Ethics

Editor’s Introduction

[1] Gender is at least one of the major theological, philosophical, and ethical issues of our age. On one hand, the issue’s complexity means that conversation and study is often difficult. Some congregations and individuals have simply chosen not to discuss questions that pertain to gender identity, expression, and sexuality out of fear that such […]

Reimagining Vocation: Queer, Lutheran, with Room for All

“We do theology because we want to collaborate fundamentally in bringing about a different kind of world in the here-and-now.”   –M. Shawn Copeland   Vocations and Challenges to Vocation  [1] Can you recall a time when you felt truly welcomed and accepted? Can you remember a moment when you brought the fullness of yourself to […]

‘Generation Roe’?: Neighbor-Care in the Shadow of Freedoms Lost

[1] What will they call us? There is a micro-generation of women whose entire reproductive lives were carried out under the protection of Roe v. Wade. Those of us who came of age with the knowledge that we were (more or less) trusted to make our own decisions about when and how to parent. We […]

A Case Study in the Ethics of Dialogue: ELCA Sexuality Study 2002-2005

[We] need a positive moral vision that would start by rejecting the idea that we are locked into incessant conflict along class, cultural, racial and ideological lines. It would reject all the appurtenances of the culture warrior pose — the us/them thinking, exaggerating the malevolence of the other half of the country, relying on crude […]

I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Courageously Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times by Mónica Guzmán

“To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.” Mark Nepo [1] We humans are on an unprecedented hinge of history. It’s hard to imagine a more apocalyptic accretion of worldwide catastrophes: among them the most lethal pandemic in a century; the dismantling of formerly stalwart democracies; […]

We Want Justice: Retributive, Distributive, and Restorative Justice

[1] I want to begin with a difficult and inexplicable truth: white racism is alive and well in the institutional and cultural life of the United States of America. Since the death of George Floyd, there have been multiple calls for racial reckoning in the United States and around the globe. [1] These calls reveal […]

On Pardon, Reparations, and a Politics of Penitence

[1] In this essay I want to ask how a person who identifies as white and Christian might live in the United States amidst the ongoing legacies of slavery.[i] There are countless other questions before us—questions about the shape of Black lives, not least!—and I do not want to pretend that the questions of this […]

How Do We Start Again?:  Reconsidering Pastoral Ethics in the ELCA from the Vantage Point of Interim Ministry

[1] As a pastor in the LCA ordained in 1981 now serving in the ELCA, I experienced the embodied pastoral ethics of Vison and Expectations as being too weighted in scope and emphasis on sexual ethics so that all other ethical considerations were overwhelmed.  Today, with the demise of Vision and Expectations, there remains a […]

Sacrilege: Side-Hustles and Non-Living-Wage Work

[1] When I was growing up, I remember hearing the theme song to the popular American television show Cheers proclaim: “Making your way in the world today takes everything you got.” For many people across the world, in wildly different contexts, that sentence rings profoundly, and sadly, true. Humans endure unsustainably long workdays at a […]

Agapic Love, Social Media, and Clergy Ethics

[1] Social media platforms have fast become essential, embedded institutions. By the term “social media” I’m referring to web-based platforms that host individuals and communities, these include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, WeChat, WhatsApp, MeWe, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Meetup, Medium, Quora, and Twitch. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2005, 5% of […]