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This classic prayer of thanksgiving is adapted from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you’ve done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

thanksgiving_prayerWe thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for our successes, which satisfy and delight us — but also for the disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ — for the truth of his Word and the example of his life.

We thank you for his dying, through which he overcame death — and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your Kingdom.

Father, may we — at all times and in all places — give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Bill Bouknight

This post is by Dr. William R. Bouknight, associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

It first appeared in a slightly different form in the October 2012 Confessing Movement e-newsletter.

Bill Bouknight is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Trust in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001) and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007).

Links have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

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When members of the United Methodist Council of Bishops gather next week (Nov. 4-9) at St. Simons Island, Ga., they will find it difficult to ignore a retired bishop, Melvin G. Talbert.

Bishop Talbert has urged more than 1,000 UM clergy who have committed to officiating at union ceremonies for homosexual couples “to stand firm in their resolve” — even though officiating at homosexual unions would violate the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline.

Furthermore, the Western Jurisdiction has asked Bishop Talbert to oversee a grassroots movement that challenges the entire UMC to operate as if Paragraph 161F of the Book of Discipline “does not exist.” That is called nullification.

In reaction to these developments, more than 70 UM orthodox clergy and laity sent an open letter to the Council of Bishops urging them to “publicly censure” Bishop Talbert. The letter also asks the executive committee of the Council to file a formal complaint against the bishop.

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No-so-great expectations

Despite strong concern within the church about Bishop Talbert’s conduct, my guess is that the Council will do little or nothing about this matter.

From the UM
Book of Discipline

¶161B Marriage

— We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman…. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

¶161F Human Sexuality

…Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage….

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider[s] this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God’s grace is available to all….

This pledge by more than 1,000 UM clergy to perform same-sex unions is not new. It was on the Council’s agenda a year ago. Yet the Council could not even bring itself to ask those 1,000 clergy to refrain from violating the Discipline.

(Do you suppose that if 1,000 clergy threatened to withhold apportionment payments, the Council would be that reticent?)

The Council’s problem is that it is hopelessly divided about Scriptural authority, theological worldview, and sexual morality.

Since about 1970, some bishops have been elected who have a relativistic view of Scriptural authority. Some ignore and/or don’t believe in some United Methodist doctrines spelled out in the Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith.

On the days of their ordination, they affirmed their belief in all of those doctrines (PDF—see pages 22 and 23). But somehow over the years they have changed. Yet not one of them has reported that change to the Board of Ordained Ministry and offered to turn in his or her credentials.

It is a safe prediction that the Council of Bishops will take no action with regard to Bishop Talbert. Nor will it ask those 1,000 clergy not to violate the Book of Discipline.

Instead, the Council will issue a call for all United Methodists to be tolerant, non-judgmental, and nice — and to engage in holy conferencing.

And the United Methodist Church in the U.S. will continue to decline.

Therefore, the Lord seems to be passing the torch of leadership to the African Methodists. Instead of rebelling against the Book of Discipline, they are focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the eternal salvation of persons and for the transformation of the world.


Related posts
Group of clergy, laity calls for censure of Bishop Talbert
Worth reading: ‘Forgetting How to Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution’
Chasing away young people by being faithful to the gospel?
What is at stake in the battle over marriage
Should United Methodists agree to disagree on homosexuality?
General Conference 2012: More attempts to change UM standards on sexual behavior
If defiance continues, United Methodism may come crashing down
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
A word from Mr. Wesley: Holiness in singleness
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
Renewal & Reform Coalition releases letter to Council of Bishops
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’

Related articles and information
Bishop accused of urging disobedience | Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service (Aug. 24, 2012)
United Methodists uphold policy that calls homosexual acts ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (May 3, 2012)
The church addresses marriage and sexuality | Thomas A. Lambrecht, Good News (January/February 2012)
Outsider influence over homosexuality at General Conference | Karen Booth, Good News (January/February 2012)
Book Review: Forgetting How To Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution by Karen Booth | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (March/April 2012)
UM clergy vow to wed homosexual couples | Sam Hodges, UM Reporter (July 15, 2011)
Eros defended or eros defiled — What do Wesley and the Bible say? | Ben Witherington, The Bible and Culture (Patheos.com) (Feb. 14, 2011)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality (ordering details) | Maxie Dunnam and H. Newton Malony, ed. (Abingdon Press, 2003)
Anyone who works under the authority or auspices of the Church must be held to the highest standards of behavior, free of misconduct in any form | UMSexualEthics.org
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
UM Judicial Council backs clergy dismissal over affair | Linda Bloom, UMNS (April 27, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
Slavery, homosexuality, and not being of one mind | Riley B. Case, via The Sundry Times (July 1, 2008)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

This the second of two posts comparing the United Methodist “platform” (i.e., language from the UM Book of Discipline) with the official platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties. This post focuses on two issues: marriage and national security.

As noted in part one, for Christians living in a democratic society electing government leaders is a stewardship responsibility.

UMNS graphic

Elections give followers of Christ the opportunity act through the political process to advance a “Christian worldview” that promotes justice, virtue, and freedom. In the words of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, “The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state” (¶164B).

Even so, it is worth keeping in mind that the role of the church and the role of the state are not one and the same.

The official United Methodist Church positions quoted below have been approved by various sessions of the UM General Conference and are included in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012 (forthcoming).

Democratic Party positions are from The 2012 Democratic National Platform: Moving America Forward (full text in PDF). Republican Party positions are quoted from 2012 Republican Platform: We Believe in America (full text in PDF).

Issues and parties are listed in alphabetical order. The side-by-side comparisons are presented without editorial commentary, except except for one clarifying note.
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ISSUE: Marriage and Family

The UMC
We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family. 

We believe the family to be the basic human community through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity. We affirm the importance of loving parents for all children….

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.

We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union….

We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman….

God’s plan is for lifelong, faithful marriage. The church must be on the forefront of premarital, marital, and postmarital counseling in order to create and preserve strong marriages. However, when a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness.

We grieve over the devastating emotional, spiritual, and economic consequences of divorce for all involved, understanding that women and especially children are disproportionately impacted by such burdens. As the church we are concerned about high divorce rates…. We…support efforts by governments to reform divorce laws and other aspects of family law in order to address negative trends such as high divorce rates….

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage….

Violent, disrespectful, or abusive sexual expressions do not confirm sexuality as God’s good gift. We reject all sexual expressions that damage the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.

The Democratic Party 

We support marriage equality* and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

[*MThinker note: That is, marriage should not be restricted to one man/one woman. A man should be allowed to marry a man, and a woman should be allowed to marry a woman.]

The Republican Party

The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation….

Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals.

Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects.

We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage.

We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

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ISSUE: Military readiness / National security / Arms control

The UMC
We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world. 

We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy….

We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them.

We advocate the extension and strengthening of international treaties and institutions that provide a framework within the rule of law for responding to aggression, terrorism, and genocide.

We believe that human values outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped; that the manufacture, sale, and deployment of armaments must be reduced and controlled; and that the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons be condemned. Consequently, we endorse general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind. We yearn for the day when there will be no more war and people will live together in peace and justice.

Some of us believe that war, and other acts of violence, are never acceptable to Christians. We also acknowledge that many Christians believe that, when peaceful alternatives have failed, the force of arms may regretfully be preferable to unchecked aggression, tyranny, and genocide.

We honor the witness of pacifists who will not allow us to become complacent about war and violence. We also respect those who support the use of force, but only in extreme situations and only when the need is clearly beyond reasonable doubt, and through appropriate international organizations.

We urge the establishment of the rule of law in international affairs as a means of elimination of war, violence, and coercion in these affairs….

We are aware that we can become guilty both by military action and by conscientious objection, and that we all are dependent on God’s forgiveness.

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The Democratic Party 

After more than a decade of war, we have an opportunity to retool our armed forces and our defense strategy to ensure we both maintain the world’s most capable military and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century….

[W]e have a special obligation to every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman who puts their [sic] life on the line for our nation. We must send them into harm’s way only when it’s absolutely necessary….

[W]e will continue to emphasize forward engagement in critical regions, while enhancing robust security partnerships to share the burden….

[W]e must address the threat that nuclear weapons pose to our security and to peace in the world. Despite the two decades that have passed since the end of the Cold War, large stockpiles of nuclear weapons persist, and more nations are interested in acquiring them. Nuclear testing and black-market trade in sensitive nuclear materials continue. And terrorists remain determined to buy, build, or steal the ultimate weapon.

[We] are committed to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and to eventually ridding the planet of these catastrophic weapons.

[E]nding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership…reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to…serve their country….

The Republican Party

We are the party of peace through strength…. We must deter any adversary who would attack us or use terror as a tool of government. Every potential enemy must have no doubt that our capabilities, our commitment, and our will to defeat them are clear, unwavering, and unequivocal….

We will accept no arms control agreement that limits our right to self-defense; and we will fully deploy a missile defense shield for the people of the United States and for our allies….

We recognize that the gravest terror threat we face — a nuclear attack made possible by nuclear proliferation — requires a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles and preventing the spread of those armaments. But the U.S. can lead that effort only if it maintains an effective strategic arsenal at a level sufficient to fulfill its deterrent purposes….

We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness….

We support rights of conscience and religious freedom for military chaplains and people of faith…. We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Armed Forces as well as in the civilian world….


Related posts
Worth reading: ‘Forgetting How to Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution’
What is at stake in the battle over marriage
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Bishop Lindsey Davis: The Church in time of war

Related articles and information
2012 Party Platform Comparison Guide (PDF) | Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
What they believe: Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama come from traditions far from Christian orthodoxy | Jamie Dean, WORLD (Oct. 20, 2012)
White Mainline Protestants going for GOP presidential candidate Romney by nearly 2-to-1 margin (60% to 34%) (click tab that says “White Mainline Protestants”) | Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (Oct. 9, 2012)
In bid to galvanize homosexual vote, Obama endorses state initiatives that would OK same-sex marriage Reuters (Oct. 25, 2012)
Obama campaign releases ad — targeted to young women — comparing voting to having sexual intercourse (video)
The campaign for immorality | John MacArthur, Grace to You (Oct. 1, 2012)
United Methodists uphold policy that calls homosexuality ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (May 3, 2012)
The church addresses marriage and sexuality | Thomas A. Lambrecht, Good News (January/February 2012)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)

For Christians living in a democratic society, electing government leaders is a stewardship responsibility, presenting followers of Christ with an opportunity to influence government in the direction of policies that promote virtue and restrain evil.

UMNS graphic

In deciding how to cast their ballots, Christian voters should consider reflect on how the positions of the major political parties align with official church positions on particular issues.

The two main political parties in the U.S. tend to disagree more about means than ends, although on some issues significant disagreement exists about ends as well (most notably on tax policy, marriage policy, and issues related to the sanctity of human life).

This post, the first of two parts, compares United Methodist teaching on several major issues with the official platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties. The side-by-side comparisons below are without commentary, except for two clarifying notes.

The United Methodist Church positions quoted below have been approved by various sessions of the UM General Conference and are found in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012 (forthcoming).

Democratic Party positions are from The 2012 Democratic National Platform: Moving America Forward (full text in PDF). Republican Party positions are quoted from 2012 Republican Platform: We Believe in America (full text in PDF).

Issues and parties are listed in alphabetical order. Additional issues will be covered in part two of this post.
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ISSUE: Abortion

The UMC
…Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.

We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood.

We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control,* and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics.

We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life….

The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth….

Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel that they have no choice [but to abort a pregnancy] due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control.

The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities.

They should also support those crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women explore all options related to unplanned pregnancy.

We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption.

We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion….

[*MThinker note: A 2005 study found that 74 percent of women having abortions chose to abort their pregnancies because having a child “would dramatically change my life.” This suggests, at a minimum, that nearly three-fourths of abortions are for reasons of birth control. A 2002 study found that 54 percent of women having abortions had used contraception during the month they became pregnant, suggesting that abortion is widely seen as a birth control “back-up plan.”]

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.** We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.

We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

[**MThinker note: In other words, a third party — either government or government-mandated insurance — should cover the cost for those who who lack the means to pay for an abortion.]

The Republican Party

…[W]e assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed….We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it….

We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.

We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives….

[W]e assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed…. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage….

We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions — gender discrimination in its most lethal form — and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain….

We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy….

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ISSUE: Environment

The UMC
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation….

We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind….

We believe in the right…to property as a trust from God….

All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways we use and abuse it.

Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.

God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.

Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and overconsumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies.

This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.

The Democratic Party

…Pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury are a threat to human health, and Democrats will continue to stand up to polluters in the interest of environmental and public health.

We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation — an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits….

We understand that global climate change may disproportionately affect the poor, and we are committed to environmental justice….

The Republican Party

…[T]he Republican Party believes in the moral obligation of the people to be good stewards of the God-given natural beauty and resources of our country and bases environmental policy on several common-sense principles. For example, we believe people are the most valuable resource, and human health and safety are the most important measurements of success….

Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under government control…. It makes sense that those closest to a situation are best able to determine its remedy. That is why a site- and situation-specific approach to an environmental problem is more likely to solve it, instead of a national rule based on the ideological concerns of politicized central planning….

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ISSUE: Health care / Medical research

The UMC
…Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted.

Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility — public and private….

Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all…

Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities….

The right to health care includes care for persons with brain diseases, neurological conditions, or physical disabilities, who must be afforded the same access to health care as all other persons in our communities….

We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care.

We oppose the cloning of humans and the genetic manipulation of the gender of an unborn child.

Because of the effects of genetic technologies on all life, we call for effective guidelines and public accountability to safeguard against any action that might lead to abuse of these technologies, including political or military ends. We recognize that cautious, well-intended use of genetic technologies may sometimes lead to unanticipated harmful consequences.

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The Democratic Party

We believe accessible, affordable, high quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick….

As a result of our efforts, today, young Americans entering the workforce can stay on their parents’ plans. Insurers can no longer refuse to cover kids with pre-existing medical conditions. Insurance companies will no longer be able to arbitrarily cap and cancel coverage, or charge women more simply because of their gender. People with private insurance are getting preventive services like cancer screenings, annual well-woman visits, and FDA-approved contraception with no out-of-pocket costs….

The Republican Party

We believe that taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility. Chronic diseases, many of them related to lifestyle, drive healthcare costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the nation’s medical spending. To reduce demand, and thereby lower costs, we must foster personal responsibility while increasing preventive services to promote healthy lifestyles.

We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness….

We call on the government to permanently ban all federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage….

We call for expanded support for the stem-cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions…without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning and on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos….

We oppose the FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception….


Related posts
Bishop Timothy Whitaker: United Methodists must stand against ‘violence of abortion’
How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?
Book review: ‘Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century’
UM renewal leader: ‘The UMC is worth fighting for’
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
UM pro-life group urges Sen. Ben Nelson: ‘Do no harm’
‘Church and Society’ decries pro-life amendment to health bill

Related articles and information
White Mainline Protestants going for GOP presidential candidate Romney by nearly 2-to-1 margin (60% to 34%) (click tab that says “White Mainline Protestants”) | Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (Oct. 9, 2012)
2012 Party Platform Comparison Guide (PDF) | Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion record | Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com (Oct. 21, 2012)
The campaign for immorality | John MacArthur, Grace to You (Oct. 1, 2012)
The Obama Democrats: This isn’t the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton | Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 12, 2012)
Missed opportunity to vote for life | Rob Renfroe, Good News (September-October 2012)
United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones addresses pro-life event | Connor Ewing, IRD (Jan. 22, 2010)
United Methodists and abortion today | Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Feb. 9, 2009)
United Methodism on abortion | Paul T. Stallsworth, On the Square—First Things (May 29, 2008)
United Methodist Church continues decades-long crawl to pro-life direction | John Lomperis, LifeNews.com (May 23, 2008)
The sanctification of human life (a historical overview of the Christian church’s position on abortion and other issues related to the sanctity of human life) — Chapter 2 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)

October 1, 1509: Birth of John Calvin (below right), French Protestant reformer, in Noyon, France.

john-calvinIn 1536 he published his first edition of his classic Institutes of the Christian Religion (Google Books preview), which became the most systematic Protestant doctrinal statement of the Reformation.

October 6, 1536: English reformer William Tyndale, who translated and published the first mechanically-printed New Testament in the English language (against the law at the time) is strangled to death. His body is then burned at the stake.

October 10, 1821: Law student Charles Finney, 29, goes into the woods near his home to settle the question of his soul’s salvation. He experiences a dramatic conversion, full of what seemed “waves of liquid love” throughout his body.

Finney later becomes American history’s greatest revivalist. Some 500,000 people are converted during his revival services.

October 14, 1735: John and Charles Wesley, cofounders of Methodism, set sail for ministry in America.

October 15, 1900: Former Methodist Charles Fox Parham opens Bethel Bible Institute in Topeka, Kansas, where Agnes Ozman and other students would speak in tongues on New Year’s Eve and begin the 20th-century Pentecostal movement.

October 19, 1609: Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius, founder of an anti-Calvinist Reformed theology, dies at age 49 in Leiden, Netherlands.

October 26, 1950: Mother Teresa founds the first Mission of Charity in Calcutta, India.

francis-asburyOctober 27, 1771: Francis Asbury (left), sent from England by John Wesley to oversee America’s 600 Methodists, lands in Philadelphia.

During his 45-year ministry in America, he travels on horseback (or in carriage) an estimated 300,000 miles, delivering some 16,500 sermons. By his death, there are 200,000 Methodists in America.

October 27, 1978: The complete New International Version (NIV) of the Bible is published. It becomes the most popular English Bible translation of late 20th and early 21st centuries. An updated version is released online in 2010 and in print in 2011.

October 28, 1949: Jim Elliot, missionary to Ecuador’s Auca Indians (Huaorani people), writes in his journal the most famous of his sayings: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

martin-lutherElliot and four fellow missionaries are murdered while trying to evangelize the violent Huaorani tribe. A group of 10 warriors kills them in a brutal attack on January 8, 1956. Later, many of the Huaorani come to faith in Christ.

October 31, 1517: A monk named Martin Luther (right) posts a list of 95 complaints and concerns about the Roman Catholic Church on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking what became known as the Protestant Reformation.

Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.

The following book summary is by Riley B. Case, associate executive director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Riley B. Case

Dr. Case served for many years as a pastor and district superintendent in the UMC’s North Indiana Conference (now the Indiana Conference), and he has been a delegate to five UM General Conferences.

He is the author of Evangelical and Methodist: A Popular History (Abingdon Press).

This piece was first published in a different form in the Confessing Movement’s e-publication, “Happenings Around the Church.”

Links and subheadings below have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

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Forgetting How to Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution (Bristol House, 2012) is a thoroughly researched, heavily footnoted account of efforts, strategies, schemes, and attempts on the part of non-Christian — or at least quasi-Christian — persons, groups, caucuses, and in some cases church leaders, to secularize historic Christian truth in regard to human sexuality.

Author Karen Booth, director of Transforming Congregations, begins with Alfred Kinsey and his studies on human sexuality. Kinsey influenced Hugh Hefner, who chafed under the restraints of traditional biblical morality (Hefner grew up in a conservative Methodist home).

Hugh Hefner not only started Playboy magazine, he also gave a major grant to fund the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). SIECUS was interested in values-neutral sex education, which basically ignores biblical moral teaching.

Remarkably, SIECUS had ties with the Methodist General Board of Education Task Force on Sex Education, which operated under the assumption that the church’s “negative” views toward sexuality needed adjusting.

In the 1960s, youth ministry in the Methodist Church was undergoing a philosophical shift. Youth, so we were told, did not want others — including their parents or the church — to tell them what to do. They wanted “freedom” and “equality.”

Under the sway of progressive pressures, the 1972 General Conference did away with the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) and legislated a new agency, the National Council on Youth Ministry (NCYM). That group, among other things, gave grants to homosexual-advocacy groups.

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Trying to be ‘relevant’

The church bureaucracy was already on board. As early as 1962 the Methodist Church had published a resource Sex and the Whole Person which essentially substituted the latest (secular) psychological insights for traditional teaching about faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness. Sex and the Whole Person spoke of Freud and sexual repression. It emphasized that in sexual matters seldom is there a right and wrong, but shades of grey. There were no moral absolutes.

At the time of The Methodist Church-Evangelical United Brethren merger in 1968, the editors of church school material indicated that sex education would be one of their top priorities. Meanwhile in its March-April, 1969 issue, Motive magazine — the church’s paper for young adults — printed an article by Del Margin and Phyllis Lyon, co-founders of a lesbian-advocacy group. (The UMC had the sense to stop publication of Motive in 1971).

In the mid-1970s, Leon Smith of the Board of Discipleship commented on “positive” trends he saw in the church’s response to the new sexuality — from rigid rules to situational ethics; a new toleration of private, consensual acts; the recognition of positive uses of pornography; and a new understandings of homosexual activity (understood now as a “variant” rather than “deviant”).

If the church believed that this attempt to be “culturally relevant” would enhance youth ministry it was sadly mistaken. Over a 10-year period the circulation of youth materials fell from 1.2 million pieces per quarter to 400,000 and the youth staff at Nashville went from 13 full-time persons to one part-time employee. (Melvin Talbert, now a retired bishop who urges clergy and laity to defy the UMC’s sexuality standards, was the general secretary of the Board of Discipleship at that time.)

To their credit, a number of bishops and church leaders were not pleased with the direction in which progressives were leading the church in the area of human sexuality. A few leaders spoke out on behalf of the church’s traditional stance, and Curriculum Resources toned down some of the more extreme studies.

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The push to normalize homosexual relationships

Those biblically orthodox leaders were further tested by the onslaught of homosexual-practice advocacy that has characterized some parts of The United Methodist Church since 1970.

Karen Booth

Had it not been for an amendment from the floor at the 1972 General Conference that inserted into the Social Principles language that says the UMC “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers it incompatible with Christian teaching” (now in ¶161F in the Book of Discipline), The United Methodist Church likely would have been the first mainline denomination to neutralize biblical teaching about homosexual practice.

Tellingly, since 1972 no general agency of the church has petitioned the General Conference to uphold traditional teachings on marriage, the family and human sexuality.

Before the 1980 General Conference, every agency and every caucus that petitioned General Conference in regard to homosexual practice — except for the renewal ministry Good News — urged the church to set aside its orthodox stance on homosexual practice. For its efforts Good News was labeled “intolerant” and “hateful.”

The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society claims to advocate positions taken by the General Conference, but in the area of marriage the board is silent. It is also silent in the area of affirming the sexual ethic of faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness (¶161B and ¶161F).

GBCS does indicate that the church must seek to eradicate “heterosexism” and “homophobia,” but when it comes to the UMC’s statement that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” GBCS is silent. At one time the church sought to enrich marriages. But in a current GBCS list of 20 key issues facing the church and society, marriage is not even mentioned.

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Follow the money

The United Methodist Book of Discipline prohibits the use apportionment money to “promote the acceptance of homosexuality” (¶613.20 and ¶806.9). This doesn’t mean that those in the church who want to bless homosexual relationships and to change the definition of marriage are without funding and support.

Karen Booth traces some of this money and support, most of which comes from groups outside The United Methodist Church, including:

  • Welcoming Church Movement/Institute for Welcoming Resources;
  • Soulforce;
  • The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing;
  • Faith in America;
  • The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation;
  • The Human Rights Campaign: Religion and Faith Program;
  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD);
  • Believe Out Loud.

Major funding for these organizations — and for caucuses within mainline churches — comes from groups such as the Arcus Foundation, which from 2007 to 2011 has made 150 grants totaling almost $20 million to “religion and values” initiatives.

Two UM groups, Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), received almost $850,000.

From LGBTfunders.org

The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund has given $10 million in the same four-year period to “allies” who work among clergy and congregations for “marriage equality.”

The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation gives money to seminaries that support the homosexual agenda. In 2009, it gave grants totaling $75,000 to the Church Within a Church Movement (PDF), Dumbarton UM Church in Washington D.C., and the Reconciling Ministries Network.

Karen Booth asks an interesting question: Does The United Methodist Church understand the implications of outsider money flowing into the church with the specific agenda of subverting the church’s teaching on human sexuality? Have any church leaders expressed concern over this?

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A healing gospel

The typical reaction on the part of progressives to a work such as Forgetting How to Blush is to rant about “homophobia” and “hatefulness.” However, it would be difficult to label the movement Karen Booth heads, Transforming Congregations, as a homophobic and hateful group.

Many of those associated with Transforming Congregations have known sexual brokenness themselves and have experienced rejection on the part of the church. But they believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers healing, and they give testimony to healing that has taken place in their own lives.

Forgetting How to Blush (the title is from Jeremiah 6:15 and 8:12) is not an encouraging book. It is a sober account of “United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution,” an account that suggests intense spiritual warfare is taking place in The United Methodist Church.

But hope remains. Most local UM churches and ordinary church members have refused to follow the progressives in their effort to follow the secular world in regard to human sexuality.


Related posts
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Chasing away young people by being faithful to the gospel?
What is at stake in the battle over marriage
Should United Methodists agree to disagree on homosexuality?
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
A word from Mr. Wesley: Holiness in singleness
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
Renewal & Reform Coalition releases letter to Council of Bishops
In GBCS article, UM elder argues against celibacy for single clergy
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
In embracing homosexual marriage, Foundry UMC rejects UM boundaries, breaks with 2 millennia of church teaching
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage

Related articles and information
Endorsements for Forgetting How to Blush | Bristol House
‘Behavior Doesn’t Interrupt Your Relationship with Christ’: A Recipe for Disaster | Ben Witherington, ChristianityToday.com (July 12, 2012)
United Methodists uphold policy that calls homosexuality ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (May 3, 2012)
The church addresses marriage and sexuality | Thomas A. Lambrecht, Good News (January/February 2012)
Book Review: Forgetting How To Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution by Karen Booth | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (March/April 2012)
UM clergy vow to wed homosexual couples | Sam Hodges, UM Reporter (July 15, 2011)
Eros defended or eros defiled — What do Wesley and the Bible say? | Ben Witherington, The Bible and Culture (Patheos.com) (Feb. 14, 2011)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
United Methodism in crisis: Scriptural renewal through the Good News Movement | Chapter 4 of Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality (ordering details) | Maxie Dunnam and H. Newton Malony, ed. (Abingdon Press, 2003)
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)
The story of Good News: A recollection by Charles W. Keysor (PDF) | Good News (March/April 1981)
The Junaluska Affirmation: Scriptural Christianity for United Methodists (PDF) | Forum for Scriptural Christianity (Good News) (July 20, 1975)

A Labor Day prayer

A prayer appropriate for Labor Day, from the pen of 16th-century church reformer John Calvin:

My God, Father and Savior, since you have commanded us to work in order to meet our needs, sanctify our labor that it may bring nourishment to our souls as well as to our bodies.

John Calvin

John Calvin

Make us constantly aware that our efforts are worthless unless guided by your light and by your hand.

Make us faithful to the particular tasks for which you have bestowed upon us the necessary gifts, taking from us any envy or jealousy at the vocations of others.

Give us a good heart to supply the needs of the poor, saving us from any desire to exalt ourselves over those who receive our bounty.

And if you should call us into greater poverty than we humanly desire, save us from any spirit of defiance or resentment, but rather let us graciously and humbly receive the bounty of others.

Above all, may every temporal grace be matched by spiritual grace, that in both body and soul we may live to your glory.

(From a collection of everyday prayers Calvin wrote for the people of Geneva, Switzerland. )

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