I, the Reverend Doctor William Paul Tarbell, charge the supporters of the LGBTQIAP, etc. ideology in the United Methodist Church with the following unscientific, unchristian and anti-humanitarian attitudes and actions:
You claim science where there is no science. In a 2014 letter to the President of Uganda, the American Psychological Association, along with a number of similar organizations, stated, “Science does not definitively understand the developmental sources of sexual orientation in humans.” Nor is there any clear science to support the existence of fixed orientations of any kind, sexual or otherwise.
You claim that sexual orientations predetermine identity and necessitate certain behavior. This is an outrageous denial of free conscientious choice, the bedrock of all human community. The assumption of personal accountability in behavior is the foundation for all morality, ethics, law, and Christian spirituality.
You claim that orientations and the resulting behavior are immutable. You say that change is not possible and can be dangerous to individuals who try to move out of deeply entrenched behavior. This is an outright denial of over a century of psychological theory and of Christian faith and practice. Both of these hold that all human actions can be amended, given personal commitment and appropriate support. But not you. For you Freud is a fraud and faith is impotent in the face of sexual orientations!
You claim that persons involved in same-sex or gender diverse lifestyles produce true and correct experiences around their sexuality and identity. Their experiences are completely authentic and must not be questioned. The experiences of others not in keeping with theirs you summarily dismiss as unimportant and irrelevant. Thus, you turn a deaf ear to the thousands of men and women who have left same-sex, transgender and other gender diverse lifestyles, sometimes even calling them liars and traitors.
You claim that you have sufficiently mapped human personality so as to determine particular orientations and gender states. This is arrogant in the extreme. No one can objectively, scientifically study or assess human personality. In addition, due to a multitude of both physical and non-physical factors influencing each individual, there is no way whatsoever to indelibly fix any particular characteristic, describing it as immutable and not subject to amendment. Yet, you claim you have the ability to do the impossible.
You claim that the secrets of sexual orientation and gender diversity can be revealed by simply listening to a person’s feelings, drives and attractions. These determine, with unerring precision, the identity of a person and what they must do. You state that this is the case even at the earliest age of a person’s life. Six year olds know they are same-sex or gender diverse because of what they feel? And that is to hold sway for the rest of their lives? This claim is a scandalous denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout Christian history feelings are to be examined as to their correspondence to faith and discipline. They are never, in and of themselves, constituative of the Christian life. This claim also undermines morality, ethics and law, and is extremely detrimental to human community.
You claim orientations apply solely to certain dimensions of human sexuality, namely heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. But the list keeps growing. The alphabet needed to cover that list (LGBTQIAP, etc.) may exceed that provided in the English language. For example, the term “pansexuality” has been recently added. It is supposed to denote sexual attraction to three or more genders. When do you expect to include, as has already been suggested, pedophilia as an orientation? What about those who practice philandery, incest, polygamy, or sexual assault? Certainly they ought to have a designated orientation which leads to designated behavior. At least, this is so if you are to be logically coherent in your claim.
Your claim that orientations can be confined to sexuality is completely bogus. Orientation may be claimed by any number of deeply entrenched behaviors. Take the phenomenon of human conflict. Some people have suggested that we are biologically oriented to war. We must kill each other, they say, because we are simply born that way. The youth of our land will see an opportunity in your dogma of orientation to explain and justify just about any behavior they are attracted to. In fact, all my life I have heard, over and over again, the cry, “I can’t help it. That is just the way I am!” That sounds oriented to me.
Some of you claim that God creates someone to be same-sex or gender diverse. That is nothing short of blasphemy, a heresy so egregious as to be completely unchristian. First, it denies the created order of humanity as one entity in two dimensions, male and female. Second, it denies the double procreative and unitive purpose of human sexuality. Third, it portrays God as responsible for what must be at least in some measure, human choice as to behavior. It has been fashionable since the beginning of human time to blame God for our brokenness. This is the same fashion writ large.
You claim to be preaching freedom for sexual and gender expression. Actually, you are pointing men, women, and children toward a series of cages. You ask them to find their own cage and enter it. Then you lock the door behind them and throw away the key. According to you, they must not try to break out. You are offering a strange freedom that culminates in complete servitude to desire.
You claim your approach to human sexuality and gender diversity is brand new, a providential revelation of our modern wisdom and understanding. Actually, it is nothing more than the repetition of old, but still active, patterns of behavior. In Jesus’ day, the pagans around the city of Corinth were so disgusted by the sexual practices of the Corinthians that they wanted to take them, one by one, outside the city and strangle them to death. Perhaps what is new is the determination of most Christians to deal with you without violence.
You claim objectivity on matters of sexuality and gender. Yet, every new term coined to describe LGBTQIAP, etc. ideology is accepted, endorsed, and passed on by you regardless of the source producing the term. Somehow, for you in academia or the nearest newspaper it is true and factual. Your willingness simply to accept, without due consideration, every word coming out of the mouths of same-sex or gender diverse advocates demonstrates your bias.
You claim the authority of scripture for your support of LGBTQIAP, etc, and gender diversity philosophy. You accomplish this by setting aside 2000 years of common understanding among all Christians on these topics, reinterpreting pertinent passages along lines you refer to as “Christ’s love.” A loving Christ, you say, embraces same-sex actions, same-sex marriage, gender diverse expressions, and presumably, whatever else you may discover flowing out of your views on human sexuality and gender fluidity. But your interpretive matrix cannot be extended to most Christians in the world. Their traditional views on marriage, family, sexuality, and spiritual disciplines make them unlovable, outside the church’s generosity.
You claim to be intimately connected to Christian history and heritage. What you represent, you say, is but an outgrowth of principles long held by the church. In reality, you look through centuries of Christian ministry and mission, trying to find individuals or groups who have said or done things that can be friendly evidence for your views. Furthermore, you treat all tradition, all historical documents, and all received practices as outdated anachronisms. The Book of Discipline is old-fashioned, useless for your modern minds and your intellectual accomplishments. Even Holy Scripture has limited application for your advanced spiritual state. Your connections to Christian history and heritage are tenuous at best.
You claim to have engaged in due process appropriate to Methodist and other Christian order. You have listened, you say, and engaged in thoughtful, reflective theological dialogue and debate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like supporters of same-sex and gender causes in other mainline Protestant denominations, you have consistently adopted tactics straight out of the secular, political playbook. In a manner similar to “More Light Presbyterians” in my former denomination of service, you assume a position of moral, spiritual, and scientific superiority on all matters of human relationships. Then you use any means necessary to pressure the church into accommodating you, including propaganda, manipulation, demonstrations, power plays, undermining opponents, misdirection, appeals to popular sentiments, using secular court decisions, supporting secular authorities, defying the Book of Discipline, and so forth. Then, as you are about to do now, you grab as much of the structure and treasure of the church as you can. But you will not be satisfied until the parts you control are completely dominated by your views. Then comes your plan to grab the rest. You are not prophets. You are pirates, intent on using Methodist resources to acquire your political goals.
You claim to observe the principle of separation of church and state. Not true. Without hesitation you offer religious support to secular governing bodies when they institute laws and policies advancing same-sex and gender diverse agendas. You use their actions to justify church deliberations, and they use you to establish moral and faith justification for their actions. You engage in a sacred and secular mutual support system. You do so because you see no difference between politics inside or outside the church. The net result is an unconstitutional, established religion. You and others from similar denominations are now the “state approved” church. However, though this gives you power, you will be required in the future to accept whatever the state dictates on human relationships. So, celebrate court approved same-sex marriage and other related matters if you will. But never forget that you opened the door into deeper secular interference in matters of faith and practice.
You claim to be genuinely ecumenical. How can that be when you are so ready and willing to disregard fellow members of your own community? You refuse to recognize the legitimate concerns of Methodists in the United States and around the world. If you think that dividing up the church into yours and theirs is a precursor to sound ecumenical relationship, you are living in a fool’s paradise. How can Evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox and other traditional people groups trust you when they see you taking your slice of the Methodist pie and treating your brothers and sisters as distant cousins. Furthermore, you have disregarded the impact your ardent pursuit of your stance on human sexuality and gender has had on Christians abroad. As Anglican Archbishop Bul of the Sudan stated some years ago, such pursuit is causing injury and death to his people. I think you have blood on your hands.
You claim to be advocates for first amendment rights, including freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. Yet, some of you celebrated when an elderly Southern Baptist woman was sued by the attorney general of the state of Washington for taking a conscientious stand on same-sex marriage. As far as you are concerned, any disagreement with your sexuality and gender program must be put down. The more laws and regulations seeking to accomplish that, the happier you are. None one’s rights can be allowed to interfere with the triumph you seek.
You claim to be committed to international understanding. However, I know your intentions. You are intent on establishing a moral and spiritual colonial empire worldwide. You believe that you are the Anointed Ones and your vocation is to bring all peoples into the light of your knowledge. Methodism and other Protestant bodies can be vehicles of your colonial reign. Their ministry and mission must conform to your goals. That is why, wherever you prevail in the church, no one will be allowed to serve as pastor or deacon unless they are willing to bless or perform same-sex weddings. You will judge people groups in Africa and elsewhere by their readiness to accept your colonial rule.
Conclusion: The United Methodist Church is not now, nor has it been for some time, united. And, following the division of the church into discreet parts, it will be even less united.
Those of you who have pursued same-sex and gender diverse expressions have shattered the peace and divided the body. In doing so, you followed the example of others in Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Congregational circles. But you ignored the price paid by those communities and their overseas partners. You learned nothing. You exchanged humility for hubris. If you had an ounce of integrity, you would leave the denomination and form your own body. However, your hubris has you by the throat. No room for backing off now. Goodbye United Methodist Church.