This is Pastor Tim’s article published in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.
One of the things in your life that you really need to be careful with is your ability to give permission. Giving permission is what you allow to happen. Whether you agree with it or not, if you give permission, then it is an endorsement. We all have been there at one time or another where something happened that we didn’t agree with, but instead of speaking up, we decided not to rock the boat and then the thing that we disagreed with became normal practice. It is very true that we don’t need to speak up about everything in life we don’t like. But there are some things going on today that all started with someone somewhere giving permission to something and it has spiraled out of control. Now the exception has become the rule.
This is the problem the United Methodist Church is having today. I started on the track to be a United Methodist Pastor right after I graduated from High School in 1993. Some of my earliest memories of going to Annual Conference were fights over what to do with the LBGTQ community. Can open members of this community be ordained? Can they be members? I have been in meetings where good Christians were ready to commit violence to each other in the name of the Prince of Peace over this question.
Admittedly, this is a very difficult question, but because the past few generations of leadership have begrudgingly given permission, we now have a highly contentious situation today. By beginning the statement to give permission with “I don’t agree with this, but…” this has enraged both sides. The side that wants to be included is angry that there is anything other than full and complete acceptance and the side that wants to maintain standards and boundaries are angry because permission was given. By playing both sides for 50 years, the UMC is now in a place where no one is happy and 100% of everyone is angry.
Now we have come to the point where we can’t even be in the same room together. On this issue of open LBGTQ inclusion, all it takes is one little hint of disagreement and people quit listening out of anger. I have had people leave Wayne Street over both sides of the issue. Those who think we should include and those who are angry it has gone as far as it has. There are a number of people from both sides of the issue that they are leaving the UMC if this decision doesn’t go their way.
All of this has happened because back when the controversy began, the leadership tried to play both sides of the issue by begrudgingly granting permission. No one is happy because no decision was ever made. Now this unresolved issue is fracturing a great institution that I dearly love, and my heart is broken. I love the UMC and I am in a position where I am probably eventually going to have to renounce my credentials. Even writing that sentence breaks my heart, but that is where this is heading. The only way to get back to making disciples of Jesus Christ is to allow institutions like the UMC to sink under their own weight. The UMC has spent too much time trying to appease both sides that now both sides hate it. The biggest lesson I have learned from this is there is no such thing as begrudging permission. There is simply permission or denial. To say that you don’t like something but are giving permission anyway is the same as just giving permission. All the begrudging part does is make those who received the permission angry. By playing both sides, you lose the support of both.
For those of you who haven’t gotten angry and quit reading this article yet, you are probably wondering where I come down on the question of the LBGTQ community. This current generation is lost on the issue. The media has so polarized us that we can’t even talk about it. But there is one part of this question that I will oppose until the day I die. Under no circumstances will I ever give permission to anything of a sexual nature being taught to children. For people in leadership who will have great influence over children, if they come in with a sexual indoctrination agenda, I will aggressively oppose that. This means teaching children gender theory or identity, sexual preferences, or exposing the children to anything they are not emotionally or intellectually ready to comprehend. It isn’t people who have alternative sexual desires that I have a problem with. It is the people who want their sexual interests endorsed and validated by children that I will never permit under any circumstances.