Have you been following the story of Karen Oliveto? Karen is the United Methodist Church's first openly homosexual bishop. I was surprised when I discovered that fact. I thought the UMC had been championing the cause of lesbianism for decades. I recently discovered that I have been wrong all along. According to UMC law, "self-avowed practicing homosexuals are bared from clergy appointments." Karen, despite the law of the UMC, was appointed Bishop of five mountain states including Colorado. Another UMC district, called the South Central Jurisdiction, is challenging her appointment in the UMC's equivalent of the Supreme Court. A decision is expected soon.
The Denver Post has been carrying the story with long front page reports and large photographs of Karen and her many lesbian supporters. Today's report on the proceedings focused upon several LBGTQXYZ students at Iliff School of Theology, in Denver. Iliff is a school within the UMC granting theological and ministerial advanced degrees to students that usually go on to become UMC ministers. I attended two classes at Iliff back in 1981. I was impressed by two things during those two classes. First, the classes were all filled with militant feminists and lesbians. Second, there was no real biblical content to anything that was taught. Everything that was taught was nothing more than baptized feminism with some God-words thrown in for good merit. I was happy to never go back.
Rahdearra Paris Woods (formerly simply Paris Woods before she "came out") is a lesbian student at Iliff. She is the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher and had planned to get a job preaching in her father's denomination until he found out she was "dating a girl." Following biblical law in regards to flagrant homosexual behavior, she was excommunicated from her church and shunned by her family. Paris, as I like to call her, considers the church's actions against her to be hateful so she has turned to the UMC for support. She has found plenty of it, especially in the example of Bishop Karen. Paris believes that God has called her to preach and she will soon be doing so in the UMC if Karen's case is decided in her favor. I can't begin to describe how much is wrong with Paris' theological understanding so I won't even try to do so here today.
The newspaper report states that "at Iliff, where about 20 percent of the 300 member student body identifies as gay, transgender, queer or gender fluid, the next generation of ministers and theology professors is on edge, hopeful but also bracing for the heartbreak that will crash down on them if the judicial council nullifies the bishop's election." I wondered what a "gender fluid" person might be as I read the story. It did not take me long to find out. The next person profiled in the story appears to be an example of what it means to be gender fluid.
H. Byrdie Harris (From the photograph of it I can't tell if it is a man or a woman. I assume that is what it means to be gender fluid) is a student at Iliff. According to the story, "Harris, who identifies as queer and uses the pronoun 'they,' recited a poem about looking as a child at 'stained-glass Jesus' in church, feeling silenced as a black, queer person. As Harris took off a white robe to reveal a black suit jacket and bow tie, the cadence of the poetry grew more fiery and the audience rose to an extended standing ovation." I sure am glad I missed that spectacle. An unrepentant gender fluid queer who refers to himself as "they" should "feel silenced" in the presence of Jesus, in my view. I don't think I would have joined in the standing ovation.
The next person profiled was a homosexual named Ryan Duncan. Ryan says he "came out" (see this post for my take on the barbaric ritual of "coming out") at age 18 and, at that point in his life, "considered God to be his enemy." That was the last theologically correct position he held. Thanks to people like Karen he has found a home in the UMC and Iliff Seminary and he now considers God to be his friend. Ryan delivered a little speech that I think you should read. He said, "People typically think of the church as being hypocritical because they don't live their values. We talk a lot about the love of Jesus and following that example, and then to have this issue with the bishop proves that they don't really believe what they are talking about. That is what the younger generations are thinking about and that is why it is important to walk the talk. People nowadays want churches to stand for something." Let's consider the content of Ryan's rant for a moment.
God says that homosexuality is a sin. God says that unrepentant homosexuals will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. God says that He has cursed people with the behavior of homosexuality as a punishment for their refusal to worship Him as God. God says that homosexuals can be saved of their sins and have life eternal in the New Jerusalem if they repent of their sins and mortify their sinful flesh via sanctified obedience to His revealed Word. Furthermore, the orthodox Christian Church has believed each of the theological propositions I have written above for almost two thousand years. To use Ryan's terminology, these are established Christian "values."
Ryan is upset that Christians do not walk their talk yet when orthodox Christians walk their talk about the doctrine of homosexuality Ryan labels them as hypocrites, liars and hate-filled monsters who need to repent or leave the church. Ryan desperately desires that the Church today "stand for something" yet when the Christian Church stands up in opposition to homosexuality he cries foul! Who is the real hypocrite?
I hope the judicial council finds in favor of Karen and allows her to continue her work as Bishop of the Rocky Mountain district of the United Methodist Church. I can't think of a better act of providential judgement upon a group of moral reprobates than to install a lesbian Bishop over them. The members of the UMC and the students at Iliff will be getting exactly what they deserve. They can huddle together and wipe the tears from each others gender fluid eyes as they all slide inexorably into hell.