Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lutherans Concerned/North America calls for the recognition of LGBT families

March 13, 2008

Lutherans Concerned/North America calls for the recognition of LGBT families

Lutherans Concerned / North America (LC/NA) has both considerable agreement and substantial disagreement with the draft Social Statement on Sexuality, released for comment within the church by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on March 13, 2008.

LC/NA affirms the Christian values lifted up in this draft statement: serving the neighbor, trust and commitment, family, right relationship, and public accountability, all combined in a sexual and communal ethic that seeks to build the common good and the reign of God. LC/NA agrees that the church should work to preserve the resources needed for the survival and flourishing of family life by celebrating relationships and fostering the communal structure in which these relationships are lived out.

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned / North America, said, "This draft merely tolerates rather than celebrates the presence of same-gender families in the church. It is inconsistent and insufficient: it confesses with regret that its historical teachings concerning homosexuality sometimes have been used to tear apart families with gay or lesbian members. It calls for an end to discrimination, an end to violence against and persecution of sexual minorities. Yet the church continues to discriminate against same-gender couples and families by relegating them to second-class status. It is hypocritical for this church to hold society to a higher standard than itself.

"The draft purports as fact the traditional definition of marriage. But, there is no consensus within the ELCA that marriage is only between a man and a woman. In fact, some synods within the ELCA have repeatedly defeated resolutions asserting that definition of marriage. There is broad agreement on the values that are the ground and source of relational and family life. If we are going to promote those values in same-gender relationships, we should also honor those relationships.

"The document does not provide for the rites and structures of celebration, the making of promises and the call on God for blessing of same-gender relationships. If the church wishes to hold persons in same-gender relationships to the same ethical standards as heterosexual married couples, then the church must offer the same standards of support and benefit to same-gender couples. Marriage is not easy. Without the rites and protections of marriage, the frequent dissolution of relationships becomes the rule rather than the exception. The church undercuts its own values by withholding recognition of same-gender relationships and precluding the rostered service of otherwise qualified candidates in those relationships. Our church should not discriminate."

The statement says that the central issue regarding families is whether a family performs the indispensible personal and social tasks that families are intended to accomplish. Further the statement says the first response of the church toward all families should be one of welcome and support. Families with same-gender parents are included. Yet, the statement withholds public affirmation, celebration, and accountability – on the grounds that some families are more "blessed" than others.

Lutherans Concerned encourages members of the ELCA to fully participate in the hearings and studies in the coming months. It is important all voices be heard so that the resulting feedback is more representative and produces a more consistent social statement recognizing the faithful vocations of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in all aspects of the life of the church.

The draft statement will now be the subject of hearings and study throughout the ELCA during March through October 2008. While this draft neither encourages nor prohibits the rostered service of otherwise qualified ministers in committed, same-gender relationships, the task force will make its recommendations on such rostering in February 2009. A final social statement will be prepared and submitted to the ELCA Church Council in early 2009 with a request that the Social Statement be placed on the agenda of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 17–23, 2009.

About Lutherans Concerned:Lutherans Concerned / North America works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church and congregations. Lutherans Concerned provides a place of comfort and safety. Lutherans Concerned reaches out and teaches that Christ's message, the Gospel, is for everyone equally. Lutherans Concerned calls for the blessing of committed and covenanted same-gender relationships, and for the ordination of those called to minister.

Phil SoucyDirector of Communications
Lutherans Concerned/North America


Anonymous said...

"Lutherans Concerned reaches out and teaches that Christ's message, the Gospel, is for everyone equally"

How about this for Christ's message, "...repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name..." Luke 24:47

And I didn't even need a Masters in Divinity to know that!


And then go beyond reading and start doing. Maybe James letter wasn't of straw after all...

Tim said...

A great thing about this draft is that it recognizes same-sex partners with children as a "family." That's a step in the right direction.

The good ship ELCA...

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