You know a denomination is in trouble when they dispense press credentials to a podcast where “without stained glass language” is a disclaimer about blue humor as much as it is an aspiration for plain talk. Regardless, the posse at Crackers and Grape Juice will be your correspondents at the UMC’s SPECIAL SEX CONFERENCE (my name for it) in St. Louis at the end of the month.
Thanks to the United Methodist Church, sex hasn’t been this uninteresting since 7th grade Health Class.
What it doesn’t have in titillation, it does have in waste— the SPECIAL SEX CONFERENCE will cost the United Methodist Church approximately $11 MILLION DOLLARS. That’s right, $11 MILL. I’d honestly rather spend that to build a little patch of steel slats somewhere down south. Not really, but I hope you get my drift. And for the record— yes, I’m aware that as a straight white guy and so I’ve got a privileged position from which I opine. Still, as someone who counts LGBTQ people and very conservative people among my friends, it does not cost $11 MILLION dollars to discover that people on both ends of this debate come to church for the same reasons.
People need Jesus and his grace, straight or not straight.
The Church is an ER for sinners.
The Church is not a graduate program for do-gooders looking to learn how to straighten up and fly right.
And every ounce of air we spend talking about sexuality and numbered parapraphs in the Book of
Discipline Bureaucracy is air we’re not using to tell prodigals that the fatted calf has been slain and the party’s already started.
Its not that I don’t think the authority of scripture, for example, is important or that amending the BOD isn’t a serious topic; it’s that neither is a local church’s raison d’etre.
A Global Methodist Conference on Sex Costing $11 Million Bucks…nevermind what I said above. Such a conference almost begs for a snarky, cynical theo-podcast to follow after it like TMZ muckrakers. The team at Crackers and Grape Juice— well, me and my minions— will be on hand at the colesium, up in the press box, to give you our play-by-play. Look for it here, at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.
In the meantime, I thought I’d try to offer something constructive:
My teacher, Nancy Duff, in her essay, How to Discuss Moral Issues Surrounding Homosexuality When You Know You Are Right, defers to the philosopher John Stuart Mill to explain why it is important for Christians to dialogue with Christians of differing views. Long after the $11 MILLION SPECIAL SEX CONFERENCE is over, these are incredibly helpful reminders for Christians on every issue, especially in a culture choking on self-righteousness and caught in an endless loop of indictment and recrimination.
1. Mill reminds us that because we are fallible (Paul would say we’re all sinners, among us there is no distinction), if we ignore an opposing opinion we may in fact be ignoring the truth.
2. Mill points out that even if another’s opinion is in error, it may still contain a portion of the truth.
3. Lastly Mill reminds us even if we are entirely correct in our position that position risks becoming simple prejudice if we cease to be in conversation with those who would disagree with us.
So, as we begin our journey to the most expensive least exciting time spent on sex EVER remember that you are fallible (sinful) and that to ignore one of your peers may be ignoring truth that the Spirit is trying to speak to you.
Remember that even if you think one of your peers is wrong, it’s not likely they’re absolutely wrong. Listen for what you think is true about their perspective. And do not forget that even if you have no intention of ever changing your mind on these issues, you owe your peers your conservation