A few weeks ago, United Methodists from all over the world gathered in St Louis, Missouri to consider their stance on human sexuality. Numerous speakers came to the microphone to expound on various plans designed to help Methodists shape their proclamations and practices on this complex, controversial topic. Every last one of them concluded their remarks with the claim that their plan would be the best way to win the world for God.

Their statements sounded quite similar to numerous claims made by television preachers over the years. Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, Jim Baker and many others often announced that they had been chosen to take on the world with its multiple forms of madness.  Through their outreach, they proclaimed, God’s presence and pre-eminence would be established among all peoples everywhere. As long as their viewers loyally supported them and their forms of ministry, their plan of salvation would prevail.

Upon further reflection, we see that plans of salvation are being proposed everywhere. They offer redemption for a wide variety of human dilemmas, including racial and ethnic survival, economic distress, local and international conflict, climate change, political unrest, social malaise and just about every type of unhappiness known to humankind. Everywhere, in both sacred and secular realms, plans to redeem humanity make promises of comfort, care and safety from calamity. All we have to do to secure those blessings is listen closely to promises made and obey.

Some plans rely on direct action. If capitalism is the source of trouble, destroy it and all who practice its nefarious ways. If your race is the highest realization of the human ideal, degrade or destroy everyone else. If the unborn or the elderly become a burden, liquidate them. If religion is nothing but tired myths and false faith, get rid of it. If democratic process is too slow and inefficient, put people in charge that will get things done now. If questions are raised about ideological goals, trample them underfoot. The ends of the plan always justify the means. Lie, cheat, steal, commit fraud, ruin reputations, remove any obstacle but make sure the plan of salvation succeeds. After all, the world must be made safe for…..

Other plans, while holding on to the same directed energy, use less obvious approaches. Advocates rely on propaganda, legal maneuvers, social brainwashing, political pressure, appeals to popular practice, party affiliations, hostile takeovers of private and public institutions, managed media, invoking sympathy for children, creating victim status, reinventing morality, decertifying religion, bullying traditionalists, and reinterpreting history to support their plan of salvation. Their methods are not violent, they say, but they are warriors and violence in their quest is only a hairsbreadth away.

Going back to the United Methodist Special General Conference, what was the plan put forth by the LGBTQIAP, etc. constituency in the church? Simple. Turn loose every pastor, lay person, congregation and conference and let them choose whatever sexual and gender expression they feel is legitimate. Christian heritage was to be no obstacle in making such a choice. After all, they argued, love has many forms and Christ is a champion of love! Let love prevail! Soon, the whole world will see the justice and wisdom of such a program. And we shall be saved from traditional sexual bondage. The Apostle Paul’s definition of salvation will now read, “neither slave nor free, male nor female, straight nor gay, binary nor trans, heteronormative nor homonormative, gender fluid nor gender fixed,”

The United Methodist LGBTQIAP, etc. constituency failed to convince conference delegates to cast a majority vote for their plan. They were steaming mad and promised to force their views on United Methodists, especially delegates not from the American sexual steam bath, to vote their way! First, the church by God! Then all of Christianity! Then the world! Then, we can all chant, “Free at last, thank God, Free at last!

Yup. Free as birds in gilded cages.