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Homosexuality and the church: Two clergy perspectives

Homosexuality and the church: Two clergy perspectives
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Two South Carolina United Methodist pastors—Dr. Tom Summers and the Rev. Phil Thrailkill—address one of the key issues up for dialogue and vote at this year’s General Conference: homosexuality. Summers makes his point, “May Incompatibility Rest in Peace,” while Thrailkill offers a counterpoint, with “The Necessity of the Word Incompatible: A Response to Dr. Summers.” Here are their viewpoints in two parts:

Point: May Incompatibility Rest in Peace, by Dr. Tom Summers: Part 1 and Part 2

Counterpoint: The Necessity of the Word Incompatible: A Response to Dr. Summers, by the Rev. Phil Thrailkill: Part 1 and Part 2



  • Two wonderfully written pieces which unfortunately, will not change anyone’s mind on the issues of full inclusion of all in the UMC. It also will not change the minds of those who hold to carefully selected proof texts from Scripture which do in fact demonize LBGT persons. I sat down with my dear friend Phil Thrailkill last night and discussed the articles. Both are well written, passionate representations of the dilemma we face as a denomination. What do we do? In a nearby ELCA Congregation, the congregation chose to call a congregational vote on whether to allow same gender ceremonies in their church. They also put their pastor on notice that she nor any future pastor would be allowed to perform or participate in same gender marriages. All this did was put two opposing groups at enmity with one another. This is basically what will take place at our own upcoming General Conference! So, what is the answer? I respectfully request that we use 1 Corinthians 13 as our “house” rule. Realize, that this text is not some mushy and sentimental wedding text! To live this way is difficult, dangerous, and radical. I’d love to see where living out Paul’s admonition to the Church at Corinth would take us!

    • If we abide by 1 Cor 13, does that mean that 1 Cor 6 is to be ignored? How about reading them both and abiding by both?

  • I am not a pastor. I am not a Biblical scholar. I am just a member of a Methodist Church and I cry for the negative direction our country has taken over the last 50 years. The United States of America was founded on Christian principles. Our founders learned those principles from reading their Bibles and attending their churches. Pastors preached on how Christians should apply the Bible to every activity of their daily lives.
    Unfortunately, today many churches, many pastors are watering down God’s Word in an effort to be more inclusive, more accepting. We are all sinners in need of a savior. We always have been. We always will be. The watering down of God’s Word, however, has been falsely redefining some sins as acceptable alternatives today. Without the belief we are sinning, where is the need for repentance.
    For my spiritual health and for the spiritual health of my family, I believe that we may soon have to leave the Methodist church. In 30+ years we have never heard one sermon stating that abortion is a sin. In 30+ years, the Old and New Testament verses clearly defining abortion as a sin have never been read in the five Methodist churches we had joined. In 30+ years we have never heard one sermon on the sin of homosexuality. Isn’t that what “incompatible with Christian teaching” means?
    Many studies have cited that Christians do not appear to behave much differently than non-Christians in the world today. Part of that is because many of us Christians do not read the Bible as often as we should. Part of that is because too many of us Christians have been spoon fed the watered down word in church.
    God promises in Second Chronicles 7:14, “IF MY PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME SHALL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND FORGIVE THEIR SIN AND HEAL THEIR LAND.” That verse should give us hope, If We Change. “God please help us to make the United States of America a Christian nation once again. God please let that change start in me.”

    • I applaud what you have expressed so succinctly in your essay. For the life of me I cannot understand why our denomination puts this ungodly subject in our faces every year. God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As believers, we must follow God’s Word or face eternal damnation. I am sick and tired of this issue of homosexuality coming up in our household of faith/denomination. If we embrace what the world practices, why do we need God? Instead of giving sides to this abomination, why not try God’s way and repent. It’s not rocket science United Methodists!!!!
      2Chronicles 7:14 24/7

  • I am an older Christian and my values are the ones that I was taught as a child and growing up in the Baptist church. The subject of homosexuality is addressed not only in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. Paul specifically mentions it in the book of Romans. I agree with Jeanette: God’s Word is the same whenever – it is eternal. Sin is also the same whenever – it is eternal and the sins that are mentioned in the Bible will not go away and must not be watered down or dismissed as being irrelevant. I believe we should hate the sin but love the sinner. I personally do not believe that anyone is “born that way” however I do believe that Satan can make a person think that they were. God help each person who attends the Conference to clearly seek His face and turn from their embrace of wicked ways.

  • I am a Christian who believes in the Holy Word of God as much as the ones who have already written but am totally on the “side” of same sex marriage and pray for the day when our church acknowledges and blesses these unions. I was so hopeful when I read of a proposal being put before our last Annual Conference stating that any pastor of the UMC could perform a same sex marriage IF he/she felt called to do so but also would not be forced to do so if it was not something he/she felt comfortable doing. I was so pleased that folks so much smarter than I had come up with such a workable solution… it failed 40/60 but I was encouraged.. we are on our way to full acceptance! I have very close friends who say they will leave the church if and when this happens. I regret that and have to muse at why I would NOT leave my church if it doesn’t go my way. I would not. I will just keep praying … and would encourage those on the “other side” to do the same. Homosexuality is rampant throughout the bible … many choose not to see it.. It is not something new in our “wicked and sinful” times.. It is the way some of us are created.
    I would ask “What would Jesus do?” I can’t find any reference to his not accepting those who were “unacceptable”… on the contrary, he championed them. I would hope our church will do the same.

  • […] transgender people, which has been one of the more divisive issues facing the denomination of late (see two South Carolina clergy do a point/counterpoint here). But hundreds of other pieces of legislation will be considered, from restructuring to passage of […]

  • Being a devoted follower and servant to my Lord, Savior, Master and Friend, Jesus Christ now for over 40 years, I can see what He meant as He taught in the Book of Matthew Chapter 24. The Officials of the Methodist Church Organization, and their State Conferences in the U.S., & its territories, are going to have to give unacceptable excuses to our Heavenly Father God Almighty, at His Great White Throne of Judgment. It will be a joyous day, as what Jesus calls such people “Hypocrites and Fools” will be tossed into that Great Lake of Hell Fire. The Holy Bible states: “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and “Thou Shall Not Take Anything That Belongs To Thy Neighbor.” Forcing people to pay a ransom to keep their church buildings, or taking away churches because the congregations want to leave the United Methodist Church Organization, will not get these “Hypocrites and Fools” into Heaven ~ and Jesus Christ Guarantees This 100%!! And I Say “Praise God & His Loving Son Jesus Christ!!! A-MEN!!!! 🙂

    • Amen, James. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

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