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Topics - Brian Stoffregen

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31
Your Turn / Who Is Being Deported?
« on: July 28, 2019, 02:25:18 PM »
A post on FaceBook from the Catholic Migration Services gives the following information about who is being deported?


80% are parents of U.S. citizens, mostly young children.

4 out 5 have no record or had only committed a minor offense like a traffic violation

Before being removed from the country, they had been working at their jobs for an average of 10 years.


Most are not threats to U.S. citizens. Deporting them disrupts families; and many business where they have worked for many years.


There are problems with our immigration laws; but deporting people who are beneficial to our society is not a way of solving them.

32
Your Turn / What Racism Looks Like
« on: July 28, 2019, 02:09:28 PM »
The following was posted on FaceBook. This mother's experiences illustrate what racism looks and feels like.


Kate Riffle Roper
July 19, 2016

As a white mother of two black children, three white children, who all have a white father, I have something to say.


Racism exists. It is real and tangible. And it is everywhere, all the time.


When I brought my boys home they were the cutest, sweetest babies ever. Wherever we went, people greeted us with charm and enthusiasm. Well, not all people and not everywhere. But, to me, they were the “wacko” exceptions. I thought to myself, “Get over it.”

Now my boys look like teenagers. Black teenagers. They are 13. Let me ask you these questions. Do store personnel follow your children when they are picking out their Gatorade flavors? They didn’t follow my white kids. Do coffee shop employees interrogate your children about the credit card they are using to pay while you are in the bathroom? They didn’t interrogate my white kids. When your kids trick-or-treat in, dressed as a Ninja and a Clown, do they get asked who they are with and where they live, door after door? My white kids didn’t get asked. Do your kids get pulled out of the TSA line time and again for additional screening? My white kids didn’t. Do your kids get treated one way when they are standing alone but get treated a completely different way when you walk up? I mean a completely different way. My white kids didn’t. Do shoe sales people ask if your kids’ feet are clean before sizing them for shoes? No one asked me that with my white kids. Do complete strangers ask to touch your child’s hair? Or ask about their penis size? Or ask if they are “from druggies”? No one did this with my white kids.


Did you tell your kids not to fight back because they will seen as aggressive if they stand up for themselves? Have you had to honestly discuss with your husband whether you should take your children to the police station to introduce them to the officers so they would know your children are legitimate members of your community? Have you had to talk to your children about EXACTLY what to say and not to say to an officer? Have you had to tell your children that the objective of any encounter with police, or security in any form, is to stay alive? It never occurred to me to have these conversations with my white children. In fact, it never occurred to me for myself either.


There is no question that my boys have been cloaked in my protection when they were small. What I did not realize until now is that the cloak I was offering them was identification with my whiteness. As they grow independent, they step out from my cloak and lose that protection. The world sees “them” differently. It is sweet when they are adopted little black boys so graciously taken in by this nice white family. But when they are real people? Well, it is not the same. And they still look like little boys. What happens to them when they look like the strong, proud black men I am raising?


The reason why the phrase All Lives Matter is offensive to black people is because it isn’t true. Right now, in America, my black children are treated differently than my white children. So when you say All Lives Matter as a response to the phrase Black Lives Matter you are completely dismissing the near daily experience of racism for those with pigment in their skin, curl in their hair and broadness of their nose.


I am posting this so you can see the reality I have witnessed and experienced, because, frankly, I didn’t believe it was true until I saw it up close, directed at two souls I love, over and over again. So, please, use this post as a pair of glasses to see the racism that surrounds you. Then we can actually make progress toward all lives being valued and cherished.

33
Your Turn / What is faith?
« on: June 28, 2019, 02:23:36 PM »
What is the "faith" that is in our slogan, "saved by grace through faith."


I suggested in another post that it could be the "faithfulness of Jesus Christ." A number of biblical passages that have been translated "faith in Jesus Christ" are also, and perhaps better understood, to refer to the "faithfulness of Jesus Christ."


     The first definition of πίστις in BDAG is: "that which evokes trust and faith." It is thus translated with words like, faithfulness, reliability, fidelity, commitment, trustworthiness. A second meaning stems from the first: "state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted." With this definition it can be translated with trust, assurance, confidence, faith. Finally, it is defined as: "that which is believed." This could refer to our Confessions, our doctrines, etc.


In a recent discussion on this, Luther was quoted: "I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, …."


My critique is that often "faith" gets defined as something we look for within ourselves; rather than that which is outside of ourselves that evokes our response of trust. It becomes MY faith in Jesus Christ; without fully recognizing that whatever faith or trust we have comes because it has been called out or evoked in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Then there are those who will have basically a checkoff list of things one has to agree to in order to have the correct "faith". These might include:
6-day creation
a real ark and flood
the virgin Mary (sometimes eternally a virgin)
the resurrection (which has to be in physical, bodily resurrection)
a specific way of talking/believing about the Real Presence in the bread and wine
agreeing with everything in the Book of Concord for some Lutherans
and so on.


All this means looking into one's own brain for what one might agree with or not. Since sin has been defined as "being turned in on oneself," this understanding of faith - looking inwards - becomes sinful.


It seems to me both theologically and from the Greek terms, that "faith" should mean, looking to Jesus. It is relying on his trustworthiness; his faithfulness; rather than looking inward at my faith.


If we have any faith, Luther states that the Holy Spirit gets all the credit. Luther does not address the question of those who don't appear to have faith. Didn't the Holy Spirit call them? Could they refuse to answer? Is that like imagining a fetus deciding, "I'm not going to be born," if salvation is seen as a new birth?


Can one trust the faithfulness of Jesus to us sinners even if one questions some of the doctrines I listed above?




 

34
Your Turn / Before "Homosexual" was in the Bible
« on: June 11, 2019, 12:30:47 PM »
This essay looks at a number of old translations, in many different languages, to see how some words were translated before "homosexual" was coined in 1862.


https://www.forgeonline.org/blog/2019/3/8/what-about-romans-124-27?fbclid=IwAR1WVKkCMf0hIcw1YwYZwDH5qdDJvkDxISQDvY6SSF9mu_VPFygmkobrguQ


Perhaps most notable for us is the way Luther translated ἀρσενοκοῖται with die Knabenschänder (the boy rapers).


Comments on the article point out that his comment that Knabe comes from Kind (like in kindergarten) is unsubstantiated.


For those who know some of the other languages and have access to Bible translations prior to the 1860's, check out how they understood this word before the word "homosexual" existed.

35
Your Turn / Trustworthy Servants
« on: March 07, 2019, 07:06:13 PM »
The ELCA Conference of Bishops has released a draft of Trustworthy Servants of the People of God for comment and review before the Church Council votes to approve it as the new vision and expectations for clergy and deacons.


https://www.elca.org/About/Leadership/Church-Council

36
Your Turn / Teaching/Preaching from the Old Testament
« on: December 18, 2018, 12:53:24 AM »
There have been some comments about the lack of the Old Testament in lectionaries and in our preaching/teaching.


Granted, in checking my computer files of sermons, I have roughly 1840 of them on NT texts (with about 1440 of them on Gospel texts, but they have been my emphasis for most of my ministry with my "notes"); and about 160 on OT texts.


However, 8 out of the last 12 years, our midweek Advent services have centered on OT texts or themes. This year we are looking at the first readings in Advent in Year C - from four different prophets. Since most of the prophets begin by stating who were the kings during their ministry, we are also taking brief looks at passages in 2 Kings.


On other years we have looked at the first readings for the other years - all from Isaiah. Last year we looked at the "Psalms of Christmas." Another year we looked at the "Psalms of Advent." One year, the four Wednesdays centered on the four chapters of Ruth. My first year here, we looked into details about the OT women mentioned in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus. Another year was some of the "Surprising Births" recorded in the OT.


Occasionally, I have spent Advent preaching on the OT texts. In a sense, we are revisiting the time before Christ came. We become the people waiting for the Coming One like the OT folks.


These are a couple of ways that I bring the OT into the lives of the people (beyond just the stories they learned as children in Sunday school).


Let's discuss ways that we can preach/teach from the Old Testament.



37
Your Turn / What is hell?
« on: November 01, 2018, 06:39:12 PM »
The topic of hell has come up in some discussions. I believe that there is a lot of misunderstanding about "hell".


First of all, it is a word that doesn't occur in the Old Testament. Rather, Hebrew uses שְׁאוֹל or שְׁאֹל sheol. This refers to the "underworld." It is realm of the dead, into which all the dead, both wicked and righteous, enter. The phrase "go down to sheol" means "to die."


A corresponding word in the New Testament is ᾅδης. This word, from Greek mythology, carries the same idea: it is where dead people go - both righteous and unrighteous.


The New Testament also picks up an Old Testament image with the word, γέεννα. It is a transliteration of גֵי(א) הִנֹּם valley of Hinnom. This is an actual place on the south side of Jerusalem. It is a place where human sacrifices were made (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 32:35). It is a place that falls under God's judgment (Jeremiah 7:32; 19:6). Later, it was a place where rubbish from the city was burned - a place with a constant fire. It became a symbol in late Jewish thought as a place of God's final judgment. So, this earthly place of fire and judgment morphed into hell: a place of judgment and punishment in the afterlife.


The NT also talks about ἄβυσσος = the abyss, and ταρταρόω in 2 Peter 2:4 the casting of the angels to Tartaros, which also comes from Greek mythology. It is used by Plato to refer to the place where souls go and are judged after death. It became the prison for the Titans. We can wonder if 2 Peter comes as a divine revelation or an adaption of Greek mythology.


When we talk about "hell," we need to be clear that we are talking about something from scriptures and not importing ideas from Greek mythology or Dante's Inferno.               

38
Your Turn / Do other gods exist?
« on: October 31, 2018, 04:52:42 PM »
I've been pondering the question if other gods really exist.


One answer is "Yes." Anything that we fear, love, and trust above other things is our god. Throughout history, people and cultures have created idols that they worshiped as gods.


However, that leads possibly to the answer of, "No." Since these other gods are human creations, they do not really exist. The building of the golden calf did not create another god; just a statue of a calf. Worshiping it doesn't turn it into a real god that created the universe, answers prayers, etc.


In searching the OT for "gods," nearly all references were about human-made idols. They are human creations that we have called and worshiped as gods; but they don't really exist outside of the human beliefs that they exist.


What think you? Are the gods of the Hindus just figments of their imaginations or real beings? Or "Allah" of the Muslims? Or the "god(s)" of the Mormons?

39
Your Turn / What is the Gospel?
« on: August 29, 2018, 03:00:51 AM »
What is the gospel?     

The NT words:
εὐαγγελίζομαι - a verb = "to proclaim (something)"
εὐαγγέλιον - a noun = "what is proclaimed"
εὐαγγελιστής - a noun = "a proclaimer"

The OT word:
בָּשַׂר verb which carries the idea of proclaiming good news.

Often the "good news" that was proclaimed to the king was, "We've won" after a battle. It's also used as the joyful announcement of a newborn son.


We might consider it's use in Isaiah 61:1 to be in parallel with other statements there:
bring good news to the oppressed
bind up the broken hearted
proclaim liberty to the captives
[proclaim] release to the prisoners


DBAG gives two definitions for εὐαγγελίζομαι:
1. a general one: bring good news, announce good news
Under this definition, any news that is good is "gospel". "Our team won." "It's a healthy baby boy!"


2. a specific one: bring good news, announce good news
Even more specific, it is proclaiming the gospel about Jesus Christ. Some in our early discussion limited it to the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name.


When Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick and cast out demons, that was good news. In fact, he pointed to such miracles to indicate to John that he was the one who is to come. News that is good for the people is much more than "Your sins are forgiven."     

40
Your Turn / Do you translate?
« on: August 20, 2018, 10:31:28 AM »
In the discussion about my personal opinion in regards to interpretation, I realized that when I was learning Greek at Concordia, we had to offer our own translation/interpretation. If we quoted from the RSV or KJV, we would be marked down. Our professor spent the first year teaching and having us translate classical literature that we didn't know by heart. Too often, he said, pre-sem students offered wonderful King James translations of scriptures that weren't all that accurate.


Long before I saw it in any translations, we discussed πίστις Χριστοῦ being "faithfulness of Christ" rather than "faith in Christ".


My training within the LCMS system, required us to offer our own opinions about the translation and interpretation of scriptures. I continue to do what I was taught 45 years ago.


So, I wonder, how many of you in your Greek classes were to offer your own translation of scriptures? How many of you continue to translate scriptures in your ministry?

41
Your Turn / In the Garden
« on: July 29, 2018, 06:22:57 PM »
Why does the song, In the Garden, get such a bad rap? (It's been mentioned a couple times in the "celebration of life" discussion.


Granted, I don't think it's ever been in a Lutheran hymnal.


I once wrote a parody of it for the dedication of the library in the Denver House of Studies that began: "I come to the basement alone, while I'm still a little bit sober, …."


Most Lutheran clergy dislike it. (Many Lutheran lay people love it.)


Should we allow it at funerals - or as special music on Easter? If not, why not?


The lyrics are a first-person account when Mary Magdalene met the risen Jesus in the garden from John 20. She is the "I" of the lyrics.

42
Your Turn / Youth Gathering Speakers
« on: July 01, 2018, 01:26:23 AM »
Rev. Tuhina Rasche's name has been brought up in the forum.


Here is a link to her presentation at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tc7pofBsjc

43
Your Turn / Immigration Laws
« on: June 28, 2018, 05:37:52 PM »
The following was posted on Facebook by an immigration lawyer. She answers many of the questions people are asking (and corrects misinformation).


Eric Pavri
February 11 · Colorado Springs, CO

I'm an immigration lawyer. I know that many of my Facebook friends, who are good and intelligent people, honestly have questions like the following: Why don't all these immigrants just become legal, and do they get all kinds of public benefits?

I hope you'll read what I wrote here in the spirit in which it was intended, which is to cut through the BS (from poorly-informed but loud voices on both the left and right) and simply provide correct information so that people can decide for themselves what is right and best.

I recently wrote the comment below to a Facebook story from a local news channel, about a teacher here in Colorado Springs who has DACA.

********************************************************

To several of the commenters on this thread – first, I want to acknowledge that asking why people don’t just become citizens, or whether people without legal status can get public benefits that U.S citizens cannot, are legitimate questions. If they are asked in good faith, no one should mind you asking them.
Therefore, let me answer your questions. Please know that I am well-informed on these topics, as an immigration lawyer for the past 8 years, the past six of those in Colorado, and currently the Director of Family Immigration Services at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado (most of you know us best as the organization that runs the Marian House soup kitchen). You may verify those statements by entering my bar number (44591) on the Supreme Court of Colorado website (http://www.coloradosupremecourt.com/Search/AttSearch.asp) or viewing our Catholic Charities website (https://www.ccharitiescc.org/).

First, as to why young people who have DACA haven’t just become citizens:
To become a U.S. citizen (other than by birth), one must first become a Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder). Only after five years as a Permanent Resident can you apply to become a citizen. Thus, the obvious next question: how does a person become a Permanent Resident? There are three primary options to do so:

1) Family-based petitions. This means that a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident parent, spouse, adult child, or sibling files a “petition” for you. Depending on the category that you fall into, the wait will be anywhere from 1 – 22 years (yep) before you can use that petition to take the next step – applying to become a Permanent Resident (background checks, medical exam, more fees, etc.). That works for people living outside the U.S., but for those who have been here, it may not be possible if they entered the U.S. illegally, even if they were minor children when they did so.

2) Employment-based petitions. A U.S. employer can similarly sponsor you, but generally only if you are in a profession requiring an advanced degree or unique skills (doctors, software engineers, world-class athletes to coach professional sports teams, etc.). Even then, the potential employer must generally also prove that they made good-faith efforts to hire a U.S. citizen for the position, but no qualified applicants applied.

3) Diversity visa lottery. Every year, the U.S. government selects 50,000 people worldwide who enter a lottery and pass background checks to come to the U.S. as Permanent Residents. This lottery, however, is only available to people from countries that traditionally send few people to the US – so, for example, people from countries such as Mexico, the Philippines, China, Guatemala, India, El Salvador, and other countries that send larger numbers of immigrants to the U.S. do not have this option.

Extra note: The current Administration has actively sought to eliminate or dramatically limit Options #1 and #3. The new term being used in the attempted re-branding of Option #1, family-based immigration, which has been the basic principle of U.S. immigration law for over a century, is “chain migration”. If those two options are in fact eliminated or curtailed, legal immigration to the U.S. will be significantly reduced.

The KEY POINT to all of the above: If you do not qualify for one of these 3 options, then there is no “line” to get into to legally become a Permanent Resident and eventually a U.S. citizen. So, if you are not fortunate enough to have, say, a U.S. citizen spouse or a graduate degree in computer science, you very likely can never become a citizen of the United States.

Second, one commenter above asked why President Obama, when he established DACA in 2012, did not just create a path to citizenship for these young people at that time. The answer: earlier that year, Congress had for the 11th year in a row failed to pass the Dream Act, which would have done exactly that. The President acting through his authority as head of the Executive Branch cannot create a path to Lawful Permanent Residency (and eventual US citizenship). Only a law, passed by Congress and then signed by the President, can accomplish that. So President Obama on June 15, 2012 created the more limited DACA program through Executive Action – which is why President Trump, as the new President, was able to end the program, also without an act of Congress, last fall.

Finally, as to the question of immigrants receiving public benefits, only a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) can receive almost all types of public benefit – including Medicaid, Medicare, SSI disability, Social Security payments for seniors, TANF, and food stamps. The irony: most undocumented immigrants work under made-up Social Security numbers and so receive a paycheck from which Social Security, federal income taxes, and state income taxes are withheld, and of course they pay the same local sales and property taxes as anyone else through retail purchases, pass-through costs of apartment leases, etc. Same of course goes for the 800,000 current DACA recipients, who are authorized to legally work in the U.S. But none of those employees, despite paying IN to the system, will ever receive those public benefits listed above, that are paid for by the money withheld from their paychecks. So they are propping up our federal and state government entitlement programs because they pay in but won’t ever take out.

The following are the public benefits that undocumented immigrants can receive in United States:

1) Public education for children in grades K-12. This was definitively established by a 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe. The Supreme Court in its reasoning explicitly stated that it would not serve the overall public good of the U.S. to leave many thousands of children uneducated.

2) Emergency room services, but only to the point where the patient is considered “medically stable”, at which point he/she is released. These services are not free, however, as in my job I meet hundreds of immigrant families who sacrifice over years to slowly pay off high emergency room medical bills.

3) WIC assistance. This is for milk, food, etc, and available only to pregnant mothers. The rationale is that the children in the womb will be U.S. citizens when born, and therefore it is in the long-term economic best interests of the nation to ensure that they receive adequate prenatal nutrition to improve their chances of being productive citizens in the decades to come.

4) Assistance from police if they are the victim of a crime and call for help. To their credit, the vast majority of our Colorado Springs law enforcement officers take their duty to protect all people seriously. Chief Carey of the CSPD and Sheriff Elder of the EPCSO have made clear that their officers can’t do their most important job – keeping us safe by getting dangerous criminals off our streets – if a whole class of people (undocumented immigrants) is afraid to call 911 to report crimes that they witness or are victim to.

5) Assistance from a fire department. Rationale, besides the obvious moral one: If your house was next to that of an undocumented immigrant family, would you want the firefighters to let that house continue to burn, putting yours at risk of catching on fire too?

And that’s it. Those, to the best of my knowledge, are the only public benefits that an undocumented immigrant can receive in just about any part of the United States. As someone who directs a small office that works with hundreds of low-income immigrant families per year, know that when I see the precarious economic situation of many of these families, I'd help them access other benefits if they could. But they simply can't. Now, children of undocumented parents, born in the U.S., are U.S. citizens under the 14th Amendment (the one that declares that all human beings born on U.S. soil are citizens – this was passed immediately after the Civil War to forever end the legal argument that African Americans were not U.S. citizens). As such, those children can qualify for the same public benefits as any other U.S. citizen, if they qualify through economic need or disability. But their parents or undocumented siblings cannot.

I hope that this information has been useful to those willing to read through this long (for Facebook anyway) explanation. Please know that even this long summary leaves out a ton of detail -- there are tens of thousands of pages of statutes, regulations, internal federal agency procedures, and court decisions guiding how all of this is interpreted and implemented. But please take my word that I honestly believe that no detail I omitted for conciseness changes the basic points above. And I'd be happy to answer questions if you have them. Like I said, I don’t mind honest questions, and I believe that legitimate questions asked in good faith deserve well-informed, accurate answers. If all of us in the U.S. would be willing to actually listen to each others’ sincere concerns and do our best to answer each others’ questions, instead of just yelling at each other or retreating to our corners of the internet (left OR right) where everyone already agrees with us – well, I think we’d move our nation forward a lot more effectively.

44
Your Turn / Come Sunday (Netflix movie)
« on: April 24, 2018, 02:07:43 AM »
We just watched Come Sunday on Netflix. It is based on true events.


A Pentecostal minister (Carlton Pearson) in Tulsa, OK, has a crises of faith and is excommunicated.


It struck me that his crises of faith was quite similar to what Martin Luther went through - with similar results by the established church.


Their beliefs that was centered on fearing the wrath of God was turned to joyfully acceptance of the love of God revealed in Jesus. There are also nuances in the movie that Luther didn't face; but the basic transformation in his understanding of Christianity is very similar to Luther's.


Have other seen it? Comments?

45
Your Turn / Naked and Unashamed Summary Statement
« on: March 21, 2018, 12:59:34 AM »

Since it's come up in other discussions, I went hunting for the "Naked & Unashamed Statement." I found this summary (https://web.archive.org/web/20170223025214/https://wearenakedandunashamed.org/contact/)

The link at the bottom for the full statement didn't work.


Naked & Unashamed Statement Summary

(Written by the LSTC Gender and Sexuality Coalition, 2016)
Foundations

As a coalition for Gender and Sexual Justice in our church, the ELCA, we are calling for justice in the regulating of socially acceptable intimate relationalities. We are ELCA Lutherans, ordained and lay leaders, rostered and unrostered, seminarians and theologians, in candidacy and outside of candidacy, participating in the life of the church and leading the people of God in our journey following Jesus. We take seriously the Word of God as revealed in the scriptures and the traditions of the church in living out the Christian faith in various cultural contexts.

The plethora of stories we hear in our conversations demonstrate that life and liberty are being oppressed in the pressure for church leaders to be in marital relationships, or otherwise abstain from all sexual intimacy. The common good of both parishioners and church leaders would benefit from the freedom to be in a variety of healthy relationships, and to hold each other mutually accountable to ensuring that these relationships are life-giving for all involved, including the larger communities.


“An important way that Christians carry out their citizenship is through participation in voluntary associations and movements, both religious and secular. At times, these groups may serve a prophetic function as they protest particular evils, question unexamined assumptions, challenge unjust or immoral practices, and organize for structural changes in the work place, local community, and wider world.” (Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective 5) We as a coalition for Gender and Sexual Justice have come together voluntarily to do this work of issue raising, protest, and organizing for change in the ELCA.

Abbreviations:
CS Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective
DGD Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline
HS Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust
V&E Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers

ELCA Documents and Problematic Sexuality in the Church

The documents listed above are being used to perpetuate a pressure for leaders in the ELCA to be married, and to additionally conform to oppressive relational and sexual standards set by our church that are often in contrast with our values and lived experience.
  • The expectations surrounding “chastity” purport an ethic of works-based righteousness, positing that certain practices of our sexuality make us a better steward of our pastoral call.
  • Singlehood and non-sexual relationships are undervalued by the overemphasis and limited definitions of marriage and family.
  • The recent inclusion of same-gender relationships in HS, V&E, and DGD still utilizes heteronormative language that sets narrow expectations of what an acceptable committed relationship looks like.
  • V&E and DGD have created a culture of shame in our community, one that manifests itself in both our experience with candidacy committees and among our cohorts. This culture sits in juxtaposition to our current context, politically, economically, scientifically, and medically.
Relational Theology and Sexual Ethic
  • We as Lutherans believe in an incarnational God, whose presence sanctifies flesh and allows us to see sexuality as a “gift and trust,” not a sinful curse we need to control.
  • Theological and ethical arguments that prioritize purity and chastity are in contradiction with our incarnational and baptismal theology.
  • Defining “bad” sex should not be done using theologies of purity. Assessments of good or bad Christian relationality should not be evaluated based on the presence or absence of sexuality, but on healthy power dynamics.
  • There should be no blanket pastoral model of cultural expectations, but instead contextual ministries. The ELCA already practices contextual matchmaking of leaders with their communities under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and expectations of sexuality should function within this system.
  • We maintain a healthy respect for marriage, without elevating it to the level of sacrament and seeing it as a necessary means of grace. Marriage is one form of committed and intimate relationality, and not the default setting for every relationship.
Conclusion
  • We call for a moral deliberation and discernment process as described in CS initiated in the ELCA where V&E, DGD, and HS are evaluated based on an expanded theology and ethic of Christian relationality. Specific changes we would like to see include:
  • No longer privileging marriage as the only acceptable form of sexual relationality
  • Updating ELCA policies to reflect marriage equality in the United States
  • Editing out language that perpetuates heteronormativity and sexual oppression
  • CS states that moral deliberation in the church is done by gathering a diverse group of people, including “those who feel and suffer with the issue; those whose interests or security are at stake” (6). In light of this, we call for individuals in our coalition to be participants in this process as representatives who are affected by these policies.
This summary is intended to be an introduction to our position. The full statement, which expands on each of these points, should be referred to for clarification and deeper understanding of our stance.

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