Saturday, March 15, 2008

ELCA Report on Homosexuality

Here is a March 13th news report on the compromise by the ELCA on the homosexuality issue:


Anonymous said...

I like the Christianity Today summary better. Here is the link:

/s/ tom

Anonymous said...

Tom, I could not get the link to work. This issue is a hot button for people within most churches. Having to discuss this issue at the top levels of our church, I know how emotional an issue this is. For many of us, the Bible is clear and this should not be such a debatable issue. I personally think that people are using this issue in order to create a separation within the church. This gives them, at some level, a power and the center stage. I would suggest that we take this item off the agenda of discussion and move the church forward in areas such as poverty and evangelism. What a waste of time this has become.


Bryan & Meggan said...

I can only imagine what Martin Luther would say...


tom wolff said...


I agree wholeheartedly with you - get the ELCA to stop talking about this issue until the old guard retires. Here is the first portion ofthe CT article saying that the ELCA "punted" the homosexuality issue:

A long-awaited draft statement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shies from taking a position on homosexuality, saying the church has yet to reach consensus on the matter.

Current ELCA policies, which bar non-celibate homosexual clergy, are not discussed in the draft released Thursday, March 13.

And while the church "recognizes the historic origin of the term `marriage' as … between a man and a woman," the statement also notes that some ELCA pastors and congregations support same-sex unions.

"After many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships," the statement reads.

Nearly seven years in the making, "Journey Together Faithfully" is intended as a framework for future ELCA debates on sexuality.

Compiled by a 15-member committee of bishops, pastors, psychologists, professors and a homemaker, the draft now begins an eight-month comment period within the ELCA, the nation's largest Lutheran body. A second draft will be produced after the comment period.

If approved by a two-thirds majority at the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly next year, the statement will be used to guide church policy for its 4.8 million members...

Edward Oleander said...


Tom & Bill,

I must disagree with you both about ignoring this issue. "Moving it off the agenda" is merely a way to continue the status quo, which unfairly denigrates and discriminates against a fairly sizable portion of our population. Ignoring an inequitable situation is the same as approving that inequity.

It is ALWAYS uncomfortable when an oppressed minority speaks up and demands equal treatment. And it is always the first response of the majority to try and ignore the issue and hope it will go away. And it never works.

I am reminded of our Founding Fathers who responded just that way when a few people reminded them that slaves were people too. Rather that confront the issue head on with the Southern states, they chose to just ignore the issue and move ahead. Fast forward to 1860... How did that work out? Not so great... 10's of thousands dead and scars that linger 150 years later still... The white population of the nation still militantly ignores the poverty and mistreatment of Native Americans. Only by making themselves heard are they slowly gaining the equal treatment we are all supposed to share. Need I go into how well ignoring the Women's Sufferage movement worked? I could go on, but the point is clear: the issue needs to be heard, debated, and dealt with fairly... not swept under the rug.

Even Gandhi understood...

First they ignore you.
Then they ridicule you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.
~M. Gandhi~

The ELCA statement was indeed vague and inconsistent. I can understand why it satisfied nobody. I was underwhelmed. If that was the best they could do, then they should have issued nothing and gone back to debating until they could come out firmly on one side or the other. You can guess where *I* think they should have gone with it.

Sometimes you Christians (in general, not you two individually, unless you feel the shoe fits) puzzle me with your professed understanding of Christ. There seems to be an almost militant lack of analysis on just how the historical Jesus would have lived on a day to day basis. He counted the worst pariahs of his day as his brothers. Whores and criminals, these he counted as brothers. Who else was in this group? You got it... the Queers... If Jesus walked this earth as the Bible says, then he had day to day contact with the gay community of his day. Yet he never comments on it. Is there any mention in the Bible of Jesus "curing" a gay man of his "disease"? No. Yet we find examples of his healing nearly every known affliction. Why was that one missed? Jesus admonishes those who he forgives (see John 8:1-11) but he never admonishes a homosexual. Why?

Tom, your favorite Bible verse should be the one that goes, "What you do unto the least of your brethren you do unto ME." because THAT is the verse that crystallizes everything Jesus taught in one easy to understand statement. In those few words you find EVERYTHING you need to know about how God wants you to act. Everything else is merely working out the fine print.

Bill, you're so right about this being a hot button issue, so I apologize to you both if I seemed a little harsh here, but NO good can come from giving bigotry a free pass...
ps: To everyone who made it all the way through this long ramble: Thank you for your patience, and be assured I will do the same for any responses... G'nite everyone...

tom wolff said...

Hi Ed,
Thanks again for brunch the other day. It was nice seeing you and John, and to have a chance to laugh with my friends. But let me try and keep you focused on the ELCA’s Report. The topic of whether or not Lutheran leaders should keep their positions when they are in ongoing homosexual relationships is an important issue. How did Jesus deal with leaders in the Jerusalem Temple when they taught that ceremonial laws and rituals were the way to personal righteousness. How did Jesus respond, did he write off their misunderstanding as unimportant, or simple foolishness? No, Jesus attacked the Pharisees with His strongest attacks: He called them vipers, hypocrites, white washed tombs, and even children of Satan. Jesus clearly taught the danger of having false teachers in the church. He also understood the Pharisees hearts, He likewise attacked them for their greed and self-indulgence: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Jesus wasn’t always full of love and niceness, especially when it came to those who were false teachers.

So how should the ELCA examine its leaders who are in ongoing homosexual relationships? Should we condemn these leaders for their self-indulgence (Matt. 23:25)? I am not going to say, as I am only a member of my ELCA Church, and so it is not my place to criticize or attack the leaders I am under (thanks for this teaching, BSF).

It is nice to see that USA Today touched on this topic in an article yesterday called ‘Has the notion of sin been lost’? (link is here: The notion that churches are no longer comfortable calling anything a sin, is certainly a problem that is not going to go away.

Let me leave you with another favorite verse of mine, John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

edward oleander said...

Hi Tom,
Under the guise of keeping me focused, you neatly sidestepped addressing most of my questions... all of which relate to how the church should relate to the part of the gay community that exists within your church. So be it.

I find it interesting that you claim not to have an opinion on gay pastors, but yet lump them in with the "false teachers" that Jesus vilified. That sounds like quite a judgement to me. The Pharisees certainly deserved everything they got from Jesus, and probably more besides, but what real bearing does that example have on the current controversy?

My theory: The question before the church is NOT whether gay men and women should be pastors. You're barking up the wrong tree. The real question is the legitimacy of the Calling that brings these people into the clergy in the first place. As one who struggled with that very question yourself, you should realize that you are on the verge of casting a judgment on God himself, by even entertaining the possibility that ALL of the Calling these people have felt is false. And that IS what your doing if you deny the gay community access to the pulpit. You ARE saying, by blanket writ, that ALL these people are automatically false.

Are you sure you feel confident doing that? Are you certain that NO gay person could EVER feel a true Call to minister in (and through) the clergy?

By you, of course, I mean your church as a whole as well as you as an individual, because I put this to both you and your church...