Sadly, being “in order” with the gospel message of Jesus Christ still means being ruled “out of order” in The United Methodist Church. As was announced today, two of the resolutions passed this summer to challenge discrimination against LGBTQ persons were ruled in violation with the policies of the denomination by their respective bishops. But as Rev. Will Green stated in an interview with UMNS, “Of course it’s out of order. That was the point of it.”
As long as the denomination continues to use the rules of the church to bar children of God from their rightful place within the Body of Christ, we should all hope to be doing ministry that is deemed “in violation” of such laws. If we are considered to be faithful in anyway, we must take on the judgment of “out of order” as individual disciples and communities of the faithful committed to resisting immoral powers and principalities. Jesus’ own vocation compelled him to transgress institutional law in order to bring salvation and healing to the world. Although religious policy forbade healing on the Sabbath, Jesus refused rigid adherence to laws when to do so would fall short of the gospel of Love.
In following the example of Christ, the majority of both the New England and Upper New York Annual Conferences voted in faithfulness at the Spirit’s leading. Today’s announcement that these actions are ruled “out of order” has no real effect on their most meaningful form of significance – their faithfulness to the order of Love.
Until all of our discriminatory practices and policies have been overturned, the church will continue to name acts of nonconformity as an affront to church policy. And the faithful are called to continue in Biblical Obedience, leading the church by example, in the footsteps of Christ until the denomination turns from its sin and towards Love.
To all whose actions in support of LGBTQ persons are ruled “out of order,” may you consider it a mark of your faithfulness.
We know that one day even the institution of The United Methodist Church will awaken to the full stature of Christ. We have already seen the institution being transformed by a quickly growing number of individuals, Reconciling Communities, and entire Annual Conferences who are choosing to follow the way of Christ even when it opposes the way of the institutional policies. The future hope is that this transformation will one day take place in fullness and Christ’s church will no longer be ruled by fear of change, institutional preservation, or a hierarchy of value among God’s children.
Until that day comes, we are each called to continue moving forward in Biblical Obedience, living into every opportunity God puts before us to be deemed “incompatible” with the rules of discrimination.