Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lutherans in Action...Backwards

On March 23rd, I posted a news item that the Church of Sweden Church of Sweden would perform gay weddings if the Swedish Parliament upgraded the country's civil unions to same-sex marriage. I called the post, “Lutherans in Action.” Now, in the April 17th issue of “The Christian Century,” comes news that the Church of Sweden will reserve matrimony for heterosexual couples. In making this decision, the article states, “the church (of Sweden) went against the recommendation of a Swedish government commission to accept both same-sex and heterosexual relationships within the legal framework of marriage.” So, my hope that the Church of Sweden had heard the Gospel was premature.
My first thought about this is that the people are always ahead of the church leaders theologically. The people hear the Gospel clearly: Discrimination is unfair. Most people say, be fair and treat everyone equally, as the Gospels say Jesus did. So the Swedish government, the organ of the people, wants to include gays in marriage.
In contrast, the church leaders are afraid of the bigots in the church and kowtow to them. They don’t seek fairness, but “unity,” trying to keep everyone happy. Homosexuals are a minority in the church and society, so the leaders feel safe in sacrificing them on the altar of “unity.’ The church is better off, anyway, they say, without those nasty queers, doing their nasty acts.
My second thought is about Janis Vanags who is an exemplar of the type of leader I’m thinking of above. Mr. Vanags is Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. The “Christian Century” article states that “His church believes that homosexuality is a sin, he said, and that people should repent of their sins and seek forgiveness, just as Martin Luther advised. The article concludes by reporting that African participants (in the meeting of the Lutheran World Federation, where Mr. Vanags gave his remarks) congratulated the Latvian archbishop after his speech for his forthrightness.”
Notice that Mr. Vanags didn’t say that homosexuals can be sinners. No, he said that homosexuality is a sin. The state of homosexuality is a sin, he maintains. He states this in the face of mounting evidence that homosexuality is a natural, biological variant among many sexualities. For the evidence of this, read “Born Gay?: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation” by Glenn Wilson and Qazi Rahman. This stance by Mr. Vanags recalls earlier witch-hunts against left-handed people. Remember “sinister” originally meant “relating to, or situated to the left or on the left side of something” and “of ill omen by reason of being on the left.” So, now we gays, like left-handed people in the past, are the object of witch-hunts by prominent church people, like Mr. Vanags and his African allies in the Lutheran Church.
Of course, all this makes me angry, but being a Christian and a layperson, I believe that the Gospel will be heard, even by our nasty leaders. When they do hear, it’s likely to because lay people won’t go along with their bigotry.
So, lay people, keep complaining about your nasty leaders. They will eventually follow your Gospel call.

1 comment:

Franklyn Springfield said...

Once again the institutional church has demonstrated that it is an impediment to spirituality and to progress. Even though in Sweden as in other European countries the churches are empty the leaders of those churches haven't caught on: NOBODY IS LISTENING! Get with it are conducting masses for each other.