Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Need to Move Beyond the Debate!

2 Timothy 2:23

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

profileBonus post before Christmas and yes it is still coming and almost here.  My hope is that this post will get a number of positive comments and responses and that we can move beyond the debate and move toward ministry together.

After a few days of debate on Facebook about Frank Schaefer and Phil Robertson I must say – as I said a few months ago – I am tired of the debate.  It is the same people with the same points (myself included) and I personally see no way to harmonize the major differences between those on differing sides of the debate.  Some see homosexuality as sinful – something to be repented of and resisted like we are called to repent from and resist any other sin.  Some see homosexuality as acceptable – a sexual expression no different than any other expression of sexuality.  Some would even include those who wish to express their sexuality with both genders and those who wish to surgically change their birth gender or merely present themselves as other than their birth gender.

The debate and discussion has divided our church – the United Methodist Church – and our resources to do ministry.  Some – including myself about a decade ago – have suggested that a split of the denomination is the only way to deal with this difference since NO ONE has suggested a middle ground that is acceptable to both sides of the debate.

The General Conference of our denomination – the only group that can set church law and doctrine for us – has met and debated this subject extensively (and will continue to do so I have no doubt).  For over 4 decades – the General Conference has joined in holy conferencing on where the church stands on this issue and with an increasing majority each time.  The General Conference meet every 4 years – the most recent time in 2012 – and they have voted each time to stay the course with the Orthodox Christian belief that homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching.  This doesn’t seem to be something that will change as the denomination’s representatives to General Conference are increasingly coming from areas of our global church that side with the Orthodox Christian teaching.

OK – that was a long introduction and not meant to increase debate!  I wrote all of that because I don’t see any of that changing within the church in the next few decades – even with the civil disobedience among some clergy and bishops.  Here is an interesting article about where the church finds itself and a few suggested future paths.  One suggestion is to split the denomination but there are other options as well.

Here begins the purpose for this bonus post.  In my humble opinion – the church needs to move beyond the debate.  I believe where we finally land in the debate IS important – but I also believe that the debate has become the focus for some and not the people impacted by the debate.  I relate it to the debate over abortion.  We can have a debate over when life begins and whether a woman should have the right to end the life of her child within her womb all we want but if we are not in ministry to women caught with unwanted pregnancies – we are missing the boat.  The church needs to go beyond the debate over theology and ideology and be in ministry to women with unwanted pregnancies and their children.  We should be – and some are for sure – working with single moms and adoption ministries for example – whichever side of the debate we land.

I see the same analogy in this debate.  I read a post today – you can read it here – that reminded me that whatever we believe – there are people that need the love of Jesus and the grace that He offers.  No church – no matter where they side in this debate – should turn anyone away or have a ministry that does.  Whether we believe homosexuality is nature or nurture – normal or abnormal – sin or acceptable – we need to realize that there are people – especially young people according to the article – who are battling with their sexuality.  Some are seeing no way forward other than to take their life!  Hurting people need Jesus!  Can I get an amen?

Where do you side in the debate?  It does matter – but it shouldn’t matter when it comes to being in ministry to the hurting community around us.  Both sides of this debate should be reaching out to the LGBT community.  We may not be able to agree on how to reach out to them – I don’t want to begin another debate – but reaching out is not optional.  How about some suggestions on how to reach out or better yet – churches that are reaching out – how about sharing how you are doing so?  I would be personally interested in how churches that stand with the denomination’s stance on homosexuality are reaching out to the LGBT community.

Let’s spend less time debating where we stand and spend more time reaching the hurting for Jesus.  Now that sounds like a plan!  If we don’t – chances are and trends suggest – there may be no need to split the denomination – it will merely die on its own!  I pledge to continue to search the Scriptures using my mind – traditions and personal experiences as I understand this issue.  I also pledge to reach out to ALL people – for all of us have fallen short of the glory of God and need His amazing grace!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.


December 21, 2013 - Posted by | Church, Community, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Amen! I am getting weary of this destructive debate. I have long felt that the needs of the people that the debate centers around are not being met.


    Comment by Katie | December 23, 2013 | Reply

    • Katie – I’m not sure we will ever solve the differences between those on different sides – but we need to minister to all hurting people!


      Comment by raymcdonald | December 23, 2013 | Reply

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