Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gay Ruling Posses Tough Questions for ELCA

For many Lutherans who accept the scriptures at face value, and refuse to interpret them in light of popular opinion or current sociological trends, determining the legitimacy of homosexuality is not a problem. Openly engaging in a homosexual lifestyle is sin. It requires repentance. However, according to a recent (but undated) RNS article, deciding how to deal with "openly gay" clergy is a dilemma for the ELCA. And much of this comes from their dilemma of being caught between people who know it's wrong and their teachers who insist that the Bible claims otherwise. This issue has been brought up in convention, but to date without resolution. It seems that many laity are not ready to give up on what they know their Bible so clearly says.

Gay Ruling Poses Tough Questions for Lutherans
By Katherine Boyle
(UNDATED) The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be asked to change its policy on gay and lesbian clergy after a disciplinary committee removed an openly gay pastor but suggested the church should find a way to reinstate him. The ruling mandated the removal of the Rev. Bradley Schmeling, an openly gay pastor in a committed relationship, from his pastoral duties in Atlanta by Aug. 15. However, the committee said it had reached that decision reluctantly, and suggested the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly next August should “reconsider and revise” guidelines prohibiting gay clergy.

Another dilemma for the ELCA is being caught in a legalistic bind. Their policies forbid what their leaders believe is the right course. For a Lutheran the truth always trumps policy. Although in modern, large denominations such is not always carried out in practice - even in the LCMS. In this sense the ELCA and the LCMS have a similar problem. By and large they are slaves to their policies. Now in this case I agree with their policy regarding openly gay clergy. They should be removed from their pastoral duties. But the disciplinary committee has seen the secondary dilemma. If they believe that being openly gay is OK, then why should they remove him? If the ELCA is by and large supportive of such freedom, then the policies should be rescinded.

But apparently they have not convinced the rest of the church of this yet.

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