An Open Letter to Bishop Gregory Palmer

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

In the June 19 Sunday edition of the Toledo Blade, there is a story wherein it is reported that, due to the divisive issue of homosexuality in the United Methodist Church, a schism or a split is inevitable in the next two to four years.

The article quotes the bishop of the West Ohio Conference, Gregory Palmer, as saying that the phrase, ‘space for grace,’ should control the dialogue of the ongoing discussions regarding the split of those who favor leaving the Methodist camp with the new name of The Global Methodist Church and those who stay and still bear the moniker of, The United Methodist Church.

Obviously, Bishop Gregory Palmer wants to maintain the unity of the church, if at all feasible and possible, but he is jumping out of a plane with no parachute, which means no safe landing.

What is painful for me to hear, is the fawning and genuflecting that has gone on and will go on from the bishop and others who want to try to placate the dissenters and avoid the division.

Salubrious as that concept may be, it will not happen because the division will be a proper and prudent division because it will separate the wheat from the chaff.

The ‘wheat’ is the written Word of God and its tenets and required moral conduct for those who adhere to its principles. The ‘chaff’ are those whom, with intellectual reasoning, try to foist upon the Word of God, interpretations that condone the sin of homosexuality.

There. I said it. That three-letter word that sends spasms through the dissenters who want the United Methodists to cover their eyes and close their ears to their dissent which wants their following agenda approved: (1) ordinations of gay people to the pulpit ministry (2) same sex marriages and (3) leadership positions held by gays in the United Methodist Church.

At the outset, let me clearly state that what the dissenters want is a flagrant violation of the teachings of Jesus the Christ, but they also want to give the impression that the Word of God “got it all wrong” in their estimation of what the scriptures say is or is not, permissible conduct or a permissible lifestyle regarding homosexuality.

Homosexuality lies outside of the guardrails of approved Biblical conduct, regardless of how many theologians, studies, reports or testimonies champion otherwise. Homosexuality and its attendant practices of gay marriage and same sex unions are Biblically prohibited, as are other named sins.

I know…I know. No one wants someone else to tell them what they can or cannot do in their public or private lives, but…when one purportedly submits to the Lordship of Jesus the Christ, you are bought with a price and thus you are not your own.

Your allegiance and affections and behavior are no longer solely your own decisions and that you can continue any lifestyle as you so well please.

Bible-based Christianity is not a buffet table by which you can pick and choose what you will or will not abide by and what admonitions you may or may on follow. The concept of Jesus as Lord is not negotiable by which you can serve two masters…yourself and the God of the Bible.

Just as oil and water will not mix, nor will your decisions to approve of and condone homosexuality mix with the Bible declarations that practicing homosexuality is a sin; and if not confessed as and treated as a sin, you will need to examine your salvation to make sure you are walking in the light.

In the Bible, there are places where potential disciples refused to no longer walk with the Lord because some of his sayings were hard to hear and they did not want to follow them, so they left and followed their own path.

In other passages of scriptures, the Lord said to his followers, “Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I tell you?”

Well, the same concept holds true for those who wish to leave the United Methodist Church and form their own Global Methodist Church. The dissidents who believe and think that their methods and the lifestyles they either practice or believe in are permissible, have gone a’ whoring’ after other gods.

A prior Bishop of the West Ohio Conference, Bishop Ough, sanctioned the then treasurer, Bill Brownson, who was purportedly engaged in a same sex lifestyle as being, “OK” because Bill Brownson and his partner were in a “committed relationship.”

For those who do damage in properly exegeting the Word of God, a “committed relationship” does not qualify as a proper marriage between people of the same sex. Now, the new cute catchphrase to rub oil on this gaping wound is to say that we need ‘space of grace’ for those do not want to repent of their sin but yet still want to find succor and affirmation in the United Methodist Church.

What Bishop Palmer needs to elucidate in no uncertain terms is that a ‘space of grace’ does not allow for permissive sin, nor does it allow for those who intentionally engage in acts of homosexuality to feel at ease or at home in a church environment that does not call them to repentance.

For the sin-affirming churches who want to remain in the United Methodist camp, they will attempt to act and preach as if nothing has happened so they do not lose members or the money that the members bring in each Sunday, but that will not be successful.

Their success will not be in the taking up of weekly generous offerings or placating and comforting church members who are engaged in a homosexual lifestyle but is found in not becoming false preachers and teachers who sold out to Baal for a few shiny trinkets of public applause and enjoying the adulation of men.

Bishop Palmer knows better and he needs to take the higher moral ground and draw a line in the sand and kindly say to those who want to leave so as to engage in and/or condone  homosexuality, “Go! And let the door hit you on the way out and may God have mercy on your fateful decision!”


Contact Lafe Tolliver, Lay Speaker @ Braden United Methodist Church,