Gay Couple Formally Charges Pastor for Not Marrying Them

Posted on December 10, 2014 in Marriage, Religious Freedom by

United Methodist ChurchIt finally happened.

I wondered how long it would take before the first “complaint” was lodged.

I think a lot of people expected it to happen long before now. But to this point the inevitability was carefully avoided. Perhaps it was due to waning support. Or maybe it was simply ignored. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter now because the first “complaint” against a pastor for refusing to perform a same-sex ceremony has taken place.

We’ve seen hints that this was coming for some time now. The most obvious being the wedding chapel pastor in Idaho that was sued for refusing to perform a same-sex ceremony. He was vindicated and his right to adhere to his religious convictions upheld. That must have irritated a lot of people.

But this case. This is different. This is a pastor in a church being sued for refusing to perform a same-sex ceremony.

Of course, one has to wonder what ground this particular pastor has to stand on considering his denomination and church in particular. A recent article on this story says that the “couple” in question, belong to a United Methodist Church where it appears they are members, involved in leadership, and even help lead praise and worship at times. Furthermore, it has been revealed that the couple were “engaged” during a Sunday service with the entire congregation present.

Given these facts I have to wonder exactly what moral, biblical, or other ground the pastor will try to stand on to support his refusal. If this couple is welcome as members in the church, placed in leadership, and allowed to be “engaged” in the church before the congregation, what is there to object to?

This seems to be the inevitability of denominations that choose to reject clear biblical teaching and approve of what God calls sin. The hope is that by being more “inclusive” they will gain the favor of younger generations and grow their dying churches. But a rejection of Scripture is a rejection of God’s blessing and presence. Such a church cannot hope to grow. Every church would do well to examine its doctrine, teaching, and practices to ensure fidelity to biblical commands; it’s not just liberal churches that are acting unbiblically.

The article makes the United Methodist position very clear:

“The United Methodist Book of Discipline outlines that ‘the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’ and that ‘self-avowed practicing homosexuals’ may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination. It also forbids ministers from hosting or participating in ‘ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.’”

One has to wonder, if the United Methodist Denomination holds to this position concerning homosexuality, why would a church allow a homosexual couple to be “engaged” during a service in the church?

The complainant’s comments on this church position is hard to grasp:

“The discriminatory and offensive language in the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline and [pastors] refusal to marry my fiancé and me has caused great spiritual harm to us both…[My] fiance and I have been victimized by [pastors] adherence to United Methodist Church rules, which is a chargeable offense per our Book of Discipline.”

Let me see if I can make sense out of this.

The “victim” is arguing that he and his finance have been “spiritually harmed” by the church and pastor adhering to church doctrine and official church guidelines concerning homosexuality.

They are further arguing that the very book that issues church guidelines is both discriminatory and offensive, and the basis for which they are lodging their complaint and charging the church and pastor for their discriminatory and offensive actions?

At this point I can’t help but wonder why these men stayed in a church that is so offensive? Why give your money and serve in a place that is so “spiritually damaging”? If this place is so intolerable why get “engaged” here and continue attending?

Well, it seems that, according to the article, this entire event might be nothing more than a stunt to get the church to change its position. Yep, it appears that the pastor is sympathetic to homosexuals and has previously called for the church to change its official position concerning same-sex “marriage.”

Why this is irritating is that right now many pastors are genuinely concerning about a lawsuit. Many pastors are engaging in deep prayer, seeking wise counsel, and exploring legal options in anticipation for the day when they are sued for refusing to perform a same-sex ceremony.

These pastors have not compromised clear biblical teaching. They have not accepted the cultural narrative that God is okay with sin as long as people are sincere, and two people really love each other. These pastors have stood firm, resolute in their conviction that homosexuality as a sin and any view other than that is a theological compromise untenable with biblical doctrine (See Romans 1, 1 Cor. 5-6). These pastors have stood in humility and grace recognizing that all sin is detestable before God – even their sin. But they have lovingly refused to give in to the temptation to accommodate the world in order to avoid persecution of any kind.

For these men, and their pastor, to stage such a stunt is a slap in the face to every pastor that has humbly, with trembling hands and spirit, boldly proclaimed the truth of God’s Word knowing full well they could be sued. The reality is that it won’t be long before someone sues a pastor, for real, for adhering to biblical teaching.

That reality is nothing to laugh or joke about.

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