The role of religious art: 8-26-09
The essence of ministry: 8-28-09

Lutherans move ahead: 8-27-09

Because I was on the road last week when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted at its national governing convention to "find a way" to allow committed gays and lesbians to be pastors, I have waited until now to get into the subject.

Stole

Those of you who have read me for any length of time know that I would approve of this move. And I do. I can find no biblical or theological reason to ban otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians from any ministerial office in the Christian church. At the same time, I recognize there are many people who disagree with me and do so with passion and with conviction that I am wrong and they are right.

I do not want to dismiss such people. I want to understand them and to have them understand me.

Part of understanding my position requires an appreciation of language. The new ELCA document that undergirds the church's decision is called "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust." You can find a link to download the document by clicking here.

Elca

If this subject is of any interest to you at all, I hope you will read the carefully crafted statement and appreciate its nuance and its frank admission that there is disagreement about many aspects of human sexuality within the church.

This kind of document is exactly the right tool for learning about various approaches to this question and for appreciating differences. It is so, so different from the radically myopic know-nothingism that typifies so much talk radio today on any hot-button issue. That's because the ELCA paper refuses to demonize people who hold positions different from the ones it proposes.

As I say, I think Christians of good will can find biblically justifiable reasons to permit gays and lesbians to be clergy (and that such people can add immeasurable gifts to the church). But that requires an appreciation of the complexity of understanding scripture written 2,000 or more years ago. To insist simply that, say, Leviticus 18:22 settles the matter for all times and all places is not to take scripture seriously.

At any rate, have a look at how the Lutherans dealt with this and, if you can, join me in congratulating them for the care they have taken throughout this process.

By the way, for a wealth of source material from the Religion Newswriters Association on the subject of gay clergy, click here.

* * *

UNDERSTANDING TED KENNEDY'S RELIGION

I thought this Washington Post "On Faith" blog entry offered a good analysis of how Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died this week, viewed his Catholic faith. Does any of you come from the "social justice" tradition of Catholicism? If so, do you agree with this analysis?

Comments

Red Biddy

There was a very on point article by Maureen Dowd in the Star to-day entitled "CRACKING DOWN ON CYBERBULLIES." Anyone who blogs should read this.
Cyberbullies cannot hide "behind an illusory shield of purported First Amendment rights not can they hide behind made up names either.
Dowd wrote of a particular lady who actually sued her malicious defamer, and now Google is being sued by the blogger for giving up her name.

I have a question for Will Graham.
August 23rd at 3.58 AM you wrote something about "Red Biddy/Theo cries."
What on earth did this mean ? By "Theo" were you referring to God or do you think my name is Theo! It isn't.....just curious as to what you were trying to say.

Dave Miller

Bill, thank you for your remarks about our ELCA churchwide assembly last week, and the resolutions we passed. I was honored to be there as a voting member, and proud of our denomination's respectful discussion of the issues and of our final vote. As you may know, the social statement needed a 2/3 "supermajority," and cleared the hurdle by a single vote. So each and every vote counted.

I see that some posters, above, have questions about the social statement. I would urge them to follow your advice and read it. I think it is a magnificent document.

Thanks again for bringing it to our attention.

a.theist

Cole, you are a trip.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

PreacherDJ

I always enjoy reading Dr. Mohler, and he covered these actions of the ELCA: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=4325. It is truly sad that a group of people whose namesake stood unmoveable on the statement "unless I am convinced by Scripture" could so easily take a path that disregards and denies Scripture.

Dave Miller

"It is truly sad that a group of people whose namesake stood unmoveable on the statement "unless I am convinced by Scripture" could so easily take a path that disregards and denies Scripture."

Thank you, Preacher DJ. The document recognizes the bound conscience of its readers. As you may understand, the "clobber passages" of scripture are capable of more than one understanding. I understand them in one way, and you (evidently) understand them in another. I do not agree that I am "disregarding and denying" scripture. Yet I can recognize your bound conscience. Can you--after considering the social statement which we approved--recognize mine?

Thank you.

Michael

No one will read this because I am too late in commenting, but I will post it anyway. As a Lutheran, I sadly and humbly submit that the actions of the ELCA a couple weeks ago in convention (in regards to uplifting the practice of deviant sexual behavior within their church body) is an absolute abomination - period.

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