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08/22/2009

Lax Luther: ELCA gets more E.Q.U.A.L

by Jeremy Hooper

It must be hard for the anti-equality right, knowing that the "religious freedom" firmament on which they rest their campaigns is not only an unfounded basis for denying others' civil rights -- it's also a rapidly deteriorating one:

After an emotional debate over the authority of Scripture and the limits of biblical inclusiveness, leaders of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination voted Friday to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as members of the clergy

The vote made the denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the latest mainline Protestant church to permit such ordinations, contributing to a halting sense of momentum on the issue within liberal Protestantism.

Lutheran Group Eases Limits on Gay Clergy [NY Times]

A positive move for people of faith! Sure, we're nowhere near the point where the Southern Baptist Convention could be confused for the White Party. But we're certainly seeing this world's religious collective move in one certain direction. And while the road may slow-moving, it a path whose upturn in inclusivity is inevitable as the passage of time itself.

Bravo, ELCA.

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Your thoughts

Yeah! I am so proud to be a Lutheran today! But, we are not the only church that allows monogamous gay clergy to serve openly. UCC and Anglicans do too.

Posted by: Katie | Aug 22, 2009 4:39:46 PM

So now we have the Episcopalians, Lutherans and a host of other smaller Christian sects on our side. This is great.

But here in RI the Catholic church is dominant. So how do we counter that?

Posted by: Tony P | Aug 22, 2009 5:51:22 PM

GAY wrote (emphasis mine): "And while the road may SLOW-moving...."

Isn't this a little bit like a sixteen year-old kid who receives accolades for finally improving his reading skills from 5th to 6th grade level? Giving him praise and encouragement is the right thing to do, of course, but everyone knows he is lagging behind, for whatever reasons.

The fact is that the more secular parts of society are leading the way towards equality, and it is churches that are lagging behind, but making some progress while being dragged kicking and screaming. The ELCA deserves some accolades and our thanks, but I want to keep it in perspective.

Many years in the future I have no doubt that Christians will be taking all the credit for ending society's persecution of gays. They have a habit of taking credit for all things deemed positive, and deflecting responsibility for all things deemed negative.

Posted by: Richard Rush | Aug 22, 2009 6:32:35 PM

So, I was at a church garage sale today at my home church, an ELCA congregation in the bible belt, and my family was quietly talking to our liberal friends in the church. I am SOO excited, As my friend said "Now my Father will leave the church and my son will become a Pastor!" I'm really interested to see how this affects service tomorrow. I'm proud of my church.

For those who like to say it's about time, and that the ELCA should have done this a long time ago...I agree, but you have to understand the way Lutherans are as a group. We've been discussing this resolution in one form or another for 8 years! Every year the Lutheran (our magazine) seems to be coming out with a statement from on high to the effect of "The ELCA has determined that more study of this complex issue is needed, so we have convened another panel to put together a statement, which will then be sent to all synods for confirmation." Lutherans are SLOW!!! When you are a Lutheran you get used to it and come to love it, but I guess it can be hard for others outside our denomination.

And now we are set up for a schism, but oh well, we've been dealing with LCMS and the Wisconsin synod talk about how we aren't real Lutherans for a long time now, so it won't be anything new.

Posted by: Piper | Aug 22, 2009 7:03:08 PM

I am proud to be a Lutheran after this past week. My heart is heavy for those within my denomination which want to break away instead of maintain communion with those with whom they disagree.

Posted by: Pomo | Aug 22, 2009 7:33:21 PM

There is a bar in LA, called the Apache, that I used to frequent. On Saturday nights, it was a disco up until 2am on Sunday morning, and then they would start serving juice only (no liquor). With the tunes still blasting, and everyone still dancing, they would call it Church. So everyone would go to the Apache for dancing, and then stay for Church. Now, that's my kind of church! Maybe the Lutherans can take a lesson...

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 22, 2009 8:10:41 PM

"we're nowhere near the point where the Southern Baptist Convention could be confused for the White Party."

Oh I'm sure the Southern Baptist Convention is the biggest "white party" in the nation.

Just not the kind that you're thinking of.

Posted by: Scott | Aug 22, 2009 11:15:30 PM

This is great news. Some of the Lutheran bodies in Europe, such as the Church of Sweden and others have also taken this positive step. Its also not so easy to dismiss as an east coast liberal denomination like maybe UCC. The backbone of the ELCA are the rural farming community parishes in the upper midwest. Places like rural Minnesota and Iowa. But, Iowa has same sex marriage now so the heartland is changing too.

Posted by: matthew | Aug 23, 2009 12:15:44 AM

@Richard: True. But this post is not comparing churches with secular society -- it is comparing church present/future vs church past.

@Scott: Ha!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 23, 2009 9:24:13 AM

I wonder if they'll make a "Davey & Goliath" episode featuring gay, clay people.

Posted by: ---- | Aug 23, 2009 5:34:35 PM

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