This afternoon the ELCA Churchwide Assembly continues its discussion on the proposed sexuality social statement. As a delegate to the previous Churchwide Assembly in Chicago, I am comforted in knowing that Bishop Hanson continues to lead the ELCA. He did an extraordinary job in managing difficult discussions and decisions at the 2007 assembly. I saw his leadership in action Monday night as I watched the live webcast of the first plenary session. I truly admire him as a leader.
I believe this assembly will finally make a decision on the inclusion of GLBT people in the Church. Over the past 10 years, that was supposed to have happened but did not. I think the Church has come to a crossroads where our beliefs, faith and culture necessitate that we make the decision. I have seen that at our local synod assembly.
I spend my spare time reading web sites and blogs with content about the assembly and the sexuality topic. You can sense a definite fear in the writings of more conservative bloggers and leaders. It’s interesting to see that we have come to a point where GLBT rights may be supported by the majority of the ELCA.
I try to understand the thought process of those who do not believe in full inclusion. Their writings all seem to point to fear. They see pro-GLBT decisions dismantling the Church and destroying the ELCA. Their arguments are few; primarily that the Bible does not approve of homosexuality. They then tie this argument with the loss of membership, relationships with worldwide communion partners and other faiths in the USA. I find that interesting since many of these folks have adamantly opposed joint communion with other denominations. The Biblical message on homosexuality is highly subject to the time, message and translation of the Biblical passages. Nowhere does it speak for or against committed same sex couples in monogamous relationships.
Fear is strong tool to wield but weak in substance. I believe the shift in support for GLBT inclusion is due to people seeing beyond that fear and realizing that the issue is about a basic message found throughout the Bible; to love and respect one another treating everyone fairly.
As several news reports have mentioned, “By the end of the week, there will be a group of people unhappy with the ELCA while another is happy with the actions.” We can’t control what happens in Minneapolis this afternoon and tomorrow. We can only pray that the outcome lives up to the assembly’s motto: God’s Work, Our Hands.