Timothy Wengert, a member of the Task Force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality, spoke to the assembly about the group’s interpretation of “respect for the bound conscience of the neighbor.” Such respect is not one-way, Wengert said, but means rather “that the very people who hold different, opposing viewpoints on a particular moral issue based upon their understanding of Scripture, tradition and reason must recognize the bound conscience of the other, of their neighbor who disagrees with them, and then work in such ways as not to cause that other person to reject the faith and fellowship in word and sacrament.”
It’s old news already — the historic votes by the Churchwide Assembly changing policy to open possibilities for gays and lesbians for recognition of their partnerships and for rostered ministry. Gone from the TV screens. Recycled with the papers.
|Richard G. Mahan, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod: “I cannot see how the church that I have known for 40 years can condone what God has condemned.”|
But not for the church. Members will be reading the story of all that these decisions mean for months to come. And they’ll be “writing” it, too, as they work through the conflict of their beliefs about biblical authority and human sexuality, their understandings of bound consciences and love of neighbor.
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson wants everyone to join in the project. “It’s going to take time to sort out how we’re going to live together in the light of these decisions,” he said. “We need you in the conversation about what is the shape and character of our life together. It would be tragic if we walked away from one another.”
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© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers