I am an engineer by trade; as such, problems bother me until a solution is found. Well, one problem that has continued to bug me for some period of time involves a discontinuity between United Methodist Church membership trends and the general statement heard from liberal leaders and members, ‘conservative biblical interpretations are driving people away from the church.’
This statement, heard in varying forms, is not backed up by any type of membership trends within the UMC or any other denominational church that has shifted from an orthodox biblical viewpoint to a liberal biblical viewpoint. This information begs the question, ‘if there are no facts to support the liberal viewpoint, why do they continue to make it?’
After a lot of thought, I believe that I have the answer; they are not interested in the church itself, they are interested in the name. The name, United Methodist Church, carries a huge amount of respect due to its large membership, both within the United States and the world. If the UMC changes its viewpoint on the acceptance of homosexuality, regardless of how many people abandon the church, there will be a certain amount of credibility in the acceptance of a sex act.
If those favoring the acceptance of the practice of homosexuality were to leave the UMC and start their own church they would just be some radical fringe element that went their own way. There would be a significant amount of positive press to be gained if those same people, through petulant behavior rather than majority control, take over the UMC and change its policies. Those maintaining a conservative biblical approach would then be considered the radical fringe element if they choose to leave.
What’s in a name? Everything. A name can be the difference between mainline acceptance or radical fringe element.