One Lutheran's Thoughts

Live and grow, change, reform...well, this blog used to be my 'primary' space, but not any more. This is now the online 'home' of my poetic ramblings and musings. Sometimes there is a faith/theological hue, while others not so much. Check out the pictures. Remember - literacy is visual too!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Upcoming Churchwide Assembly

For those that don't know it, in August the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will come together for its Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, FL. I will be attending this event thanks to the support of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and its president. I am excited, I am anxious, and I scared.

Why am I anxious and scared? Well, one of the biggest issues to be discussed at this assembly is going to center around human sexuality. The ELCA has been in a multi-year study on human sexuality, trying to discern where God is calling the Lutheran church. And this has appeared at once to divide the church, while not making too big of a rift (much "whatever" statements.) But in the upcoming assembly there will be a vote on three issues.

Issue one basically states that this is not a "church-dividing" issue - or that it is not something central to the gospel and therefore can be seen as adiophora.

Issue two recommends that pastoral care be used in relation to the blessing of same-sex unions. It does not create a 'marriage-esque' ritual or even call the church to recognize such unions, but simply for the sake of pastoral care and love for pastors to be able to decide on a case-by-case basis what they will do and how they will care for these people - which is currently the policy of the ELCA.

Issue three (which is the most contested)recommends opening the door for bishops to call and ordain GLBT persons who are in a committed relationship, to the office of word and sacrament, AKA - make them a pastor. Currently this is not permitted, as the guiding principles that all clergy must abide states that unless you are "married" you must remain celibate - hetero or homo.

Personally, I struggle greatly with this issue. Issues 1 and 2 I really have no beef with. They seek to look at this issue as one of a church in today's society, but not a salvation issue. And the second one calls only for pastoral care and blessing when deemed appropriate and or needed by a pastor.

Issue three is where I (and many others) begin to struggle. I appear to fall on the more conservative side, although I am really a moderate. I am opposed to this recommendation primarily because it makes the guidelines that it refers to (Visions and Expectations) null and void for everyone. So for myself, being a heterosexual, single, female I don't see how Visions and Expectations holds for me and my life if it doesn't hold for a lesbian, single, female. And beyond the V&E's for sexuality, other portions of the V&E's could be seen as implicitely null and void.

Secondarily, I am convinced that while I don't see being a GLBT as a sin, acting on it I feel is - outside of marriage, just as that same would be true for myself a heterosexual, my heterosexuality is not sinful, but my acting on it outside of marriage is. Now I know that some would say, "Well, you have the option to marry, so it is not the same." My response, "No it may not be the same, but while there is limited scriptural evidence against homosexual acts (primarly male, but one female) I find (point me to evidence if you know of any) NO scriptural evidence to 'condone' homosexual acts (by homosexual acts I mean physical sexual activity by two of the same sex.) Then I hear the rebuttal, "But times have changed, and when the Bible was written, homosexuality as we know it now was not a known." While I can't argue with the second part of this statement in whole, I can argue with the first. If I am to take the "but times have changed" line to its fullest understanding, then we are turning towards an understanding of "anything goes" for the sake of "pro"gression.

Others still further point to other issues such as slavery, divorce, and women clergy as being equal to this issue as a whole. I see similarities, but I don't see a complete parrallel and therefore can not buy the whole statement that we should just "love each other and let each other do what they feel they should do."

Now, with all this being said, I note that I am not at all comfortable being seen as "one who is against GLBT's" because I am not. I ask the question, why can't I stand up and speak for my own convictions, and not be pressured and labeled a homophobe? I have friends who are lesbian and homosexual, and I do not love them any less than any of my other friends and family. But that doens't mean I condone or believe that their sexual activity (if they engage in it) is not sinful - just as I believe that actions by other friends (heterosexual or homosexul) such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or compulsive gambling are sins. I love my friends (and hope they love me) with and without their 'faults' or sins - but I don't love or condone their sin. Additionally, I believe that sexual activity (if I engage in it) as a single heterosexual is sinful - but being a heterosexual is not a sin.

This is a tough situation and I continually pray for God's guidance and grace in our decision-making process. I pray that God will not allow the church simply to be consumed by political and cultural forces that say "anything and everything" is okay...or "what you do in your house is your own business." We are called to live in community and to hold each other accountable...this call is the same no matter your sexuality.

Please join me in this prayer:
Good and gracious creator - you have created us all different and yet we share sacred similarities. We are sinners, yet your children. Lord, thank you for sending your son for our sins. Help us to hold each other and ourselves accountable in this time of decision and discernment. Help up to be open to each other in love, yet hold ourselves and each other accountable. You call us to new life. You bring us to this new life. Help us to live this new life in Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

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