My Opinion of Ervin Stutzman at Kidron Mennonite Church
First of all, a disclaimer. This blog post is my opinion only. It’s not speaking for or endorsed by any group. This is just an individual speaking her mind on her own space of the internet.
So, Ervin Stutzman made his rounds here in Ohio to a constituency he perceived to be mainly conservative and I attended his stop at Kidron Mennonite Church. I have attached the audio file of my question that I asked him that of course, included some commentary. I was ready to do more than just ask a one liner question.
I appreciate the listen: http://yourlisten.com/naturebeckles/my-question-to-ervin-stutzman
What Ervin said is well summarized by my friend Jean Hershberger over on the Pink Menno Campaign FB page. Though her use of the topic phrase I think makes it clear this is her impression and opinionss of what Ervin, let me make it clear that it is. This is not meant as a record of factual statements, but of a response and impression of what he said. Please do not think that either one of us are purposely misleading or lying about Ervin. Here is the quote: “*These are some of the troubling aspects of Ervin’s ‘answers’ to questions…
**Feeding into negative stereotypes: In the context of a question about celibacy…he said something to the effect that he didn’t know, but maybe it would be better to allow for monogamous relationships/not all are called to a celibate lifestyle; then as examples, he shared about a doctor friend reporting of having a gay patient with over 300 partners; and then said something about some priests not being able to handle celibacy and because of that resorting to ‘pederasty’ (yes, he did use that word) I guess I was naïve to think that a man of his intelligence, even though we disagree, would resort to extreme, stereotypical and downright false examples
**At one point he attempted to speak with the ‘voice’ of a scientist/psychologist with vague and questionable references to ‘research’.
**Had I not been following MSMC & Denver Mennonite’s decision in licensing Theda and been aware of the depth of their journey, their seeking Spirit guidance…from Ervin’s comments I would have come away with the belief that they took it quite lightly and based the choice on their feelings – not on any sound biblical study. He wove that into answers several times – ‘they did not go through a study of the scriptures’ – not exact words, but close. And not just in talking about MSMC, but also in (poorly!) summarizing what’s going on with EMU and Goshen.”
So, Ervin’s comments made my blood boil. It isn’t simply a matter of his position on LGBTQ’s in Mennonite Church USA but the outright lying and misleading he did in his position of power. What is Ervin afraid of? He HAS to be afraid, because I don’t see any other motivation for using his leadership position to go around answering questions in a manner that is inconsistent with being honest. Mountain State Mennonite Conference did not throw the Bible away when they decided to affirm licensing Theda Good. But that is precisely how he made it sound. As if anybody who seriously studies the scripture can’t possibly come up with a different conclusion than he does. He used the term not accepting Scripture at “face value.” Apparently, Ervin is a fundamentalist because fundamentalism is the dangerous theology that takes everything literally in the Bible, out of historical context, out of context of the author’s theme/whole message, and out of context of the two main commandments that Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him, ‘You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” And as I learned from my personal healing journey, you can’t really learn how to love your neighbors until you learn to love yourself. Anyway, I’m getting off track.
Back to Ervin. He MUST be fearing polity change. That’s what this all boils down to. He is afraid that people would actually get behind the idea its time to reform the documents MCUSA has been living by since 2001. He’s afraid the voices he and others have been working so hard to silence can’t be silenced anymore. He stated clearly his beliefs coincide with the current MCUSA documents. But what bothered me most is the deceitfulness in his language to fool the sheep and prevent honesty and progress.
More than hoping at least some of my words stuck with Ervin in his head, I hope my words stuck with the audience who came to hear what he had to say. Whether Ervin likes it or not, change is coming. More people are ok with lesbians and gays getting legal marriage than ever before. Christian denominations will not be able to hold on to their hateful oppression without looking like fools much longer. They are losing the younger generation and giving in to fear of conservatives with money. Fear is the opposite of love. God is love. God is not complicated. HUMANS make things complicated.