This week I thought I would give my take on some of the actions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly related to sexuality. I thought I would begin with implementing resolution 1 for the Sexuality Statement.
Resolution 1: Adopted by a vote of 619-402: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
Two weeks ago my partner 20 years Brett and I were wed in Provincetown, Massachusetts. This past weekend, we were honored to attend our friends Steve and Shannon’s commitment ceremony in Covington, Kentucky. These two events illustrate why society must step forward and recognize same gender relationships. Brett and I are friends with numerous monogamous gay and lesbian couples who have been together 5, 10, 15 or more than 20 years. These couples only want to have their relationships recognized and live out their life with the person they love. The above ELCA resolution is a welcome step forward in my eyes.
The ELCA resolution is carefully worded and sensitive to the differing views towards homosexuality in the ELCA. Read it again. You will see that it dictates nothing. It merely allows congregations who wish to recognize and support same sex relationships if they chose to. Those congregations who do not wish to do so are free to not embrace this ministry. If you read this blog, you know I am a big fan of local option on these matters which is what this action is. It frees congregations who want to expand their ministry to GLBT people to do so with the blessing of the ELCA.
It is important to note here that an accompanying resolution was also passed that asked ELCA members to respect the bound conscience of others. I’ll speak to that resolution later this week. It basically says that there is no right or wrong view in these matters. Each person lives according to their conscience and beliefs and respects how others view the actions. In simple words, “We agree to disagree.”
A few weeks ago Brett and I attended a synod meeting where the sexuality actions were discussed. It was an open forum. The majority present were outraged at the assembly actions. They seem to have missed the bound conscience resolution. I realize that when you open the floor to discussion on a particular action that you will mostly get folks who are opposed to the action. Seldom do those pleased with or neutral to the action attend these meetings and voice their support or pleasure. It was personally a very difficult meeting to attend and sad to see folks acting in such un-Christianlike ways.
After a week of pondering this meeting and coming to terms with my emotions surrounding it, I understand that I need to go back to one of the primary beliefs of Lutheranism: justification by grace through faith. The bound conscience spoken of in the Churchwide resolutions is indeed living grace out in our lives. It’s through this grace that allows me to continue my work in the Church and respect the difference of opinion that I have with many of these people.