It’s been a month since the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. 2,000 ELCA members returned home to their work and church. I have been reflecting this past month on what has changed or not changed since the assembly. I’ve periodically checked out the ELCA, CORE, Word Alone, Good Soil and Lutherans Concerned web sites. Reactions were pretty predictable on those passionate on both sides of the same-sex debate.
More interesting is what is happening locally. Occasionally the assembly actions get some press in church newsletters. In NE Ohio, a pretty conservative pastor has called an “emergency” meeting of pastors to discuss the actions taken in Chicago. His feeling and those of other anti-full inclusion pastors is that the ELCA is journeying further down a sinful path that goes against Biblical teachings. To him it is clear, homosexuality is a sin and con not be tolerated under any circumstance.
ELCA policy has not changed. Gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships can still not be rostered. Gay and lesbian couple can not have their faithful, loving relationships blessed. So, why is he so worried? I believe it is the fact that the resolution that allows Bishops to discern when and how they should discipline a pastor living in a committed same-sex relationship grates at his narrow view of GLBT Christians.
Fundamentalist Christianias, such as this pastor, know that society’s attitude towards the GLBT community is changing to a more favorable view of an inclusive society. If you isolate church members who are 30 or younger, you this trend is even more evident. To counteract this trend and fortify their position, these pastors rely on fear and disjointed Biblical verses taken out of context to strengthen their position. Lutherans are notorious followers, and many of these pastors can lead their congregations around by their noses.
On the inclusive side of the church, each Churchwide Assembly vote comes closer to seeing an inclusive church. I believe that this will happen perhaps at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, but most likely at the 2011 assembly. The task that is before us all is to be inclusive to all, even those who chose to exclude GLBT people in the Church. I pray that as we move down this road we allow those of differing opinions to live within the Church.