Stunned. Disappointed. Embarrassed to be a Lutheran. Heartsick. Recommendation No. 3 (from the ELCA Studies on Sexuality) offered crumbs to the dogs waiting under the table, but the Churchwide Assembly declined even that. Please stop touting the ELCA as a welcoming church. The only bright spot in all this is that slightly under half disagreed with the assembly’s verdict. Will there be a place in this church for us in that substantial 49 percent to live out our convictions regarding scriptural interpretation and the deeper implications of the Lord’s justice and the gospel?
The minister in the United Lutheran Church congregation in which I grew up was asked what he would do if someone he thought was a nonbeliever came to the communion table. He said, “I would administer the communion elements because I would know the Lord had brought that person there.” Too bad the assembly voting members couldn’t see that when two gay or lesbian people ask for the blessing of the church on their relationship, they are there “because the Lord brought them there.”
I’m studying at the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.). My engagement with the study, as part of a small guided discussion group in a congregation, was characterized by honest expression and respect. This is a welcome development in a religious climate often dominated by polarized opinions and a resultant unwillingness to exchange or listen to differing ideas. However, when we agree to live with disagreement, we end at the point of beginning. When does the desire to maintain unity subvert the call to follow the transformative life of Jesus and thereby deny justice to others? Treading water may ensure survival for a time, but it doesn’t invigorate or renew.
The vote has been taken. We now need to begin enforcing our rules in this area. As for recommendation No. 2, we need to begin doing what the Bible says: We are to encourage all sinners (including me) to repent, no matter what the sin.
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