How Long Can this Unity Possibly Last?

May 10, 2004 10:46 AM EDT

For the past two weeks, the delegates to the United Methodist Church’s general conference embarked on an emotional roller-coaster ride of votes, protests, arguments, resolutions and decisions over the most controversial issue in the denomination: the ordination of homosexual individuals.

At the peak of the ride, several conservative leaders called for an “amicable separation,” where, like Paul and Barnabus, the two poles of the Church would go in its own direction to advance the growth of the Kingdom of God.

Not surprisingly, the informal proposal was immediately shot down by the majority of the delegates, who in its place passed a converse resolution, which called for unity in the church despite a polemic difference of opinions on homosexuality. By the conference's end, the delegates joined hands in a show of unity and declared that the denomination had actually become stronger than before.

While the call for unity is indeed praiseworthy, one cannot help but wonder, “How long can this unity possibly last?”

The liberals have expressed that they will “remain in the United Methodist Church today, tomorrow and however long it takes to have a fully inclusive church,” according to the Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of the liberal Reconciling Ministries Network.

They have also said that they will “continue to defy the church laws that they feel do not have a 'moral consensus,' and will continue to perform same sex marriages and ordain gays as clergy,” according to the Rev. Bill Hinson, the president of the evangelical Confessing Movement.

How can a church maintain unity if its constituents choose to recklessly break the laws set before them?

More importantly, the resolution stated, “As United Methodists we remain in covenant with one another, even in the midst of disagreement, and affirm our commitment to work together for our common mission of making disciples throughout the world.”

How is it possible for a church to preach about salvation without a concurring view of sin?

As the scripture says in Leviticus 19:19, “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.” The word of God that is planted in the church must be clear in its teaching without compromise; unity without consensus in the view of the word is well intended, but is bound to fail.

Christ repeatedly taught that he has “not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Therefore, the church should unite in bringing all sinners – homosexual and heterosexual – in humility before the Lord. However, the church must also teach sin as sin, and urge the believers to move away from that which kills, for “The wages of sin is death.”

If the church is a body of Christ, then, as the Lord said on the Sermon on the Mount: “it is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.”

At the UMC General Conference, the delegates overwhelmingly agreed that practicing homosexuals are indeed unfit to serve as clergy. If certain factions continue to break this law of the denomination, Christ and creation, it would be better to “amicably separate” than for both parties to follow the path of spiritual death. For whoever encourages and condones a lifestyle of sin has already severed himself from the vine.

“Keep my decrees.

'Do not mate different kinds of animals.'

'Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.'

'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.'”

[Leviticus 19:19]