Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The ELCA wins

Gay marriage ended today in California. Gay marriage is now prohibited by the Florida and Arizona constitutions. In those states, “normal” people no longer have to endure the presence of gay people married to each other.
This is a resounding victory for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the denomination to which I belong. In its “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality” (, the ELCA stated that “Marriage is a structure of mutual promises between a man and woman blessed by God (Mark 10:7-9) and authorized in a legal arrangement required by the state.” (lines 1005 - 1007) The draft continues: “After many years of study and conversation, this church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships.” (lines 1116 - 1117) And, further, “This church recognizes the historic origin of the term “marriage” as a life-long and committed relationship between a woman and man, and does not wish to alter this understanding.” (lines 1151 - 1153). So, in California, Florida, and Arizona, the ELCA’s understanding has been carved in legal stone. Not only is there no consensus for gay marriage, the consensus, at least in California, Florida, and Arizona, is against it.
You’ve got to give the ELCA credit. It put its finger in the air, found the direction the wind is blowing, and the ELCA is going along with the wind, which will blow gay people back into their place. That place, the ELCA hopes, will be a very quiet closet.
As in Mark 15:15, the crowd has been placated. The ELCA has stood primly by and let it happen. A scapegoat has been found and sacrificed and peace will reign. Until the next time. Which minority will the ELCA let be sacrificed then? The Lutherans in Germany let the Jews be sacrificed in the 1930s. In photographs of the period, the Lutheran clergy look very happy in the presence of Hitler.


Anonymous said...

You REALLY need to work on your sarcastic writing style. If you're trying to say that the ELCA isn't liberal enough, just switch to the UCC! Both are broken, fallen-away churches full of misguided members -- you'd fit right in!

Pete M said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your comment. Although my post can be read as sarcastic, more to the point, it is descriptive of the situation. The ELCA is following the consensus, rather than leading with the Gospel, which calls for justice and equality, not acquiescence to wrong. As a gay person, I don’t take quietly to being a scapegoat. I raise my voice, and I raise it to those, like the ELCA, who would like to slink away and let the Mormons do their dirty work for them. I love the Lutheran Church, and I don’t want it to repeat past mistakes like those in Germany in the ‘30s. The Lutheran Church can be better than the ELCA is now. I want the ELCA to take a risk and proclaim the Gospel. I’m prodding it to do so.
The UCC is a great Church that I admire, and I’m grateful that the ELCA is in full communion with the UCC. My ELCA congregation in New York, Saint Peter’s, has just called a gifted young UCC minister, Kaji Spelman, to be one of Saint Peter’s Associate Pastors. I believe that her tenure will be very positive and exciting.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! There is no committee, or set of Bishops, or leaders that can tell the people out in the congregations that make up the ELCA how to feel about this issue. The Bishops in Germany did not give the people their complacency, but they also did not expose the truth of what was going on if they knew it. Most people are threatened by the truth. It sets us out of control. When we are true to ourselves we give up control of other peoples response to us. A good question for the ELCA is: How best can we as a church be true to ourselves? In the answer we may find that we will be giving up some control.

I applaud you for being true to yourself! And I applaud your congregation for being true to their mission and calling the person they see able to join them in that mission.