Saturday, March 15, 2008


The Evangelical Lutheran Church of American, the "liberal" wing of the Lutheran Church, in its ""Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality," stated that marriage should still be confined to one man and one woman, but that same-sex couples were legitimate, but came up with the following:

"The church recognizes the historic origin of the term `marriage' as a lifelong and committed relationship between a woman and a man, and does not wish to alter this understanding."

"The document released Thursday repeatedly states that sexual intimacy should be reserved for married couples, and condemns sex for personal gratification alone."

And, to add insult to injury, it states: "These [same gender] relationships are to be held to the same rigorous standards and sexual ethics as all others," the document says. "This suggests that dissolution of a committed same-gender relationship be treated with the same gravity as the dissolution of a marriage."

[For the full article, see here]

So, the "liberal" wing of the Lutheran Church comes up with the statement that same-gender relationships are to be tolerated, but the couples are not to engage in sexual activity and, to top it off, those relationships must "be treated with the same gravity as the dissolution of a marriage." Talk about a double wammy!

"Next year, the panel will decide whether to suggest changes in current clergy standards that bar gays and lesbians from being ordained if they are sexually active." What do you think will be the result of their decision?

These "liberals" are still squeamish (or, perhaps, fearful) about sexual activity, still view same-gender couples differently from heterosexual couples, still will not allow the term "marriage" to be applied to same-gender couples, still hopelessly seek to deny them the sexual activity that goes along with marriage and, if one is a Lutheran and does engage in sexual activity with his or her same-sex partner, he/she can be allowed to feel guilty.

Since when did Jesus give any organization or human being the right to judge the relationships between two consenting adults? Since when did the Gospel of grace become distorted into a false gospel of legalism? Since when did "sex" become equated with "morality," to the exclusion of the rampant structural and corporate sins to which we've been exposed and from which we've suffered since the dawn of man, and about which most all of the institutional Church has been predictably silent?

Rather than lead the way in affirming love among consenting adults in all its forms, and formally recognizing the intrinsic holy nature of love and its sexual expressions, most church bodies within the institutional Church have merely either pandered to the most reactionary forces in both "religious" and secular society and/or seek to anemically navigate the waters of controversy lest they lose members and, of course, the moneys that flow into their collection plates that enable them to have their careers, and continue with their building beautification programs.

And these are the "liberals!"
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howller said...

Jerry, yet another thoughtful, insightful, on-the-money, and beautifully articulated article. Thank you!

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Howller. Your kind words mean a lot to me. Let's keep up the good fight!

Anonymous said...

I read the article a bit differently. Here they say some congregations DO support gay and lesbians couples monogamous lives:

'The task force goes on to describe different responses to gays and lesbians in congregations, noting that some churches require celibacy for them, while others urge gay couples to "establish relationships that are chaste, mutual, monogamous and lifelong." "

Of course, this is not enough. Not by a long shot. But that is the business of that church and I will leave it in their hands. As long as they don't mess with the courts or legislature like the Baptists, Mormons, and Catholics.

Richard aka Dagon

Anonymous said...

Jerry, I wanted to add that I don't see these church beautification projects you speak of. One of my pet peeves with churches is that they are so ugly these days. The stately edifices of yesteryear are no more. I miss them. Catholic and Protestant alike, the church buildings of the 1850's to the 1950's were so much nicer than those built since then. At least in my eyes. Except for St Mary's on Geary in San Francisco ... I like that space ship design. I know this is WAY off your main point, but thought I would mention it.

Dagon aka Richard

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Richard: The Cathedrals and other "stately edifices" were beautiful. However, with the current level of diminished "architectural sophistication," for want of a better term, what passes for "beauty" is quite inferior to those structures.

However, whatever "beauty" means to church officials and congregations, that is frequently sought ((e.g., new and more sophisticated sound systems, remodeling, additions to existing structures, etc.), as is "church growth," demands the continuous flow of money into the collection plates.

And to keep that money rolling in, the sermons must be non-offensive and appeal to those who have (or think they have) a vested interest in the status quo. Therefore, to enhance church growth and get more "beautiful" buildings and bigger facilities, it's very unlikely, as we have seen, that clergy are going to be any more likely to preach in favor of LGBT inclusiveness in every part of the church and society any more than white clergy in the South (and even in the North) were likely to preach in favor of integration in the 1950's.

For the most part, there's far more money to be made by preaching the status quo to those who feel they profit from it than to preach against injustice, discrimination, and oppression.

And, as you so correctly point out, the buildings may become larger, the technology may become more sophisticated, but the "beauty" is really not there.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Richard: You write, As long as they don't mess with the courts or legislature like the Baptists, Mormons, and Catholics." But indirectly they do!

They are affirming that they are tolerant of same-sex couples (which is really big of them!), but those couples must remain "chaste." So, they are putting same-sex couples on an inferior basis to heterosexual couples; putting them in a class saying "separate is equal," and that message, especially from a "liberal" church body sends out a message to both "religious" and secular society that Gay couples aren't as legitimate as are heterosexual couples and must live by different rules, except for when they break up, in which case it should be treated as the equivalent of divorce.

There are a lot of demeaning messages here: 1. Gay couples shouldn't be allowed to get married in the same way as heterosexuals are allowed to get married; 2. Same-sex couples are qualitatively different from heterosexual couples; 3. Love between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are qualitatively different (and the subtext means "inferior"); 4. Same-sex couples should be viewed and treated differently than heterosexual couples; 5. There was no mention of same-sex couples deserving the same civil rights (the 1,049 civil rights that heterosexual couples enjoy and that are denied to same-sex couples) as heterosexual couples; 6. Sex between same-sex couples should be forbidden (Which is the subject of a whole other essay.).

And this and other destructive messages are proclaimed by "liberals." I don't mind it as much when reactionaries say these things because most everyone sees those messages and their mind-set as being consistent.

However, when "liberals" give out these messages, homophobia, both internalized and externalized, is likely to become further entrenched in the institutional Church in in society itself.

So, as typical "liberals," they are trying to have it both ways, and choose to come down on the side of the status quo without seeming to be too strident. To me, that is even more offensive than actual homophobes who admit to their homophobia.