The American branch of Methodism divided from its worldwide communion over same sex marriage

Here is the latest report of the violation of clerical vows among Methodist clergy in the US.

Everyone knows that the Methodist church is decidedly liberal in its theology, and one wonders why it has not approved same sex marriage already, as has happened in other mainline denominations. The answer is rather simple. The Methodist church is one of the few denominations that are part of a worldwide membership, and it is exactly that worldwide membership that is reining in the American Methodist instinct to liberalize its views on marriage. If the Methodist church were solely American, it would have approved same sex marriage.

This brings a tension that is far afield from ssm itself. The tension is this – will American Methodists be submissive to Christians from Africa, Asia, etc.? Not to do so appears, some would say, condescending, harking back to the old imperialism of missions, or indeed even racist, as if the wisdom of people of other cultures is inferior to that of the West. So the Methodist have a larger issue on their hands than just sexual morality. Will it find itself able to submit to its global fellowship? Will Christians from other cultures be accused of being homophobic, fundamentalists, judgmental and irrational as those in our own culture who oppose ssm are being accused of? So far these accusations have not been leveled by American Methodists who support ssm against Methodists from other lands who oppose it. And the only reason is that they might seem racist at the same time that they eschew homophobia.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  But no matter what, the official Methodist ban on ssm is not supported by American Methodism, and no one should take comfort that the Methodist church has put a brake on its rush toward liberalism. It has not. And its liberal clergy are well practiced in vowing to orthodox doctrines that they do not really believe and do not support.

Philosophy Bites, a recommended website on philosophy

If you enjoy philosophy, visit the site These are radio interviews with philosophers in short segments of 15 minutes or so. There is a nifty index on the home page that gives you an index of topics covered in case there is some subject in particular you are interested in. I teach college philosophy classes and find these interviews substantial and helpfully focused. I recommend the site to students.

Winsome Words 12/15/13

I read of a shipwrecked man who managed to reach an unihabited island.  There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged,he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship.  Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames.  What a crushing disaster that seemed!  Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a might advantage.  Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island.  When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, “We saw your smoke signal and came.”  Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.    Walter Maier