aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

This is what it all comes down to

All group decisions are binding upon the members of the group. United Methodist positions on doctrine and discipline are bigger deals than, say, a financial policy or the decision to close a camp or a requirement to file reports a certain way. But, whether the matter is of prime importance or mere convenience, there is a way that every body -- including our denomination -- makes decisions, and those decisions are not optional for those within the body.

Every decision made by the whole body according to its designated processes binds every member of the body. And unless the decision comes with "outs" of some sort (allowing for personal discretion or something), every member of the body has only two options: to submit or to leave.

This is not tyranny, it's just the way group life works. I've lost any number of votes in the Annual Conference over the years. I've seen things required by General Conference, or by BSA's National Council, or by other groups I'm a member of, that I didn't much care for. But that's irrelevant. As long as I remain a member of those groups, I have to follow the rules as given, however much I might grumble about them. All of us do this all the time.

Some people, of course, dislike a given decision so much that they leave the group. That's okay. We don't love you less because you've left us. We're genuinely sorry to lose you, but if you feel you would be sacrificing your integrity to do it the way we are now doing it, then God bless you. I'll still be your friend. But far better to leave with integrity than stay and refuse to obey the rules we all pledged we would follow.

In The UMC, of course, we have a group of people who refuse to either submit to the rules as given or to leave with their integrity. They say they're staying in for conscience' sake, to try to rescue all of us from our immoral rules. Well, they're welcome to keep trying to persuade us to change the rules, if that's what they think we ought to do; however, they are not welcome to disobey the rules without consequences.

The choice is submit or leave. But if you will do neither of those, then in the end, we will have to expel you. Not because we are hateful bigots, but because you refuse to do what you promised to do in your vows, and what every member of every group everywhere has to do for the group to function.

In the end, we cannot force you to do what's right. But we can remove you if you won't leave voluntarily. And that will re-establish the normal habits of obedience within which we who remain can continue to debate all manner of actions on behalf of the group as a whole.

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