The Church’s official position

I hope to catch up with e-mail shortly — I’ve been busy with a project that I’ll be free to post about Monday.

[content note: justification of the Church’s official position]

2004 General Conference Calendar Item 1040 introduced a restriction to annual conference funding. This restriction does not preclude funding “for dialogs or educational events where the Church’s official position is fairly and equally represented.” (This language currently resides at ¶ 613.19. Much of it was deliberately modeled after ¶ 806.9, the first version of which was adopted in 1976. See Journal of the 1976 General Conference of The United Methodist Church Volume II, page 1752.)

How does one represent “the Church’s official position”? According to the Discipline, one is generally limited to reading statements approved by the General Conference (see ¶ 509). I would argue that it might be more helpful to quote from plenary session transcripts. In doing so, it is important to quote from the side of the question that prevailed.

This particular quote — it came up during a discussion of requirements for ordained ministry — seems especially appropriate this week. This took place May 2, 1988:

I have my fingers to a place in the Scriptures. I’m not going to read it. You know the Scriptures, I think, as well or better than I do. Rolla [sic] May, I believe it is, who says that our instinctual drives are like wild horses; they need to be put into the harness with the bridle. He also says that it’s like flood waters. Flood waters are very damaging and destructive if not under the control of dams and conduits and irrigation ditches, which make more productive use of that water.

My training in psychiatry would indicate that homosexuality is an arrested development. I’m also told by doctor friends that under psychiatric training and counseling, it can be changed in the vast majority of cases. One gay person in the North Central Jurisdiction over a period of time contributed AIDS to 276 people. I am not talking about the individual; I’m talking about the lifestyle. Now with tongue in cheek, finally, I would say, if it has to be, then please let us make an ordinance of our church that two individuals make a covenant for their lifestyle and stay together forever. (1988 Daily Christian Advocate, page 383.)