Subject: Lutherans embrace sexual minorities
The Lutheran Church Embraces the LGBT Community
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Certainly all great truths begin as blasphemies.” On April 11, 2010, those who identify as people of faith and as “non-heterosexual” were given particular cause to celebrate Shaw’s wisdom: a most unlikely church has given a most unlikely people a gift of love and truth, and I cannot stop smiling.
After twenty-five years of deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Church Council has abolished its anti-gay policies, effective immediately. Following from discussions at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last summer, the ELCA will now allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as rostered leaders. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) human beings are no longer considered abominations but blessed church members with full standing. Same-sex partners and families can now fully participate in the ELCA Pension Plan.
Best of all, the ELCA is reinstating people who were removed from ministry positions because they were truthful and came out of the closet, as well as those who conducted holy unions for non-heterosexual couples. The ELCA has practiced restorative justice.
The Lutherans — breaking from Garrison Keillor stereotypes as shy, retiring, or stoic — said, “Just do it!” All votes passed overwhelmingly, with no votes against and no drawn-out hassles about how to implement the policies.
I’m particularly grateful to the ELCA for adding restoration to its reforms. My colleague, Rev. Paul W. Egerston, faithfully pastored and served as Bishop in the Lutheran church for 31 years. He resigned one month before the end of his term in 2001. Why? He ordained a lesbian as a Pastor and took a public stand for justice in opposition to the official anti-gay policy of the ELCA. Now, Paul and his wife, Shirley, and their six children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren can take a day off. I believe that through the ELCA’s restoration, God has sent them a message, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”
Hey Ray,There has been a lot of discussion about misoisn in my church (IECLB). Unfortunately, the Lutheran church has lost members recently in part due to its strong identification with German culture. As a result, most of Lutherans in Brazil are German descendants. (Of course I am not, but I am an outlier ). For sure it does not mean that we need to aggressively convert people. I agree in part with you that every time we are walking together, hearing and helping, it is a kind of misoisnary activity. However, I am afraid of this kind of perspective because it may lead us to some inertia on giving voice to the Gospel. Sometimes we have to talk about our faith, giving people an option in the midst of the many voices that people can follow if they want. I am NOT preaching here that we can do ANYTHING in order to convince people of Christ’s resurrection. But I think we need to be more active (in all dimensions: both acting and speaking) than we have been at least in Brazil. Probably the Lutherans are the most secularized Christians in Brazil and even in the world.I am not going to talk about salvation. This is our Heavenly Father’s matter. But if we feel that Jesus loves us, why can’t we say it to people? Of course our actions must be coherent to what we say (at least we should try it). I know there are many points of view about misoisn. I am open to hear different opinions.