This is the question when it comes to sexuality issues for many in the United Methodist Church. For decades our church has wrestled with this question and tried to find the safe place to stand that holds both Scripture and culture together. I am not writing to those who wish to rehash all of that.
I am writing to the majority of pastors and churches who wish to go on like this issue won’t affect them or their churches, to those who want to keep their heads down and focus on their local church, to those who don’t want to inform their congregations of denominational troubles because of the conflict it will bring.
I am writing to let you know, as politely as I can, the middle ground doesn’t exist anymore. Actually, I doubt it ever did. We were only made to believe that it did because we were not forced to make a decision. We could go on doing what we do at the local level and hide our dysfunctional denomination. We could table the issue, talk in code, manipulate words, ignore the elephant and continue to dialog with a vain hope of discovering middle ground.
There is none.
The culture won’t allow middle ground. Sexuality has become peoples’ identity. It is the core of who we are. Our uniqueness, our distinctiveness, our individuality springs from our sexuality. God made us this way and there is no ability, reason, or need to conform to an ancient standard. To say otherwise is to deny our rights, our freedom, our God-given being. We define marriage, parenting, and family in new terms that must be accepted, respected, and taught without question.
The Scriptures won’t allow middle ground either. They are clear about sexuality. They state that our identity is much grander than our sexuality. Our identity is found in Christ and He is remaking us into His image. That process is called sanctification or, as Jesus put it, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Our sexuality has a context that is not to be desecrated or debased. Throughout Scripture the message is clear: The context is within marriage between a man and a woman. Anything other is to be left behind.
The church has reached the point of decision because the culture and Scripture do not coexist on this issue. One is right, and therefore, one is wrong. General Conference is only a few months away and again these two positions will clash. Only this time, there will be no fence to sit on, no place to keep your head down, no middle ground.
The United Methodist Church will be the first large denomination to address this issue since the Supreme Court ruling on June 26th of this year. Do you think the culture will allow the church to maintain its current position without a fight? And do you think the news cameras will not be there to cover it? And do you think your church won’t hear calls of bigotry and intolerance? And do you think your people will not be confronted on social media by friends and family as to why they belong to a hateful church? Don’t be fooled. The culture won’t allow it.
When that happens, which way will you go? It’s the broad road or the narrow way, the rock or the sand, the sheep or the goats, the wheat or the chaff. The middle ground is gone. The time for choosing has come.