One Church Plan Critique – Petition #14

From Wesley White’s Critique of the One Church Plan

One Church Plan #14

Chargeable Offenses – Par. 2702.1

It is important to wonder about the significance of adding a code word to marriage—monogamous. I’m not savvy enough to catch its importance in this attempt at unifying United Methodists around topics of human sexuality when we have such a lack of educational resources to help us hold hands as we attempt to think together. I am suspicious that those behind the “religious liberty” language are also forwarding this “monogamous” language without any rationale about its importance in the realm of human sexuality.

Amend ¶ 2702.1 as follows:

¶ 2702. 1. A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶ 370), local pastor, clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried 168 DCA Advance Edition when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶ 2702.4) with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including, but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in a heterosexual a monogamous marriage; (b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies; (c) crime; (d) disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church; (e) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (f) relationships and/or behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor; (g) child abuse; (h) sexual abuse; (i) sexual misconduct including the use or possession of pornography, (j) harassment, including, but not limited to, racial and/or sexual harassment; (k) racial or gender discrimination; or (l) fiscal malfeasance.

  • While pleased to see the removal of the “incompatibility” clause as an automatic path to investigation and trial, it is important to note that the whole of ¶ 2702.1.b needs to be removed. There is no accepted definition of what constitutes Christian teachings. The vagueness of “teachings” opens a door to charges based on variations of themes of human sexuality or other personal identity issues.
  • Petition 3 deleted the phrase, “Christian teaching,” and here we are keeping the plural form, “Christian teachings.” If there was any confidence that this term meant an appreciation of the breadth of Christian experience and learning from it, this might be a helpful word. However, the history of that phrase over these last 40+ years is one of searching the history of Christianity to find a detail that can be used against someone or the developing of an artificial category of persons.
  • There is nothing to be gained by keeping “Christian teachings” here and only much to be lost by setting up future disruptions. Only time will tell if the delegates are willing to leave this seed of contention as a reason to charge someone.
  • Dropping the word “homosexual” deals with a current specific but leaves open the creative uses of “Christian teachings” to practically have no effect on the potential trials that will be held.
  • There are enough doctrinal protections present in our Constitution (Preamble and ¶¶ 1–61) and Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task (¶¶ 101–105 and Conclusion). A simple removal of ¶ 2702.1.b is in order.

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