Adam Hamilton, whom many might consider the pope of Methodism, wrote a blog post the other day titled, “A New United Methodism?”
While reading it, I couldn’t help but notice how all the arguments against the will of the General Conference (reaffirmed again and again and again) have to do with how it might make people feel and equally if not more importantly, how this will cause people to walk away from the church. We will lose numbers going with the “traditional” plan.
I couldn’t help but wonder how another story in the gospels would have been blogged about if Rev. Hamilton were writing then. Below I’ve quoted the section which stuck out to me the most, followed by my own satirical rendition. What would Hamilton say about Jesus’ tactics with the rich young ruler?
The fallout was predictable and swift. LGBTQ persons in our churches, and their friends and family, felt shunned—hurt by their denomination—and many made plans to leave churches, particularly those churches that supported the new policy and vote. Even those in supportive congregations struggled with whether they should leave the denomination, despite the love they felt for their local church. Meanwhile, the presidents and boards of some United Methodist-related colleges and universities have begun to talk about disaffiliating with the UMC (they all have students, and many have faculty or staff who are part of the LGBTQ community). Pastors, lay people, and churches who had previously been quiet about inclusion and the Discipline’s incompatibility language, were moved to action by the hurt they saw inflicted on their members. Congregations who have never withheld apportionments began asking about doing so to register their disagreement with the decision of General Conference. Many pledged acts of dissent and disobedience to the Discipline. Seminary students and candidates for ministry have been contemplating ending their efforts to become future United Methodist pastors.
All of this has led thousands of local church leaders to ask if they have a future in the UMC. While these hoped for a Church that made room for conservatives, centrists, and progressives, while removing language and policies that were hurtful to gay and lesbian people, they left General Conference feeling pushed out of their own denomination.
Mark 6 – And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The fallout was predictable and swift. People of means who had been faithfully following The Way felt shunned – hurt by their rabbi – and many made plans to leave. Many influential rabbinical schools and those of the Republic have begun to talk about disaffiliating with this would-be Messiah (they all have students, and many have faculty or staff who are part of the ruling class). Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes who had previously been quiet about inclusion and Jesus’ exclusive language, were moved to action by the hurt they saw inflicted on this rich young ruler and all those who, by no fault of their own, find themselves wealthy. The Temple finance committee, which never withheld it’s tithes in the past, began asking about doing so to register their disagreement with Jesus’ decision to demand so much of someone who hasn’t harmed anyone. Students from both Hillel and Shammai schools have been contemplating ending their efforts to become future rabbis.
And in spite of all of this dreadful fallout, Jesus would not budge. Rather, he insisted that it is extremely hard to enter the kingdom of God. He even had the audacity to insist that he is loving this young man, even when asking so much of him. When asked, “Who then could be saved?” Jesus said, “With man, it is impossible, but not so for God. With God, all things are possible.”
All of this has led thousands in Jerusalem and beyond to ask if they have a future in the Kingdom of God as described by this man claiming to be Messiah. While these had hoped for a Messiah who would accept everyone just as they are – legitimizing their claims to be sons of Abraham – his exclusive, traditional, even bigoted views are indications to many that this movement is not of God.