Will the United Methodist Church Split?

I am a United Methodist. Lately I have seen a lot of talk about schism, or the separation of the church into two distinct polities. The primary cause of this is the UM Church’s stance on gay marriage. There are other reasons, but this is the elephant in the room – much as before the civil war, when everyone said the argument was over state’s rights, but in reality, everyone knew that it was about slavery.

I am not writing this to argue for one side or the other, however. What I am noticing is a large number of Methodist bloggers – for the most part clergy and / or bishops, who should both know better – saying that Jesus, the Lord, Yahweh, and various other names of members of the Trinity – would not want the church to splt, that above all, God desires unity.

I disagree.

I have been a member of the United Methodist Church all my life. I am proud to call myself a methodist, and it grieves my heart that things have reached this pass. But still, when I read the Bible – and here I am talking about the words of Jesus – He specifically said:

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
In the Tenth chapter of the Book of Matthew. So Jesus knew that there would be strife because of Him and division is not necessarily against the will of God. He would want his People to separate from those that are not in line with His teachings.

So which side is not in line with his teachings? Well…many others have written on this, and I’ll leave you to look that up. Instead, I’d like to explore a few other things.

I noted above that this situation grieves me – I love the United Methodist Church, and I understand that if she splits, she will cease to exist as the United Methodist Church. But I don’t see how this situation will be resolved. Neither side is going to win. One side will continue to push for change, the other will continue to resist. For that reason, I believe a split is inevitable, and all that remains is to see what form that will take.

Also, regardless of which side is right, I see a lot of anger and hate on both sides. Those who feel that they are in the right may want to reconsider whether Jesus would approve of their behavior towards fellow believers. Taking a stand is one thing, but ad hominem attacks are quite another.

Finally, John Wesley was a product of his times. Had he been asked, he would have been strongly against homosexuality. To claim otherwise is ignoring the facts. I do not know what he would have said had he been alive today, and I don’t presume to speak for him. But I do believe this: Wesley would have chosen a side. And I believe that those in the UM Church will do the same – because in this situation, there is no middle.