member]," Layman said. "He, in turn, relied on his interpretation of the scriptures."

"Our Social Creed says that we as a church would not ordain homosexuals, but they have the right to be received in membership," Layman said. "The church supports homosexuals as part of the congregation and as persons of definite worth.

"I feel Rev. Johnson was holding to biblical principle in denying membership to that individual," Creamer told VaNCNews. "I feel extremely sad and grieved. I feel a terrible injustice was done."

Creamer said the homosexual man at the center of the dispute had been attending the church for some time and sang in the choir.

"This person was never discouraged from coming to church. That would be un-Christian. However, actual membership would be another story," he said.

"I cannot see how you can take Holy Communion and openly practice that lifestyle. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. Now everybody sins, but we like to think that everybody who is a member of the United Methodist Church is attempting to repent of their sins. Openly practicing homosexuality is not an attempt to repent of sins, in my opinion."

Mr Creamer has hit the crux of the problem: "Openly practicing homosexuality is not an attempt to repent of sins". Homosexuality IS a sin, but so is adultery, alcoholism, habitual lying, and greed. The problem lies in not that the Homosexual has sinned, but that they continue to live in sin and are not attempting to repent. I would expect the priest to treat all his parishioners the same, if a habitual drunk were ask for membership, I would expect that the priest deny it on the same grounds as he did the homosexual, and the same for a adulterer. It should not be the sin that denies the membership, it should be the continuation of the sin without an attempt at repentance. If this homosexual had said that he would live a celebrate lifestyle and not practice homosexuality, then he should be welcomed as a member. I feel that this priest is getting a raw deal because of his superior's PC conscience, and that he should be reinstated, the homosexual given the chance to repent and abstain from homosexual sex, and if he doesn't - no membership. How the problem of homosexuality in Christ's church is dealt with is going to help sink it or save it.

Mr Minority