Unbind Me

March 13, 2018

Tags: United Methodist, Discipline, homosexuality, Liberia

To my brothers and sisters in Christ in Liberia,

This is my second letter to you on my blog. Two months ago I wrote apologizing for President Trump when he called nations in Africa “shithole countries.” He does not speak for me. I feel privileged to be a partner with you in ministry in the United Methodist Church. By working together, we’ve dug wells, built churches, provided health care to mothers and babies, and supported schoolchildren. God is good.

This letter is more difficult. I’m writing to ask you to consider voting to change the United Methodist Book of Discipline as it relates to homosexuals. We serve the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But our cultural contexts are very different, and we interpret the Bible differently.

I believe that sexual orientation is not a sin or a choice, but something determined from birth. I could no more ask someone to change their sexual orientation than the color of their skin. Nor can I, who have enjoyed the love of my husband for 42 years, ask gay Christians to endure a lifetime of loneliness by insisting they remain unmarried or celibate.

There are gay Christians in my “village” who need to be fully welcomed into the United Methodist Church. They’ve been baptized. They pray, they read the Bible, they sing and raise their hands in praise. They tithe. They serve their churches with the spiritual gifts God has given them. I want to able to perform their weddings. I want to serve alongside them as pastors when God calls them into ministry. I believe the United Methodist Church in the United States needs their leadership.

Please. Unbind me from the prohibitions of ¶161.F, ¶ 304.3, and ¶341.6.

I take the Bible very seriously. When I come upon a difficult passage or issue, I try to read it through Jesus’ central teaching that we shall love God and our neighbor as ourselves. John Wesley used the “law of love” when he addressed the issue of slavery in the 18th century. Though the Bible permits holding of slaves, Wesley said, slavery is inconsistent with the teaching and practice of Jesus. So he told Methodists to free their slaves and work for abolition.

Regardless of what happens in St. Louis next February when the General Conference meets, I will continue to pray for you and continue to send money to Liberia, as I have in the past, for wells, churches, health clinics, orphanages, and schools. Please continue to pray for me and for my faithfulness in caring for God’s people here.

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Sondra Willobee

Selected Works

Sermon Preparation
"I cannot imagine a more practical, attentive, useful, reliable, provocative, and thoughtful guide to the delightful play of detail and form in sermons than this volume." -- Thomas Long
Adult Study
This is a Lectionary-based Adult Bible study for Year B. Contributors: Terri S. Cofiell, David A. deSilva, Mary Jo Osterman, Vincent Harris, Denise Nutt-Beers, Sondra B. Willobee
This is a Lectionary-based Adult Bible study for Year B. Contributors include: David A. deSilva, John O. Gooch, M. Bass Mitchell, Denise Nutt-Beers, Mary Jo Osterman, Sondra B. Willobee
Devotionals
"Unique metaphors of faith permeate this collection of worship resources and personal reflections. Clergywomen share insights into their spiritual journey, declaring both the exquisite joy and palpable pain of ministry."--Nan Self
These prayers and meditations can be used for personal reflection or for devotions at a women's meeting.

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