Mary Ann Kaiser has been faithfully ministering in the Methodist Church for some time. Her pursuit of ordination was denied by a committee without even conducting the required interview. Their reasoning was impeccable. According to the Methodist Book of Discipline, a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” is barred from ordination. The question not being asked is, “does any human being have a right to mistreat another human being because of the unjust rules of their sect?”
Ms. Kaiser made an appeal to the Bishop to require the committee to at least go through proper channels. In a scene that could have come out of the passion narrative, the Bishop washed his hands sending the case on to another counsel. Like Pontius Pilate in the Easter story, the Bishop did not weigh in as a human being, but dissolved into the machinery of process.
The Bishop ruled that Ms. Kaiser’s appeal was “moot and hypothetical,” which basically made of her a nonentity. His ruling is hailed as moderate, but begs the question of whether any of us has a right to withhold justice from another just because our group does not consider them worthy of equal treatment.
It is a damnable thing to be successful in a religious hierarchy. The higher one rises, the more evil one must participate in. That is why Jesus forbade religious hierarchy. To get to wear the big hat requires a surrender of one’s conscience and submission to process that requires us to surrender personal responsibility for our words and deeds on behalf of the group.
Looking back at history, do the church leaders who submitted to a process that mistreated Jewish persons seem like such good church leaders today? In their day they were considered moderate, but today we recognize that they simply lacked courage. Do the Southern clergy who remained silent about their congregations’ practice of slavery seem faithful? In their day they blended into their culture and thus were considered moderate, but can anyone deem them so today?
Ms. Kaiser appealed to her Bishop for justice. His side stepping her request may seem moderate today, but there will come a day when it will be seen as the cowardice it truly was. People of faith have a duty before God not to mistreat any other person even if their church or synagogue demands it.
Somehow this sounds familiar in a very personal way. How many times have I or those I advise side stepped an issue in a similar manner?
Knowing Mary Ann, her Pastor John and the arc of gender neutrality of the Bible, I am confident this decision will be one that is regretted.
Thank you Kathy. History is certainly on the side our your prediction. Whenever the church has build a wall excluding any group of people, the hand of providence has provided the wrecking ball.
Instead of justice being sought, and unlike treatment of Jews, African-Americans, etc., gays are attempting to force their morality upon those who hold to an orthodox understanding of Scripture’s description of homosexuality as sin. That is historic and distinct from the error and isolated geographically of the mistreatment of African Americans and Jewish people. The Bishop did what he thought best, and most fair by referring this case to the next level of denominational jurisdiction. It is sad that you would even begin to compare this with the sacrifice of our Lord who was sinless, while the Bishop and Ms. Kaiser are sinners.
Jon, I think you are avoiding my point. I didn’t compare anyone to Jesus. And, as I’m sure you know, Jesus did not mention homosexuality, but he did mention judgment, a lot. And he was against it. To call a viewpoint “orthodox” is not a rational defense. Lots of bad things have been considered orthodox in their day.
Gays are not trying to force their morality on you. They are asking you to stop forcing your morality on them.
Jesus didn’t mention polygamy either. In fact, in the Bible you will find several quotes calling homosexuality a sin. Hardly anything that that will speak against polygamy. Our foundation for our faith is the whole Bible, not only the words of Jesus (which are indeed very important).
Carlos, my point is because the Bible didn’t have a word for homosexuality, the concepts that are translated by the word can not be said to be equivalent to our modern word. So to say the Bible condemns all homosexuality is a misstatement. Because there wasn’t one word, you must look at the specific behaviors condemned and not generalize them to a group of people of which you happen to disapprove.
Let’s not quibble. “Contemporary Christianity” is a phrase thrown about to help justify acceptance of behavior that some feel is not acceptable. We all know “judge not lest ye be judged” and my favorite admonition to “hate the sin and love the sinner”. The issue here is not that everyone wants to actively persecute homosexuals, but they don’t want to validate activity that is sinful. If we had an alcoholic preacher who was drunk 6 days a week, but showed up on Sunday to preach, we’d probably forgive him/her if they got sober and allow them back in a pulpit. If someone committed adultery serially, we probably don’t make them a Deacon or Board Member at the Church. We don’t stone them or berate them before the congregation. Sincerity is an overrated virtue. Just because someone sincerely cares for someone of the same gender and wants to be with them, does not make it right. I’m not throwing them out of the Church, but I don’t want to validate a union as “marriage”, nor do I want them put in a position of power or held up as an example. Catholics have confession and we have prayer without intercession, but the desire and promise to live more like Jesus and to be as sin free as possible is at the core of this. He did not advocate, live like you want and come apologize periodically and it’s all good. I don’t want to throw stones, but don’t throw them at me because I won’t validate a belief you hold that I think is in error.
DVZ, Thanks for the explanation. I believe that Christians are not subject to the Levitical codes that forbade homosexuality and pork. Translations that put the word “homosexuality” into the mouth of Paul are suspicious because the English word was only coined within the last two hundred years. Since Greek and Hebrew lack one word for homosexuality translators make a mistake to put that one modern concept upon what is surely a more complicated topic in scripture.