Monday, March 17, 2008

Bishop Crist Also Writes on the Draft

A letter on the sexuality draft from Bishop Jessica Crist of the Montana Synod:

March 13, 2008: Draft: Proposed ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     The draft of the proposed ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality is now available on the ELCA website.  It has also been released to the news outlets, so you may be seeing and hearing reports from the secular media.  I encourage you to read the document for yourself.  I encourage you to consider it prayerfully.  I encourage you to be in dialogue with your fellow church members respectfully. 

     There are a couple of things I want to point out to you:

1.  This is a draft.  It is only a draft.  It is not the finished product.  There is ample time for input, and there are appropriate channels for input.  Those include responding to the questions at the end of the document, and/or attending a hearing.  (We will have 2 in our Synod.

2. This is a draft of a social statement.  It is not a set of guidelines on sexual ethics.  A social statement is a teaching document intended to be useful in guiding deliberations on social issues.  It is broader than a set of do's and don't's, and it encourages the reader to think deeply and discern wisely.  It doesn't give answers to all questions.  There are people who would like to have the answers set out in black and white.  The document does not do that, nor was it intended to.

     This document is an affirmation that God created the earth and all that is in it (including us, as sexual beings), and called it good.  This document is the church's way of reclaiming the conversation on human sexuality, using the theological categories of incarnation, justification and serving the neighbor.  This document is the church's reponse to a culture that is highly sexualized and often presents an "anything goes" attitude.  This document affirms the totality of the human experience, including family, work, friendship, and explores trust as a significant contributor to public and private life.

     I urge you to read the document thoughtfully, taking in what it says and what it doesn't say.  And I encourage you to discuss it in ways that make sense, in your congregation, in other groups.  And I welcome you to come to one of the hearings to be held in the Montana Synod:

     Saturday, April 26:  10 a.m.--noon, Billings,  St. John's Lutheran Ministries, Lillis Center Chapel, 2429 Mission Way, Billings, MT

     Sunday, April 27:  3 p.m.---5 p.m., Missoula, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 202 Brooks St., Missoula, MT.

     May God be with you as you move into Holy Week and Easter.

     Sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Jessica Crist
Montana Synod ELCA
2415 13th Avenue South
Great Falls, MT 59405

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