May 6, 2004

Methodists Just Following Orders

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 6, 2004 4:44 PM

The Methodist church (my former denomination) has been debating their official stance on homosexuality. Methodists are notorious fence-sitters, and on this issue they have compromised with language that allows them to be intolerant without making a moral judgement: they have decided on the assertion that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching".

They don't want to say that it's "wrong" or "immoral" or "sinful", so they choose "incompatible" -- the implication being that they don't really know why the Bible prohibits it, but they're going to follow it anyway. It's the kind of language you'd expect if they'd decided to enforce the biblical prohibition on mixed fabrics (Lev. 19:19). "Wearing a cotton/polyester blend is incompatible with Christian teachings."

Now maybe I should be congratulating the Methodists for the implicit recognition that nothing is intrinsically wrong with homosexuality, but the fact is that in spite of this they continue to prohibit it, with what amounts to the old "I was just following orders" excuse. Pretty lame, really.

The theological problem with suggesting that there are some acts which are prohibited by God but not immoral is that it implies some standard of morality external to God. And if one then goes and applies such a moral standard uniformly to the Bible, one might well come to the conclusion that Christian teachings have very little moral authority at all. Naturally I wholeheartedly approve of this conclusion, but it may not be the message that the Methodist church wants to be sending.

Post a comment