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Sunday, October 11, 2009

So, where have I been?

I'm going to get back in the blogging saddle. I won't go into detail, but my life took on challenging proportions and I had nothing left for blogging. I didn't follow anyone else's blog either. Well, that's not entirely true. There are 2 blogs that I check for posts pretty much daily. They both represent an escape from my day-to-day cares: Dress a Day and Posie Gets Cozy.
But now I'm coming back, although the things on my mind are less in the domestic arts arena and more along the lines of spiritual considerations.
So, if you're here to read about knitting or embroidery, I'll probably get to something like that in future posts, but today I am going to touch on a more personal topic.
My church belongs to the ELCA, which stands for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is a denomination which departed from the traditional midwestern Lutheran Church a few decades ago. Gradually, the ELCA has been studying various social issues and drafting statements defining the Church's position. Past statements have addressed capital punishment and abortion among other contemporary social considerations. Recently, the ELCA held a Church-Wide-Assembly, gathering delegates from the various synods, taking a vote and adopting a set of resolutions encouraging member churches to: 1) ordain practicing homosexuals into leadership positions; and 2)bless same-sex unions. This has stirred up a great deal of controversy and high emotion. Open discussion has, at times, resulted in hurt feelings. There have been some people who have left our church, because of the conviction that the ELCA has taken a large step down the wrong path.
I too, may leave my church. I'm not sure what to do. I believe the ELCA has taken a very wrong turn. I believe that the Bible is very clear that homosexual activity is a sin. I think that to be a Christian is to take the Bible seriously. I have not yet heard an argument that addresses the truth as it is written in the Bible. Unless you count the woman who said to me: "Yes, that's what it says, but how do you know that is what it means?" (Shades of the Clinton-esque: "That depends on what your definition of "is"is.") Should I have perpetuated the irony by answering: "Because that is what it says."?
I should also add that I do not believe that people are born homosexual, but that they have experiences that encourage their sexual development in that direction.
Further, I believe that the church has a role in speaking the truth in love, and calling the sin what it is. Primarily, however, the church's role is to be loving and accepting of people no matter what their sin is. All people are sinners and as Christians we are works-in-progress. I think it would be unbiblical, un-Christ-like to make homosexuals to feel ashamed or unwelcome. But I also think that the Bible tells us that our church leaders should be virtuous and upright in their behaviors. This presumes that they be people who have studied God's Word and examined their lives to overcome sin in its myriad forms. People living homosexual lifestyles and seeking leadership positions either have not read the Bible or don't think its teachings are relevant. How can they be qualified to lead the rest of us?
So, given these convictions, do I stay with the ELCA? My church seems to be accepting the resolutions. I would be more comfortable if there were at least some discussion of our options in response to the resolutions. But, instead, I feel that we have told by our pastor not to discuss it, for fear of causing hurt feelings. And, then to add to my confusion, last week's sermon was based on the Scripture reading from the 2nd chapter of Genesis, about the creation of woman as a companion to man, presumably the Biblical model for marriage. And yet the focus was on divorce, stating that it was God's plan for marriage to be a life-long union. Pastor fell short of adding the phrase: "between one man and one woman". At the time, the omission didn't bother me too much, although I noticed it. I assumed that he was avoiding adopting a position that might seem too strident on a sensitive subject. But in retrospect, I think by not being clear about his position, he has been exactly that, unclear. I can easily imagine someone thinking that by emphasizing "life-long union" repeatedly, that he was actually endorsing homosexual partnerships as long as they had a "life-long union" clause in their commitment to one another. You know how it is when you hear what you want to hear. It is this kind of fence-sitting that is aggravating people. I have taken a measured approach, thinking that I didn't want to make a quick decision, nor did I want to give too much credence to the initial reactions of others, but now as time goes on and I see that open discussion is not being encouraged, and the official position is one of denial, I am feeling more and more alienated.
I want to belong to a church which believes in and teaches the Bible. Yes, I believe we should love one another, but I don't think it is loving to encourage sin. You see, that is the crux of the matter for me. If the resolutions had enocuraged congregations to be inclusive and loving, I would have agreed whole-heartedly, but elevating to leadership? blessing a sinful union? All s that we can say that we have done what is politically correct? (Was Christ loving when he over-turned the tables of the money-changers? I say YES, because it is loving to shine a light on sin, and call it what it is. What opportunity for repentance is there if we don't define sin where we see it?
I don't expect a whole lot of response to this post - after all who reads my blog anyway, especially when I haven't posted in almost 4 months. But whether you agree or disagree, I hope you'll feel free to leave a comment. If it's impolite, I'll remove it, but I promise that if it's courteous and respectful, I'll leave it.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I would go to your pastor and ask for a one to one meeting with him, to discuss this. There could be many reasons why he seems unwilling to engage people: it could be that, indeed, he doesn't want hurt feelings; he could know that he has people with different positions in his congregation, and doesn't want anyone to leave the church; he could be afraid that people will not discuss this issue in a loving way, but will devolve into accusations (this has happened in some congregations, sadly).

In my congregation, I did not engage this more directly for the simple reason that I was also given the assignment of preaching on Stewardship.

Anyway, there is much more to say about what you are thinking/feeling, but I wanted to start here.