Well, leave it to the United Methodists. A crisis in the church arises and they take immediate action. Well, immediate's a relative term. Six years can seem like an eternity or a snap of the fingers, in biblical terms. And this story is about biblical issues, so let's stick with immediate. But it's a crisis of faith, family and public opinion that converge right now. Did Rev. Frank Schaefer violate his faith when he officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding?
Six years ago, the Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., officiated his gay son's same-sex wedding in a private ceremony in Massachusetts. That legal action in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts led to a trial that concluded yesterday by the United Methodist Church. This serious matter was adjudicated by the church after one of the reverend's own flock filed a complaint.
Yesterday the trial ended with a verdict. The rare jury of 13 Methodist pastors had found Schaefer guilty on two charges: “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.”
Testifying in his own defense, the 51-year-old pastor said he decided to break church rules out of love for his son. He said he might have lost what he called his 'ritual purity' by disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline, but that he felt he was obeying God's command to minister to everyone.
'I love the United Methodist Church. I've been a minister for almost 20 years and there are so many good things about the United Methodist Church except for that one rule,' said Schaefer.
So Methodists don't condone homosexuality. They take the words of Christ to minster to everyone yet create their own book of rules and disciplines to limit the Lord's teachings.Words of mortal men are seeming given more weight over those credited to Christ, the Savior to the modern day Methodists.
"Just quote Jesus when it serves your fears and bigotry," seems to be their holy mantra.
Evidently the current thinking of the Methodist Church is that the bible only sets up commandments for some people, not others. The do unto others as you'd have them do unto you doctrine doesn't apply here. What's next for them? No Asians? Or Blacks? Or converted Jews? Or what about short people? We all know what heathens they are. Incorrigible.
That fact is religions that discriminate on any level, risk being called a true religion. This trial is a huge slap in the face of the United Methodist Church. And it's shameful when one of it's ministers, a Reverend, has to chose religious dogma -- really only an interpretation of those -- over family. Is Christ the son of God? Is Tim Schaefer the son of Rev. Frank Schaefer? Are we not all made in the image of our maker? Christ broke rules when he felt it necessary -- can't Reverend Schaefer be allowed to do the same?
What this boils down to is literalism versus scripture.
Schaefer is the first among five Methodist ministers to be accused by church officials over the past year of possibly violating church doctrine on gay rights. The other four could also face church trials. The cases, which are being closely watched by advocates on both sides, represent perhaps the biggest flare-up in recent years in mainline Protestantism over the issue of homosexuality. At 8.3 million members, Methodists are the second-largest group of Protestants in the United States.
I propose they are this second largest group of Protestants are demonstrating hate and malice. Rather than convert or accept, they condemn. They are perhaps the real lost wandering tribe as they show no relationship to the God I learned about in Sunday School. He welcomed all. He didn't discriminate. He may have turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), but he didn't curse the water.
If someone is gay, bi, lesbian, transsexual it's not their choice. Just like a bird being a bird and not a bear. LGBT is not a choice. It's the maker's selection. So why not accept it?
The leadership must stop cherry picking what to believe to make themselves comfortable. When even Pope Francis, arguably an opposing faith leader, tells his flock that gays are people too, than why does his flock, larger than the Methodists, interpret the bible as a doctrine of love and tolerance -- not exclusion and hate? Where did the Methodists go wrong? Isn't Christ, if you believe in Christianity, the same Christ to all?
So what lies ahead for Pastor Schaefer? The penalty in past similar cases has ranged from a short suspension to defrocking.
We'll see how much the church wants to make an example of this compassionate man. Hopefully for the Methodists, they simply voice that that don't approve of this, and issue a warning. Then it'll be up to Schaefer, father of three other gay children, what he wants to do should any of them express a desire to have the pleasure and privilege of their father officiating over their service.