Author: Tom Brady
Let me begin with a challenge! I challenge you to spend the next six days reading one chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians each day. When you get finished, take a day off, and repeat the process. After reading through this letter twice, read it a third time, taking in one chapter each day. When you are finished, if it hasn’t happened already, apply what you have read to the debate/discussion/decision that is facing our denomination in regards to human sexuality.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is seeking unity and peace among Jews and Gentiles. He seeks to break down “the dividing wall (the hostility) between them.” Pointing to Jesus Christ as the one who can bring these two groups into one, Paul says – “He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.” (Ephesians 2:15-16, NRSV)
For the past 35 years I have been both a witness and participant in the discussions about human sexuality. Is homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching? Should we be ordaining self-avowed, practicing homosexuals? Should pastors be allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies? As we have wrestled with these questions, “dividing walls” have been built, and “hostility” has emerged. As a result, faithful members have left churches. Pastors have left Annual Conferences. Friends and family have parted ways. And, now, we are facing the potential of a major division within the United Methodist Church.
Like the Church in Ephesus, we have become a diverse church representing a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities. The community we are called to become is no different than the community Paul desires – a community characterized by unity and peace. It is time for the “hostility” to end. It is time for the “dividing walls” to come down. It is time for us to replace law with love. I believe the One Church Plan can help bring that time into the present.
“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 6:23-24, NRSV)
Rev. Dr. Tom Brady
Senior Pastor, Lawrence FUMC
Bible-believing, Tradition-loving, Liberal, Evangelical, Radical, Non-activist