I listen with some anxiety and apprehension to responses regarding our Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. As Christian people of faith, we have a very important decision to make: will we take this decision as a threat or an opportunity? This is not a time for us to deepen the debate over the rightness or wrongness of the decision. This is a time for us to witness to our faith in the healing and powerful grace of God to be Beloved Community in a world constantly fighting and arguing over all kinds of matters. Our Supreme Court did not decide once and for all who is right and who is wrong; they determined that fair and just practices include all people and that marriage is no longer an issue of discrimination. People have strong feelings on both sides of this issue. But our Christian response is about something more than agreement or disagreement.
In the world in which we live, there are many realities that challenge us. How we rise to meet these challenges is important. Will we meet them with grace, humility, tolerance, love and compassion, or will we meet them with anger, intolerance, judgement, hostility and disrespect? We will never agree on everything, especially those things that we value most, but how we disagree and still maintain our relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ matters very much. This spirit of unity in the face of diversity of opinion is part of our Wesleyan heritage. God’s grace allows us to engage productively with widely diverse viewpoints and theological perspectives in our daily lives.
Our own Book of Discipline is conflicted and yet it guides us as a covenant people. It is always evolving and changing as we wrestle with our understanding of God’s will for this beautiful United Methodist Church. Through prayerful discernment and Christian conferencing, we will continually strive to create a common future together that fully embraces all children of God, created in God’s image. I encourage and challenge us all to celebrate God’s creation and commit together to build up and not tear down. To encourage and support, not judge and point fingers. As our country figures out how to adopt new laws and realities, our Church must draw upon God’s Spirit to be the very best Church that it can be, modelling for those outside the Church graceful and loving ways to respond.
Pray that we may lead and not merely react. Let us seek ways to embrace all people into our circle of Beloved Community, and to work together to become a Church of reconciliation and love. Our God works with us and through us to “make all things new.” There is no challenge, burden or opportunity that we face alone. God is with us, helping us to become the Church we need to be. My vision for our Church is that through us, every person may know the love of God and the glory of God’s creation.
Click here to read responses from other Bishops in an article from the United Methodist News Service.
Grace and Peace,
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).