I Am Not Permitted to Have a Conscience!

I Am Not Permitted to Have a Conscience!

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.
Matthew 5:18 (American Standard Version)
United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer was convicted of violating the United Methodist Book of Discipline by officiating at his son's same-sex marriage back in 2007. He received a 30-day suspension. If he violates church law he could lose his ministerial credentials. Part of his statement after the trial was this: "I gave the jury every excuse to take my credentials when I was honest with them and said that I must continue to serve all people -- no exceptions." ... "It's a matter of conscience. I simply cannot discriminate against God's beloved children." --- from various news sources reporting on Frank Schaefer's trial and verdict which followed.

I have been a pastor since June of 1959, starting out in the former Methodist Church. I finished my college work at Geneva College in Beaver Falls PA and my seminary work at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore KY.

I have witnessed many changes over the years with mergers and the trend toward compromise in regard to moral standards. Certainly one of the most divisive conflicts to take place within the United Methodist Church is that regarding same-sex intimacy and relationships. The United Methodist Church has a stated position in its Book of Discipline in regard to same-sex intimacy and relationships. First, the stated position is that we believe homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Further, United Methodist pastors are forbidden to conduct same-sex ceremonies (or "marriages") and the conducting of these ceremonies is forbidden to take place within all United Methodist churches.

Lots of national publicity erupted recently over the trial and conviction of U.M. pastor Frank Schaefer for having officiated at the "marriage" of his homosexual son back in the year 2007.

There is a quote at the beginning of this commentary by this pastor in which he claims "it is a matter of conscience" in his ministry and has stated that he will continue to do same-sex ceremonies when asked to do so.

I and at least a few other pastors, on the other hand, take the position that God has clearly established the sexual boundaries for humans with the only acceptable expression and experience of sexuality being limited to a husband and wife within their covenant of marriage. God has clearly condemned such sexual activity as sodomy, lesbianism, fornication, adultery, incest, and bestiality. There is not one single statement in the entire Scriptural record in which any of the aforementioned transgressions receive the blessing and approval of our Creator!

Therefore, I in good conscience cannot condone behaviors such as sodomy and lesbianism nor any of the rest which God condemns. Nor could I ever officiate at a "ceremony" that involves two sodomites or two lesbians. It's a matter of conscience and obedience to the clear revelation given to us by Almighty God!

But I am not permitted to appeal to conscience on this issue nor in a sense am I even allowed to have a conscience. If I do not cooperate and agree to the sodomite/lesbian agenda which attempts to force its will on the public at large as well as within the church walls of all denominations, then I am labeled in rather negative terms.

I was chastised recently because I used the terms "sodomite" and "lesbian" in a discussion. That was considered by my accuser to be offensive inflammatory language. The post in which this discussion took place was deleted by a United Methodist pastor.

I am also considered to be homophobic, mean-spirited, lacking the love of Jesus, and anti-Christian with such an attitude. Forget taking a position against sodomy and lesbianism on basis of conscience due to the Biblical record. My "interpretation" is completely in error and I have used "proof" texts to clobber my opponents - conscience has absolutely nothing to do with this!

Conscience only applies to the growing numbers of pastors and church leaders who are fighting the present restrictions within the United Methodist Church regarding same-sex lifestyles and "marriage."

Frank Schaefer says he is going to continue to do what he has been doing and will do same-sex "ceremonies" or "marriages" in the future when asked to do so, on basis of something he refers to as conscience.

I will continue to do as I have done in the past in standing up and speaking against all sexual transgressions, including the abomination of sodomy and lesbianism! And this in spite of the fact that I am not permitted to have a conscience on such an issue as this!

Fortunately for me, the Schaefers of this generation will not have the final word on what I have done or have not done, nor on the position I took on human sexuality - that lies completely beyond their grasp. The best Friend I have ever had will make all decisions about that - His name happens to be Jesus.

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee. [Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV)]

For from the first making of the world, those things of God which the eye is unable to see, that is, his eternal power and existence, are fully made clear, he having given the knowledge of them through the things which he has made, so that men have no reason for wrongdoing: because, having the knowledge of God, they did not give glory to God as God, and did not give praise, but their minds were full of foolish things, and their hearts, being without sense, were made dark. Seeming to be wise, they were in fact foolish, and by them the glory of the eternal God was changed and made into the image of man who is not eternal, and of birds and beasts and things which go on the earth. For this reason God gave them up to the evil desires of their hearts, working shame in their bodies with one another: because by them the true word of God was changed into that which is false, and they gave worship and honor to the thing which is made, and not to him who made it, to whom be blessing for ever. So be it. For this reason God gave them up to evil passions, and their women were changing the natural use into one which is unnatural: and in the same way the men gave up the natural use of the woman and were burning in their desire for one another, men doing shame with men, and getting in their bodies the right reward of their evil-doing. And because they had not the mind to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an evil mind, to do those things which are not right; being full of all wrongdoing, evil, desire for the goods of others, hate, envy, putting to death, fighting, deceit, cruel ways, evil talk, and false statements about others; hated by God, full of pride, without respect, full of loud talk, given to evil inventions, not honoring father or mother, without knowledge, not true to their undertakings, unkind, having no mercy: who, though they have knowledge of the law of God, that the fate of those who do these things is death, not only go on doing these things themselves, but give approval to those who do them. [Romans 1:20-32 (Bible in Basic English)

A Significant Selah Moment!

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk 1:2-2 (NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness....

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

Romans 1:18; Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

November 21, 2013
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, PA
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA

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