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.
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.
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.
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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?