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COMMENTARY: Proposal for a truce on homosexual issues Kent Millard, Aug 12, 2010
By Kent Millard Special Contributor
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana recently recommended that leaders in his party declare a truce between those who have differing opinions about homosexuality and abortion, and come together to help improve educational opportunities for all children and youth and provide jobs for unemployed people in our nation.
It occurred to me that it might be helpful if United Methodist leaders also called a truce in the conflict in our denomination over homosexuality, and called all United Methodists to work together to make the world hunger-free and AIDS-, malaria- and tuberculosis-free.
The dictionary defines a truce as a temporary mutually agreed upon cessation of hostilities between opposing parties in a conflict.
For the past 40 years, leaders in the United Methodist Church have been in an ongoing conflict over issues surrounding homosexuality. Each side has come to General Conference armed with petitions, allies, troops and strategies to defeat the other side.
After 40 years of battle, neither side has completely won and neither has completely lost; both claim some victories every four years and pledge to come back next time with more verbal ammunition to fire at the other side.
I would like to recommend a temporary truce in this conflict between conservatives and liberals in our denomination over homosexuality so that we can focus our energies on the life-and-death issues of 30,000 people dying daily of starvation and millions dying annually of AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis around our world.
For a truce to be effective, leaders of both sides would need to sit down together and mutually agree on what they would do to promote a truce over homosexuality.
On the conservative side, it might mean not endorsing candidates to General Conference simply on the basis of their position on homosexuality. On the liberal side, it might mean not demonstrating at General Conference if they do not achieve the changes they want.
Leaders might find other things they would do to decrease hostility and increase cooperation on world hunger and health issues.
This would mean that all of the time and energy that the right and the left put into caucusing, strategizing and planning to promote their point of view and defeat the other side would be put into fulfilling the command of Jesus to “feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the sick and imprisoned.”
Now this could be a temporary truce. When there are no more hungry children in the world and there are no more people dying of AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis, then we can resume the conflict over homosexuality, if anyone has any interest in doing so.
If you are interested in being a part of this truce movement, I would encourage you to focus your attention on our denomination’s Global Health Initiative and the Global AIDS Initiative.
I would also encourage you to attend the United Methodist “Lighten the Burden III” conference Oct. 14-16 in Dallas, an event that will focus on marshalling the resources of the United Methodist Church to make the world AIDS-free.
Each Annual Conference has other ministries designed to heal the sick and feed the hungry that we can strengthen during this truce.
Whether you are on the right or the left, I encourage you to focus your God-given talents on being transformed by God so God can use you to transform the world into a place where all are fed and healthy.
This temporary truce might enable us to develop understanding, sympathy and respect for the other side that did not exist before. It might also help us to move from denouncing those who disagree with us to simply recognizing that we have serious disagreements over homosexuality.
In Luke 6:37, Jesus says: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Perhaps a United Methodist truce over homosexuality will help us stop judging and condemning each other, and instead practice forgiving one another and fulfilling the compassionate commands of Jesus.
The Rev. Millard is lead pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Ind.