May 17th, 2016

how long

Breaking up is hard to do

Just when you think things can't possibly get any weirder, they do.

Following a series of votes in which they lost pretty much every time, the progressives and sexual activists (but I repeat myself) have suddenly announced that talks are under way that would:
establish a commission to divide The UMC in two (or even three) ideologically-based denominations;

have the Council of Bishops call a special General Conference in 2018 to act upon the commission's plan;

and in the meantime, suspend all actions -- including votes at this General Conference -- which haven't gone the way they like, and especially, suspend any enforcement of the Discipline's prohibitions over the next two years, while we await the division.
What has prompted this change of heart? After all, several years ago, when a conservative spokesman suggested it was time to figure out how to separate amicably, he was immediately labeled a schismatic, and conservatives/orthodox/evangelicals/traditionalists have been painted as enemies of Unity by the progressives ever since.

Well, what has prompted this change of heart is the realization that the progressive wing of the church is dying. It controls immense assets in terms of general agencies and (American) clergy status, but despite all the shouting, few want to belong to the church they envision. The parts of The UMC that are growing are basically orthodox/evangelical, especially in Africa. They have lost vote after vote at GC because the votes aren't there; and, given the growth patterns we see in the Central Conferences, they probably won't be there. To coin a phrase, the progressives find themselves "on the wrong side of history."

So now they want to divide the baby. On their terms. And in the meantime, they get everything they want, which they can't get by following the regular order of the church. And they want our bishops, bold and true as they are, to take the lead in a fair process (wink, wink). This is the fox asking the weasel to assist in dividing the assets of the hen house.

Well, if they want to go, let them. I'd rather they stayed and we all learned to live together, but if they can't abide the rules, let them go. Let them take their pensions and other assets with them; however, I can't see giving up all the hard-won victories of the orthodox in the meantime. While the progressives have made a hash of our order, violated their consciences, and repeatedly broken the rules in the expectation that they would get away with it, the orthodox have patiently worked to contain the damage. We have kept the rules, and followed the rules, and while we are not vindictive -- we are willing to forgive others as we hope to be forgiven ourselves -- we believe that consistently enforcing the rules leads to a better-ordered life together.

And we've been fooled before, but I hope not this time. There is no reason to give up on what has been achieved at this GC. If someone wants to put forward a plan to split, if the bishops want to call a special GC, fine. Just remember, the same people now sitting at this GC would be the delegates to the called GC in 2018. In the meantime, might as well continue with the work before us.