by Gil Caldwell
A Suggestion for the Judicial Council as it considers the reinstatement of Rev. Frank Schaefer following his suspension and defrocking because he officiated at his son's same sex wedding.
The United Methodist Church in this time of charging, trials, guilty verdicts, suspensions and defrockings of clergy who officiated at same sex weddings, ought pause and consider the following:
Bryan Stevenson, the Lawyer who is the founder of Equal Justice, a project devoted to ending the death penalty was asked this question in a "10 Questions" Interview in the October 27, 2014 issue of TIME magazine:
"Do we deserve to kill? Do we have a system of justice that functions free of bias?"
"I think the answer is no. People of good will know we can't engage in this activity when we are so compromised by our own perfections."
We of the Church, of all people, are aware of and acknowledge our imperfections. Why then, do we who are aware of our sins of commission AND omission, and confess those sins to God, dare to judge and punish others when we ourselves are sinners? (Bonhoeffer).
I keep near my writing desk, the book, "WHEN THE CHURCH BELLS RANG RACIST". I have yet to comprehend why at one time in Methodism, clergy who were open and bold about their anti-black words and actions in church and society, were not charged, tried, found guilty, suspended and/or defrocked. The book details illustration after illustration of clergy who did this.
Yet, today, there are those among us who seek to punish clergy who enable same sex couples to marry and publicly proclaim and acclaim their love for their partner. A love shaped by the love that God has expressed in Jesus and for each one of us.
Those who oppose the death penalty have as a motto this question; "Why do we keep on killing people to prove that killing people is wrong?" Is it not time for us in the UMC to stop having trials of clergy for marrying same sex couples when we know that those trials are wrong?
Years ago, conservative columnist David Brooks in a NY Times op-ed wrote this; "Conservatives ought expect same sex couples to marry as a way of expressing their commitment to the one they love" (a paraphrase).
May United Methodists today, be they conservative, moderate or liberal, celebrate and affirm marriage equality for same sex couples!
. . .