Lutherans Stand Still
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America just released its recommendations on ministering to Gays and Lesbians. The Report recommends no change in the policy prohibiting the ordination of Gay ministers in sexual relationships. However the report gives individual congregations the rights to make their own decisions about offering blessings to Same Sex Weddings. In other words, they decided to agree to disagree.
Most notably, they said:
Such an exercise of pastoral care should be understood as a matter quite distinct from and in no way equivalent to marriage. Indeed, this church holds that “Marriage is a lifelong covenant of faithfulness between a man and a woman.”(Message on Sexuality: Some Common Convictions, 1996) The mandate of the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly did not envision the present secular debate over gay marriage and the task force mandate does not involve addressing those public concerns. The Lutheran tradition distinguishes between marriage as a civil matter, bound to the regulations and approval of society, and the blessing of such a union. Such a blessing does not remove sin from marriage, but prayerfully grounds marriage in God’s
promise of life and forgiveness.
Good analysis of the ELCA report in today's Strib letters:
One striking aspect of the ELCA's stance on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex unions is that it acknowledges that taking a very few passages of the Bible literally while wholly ignoring many others is a difficult stance to justify without controversy.
By only picking on gay people and ignoring certain meat eaters, those who work on Sunday or others who break hundreds of biblical admonitions cheapens the faith and cheapens all the beliefs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
But it acknowledges that, while opinion is moving, it is still a contentious issue and not one that needs action today.
Unfortunately, our state legislators will make no such acknowledgment. They will again try to use a few Bible passages to beat down the gay people of Minnesota and deny them any right to join in civil marriage, any right to provide for their families and any right to live good, happy, productive lives in this state.
We the people of this state must follow the lead of the ELCA and leave well enough alone and allow for differing opinion.
Gregory King, Minneapolis
King is right. I hope that some local ELCA bishops will oppose the Bachmann amendment publically.
Another letter writer claims:
Not black and white
The new report on homosexuality by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Star Tribune, Jan. 14) might appear weak in its ambiguity, but its strength is in its implied acknowledgement of two fundamental truths: Answers to spiritual matters are seldom as black and white as we humans would like them, and the individual conscience is as legitimate as the collective conscience of the church hierarchy.
Somewhere along my spiritual journey I came to believe that the church's role should be to help us continually seek the truth rather than force its version of the truth down our eternal souls.
Cory Gideon Gunderson, Lakeville.
Compare the Lutheran Response on this issue, with that of the Catholic Church. Two inclusive Priests have retired and David Pence was called for comment:
David Pence, spokesman for the Ushers of the Eucharist, a Twin Cities group of Catholic laymen that tried to stop local gay Catholics from taking communion last year, said he thinks Wertin's retirement was overdue. "He has abused the priesthood," Pence said. "He's teaching the absolute opposite of the Catholic doctrine."
Yesterday's Strib includes this letter:
I was appalled by recent reactions to the resignations of the Rev. George Wertin of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and the Rev. Stephen O'Gara of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle (Star Tribune, Jan. 12).
Critics of the priests' work touted their departures as overdue and claimed they represented the opposite of the Catholic doctrine.
Many of these same Catholics wonder why younger generations consider leaving the faith. It is because those leaders who attempt to effect change consistent with the overall loving, accepting message of Christianity face pressures from those who would have us remain exclusive and intolerant.
In a world such as ours, we can no longer survive with intolerance. We must instead look to the larger, more important messages of love, rather than entangle ourselves in the divisive and controversial issues that miss the larger point.
I choose to remain Catholic because I believe that Catholicism's fundamental values of love should guide our path and should always be the test for challenges the church faces.
Criticizing advocates of inclusion is not a part of those values, and it is not the path that Catholicism has to take if those of us who believe in these issues make our voices heard.
Kelly Brooks, Edina.
It took the Catholic Church 500 years to apologise to Galleleo because he made the observation that the Earth circles the sun, rather than the other way around.