New York Times: Lutheran Group Eases Limits on Gay Clergy
Yes, I am a conservative Christian. Yes, I would have voted against this. (All my GLBTQ peeps know this.) However, I’m not having a massive hissy fit over this.
Why you ask?
1.) I’ve got too much going on in my life to flip out over anything else at the moment. Jon is in the process of finding another call, I have a 4 1/2 month old baby who is teething, I’m working 3 days a week, I’m still dealing with the emotional and mental schtuff from Daniel’s birth and stay in the NICU, and I’m tired to the point where sleeping all day would be sooooo nice. While I’m aware of the implications of this, I’m really having a hard time caring right now.
2.) The language of the decision is as such:
The first step asks the assembly whether it is committed “to finding ways to allow congregations and synods that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships,” said the report.
The second step asks the assembly whether it is committed to finding a way for Lutherans in committed, same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA professional leaders — clergy, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses.
If steps one and two are accepted, step three asks the assembly to commit to implementing steps one and two “in such a way that all this church bear the burdens of the other, love the neighbor, and respect the bound conscience of any with whom they disagree.” According to the report, “decisions about policy that serve only the interests of one or another group will not be acceptable.”
Step four presents a proposal for how the ELCA could move toward change “in a way that respects the bound conscience of all,” said the report. The fourth step is different from the previous steps in that it is “not simply a commitment in principle, but makes a specific recommendation for flexibility within existing structures and practices of this church to allow for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to be approved” for professional service in the ELCA, stated the report.
In none of the bolded passages does it state that members will be forced to call a gay or lesbian pastor to their congregation. My bishop (the most awesome Jessica Crist) actually states it best:
The resolution on Ministry Policies is actually a series of 4 resolutions, moving from committing the ELCA to begin the process of finding ways to recognize and support life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships, to finding ways for rostering appropriately prepared and qualified persons. Even if all 4 parts of the resolution pass, there will be a lengthy process for implementation. The resolution makes possible in certain instances the rostering of people who happen to be in same-gender relationships. It is important to note that the intent of this is to open possibilities for ministry. Congregations have a lot of leeway in the call process now. They can accept or reject a candidate proposed by the Synod Office. That will not change. The intent of these resolutions is not to force congregations to accept pastors who do not fit. Rather it is to allow congregations to call pastors who do fit.
In other words, this isn’t something that will take place overnight and it isn’t something that will be binding on every congregation and every person. Congregations are always allowed to reject a candidate given to them just as candidates can reject a congregation profile given to them. If it were binding that a congregation had to consider every candidate given, that would be a different story.
3.) This issue has been talked to death for the last 8 years. I swear that some of the “yes” votes were cast on the condition that we could stop talking about sex at Synod Assembly. (At least… this is what my Lutheran peeps on Facebook are saying.) In the words of one of them, “one of these days, we might be able to get past sex and the church roof and onto the issue of Christ being crucified and raised from the dead.” At least there’s a decision on the horizon and we can stop dialoguing ourselves to death!!!
So… this is why I’m not flipping out like I normally would be.