Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bishop Riley Addresses the Draft

Few of the ELCA Bishops have, thus far, made public statements on the first draft of an ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality. One who has is New Jersey Synod E. Roy Riley, who was until recently Chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. Shrimp found it here:
March 13, 2008


First draft of a proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality released by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Response of E. Roy Riley, Bishop, New Jersey Synod, ELCA

The release of the first draft of a proposed ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality marks another step in a long journey together for the Lutheran Church toward deeper understanding and discernment in the increasingly complex sphere of human sexuality.

This is a first draft. Over the next eight months, congregations of this church will have opportunity to study and discuss the draft and make proposals for revision. In early 2009, a proposed social statement will be written based on this draft and the responses, eventually coming to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis for consideration (August 2009).

The length of the draft (50 pages with footnotes) indicates both the complexity of the subject matter and the deep seriousness with which the task force has undertaken the work of declaring the theological and confessional grounding. I trust that the responses of the church will be offered out of the same in-depth, open-minded, and prayerful deliberation.

In my initial reading of the draft, I have noted in particular the following thoughts:
  • While love is to be at the center of all relationships, the statement gives great and important emphasis to the matter of trust in every relationship.

  • Ethics for some are rule-driven; the ethics from this statement are responsibility-driven: responsibility for our selves, our neighbors, and the common good.

  • There is a very strong emphasis on the critical role of families as the primary places for learning what love and trust are all about.

  • The draft places enormous importance on the protection of the most vulnerable in matters of human sexuality, especially children.

  • The draft recognizes that families are found in a variety of forms beyond the
    traditional, nuclear family.

  • An especially strong affirmation of traditional marriage is provided.

  • In all relationships, the degrees of intimacy should be matched to degrees of affection and commitment; thus the highest degrees of physical intimacy, such as intercourse, should be matched with and sheltered by the highest level of legally binding commitment, as is found in marriage.

  • The range of life circumstance is recognized honestly and pastorally, from the young delaying marriage, to those who choose to remain single, to those who are single-again as a result of divorce or death of a spouse, to the marriage versus economics issues of senior citizens.
In the consideration of homosexuality, the draft offers a number of significant statements, including the following:
  • confesses with regret the way in which Lutheran historical teachings concerning homosexuality sometimes have been used to tear apart families with gay or lesbian members;

  • acknowledges that after many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships;

  • recognizes that while some pastors and congregations will advocate repentance and celibacy, other pastors and congregations will call our same-gender-oriented brothers and sisters in Christ to establish relationships that are chaste, mutual, monogamous, and life-long.
The draft also addresses a variety of other concerns, including the commercialization of sexuality and its enormous negative impact on the common good.

I am grateful for this church that takes so seriously its own faith and God’s call to take that faith into a very complex and sometimes deeply ambiguous world. We welcome all who wish to engage with us in this continuing journey of faith and life.

[Portions in italics are quoted from the draft statement.]
Shrimp'll be on the lookout for more. You can help


Anonymous said...

Glad he's grateful. I, on the other hand, would be grateful for a leader of God's flock who stood up for Scripture. Couple points of serious disgust thus far:

1. We do not need a bunch of arrogant fools trying to develop a code_of_conduct for the Church in regards to sexuality. Guess what? It's been done. It's called the Bible... you know, that little black book in the corner that's been collecting dust. In fact, I challenge you to find a book, especially within the New Testament, that doesn't clearly address how we should conduct ourselves in these matters.

2. And... how many millions of our Lord's dollars have been spent on this useless cause? Not only the couple millions for these "intellectuals" to create something that's not needed, but, also the money that's been spent in opposition. Imagine all the good that could have been done.

I suspect our Lord won't be too happy with these so called leaders when they stand before the Judgement Seat.

Anonymous said...

Rev. E. Roy Riley Jr., bishop of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is really saying he does not believe the bible. I've stopped attending my Lutheran Church, at which I have been a member for many years. Bishop Riley is retiring soon, thank the Lord. Perhaps I'll return if the new bishop understands what the bible is warning us about sin (homosexuality and otherwise). 3/21/12

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...