Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The ELCA and Gay Clergy

Seems like all of the mainline denominations want to get on the "let's ordain openly gay clergy bandwagon." The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America *ELCA) has been flirting with this one for quite awhile. I hope they know what they are doing (been keeping your eyes on the ECUSA??). I don't claim to have the answer, but I'd like to weigh in a bit on the issues.

It looks as if the ELCA's main legislative body will have the issue (non-celibate gay clergy) up for a vote in August. I don't fully understand ELCA polity, but, as near as I can tell, local congregations and judicatories will have a "final" say in ordination, if the motion is approved. I guess that one could play either way.

Conservative groups in the church are already crying foul. They point out that gay ordination is certainly a departure from the "letter of the law" in the New Testament epistles. Unless one does some pretty "fancy stepping," I don't see how that can be denied. Of course, it is possible that the Bible writers are simply wrong. I'm not above entertaining that possibility. I guess it all depends on how literal one is about it all.

According to Christian Century four areas of agreement would need to be reached for it all to come about:
  1. That the ELCA is willing to recognize committed, lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships.
  2. There is a commitment that allows such folks to serve in the church.
  3. The ELCA agrees to respect those who disagree with all of this stuff.
  4. Finally, the ELCA removes the ban from partnered gay clergy.
Nice ideas. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not the one who is going to hold those four deals together without allienating a whole bunch of church members.

Life just ain't so simple any more. No, Toto. I don't think we are still in Kansas.

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