Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Big "If"

James Lokken's listserv signiture says that he is a retired pastor in the Bay area. He is a true crusader, but my observation is he has been a thoughtful crusader for the normalization of homosexuality within commited relationship. He is interesting for a thoughtful traditionalist to read (unlike myself, a neanderthalian fundamentalist)because he draws conclusion after conclusion in his writings. he has been a crusader in the decade long Lutherlink internet discussion. In a recent online article he wrote:

"I found myself articulating for this group some of the "traditionalist" perspectives. Nobody there was representing that point of view, and I thought it should be mentioned that the ELCA embraces a range of opinions.

I've been involved in an Internet discussion, "ELCA Human Sexuality Discussion," almost daily since 1993 when the First Draft of the ELCA's proposed Sexuality Statement was released. Over the past decade, more than 22,000 posts in this online meeting reflect just about every point of view and discuss almost every issue related to this topic. Currently more than 400 subscribers read that online discussion, mostly clergy; fewer than a dozen are frequent posters. It becomes a panel discussion of sorts. The same questions get asked over and over as new people come on line and others drop out. By now I'm pretty familiar with where this discussion goes.

I cited the recent statement of a self-described "traditionalist": If we understand homosexual acts to be categorically contrary to God's will because the acts are inherently sinful, then refusing to ordain non-celibate lesbians and gay men, and refusing to bless same-sex unions, is logical. Based on the half-dozen Bible passages that condemn same-sex sexual behavior, this is the conviction of many, perhaps a majority, of ELCA members. That's why we have the current policy.

But that's a big "if," I pointed out. There is another scripturally supported understanding.

If the sinfulness of sexual behavior is not in the physical acts, nor in the gender of the parties, nor in their marital status or lack of it, but rather in their attitudes and relationships, emotions and motivations, that points us to a different pastoral conclusion. In that case the rightness or wrongness of an act cannot be judged abstractly, but depends on the dynamic relationships of the individuals, their attitudes, their love or lack of it, their complex emotions and ambivalent reactions to each other.

In that case, our confession that "we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone" is relevant. We pray God to forgive us, for Christ's sake, and to renew us from within. Then we take a fresh look at our personal relationships. Our faith assures us that in Christ God has forgiven us and promises to be with us to renew our relationships with each other."

Lokken seems to be saying as long as a person is in love homosexual acts are OK. The obvious problem is that a pedophile could say the same thing. A persosn who goes from one failed relationship to another could say the same thing.

You read Faithful journey in New York and see how that understanding works. You need to, it is the one that is winning in the ELCA.

Please note that it is sandwiched between two articles on (guess?) Fundamentalism.

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