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Church grapples with same-sex issue again
LIKE IT IS
We’ve taken another run at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on coming up with a social statement on human sexuality.
Well, not the congregation as a whole, although all members were invited to take part. We took a vote in the church years back on where we stood when it comes to allowing partnered gay clergy to serve and permitting the marriage in the Evangelical Churches in America of lesbians and gays.
We voted no big time on both questions. That is why, I’m sure that when meetings were scheduled this past month to discuss a first draft of the statement, so few people showed up. How many times do we have to say no?
Last year we met for eight consecutive Sundays on making proposals for the statement and only five people regularly attended. This September we met all four Sundays to give feedback on the draft the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality has come up with and had four or five there each time. Only two were repeats from last year, other than the pastor. He wants us to answer as individuals, rather than as a group.
Copies of the draft were made available at the church to all members and I understand all were taken. Whether they were read I don’t know. I think 50 pages is way, way too long. The proposal rambles too much and I’m not really sure what’s in it, although I have read it three times from start to finish.
I’ve had to digest a lot of reports during my newspaper career and come up with an article explaining it to the readers and I’d have a tough time doing that with this. I confess to a long felt suspicion that the Episcopalians, with whom we merged some years back to effect joint use of churches and pastors, are behind the persistent push to get Lutheran acceptance of gay pastors and blessing of gay marriages. Their presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has stated she doesn’t believe homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender.
I did find in the draft proposal this paragraph, “This church recognizes the historic origin of the term ‘marriage’ as a lifelong and committed relationship between a woman and man and does not wish to alter this understanding. It recognizes, however, that some states have enacted or are in the process of enacting legislation in which the term marriage is used. This is the prerogative of the state, which is the realm in which civil marriage and the laws governing it exist.”
Now you’d think that paragraph would quell my apprehension about seeing a pro-gay and lesbian statement get slipped through next year when it comes before the church-wide assembly but it does not.
It is no secret that despite current church rulings that homosexuals may only serve as rostered pastors if they are celibate, there are more than a hundred gay and lesbian partnered pastors now serving Lutheran churches. And at last year’s church-wide assembly in Chicago, a resolution was passed, 538-431, urging that ordained ministers in same gender relationships be neither disciplined nor defrocked.
There also have been marriages of homosexuals in the church, some with the attendance of bishops. Lutherans have until Nov. 1 to study the draft of the social statement and send in their responses. I shall repeat what I wrote back to the hierarchy last year.
Homosexuals are welcome in my church. They may sit by me if they choose. But I do not condone active homosexual pastors or blessing of gay marriages or I will find another church in which to worship.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.