By Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism, Institute on Religion and Democracy’s blog
Recently United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones helpfully compiled a list of the various proposals aimed at solving our denomination’s more than 40 year debate over sexual ethics. What is striking is the implausibility of nearly all of them. First they are nearly all politically impossible, as almost none of them are likely to get the required votes at any foreseeable General Conference. Proposals entailing constitutional change, which requires a two thirds vote both at General Conference and among total votes at all global annual conferences, are especially unattainable. But secondly, almost all the proposals would fail to achieve the stated goal of preserving United Methodism’s institutional unity and ending or at least minimizing the chronic debate. Most of these proposals would exacerbate the debate AND ensure schism.
The search for a comprehensive magic formula for solving United Methodism’s divisions continues. It’s very American to assume that every problem, political, social, cultural, economic, ecclesial, has a defined solution, ideally through a single plan or legislative omnibus. This assumption has made Americans renowned as problem solvers. It also has made Americans often unrealistic and impatient. The assumption presumes that reason and logic can override history, emotions and passions. Human experience and the Christian revelation indicate otherwise.