View Full Version : Inquiry
02-10-2011, 11:12 AM
The ELCA and UMC (Methodists) have committed, at the level of their organizational elites, to go down the road of approval for same-sex unions. They regard this as a matter of social justice, consistent with the civil rights movement. ELCA has made several other modifications of teaching lately including, I think, their teaching on the resurrection. These are accomplished facts at the level of the organizational elites.
At the pastoral level, these are still problematic indeed, particularly in rural America---where I live.
Could someone direct me to correct electronic copies of the ELCA teachings? Here, I would like to read the exact statement that accepts same-sex ministry. I would also wish to retrieve their new or renewed teachings on related theological matters---including the resurrection, of course.
Here in rural Montana, we have another concern. An ELCA "bishop" from Great Falls went to the small town of Chester. She gave a perfectly articulate explanation of the new same-sex ministry teaching. You should understand that she wasn't talking to some group of hate-filled idiots. They are decent people.
At the end of her talk, an old farmer asked her to cite any scripture---any one of her choice, and in any context at all---that was positive in any way toward same-sex matters (of any kind). So, he gave her (intentionally) full leverage to make ANY scriptural argument available to her. She found that she could make none at all. She admitted publicly that she saw no verse anywhere in scripture consistent with this.
Of course, her response---namely, that she knew of none at all---pretty much sealed the deal for most of Northern Montana. We have groups whohave formally left the ELCA. Those who remain with ELCA are not (at all) positive toward the teaching.
I found a longish article on your site that seemed to deal with Biblical issues. It was written by a site founder, but I found it to be unhelpful---in an extreme way. It is at least vaguely possible that the pronouncements of scripture may all be directed toward some particular phenomenon which I have not clearly identified. Still, to say that homosexuality as it is known or practiced today was not known or practiced in the First Century---even I find that incredible. So, I think for sure it was practiced. Scripture may be talking about something else, but here in Northern Montana---we haven't got the idea yet.
These two issues, then, would be helpful. Please help me find addresses for the actual ELCA teachings, both on same-sex ministry and on the other issues renewed at more or less the same time. Please give a reference that would allow some sort of reasonable way to address the consistency of the same-sex teaching with scripture.
For clarity, I am an old bachelor. I have nothing to do with human sexuality, and I don't pretend to make the rules---or to understand the details. My own "ax to grind" is just that some of the local churches (Lutheran and Methodist) are going through really nasty pastoral times, and it wouldn't be a bad thing to find a way to turn down the temperature on the debate that rages locally.
Basically, I know of no Protestant in Northern Montana who wouldn't just forget about ELCA today, except very many people are taught (too much) to respect authority (even authority that isn't really legitimate).
02-11-2011, 10:06 AM
Please give a reference that would allow some sort of reasonable way to address the consistency of the same-sex teaching with scripture.
How about one of the things that we're ~specifically addressed~ to do, with each other, as persons, that most people who keep fighting ~against~ same-sex unions and the like, as if they are not gifts from God as any other Holy union...
Not that I'm angry that people Judge all the time, it's kind of hard to avoid, and I have to catch myself at it often enough, myself... but
Romans 1, Douay-Rheims
Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself. For thou dost the same things which thou judgest.
In ~that~ light, it's really in their best interests to put away their hate and fear... ~Especially~ the fear part, since God did not ~Give~ us a "Spirit of Fear" (hate just being, to my eyes, and outward expression of fear, as an unhealthy form of self-defense)...
2 Timothy 1:7 - Douay-Rheims
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power and of love
and of sobriety.
Not to mention, going back to Genesis, He (God the Father) made Us, in Their image, Male ~and~ Female, Each of us, as Individuals...
Genesis 1:26 and therabouts, Douay-Rheims
And he said: "Let us make man to our image and likeness"...
And God created man to his own image...
male and female he created them.
And that same idea is expressed all the way through the New Testament, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Feminine!) ... Why are people so afraid of the Feminine?? That they can't see that for themselves, Father, Son and Daughter? and that we are ~all~ made that way? And that Right Now the world is so ~twisted~ by our own fears, that it's no Wonder we can't see how much we hurt ourselves, and try to ~separate~ what God has joined together, in ~each~ of us... as if our Physical Bodies was what matters, when any school kid can tell you that one of the things they learn that's Healthy, is that it's Not the Cover of the book that's important, it's What's Inside that counts? and that applies to People as Well?
Even the most ~hateful/fearful~ people should be able to see, as Christians, that the Father of Lies can quote scripture to serve his own ends, and scare them into ~judging~ as ~evil~, when we're ~not~ supposed to judge, at All... to lean ~Not~ on our own understandings... when some of the Best and most Loving examples God ~Makes~, to show how some of us can see each other ~past~ what we look like... and love the person inside... to love ~each other~ as God sees them... are the very same people that they, who live in fear, instead of love, try to cast out... and see that "we" aren't being "punished" but ~loved all the more~ for taking a burden others would harm us for, and loving back, all the more for it.
What a friend you have in Jesus, when he shares some part of his suffering with you.
Mark 30 and 31, Douay-Rheims
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
I always have hope we can all get along, at some point... I'm hoping and praying for Sooner, rather than Later... we've all lived in fear and hate, for too long already. =)
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
So many of us seem to ~ask~ for His Return... without realizing what they're saying... Maybe that's why it's taken so long... We forgot how to Mean what we Say...
~Nothing is Impossible with God~ so there's always hope,
Peace be with you,
P.S. I think you can see where I've used a few ~other~ bible passages, without quoting them directly... and those shouldn't be hard to find, either =)
02-11-2011, 03:48 PM
Forgot to mention that God doesn't make mistakes ;-)
The other thing I've had some trouble with people, when they "fight" and "argue" about scripture, is one of the things I've mentioned...
Even the most ~hateful/fearful~ people should be able to see, as Christians, that the Father of Lies can quote scripture to serve his own ends, and scare them into ~judging~
It seems to me pretty easy to tell, if someone is Scared to listen to what you have to say, or Angry at what you ~have~ said... then they're listening with a Spirit of Fear, Judgment and Condemnation... which, outside of those passages that describe Judging as belonging to God, ~only~, and not to Us, his Children, and Fear not belonging to Anyone... Fear of the Lord is not ~Terror~, and is ~nothing~ like ~that~ sort of poison... it's a willing submission and act of Love... I can't see how people can mistake where misquoting scripture is really hard to distinguish over ~Spirit Filled~ understandings and quoting...
Add to that, I may read a passage one way, today, because I have a need to understand something in my ~own~ life... but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't ~re~ understand it, a ~different~ way, tomorrow... or that the way someone ~else~ understands it is ~wrong~... such is the flexibility of language, when a single simple word can have such a depth and breadth of meaning associated with it...
The rules ~I~ follow, is that if I can't understand something, in light of the words Jesus himself, spoke, and it's not written in stone... it's not a law. The ~real~ Truth doesn't Hurt, and doesn't Imprison a person... it Heals and sets you Free... if it Hurts, it's probably because someone is reading it wrong.
More passages I've referred to, that I'm sure, if you seek, you can find ;-)
02-21-2011, 01:10 PM
Hello, sorry you haven't had many replies, but the site goes through periods of inactivity. I'm no scripture scholar, but I'd say good examples of *possible* same-sex romances would be the Roman centurion and his slave, and Jonathan and David, who seem to have a deeper-than-most-dudes-are-comfortable-with kind of 'friendship.' Some scholars claim these were undoubtedly gay relationships. (I would caution that in a manuscript so old, so often re-translated, and interpreted in so many ways, nothing is "undoubted.")
I'd also point out to the people in that congregation you mention that scripture often appears to support slavery and the lesser status of women. Yet, surely no one there would argue against abolition, the civil rights movement, or women pastors, would they? Or for that matter, divorced and remarried pastors?
Besides, that, there are oodles and gobs of passages about not judging and loving your neighbor. ELCA Lutherans and Methodists believe we are saved by faith alone through grace alone. If two women in a romantic relationship have faith in Christ, who is to judge that faith? Is that faith any less salvific because they are gay? If one of them feels called to ministry, and is following Christ as best she knows how, why can she not be ordained? Why are gluttons, the greedy, the heterosexually lustful, and the arrogant ordained?
Sorry, I have no idea where to find the documents you seek, and I'm not even a churchgoer, but thought I'd take a stab at helping you.
The following statement was adopted Aug. 19, 2009 by a two-thirds vote (676-338) by the 11th biennial Churchwide Assembly. I still haven't found the formal statement concerning ordination of LGBT people as pastors that was passed more recently.
Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/JTF-Human-Sexuality.aspx)
The following excerpt is the part of this very lengthy statement that deals with same-sex relationships:
Lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships
Within the last decades, this church has begun to understand and experience in new ways the need of same-gender-oriented individuals to seek relationships of lifelong companionship and commitment as well as public accountability and legal support for those commitments. At the same time, public debates and deliberations have continued regarding understandings of human sexuality in medicine, social science, and corresponding public policy about same-gender relationships.
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 concerning how to regard lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships, including whether and how to recognize publicly their lifelong commitments.
While Lutherans hold various convictions regarding lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships, this church is united on many critical issues.24 It opposes all forms of verbal or physical harassment and assault based on sexual orientation. It supports legislation and policies to protect civil rights and to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public services. It has called upon congregations and members to welcome, care for, and support same-gender couples and their families and to advocate for their legal protection.
The ELCA recognizes that it has a pastoral responsibility to all children of God. This includes a pastoral responsibility to those who are same-gender in their orientation and to those who are seeking counsel about their sexual self-understanding. All are encouraged to avail themselves of the means of grace and pastoral care.
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 and uplift, shelter, and protect them or on precisely how it is appropriate to do so.
In response, this church draws on the foundational Lutheran understanding that the baptized are called to discern God's love in service to the neighbor. In our Christian freedom, we therefore seek responsible actions that serve others and do so with humility and deep respect for the conscience-bound beliefs of others. We understand that, in this discernment about ethics and church practice, faithful people can and will come to different conclusions about the meaning of Scripture25 and about what constitutes responsible action. We further believe that this church, on the basis of "the bound conscience,"26 will include these different understandings and practices within its life as it seeks to live out its mission and ministry in the world.
This church recognizes that, with conviction and integrity:
On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law. They believe same-gender sexual behavior carries the grave danger of unrepentant sin. They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle. Such decisions are intended to be accompanied by pastoral response and community support.
On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that homosexuality and even lifelong, monogamous, homosexual relationships reflect a broken world in which some relationships do not pattern themselves after the creation God intended. While they acknowledge that such relationships may be lived out with mutuality and care, they do not believe that the neighbor or community are best served by publicly recognizing such relationships as traditional marriage.
On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and lifelong loving and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are honored and held to high standards and public accountability, but they do not equate these relationships with marriage. They do, however, affirm the need for community support and the role of pastoral care and may wish to surround lifelong, monogamous relationships or covenant unions with prayer.
On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage. They surround such couples and their lifelong commitments with prayer to live in ways that glorify God, find strength for the challenges that will be faced, and serve others. They believe same-gender couples should avail themselves of social and legal support for themselves, their children, and other dependents and seek the highest legal accountability available for their relationships.
Although at this time this church lacks consensus on this matter, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the local and global community of the baptized with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor. This church calls for mutual respect in relationships and for guidance that seeks the good of each individual and of the community. 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.
... Implementing Actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly Related to the Rostered Ministry of People in Publicly Accountable, Lifelong, Monogamous, Same-Gender Relationships' takes up four pages of the 118-page Candidacy Manual. A link to a pdf of the document is on the ELCA web site at:
The appropriate section begins on page 17. The text of the manual was approved by the Church Council on April 10, 2010.
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