A Response to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

“We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn” -M.C. Bateson In the last years of study in the ELCA, we have learned that: Even as we confess one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, we hold different points of view about human sexuality; especially our church’s willingness to bless same-sex […]

JLE Portfolio: On the Release of the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

[1] News reports of the report and recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality displayed various headlines. “No change” was followed by “Gays Win,” “Tolerate” and “Be Flexible” as news outlets tried to characterize the recommendations. Those unfamiliar with the history of the issue in the ELCA, the present regulations, Lutheran […]

No Red Synods/ Blue Synods in the ELCA: Attempting to Hold the Middle Ground

[1] When I have spoken publicly on these issues in recent years, I have said that if decisions concerning blessing same-sex unions and rostering persons in such unions split the church (in either direction), it will not be because of the issues themselves but because we have failed to understand and to live out what […]

Sex and “Church”

[1] We now know the recommendations of the task force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality: Retain “Vision and Expectations,” but enforce it using “pastoral discretion.” This presents a problem: What criteria should we use to adjudicate enforcement? It would be decidedly un-Lutheran (“enthusiastic”) to locate such discretion in the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. […]

A Call for Our Best Thinking

This article was excerpted from a pastoral letter from the bishop to the Northeastern Iowa Synod. [1] The participation I have seen in the conversation on the “Journey Together Faithfully” materials has been quite inspiring. As enriching as the conversation has been, however, I am not convinced that we have yet done our very best […]

Sexual Intimacy, Spiritual Belonging, and Christian Theology

[1] Sexual intimacy can serve as a resource for spiritual transformation and renewal in our lives. Through it, we can experience a restored sense of healing, joy, personal power to affect and be affected, passionate relationship, creative potency, and wondrous pleasure. When sexual relating functions this way in our lives, making love can be one […]

ELCA Studies on Sexuality: For what can we hope?

[1] A task force has been at work for more than a year. There have been lively debates at synod assemblies, adult forums in congregations, articles and letters in The Lutheran. In August the Churchwide Assembly heard progress reports, and in 2005 it is expected that there will be recommendations and an assembly vote. Some […]

Journeying Together and Faithfully?

[1] An evaluation of “Journey Together Faithfully: The Church and Homosexuality” (ELCA Studies on Sexuality, Part II) must answer these questions: 1) Does the document fairly and accurately represent the relevant positions? 2) Does it help people clarify their own views? 3) Is the document substantial enough to guide the process of ELCA deliberation on […]

The Debate over Ordained Service by Homosexual Persons in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

[1] The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been mired in debates about ordained service by non-celibate gay and lesbian persons since 1976. [2] In 1976, two presbyteries (local districts) overtured General Assembly, the denomination’s highest governing body, for “definitive guidance” whether persons who openly acknowledge a homosexual orientation and practice may be ordained. The 1978 General […]

Homosexuality in the Danish Lutheran Church

[1] In the Church of Denmark a pastor can, after having sought guidance by his/her bishop, offer a “divine service” for a homosexual couple that has decided to enter into a so-called registered partnership. In order to understand this state of affairs, it will be helpful to review some basic information about the religious situation […]