Blog Post 10.27.14
Blog Post — Frankie Schaefer Reinstated
Last week the highest court of the United Methodist Church, the Judicial Council, heard before them the case of Frank Schaefer, former pastor of Zion United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pa.
Last December he was defrocked by a lower court for officiating at the “wedding” of his homosexual son in 2007 and for refusing to promise not to perform another same-sex “marriage.” Schaefer appealed that decision and in June an appeals panel, chaired by an open lesbian, reinstated him. But Schaefer’s local prosecutor, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, filed an appeal with the church’s highest judicial body, the Judicial Council.
In a prepared statement prior to last week’s hearing, Schaefer said: “My hope is for the Judicial Council to allow me to continue as a United Methodist clergy because it would keep the discussion going. If you exclude those who disagree, you close the door to a much-needed dialogue which, in turn, invites a schism.”
He also noted the diversity within his immediate family.
“I have three gay children. I believe God gave them to me so I would get the message. Gay or straight, we are all created in God’s image. Gay or straight, God blesses our love relationships.”
So . . . where do we begin?
Today the Methodist Church’s Judicial Council reaffirmed the reinstatement of Schaefer, who now ministers in Santa Barbara, California. The Institute on Religion and Democracy notes, ” This highly technical decision hinged on obscure details of church law and the precise semantics of how Schaefer’s penalty was worded. It indicates that Schaefer could have been defrocked if only the penalty’s exact wording “had been differently constructed.”
The Judicial Council’s decision to hand down a technical decision based on obscurity in church law is an indication of not only problems existing within the UMC, but in too many American churches. Our ultimate authority is not church law, but the Holy Word of God. Church law can be changed or manipulated by a majority of activists or those who just don’t know Scripture, but God’s Word never changes . . . period! As Dr. Michael Brown notes in his most recent book Can You Be Gay and Christian?
the Bible is a heterosexual book which clearly condemns engaging in homosexual acts. Even the GLBTQ online encyclopedia, which bills itself as “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer culture” says, “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification of age, gender, role, status, consent, or membership in an ethnic community.”
Frank Schaefer’s statement about the need to be reinstated in order to keep the dialogue open, ignores the fact that homosexual activists to not want a dialogue. They do not want a debate. In their world, it is their way or the highway. Unfortunately, as they twist Scripture to say what they want it to say about the sin of engaging in homosexual acts too many churches in the US are ignoring what Scripture says, refusing to talk about any type of sin and allowing confused members of their flock to continue down the road to hell. That is not a compassionate response.
We need to pray for Frank Schaefer, his three children who identify as “gay” and those in positions of authority within the church. They will be held accountable for “rewriting” and ignoring Scripture, but we who sit in the pew will also be held accountable if we remain silent.