Friday, March 14, 2008

USA Today: "Lutheran group keeps marriage traditional"

USA Today uses part of the Associated Press wire story:

Lutheran group keeps marriage traditional

NEW YORK (AP) — A task force drafting a statement on sexuality for the nation's largest Lutheran group said Thursday that the church should continue defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

However, the panel did not condemn same-gender relationships. The committee expressed regret that historic Lutheran teachings have been used to hurt gays and lesbians, and acknowledged that some congregations already accept same-sex couples.

The report released by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is part of the denomination's yearslong effort to bridge internal differences over the Bible and homosexuality.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a separate, smaller group, is theologically conservative, and teaches that same-gender relationships violate Scripture.

Called a "Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality," the report is a wide-ranging study of Christian views on sexual morality, premarital sex, domestic abuse and families.

But the most anticipated part of the document was whether the task force would recommend equal standing for gay and heterosexual couples in the 4.8 million-member church.

Next year, the panel will decide whether to suggest changes in current clergy standards that bar gays and lesbians from being ordained if they are sexually active. After revisions, both proposals will be presented for a vote to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.

The document released Thursday repeatedly states that sexual intimacy should be reserved for married couples, and condemns sex for personal gratification alone.

"The church recognizes the historic origin of the term 'marriage' as a lifelong and committed relationship between a woman and a man, and does not wish to alter this understanding," the report says.

The task force goes on to describe different responses to gays and lesbians in congregations, noting that some churches require celibacy for them, while others urge gay couples to "establish relationships that are chaste, mutual, monogamous and lifelong."

"These relationships are to be held to the same rigorous standards and sexual ethics as all others," the document says. "This suggests that dissolution of a committed same-gender relationship be treated with the same gravity as the dissolution of a marriage."
Read it all here. For all of Rachel Zoll's AP wire story, see Lutheran Group Addresses Marriage Issue.

more coming...

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