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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: kls on September 28, 2010, 02:33:39 PM

Title: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 28, 2010, 02:33:39 PM
At my own request on another thread, I decided to start one on homosexuality within Lutheranism since this blog (http://sps7rite.blogspot.com/2010/07/blog-post.html) was pointed out to me today.  This is what I'll start the thread with.

http://www.exposingtheelca.com/1/post/2010/09/elca-invents-new-sin-believing-and-following-scripture-is-sinful.html

What say you?

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Richard Johnson on September 28, 2010, 02:39:35 PM
I say that reading the "Exposing the ELCA" blog is sort of like reading Christian News.

And I say that virtually everything mentioned in that particular blog entry has already been discussed at great length somewhere on this forum.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 28, 2010, 02:50:18 PM
I say that reading the "Exposing the ELCA" blog is sort of like reading Christian News.

And I say that virtually everything mentioned in that particular blog entry has already been discussed at great length somewhere on this forum.

Then people can choose to ignore it, I suppose, or by all means, you may remove the thread if it is irrelevant.  No offense will be taken.  Ptmccain's time-out has taught me well.  ;)
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 28, 2010, 04:28:59 PM
I have earlier expressed my view that every word in that particular blog is untrustworthy, including "and" and "the."
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Maryland Brian on September 28, 2010, 04:45:06 PM
I have earlier expressed my view that every word in that particular blog is untrustworthy, including "and" and "the."

Including the parts of the reconciliation services he quotes?  It may be possible to disagree with his interpretations, but I think it a stretch to suggest he's making up what happened at those two services.

There is a strange dynamic going on in those two confessions.  Are the confessions to God over concern with past practices of not allowing homosexual behavior among leaders in the church OR (as it reads to me), a new level of pharisaism that claims, "Thank you Lord that we're not like those bigots still huddling over in that corner that we've been able to outvote and leave behind.". IMHO they are not confessions so much as informing the larger church how superior they are now.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: pbnorth3 on September 28, 2010, 05:05:56 PM
The blog is truthful. It is also a blog that is written by an ELCA member who is acting on his "bound conscience" to disagree very strongly with the decisions of the ELCA CWA of 2009. I would also say that the material he points to has been verified for its truthfulness. Finally, I would say that those who do not care for the blog tend to be those who either agree with the CWA 2009, or else they don't like the fact that these defects and continual decline in the ELCA are brought up and given the light of day because it somehow convicts them, however that may be.

There may in fact be some who disagree only with the "tone" of the blog. Then again, one can still appreciate it for being truthful and informative.

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rob Buechler

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 28, 2010, 05:43:47 PM
I shall modify my criticism. The words he quotes from others might be accurate.
And I muse: If this person believes the ELCA is he says it is on his blog, then he would most certainly, absolutely, without a doubt not be a member. Otherwise he is a hypocrite. For he tells people to get themselves to a "Bible-believing church," and if he does not do so himself....
But let the games continue. He can be the new "Lutheran/Christian" News if he wishes. Otten has to retire sometime.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 29, 2010, 10:45:55 AM
The blog is truthful. It is also a blog that is written by an ELCA member who is acting on his "bound conscience" to disagree very strongly with the decisions of the ELCA CWA of 2009. I would also say that the material he points to has been verified for its truthfulness. Finally, I would say that those who do not care for the blog tend to be those who either agree with the CWA 2009, or else they don't like the fact that these defects and continual decline in the ELCA are brought up and given the light of day because it somehow convicts them, however that may be.

There may in fact be some who disagree only with the "tone" of the blog. Then again, one can still appreciate it for being truthful and informative.

Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Rob Buechler

I think the comparison here with Christian News is valid.  Whenever I read Christian News or "Reclaim News" or the BJS site or Jesus First, I always have a shaker of salt handy because I need much more than just one grain of salt to take these with.

But I do read them (and more secular muckraking sites such as the Drudge Report).   I struggle with whether this is listening to or engaging in gossip -- then again, sometimes, I wonder the same with Fox News or The New York Times and their "Highly placed sources say ...".

But while the tone of such muckraking sites is usually abominable, they do often open up areas for concern which should be inspected.  I'm certain that no one liked Upton Sinclair in the early twentieth century even though his tone was admittedly better.  We have safer meat today though for his efforts.

The information about the reconciliation services and the attempts to disrespect the "bound consciences" of those within the ELCA who believe that homsexuality is intrinsically sinful by painting them as homophobes are all valid.  The tone and some of the characterization of people and events attendant to it are not.

The authors and editors of these sources are persistent in breaking the 8th commandment and failing to repent of this sin. How should the church treat such unrepentant, persistent sinners?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: lucan on September 29, 2010, 11:24:39 AM
The authors and editors of these sources are persistent in breaking the 8th commandment and failing to repent of this sin. How should the church treat such unrepentant, persistent sinners?
[/quote]


I find this a curious and baseless assertion which exposes you to the same charge as you levy against the blog.  I (surprisingly) can vouch for the truthfulness of much of what is written, knowing or having contact with some of the people or events involved, at least on a limited scale.

Please remember that this is after all a "blog", not a news service and not journalism, per se, though the shoddy journalism of late has begun to parody the tone of blogs.  I actually consider this blog a valuable service to the rest of us who are trying to watch what is going on in the ELCA, and who know that official sources will never discuss most of these things which concern a lot of us. 

Personally, I do not agree with the blog's position on some things (it is rather Zionist, for one).  But, if you are unable to weed through tones of interpretation and get to the substance, and events, of what is being said, then you ought not read this.  Neither should you ever read or listen to anything like blogs or "news" for that matter.

To get back to the point of this particular blog post, I do believe that the blog actually has a very valid point: how can we "walk together" in ministry with people who consider us in open and blatant sin, while we consider them the same?  Clearly we have two different Gospels at work.  There is simply no way that a shoddy, third rate concept like "bound conscience", which no one understands anyway, will survive in any meaningful way.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 29, 2010, 11:51:44 AM
To get back to the point of this particular blog post, I do believe that the blog actually has a very valid point: how can we "walk together" in ministry with people who consider us in open and blatant sin, while we consider them the same?  Clearly we have two different Gospels at work.  There is simply no way that a shoddy, third rate concept like "bound conscience", which no one understands anyway, will survive in any meaningful way.

I call to mind Luther's meaning of the eighth commandment: We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret evething they do in the best possible light.

While the blogs may not tell any lies about their neighbors; I'd find it difficult to characterize their postings as "coming to their neighbor's (even fellow Christian's) defense, speaking well of them, and interpreting everything they do in the best possible light. Rather, like many tabloids, they interpret everything in the worst possible light. Thus, a persistent sin against this commandment.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: lucan on September 29, 2010, 12:57:38 PM
While the blogs may not tell any lies about their neighbors; I'd find it difficult to characterize their postings as "coming to their neighbor's (even fellow Christian's) defense, speaking well of them, and interpreting everything they do in the best possible light. Rather, like many tabloids, they interpret everything in the worst possible light. Thus, a persistent sin against this commandment.
[/quote]


Selective use of Luther.  He taught that charity in personal and public life should be the rule in our speech.  Yet the same Luther harshly lambasted those whom he believed misrepresented God and His Word, and used the Church for the promotion of an agenda foreign to the Christ of Scriptures.  You need to understand that this is precisely what many of us believe is happening in the ELCA.  In that case, one could say that the blog doesn't go far enough.  Anyone care to draw one of our beloved bishops with an ass for a face, like Luther did?  I myself would find it inappropriate for now, though.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 29, 2010, 04:31:36 PM
Do you believe that disrespecting the "bound consciences" of those within the ELCA who believe that homsexuality is intrinsically sinful by painting them as homophobes reflects best construction?

No more nor less than the "traditionalists" who characterize homosexuals and their supports as unChristian, unLutheran, and condemned to hell.

Quote
Best construction is in the eye of the beholder at times.  For the Christian trying to admonish his brother of sin that is denied, then the admonished brother will take such an attempt as poor construction of his sinful acts.

As I read Jesus' words, before making an admonishment public, one needs to go and speak directly to the person who has sinned. If that is unsuccessful, then another private meeting is held with others to attest to the sin(s). Only after these admonitions have failed is the offense to be brought before the public.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Pilgrim on September 29, 2010, 04:44:43 PM

No more nor less than the "traditionalists" who characterize homosexuals and their supports as unChristian, unLutheran, and condemned to hell.

[/quote]

Brian, I must confress, I've never, ever heard a single "traditionalist" Lutheran say anything like that. A few crazy radicals in the paper, (not unlike extremists on any issue) but not one, nary a solo "traditionalist" LUTHERAN speak in the aforementioned manner, particularly this "condemend to hell" nonsense. And I dare question whether you have actually, with your own ears, heard a traditional LUTHERAN, say anything close to what you've written. But of course, then your inate ability and desire to argue wouldn't be served any longer would it?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Lutheranistic on September 29, 2010, 04:58:46 PM

Quote
Selective use of Luther.  He taught that charity in personal and public life should be the rule in our speech.  Yet the same Luther harshly lambasted those whom he believed misrepresented God and His Word, and used the Church for the promotion of an agenda foreign to the Christ of Scriptures.  You need to understand that this is precisely what many of us believe is happening in the ELCA.  In that case, one could say that the blog doesn't go far enough.  Anyone care to draw one of our beloved bishops with an ass for a face, like Luther did?  I myself would find it inappropriate for now, though.

1. Public rebuke should not be a first response to a first offense. A rapid rush to judgment should be avoided. "Public sin" suggests a pattern of behavior or a lack of recognition of sin and repentance when correction takes place.

2. Public rebuke should be pursued first by those who have the office of correction in the church in their assigned areas of responsibility. In the case of public sin, those affected should consult with each other and with those having responsibility for ecclesiastical supervision.

3. If those charged with ecclesiastical supervision fail to carry out their duties, public rebuke may be pursued by any Christian.

4. Matthew 18 does not speak specifically to cases of public sin, as Luther declares in his explanation of the Eighth Commandment. The steps outlined in Matthew 18, therefore, are not absolute requirements mandated by Scripture or the Confessions in cases of public sin. However, these steps may be part of synodical processes that lead to specific consequences for public sin. Public rebuke is not the same as filing formal charges.

5. One who decides on public rebuke should be certain that he himself properly understands the nature of the sin so that the rebuke offered may have the appropriate effect.

6. Public rebuke should not be undertaken lightly, but only after much prayer, deliberation and consultation with others who know of the sin.

7. In cases where the sin is not apparent to all (and perhaps for that reason, not truly public), a call for discussion rather than a rebuke might best serve the needs of the church.  Debate (in forums that may be provided for this purpose), rather than rebuke, may be a more appropriate initial response in some cases.

8. Public rebuke, if it is to be effective, should be rare and used primarily in cases of notorious or scandalous teaching or conduct in which the Gospel is at stake.

9. The purposes of public rebuke are both to warn and instruct the church and to offer spiritual care to the offender.  Public rebuke is intended to enlist the aid of fellow Christians in correcting offenders and, upon repentance, to assure them of God's absolving and restorative grace in Word and Sacrament.

From http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp (http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp)
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on September 29, 2010, 05:27:31 PM

No more nor less than the "traditionalists" who characterize homosexuals and their supports as unChristian, unLutheran, and condemned to hell.


Which "traditionalists" are you referring to, Brian?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 05:29:23 PM

No more nor less than the "traditionalists" who characterize homosexuals and their supports as unChristian, unLutheran, and condemned to hell.


Brian, I must confress, I've never, ever heard a single "traditionalist" Lutheran say anything like that. A few crazy radicals in the paper, (not unlike extremists on any issue) but not one, nary a solo "traditionalist" LUTHERAN speak in the aforementioned manner, particularly this "condemend to hell" nonsense. And I dare question whether you have actually, with your own ears, heard a traditional LUTHERAN, say anything close to what you've written. But of course, then your inate ability and desire to argue wouldn't be served any longer would it?
[/quote]

The quotation below by Pastor McCain might be the sort of thing that Pastor Stoffregen is thinking of in terms of going to hell...

"Homosexuality is not self-destructive? Engaging in sexual activities that preclude the propagation of the species would seem to be somewhat on the self-destructive side of the equation. And, I won't even mention the essentially self-destructive nature of homosexuality itself, which, if indulged in without repentance, will result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity."


Regarding unLutheran and unChristian that might be the thrust of this passage by the same author...

"Couple things from Luther to counter this, "Oh, the person starting this thread just wants to talk about hymns" line of thought

First, "God has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses."

And, from the Heidelberg Disputation:

A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

The homosexual activisits in the ELCA, of whom the person who started this thread is a key player, want nothing more than simply to be regarded as "just plain folks." I know some regard being "polite" the chief and cardinal virtue. However, truth is. A wolf in sheep's clothing should be resisted, not accomodated."



SPS

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 05:44:37 PM

No more nor less than the "traditionalists" who characterize homosexuals and their supports as unChristian, unLutheran, and condemned to hell.


Brian, I must confress, I've never, ever heard a single "traditionalist" Lutheran say anything like that. A few crazy radicals in the paper, (not unlike extremists on any issue) but not one, nary a solo "traditionalist" LUTHERAN speak in the aforementioned manner, particularly this "condemend to hell" nonsense. And I dare question whether you have actually, with your own ears, heard a traditional LUTHERAN, say anything close to what you've written. But of course, then your inate ability and desire to argue wouldn't be served any longer would it?

The quotation below by Pastor McCain might be the sort of thing that Pastor Stoffregen is thinking of...

"Homosexuality is not self-destructive? Engaging in sexual activities that preclude the propagation of the species would seem to be somewhat on the self-destructive side of the equation. And, I won't even mention the essentially self-destructive nature of homosexuality itself, which, if indulged in without repentance, will result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity."


SPS

Doesn't the indulgence of any sin without repentance result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity?

This is the biggest question after "Why some and not others?".  Serial killers may indeed go to heaven as Luther testifies if they are repentant.

But lacking repentance -- lacking a faith which fears God and the consequences of sin -- places one in a very dire position indeed.

Mike

I think, Mike, you are making Pastor Stoffregen's point for him. If, as traditionalists assert, homosexual behavior is a sin, then repentance is necessary. If as, Pastor Stoffregen and I assert that homosexual behavior per se is not sinful but on the same footing as heterosexual actions for heterosexuals...then traditionalists calling it sin and burdening the consciences of gay people falsely is a sin also in need of repentance lest damnation ensue. IMHO, Pastor Stoffregen correctly points out the distressingly frequent violations of the 8th Commandment on both sides of the debate.

SPS

P.S.  My assumption is that no one I speak with here is "going to hell" because I trust that everyone here trusts in Christ Jesus for their salvation and avails themselves regularly of Confession/Absolution and partakes of the Sacraments.



Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: DCharlton on September 29, 2010, 06:20:06 PM

The quotation below by Pastor McCain might be the sort of thing that Pastor Stoffregen is thinking of in terms of going to hell...

"Homosexuality is not self-destructive? Engaging in sexual activities that preclude the propagation of the species would seem to be somewhat on the self-destructive side of the equation. And, I won't even mention the essentially self-destructive nature of homosexuality itself, which, if indulged in without repentance, will result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity."


Regarding unLutheran and unChristian that might be the thrust of this passage by the same author...

"Couple things from Luther to counter this, "Oh, the person starting this thread just wants to talk about hymns" line of thought

First, "God has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses."

And, from the Heidelberg Disputation:

A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

The homosexual activisits in the ELCA, of whom the person who started this thread is a key player, want nothing more than simply to be regarded as "just plain folks." I know some regard being "polite" the chief and cardinal virtue. However, truth is. A wolf in sheep's clothing should be resisted, not accomodated."



SPS



The origin of Brian's statement was a question from Mike Gellhausen about how "bound consciences" were treated in the ELCA.  I assume that Pilgrim's reply was also in that context.  As a result, what Paul McCain has said does not represent the "traditionalists" in question.  No doubt there are ELCA traditionialists that use similar words, but it is much less frequent.

Last week, at a synodical leadership retreat, there was a meeting held by the bishop which was reportedly going to be an opportunity for dissenters to share their concerns with him.  In actuality, it was a meeting of people from both sides with only 1/3 being dissenters.  During that time, those opposing PALMSGR were compared with racists and sexists by many, including the bhishop himself.  We were accused of saying that GLBT people were not welcome in God's church, of denying the Gospel and of not having the love of Christ in our hearts.  The dissenters focused on things such as how "bound conscience" was going to be implemented, concerns over God language in worship, the leftward bent of ELCA statements, etc...  This is what I believe Mike Gellhausen was getting at.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 06:29:40 PM

The origin of Brian's statement was a question from Mike Gellhausen about how "bound consciences" were treated in the ELCA.  I assume that Pilgrim's reply was also in that context.  As a result, what Paul McCain has said does not represent the "traditionalists" in question.  No doubt there are ELCA traditionialists that use similar words, but it is much less frequent.

Last week, at a synodical leadership retreat, there was a meeting held by the bishop which was reportedly going to be an opportunity for dissenters to share their concerns with him.  In actuality, it was a meeting of people from both sides with only 1/3 being dissenters.  During that time, those opposing PALMSGR were compared with racists and sexists by many, including the bhishop himself.  We were accused of saying that GLBT people were not welcome in God's church, of denying the Gospel and of not having the love of Christ in our hearts.  The dissenters focused on things such as how "bound conscience" was going to be implemented, concerns over God language in worship, the leftward bent of ELCA statements, etc...  This is what I believe Mike Gellhausen was getting at.


Pastor Charlton:

I will concede your restricting comments under discussion to those made by members of the ELCA. I apologize for casting my net more widely. What you describe at your synodical leadership retreat is unconscionable and I grieve that you were so slandered.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: DCharlton on September 29, 2010, 06:32:17 PM

If, as traditionalists assert, homosexual behavior is a sin, then repentance is necessary. If as, Pastor Stoffregen and I assert that homosexual behavior per se is not sinful but on the same footing as heterosexual actions for heterosexuals...then traditionalists calling it sin and burdening the consciences of gay people falsely is a sin also in need of repentance lest damnation ensue.


This is what makes "bound conscience" such a sham.  This is not some unimportant matter that we can disagree about.  If you consider the traditionalist position a sin that is damnable without repentance, then to "tolerate" those like me who make that hold that argument and to refrain from "arguing" with us would be a form of hatred.  Only those who no longer take sin and hell seriously would think that it didn't matter.

David

P.S.  That's why I appreciate your honesty on this subject.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Dadoo on September 29, 2010, 06:34:37 PM

The quotation below by Pastor McCain might be the sort of thing that Pastor Stoffregen is thinking of in terms of going to hell...

"Homosexuality is not self-destructive? Engaging in sexual activities that preclude the propagation of the species would seem to be somewhat on the self-destructive side of the equation. And, I won't even mention the essentially self-destructive nature of homosexuality itself, which, if indulged in without repentance, will result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity."


Regarding unLutheran and unChristian that might be the thrust of this passage by the same author...

"Couple things from Luther to counter this, "Oh, the person starting this thread just wants to talk about hymns" line of thought

First, "God has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses."

And, from the Heidelberg Disputation:

A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

The homosexual activisits in the ELCA, of whom the person who started this thread is a key player, want nothing more than simply to be regarded as "just plain folks." I know some regard being "polite" the chief and cardinal virtue. However, truth is. A wolf in sheep's clothing should be resisted, not accomodated."



SPS



The origin of Brian's statement was a question from Mike Gellhausen about how "bound consciences" were treated in the ELCA.  I assume that Pilgrim's reply was also in that context.  As a result, what Paul McCain has said does not represent the "traditionalists" in question.  No doubt there are ELCA traditionialists that use similar words, but it is much less frequent.

Last week, at a synodical leadership retreat, there was a meeting held by the bishop which was reportedly going to be an opportunity for dissenters to share their concerns with him.  In actuality, it was a meeting of people from both sides with only 1/3 being dissenters.  During that time, those opposing PALMSGR were compared with racists and sexists by many, including the bhishop himself.  We were accused of saying that GLBT people were not welcome in God's church, of denying the Gospel and of not having the love of Christ in our hearts.  The dissenters focused on things such as how "bound conscience" was going to be implemented, concerns over God language in worship, the leftward bent of ELCA statements, etc...  This is what I believe Mike Gellhausen was getting at.

But should not the Iowa question be asked: Your church has stated in an official statement that our position is both faithful and intellectually credible. You can therefor not condemn it. It is an official position of your church, the ELCA how dare you pose that those holding this position must repent?

God language actually has the constitution at it's side in confessing God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so maybe all is not lost there yet. Until all the traditionalists leave at least.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 06:59:32 PM

The quotation below by Pastor McCain might be the sort of thing that Pastor Stoffregen is thinking of in terms of going to hell...

"Homosexuality is not self-destructive? Engaging in sexual activities that preclude the propagation of the species would seem to be somewhat on the self-destructive side of the equation. And, I won't even mention the essentially self-destructive nature of homosexuality itself, which, if indulged in without repentance, will result in the destruction of both soul and body for all eternity."


Regarding unLutheran and unChristian that might be the thrust of this passage by the same author...

"Couple things from Luther to counter this, "Oh, the person starting this thread just wants to talk about hymns" line of thought

First, "God has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses."

And, from the Heidelberg Disputation:

A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

The homosexual activisits in the ELCA, of whom the person who started this thread is a key player, want nothing more than simply to be regarded as "just plain folks." I know some regard being "polite" the chief and cardinal virtue. However, truth is. A wolf in sheep's clothing should be resisted, not accomodated."



SPS



The origin of Brian's statement was a question from Mike Gellhausen about how "bound consciences" were treated in the ELCA.  I assume that Pilgrim's reply was also in that context.  As a result, what Paul McCain has said does not represent the "traditionalists" in question.  No doubt there are ELCA traditionialists that use similar words, but it is much less frequent.

Last week, at a synodical leadership retreat, there was a meeting held by the bishop which was reportedly going to be an opportunity for dissenters to share their concerns with him.  In actuality, it was a meeting of people from both sides with only 1/3 being dissenters.  During that time, those opposing PALMSGR were compared with racists and sexists by many, including the bhishop himself.  We were accused of saying that GLBT people were not welcome in God's church, of denying the Gospel and of not having the love of Christ in our hearts.  The dissenters focused on things such as how "bound conscience" was going to be implemented, concerns over God language in worship, the leftward bent of ELCA statements, etc...  This is what I believe Mike Gellhausen was getting at.

But should not the Iowa question be asked: Your church has stated in an official statement that our position is both faithful and intellectually credible. You can therefor not condemn it. It is an official position of your church, the ELCA how dare you pose that those holding this position must repent?

God language actually has the constitution at it's side in confessing God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so maybe all is not lost there yet. Until all the traditionalists leave at least.

I would point out that the ELCA holds both positions to be faithful and intellectually credible. Yet, revisionist are regularly lampooned, scorned, and vilified (especially in this forum).

While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance. This is largely for me a matter of ethics rather than essential theology. I consider the teaching on homosexuality a dubitum. Now a discussion of how Sacred Scripture does its work as rule and norm of faith is a much more serious matter.

If any traditionalist would like my assistance in fighting the wholesale trivialization of Scripture in the Church, abandonment of Orthodox Trinitarian language, or the general left-ward tilt of ELCA social statements, then I am more than willing to lend a hand.

I might also, lightly, wonder that if you are at the "HOW DARE YOU" stage when talking with me then the larger discussion in the ELCA is going to be VERY difficult (since I'm the gay who generally likes you guys). Seriously, the respect for conscience is going to have to become much more real, much more robust ON BOTH SIDES, damn fast or it will get bad very fast.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: grabau14 on September 29, 2010, 07:23:43 PM
What is wrong with Pr. McCain's statement?  It sure sounds like St. Paul to me.   If the statement by Pr. McCain troubles even some of the traditionalists within the ELCA than why are you dissenting?   
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Dan Fienen on September 29, 2010, 07:41:49 PM
I would point out that the ELCA holds both positions to be faithful and intellectually credible. Yet, revisionist are regularly lampooned, scorned, and vilified (especially in this forum).

While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance. This is largely for me a matter of ethics rather than essential theology. I consider the teaching on homosexuality a dubitum. Now a discussion of how Sacred Scripture does its work as rule and norm of faith is a much more serious matter.

If any traditionalist would like my assistance in fighting the wholesale trivialization of Scripture in the Church, abandonment of Orthodox Trinitarian language, or the general left-ward tilt of ELCA social statements, then I am more than willing to lend a hand.

I might also, lightly, wonder that if you are at the "HOW DARE YOU" stage when talking with me then the larger discussion in the ELCA is going to be VERY difficult (since I'm the gay who generally likes you guys). Seriously, the respect for conscience is going to have to become much more real, much more robust ON BOTH SIDES, damn fast or it will get bad very fast.

SPS


How can/should/will the discussion continue within the ELCA.  If someone is operating within the ELCA and seeking to obey the "rules" set out by the HSGT Social Statement and other resolutions approved at CWA '09 must they begin by agreeing that all four possible positions outlined and approved as acceptable within the ELCA are "faithful and intellectually credible"?  Does that mean that they must start by agreeing that they represent acceptable interpretations of Scripture and that none of them are therefore "wrong"?  How is that going to work?  How can there even be discussion beyond, I like my interpretation better than yours?  With a required "but yours is OK also."  Since all four were declared acceptable under bound consciences, what is there left to discuss but the practicality of having a policy that allows both approval and disapproval of ordaining clergy in PALMSGR?  Your position isn't wrong but I think mine is righter than yours for these reasons?

Dan
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 07:53:26 PM
Dan:

If I knew all the ins and outs of it, I should be running for Presiding Bishop. It is a work in progress. However, we, the ELCA, have more of a history of this than do you, the LC-MS, as we do not require uniformity in all manner of Scriptural matters. In general, polls about creation vs. evolution do not often arise in the ELCA. We function well enough with a number of perspectives on the ordination of women. Difficult as it will be, I have faith that the Holy Spirit still guides the ELCA.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Cnehring on September 29, 2010, 08:25:23 PM
  If, as traditionalists assert, homosexual behavior is a sin, then repentance is necessary. If as, Pastor Stoffregen and I assert that homosexual behavior per se is not sinful but on the same footing as heterosexual actions for heterosexuals...then traditionalists calling it sin and burdening the consciences of gay people falsely is a sin also in need of repentance lest damnation ensue. IMHO, Pastor Stoffregen correctly points out the distressingly frequent violations of the 8th Commandment on both sides of the debate.

[/quote]

Thus the heart of the matter. How does one define sin? From where does the definition come from? What does repentance really mean and look like? This is where the divide comes from on the authority of the Scriptures. Does man get to "decide" what needs to be repented of or not?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Dadoo on September 29, 2010, 08:32:02 PM
Dan:

If I knew all the ins and outs of it, I should be running for Presiding Bishop. It is a work in progress. However, we, the ELCA, have more of a history of this than do you, the LC-MS, as we do not require uniformity in all manner of Scriptural matters. In general, polls about creation vs. evolution do not often arise in the ELCA. We function well enough with a number of perspectives on the ordination of women. Difficult as it will be, I have faith that the Holy Spirit still guides the ELCA.

SPS


SPS,

We SHOULD all know the ins and outs of it. The document should have been written clearly enough so that men and women of good intention and sound reason would come to the same conclusion what it means and what it implies. With HSGT and implementing resolution that is just not the case. As a result we seem to have multiple implementation strategies that are likely to change with every bishop's election. That amount of unclarity is just not helpful.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 08:35:36 PM
  If, as traditionalists assert, homosexual behavior is a sin, then repentance is necessary. If as, Pastor Stoffregen and I assert that homosexual behavior per se is not sinful but on the same footing as heterosexual actions for heterosexuals...then traditionalists calling it sin and burdening the consciences of gay people falsely is a sin also in need of repentance lest damnation ensue. IMHO, Pastor Stoffregen correctly points out the distressingly frequent violations of the 8th Commandment on both sides of the debate.


Thus the heart of the matter. How does one define sin? From where does the definition come from? What does repentance really mean and look like? This is where the divide comes from on the authority of the Scriptures. Does man get to "decide" what needs to be repented of or not?
[/quote]

I agree in broad terms...but there is another factor: Do I get to pass judgement on someone else's repentance? Do I have authority to determine for someone else which "of their sins" should be especially troubling to them? If a sister says in general confession that she has sinned and throws herself upon the mercy of God...do I have grounds to say she is unrepentant because she has not castigated herself to my satisfaction concerning something that I find troubling?

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 08:36:44 PM
Dan:

If I knew all the ins and outs of it, I should be running for Presiding Bishop. It is a work in progress. However, we, the ELCA, have more of a history of this than do you, the LC-MS, as we do not require uniformity in all manner of Scriptural matters. In general, polls about creation vs. evolution do not often arise in the ELCA. We function well enough with a number of perspectives on the ordination of women. Difficult as it will be, I have faith that the Holy Spirit still guides the ELCA.

SPS



SPS,

We SHOULD all know the ins and outs of it. The document should have been written clearly enough so that men and women of good intention and sound reason would come to the same conclusion what it means and what it implies. With HSGT and implementing resolution that is just not the case. As a result we seem to have multiple implementation strategies that are likely to change with every bishop's election. That amount of unclarity is just not helpful.


100% agreement with you, Peter.

SPS


see the new thread: http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3309.msg179687#msg179687
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: J.L. Precup on September 29, 2010, 08:41:14 PM
Shields up.  Swords drawn.  Not helpful.

If I engage in homosexual behavior, is it sinful?  Yes!  Why?  Because I'm not gay.

If a gay person does, is it sinful?  That's the point of contention.  I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

I seem to remember Martin Marty wrote years ago that he hoped this matter would not come to a vote.  The present fallout proving him right is obvious.  It would have been much better for individual congregations to be able to call the pastor who fits their particular circumstances.  That happens, but the way the "rules" were drawn up has caused a lot of angst and confusion.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 29, 2010, 08:49:01 PM
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 08:50:06 PM
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

Is this a trick question?  ;D

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 29, 2010, 08:52:38 PM
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 08:58:46 PM
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: lucan on September 29, 2010, 10:31:30 PM

Quote
Selective use of Luther.  He taught that charity in personal and public life should be the rule in our speech.  Yet the same Luther harshly lambasted those whom he believed misrepresented God and His Word, and used the Church for the promotion of an agenda foreign to the Christ of Scriptures.  You need to understand that this is precisely what many of us believe is happening in the ELCA.  In that case, one could say that the blog doesn't go far enough.  Anyone care to draw one of our beloved bishops with an ass for a face, like Luther did?  I myself would find it inappropriate for now, though.

1. Public rebuke should not be a first response to a first offense. A rapid rush to judgment should be avoided. "Public sin" suggests a pattern of behavior or a lack of recognition of sin and repentance when correction takes place.

2. Public rebuke should be pursued first by those who have the office of correction in the church in their assigned areas of responsibility. In the case of public sin, those affected should consult with each other and with those having responsibility for ecclesiastical supervision.

3. If those charged with ecclesiastical supervision fail to carry out their duties, public rebuke may be pursued by any Christian.

4. Matthew 18 does not speak specifically to cases of public sin, as Luther declares in his explanation of the Eighth Commandment. The steps outlined in Matthew 18, therefore, are not absolute requirements mandated by Scripture or the Confessions in cases of public sin. However, these steps may be part of synodical processes that lead to specific consequences for public sin. Public rebuke is not the same as filing formal charges.

5. One who decides on public rebuke should be certain that he himself properly understands the nature of the sin so that the rebuke offered may have the appropriate effect.

6. Public rebuke should not be undertaken lightly, but only after much prayer, deliberation and consultation with others who know of the sin.

7. In cases where the sin is not apparent to all (and perhaps for that reason, not truly public), a call for discussion rather than a rebuke might best serve the needs of the church.  Debate (in forums that may be provided for this purpose), rather than rebuke, may be a more appropriate initial response in some cases.

8. Public rebuke, if it is to be effective, should be rare and used primarily in cases of notorious or scandalous teaching or conduct in which the Gospel is at stake.

9. The purposes of public rebuke are both to warn and instruct the church and to offer spiritual care to the offender.  Public rebuke is intended to enlist the aid of fellow Christians in correcting offenders and, upon repentance, to assure them of God's absolving and restorative grace in Word and Sacrament.

From http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp (http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp)



Well said!  Much wisdom here.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 10:38:12 PM

Quote
Selective use of Luther.  He taught that charity in personal and public life should be the rule in our speech.  Yet the same Luther harshly lambasted those whom he believed misrepresented God and His Word, and used the Church for the promotion of an agenda foreign to the Christ of Scriptures.  You need to understand that this is precisely what many of us believe is happening in the ELCA.  In that case, one could say that the blog doesn't go far enough.  Anyone care to draw one of our beloved bishops with an ass for a face, like Luther did?  I myself would find it inappropriate for now, though.

1. Public rebuke should not be a first response to a first offense. A rapid rush to judgment should be avoided. "Public sin" suggests a pattern of behavior or a lack of recognition of sin and repentance when correction takes place.

2. Public rebuke should be pursued first by those who have the office of correction in the church in their assigned areas of responsibility. In the case of public sin, those affected should consult with each other and with those having responsibility for ecclesiastical supervision.

3. If those charged with ecclesiastical supervision fail to carry out their duties, public rebuke may be pursued by any Christian.

4. Matthew 18 does not speak specifically to cases of public sin, as Luther declares in his explanation of the Eighth Commandment. The steps outlined in Matthew 18, therefore, are not absolute requirements mandated by Scripture or the Confessions in cases of public sin. However, these steps may be part of synodical processes that lead to specific consequences for public sin. Public rebuke is not the same as filing formal charges.

5. One who decides on public rebuke should be certain that he himself properly understands the nature of the sin so that the rebuke offered may have the appropriate effect.

6. Public rebuke should not be undertaken lightly, but only after much prayer, deliberation and consultation with others who know of the sin.

7. In cases where the sin is not apparent to all (and perhaps for that reason, not truly public), a call for discussion rather than a rebuke might best serve the needs of the church.  Debate (in forums that may be provided for this purpose), rather than rebuke, may be a more appropriate initial response in some cases.

8. Public rebuke, if it is to be effective, should be rare and used primarily in cases of notorious or scandalous teaching or conduct in which the Gospel is at stake.

9. The purposes of public rebuke are both to warn and instruct the church and to offer spiritual care to the offender.  Public rebuke is intended to enlist the aid of fellow Christians in correcting offenders and, upon repentance, to assure them of God's absolving and restorative grace in Word and Sacrament.

From http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp (http://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=9998&path=%2Fpages%2Frpage.asp)



Well said!  Much wisdom here.

Placet!

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 29, 2010, 10:50:28 PM
While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance.

It is impossible for traditionalist to eventually revise their opinions, at least until the Lord returns.  The sum and norm of what they taught is completed, the Traditionalists are dead, alive in Christ and alive in their writings, anyone that agrees with them is a traditionalist too.  But anyone who has agreed with them and then ceases to agree with them ceases to be a traditionalist, they become something else, they become revisionists.  It is impossible therefor for traditionalists to be revised until the Lord returns, their influence may become more, it may become less, their adherents may even disappear from the face of the planet and then reappear five hundred years later when their writings are once again accepted as Apostolic and Church Father authoritative.  Traditionalist can not eventually revise their opinions, its a misunderstanding of traditionalism to think it can be revised.  It is the fatal a flaw of revisionism, to believe that we are allowed to revise, Christ and Christ's words are eternal, revision is what the Qur'an teaches...  If we can revise, then nothing is sacred.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: edoughty on September 29, 2010, 10:54:57 PM
While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance.

It is impossible for traditionalist to eventually revise their opinions, at least until the Lord returns.  The sum and norm of what they taught is completed, the Traditionalists are dead, alive in Christ and alive in their writings, anyone that agrees with them is a traditionalist too.  But anyone who has agreed with them and then ceases to agree with them ceases to be a traditionalist, they become something else, they become revisionists.  It is impossible therefor for traditionalists to be revised until the Lord returns, their influence may become more, it may become less, their adherents may even disappear from the face of the planet and then reappear five hundred years later when their writings are once again accepted as Apostolic and Church Father authoritative.  Traditionalist can not eventually revise their opinions, its a misunderstanding of traditionalism to think it can be revised.  It is the fatal a flaw of revisionism, to believe that we are allowed to revise, Christ and Christ's words are eternal, revision is what the Qur'an teaches...  If we can revise, then nothing is sacred.

I am confused by this, James.  What would you call the Reformation if not a revision of the tradition?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 29, 2010, 10:56:20 PM
While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance.

It is impossible for traditionalist to eventually revise their opinions, at least until the Lord returns.  The sum and norm of what they taught is completed, the Traditionalists are dead, alive in Christ and alive in their writings, anyone that agrees with them is a traditionalist too.  But anyone who has agreed with them and then ceases to agree with them ceases to be a traditionalist, they become something else, they become revisionists.  It is impossible therefor for traditionalists to be revised until the Lord returns, their influence may become more, it may become less, their adherents may even disappear from the face of the planet and then reappear five hundred years later when their writings are once again accepted as Apostolic and Church Father authoritative.  Traditionalist can not eventually revise their opinions, its a misunderstanding of traditionalism to think it can be revised.  It is the fatal a flaw of revisionism, to believe that we are allowed to revise, Christ and Christ's words are eternal, revision is what the Qur'an teaches...  If we can revise, then nothing is sacred.

I am confused by this, James.  What would you call the Reformation if not a revision of the tradition?

It was a return to the Traditionalists and traditionalism.  Returning to what had been, departing from the revised.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 11:01:12 PM
While my personal opinion is that traditionalists will eventually revise their opinions, I do not require or expect repentance.

It is impossible for traditionalist to eventually revise their opinions, at least until the Lord returns.  The sum and norm of what they taught is completed, the Traditionalists are dead, alive in Christ and alive in their writings, anyone that agrees with them is a traditionalist too.  But anyone who has agreed with them and then ceases to agree with them ceases to be a traditionalist, they become something else, they become revisionists.  It is impossible therefor for traditionalists to be revised until the Lord returns, their influence may become more, it may become less, their adherents may even disappear from the face of the planet and then reappear five hundred years later when their writings are once again accepted as Apostolic and Church Father authoritative.  Traditionalist can not eventually revise their opinions, its a misunderstanding of traditionalism to think it can be revised.  It is the fatal a flaw of revisionism, to believe that we are allowed to revise, Christ and Christ's words are eternal, revision is what the Qur'an teaches...  If we can revise, then nothing is sacred.

I am confused by this, James.  What would you call the Reformation if not a revision of the tradition?

It was a return to the Traditionalists and traditionalism.  Returning to what had been, departing from the revised.

James...

This is why I am a conservative and not a traditionalist. I cannot in good conscience make the claim that anything touched by humans is irreformable. Nor can I say that the Reformation was repristination. I cannot go there.

I believe that the Lutheran understanding of the Gospel is the BEST hermeneutic. But Scripture and the history of the Church will not let me say that it was the original, or the only hermeneutic present in the Church.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 29, 2010, 11:15:53 PM
James...

This is why I am a conservative and not a traditionalist. I cannot in good conscience make the claim that anything touched by humans is irreformable. Nor can I say that the Reformation was repristination. I cannot go there.

I believe that the Lutheran understanding of the Gospel is the BEST hermeneutic. But Scripture and the history of the Church will not let me say that it was the original, or the only hermeneutic present in the Church.

SPS


 I know you are not a traditionalist, I was pointing out that your hoped for outcome was an impossibility.  Confusing to those that don't understand the difference.  Like a pile of sugar and a pile of salt next to it, they may look alike but they are not the same.  Or a cup full of cubed and peeled potatoes my look like a cup full of peeled and cubed apples but they don't perform the same when added into the recipe.  In a similar way Lutheranism is not old enough to adhere to itself as the sum and norm of Traditionalists and traditionalism.  The Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers are the standard by which we must compare ourselves to see if we are Traditionalist or not.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 11:20:08 PM
James...

This is why I am a conservative and not a traditionalist. I cannot in good conscience make the claim that anything touched by humans is irreformable. Nor can I say that the Reformation was repristination. I cannot go there.

SPS


 I know you are not a traditionalist, I was pointing out that your hoped for outcome was an impossibility.  Confusing to those that don't understand the difference.  Like a pile of sugar and a pile of salt next to it, they may look alike but they are not the same.  Or a cup full of cubed and peeled potatoes my look like a cup full of peeled and cubed apples but they don't perform the same when added into the recipe.  In a similar way Lutheranism is not old enough to adhere to itself as the sum and norm of Traditionalists and traditionalism.  The Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers are the standard by which we must compare ourselves to see if we are Traditionalist or not.

I understand your position. To be honest, I find your definition of traditionalism to be synonymous with idolatry. There are indeed times when one must just be blunt.

Nothing is impossible with God.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 29, 2010, 11:24:52 PM
I understand your position. To be honest, I find your definition of traditionalism to be synonymous with idolatry. There are indeed times when one must just be blunt.

Nothing is impossible with God.

SPS


Asking for God to change what God has established ends with a lot of talk about God making big rocks and testing to see if he can lift them or not.  I think refusing to accept instruction is synonymous with rebellion.  There are indeed times when one must just be blunt.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 29, 2010, 11:58:10 PM
I understand your position. To be honest, I find your definition of traditionalism to be synonymous with idolatry. There are indeed times when one must just be blunt.

Nothing is impossible with God.

SPS


Asking for God to change what God has established ends with a lot of talk about God making big rocks and testing to see if he can lift them or not.  I think refusing to accept instruction is synonymous with rebellion.  There are indeed times when one must just be blunt.

Interestingly enough, I would agree that refusing to accept (faithful) instruction is synonymous with rebellion. But I fear, that in this thread you have disqualified yourself as faithful instructor. You also misunderstand the change I pray for. I do not ask God to change (although God does from time to time), I pray that God will change you, my brother.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: cssml on September 30, 2010, 12:16:46 AM
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS

By what authority do you discard former (and for many Christians, current) understanding of what "the heart of marriage" is, and what God's gracious will is for our human sexuality?  As I have said here before, I believe you accurately capture the unitive purpose, that is of expressing love and in uniting the two, but I believe you reject the procreative aspect of the marital act.  It is the rejection of one of the fundamental purposes of sex within marriage where I believe you are in error.

For an explanation far better than I can explain, see the USCCB 2009 document on Marriage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Anything which denies either of these, denies God's full intention.

  masturbation (not unitive or open to life)?
  contraception (not open to life)?
  adultry (not unitive)?
  pornography (not open to life nor unitive)? 
  homosexual acts (not open to life)
  ... add your favorite here..

I believe until fairly modern times (last century) there has been universal understanding of this by all Christians.  So either the Holy Spirit is opening our minds to a new understanding, or some other spirit is once again at work to deceive us from the fullness that God truly intends for us.


Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 12:29:53 AM
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS

By what authority do you discard former (and for many Christians, current) understanding of what "the heart of marriage" is, and what God's gracious will is for our human sexuality?  As I have said here before, I believe you accurately capture the unitive purpose, that is of expressing love and in uniting the two, but I believe you reject the procreative aspect of the marital act.  It is the rejection of one of the fundamental purposes of sex within marriage where I believe you are in error.

For an explanation far better than I can explain, see the USCCB 2009 document on Marriage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Anything which denies either of these, denies God's full intention.

  masturbation (not unitive or open to life)?
  contraception (not open to life)?
  adultry (not unitive)?
  pornography (not open to life nor unitive)? 
  homosexual acts (not open to life)
  ... add your favorite here..

I believe until fairly modern times (last century) there has been universal understanding of this by all Christians.  So either the Holy Spirit is opening our minds to a new understanding, or some other spirit is once again at work to deceive us from the fullness that God truly intends for us.



Nope, I would not say that I deny the procreative purpose of sexuality, although I hold it subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function. I was asked if sex outside of marriage was sinful...that question can be definitively answered on the unitive purpose alone. In addition, like the ELCA in its social statements, I do not hold the procreative function to be mandatory. The authority btw, is the witness of Scripture, nature, and reason.

SPS


P.S. If I thought the Roman Catholic Church to be the best witness to Christianity, I would be part of the Roman obedience. But I don't, so I'm not.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: cssml on September 30, 2010, 12:52:33 AM
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS

By what authority do you discard former (and for many Christians, current) understanding of what "the heart of marriage" is, and what God's gracious will is for our human sexuality?  As I have said here before, I believe you accurately capture the unitive purpose, that is of expressing love and in uniting the two, but I believe you reject the procreative aspect of the marital act.  It is the rejection of one of the fundamental purposes of sex within marriage where I believe you are in error.

For an explanation far better than I can explain, see the USCCB 2009 document on Marriage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Anything which denies either of these, denies God's full intention.

  masturbation (not unitive or open to life)?
  contraception (not open to life)?
  adultry (not unitive)?
  pornography (not open to life nor unitive)? 
  homosexual acts (not open to life)
  ... add your favorite here..

I believe until fairly modern times (last century) there has been universal understanding of this by all Christians.  So either the Holy Spirit is opening our minds to a new understanding, or some other spirit is once again at work to deceive us from the fullness that God truly intends for us.



Nope, I would not say that I deny the procreative purpose of sexuality, although I hold it subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function. I was asked if sex outside of marriage was sinful...that question can be definitively answered on the unitive purpose alone. In addition, like the ELCA in its social statements, I do not hold the procreative function to be mandatory. The authority btw, is the witness of Scripture, nature, and reason.

SPS


P.S. If I thought the Roman Catholic Church to be the best witness to Christianity, I would be part of the Roman obedience. But I don't, so I'm not.


When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 01:06:33 AM

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: cssml on September 30, 2010, 01:24:38 AM

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?




Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 01:32:32 AM

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?



I did not think it an unfair characterization of ELCA teaching on the subject, since the social statement countenances contraception. If contraception is a moral (and faithful) option, then it follows that procreation is optional.

SPS


A. Prevention of Unintended Pregnancies
Prevention of unintended pregnancies is crucial in lessening the number of abortions. In addition to efforts within church and home, this church supports appropriate forms of sex education in schools, community pregnancy prevention programs, and parenting preparation classes. We recognize the need for contraceptives to be available, for voluntary sterilization to be considered, and for research and development of new forms of contraception.

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 01:50:31 AM
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: cssml on September 30, 2010, 01:54:21 AM

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?



I did not think it an unfair characterization of ELCA teaching on the subject, since the social statement countenances contraception. If contraception is a moral (and faithful) option, then it follows that procreation is optional.

SPS


Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 02:07:56 AM

Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings



I would agree with your timeline, but not your interpretation of the causes. I think the driving forces were changes in familial, social, and economic structures and somewhat later than that awareness of the explosion of the world's human population (1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999). I am not one of those who views procreation as the root of poverty, or humans as a disease on this planet. But we must steward our procreation as we steward the use of every other resource and gift from God. In the Genesis creation myth, God not only tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, but also that the beasts and vegetation are theirs for food. Yet we must learn the limits on consumption so as not to eat ourselves to death. In like fashion, we must learn the limits on our procreation lest we multiply ourselves to death.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 30, 2010, 07:27:31 AM
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
I'll accept any definition of marriage in response to the question, though I personally accept only one kind.  I believe there is a reason the Church is called the Bride of Christ and not the Groom (but then again I hold that Jesus was a man).   ;)
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 30, 2010, 07:34:31 AM
Interestingly enough, I would agree that refusing to accept (faithful) instruction is synonymous with rebellion. But I fear, that in this thread you have disqualified yourself as faithful instructor. You also misunderstand the change I pray for. I do not ask God to change (although God does from time to time), I pray that God will change you, my brother.

SPS


We agree then that refusing to accept instruction is synonymous with rebellion, that is good common ground.  I have not and did not present myself as your faithful instructor, disqualified or otherwise, all I've done is point to the Apostolic and Church Fathers as authoritative and as the sum and norm of Traditionalism, and why it can not now, after the fact, be changed as you previously stated was your hoped for outcome.  In as much as the Apostolic and Church fathers point to Christ, and the Book of Concord points to Christ, and I point at Christ and to them for explanation, I have not attempted to give you instructions of my own, the instructions come from others, we either accept them as authoritative or we do not.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: David M. Frye, OblSB on September 30, 2010, 07:56:07 AM
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
I'll accept any definition of marriage in response to the question, though I personally accept only one kind.  I believe there is a reason the Church is called the Bride of Christ and not the Groom (but then again I hold that Jesus was a man).   ;)
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Scott6 on September 30, 2010, 08:37:26 AM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

And also note that while the specific sin in view is idolatry (and yes, we have plenty of our own idolatries today, worshiping what is created rather than the Creator, but let's leave that obvious point aside for the moment), the description of the appropriateness of homosexual behavior in no way hinges upon whether or not they are idolaters.  Rather, such relations are said to be "against nature" and the acts themselves are called "shameless," and that they are a punishment for the specific sin of (crude) idolatry but the judgment regarding such activity is not so bound.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 30, 2010, 09:49:28 AM
I know that this issue has been talked to death, but I still thank Dcs. Schave for starting the thread.

I personally grew weary of it creeping into threads that had nothing to do with the issue, so I thought I'd build a new sandbox for people to play in.  I'm new to the forum and I'm sure there are others who are new to it that haven't had the benefit (or not!) of seeing the arguments laid out.  By all means, I'd be happy to stop the discussion right here.  I stated before we run the risk of sounding like a bunch of Lutheran pervs fixated on sexual matters to the outside world as much as it keeps coming up in so many discussions.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: cssml on September 30, 2010, 10:08:45 AM

Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings



I would agree with your timeline, but not your interpretation of the causes. I think the driving forces were changes in familial, social, and economic structures and somewhat later than that awareness of the explosion of the world's human population (1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999). I am not one of those who views procreation as the root of poverty, or humans as a disease on this planet. But we must steward our procreation as we steward the use of every other resource and gift from God. In the Genesis creation myth, God not only tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, but also that the beasts and vegetation are theirs for food. Yet we must learn the limits on consumption so as not to eat ourselves to death. In like fashion, we must learn the limits on our procreation lest we multiply ourselves to death.

SPS

Yes, but there are also two sides here.  Are you familiar with the concept of demographic suicide?  Many would argue that certain populations (Europe) are contracepting themselves to death.  In his discussion of the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, John Allan observes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/opinion/27allen.html

"No country in Europe has a fertility rate above 2.1, the number of children each woman needs to have by the end of her child-bearing years to keep a population stable.

Even with increasing immigration, Europe is projected to suffer a population loss in the 21st century that will rival the impact of the Black Death, leading some to talk about the continent’s “demographic suicide.”


Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 30, 2010, 10:28:11 AM
I actually think the deeper issue is -- as it usually is -- the authority and interpretation of Scripture.

I don't think we should ever stop such discussion although widening it off of the specific topic of homosexuality may or may not be wise.

Agreed on both counts, but the gory details get old just as they would if the topic was pornography, pedophelia, prostitution or heterosexual relations.  It seems the least we could do is honor the thread title or at least keep to a more generalized discussion of the issue.  Of course it could just be that I've entered my instinctive motherly PG mode  . . .

By all means, keep the discussion going or not.  I can at least choose whether I come back to this thread or not if I can no longer stomach it.   ;D
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 11:18:17 AM

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Although it never became an "official" statement, the draft in 1993: The Church and Human Sexuality: a Lutheran Perspective included three good purposes for human sexuality. I believe that this reflects the general understanding in the ELCA.

We confess that through the ages the Church too often has overlooked the created goodness of sexuality.

The Old Testament conveys this goodness in terms of procreation (conceiving children), companionship, and pleasure:

PROCREATION: In the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, human beings are created in the image of God. Male and female are blessed with responsibility for the rest of creation (1:26-27): "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it..." (1:28). This account's emphasis on procreation as the primary purpose of sexuality was especially crucial in an era when Israel's very survival was at stake.

COMPANIONSHIP: The creation story of Genesis 2:4b-25 complements the first account by emphasizing that human beings are created to be in relationships – with God, with one another, and with the rest of creation. The focus is on the mutual companionship between the man and the woman, who are different yet similar: "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"(Gen. 2:23). This poetic song bursts forth as an expression of joy. Their intimate companionship is expressed in sexual union (2:24), a mutual self-giving of their entire being. Their naked bodies are good, not a reason for shame or fear (2:25).

PLEASURE: The passionate feelings of sexual love are celebrated even more provocatively in the love poetry of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon). Here the woman's sexual yearnings as well as the man's are boldly and joyously expressed: "I sought him whom my soul loves...when I found him...I would not let him go"(3:1-4). Their attraction to one another can hardly be contained. The pleasure of mutual erotic love is strongly affirmed.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 11:20:00 AM
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 30, 2010, 11:24:55 AM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 11:42:32 AM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

For another interpretation of "natural" & "unnatural":

These quotes all come from an essay called "'The Disease of Effemination'; The Charge of Effeminacy and the Verdict of God (Romans 1:18-2:16)," by Diana M. Swancutt, Yale Divinity School, published in Semeia Studies No. 45: New Testament Masculinities.

To my knowledge, of the early interpreters of Romans, only Ambrosiaster explicitly identifies the sex partners of the women as other women. Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26. Displaying a total disinterest in the identity of the women's sex objects, Clement highlights the gender-transgressiveness and lustiness of women's sexual activity. He also lists several possible sex acts as "contrary to nature":

It is surely impious for the natural [kata physin] designs to be irrationally perverted into customs that are not natural [para physin].... desire can alter the character of somebody already formed.... the point of this parable concerning the excessive desire and sexual activity of the female hare is to advice abstinence from excessive desire, mutual intercourse  [epallelon synousion], relations with pregnant women, reversal of roles in intercourse [allelobasias], corruption of boys, adultery, and lewdness.

Clement assumes that women who indulged desire in excess would act para physin in various types of intercourse ranging from adultery and sex while pregnant to "mutual intercourse" and a "reversal of sexual roles." [FOOTNOTE 1 below] As John Boswell saw, Clement's emphasis on "mutual intercourse" and the "reversal of sex roles" reflects his discomfort with women who unnaturally assumed the masculine, penetrative role in sex, whether that penetration was of women or of men (Boswell: 358; contra Brooten: 331). The desire that caused gender-transgression could, as Clement notes, alter the character of women. Hence, Clement sought to emphasize that women like those in Rom 1:26 who engaged in unnatural sex both "harm[ed] themselves" and upset the "design of nature." [FOOTNOTE 2 below] pp. 208-210

[1] See also Augustine (Nupt. 20.35), who interprets 1:26 as referring to nonprocreative intercourse between women and men (Brooten: 353).

[2] It is the treatment of para physin in passages such as Paed. 2.10 that finally convinces me that Brooten is incorrect in identifying Rom 1:26 as a reference to female homosexual sex. Her main argument, that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural. But the bottom line is that they do not (and when they do discuss same-sex intercourse, it is the psychic and/or physical manliness of one of the women that is deemed unnatural). Brooten does not discuss Clement's list at any length. She dismisses the relevance of Philo, who clearly says that sex with menstruants and nonprocreative sex are unnatural (248-52). She also fails to discuss Roman Stoic depictions of sex para physin (251 nn. 101, 103), which, like Clement, circumscribe natural sex to desire-free procreativity. If, as Clement did, we account for the standards of Stoics such as Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Seneca, the Romans could have treated as unnatural any unmarried, nonprocreative sex -- including women pursuing another woman's husband, women penetrating boys, men, girls or women, and the forms of "unnatural sex" Brooten lists and dismisses. Give that homoios does not specify the identity of the sex objects in 1:26, that ancients describe a variety of forms of sex involving women as unnatural, and that only one early patristic interpreter of Romans explicitly identified female same-sex intercourse as the subject of 1:26, naming the sex objects of the women in Rom 1:26 is probably a fruitless (and for Paul, at least, an unnecessary) exercise.)

If she is correct that most of the earliest commentators on these verses did not understand "unnatural" to refer to female, same-sex behaviors why should we? Could it be that what is natural/unnatural is defined by culture?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 11:43:31 AM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: George Erdner on September 30, 2010, 11:57:47 AM
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Which only proves that metaphors are never exact matches for the thing which they attempt to describe. The fact that the metaphor of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride doesn't refer to sexual intercourse does not prove that heterosexual intercourse isn't part of marriage. It only proves that the metaphor can't be stretched beyond what it meant to include other things not intended as part of the metaphor.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: kls on September 30, 2010, 12:14:11 PM
The church is a female?
Congratulations, Brian . . . you have proven my need to start a separate thread for those who wish to delve so deeply into matters of sexuality given your last post . . . because talking penetration, etc., is so helpful to ongoing conversation.  It simply drives some people away from even having the discussion.  Call me prude, but I'm exiting, have fun with the thread the rest of you.   :D

And by the way, I'm not a pastor and don't pretend to be (or want to be one for that matter), so I wasn't required to take Greek at the Sem.  The best I can do without having access to my Logos software at the moment is to provide a link to an online interlinear Bible.  Looks pretty clear to me that bride refers to wife/woman in Rev. 21:9 (http://www.studylight.org/isb/bible.cgi?query=rev+21%3A9&section=0&it=kjv&ot=bhs&nt=na).  But I'm no Greek expert . . .

My church body recognizes that the Bride of Christ  (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=6642) refers to the feminine form.  I praise God He brought me over to it!
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: James Gustafson on September 30, 2010, 12:21:04 PM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: David M. Frye, OblSB on September 30, 2010, 01:03:36 PM
The relationship of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride has to do with marriage. In fact it is a marriage, the Marriage. Our marriages, when they resonate with the Marriage, point to it and prepare us to live in it. I'm a little hesitant to say that this is merely metaphorical, because then I'm fearful of treading on the slope where "is" becomes equivalent to "signifies" but not "equals." This becomes dangerous when we turn, for example, to look at what Christ means by "this is my body."

I'm indebted to my seminary advisor, Dr. Robert Jenson, for teaching me the insight that we cannot project or extrapolate from our human experience to the divine reality. Thus, God our Father is not like our fathers, only moreso. This kind of extrapolation seems benign when we have good fathers, but it is the move that some make when they say, "I knew my father to be abusive, therefore I cannot accept that God is our Father, because that makes him [well, probably, they would say "that makes God" and would avoid the pronoun] omnipotently abusive."

Having said all that, I would agree that metaphors can be stretched too far. I'd disagree on whether Groom–Bride talk is metaphorical. After, "the two shall become one flesh." This is true for the man and the woman here and now because it shall be true of the Groom and the Bride in heaven.

And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

I seriously doubt that the image of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride has anything to do with sex. It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Which only proves that metaphors are never exact matches for the thing which they attempt to describe. The fact that the metaphor of Christ as the groom and the Church as the bride doesn't refer to sexual intercourse does not prove that heterosexual intercourse isn't part of marriage. It only proves that the metaphor can't be stretched beyond what it meant to include other things not intended as part of the metaphor.

Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 01:29:18 PM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: George Erdner on September 30, 2010, 01:39:38 PM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS


I can think of several:

actual
appropriate
dead on
factual
faithful
faultless
flawless
for sure
free of error
impeccable
legitimate
on target
on the button
on the money
on the nose
on track
perfect
precise
proper
right
right on
righteous
true
unmistaken
veracious

Actually, I looked them up. But I stand behind them are perfectly appropriate. 
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on September 30, 2010, 01:43:28 PM

Although it never became an "official" statement, the draft in 1993: The Church and Human Sexuality: a Lutheran Perspective included three good purposes for human sexuality. I believe that this reflects the general understanding in the ELCA.


Ah, yes.  This would be a proposal that was so thoroughly rejected that the Task Force who offered it was effectively replaced by a different group who produced a completely rewritten second draft, which was itself quietly buried a year or so later.  

Yeah, that's a excellent source to describe our general understanding...    ::)

kyrie eleison, spt+
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 01:45:59 PM
It is about a close, intimate, and committed relationship.

Between a groom and His bride, male and female.

The church is a female?

When spoken of as the Bride of Christ, she certainly seems to be according to Scripture.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)

Emphases mine.

Mike

She (the Church) most certainly is female and a wife.  Perhaps Pr. Stoffregen knows this, perhaps he's forgotten it, perhaps he simply doesn't like it, who knows why, too many possible reasons to start guessing why Pr. Stoffregen or anyone else would have a problem being associated with being a female bride.  It's not like it's embarrassing or shameful to be a female and a bride.

I'm searching for a charitable adjective to use for this...

SPS


I can think of several:

actual
appropriate
dead on
factual
faithful
faultless
flawless
for sure
free of error
impeccable
legitimate
on target
on the button
on the money
on the nose
on track
perfect
precise
proper
right
right on
righteous
true
unmistaken
veracious

Actually, I looked them up. But I stand behind them are perfectly appropriate.  


Hmmmm, George, "The Church is female" would not have led me to the adjective "factual." I'm not sure I understand how the communion of all believers throughout time and space can have a gender in any way other than the metaphorical. Ah well, another irreformable truth for me to accept, I guess.

On a more serious note, IMHO, James has been making some exceptionally broad theological assertions. I would appreciate a little reality check with others of you speaking for the traditional position. Is James accurately presenting your views (which might be inferred from the silence), or is this hyperbole, or (fill in the blank)?


SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: George Erdner on September 30, 2010, 01:54:16 PM
Hmmmm, George, "The Church is female" would not have led me to the adjective "factual." I'm not sure I understand how the communion of all believers throughout time and space can have a gender in any way other than the metaphorical. Ah well, another irreformable truth for me to accept, I guess.

SPS


I'm not saying that it isn't metaphorical, only that the metaphor of the Church being female and a wife and Jesus as male is accurate and factual insofar as only marriages between a man and a woman are real, bona-fide marriages.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 01:57:38 PM

So reason is magisterial over the Word of God?

Do you deny Ephesians 5:25-27?

Mike

Regarding Ephesians... Deny what? That it establishes the tenor of the relationship between married Christians? Certainly not.

That it establishes the Church as a female entity? Certainly.

Would you like to play this game with Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34?

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 03:13:10 PM
Would you like to play this game with Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34?

Are we playing a game?  I thought we were discussing Scripture.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! "  Matthew 23:37 (ESV)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!"   Luke 13:34 (ESV)

I note that the words "as a hen" are used in most English translations indicating a simile.

Frankly, if you are simply looking for places in Scripture that Christ is referred to in a feminine gender, I think something like Proverbs 1 provides a much stronger argument.

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
   in the markets she raises her voice;
21at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
   at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: Proverbs 1:20-21 (ESV)

Pr. Stoffregen expressed surprised that the Church was expressed in Scripture as a woman.  Well, she is when expressed as the Bride of Christ.

And yet the Church is expressed as an entity when it is expressed as the body of Christ in places like 1 Corinthians 12.

The question is not one of gender, but why a gender is used.  English is a language not overly dependent on gender outside of the description of animate things.  Many other languages are more dependent upon expressing even inanimate things as a male or female gender for certain reasons.

But the point I believe which is relevant to the discussion is that the marriage relationship is described well in Ephesians 5, and it is one between a man and a woman just as described in Genesis 2.

Mike



The "as" appears in Ephesians too.  Let me see... your point is that Christ (person) espouses Church (institution or symbol) and this proves that marriage is between a man (person) and a woman (person). I hope your understanding does not find legal sanction, I fear then we will see CEO espousing their corporations.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on September 30, 2010, 03:36:20 PM
Pr. Stoffregen expressed surprised that the Church was expressed in Scripture as a woman.  Well, she is when expressed as the Bride of Christ.

I expressed no surprise. I asked a question. Is the church female?

Now I ask another one: What does it mean to be "female"?

Quote
But the point I believe which is relevant to the discussion is that the marriage relationship is described well in Ephesians 5, and it is one between a man and a woman just as described in Genesis 2.

Exactly: the marriage relationship described in Ephesians 5 cannot be a sexual one because of the analogy to Christ and the church. The analogy indicates that the marriage relationship is about love, service, sacrifice, care, respect, and submissiveness to each other (see Ep 5:21).
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: totaliter vivens on September 30, 2010, 03:38:00 PM
The "as" appears in Ephesians too. 

Yes, of course it does.  But the as is used to introduce the simile that the marriage relationship between a husband and wife is similar to the relationship between Christ and the Church.

That the Church is expressed as having feminine gender is not the simile.

Let me see... your point is that Christ (person) espouses Church (institution or symbol) and this proves that marriage is between a man (person) and a woman (person). I hope your understanding does not find legal sanction, I fear then we will see CEO espousing their corporations.

I'm no attorney, but I do believe that corporations are sometimes described in documents with a feminine rather than neutral gender.

What significance your red herring has other than being feebly thrown out in your continuing assault against Scriptural teaching regarding marriage I have no idea.

Mike

Mike, I'm sorry, the red herring is in the traditional application of Scripture, and it went bad a long time ago. I don't assault Scripture, I rebuke literalists.

SPS
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Scott6 on September 30, 2010, 03:57:30 PM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

For another interpretation of "natural" & "unnatural":

These quotes all come from an essay called "'The Disease of Effemination'; The Charge of Effeminacy and the Verdict of God (Romans 1:18-2:16)," by Diana M. Swancutt, Yale Divinity School, published in Semeia Studies No. 45: New Testament Masculinities.

To my knowledge, of the early interpreters of Romans, only Ambrosiaster explicitly identifies the sex partners of the women as other women. Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26. Displaying a total disinterest in the identity of the women's sex objects, Clement highlights the gender-transgressiveness and lustiness of women's sexual activity. He also lists several possible sex acts as "contrary to nature":

It is surely impious for the natural [kata physin] designs to be irrationally perverted into customs that are not natural [para physin].... desire can alter the character of somebody already formed.... the point of this parable concerning the excessive desire and sexual activity of the female hare is to advice abstinence from excessive desire, mutual intercourse  [epallelon synousion], relations with pregnant women, reversal of roles in intercourse [allelobasias], corruption of boys, adultery, and lewdness.

Clement assumes that women who indulged desire in excess would act para physin in various types of intercourse ranging from adultery and sex while pregnant to "mutual intercourse" and a "reversal of sexual roles." [FOOTNOTE 1 below] As John Boswell saw, Clement's emphasis on "mutual intercourse" and the "reversal of sex roles" reflects his discomfort with women who unnaturally assumed the masculine, penetrative role in sex, whether that penetration was of women or of men (Boswell: 358; contra Brooten: 331). The desire that caused gender-transgression could, as Clement notes, alter the character of women. Hence, Clement sought to emphasize that women like those in Rom 1:26 who engaged in unnatural sex both "harm[ed] themselves" and upset the "design of nature." [FOOTNOTE 2 below] pp. 208-210

[1] See also Augustine (Nupt. 20.35), who interprets 1:26 as referring to nonprocreative intercourse between women and men (Brooten: 353).

[2] It is the treatment of para physin in passages such as Paed. 2.10 that finally convinces me that Brooten is incorrect in identifying Rom 1:26 as a reference to female homosexual sex. Her main argument, that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural. But the bottom line is that they do not (and when they do discuss same-sex intercourse, it is the psychic and/or physical manliness of one of the women that is deemed unnatural). Brooten does not discuss Clement's list at any length. She dismisses the relevance of Philo, who clearly says that sex with menstruants and nonprocreative sex are unnatural (248-52). She also fails to discuss Roman Stoic depictions of sex para physin (251 nn. 101, 103), which, like Clement, circumscribe natural sex to desire-free procreativity. If, as Clement did, we account for the standards of Stoics such as Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Seneca, the Romans could have treated as unnatural any unmarried, nonprocreative sex -- including women pursuing another woman's husband, women penetrating boys, men, girls or women, and the forms of "unnatural sex" Brooten lists and dismisses. Give that homoios does not specify the identity of the sex objects in 1:26, that ancients describe a variety of forms of sex involving women as unnatural, and that only one early patristic interpreter of Romans explicitly identified female same-sex intercourse as the subject of 1:26, naming the sex objects of the women in Rom 1:26 is probably a fruitless (and for Paul, at least, an unnecessary) exercise.)

If she is correct that most of the earliest commentators on these verses did not understand "unnatural" to refer to female, same-sex behaviors why should we? Could it be that what is natural/unnatural is defined by culture?

First, she misrepresents patristic interpretation of Rom 1:26 when she writes: "Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26."  Few others go into the degree of detail wrt to particular sexual practices as Clement does (the Early Church Fathers series translated this section of the Paedegoges into Latin rather than English b/c it was too racy; I guess Latin makes it sound more dignified).  Instead, most patristic authors reference Rom 1:26 as a way to condemn pagan societies and their loose sexual mores, and they do so without going into much detail one way or the other as to what specific practices are being referred to.

Second, Clement does see any sex that is not open to procreation outside or inside marriage to be against nature.  But he does not develop this thesis from Rom 1:26 -- rather, he specifically uses Rom 1:26 to speak against homosexual male sex acts.  He writes in this connection: "Yet, nature has not allowed even the most sensual of beasts to sexually misuse the passage made for excrement." (Paed 2.10.87)  He then goes on with his normal modus operandi in this section in drawing lessons from animals.

Oddly the section Swancutt quotes from as being representative of Clement's treatment of Rom 1:26 isn't in his treatment of 1:26 at all.  Rather, Clement is speaking of Moses' command not to eat the hare.  He goes into considerable detail re: his understanding of the biology of the hare (including the thought that it has 2 wombs), and then closes with the part Swancutt closes her quotation with.

Third, if Clement is taken as normative, as Swancutt wants to imply, then lesbianism is included in the prohibited behaviors Paul has in mind.  It's just a larger category.  That is, her claim that Brooten's argument ", that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural" is a non sequitur.

Fourth, the ὁμοίως ("likewise") of vs. 27 at the very least indicates that lesbian sexual activity is in view in vs. 26.  Whether or not it restricts understanding only to lesbian activity in no way lessens that particular prohibition.

Finally, I note that the objection was only to a possible reading re: lesbian activity, not male homosexual activity.  Just a note.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: G.Edward on September 30, 2010, 04:50:39 PM

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Although it never became an "official" statement, the draft in 1993: The Church and Human Sexuality: a Lutheran Perspective included three good purposes for human sexuality. I believe that this reflects the general understanding in the ELCA.

We confess that through the ages the Church too often has overlooked the created goodness of sexuality.

The Old Testament conveys this goodness in terms of procreation (conceiving children), companionship, and pleasure:

PROCREATION: In the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, human beings are created in the image of God. Male and female are blessed with responsibility for the rest of creation (1:26-27): "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it..." (1:28). This account's emphasis on procreation as the primary purpose of sexuality was especially crucial in an era when Israel's very survival was at stake.

COMPANIONSHIP: The creation story of Genesis 2:4b-25 complements the first account by emphasizing that human beings are created to be in relationships – with God, with one another, and with the rest of creation. The focus is on the mutual companionship between the man and the woman, who are different yet similar: "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"(Gen. 2:23). This poetic song bursts forth as an expression of joy. Their intimate companionship is expressed in sexual union (2:24), a mutual self-giving of their entire being. Their naked bodies are good, not a reason for shame or fear (2:25).

PLEASURE: The passionate feelings of sexual love are celebrated even more provocatively in the love poetry of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon). Here the woman's sexual yearnings as well as the man's are boldly and joyously expressed: "I sought him whom my soul loves...when I found him...I would not let him go"(3:1-4). Their attraction to one another can hardly be contained. The pleasure of mutual erotic love is strongly affirmed.


All of which refer to committed opposite-sex relationships, a complementarity that is the image of God and often results in new life.  Thank you for supporting the traditional understanding of marriage.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: G.Edward on September 30, 2010, 04:59:01 PM
Pr. Stoffregen expressed surprised that the Church was expressed in Scripture as a woman.  Well, she is when expressed as the Bride of Christ.

I expressed no surprise. I asked a question. Is the church female?

Now I ask another one: What does it mean to be "female"?


DECONSTRUCTION ALERT!   DECONSTRUCTION ALERT!!
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Scott6 on September 30, 2010, 09:36:16 PM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

For another interpretation of "natural" & "unnatural":

These quotes all come from an essay called "'The Disease of Effemination'; The Charge of Effeminacy and the Verdict of God (Romans 1:18-2:16)," by Diana M. Swancutt, Yale Divinity School, published in Semeia Studies No. 45: New Testament Masculinities.

To my knowledge, of the early interpreters of Romans, only Ambrosiaster explicitly identifies the sex partners of the women as other women. Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26. Displaying a total disinterest in the identity of the women's sex objects, Clement highlights the gender-transgressiveness and lustiness of women's sexual activity. He also lists several possible sex acts as "contrary to nature":

It is surely impious for the natural [kata physin] designs to be irrationally perverted into customs that are not natural [para physin].... desire can alter the character of somebody already formed.... the point of this parable concerning the excessive desire and sexual activity of the female hare is to advice abstinence from excessive desire, mutual intercourse  [epallelon synousion], relations with pregnant women, reversal of roles in intercourse [allelobasias], corruption of boys, adultery, and lewdness.

Clement assumes that women who indulged desire in excess would act para physin in various types of intercourse ranging from adultery and sex while pregnant to "mutual intercourse" and a "reversal of sexual roles." [FOOTNOTE 1 below] As John Boswell saw, Clement's emphasis on "mutual intercourse" and the "reversal of sex roles" reflects his discomfort with women who unnaturally assumed the masculine, penetrative role in sex, whether that penetration was of women or of men (Boswell: 358; contra Brooten: 331). The desire that caused gender-transgression could, as Clement notes, alter the character of women. Hence, Clement sought to emphasize that women like those in Rom 1:26 who engaged in unnatural sex both "harm[ed] themselves" and upset the "design of nature." [FOOTNOTE 2 below] pp. 208-210

[1] See also Augustine (Nupt. 20.35), who interprets 1:26 as referring to nonprocreative intercourse between women and men (Brooten: 353).

[2] It is the treatment of para physin in passages such as Paed. 2.10 that finally convinces me that Brooten is incorrect in identifying Rom 1:26 as a reference to female homosexual sex. Her main argument, that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural. But the bottom line is that they do not (and when they do discuss same-sex intercourse, it is the psychic and/or physical manliness of one of the women that is deemed unnatural). Brooten does not discuss Clement's list at any length. She dismisses the relevance of Philo, who clearly says that sex with menstruants and nonprocreative sex are unnatural (248-52). She also fails to discuss Roman Stoic depictions of sex para physin (251 nn. 101, 103), which, like Clement, circumscribe natural sex to desire-free procreativity. If, as Clement did, we account for the standards of Stoics such as Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Seneca, the Romans could have treated as unnatural any unmarried, nonprocreative sex -- including women pursuing another woman's husband, women penetrating boys, men, girls or women, and the forms of "unnatural sex" Brooten lists and dismisses. Give that homoios does not specify the identity of the sex objects in 1:26, that ancients describe a variety of forms of sex involving women as unnatural, and that only one early patristic interpreter of Romans explicitly identified female same-sex intercourse as the subject of 1:26, naming the sex objects of the women in Rom 1:26 is probably a fruitless (and for Paul, at least, an unnecessary) exercise.)

If she is correct that most of the earliest commentators on these verses did not understand "unnatural" to refer to female, same-sex behaviors why should we? Could it be that what is natural/unnatural is defined by culture?

First, she misrepresents patristic interpretation of Rom 1:26 when she writes: "Clement of Alexandria's Paed. 2.10 is far more typical of patristic responses to 1:26."  Few others go into the degree of detail wrt to particular sexual practices as Clement does (the Early Church Fathers series translated this section of the Paedegoges into Latin rather than English b/c it was too racy; I guess Latin makes it sound more dignified).  Instead, most patristic authors reference Rom 1:26 as a way to condemn pagan societies and their loose sexual mores, and they do so without going into much detail one way or the other as to what specific practices are being referred to.

Second, Clement does see any sex that is not open to procreation outside or inside marriage to be against nature.  But he does not develop this thesis from Rom 1:26 -- rather, he specifically uses Rom 1:26 to speak against homosexual male sex acts.  He writes in this connection: "Yet, nature has not allowed even the most sensual of beasts to sexually misuse the passage made for excrement." (Paed 2.10.87)  He then goes on with his normal modus operandi in this section in drawing lessons from animals.

Oddly the section Swancutt quotes from as being representative of Clement's treatment of Rom 1:26 isn't in his treatment of 1:26 at all.  Rather, Clement is speaking of Moses' command not to eat the hare.  He goes into considerable detail re: his understanding of the biology of the hare (including the thought that it has 2 wombs), and then closes with the part Swancutt closes her quotation with.

Third, if Clement is taken as normative, as Swancutt wants to imply, then lesbianism is included in the prohibited behaviors Paul has in mind.  It's just a larger category.  That is, her claim that Brooten's argument ", that "ancient sources depict sexual relations between women as unnatural" (250), works only if ancient sources only depicted sexual relations between women as unnatural" is a non sequitur.

Fourth, the ὁμοίως ("likewise") of vs. 27 at the very least indicates that lesbian sexual activity is in view in vs. 26.  Whether or not it restricts understanding only to lesbian activity in no way lessens that particular prohibition.

Finally, I note that the objection was only to a possible reading re: lesbian activity, not male homosexual activity.  Just a note.

Chappy?

You're the one who requested the conversation...  I see that you've checked in.  Are you still there?
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Tom Eckstein on September 30, 2010, 10:38:13 PM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

And also note that while the specific sin in view is idolatry (and yes, we have plenty of our own idolatries today, worshiping what is created rather than the Creator, but let's leave that obvious point aside for the moment), the description of the appropriateness of homosexual behavior in no way hinges upon whether or not they are idolaters.  Rather, such relations are said to be "against nature" and the acts themselves are called "shameless," and that they are a punishment for the specific sin of (crude) idolatry but the judgment regarding such activity is not so bound.

Good points, Scott!

This weekend I should finish my book "Bearing Their Burden" which should be just shy of 400 pages on this issue.  It should be out by the end of October.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: J.L. Precup on October 01, 2010, 04:08:34 AM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

Chappy?

You're the one who requested the conversation...  I see that you've checked in.  Are you still there?

Yes, still here.  Mostly checking in to look at posts because I have been made aware that a member of my extended family is dying.  She is slightly younger than I, and my focus has been on her mother, my dear aunt.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: LutherMan on October 01, 2010, 06:45:01 AM
Prayers ascending for your family, Chaplain.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Scott6 on October 01, 2010, 08:08:36 AM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

Chappy?

You're the one who requested the conversation...  I see that you've checked in.  Are you still there?

Yes, still here.  Mostly checking in to look at posts because I have been made aware that a member of my extended family is dying.  She is slightly younger than I, and my focus has been on her mother, my dear aunt.

Ah -- both are in my prayers.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Scott6 on October 01, 2010, 09:42:09 AM
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

And also note that while the specific sin in view is idolatry (and yes, we have plenty of our own idolatries today, worshiping what is created rather than the Creator, but let's leave that obvious point aside for the moment), the description of the appropriateness of homosexual behavior in no way hinges upon whether or not they are idolaters.  Rather, such relations are said to be "against nature" and the acts themselves are called "shameless," and that they are a punishment for the specific sin of (crude) idolatry but the judgment regarding such activity is not so bound.

Good points, Scott!

This weekend I should finish my book "Bearing Their Burden" which should be just shy of 400 pages on this issue.  It should be out by the end of October.

Cool.  I look forward to it.
Title: Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 08, 2010, 04:49:02 PM
Ptmccain's time-out has taught me well.  ;)


 ::)