Sorry, Anglicans, There Is No Third Way

Jan 25, 2023 by

by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative:

Hard-liners on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue are right: there is no middle ground.

I received not long ago an e-mail from a reader who says that her Methodist congregation is in the midst of a conversation about whether or not to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church over gay marriage. The reader shared the arguments for both sides in her moderately conservative congregation, and asked what I thought. Looking at her list of “stay” arguments, I saw a bunch of propositions that were either deceptive (self-deceptive?) or wishful thinking. The stay argument, as she presents it, amounts to this: If we leave, we will be breaking fellowship with a national organization that has been good to us, and we will side with the closed-minded who are unwelcoming to diverse points of view. We want to stay open to all. Besides, we have been told by state leaders that they will respect our congregational autonomy, and will do their best to send us pastors who are a good fit for our more conservative congregation.

I told the reader that this is all eyewash, whether the proponents of that argument realize it or not. I don’t know that congregation, of course, but I can imagine that at least some of the conservatives are not at all ideological. When I was growing up in a Methodist church in the 1970s and early 1980s, you could call it conservative, but its conservatism had almost nothing to do with doctrine or politics, and everything to do with the fact that the congregation cherished stability, and wanted things to stay the same. I went through a brief period of Evangelical intensity when I was twelve and thirteen, and asked my mom to take me to worship at the local Baptist church, which I believed took doctrine more seriously. It wasn’t that our family’s Methodist parish was liberal, but rather that it avoided taking stands on anything, and folks seemed to like it that way. Its conservatism, at least during my childhood, was entirely temperamental. Point is, the term “conservative” can mean different things.

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