10,000 members of the United Church of Christ are expected in Hartford this week for its General Synod. The denomination has shrunk in the last two years due, in large part, to its endorsement of same-sex “marriage:”

Since the last General Synod, in 2005, when more than 80 percent of delegates voted to endorse gay marriage, at least 220 churches have left the denomination, according to Faithful and Welcoming Churches of the United Church of Christ, an organization whose stated goal is keeping estranged churches from bailing out of the UCC.

The UCC disputes these numbers, and said only 160 churches have left the denomination since 2005, and only 90 of those specifically cited the marriage resolution as their reason for leaving…

“I think it’s fairly clear from the UCC’s pronouncements over the last 20 years or so that General Synod and the leadership would probably proudly own the label of liberal and progressive. So there’s your disconnect,” [The Rev. Bob] Thompson [president of Faithful and Welcoming]  said. “Our guide as a Christian church is Scripture, and Scripture is fairly clear that sexual activity is for marriage between a man and a woman. We don’t have the prerogative of dismissing Scripture.”

It’s a sad commentary when the best a church can do to defend itself is to say “no, we’ve only lost 90 churches over same-sex ‘marriage.'”

Of course, as Rev. Thompson’s presence indicates, there are still many orthodox Christians in the UCC. Several local UCC churches that rejected the denomination’s pro same-sex “marriage” position are discussed in the article.

But they could use a leadership that is perhaps a little less clueless:

The Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree, who heads the Connecticut conference, expressed frustration that the issue was still being discussed by the media. There are 244 UCC churches in Connecticut…

In Connecticut, one of the strongest conferences in the UCC, four churches have left the denomination since 2005, according to Faithful and Welcoming – First Congregational Church in Torrington; Stanwich Congregational Church in Greenwich; Poquonock Community Church in Windsor; and the Stafford Springs Congregational Church.

That number does not include those churches that left in the years just prior to 2005, such as the historic First Church in Wethersfield (until its departure, one of the oldest and biggest congregations in the entire UCC) and Foy Crabtree’s own childhood parish located in a section of Litchfield.

33 Responses to “Same-Sex “Marriage” Damages United Church of Christ”

  1. on 18 Jun 2007 at 4:47 pmNate

    I hate seeing the church divided but when a denomination throws scripture out the door and endorces what the Bible clearly says is wrong, I understand the dilemma. Those who say there hasn’t been a mass exodus out of the UCC are in pure denial. Too bad they can’t see what their denial of scripture is doing to the body of Christ.

  2. on 18 Jun 2007 at 4:51 pmDHAllen

    No offense. I am not stating my support or lack there of gay marriage or same sex unions. However people who live in glass houses should NOT throw stones.

    Especially with the priest scandals and other issues in the Church as a whole.

  3. on 18 Jun 2007 at 5:37 pmjohn of sparta

    maybe the Presbyterians can merge with UCC
    so they BOTH wither from their tainted fruits.

  4. on 18 Jun 2007 at 5:42 pmCross+Flame

    The quantitative growth of a church is not indicative of the approval of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believers.

    – Just because a Church is growing doesn’t mean it is right with God. There are many examples of this throughout history.

    Therefore, it must be true, that the quantitative decline of a church is not indicative of the disapproval of the Holy Spirit.

    – The UCC believes it is being prophetic for the marginalized of society. To stand for justice is often unpopular. Read your Hebrew Bible: prophets were not popular people!

    Just a helpful comment that numbers do not mean a church is right with God.

  5. on 18 Jun 2007 at 6:22 pmchris

    How can your group claim to be for “Faith, Family and Freedom” when one of your main tenets is to eliminate and/or reduce the freedoms of the gay population of the US? I believe your group is touting hypocracy !!

  6. on 18 Jun 2007 at 6:46 pmhimey

    Truly, the best religion is the most popular one.

  7. on 18 Jun 2007 at 7:03 pmDavid

    They want to leave, let them go. UCC is one of the few denominations that has a clue when it comes to understanding the Jesus Christ does not discriminate and neither should those who claim to follow him. The UCC is leading the way to freedom and justice under God and as usual there will be some who cannot follow. Let them wear their pointy headed robes (and Prada shoes if they so choose) the truth is the truth and it will prevail – Jesus died for ALL, not just a select few.

  8. on 18 Jun 2007 at 8:11 pmRobert Watkins

    I guess I’m dense, is the point of this article to say that the UCC position is wrong because of the number of churches separating from the denomination or from scripture (or both)?

    If it’s using the number of churches that have left as an indication that the UCC is wrong on the topic of gay marriage (with or without the quotes), then that really only makes sense if you disagree with the UCC and not really helpful in coming to a better understanding of the issue.

    If scripture is used as proof that the UCC is wrong, we only have to look at some simple examples of similar reasoning to complicate the argument beyond what is stated so simply above.

    For example, Kings 7:23 states “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: … and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” Which just as clearly would define the mathematical pi as 3 instead of the normal 3.14… value most people believe it to be today.

    1 Timothy Chapter 6 “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.” Who agrees that slavery is a good thing?

    As rediculous as this sounds, it’s not any more far-fetched that using scripture to make any claim about gay mariage.

    Either I need to spend more time trying to understand the point being made here or the point needs to be better made…

  9. on 18 Jun 2007 at 9:46 pmdayna mazzuca

    So sad. Homosexuality is clearly a sin, against God’s order, Nature’s design, social sensibilites, etc. But so is adultery, pornography, fornication, lust, etc. The day we stop calling sin sin is the day we stop calling grace grace and God God. I trust God is bigger than any lines in the sand a denomination may try to draw (or erase). Indeed, the name for his Holy Spirit is Ruach – or wind. Blow Spirit blow, let those lines fall where you would have them fall that all may be saved – and delivered from this present age.

  10. on 18 Jun 2007 at 9:48 pmJared Bradford

    Whatever happened to that whole “judge not” thing? Wow, denouncing someone else’s religion? Does the word hypocrite mean anything to you people?

  11. on 18 Jun 2007 at 9:50 pmDave

    My goodness, what an explosion of comments! It seems that Peter’s article struck a nerve, much as my article “Beware the False Prophets” did back in April.

    From the Christian perspective, the UCC position on homosexuality is wrong because it is contrary to biblical teaching. That they should suffer from internal discord as a consequence of this should not be a surprise to anyone. It is all the more lamentable that people should be led astray by such false teachings. As Jesus taught:

    Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:1-2)

    One of our opponents wrote in his comments the misleading remark, “Jesus died for ALL, not just a select few.” This is absolutely untrue, because it omits a critical ingredient – repentance. While it is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are able to receive the gift of salvation, it is up to us to accept the gift in a genuine and meaningful way. Jesus died, not for all, but for those who accept Him as Lord and Savior. If you do not acknowledge your sin, and repent of it, then you are not truly accepting the gift of salvation. It is not enough to merely believe in Jesus. As It says in the book of James, “even the demons believe that – and shudder”.

    The parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 26: 31-46) was used by Jesus to underscore the fact that the righteous will be received in Heaven, but the unrighteous will go to eternal punishment in Hell.

    If you still labor under the mistaken teaching that everyone is going to Heaven, you ought to reconsider based on the following sayings of Jesus:

    … unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:5)

    Do not suppose that I have to come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

    Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7: 19-23)

    I agree we cannot look to quantitative growth as the sole indicator of whether a church walks in the Holy Spirit. But we can “test the spirits” as described in 1 John 4. And part of that discernment process includes a comparison of a church’s teachings with the Word of God.

    What are we to make of the UCC’s infamous “ejector seat” TV commercials, considered so offensive that even the LGBT-oriented cable channel “LOGO” refused to air them? And what about the UCC slogan, “God doesn’t reject people”? Anyone who has actually read the Bible knows this is false. God, in His holiness, cannot countenance sin. Consequently, a more accurate teaching would be “People who stubbornly reject God, despite His provision for our salvation through the Son, will suffer eternal punishment”. Of course, you likely won’t hear that being taught at a UCC church.

    It seems to me that the actions of the UCC are repeatedly at odds with biblical teachings, and this fundamentally is where they err. That they should suffer division and loss of membership afterwards is simply a consequence.

    The sniping against the Bible on the basis that it teaches the wrong mathematical value for “pi” was truly hilarious. My understanding of the Bible’s purpose is that it primarily teaches us about our relationship with Almighty God, and His plan for our salvation. The most plausible explanation here in 1 Kings 7:23 is that the reference to “thirty cubits” is an approximation, expressed in a way that made practical sense to the ancient Hebrews who lacked modern devices like calculators. But interestingly, there is also a website that purports to show this is, in fact, not a contradiction because the bowl was also a handsbreadth thick. When you factor in this important difference, and consider the 30 cubits as being the inner circumference, it turns about to be remarkably accurate after all. Take a look –

    As to the argument that slavery was endorsed by the Bible, it also says in Jeremiah 22:13, “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.” In fact this was among the quotes used by William Wilberforce in arguing against slavery during the 19th century. If you’re interested in exploring this subject in greater detail, I’d suggest going back to read through Brian’s article from Feburary 24th, “Amazing Grace: The Untold Story of Faith and Politics”. And as I commented before during that discussion,

    So in the end, are we to blame the holy book for this flawed reasoning in support of slavery, or ought we to blame instead the people who misinterpreted verses in support of their own selfish agenda without properly considering the context of the entire Bible message? For even while individual verses might be found within the text to support either one position or another, the entirety of the Bible recounts a story of liberation from bondage. Joseph, after being sold into slavery by his own brothers, is vindicated and rises to a role of prime minister in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. When all the Israelites are kept in captivity, the Lord sends Moses to set His people free. The epic story ultimately culminates in Jesus Christ being sent to liberate us from spiritual enslavement to sin. Slavery is front and center within the Bible, as an element that illustrates the importance of our relationship with God.

    But merely because some people used excerpts from the Bible to support a morally incorrect practice, does this mean we should disregard the teachings of the Bible altogether? In no way! What it should teach us instead is that we must read with understanding, and contemplate the context and spirit of the message rather than trying to bend it to suit our own purposes. In a word, discernment. As written in 1 John 4, “test the spirits”. Or if you prefer a more contemporary phrase, “trust but verify”. There is no substitute for reading the Bible yourself to understand the truth of its teachings, and to identify the falsehood of mistaken interpretations.

    Some would say that what the Bible has to say on the subject of homosexuality is irrelevant, and that those who quote verses about it are likely to be as misguided as those who used the Bible in support of slavery. But I cannot agree with that comparison. There isn’t the same degree of ambiguity within the Bible on the subject of homosexuality as there was on the subject of slavery. Those who claim that its prohibition in Hebraic law is an anachronism seem to conveniently forget that it is placed immediately alongside incest, bestiality and human sacrifice. Are we ready to embrace these practices as well, in the name of personal freedom above all else? Jesus did willingly embrace sinners of all types, including the sexual immoral, but he also told them quite clearly “Go and sin no more”.

    The question of homosexuality, from a biblical perspective, is not so clouded by conflicting teachings. Both the Old and New Testament condemn it. Jesus did not need to reiterate the moral teachings, and catalogue them in detail; He simply condemned all sexual immorality as sinful, and called us all to repentance and deliverance.

    Finally, the bashing of the Catholic Church, in response to Peter’s observations about the UCC, seems to be a non sequitur. What does one have to do with the other? Moreover, FIC is not an exclusively Catholic organization. Its membership includes people from many denominations. Yes, Brian Brown is Catholic, but he’s just one person!

  12. on 19 Jun 2007 at 5:53 amSteve Fortuna

    If you believe Jesus was the Son of God, sent to fulfill Old Testament prophesy, one might well argue that his words and teachings take precedence over Old Testament edicts. In becoming the way of salvation through sacrifice, a new paradigm was achieved… was to be spread through peace, sacrifice, charity and compassion instead of via the sword. In fulfilling prophesy, he set the world on a new direction… in which a fear mongering “thou shalt not” dogma was replaced with love, acceptance and the call for human altruism. There are no direct words from Jesus one way or the other regarding homosexuality, however the admonitions to love one another and not to judge are dominant. He forgave whores, liars, lechers, drunks and those who betrayed him. The only physical punishment he ever doled out were the Pharasees doing business in the temple (Hint to televangelists everywhere).

    If you feel threatened by 2 people loving each other, regardless of sex, maybe you should look into your heart and see where your fear and revulsion really lies. A couple of ambiguous OT verses may be all the justification you need for bigotry, but there are many things in the OT that we know are just plain wrong and that we don’t accept today as ‘gospel’, including edicts on women’s menstral cycles

    I think one of the reasons many people are leaving churches in general is the rush to judge, to persecute, to ostracize, in order to boost their feelings of self-worth. Sad, self-hating people spread sadness and hatred. Hopefully some day you will find more pleasure in building up than tearing down.

  13. on 19 Jun 2007 at 7:09 amPeter

    Dave, as always, hits the nail on the head…but I want to emphasize one key part of his comment:

    Finally, the bashing of the Catholic Church, in response to Peter’s observations about the UCC, seems to be a non sequitur. What does one have to do with the other? Moreover, FIC is not an exclusively Catholic organization. Its membership includes people from many denominations.

    He’s responding in part to a handful of comments that didn’t make it out of the moderation queue, but his point bears repeating. FIC is not the Catholic Church. That several would-be defenders of the UCC assumed it was and responded with the most vile anti-Catholic non sequiturs is worth a conversation in itself. But this is not that conversation.

  14. on 19 Jun 2007 at 11:14 amJohn Smith

    Dave’s comments that the bible is much clearer about homsexuality than slavery would be hilarious, if he weren’t trying to be serious. You have one or two verses possibly constured as anti-homsexual, yet there are many explict descriptions of why is Ok to have slaves and rules governing there use and upkeep. Even detailing who owns the child born by your slave and a free person.

    Dave and Peter show an amazing ability to pick and chose what they like and dismiss what they don’t.

  15. on 19 Jun 2007 at 12:40 pmKitty

    Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

  16. on 19 Jun 2007 at 1:12 pmAndy

    While I will dodge addressing the underlying issue here, I did want to correct what I believe to be a misperception about UCC governance.

    The covenant of the UCC is fundamentally different from those used to the system in the Methodist or Catholic system. There is no Bishop or Pope in the UCC. What I mean by this is that the authority belongs to the congregations and not to a central figure.

    While the Synod can make general pronouncements, it CANNOT bind a given congregation or member. If a congregation cannot abide a pronouncement of the Synod, it need not enact it locally.

    While I do not pretend to know the whole history, the Synod tends to be more liberal as a body than the members as a group.

    I’m not sure how old the world is (but I think it’s a lot older than 10,000 years). I read both the NIV and NRSV (and will look at others) because translations are translations, and I’m not always confident which interpretation is closest to God’s Word.

    I am sure Christ is the answer. In the UCC, it does not matter if the person next to me in the pew is a strict literalist or not. We can be in covenant together because of Christ.

    The Synod does not speak for all, and does not shape my view of the Scriptures.

  17. on 19 Jun 2007 at 1:32 pmPeter

    Andy, thanks for your thoughtful comment. One thing you said is worth highlighting:

    the Synod tends to be more liberal as a body than the members as a group.

    I said it in my post, but it’s worth saying again: there’s a lot of UCC members who do not share their leadership’s theological liberalism.

  18. on 19 Jun 2007 at 2:14 pmDave

    While it’s true (as Steve Fortuna mentioned above) that Jesus “forgave whores, liars, lechers, drunks and those who betrayed him,” those who were forgiven repented of their sins, and were told “Go and sin no more.” Unrepentant sinners – those who continually deny the existence of sin in their lives, remaining un-convicted in their hearts of the error of their ways – are simply fooling themselves when they falsely profess to be Christians.

    Consider carefully these passages:

    I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

    Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness. (2 Timothy 2:19)

    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:5-8)

    Some posters in this discussion thread have mistakenly claimed there are only one or two ambiguous verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality as sin. But the fact that homosexuality is contrary to God’s purpose for humanity is evident, first and foremost, in the natural order. As stated in Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” In this sense, Jesus gave us clear instructions on the question of homosexuality, in as much as it is contrary to God’s plan for humanity, when he quoted Genesis in Matthew 19:4, saying “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female?” It stands apart as the most relevant comment made by Jesus on the subject of human sexuality, and underscores the fact that such relationships are only blessed within the context of union between a man and a woman. As explained in Genesis, the God-given purpose of such a sexual union is to “be fruitful and multiply”. Only in male/female relationships is there any potential for procreation. The design of the human body makes the intended purpose of sexuality clear to all, regardless of cultural or religious beliefs.

    Now let’s return again to the false claim that there are only one or two ambiguous verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality as sin. Somehow I recall there being quite a larger number than that. Let’s count them together, at least the ones I can recall off the cuff:

    – Genesis 19:1-29 — Sodom and Gomorrah
    – Leviticus 18:22 — “Do not lie with a man …”
    – Leviticus 20:13 — “If a man lies with a man …”
    – Deuteronomy 23:17 — No whores, no sodomites
    – Matthew 15:18-20 — Jesus condemns sexual immorality
    – Mark 7:20-23 — Jesus condemns sexual immorality
    – Romans 1:18-32 — Unnatural relations
    – Ephesians 4:17-19 — Every kind of impurity, continual lust
    – Hebrews 12:16 — See that no one is sexually immoral
    – Hebrews 13:4 — God will judge all the sexually immoral
    – 1 Corinthians 6:9 — Homosexual offenders
    – 1 Corinthians 6:18 — Flee from sexual immorality
    – Galatians 5:19-21 — Acts of the sinful nature
    – Colossians 3:5-6 — Sexual immorality and the wrath of God
    – 1 Timothy 1:9-10 — Homosexuality is immoral
    – 2 Peter 2:4-10 — The corrupt desire of the sinful nature
    – Jude 1:7 — Sexual immorality and perversion

    Is that more than one or two verses? I thought so. Where is the ambiguity, when it is universally condemned as sin again and again? Show me where in the Bible you think you can find a verse that speaks clearly in favor of homosexuality, rather than against it!

    The alleged silence of Jesus on the subject of homosexuality is an unconvincing argument, because he was also silent on many other things we would all (I hope) agree are wrong. Show me where He spoke about incest being wrong. Show me where He spoke about bestiality being wrong. Hmm, can’t find anything that He said about those particular behaviors? Are we then to assume then that Jesus thought these behaviors are OK? Obviously, for reasonable people, the answer is no; the absence of condemnation for these practices does not mean that He would sanction such behaviors as acceptable. So arguing from the silence of Jesus is a weak argument by LGBT supporters.

    There have also been some remarks which mischaracterized the teaching “do not judge, lest ye be judged”. In truth, this teaching does not say we must always avoid confronting sinful behaviors. It merely says that we must not judge hypocritically, by accusing others of sin while failing to hold ourselves to the same standard. Admittedly this can be a difficult concept to grapple with. I’d suggest reading more about it here …

    Nobody ought rightly to suggest that homosexuality in particular is an unforgivable sin. It is a sin like any other. We are all sinners in one way or another. We are all in need of deliverance through the gift of salvation made possible through the Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. But the key to accepting this gift is repentance. As long as someone lives in denial, failing to acknowledge their sin and failing to make an effort to turn away from it, they remain unsaved. We as Christians are called to continue reaching out to them, in the hope that they may yet be saved. Jesus alluded to the fact that few people will be saved, in referring to the “narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13-14), but God is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). For the unrepentant and unsaved, it is as if a wrapped gift – salvation from sin and death – is sitting before them, and they stubbornly refuse to open it. How very sad this is!

  19. on 19 Jun 2007 at 5:47 pmDavid

    Sorry Dave, I know you would love it to be true, but luckily you aren’t in control of Christ or Chrisitianity. The anti-gay position spewed by this and other sites is not THE Christian view, though sadly it is one that is held by some Christians. There has always been the problem of some claiming that they and only they know the truth, whole denominations and massive political structures have been built on it. Christianity will survive as usual though it’s true voice may be totally drowned out by the screeching of the Pharisees. UCC is not a perfect church, none are but they are a whole lot closer to representing the teachings of Christ than are many others who carry themselves as the chosen “holy” embassadors of God. Those ejector seat hads nailed it and that is what offended the “conservatives” so, thousands perhaps millions of us can testify to the “you can come in, you can’t” that prevails in much of the church. You so easily declare those you don’t like as “unrepentant”, that is most certainly between us and God and you luckily have no say in it. Best if you learn that soon.

  20. on 19 Jun 2007 at 7:37 pmDave

    Just as conservatives are not in control of Christianity, you liberal folks aren’t in control of Christianity either. Nor will you, or any other human authority, ever be. That is because the Church of true Christian believers answers to only one authority, Christ the Lord who reigns on high in majesty and glory.

    Your rhetoric implies (incorrectly) that we are somehow attempting to impose our own human standard of what is sinful and what is not. Nothing could be further from the truth. We simply cite the Bible and its teachings. Churches that depart from the Christian faith by adopting positions contrary to the Bible are, by definition, apostate and unbiblical. It is not we who judge them. They bring judgment from the Word of God upon themselves. The very same Bible they once claimed to follow, some now choose to abandon. That is the true hypocrisy.

    The ejector seat ads by the UCC were a slick public relations ploy, but they were also based upon a huge lie. No one is refused from a church based on their past sins. In fact, as I look around my church, the one thing we all have in common is that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. To the extent that some LGBT people feel uncomfortable within certain church denominations, it is because these churches refuse to give approval to sinful behavior. So in truth we aren’t the ones refusing. All are welcomed, but the tenets of faith are not something put up for a democratic vote. Only God gets to decide what is acceptable (righteous) and what is unacceptable (sinful). For those who cannot turn away from their sin, they will typically choose to exclude themselves from fellowship by refusing to participate any further within a truly Christian church, once they understand its uncompromising message of repentance and salvation. So really who is refusing whom? It seems to me that those who incapable of accepting that their behavior is sin, as described in the Bible, are the ones choosing to refuse involvement in the church.

    We can’t both be right on this question. There is only one Christ, and ultimately He will judge us. So you have to ask yourself, whose advice are you going to follow? Will it be the Bible, the acknowledged Word of God as passed down by the prophets and apostles? Or will it be some other authority that sets forth a man-made standard of morality?

    You are right in saying that the choice is between you and God, as it is for each one of us. We all have free will. But the stakes are extraordinarily high – your eternal soul.

    I believe those who are wise will read the Bible for themselves, rather than blindly trusting in church leaders who may be promulgating false teachings. We actually need both – the written Word of God, and fellowship with other Christian believers – in order to fully realize our calling to the faith. Once you have done that, most likely you’ll find that your faith motivates your politics, and not vice-versa. The winds of politics may change over time; but the moral teachings of the church should remain timeless as they were established by God, not man.

  21. on 20 Jun 2007 at 5:25 amTrueBlueCT


    I’m not so sure you are right.

    Frankly, if Jesus were around, I can’t imagine he’d turn his back on gays, or expect them to disavow their own sexuality and live a lie.

    Of course you see homosexuals as sinners and abominations. To me, God made them that way, and it is my Christian duty to accept them as they are….

  22. on 20 Jun 2007 at 8:16 amPeter

    David in # 19 writes:

    Those ejector seat [ads] nailed it and that is what offended the “conservatives”…

    At this point we’re less offended than amused. Here’s Fr. Neuhaus in the June/July ’06 issue of First Things:

    You may have seen the United Church of Christ television ads that show racial minorities, homosexuals, and handicapped people being rocketed out of church pews in conservative churches by the use of “ejector seats.” This is in contrast, of course, to the very inclusive United Church of Christ which welcomes everybody. In the last four decades, United Church of Christ membership has declined from 2.2 million to 1.2 million. And that’s without the use of ejector seats.

  23. on 20 Jun 2007 at 8:50 amDave


    That’s a very interesting question – what would Jesus do?

    In attempting to determine an answer, prudence demands that we examine the evidence. Rather than speculating wildly, we ought to thoughtfully consider what He said, what He did, and what those who knew Him best – the early apostles, who implemented His teachings – said and did.

    Jesus broadly condemned sexual immorality in all its forms. He preached a message of repentance, and specifically sought out sinners during His earthly ministry … not because He endorsed their behavior, but to bring them out of their bondage to sin and death. Those who accepted His teachings experienced a change of heart, and turned away from their sinful practices.

    Both before and after Jesus’s walk upon the earth, homosexual acts are specifically identified in the Bible as sinful. And nothing was said or done by Jesus or any of His apostles to contradict these teachings.

    I agree with you that Jesus would not turn His back upon homosexuals. He would seek them out, to call them to repentance, and bring them out of their bondage to sin and death, just as He did with other sinners.

    You spoke of living a lie. It seems to me that the lie is when people tell themselves that the grip of sin upon their lives cannot be broken. That lie comes from the whisperings of Satan. But the Bible tells us:

    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

    Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

    It is homosexual acts that are sinful, detestable, and abominations – not the people themselves. And we all have free will. We all have a choice. These things do not happen in a vacuum. We are not powerless. Those who believe that lie, when they say to themselves “I cannot help but act according to the way that I was made”, are being deceived.

    The sin of homosexuality can be overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul testifies to this within the following passage:

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

    In particular, take note of the phrase “And that is what some of you were”. To whom is he speaking? In part, he is speaking to former homosexuals. But they were “washed”, “sanctified”, and “justified” through the grace of God!

    The bottom line here, from a religious perspective, is a fundamental difference about whether homosexual acts are sinful. Christian churches that stand firm upon biblical teachings will affirm that – yes, it is a sin. Others who depart from biblical teachings hold that the opposite is true, based upon a selective reading (keep what we like, discard what we don’t like) and a revisionist interpretation (moral precepts are malleable according to human standards, rather than being the constant and timeless prerogative of Almighty God). If you call that Christianity, you are just telling yourself yet another lie; but hey, what’s one more, once you’ve started down that primrose path?

  24. on 20 Jun 2007 at 6:58 pmDavid

    “Only Baptists are saved”
    “If you aren’t immersed in water you’re not really baptized”
    “If you don’t speak in tongues you are not filled with the Holy Spirit”
    “The Roman church is the Great Whore of Babylon”
    “Mormons are Satanic”
    “If you’re not a Roman ‘Catholic’, you are not part of the true church”
    “The Pope is the latest in a line of leaders that connects directly to Peter”
    “There will be no Jews in heaven”
    “You must prove your faith by taking up serpents”
    “Churches that allow women as leaders are against the Bible”
    “Jesus was white”
    “Jesus was black”
    “Jesus was gay”
    “Jesus was not born naturally”
    “Mary was without sin and died a virgin”

    And on and on and on and on and on

    These are all things that Christians have said about other Christians or Christianity and they were “firmly based” on a “correct” reading of Scripture. Gee, they can’t all be right can they? Oh and add races shouldn’t intermarry and certainly not produce offspring, the “dark” races were started as punishment for the sin of somebody or another in the OT.

    “based upon a selective reading (keep what we like, discard what we don’t like) and a revisionist interpretation ”

    Absolutely, and there is not ONE church or Christian gathering or even one Christian that does not do the same exact thing when applying Scripture to their own lives. And the ones that screech the loudest accusing others of doing it are usually the most guilty – definitely the most arrogant at least. I don’t care how many scripture tidbits you cut and paste and quote to make them say what you want – it doesn’t change reality and it doesn’t change the fact that you are TOTALLY out of line the second you start condemning another believer who thinks different than you. That is NOT YOUR RIGHT and it certainly has no place in the laws of our country which is EXACTLY what this and other “family’ groups stand for. The difference between practicing your religion and fanaticism is one is personal, the other is political and ultimately oppressive to all others.

    It doesn’t surprise me that membership in many of the mainline denominations is down and that “evangelical” churches are growing. These are tough times and people are attracted to easy answers – that is what the “conservative” churches offer – cut and dried, rule is rules, black and white, no thought needed just do what the “leader” teaches. Sure read the Bible, but only in the context of what you are being spoon fed, don’t think, don’t question, don’t ponder and certainly don’t ever think that God might open up an understanding in you that is outside of the rigid framework of you denomination, cult, sect or home church.

    For all that some like to claim that the doors of their ” conservative, Bible believing, evangelical, full gospel, whatever) church are open to all – that is totally untrue. There are good sins and bad sins, there are sins you can admit to having done (if only in the past), no struggling allowed – in or out, period. Deny it all you want – those of us who have been through it know and will not be silent about it.

    Obviously this is a broad brush to paint some churches with but so is the blanket condemnation that flows unending from some on this site. That is what “touches a nerve” that you put yourselves so high up on a pedestal and look down on the “apostate” masses with disdain. Perhaps a cleser reading of the Bible would clue you in about that behaviour.

  25. on 20 Jun 2007 at 10:09 pmNick

    David says, “it doesn’t change the fact that you are TOTALLY out of line the second you start condemning another believer who thinks different than you….”

    What utter sophistry.

    Disagreements about nonessential points of doctrine are different from theological reflections on the case of a man who leaves his wife to live in fornication with another man, then expresses the desire to be married to the man. Such a man, by a New Testament definition, is lost and dead in his sins. No one who reads the New Testament can think otherwise. Therefore, those advocating for such a man must invent fables about Paul’s self-loathing gayness, and a whole raft of other things to justify what is an obvious sin.

    And, such a man, in any civilization influenced by Judeo-Christian morality, would always have been considered mentally and morally disordered.

    That such a man can now be made an overseer in God’s house shows the utter cowardice and bankruptcy of what passes for Christian leadership in our nation.

    Any denomination that would countenance such a thing is apostate by definition, having promoted as good the things that God has forbidden.

    If you do not accept that, I cannot help it. I simply ask you to admit – if you dare – that what you are teaching is not Christianity. It is something new and alien that is seductive because it isn’t “offensive,” but whatever it is, it is not the faith of Jesus Christ.

    Please do the decent thing and call yourself by some name other than Christian if you believe these things to be good and wholesome.

    No, David, the “masses” are not apostate, but those who have corrupted and twisted the Gospel of Christ certainly are.

    They are not Christians in any biblical or historical sense whatsoever. They are pagans. They should at least have the decency to call themselves what they are and drop the pretense. It is a tiresome charade.

  26. on 20 Jun 2007 at 11:22 pmTrueBlueCT


    What you preach is so removed from reality. Most gays I know would far rather be heterosexual. They aren’t “adopting that lifestyle” as an act of rebellion. In fact, their wires are crossed, and their homosexual desires are far from a choice.

    How do you explain homosexuality in nature? Many animals are naturally attracted to the same sex. Are these animals making a conscience choice to embrace “sin”?

    Answer me this, why would anyone “choose” homosexuality instead of embracing the comforting normalcy of being a heterosexual?

  27. on 21 Jun 2007 at 1:20 pmDave


    You raise some interesting questions, worthy of a response that is separate from this discussion thread. Please see the 2 articles that I’ve just posted:

    – The Blueprint for Human Morality
    – Predisposition and Free Will

  28. on 21 Jun 2007 at 8:27 pmDavid

    Well Nick, you’re good at playing mix and match aren’t you. The fact that this hypothetical leader “left his wife to live in fornication”, is an issue I do agree. I cut it at fornicate because it is no more sinful if you are “fornicating” with a man or a women. It is the breaking of vows that is the issue. The fact that he was made a bishop or whatever the title is ,I just can’t keep track of all the man made power positions, is no more and no less “morally bankrupt” than the promotion of “leaders” who participated in the covering up of cases of pedophilia, or those who use their pulpits as a means of justifying war, excusing genocide and racial prejudice, advocating for specific politicians (especially those who are proven “dirty”) and any number of other “sins”. Are you as equally offended by them or is it just this person’s homosexuality that gets you so self-righteous. I don’t justify his behaviour or the church’s promotion of him but unless he is the only divorced Christian leader around it is hypocritical for you to single him out for special condemnation.

    “Any denomination that would countenance such a thing is apostate by definition” By your definition yes but as I asked above, do you include all the other abuses of Christian leaders in your definition. Doesn’t seem like it. I could name quite a few leaders and denominations I would put in that category, but it’s only my opinion and I don’t claim to speak for God. Try it sometime.

    Since I am not “teaching” anything, there is little I need to admit. And if one wants to look at “seductive” teaching there’s a whole lot more out there than acceptance of homosexuality and they are far more dangerous in the long run. Luckily for me and all the others outside of your idea of acceptable, what you consider the “faith of Jesus Christ” is your own personal issue that has nothing to do with us – you don’t have a say in how my faith is defined. For your information, I have never referred to myself on this site as a “Christian”. I stopped using that term way, way back when I saw the hypocrisy, hate and violence which is “normal and accepted” behaviour in many of the people who call themselves Christian. Jesus Christ has NOTHING to do with that mess, and if you want people to do the “decent” thing and drop the pretense, I would suggest you pass your command on to those referenced above.

    “but those who have corrupted and twisted the Gospel of Christ certainly are.”

    I totally agree and that is why I speak out against those in the “conservative” church who have warped the Gospel of Christ into an unrecognizable cult of power hunger and control.

    I think you should consider being a bit more careful throwing around your pronouncements of who is a Christian and who isn’t. That’s up to Jesus, not you and He is really much more capable of making that decision.

  29. on 22 Jun 2007 at 8:32 pmNick

    He’s not hypothetical… he’s real and he’s an Episcopal bishop. Can we drop the red herrings, please.

    How does this make me self-righteous? If complete moral perfection is the standard for church governance how will there be church discipline?

    Jesus has already made the decision of who can be allowed to be a visible member of His church.

  30. on 29 Jun 2007 at 7:53 pmDavid

    As a devout UCC member I am not too concerned about the loss of “conservative” congregations. We lost a number of congregations in the 19th century when we began to ordain women (in clear violation of scripture). When our church became the backbone of the abolitionist movement we again lost a number of congregations who said abolitionism was unbiblical (and they had a number of verses to support their view and the system of slavery). Today, we see the UCC standing again for freedom, compassion, and the oppressed. And, again, we are paying the consequences for it. Jesus said that Christian discipleship will be hard — so we in the UCC naturally expect to be ridiculed, attacked, and persecuted. Following Jesus is a very hard path.

    Peace and grace upon ALL God’s children!!!

  31. on 30 Jun 2007 at 7:30 amDave

    If we need any more evidence that UCC has departed from the way of Christianity, we need only look to the actions of their most recent General Synod.

    Proposed resolution 26-3 (“A Reaffirmation of Marriage Based on the Word of God”) – which would have properly acknowledged the scriptural teachings on marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman, and properly condemned homosexuality as sin – was voted down. In like manner, proposed resolution 26-4 (“A Reaffirmation of the Historic and Ecumenical Christian Perspective on Marriage”) fell upon deaf ears. And in light of their recent stance on the issue of same-sex marriage, both of these outcomes are rather unsurprising.

    But it’s another resolution that ought to grab your attention. Proposed resolution 26-8 (“Legalization of Physician Aid in Dying”) endorses physician-assisted suicide, and it earned a favorable reception by the synod on June 26th. Yes, you heard that right, the UCC is moving in the direction of endorsing euthanasia. Here are some excerpts from the text of the proposal:

    Affirms that on the grounds of compassion and choice, if strict safeguards to prevent abuse are followed, a terminally ill, mentally competent adult should have a legal right to request and receive medication from a willing physician to hasten death if the patient finds his or her suffering to be unbearable.


    Encourages Conferences and Local Churches to advocate for state legislation to allow physician aid in dying, in circumstances where compassion and ethics prevail.

    Yet another victory for the “culture of death”, as it was so aptly described by Pope John Paul II. Dr. Kevorkian must love the UCC.

  32. on 30 Jun 2007 at 10:58 amDave

    Just a follow-up on that euthanasia comment, in case it wasn’t clear from what I wrote above. The UCC stopped short of actually endorsing physician-suicide, and for the moment is simply calling upon the issue to be studied further within the church. But they could’ve voted down the original resolution (as they did with the resolutions pertaining to marriage), instead of passing an amended version of it. The fact that they didn’t vote it down altogether shows how perilously close they are to sliding further down the slippery slope.

    There remains a large cohort within the UCC advocating strongly for euthanasia, including folks like The Rev. Robert K. Nace (Greenville, PA) who has said:

    As a matter of justice and compassion, we should affirm the right and responsibility of every individual to have a part in the time and manner of his or her own death. And, in exercising this responsibility, when we ask for the assistance of a physician, that person should not be guilty of a criminal act.

    Thankfully there are at least some voices within the UCC still grounded in the truth:

    We’re afraid that the ‘right to die’ will become the ‘duty to die’. – Denise Karuth, UCC Disabilities Ministry

    Scripture is clear that our lives are not our own. The emphasis should be to live in Christ and face death in Christ. It is not something we should assist. — David Runnion-Bareford, New Hampshire Conference

    We applaud the courage of these brave souls in withstanding the howling winds of the left-wing agenda that seeks to further corrupt the moral values of their church.

  33. on 11 Jul 2007 at 6:36 pmY.

    By supporting gay marriage, it is like someone is encouraging you to kill, to steal, to lie, to covet and to sleep with other people’s wives and husbands.

    The UCC leaders have simply turned this church as Church of Sodom and Gomorrah. Although God loves gay people, He hates homosexuality. Unless gay people repent and sin no more, they will surely end up in the hell.

    The UCC leaders shall learn to have fear of God. The world and its desires will pass away, God’s Word will always be the same no matter how much Satan intends to twist it.

    If anyone claims to have faith in Christ, he/she should never change God’s Word,

    “I am so astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemened.”
    1 Galatians 6-10.

    “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
    Romans 1:27

    In Jesus’ name,


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