What we about to witness is a full throated, post-modern deconstruction of our United Methodist association. We are asked to choose between cutting the child in half or shattering like glass into millions of pieces.
Despite the deepening political positions, any shared understanding and common truths about sex and sexuality has been lost in the forty year fray. There is no serious survey of the field, no coming together for prayerful theological reflection on any deeper issues. We’ve lost the real issues, as a church we are unfocused, or worse yet, MIA: Missing in Action.
We are ignorant of the reasons why we are at this deadly crossroads. Yes, there are been discussions ad nauseum of the “Seven Clobber Verses.” But any serious, shared engagement with the whole Gospel, the arc of Creation-Sin-Reconciliation-Redemption has been absent.
We cannot see below the surface of our oft repeated views to the quicksand that often hides under a mirror layer of water, to the huge, amorphous and undefined conflict in society. And it will not go away simply because we ignore it and tear ourselves to pieces in the process.
On one hand we have the New Testament call and commandment to “love one another” and to “love our neighbor as yourself” along with the 300 to 600 references to love, (depending on your translation). At the same time there are many warnings and clear deadly consequences for not having a faith that is clear headed and mindful about sinful practices that separate us from God.
This is the quicksand we have been mired in for over 40 years.
And now we are at a point of throwing up our hands and saying “ENOUGH! Let’s at least do something!” Even if that something leads to gracefully inviting each other to leave part of our heart and/or mind behind.
It’s like two third degree burn victims embracing in a hospital ward. They desperately need to embrace, but that very act causes them great pain. Separation of any kind solves our immediate pain but ignores what’s really happened to us and the world around us.
We urgently need to pause and prayerfully consider togetherwhy the Greek new testament never uses any form of “eros” when it talks about love, …or even “storge” for that matter.
These two shadings of love are the Greek words most often used for physical love and family love, the very kind of love at the heart of our often-emotional disagreements.
In contrast, “agape” occurs 259 times as a verb or a noun and “phileo” occurs 54 times. These words for Godly, unconditional love and deep committed friendship love are the very heart of the Christian message. It’s a revelation to realize that Eros and Storge are completelyabsent! (Go ahead and google it, I’ll wait.)
Even since the birth control pill started the sexual revolution, we, as a church, have been mostly absent in the culture -shifting discussion of sex and sexuality EXCEPT in the area of intimate homosexual behavior and whether it is a fundamental part of Christian life.
When did Godly love = Physical love?
Now, in little over a month, without any biblical, comprehensive, and prayerful church wide- study on the understanding and effects that this sexual revolution has had (including behaviors such as trafficking, pornography, mental and physical sexual diseases, etc.), we are careening into a vote to dismantle our 300 year old, uniquely United Methodist “covenant connection”.
My heart weeps and is broken into uncountable pieces.
Is it too late to hit “pause?”
By W. Terry Van Hook, UMC elder