(NY Times) Caught in Methodism’s Split Over Same-Sex Marriage

It started out as a deeply personal act, that of a father officiating at the wedding of his son.

But it was soon condemned as a public display of ecclesiastical disobedience, because the father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, is a minister in the United Methodist Church, which does not allow its clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

Dr. Ogletree, 79, is now facing a possible canonical trial for his action, accused by several New York United Methodist ministers of violating church rules. While he would not be the first United Methodist minister to face discipline for performing a same-sex wedding, he could well be the one with the highest profile. He is a retired dean of Yale Divinity School, a veteran of the nation’s civil rights struggles and a scholar of the very type of ethical issues he is now confronting.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

5 comments on “(NY Times) Caught in Methodism’s Split Over Same-Sex Marriage

  1. Robert Lundy says:

    “Sometimes, when what is officially the law is wrong, you try to get the law changed,” Dr. Ogletree, a native of Birmingham, Ala., said in a courtly Southern drawl over a recent lunch at Yale, where he remains an emeritus professor of theological ethics. “But if you can’t, you break it.” – what a scholar

  2. Luke says:

    It is one thing to break man’s law, quite another to break God’s.

  3. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Robert Lundy (#1),

    Actually, Dr. Ogletree is a very good scholar, he’s just a bad theologian. One-liners quoted by secular journalists in a liberal rag like the NY Times don’t adequately reflect the competence of any scholar, whether conservative or liberal, as I think Kendall can attest from his own experience of being misquoted or misinterpreted by the mass media.

    But, as a YDS grad (although fortunately, I left Yale before Oglestree became dean), I find this case particularly sad and troubling. Although I’m an Anglican and not a Methodist, this sort of high-profile case has important implications for all the oldline denominations and historic traditions in North America. I strongly suspect that it could well prove to be similar to the fiasco over the infamous Walter Righter trial in TEC in the mid 1990s, where the case against +Righter was simply dismissed. OTOH, since the UMC takes church discipline far more seriously than TEC has done in a very long time, it’s also possible that this trial could end up resulting in a conviction that would only make Dr. Ogletree out to be a modern martyr, i.e., a Pyrrhic victory for conservatives rather like the outcome of the notorious heresy trial of the renowned OT scholar Charles A. Briggs, a liberal Presbyterian minister who taught at Union Seminary in NY and was a pioneering champion of Julius Wellhausen style critical study of the OT. Although he was formally declared a heretic by the Presbyterian court system, he simply switched to the Episcopal Church and Union Seminary itself severed its ties with the Presbyterian Church and went independent. Briggs kept his seat on the faculty at Union and became a hero in the eyes of many progressively minded folks, inside and outside the Church.

    The irony, of course, is that Dr. Ogletree’s academic specialty is Christian Ethics. Unfortunately, in my experience, that is one of the subfields within theology that tends to attract liberals. I won’t mention names here, but those who know the seminary scene in TEC can readily think of some Episcopal examples.

    I predict that this is going to be a historic and crucial case. Regardless of the official outcome of the legal process within the UMC, it illustrates just how deep the rot and decay has spread within that illustrious tradition. I think John Wesley would weep over this betrayal of his passion for “scriptural holiness.” Because whatevber else might be said about this retired ethicist’s act of ecclesiastical defiance in the supposed cause of “social justice,” there is no way that it can possibly be construed as “scriptural” in the sense that Wesley meant it.

    David Handy+

  4. BlueOntario says:

    I’d hazard that most Methodists haven’t heard of this. I’d also hazard that most would support removing his Methodist credentials. Finally, I’d hazard that, like in most of these cases in the UMC the past few years, the bureaucracy will slowly process the matter and in the end nothing will be done.

  5. dwstroudmd+ says:

    So, if the UMC follows the TEc into oblivion on this matter, he gets a bishopric for being “prophetic” and a bit of salve for missing the real civil rights era, eh?