I spent my lunch hour today browsing web sites and blogs for news and responses to the release of the First Draft of the ELCA Sexuality Social Statement. What is most amusing is how different groups and individuals view the response in their minds. They all seem to agree that the first draft is deficient in differing ways.
Maybe this deficiency is a good thing. It says to me that the authors sought to address diverse views and opinions in the document. I do not think that all Lutherans will be of one mind on any issue about sexuality. Many individuals in the ELCA miss the point that God created us all as unique individuals. God gave us minds and trusted us to live our lives in the most responsible and Christian manner to bring peace, love and understanding to all people regardless of their circumstances.
As members of the ELCA, we spend the week living very diverse lives. Look at the people joining you at the communion rail. How different yet alike are they? Different in interpreting God’s will for their lives; similar in living their lives in God’s word. Isn’t that what we should strive for in all issues including this issue of sexuality?
The study is correct in saying that people have been hurt by teachings of the Church in the past when they were used as weapons. I don’t need to tell you that we should have learned this lesson earlier. Racism and the discrimination of women in the church went on far too long. It is something that needs to stop immediately. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the Church needs to march in a gay pride parade. It does mean that we should all value each others work and involvement in the Church regardless of whether they are gay or straight.
The hot potato here is the recognition of same sex relationships. I agree with the study that same sex relationships should be valued if they reflect the identical behaviors that opposite sex relationships are measured by. It is healthy for everyone in the Church to value a loving monogamous relationship.
Should the Church call same sex relationships a marriage? That is a tough question. I can see both perspectives on this issue. Most LGBT people point out that until same sex relationships are celebrated as marriage by the Church, LGBT members are viewed as second class citizens within the Church. Here is where society is not so evenly split. Most people would say “no” to this question. Divorce, single parent families and many other issues threaten the institution of marriage. Gay couples just add to that threat. People react by putting the restrictions on gay people. It is so much easier. Why not address divorce and single parent families? The answer is that it is too close to home. It often involves themselves, their family or close friends. It’s easier to dictate law affecting others so that it does not impact our home.
Societal change is slow but is speeding up in our Internet age. I recently heard an interesting talk by a pastor. He had recently baptized a baby of a same sex couple. They were keeping a scrapbook and journal on the child’s life and society around them to share with the child in the future. He pointed out that most likely in 18 years the child would remark how strange it was that the Church and our country discriminated against gay couples and gay pastors in the past. I truly believe that this will be the case; perhaps in as few as 10 years.
Want to read more about the more conservative responses to the study? Here is an interesting web page on the Lutheran CORE web sites. It will give you a good perspective on their beliefs and stance. Some Questions and Answers about the ELCA Sexuality Discussions: A Resource for the Church from Lutheran CORE