The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has decided that gays in long term monogamous relationships can be ordained as clergy in their church.
The ELCA has permitted the ordination of women for decades. Now the other shoe has fallen so to speak. The restrictive interpretation of ancient sacred scripture has a few asterisks in its text today to deal with the reality of the modern age and in regards to the nature of the religion thing that so many want and need in their lives.
The ELCA is the largest and most liberal of several other Lutheran bodies in America. Talk about some congregations walking away or joining other more conservative sects is in the air.
Similar talk is in the air with the Episcopalians who recently approved a similar decision in Los Angeles last month.
'Monogamous' Gays Can Serve in ELCA
Previously, only celibate gays were permitted to serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination of 4.8 million members. But delegates to a church assembly voted 559-451 to allow gays in "life-long, monogamous" relationships to serve as clergy and professional lay leaders in the church…Homosexuality, as defined and thought of in the past few centuries, is breaking some new grounds in terms of understanding, tolerance and acceptance in some church circles.
"We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus' time and culture," Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin and supporter of Lutherans Concerned, an gay-rights organization, said during the debate. "We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood."
..."As Luther taught us, Scripture does not have a wax nose," said the Rev. Ryan Mills, a delegate representing Texas and Louisana. "It cannot be twisted into anything we want it to say. But that's just what we're doing with these following recommendations."
It has been sixty years since the first Kinsey Report in America on male sexuality, followed by another report on female sexuality, that has perhaps paved part of the way for the present understanding of homosexuality. Some of the methodology of that original scientific research is questioned but the strange thing is that it established a mark in the sand. Before Kinsey was the dark ages. After Kinsey, humanity could focus on itself and define and or even rediscover what it means to be human in a sexual context.
America and its independence and “can do” attitude toward church structuring seems to be a little bit more free and fragrant than it has been in the recent past.
I think that locally controlled religious bodies here in America see the empty pews on Sunday and rather than eliminate whole portions of the population through gender or sexual orientation, the right thing to do is to be inclusive to all humanity. It is something we can visualize Jesus doing if he were with us in the flesh today instead of in spirit. The church of Jesus and the people of God move forward.
Europe seems forever trapped in the past. Too many palaces and rococo churches and not enough farmer’s horse sense in the day to day living of the human race adds measure to that thought. Rigidity in the old ways of religion seem to turn into stone like so many gargoyles adorning old buildings over there.
It is refreshing to see America at the forethought on matters progressive in religious thinking. Even if we have become something of an evil empire with our illegal immoral corporate war in Iraq, some of us still have moral fiber and religious conviction. We also have our humanity which is inclusive and projected toward all humanity and not just some of it.
There is a long way to go in terms of the human condition to change and understand itself as a whole and in perspective from many angles of history, culture and human nature. Another small step forward in that process just took place in Minneapolis.