Saturday, March 15, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "...moderate stance"

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article focusses on the gay/lesbian issues:

Sexuality statement takes moderate stance

Same-sex relationships neither blessed nor condemned


The first draft of a social statement on sexuality appears to be deepening discussions within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America without breaking enough new ground to intensify debate over whether to approve blessings or ordinations of people in committed, same-gender relationships.

Released Thursday, the draft statement offers something to both encourage and disappoint people on each side of the debate.

The document stands by marriage as being between a man and a woman but does not condemn same-gender relationships.

It reiterates the church's call to "welcome, care for and support same-gender-oriented people and their families, and to advocate for their legal protection." And it acknowledges that some ELCA congregations advocate repentance and celibacy for same-gender couples while others call for them to have faithful, committed relationships.

In the Greater Milwaukee Synod, which has been a leader in advocating same-sex blessings and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, reactions to the statement varied.

"I'm grateful that it's solidly rooted in Scripture and speaks to the whole of human sexuality," said Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers of the Greater Milwaukee Synod. "The temptation can be to focus on same-gender relationships, but that topic has only one and a half pages out of 50 devoted to it.

"The draft statement reiterates that as a church we commit ourselves to responding pastorally to all relationships, and that all relationships are built upon trust," Stumme-Diers said.

Its explanations of the importance of trust in relationships are very helpful, said the Rev. Susan Gaeta of Divine Word Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. But she was disappointed that bisexual people were not mentioned.

"There's definitely further work that needs to be done," Gaeta said.

"The whole statement sets a hopeful tone for our gay and lesbian friends in that it recognizes that their needs, desires and rights are the same as for heterosexual persons," said the Rev. Barbara Rasmussen of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. "It's disappointing that the term marriage is blocked from use in same-sex unions, thus leaving them in a second-class status."
To read it all, click here.

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