Petition 81103

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Called to Inclusiveness (81103-FO-¶138)

Amend ¶138 by adding the following:
For over a century, explicit rhetoric and policymaking efforts among many Christian denominations and other religions, including the United Methodist Church, as well as in the secular world, have engendered intolerance, hatred and increased violence toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons.  United Methodist Christians understand these persons to be "of sacred worth" and to be entitled to the "spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self" (Discipline ¶161G).  Jesus demonstrated love for all people and especially welcomed those whom society had marginalized (a repeated theme throughout the four Gospels of the canon).
Yet following the abolition of raced-based Central Jurisdiction and the prohibition against the ordination of women, sexual orientation has been the only human category explicitly defined by and used in the Discipline and Social Principles as a basis for ecclesiastical discrimination.  As a result, for 35 years General Conferences have invariably been ridden with strife, disharmony and politicalization from non-denominational forces over the issue of matters related to sexual orientation and gender identity as evermore exclusionary language has continuously been inserted into the Discipline.  

God’s Spirit has not allowed the denomination to enjoy respite from strife because it continues the sin of exclusion.  On-going debate demonstrates three undebatable facts in no uncertain terms: (1) Christians of good faith (including scientists, theologians and ethicists) are not of one mind regarding Scriptural issues of sexual orientation/gender identity; (2) persons of varying sexual orientation and gender identity will always be a part of the Church Universal; and (3) every attempt to exclude the obvious will only engender more strife.
John Wesley in his sermon #39 on 2 Kings 10:15 said: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”  See Discipline ¶102 (“Doctrinal History”).2

Diversity is a gift of the Holy Spirit, as Scripture reveals.  St. Paul wrote:
“Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” (Romans 14:13-14)
  
Further, the writer of Acts 10:15b says: “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean.”  St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:13a, goes on to say:
“For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”

And again in Galatians 3:28 he says:  
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
  
The Gospel of John (13:35) sums it up:  
“[E]veryone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

The Church will not be at peace or at rest until it ceases the process of exclusion, and instead turns its whole heart and whole mind to an inclusive invitation to Christian discipleship.  Deleting 35 years of exclusion language regarding sexual orientation and gender identity is a necessary starting point.

Rationale

    “See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. . . .  Do not quench the Spirit.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:15, 19)