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Latest Book Release from GBHEM Publishing Traces Sources of The United Methodist Church’s Debates on Human Sexuality

Victoria Rebeck
October 24, 2018

Disagreements in The United Methodist Church about human sexuality extend as far back as the birth-control movement of the 1920s, says Ashley Boggan Dreff, Ph.D., in “Entangled: A History of American Methodism, Politics, and Sexuality.” The volume was recently released by the Publishing Office of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church.

Boggan Dreff maps how American Methodists have responded to attitude changes about sexuality since World War II. She argues that the current impasse over homosexuality is rooted in two dichotomous ideologies of Methodist history and theology: one liberal and the other evangelical.

“Religion and politics are intertwined throughout American history, and their relationship becomes especially entangled with sexuality after the revolutions of the 1960s,” Boggan Dreff says in the introduction. “One reason The United Methodist Church is currently at an impasse is that some of its members have brought, and continue to bring, American political rhetoric into a conversation about Christian morality.”

Boggan Dreff is director of United Methodist Studies at Hood Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina.

“Entangled” has received praise from scholars and other leaders across the United Methodist connection.

The volume is “a compellingly readable, timely, engaging, comprehensive, and fair-minded revisiting of United Methodism’s and America’s steady gravitation into our present, highly polarized evangelical and progressive camps,” says Russell E. Richey, Ph.D., dean emeritus of Candler School of Theology and William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Church History Emeritus. “The book offers insights to complex, divisive, often personal or familial, and troubling denominational and national issues.”

“Boggan Dreff provides a timely analysis and her extensive research makes a thoughtful and much-needed contribution to understanding one of the central issues facing today’s church,” says Elaine A. Robinson, Ph.D., professor of Methodist Studies and Christian Theology at Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.

“Ashley Boggan Dreff’s use of Methodism as a reflection of national trends can be instructive for both The United Methodist Church and the larger U.S. society,” says Jane Ellen Nickell, Ph.D., author of “We Shall Not Be Moved: Methodists Debate Race, Gender, and Homosexuality.”

“The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be enlightened about issues regarding human sexuality, morality, and religion in the U.S.,” says HiRho Park, Ph.D., executive director of Clergy Lifelong Learning and UMC Cyber Campus at GBHEM.

“Entangled: A History of American Methodism, Politics, and Sexuality” is available at Cokesbury.com and Amazon.com. For more information about GBHEM’s Publishing Office, visit www.gbhem.org/about/publications or follow @GBHEMPublishing on Facebook.

New Room Books is an imprint of GBHEM and is a peer-reviewed academic monograph series. This imprint focuses on resources meant to deepen and broaden the scope of scholarship for its own sake, in its diversity and contextual complexity. New Room Books is named for the historic building in Bristol, England, and the place of John Wesley’s study.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.