Foreign Bodies

blood.jpg
Taken from Wikipedia

Many of us have known people who needed blood transfusions. The process is somewhat common now, but the biochemistry involved is far from it. The UC Davis Transplant Center website explains,

There are 4 different blood types. The most common blood type in the population is type O. The next most common is blood type A, then B, and the rarest is blood type AB. The blood type of the donor must be compatible with the recipient. The rules for blood type in transplantation are the same as they are for blood transfusion. Some blood types can give to others and some may not. Blood type O is considered the universal donor. People with blood type O can give to any other blood type. Blood type AB is called the universal recipient because they can receive an organ or blood from people with any blood type. The chart below shows which blood type can donate to which.[1]

What happens if the blood is not compatible? The antibodies of the host blood attack the donor blood or the person could have a histamine reaction (allergic reaction). In both cases, the person receiving the transfusion will have a reaction that can vary from minor discomfort to life-threatening illness.[2]

At this point in the history of the United Methodist Church, we have one body trying to accept various blood types. It is as if you mixed up a gallon of A, B, and AB and tried to give it to a person with type O blood. While many have pointed to disagreements regarding the complete inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the life of the church, the disagreement goes far beyond that to encompass every aspect of theological understanding from hermeneutics to polity to well, everything.

Often, those who are seeking to keep the institution together hold up passages like 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 for claiming unity. This idea of a unified church sounds good in theory and personally, I like the idea. But I fear that the continued use of the word unity may lead to Inigo Montoya saying, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”[3]

When Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, I believe he speaks of a unity that is more than just being thrown together. I believe he is speaking of a body that is unified in every way; the same blood flowing through the body to give it life. When Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,”[4] he is not saying that our being thrown together makes us unified. He is saying that our sharing a singular understanding of belief, a singular idea of who God is is what truly unites us. I fear that what we have in United Methodist Church is a transfusion of too many blood types to be one of anything.

Where does that leave us? Honestly, there is no need to talk of schism as a future event or construct, it already exists. N.T. Wright wrote, “’The Body’ is more than merely an image of unity-in-diversity; it’s a way of saying that the church is called to do the work of Christ, to be the means of his action in and for the world.”[5] We cannot do the work of Christ and act as one if we are fighting ourselves from within.

Long before we ever were talking about the LGBTQ issues of this day, we were divided of slavery, over women’s ordination, over Bible versions, over worship styles, over biblical interpretation and hermeneutics, and most everything else in one way or another with the exception of baptism and dinner on the grounds after service. The schism already exists. The forthcoming conference in February of 2019 will only solidify it or acknowledge it formally. I wish this were not so, but I believe this is the reality of our existence as a denomination.

The transfusion is killing us, and we are dying as we continue to accept blood.


[1] http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/transplant/livingdonation/donor_compatible.html

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/transfusion-reaction-hemolytic#causes

[3] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/characters/nm0001597

[4] Ephesians 4:4-6

[5] Wright, N.T. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperOne Publishing, 2006.

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