« North Miami man to sue Veterans Administration over HIV infection | Main | 2010 South Florida Firefighters Calendar to be unveiled Thursday at Hard Rock in Hollywood »

Lutherans move toward more open view on gays

By PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press

lutheran MINNEAPOLIS -- Leaders of the country's largest Lutheran denomination have agreed to disagree on homosexuality, endorsing an official statement on human sexuality that says there's room in the church for differing views on an issue that's divided other religious groups.

Delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's nationwide assembly in Minneapolis on Wednesday approved a "social statement on human sexuality." The vote was a prelude to a bigger debate Friday, when delegates will tackle a proposal that would allow individual ELCA congregations to hire people in committed same-sex relationships as clergy.

The social statement lays a theological foundation for a liberalized policy on gay clergy, and supporters of the proposal praised Wednesday's vote. "We are encouraged and hopeful that ... this will result in the church's elimination of the current ban on ministers in same gender relationships," said Emily Eastwood, executive director of Lutherans Concerned/North America, a group of pro-gay Lutherans.

Opponents of the social statement said it ignores clear scriptural direction that homosexuality is a sin. "We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality based on a reality that's shaped not by Scripture but by today's culture," said Curtis Sorbo of Adams, N.D., a convention delegate from the ELCA's Eastern North Dakota Synod.

ELCA officials said it shouldn't be assumed that passage of the social statement automatically means the proposal on gay clergy will be approved. "We haven't yet had that debate, and I would not want to conjecture that," said the Rev. Rebecca Larson, an official in the ELCA's headquarters in Chicago.

Still, the social statement passed a higher bar than what will be required to approve the new clergy policy. The social statement, as a foundational document for the church, needed to be approved by a two-thirds supermajority of the 1,045 convention delegates. It got exactly that, passing with 66.67 percent of the vote.

The new clergy policy needs only a simple majority to pass.

The 34-page social statement actually touches on homosexuality only briefly, and is intended as a sweeping definition of the ELCA's approach to matters of human sexuality. It also sketches out the church's approach to gender, friendship, marriage and children, cohabitation outside marriage, the commercialization of sexuality, and the global sex trade.

But it acknowledges what Larson described as an utter lack of consensus toward homosexuality and same-sex relationships across the ELCA's membership. She said the statement's drafters agreed that such differing views could be accomodated because the homosexuality issue is "not central to our faith," Larson said.

Wednesday's debate was interrupted briefly in the afternoon when severe storms and a possible tornado passed through downtown Minneapolis, damaging the steeple of an ELCA church across the street from the convention center. Delegates were allowed to remain in the convention hall, but a few jokes about God's wrath proved inevitable.

"We trust that the weather is not a commentary on our work," said the Rev. Steven Loy, who was helping oversee the convention.

Caption: Bishop Duane Pederson of Rice Lake, WI joins more than 1,000 other voting members in a song during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America assembly, Wednesday Aug. 19, 2009 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. ELCA members are meeting this week to vote on the future of gay clergy. Dawn VIllella / AP Photo


Excerpts from Lutheran report on human sexuality

Associated Press

On Wednesday, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a "social statement on human sexuality" - a precursor to Friday's expected vote on a proposal to allow pastors in committed same-sex relationships to serve as clergy in individual congregations of the country's largest Lutheran denomination.

The 34-page document attempts to create a theological framework allowing for disagreements within the ELCA over homosexuality and the scriptural view of other matters of human sexuality.

Here are a few excerpts from the social statement:


"This social statement addresses the question: how do we understand human sexuality within the context of Jesus' invitation to love God and love our neighbor?"


"We in the ELCA recognize that many of our sisters and brothers in same-gender relationships sincerely desire the support of other Christians for living faithfully in all aspects of their lives, including their sexual fidelity. In response, we have drawn deeply on our Lutheran theological heritage and Scripture. This has led, however, to differing and conscience-bound understandings about the place of such relationships within the Christian community. We have come to various conclusions concering how to regard lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships, including whether and how to publicly recognize their lifelong commitments."


"This church also acknowledges that consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same-gender committed relationships, even after many years of thoughtful, respectful, and faithful study and conversation. We do not have agreement on whether this church should honor these relationships, uplift, shelter and protect them, or on precisely how it is appropriate to do so."


"Regarding our life together as we live with disagreement, the people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect."


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Lutherans move toward more open view on gays:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

A meteorologist said the tornado came out of nowhere.

The only cross on the giant ELCA church across the street was not untouched, it was not knocked off–-THE CROSS WAS LEFT HANGING UPSIDE DOWN.

Minutes later, a statement that condones sex between people whose genitals are the same is passed by 1 vote.

The winning margin: 66.6 percent. Really? Precisely THAT number? What are the chances?

The worship service held that evening by Goodsoil, the Lutheran gay and lesbian advocacy group, was held in a church building topped with an upside down cross.

I suppose if a person were inclined to believe that there is a living God who cares enough to warn his people in advance to avoid behavior that is bad for them, they might take it as a sign.

But it is probably just a coincidence.

The comments to this entry are closed.