August 9, 2016
To the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops,
We read the document you released on July 25, 2016 “The Commission on a Way Forward.” Every United Methodist understands that the primary work of the Commission is to discern the ways in which the United Methodist Church will or will not continue to discriminate against God’s LGBTQ children. Yet this two-and-a-half page document fails to use the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer even once. In the sixth paragraph, you finally name “matters of human sexuality” as one of two “presenting issues” for the church.
Forty-four years into the codified discrimination against lesbian and gay people in our denomination, it should be commonly understood by religious leaders in the contemporary world that it is inappropriate to speak of our queer and very real, embodied lives as “presenting issues.” Please stop referring to us as issues.
Furthermore, Love Prevails’ July 18 letter to the Council of Bishops made the following specific demand related to your use of language in the Commission:
Be explicit about the work of the Commission. “Human sexuality” is code language for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer. Do not use coded language when speaking about our lives. The Commission is gathering for the sole purpose of determining whether and how the United Methodist Church will continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people in its life and ministries. You will not have meaningful conversation about the full and healthy spectrum of human sexuality and gender identity – for that, justice for LGBTQ people would be mandatory.
We send this letter to reiterate our demand. Perhaps we were not clear enough. Please stop using the words “human sexuality” when you mean to refer to the diversity and plurality of expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The work of the Commission will be much more believable when you use more direct language. For example, in the following paragraph on the Vision of the Commission, we have a much more truthful assessment of the current reality of our church when we replace the code language “human sexuality” with more honest language.
The Commission will design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality how it is possible to discriminate against LGBTQ people with a desire for as much unity as possible.
From now on, Love Prevails will evaluate every communication coming out of the Council of Bishops or the Commission on a Way Forward. We will issue a grade on your use of meaningfully descriptive and just language to describe the diversity of God’s children, as you move forward to debate and discuss whether or not our church intends to value our lives.
On the document dated July 25, 2016. Grade: F.