A United Methodist church impastor, Karen Oliveto, is a practicing lesbian. She is also accusing Jesus – that is, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity – of having been a bigot.
Currently, the United Methodist church is in a 75-week period dedicated to praying about whether or not the denomination should fully embrace sodomy (link). If the fact Karen Oliveto is a pastor doesn’t indicate the UMC already has embraced sodomy as a valid lifestyle choice, probably nothing will. Oliveto has not only embraced a sexual sin which indicates her unsaved depravity, but accuses Jesus of sin.
Oliveto is the UMC ‘bishop’ currently presiding over the “Big Sky Region” of the UMC, which includes the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, and parts of Idaho.
On a Facebook post of the Yellowstone Conference of the United Methodist Church, Oliveto said the following:
Praying for the clergy and laity of the Mountain Sky Area as we prepare to come together for worship.
I love the Gospel text of this week’s lectionary–Matthew 15:21-28. You know the story:
A Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded with Jesus to heal her sick daughter. Jesus ignored her. The disciples get involved, “Jesus, can’t you do something? She’s driving us crazy.” Jesus tells them no.
Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.” He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.” She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.” Jesus gave in and the woman’s daughter is healed.
Jesus, Jesus, what is up with you? Where is the gentle Jesus, meek and mild, the one who said, “Let the children come to me”? What happened to Jesus, the one who said, “Consider the lilies”. Where did his compassion and love go?
But as I ponder the story, as I look at the verbal jousting between Jesus and this female who is considered less than human because of her gender and ethnicity, I can’t help but note how Jesus comes around.
Too many folks want to box Jesus in, carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. But this story cracks the pedestal we’ve put him on. The wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out. He was still growing, maturing, putting the pieces together about who he was and what he was supposed to do. We might think of him as the Rock of Ages, but he was more like a hunk of clay, forming and reforming himself in relation to God.
As one person put it: “Jesus wasn’t a know-it-all, he was also learning God’s will like any human being and finally he changed his mind…if Jesus didn’t have to know it all innately, but rather could grow into new and deeper understanding through an openness to God’s people [even those he formerly discounted], maybe if Jesus could change his mind then maybe so can we!
As he encountered this one who was a stranger, he comes to a fuller sense of the people he is to be in relationship with. He is meant to be a boundary crosser, and in the
crossing over, reveals bigotry and oppression for what they are: human constructs that keep all of us from being whole. He learns that no one, no one, including the outsider, the foreigner, the hated, the misunderstood, the feared, no one is outside of the heart of God and the care of God.
In his conversion, by changing his mind and acting outside of tradition, by treating the woman as a person and responding to her needs, Jesus is willing to stand against culture and social norms and risk his status and power. It is this action of giving up that Jesus gains the most: because of his willingness to be in relationship with one so different, Jesus finds greater intimacy with God. The two go hand in hand.
This is the heart of the story. This is what offers us hope. If Jesus can change, if he can give up his bigotries and prejudices, if he can realize that he had made his life too small, and if, in this realization, he grew closer to others and closer to God, than so can we.
The list of heresies committed in this Facebook post may be too numerous to mention. It denies the omniscience of God. It promotes Docetism. It denies the immutability of God. It asserts what amounts to Open Theism. And beyond that, the point of the lesbian impastor’s post to excuse sodomites of their sin and instead, impugn the Son of God with the sin of bigotry.