Mark Tooley and the Institute for Religion and Democracy Gives Me Nightmares


Last night, I made the mistake of reading a flurry of tweets and articles from Mark Tooley and the Institute for Religion and Democracy. I shouldn’t have done this. Not only did I come away depressed but it made me angry. Neither are prerequisites for a good night’s sleep. It’s my fault; I shouldn’t have let it get to me.  Yes, Tooley’s attempts to characterize United Methodists like me as sexual liberals, opposed to natural marriage,  who do not believe in classical Christian orthodoxy are both hurtful and wrong. I’m married, have three kids, and can’t remember the last time my wife and had a date.  We do have an anniversary on Wednesday.

I also envision a United Methodist church where committed men and women who are in love with other men and women can get married to each other; regardless of their sexual orientation. I’ve been in no conversations, read nothing about Methodists messing with polyamory or embracing the irrelevance of monogamy. We’re obsessed with imagining no malaria and mosquitoes, Mark! What weird meetings have you been attending? Please keep me off that mailing list.

The church might want to address the relevance of monogamy. Why shouldn’t we take a stance to endorse what everyone’s already not doing? How very United Methodist! We’re going to take a position; a dying Protestant denomination will convince the world that their bed hopping habits are wrong.

I’ve been in full time ministry for almost 20 years and everyone I’ve ever married on three continents was living together or semi-monogamous when they tied the knot. If Tooley is so upset, we need to stop marrying heterosexual people in the United Methodist Church because the majority of them are cohabiting or skirting the bounds of monogamy.  Isn’t that also “sin” in his inerrant, strict Book of Disciplinary world?   There’s so much illicit, sinful sex among our heterosexual Methodists, could it be that the only people with healthy monogamous sex lives are our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters?  To admit that, you’d have to undermine the authority of scripture.  That’s a whole other ball of wax.

How stupid would we look by coming so late to the party? Again, like North Carolina’s HB 2 resolution, United Methodists are in search of solutions to problems which don’t need solving.  I endorse monogamy, but a bunch of well-meaning Methodists holding covered dish dinners aren’t going to convince middle aged straight people to stop sleeping with each other.  It’s going to to put us out of the marriage business altogether.

I’m not sure what Methodism would look like if Mark Tooley got his way. I do know I want no part of it. He doesn’t even know me and I’m sure he’d love to kick me to the curb. I might have to let him do it.