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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 10:15:20 AM

Title: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 10:15:20 AM
I have a piece of scripture I've been struggling with and wonder if folks can help me-- either that you have thought about this or read about this.

A little background/context: We all agree that Paul makes clear that there can be no barriers or addition to the grace that saves in Christ Jesus.  No additional ritual, no requirements, nothing.  We also agree, I would assume, that when Paul says that circumcision or no circumcision means nothing, just Christ, and that he fought for the "full inclusion" of all people as they are (particularly Gentiles).  He even waged a strong debate and received approval from the Jerusalem council that for the sake of the gospel, nothing beyond the Holy Spirit and grace is needed for salvation.  Period.  No more was circumcision a requirement.  I think we are all there.  NO BARRIERS TO SALVATION.  (This is the typical line of debate "full inclusion" includes rostering gay and lesbians in committed relationships and not to do so puts limits or boxes our salvation, etc, etc, etc).

Ok, now, starting with no barriers to salvation, now lets turn to standards and practices, etc for rostering/authorizing leaders.  I came across this text in my devotions last week, and began wondering why this happened AFTER the Jerusalem debate and why Luke would include it:

 Acts 16: {Paul} came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem. (Acts 16:1-4)

 Ok, now, maybe we can't really know the mind of Paul, or Luke for that matter.  But here it is.  Why circumcise when it has been agreed as not necessary?  Timothy is already a "disciple," so we can assume he has been saved as he is.  So when bringing him on the journey, training him and equipping him to be a leader, on possibly even the level of apostle (though I know we don't typically classify him thus), Paul feels compelled to circumcise.  Is this not some sort of 'additional standard' for leadership and authority?  Would not the message have been more powerful with a "living example" of this fuller teaching?  And yet the fact remains: Paul still circumcises!

I would like to get some input to help sort it out.  Also, I need to point out, I know this is one text.  So before there is an outcry of "proof-texting," I would just like to say we should read this more anecdotally than as a mandate, but it seems to me to be a missing component in all the circumcism/requirements, etc talk and debate.  Does it broaden and deepen the discussion, or is this something that only causes confusion and therefore gets ignored?  Is there any thought and discussion already out there?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 01:26:07 PM
This was a text that was discussed as part of the CCM debate. The historic episcopate is not required, like circumcision; but in particular circumstances, for the sake of spreading the gospel, one may do something that is not required, like adopt the HE or agree to circumcision.

Note that the issue in Acts 16 is not Timothy's salvation, but his effectiveness in witnessing to Jews. Because something is not required for salvation, doesn't mean that we can't choose to do it for other reasons -- especially for reasons that may help open doors to spread the gospel.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 02:45:10 PM
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 02:54:40 PM
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."
Yes, we set standards for our rostered leaders. The question is whether or not celibacy is a legitimate standard for homosexuals who wish to be rostered. On one hand, it can be argued that for some people, even knowing that someone is homosexual (even if abstaining from sex) would be such an offense, that such a rostered person is not likely to be a good witness in that setting, even if s/he is meeting the standards for ordination. There are ELCA congregations who would not call a homosexual or even a female pastor, even though they meet our present standards. They shouldn't be forced to call someone who would have such a offending witness to them.

On the other hand, there are congregations for whom a rostered leader who models a a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" is an important witness to them. Should they be denied that witness?

In the middle of these, I have had congregational members tell me that they don't like my beard. Is that such an offense to someone's faith that I should remove it from my face; or should I illustrate my freedom in the gospel that clean-shavenness is not a requirement for salvation? Besides the fact that my wife prefers me with a beard. (The wife wins, not the church member.) I have also heard from people how having a beard was part of an effective witness to Jesus Christ, whom, I might add, also had a beard. :))
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 03:07:04 PM
True, it is not a matter of his salvation.  I get that.  And we are not questioning the salvation of any GLBT's seeking to be ordained AND in a partnered relationship.    Yet, I still wonder, why can we NOT say that we are not talking about questioning their faith or salvation, but we are saying "for the sake of not compromising God's word, will, the gospel," we can indeed set standards that include what type of "lifestyles" are acceptable and which are not for our rostered leaders. 

I know we have set some standards, but it seems to me a bit of self-worship to seek the elimination of standards that cramp our personal "style."
Yes, we set standards for our rostered leaders. The question is whether or not celibacy is a legitimate standard for homosexuals who wish to be rostered. On one hand, it can be argued that for some people, even knowing that someone is homosexual (even if abstaining from sex) would be such an offense, that such a rostered person is not likely to be a good witness in that setting, even if s/he is meeting the standards for ordination. There are ELCA congregations who would not call a homosexual or even a female pastor, even though they meet our present standards. They shouldn't be forced to call someone who would have such a offending witness to them.

On the other hand, there are congregations for whom a rostered leader who models a a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" is an important witness to them. Should they be denied that witness?

In the middle of these, I have had congregational members tell me that they don't like my beard. Is that such an offense to someone's faith that I should remove it from my face; or should I illustrate my freedom in the gospel that clean-shavenness is not a requirement for salvation? Besides the fact that my wife prefers me with a beard. (The wife wins, not the church member.) I have also heard from people how having a beard was part of an effective witness to Jesus Christ, whom, I might add, also had a beard. :))

I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.  Homosexual activity does.  Thus, I guess I am still stuck at asking, how can there even be a standard for a behavior that has such moral problems?  And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 03:51:10 PM
I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.
Was the circumcision of Timothy a moral issue or something else?

Quote
Thus, I guess I am still stuck at asking, how can there even be a standard for a behavior that has such moral problems?
At the end of my first year at seminary, the seniors were receiving their first calls. One of them told me that the district president suggested that if he accepted the call to that particular congregation, he should probably refrain from drinking beer. For that congregation alcohol consumption was a moral problem. Should he agree to that restriction for the sake of his ministry at that place? He agreed to it, even though he saw no problem with drinking beer or any other alcoholic beverages.

There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

There is an ELCA congregation near me where, I believe, about half the membership is homosexual. Many are in relationships. The members who are heterosexual are certainly pro-homosexual. I would think that any bishop would know that an anti-homosexual pastor would not be a good "fit" there. Is that a place where a homosexual pastor who could model a "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" might give a good witness to both the gospel and living as a "practicing" homosexual?


Quote
And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.
I don't think sin...not sin is the issue. We all are sinners. There is no such thing as a pastor who does not sin. My guess that all of us have some sins that are repeated, e.g., pride, gluttony, judgmentalism, etc. The question is whether or not a particular (repeated) sin should keep one from the ordained ministry or serving in a particular place. Certainly there are such sins that disqualify one from the ordained ministry; but there are also repeated sins that do not disqualify one.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: dfrazer on August 13, 2007, 04:01:53 PM
although promiscuity... should always be moral problems for any congregation.

I would suspect that there are some people somewhere who would disagree that this is a moral problem. I certainly wouldn't want to exclude them. (sigh)

Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 04:31:13 PM
I am glad that having or not having a beard is a requirement for salvation, and the freedom of the gospel gives me the right to have one myself.  However, the beard doesn't seem to make it as a bilical/moral issue.
Was the circumcision of Timothy a moral issue or something else?

Either way, it was done...  Moral or not, there was a biblical mandate in place, though, as we've agreed, the gospel gave us freedom to move beyond it.

However, I see no such biblical mandate or prohibition for either the HE, having a beard, or drinking (though I have heard one should not get drunk on wine). It can be done or not done according your your good conscience.  Which Luther pointed out, should always be captive to the Word of God.  In that respect, how can we, in good conscience (captive to the Word of God), give acceptance or tolerance to a behavior that has not only no mandate for (or positive example of) but clear prohibition against?  And can a church be in unison, in good conscience, with others who hold a practice and belief that runs contrary to said conscience?  The witness to the Word, it seems, becomes clouded by personal opinions.

(By the way, thanks for running with this conversation... I don't get much chance to debate so far into a subject)
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Pr. Jerry on August 13, 2007, 04:41:32 PM
There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

Had we used this logic with the Ordination of Women, we would still have congregations that (blatantly) refuse to accept a woman as their Pastor.  Instead, it was right and salutary for the denomination to demand that congregations accept all the clergy as acceptable instead of being allowed to "pick-and-choose," who they would accept.  Not that saying that ended sexism, but it would have been impossible to address the grave sin of sexism without demanding a single roll of pastors who were deemed as acceptable to all.


There is an ELCA congregation near me where, I believe, about half the membership is homosexual. Many are in relationships. The members who are heterosexual are certainly pro-homosexual. I would think that any bishop would know that an anti-homosexual pastor would not be a good "fit" there. Is that a place where a homosexual pastor who could model a "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship" might give a good witness to both the gospel and living as a "practicing" homosexual?

So they will only recieve the Gospel from one whom they approve?  Whatever happened to listening and being challenged by the other?  Should congregations who are majority white, middle-to-upper class only call those who look like them and come from similar circumstance?  Or should they dare to be stretched by an African-American pastor?  Or a Pastor from the developing world?

It limits the Gospel when we say that only certain types of Pastors can witness faithfully to and in certain circumstance.  This is what has moved congregations past issues of race and gender.  Again, not that the work is done yet, but to retreat into a "patch-work" model on this issue inevitably undercuts other areas. 

Pax Christi
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS








Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 04:44:45 PM
There certainly are congregations where homosexuality of any sort is a moral problem. In other congregations, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships are not a moral problem; although promiscuity, adultery, sexual abuse should always be moral problems for any congregation. Can we accept that our congregations differ on this issue and help each of them call pastors that can best minister in that particular setting?

Had we used this logic with the Ordination of Women, we would still have congregations that (blatantly) refuse to accept a woman as their Pastor.  Instead, it was right and salutary for the denomination to demand that congregations accept all the clergy as acceptable instead of being allowed to "pick-and-choose," who they would accept.  Not that saying that ended sexism, but it would have been impossible to address the grave sin of sexism without demanding a single roll of pastors who were deemed as acceptable to all.

And this seems to be the direction the ELCA will head with this issue.  I have worked with folks from the GLBT lobby who have told me that this will have to be the ultimate goal of "full-inclusion" -- that you not only are accepted in one place but ALL.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Pr. Jerry on August 13, 2007, 04:58:47 PM
And this seems to be the direction the ELCA will head with this issue.  I have worked with folks from the GLBT lobby who have told me that this will have to be the ultimate goal of "full-inclusion" -- that you not only are accepted in one place but ALL.

It has to be this way, Dave...

My first parish told me that they were not bothered by the idea of a gay (celibate or not) clergy person as long as they stayed in San Francisco...  It would be OK, they thought, as long as they never had to see or deal with them.  Or, as they were wont to say, "as long as they leave us alone..."  But when I mentioned that ordaining non-celibate gay or lesbian clergy (or, as Brian would have me say, a gay or lesbian pastor in a "committed relationship") meant that such a candidate might show up in their next call process, they said that they'd leave the ELCA before they would ever let that happen. 

It's funny.  I am from Colorado, I went to seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, I did my CPE in Wichita, Kansas, and a residency in Des Moines, Iowa.  My first call was in rural, Southeast Indiana.  And now I serve deep in Appalachia.  I have learned from all these places, taken on new accents and learned new terms.  But it required me to be open to the possibility that the "other" could teach me something.

Sadly, we have already developed competing rolls of pastors (via the exceptions to CCM), and allow pastors and congregations to limit themselves to who they will accept.  So, I suspect Brian's example will come to pass with little or no drama or impact.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: bmj on August 13, 2007, 05:00:13 PM
I have a piece of scripture I've been struggling with and wonder if folks can help me-- either that you have thought about this or read about this.

A little background/context: We all agree that Paul makes clear that there can be no barriers or addition to the grace that saves in Christ Jesus.  No additional ritual, no requirements, nothing.  We also agree, I would assume, that when Paul says that circumcision or no circumcision means nothing, just Christ, and that he fought for the "full inclusion" of all people as they are (particularly Gentiles).  He even waged a strong debate and received approval from the Jerusalem council that for the sake of the gospel, nothing beyond the Holy Spirit and grace is needed for salvation.  Period.  No more was circumcision a requirement.  I think we are all there.  NO BARRIERS TO SALVATION.  (This is the typical line of debate "full inclusion" includes rostering gay and lesbians in committed relationships and not to do so puts limits or boxes our salvation, etc, etc, etc).

Ok, now, starting with no barriers to salvation, now lets turn to standards and practices, etc for rostering/authorizing leaders.  I came across this text in my devotions last week, and began wondering why this happened AFTER the Jerusalem debate and why Luke would include it:

 Acts 16: {Paul} came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem. (Acts 16:1-4)

 Ok, now, maybe we can't really know the mind of Paul, or Luke for that matter.  But here it is.  Why circumcise when it has been agreed as not necessary?  Timothy is already a "disciple," so we can assume he has been saved as he is.  So when bringing him on the journey, training him and equipping him to be a leader, on possibly even the level of apostle (though I know we don't typically classify him thus), Paul feels compelled to circumcise.  Is this not some sort of 'additional standard' for leadership and authority?  Would not the message have been more powerful with a "living example" of this fuller teaching?  And yet the fact remains: Paul still circumcises!

I would like to get some input to help sort it out.  Also, I need to point out, I know this is one text.  So before there is an outcry of "proof-texting," I would just like to say we should read this more anecdotally than as a mandate, but it seems to me to be a missing component in all the circumcism/requirements, etc talk and debate.  Does it broaden and deepen the discussion, or is this something that only causes confusion and therefore gets ignored?  Is there any thought and discussion already out there?

Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Dan Fienen on August 13, 2007, 05:22:00 PM

Quote
And yet I suppose that is the point... we are arguing from different perspectives.  It is a sin.... It is not a sin.  One or the other.  There seems to be no middle ground.
I don't think sin...not sin is the issue. We all are sinners. There is no such thing as a pastor who does not sin. My guess that all of us have some sins that are repeated, e.g., pride, gluttony, judgmentalism, etc. The question is whether or not a particular (repeated) sin should keep one from the ordained ministry or serving in a particular place. Certainly there are such sins that disqualify one from the ordained ministry; but there are also repeated sins that do not disqualify one.

Yes we are all sinners, I am a pastor and have dealt with many pastors, I cannot doubt that.  But is that really the issue?  Are you saying that Goodsoil is willing to say, "Yes, living in a committed homosexual partnership is an intrinsically sinful lifestyle, but since we are all forgiven anyway, the sin of homosexual activity should not disqualify someone from ministry."?  Is not the point of this argument the affirmation that homosexual activity like heterosexual activity is a gift from God and when enjoyed within God given parameters is good and not sinful?   
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: revklak on August 13, 2007, 05:31:33 PM

Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?


I can buy that... but it also then begs another question/possibility?  If it was what he was taught and, assuming, his greek father didn't allow him to be circumcised, by the time of this story, he is already a disciple and quite well know, implying a maturity to the point he should have been able to choose to be circumcised already --  if he was follwoing his own teaching.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Deb_H. on August 13, 2007, 05:37:31 PM
Is it possible that although not necessary, it was part of the tradition he was taught, and he was following his own teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:15?  He could have viewed it as good and proper if not necessary?
Quote from:  B.Stoffrengen
Because something is not required for salvation, doesn't mean that we can't choose to do it for other reasons -- especially for reasons that may help open doors to spread the gospel.

I've always sort of thought this is the attitude the GLBT folks should have if they want to be a pastor, at least -- if celebacy is not required of them in order to become a pastor (I think it is, but they obviously don't),  for the sake of not hindering the Gospel (that is, Jesus' gospel of salvation, not the social gospel of today) they must selflessly give it up. 
  Say what you want about changing "norms," but homosexual behavior is not normal in most people's understanding, and to do so as if it is equivalent to heterosexual (married) sex will not be helpful to the task at hand.

My concern, of course, has always been that too many are less concerned about Jesus' death and resurrection for the sake of us sinners than they are about the social and justice issues (something that anyone, even atheists and pagans, can and do take care of perfectly fine most of the time), which sounds a bit self-serving when the GLBT consider themselves one of the very groups who need extra consideration as a justice issue. 

What I see instead of selflessness in this regard is instead a  "I'm entitled to it, and you will just have to get over it!" sort of attitude, which isn't helpful to getting the message Gospel out there ... in my opinion of course.

Debbie Hesse
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 06:41:41 PM
In that respect, how can we, in good conscience (captive to the Word of God), give acceptance or tolerance to a behavior that has not only no mandate for (or positive example of) but clear prohibition against?
Simply stated, some do not believe that scriptures prohibit mutual, caste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships. Thus they can be captive to the Word of God, and approve the recent resolutions.

I do not want to turn this into another discussion of homosexuality. I think that the more general question raised with Timothy's circumcision is what should determine our actions when they are adiaphora -- neither commanded nor prohibited by scriptures? Seeking to avoid the homosexual issue; we still have circumcision -- should baby boys be circumcised or not. How should parents decide. (I can guess how the kid would vote :)). Other discusions have talked about clerical collars -- on what basis should a pastor decide to wear one or not? What about vestments? What about going to a bar for a drink? I'm sure that many other illustrations can be brought up where our freedom in the gospel allows us to make different decisions depending on our personal preferences, the situations we're in, the witness we seek to make, etc.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: ptmccain on August 13, 2007, 07:07:24 PM
I suppose this as good a place as any to ask this.

I understand now that the ELCA will be refraining from disciplining persons in committed same sex relationships. I'm wondering therefore how this would apply to a Lutheran pastor in the ELCA who identifies him/herself as bisexual. Is it the ELCA's expectation that this person will commit him/herself to one or the other gender in a mutual, chaste and committed relationship? And not discipline this person for doing so for now? Or would the person who is a bisexual be permitted to life out that sexual identify with persons of the other gender? Would the homosexual lobby consider any restraint placed on the bisexual to be an imposition of an injustice, given that they are bisexual?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on August 13, 2007, 07:07:48 PM
Had we used this logic with the Ordination of Women, we would still have congregations that (blatantly) refuse to accept a woman as their Pastor.  Instead, it was right and salutary for the denomination to demand that congregations accept all the clergy as acceptable instead of being allowed to "pick-and-choose," who they would accept.

FWIW, Jerry, we still have ELCA congregations that refuse to accept a woman as Pastor.  They learn that they may have to wait even longer to receive a nomination (that changes some minds), but at least in some synods that choice is respected.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on August 13, 2007, 07:19:03 PM
I'm wondering therefore how this would apply to a Lutheran pastor in the ELCA who identifies him/herself as bisexual.

Two weeks ago, Paul, my response would have been that the bi-sexual pastor makes a choice one way or the other for that life-long, mutual, chaste, and faithful committed relationship.

But last week on the CWA floor, a female pastor got up and told us that shortly after her marriage (to a man) and ordination, the hole in her life was finally filled by her recognition that she was bi-sexual.  She remains happily married to her husband with whom she has made her home.  She didn't describe any other, uh, arrangements. 

So, I don't know any more.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: ptmccain on August 13, 2007, 07:36:15 PM
I heard from an ELCA friend today who told me that apparently one of the ELCA's non-rostered gay pastors serving an ELCA congregation is "partnered" with a man who manages a gay erotica site on the internet and a magazine devoted to the same subject. He included the link but I will not share it here since this is a "family channel" and ... well, it's just plainly gross. He then offered this observation:

Lutherans are so naive and trusting. Using a subjunctive describing an unreal situation, we could consider the following:  If the relationship between a non-rostered ELCA gay pastor and his partner were the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, would it be proper for the spouse of a pastor to be a porn writer? The hard fact is that the way glbtq persons present themselves is not very to the reality. The want to be seen as "normal" but promote and engage in activities which would be repulsive were they to come to light. They want the church's imprimatur of decency so they can undermine decency. The ELCA has allowed itself to be used. It will cause many to stumble. They might want to blur accountability, but there is One who will hold them accountable.

I think my friend raises a very good point. Your thoughts?
 
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: bmj on August 13, 2007, 07:45:33 PM
I suppose this as good a place as any to ask this.

I understand now that the ELCA will be refraining from disciplining persons in committed same sex relationships. I'm wondering therefore how this would apply to a Lutheran pastor in the ELCA who identifies him/herself as bisexual. Is it the ELCA's expectation that this person will commit him/herself to one or the other gender in a mutual, chaste and committed relationship? And not discipline this person for doing so for now? Or would the person who is a bisexual be permitted to life out that sexual identify with persons of the other gender? Would the homosexual lobby consider any restraint placed on the bisexual to be an imposition of an injustice, given that they are bisexual?

This is a very good question, one which I have thought about many times while listening to these discussions.  Assuming those who argue for a change would require such a person to remain in an relationship that is "life long" and "committed", then it would be evident that this person would HAVE to remain celibate to one set of desires that "God had given them".  If that is the case, it is clear they were born with some desires which opposed the grace of God?

I would be very interested in hearing how someone would argue that an attraction to both sexes is good, God pleasing, and a gift.

Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 07:58:07 PM
If the relationship between a non-rostered ELCA gay pastor and his partner were the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, would it be proper for the spouse of a pastor to be a porn writer?
My strong hunch, based on the The Church and Human Sexuality: A Lutheran Perspective, First Draft of a Social Statement of 1993, the sexuality statement of 2009 will include strong language against pornography and the use of sex in advertising.

I know of pastors who have been asked to resign from their positions because they were addicted to porn. The case I'm most familiar with, the pastor was going to have to successfully go through counseling before the bishop would even consider placing his name for call in another congregation.

However, I suspect that a bishop may find it difficult to file charges against a pastor for something a spouse (or partner) is doing. Their jurisdiction only falls over rostered people and congregations. If the rostered person is not violating any of the expectations or is not falling outside the definitions and guidelines for disicpline; the bishop and then a discipline hearing committee may have a hard time making a charge stick.

In our polity, the discipline of lay people is the responsibility of the congregation council. I also note that the pastor in question is non-rostered, thus s/he does not fall under the authority of the bishop.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Dave_Poedel on August 13, 2007, 08:37:52 PM
If the relationship between a non-rostered ELCA gay pastor and his partner were the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, would it be proper for the spouse of a pastor to be a porn writer?
My strong hunch, based on the The Church and Human Sexuality: A Lutheran Perspective, First Draft of a Social Statement of 1993, the sexuality statement of 2009 will include strong language against pornography and the use of sex in advertising.

I know of pastors who have been asked to resign from their positions because they were addicted to porn. The case I'm most familiar with, the pastor was going to have to successfully go through counseling before the bishop would even consider placing his name for call in another congregation.

However, I suspect that a bishop may find it difficult to file charges against a pastor for something a spouse (or partner) is doing. Their jurisdiction only falls over rostered people and congregations. If the rostered person is not violating any of the expectations or is not falling outside the definitions and guidelines for disicpline; the bishop and then a discipline hearing committee may have a hard time making a charge stick.

In our polity, the discipline of lay people is the responsibility of the congregation council. I also note that the pastor in question is non-rostered, thus s/he does not fall under the authority of the bishop.

However....is not the Bishop the Pastor of all of the souls in his/her Synod?  We are getting so legalistic here by arguing about whom the Bishop has authority over. Are we not losing the idea that the Bishop, especially under the symbolism of the historic episcopate, is the Pastor of each congregation along with the called Pastor of said congregations?  We have emasculated (OK, I know, women Bishops...) the Office to the point of being an advisory administrator.  Why bother with HE is there is no continuation of the Office of Bishop as practiced by all everywhere for all time?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: ptmccain on August 13, 2007, 08:50:28 PM
I believe the point would be that the Bible says a pastor is to be of good repute and one who manages his household well.

Wouldn't having a "spouse/partner" who is the editor of an on-line gay porn magazine be problematic for this Biblical expectation of a pastor?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 09:36:45 PM
However....is not the Bishop the Pastor of all of the souls in his/her Synod?
The phrase that is used is "Pastor to the pastors." (As such, I had my bishop at the time, come and baptized our children. He came to a congregation that wasn't celebrating an anniversary nor dealing with conflict, but to officiate at a baptism.)

Definition and Guidelines for Discipline includes sections on Ordained Ministers; Commissioned Teachers, Deacons or Deaconesses, and Congregations. Under congregations there are only three grounds for discipline:
a. Departing from the faith confessed by this church is grounds for discipline of a congregation of this church. A summary of the faith confessed by this church is found in Chapters 2 and 3 of this church's constitution.
b. Willfully disregarding or violating any of the criteria for recognition as congregations of this church is grounds for discipline of a congregation of this church. These criteria are set forth in 9.21. and 9.22. of this church's constitution.
c. Willfully disregarding or violating the provisions of the constitution or bylaws of this church is grounds for discipline of a congregation of this church.

There is nothing that permits a bishop or synod from disciplining a lay member of a congregation. The model constitution for congregation gives the authority for disciplining congregational members to the pastor with the congregational council.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 09:39:15 PM
Wouldn't having a "spouse/partner" who is the editor of an on-line gay porn magazine be problematic for this Biblical expectation of a pastor?
Probably, but it needs to be the congregation council who takes action against such a spouse; or complain to the bishop that the spouse is having a negative affect on the pastor's ability to do ministry in that place; then the bishop could step in.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: ptmccain on August 13, 2007, 09:44:05 PM
Probably? ???
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Gladfelteri on August 13, 2007, 09:47:48 PM
Dave Poedel:  is not the Bishop the Pastor of all of the souls in his/her Synod? 

Me:  Yes!

Dave Poedel:  We are getting so legalistic here by arguing about whom the Bishop has authority over. Are we not losing the idea that the Bishop, especially under the symbolism of the historic episcopate, is the Pastor of each congregation along with the called Pastor of said congregations? 

Me:  That is how it is supposed to be, but I doubt that model of polity would fly in American Lutheranism.

Dave Podel:  We have emasculated (OK, I know, women Bishops...) the Office to the point of being an advisory administrator.  Why bother with HE is there is no continuation of the Office of Bishop as practiced by all everywhere for all time?

Me:  That is a good question.  I would say there is no need to under those circumstances.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 13, 2007, 10:11:10 PM
I just remembered what Woody Allen said concerning being bisexual. "Well, it doubles your chances of getting a date for Saturday night."
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 13, 2007, 11:32:04 PM
Probably? ???
Well, if the spouse were making $500,000 and tithing to the church, they might consider that the good deed was enough to offset the bad occupation. Well, it could happen :)
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Deb_H. on August 14, 2007, 12:29:05 AM
Well, if the spouse were making $500,000 and tithing to the church, they might consider that the good deed was enough to offset the bad occupation. Well, it could happen :)

And it probably does happen.  The smiley face is a nice touch, but it is a little scary just how true your statement might be.

What if it was just a regular congregation member doing these things and not the pastor's spouse/partner (hate writing that).

What about the addicted gambler who tithes from their winnings?
What if someone robs a bank and tithes from that "windfall?"   
Yikes.
I would hope eventually someone would look at what the spouses are doing and say something to someone about it, if only (!) to point out the sin and seek repentance so that they can be forgiven and amend their life .

 That is what the church is about, after all  ... right?

Debbie
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 14, 2007, 01:01:19 AM

What about the addicted gambler who tithes from their winnings?
What if someone robs a bank and tithes from that "windfall?"   
Yikes.
More likely, someone could win the lottery and give big bucks to the congregation. If the congregation accepts it, are the making a statement in support of the lottery?

Quote
I would hope eventually someone would look at what the spouses are doing and say something to someone about it, if only (!) to point out the sin and seek repentance so that they can be forgiven and amend their life.

This discussion has just been based on hearsay. I would certainly hope that before anyone would take action in a congregation, they had the facts straight.

Quote
That is what the church is about, after all  ... right?
Making money every way possible? ;)
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Richard Johnson on August 14, 2007, 01:29:20 AM
I have also heard from people how having a beard was part of an effective witness to Jesus Christ, whom, I might add, also had a beard. :))

To borrow a tactic from CA on the way to AZ Brian: "How do you know Jesus had a beard?"
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: ptmccain on August 14, 2007, 07:38:52 AM
Richard, of course Jesus had a beard. I've got lots of pictures of him that show him with a beard. There you go.

 :)
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: BeornBjornson on August 14, 2007, 10:20:09 AM
Pastor Stoffregen,
That is an awful cynical view of our leadership, whether at churchwide, synodical, or congregational.  No amount of offering money can justify behavior that more than sinful crosses over into sheer evil.
Pastor Ken Kimball
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 14, 2007, 11:58:23 AM
Richard, of course Jesus had a beard. I've got lots of pictures of him that show him with a beard. There you go. :)
That would have been my answer. We've agreed about something!!
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Deb_H. on August 14, 2007, 12:13:59 PM
Quote
That is what the church is about, after all  ... right?
Making money every way possible? ;)

Sadly, too true in too many places.

But, lest anyone misunderstand me (and I hope you didn't, Brian):
The church is about one thing and one thing only -- forgiveness of sins.
All the other things that the church does can be done by non-Christians just as well, and is.

Debbie
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 14, 2007, 12:42:25 PM
But, lest anyone misunderstand me (and I hope you didn't, Brian):
The church is about one thing and one thing only -- forgiveness of sins.
All the other things that the church does can be done by non-Christians just as well, and is.
I agree. I have often stated that the purpose of sermons is absolution.
In a workshop I did on worship, I drew a picture of a large box, I labeled "Worship", there was a stick figure (my artistic ability coming through) walking into the box, and one walking out of the box. I asked what do we expect to happen to that person in the box (meaning at worship)? My answer is "cleansed". Worship isn't about feeling good (although that can happen). It isn't about making people feel bad (although that can happen). It is about rooting out the sin in our lives and having it destroyed by the forgiving power of God through Christ.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Javen on August 14, 2007, 01:12:56 PM
The hard fact is that the way glbtq persons present themselves is not very to the reality. The want to be seen as "normal" but promote and engage in activities which would be repulsive were they to come to light. They want the church's imprimatur of decency so they can undermine decency. The ELCA has allowed itself to be used. It will cause many to stumble. They might want to blur accountability, but there is One who will hold them accountable.

I'm surprised that no one else bristled at this horrible generalization.  Actually, I've spent just enough time on the ALPB Forum not to be surprised that nobody else had any problems with it.  In any event, I think it's hard to deduce a "hard fact" about all gay people from a single case.  The story about a gay pastor whose partner operates a porn site says a lot about that particular pastor, but I really don't think it's fair to use this story to generalize about all people in the LGBT community.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 14, 2007, 01:22:48 PM
JAven writes (re a posting upstream about gays and lesbians):
I'm surprised that no one else bristled at this horrible generalization.

I comment:
I did, but there seems to be no point in bringing it up.

JAven writes:
The story about a gay pastor whose partner operates a porn site says a lot about that particular pastor, but I really don't think it's fair to use this story to generalize about all people in the LGBT community.

I comment:
And we don't even know if the story is true, and you are absolutely right, but among some folks here generalizations and stereotypes and anecdotal horror stories are the order of the day.



Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: GoCubsGo! on August 14, 2007, 04:41:26 PM
The hard fact is that the way glbtq persons present themselves is not very to the reality. The want to be seen as "normal" but promote and engage in activities which would be repulsive were they to come to light. They want the church's imprimatur of decency so they can undermine decency. The ELCA has allowed itself to be used. It will cause many to stumble. They might want to blur accountability, but there is One who will hold them accountable.


I am, regretably, not surprised to hear someone say this although I can't state forcefully enough that this is a stereotype.  For myself, I believe that homosexual activity is morally wrong and not God's intention for human sexuality.  But I also believe strongly that each and every person, whether they are GLBT or straight in their self understanding is a child of God and loved by him.  We are to reflect the love of God to others and to be respectful, honest, caring and compassionate.  I cannot say what will be the fate of those who engage in homosexual acts, just as I cannot say what my fate will be...Will God judge me to be unworthy of life with him or worthy?  I do not know.  I only hope for life with God through the merits of Jesus Christ.  All have sinned and to loosely qoute from Revelation "salvation belongs to God".  It is God's gift to give.

Some in the ELCA are not in favor of change our policies and standards.  Some simply want to be able to be what the church is called to be.. a body that calls all people to repentance and ammendment of life and proclaims the grace of God given through Christ our Lord.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Richard Johnson on August 14, 2007, 09:33:08 PM

I am, regretably, not surprised to hear someone say this although I can't state forcefully enough that this is a stereotype.  For myself, I believe that homosexual activity is morally wrong and not God's intention for human sexuality.  But I also believe strongly that each and every person, whether they are GLBT or straight in their self understanding is a child of God and loved by him.  We are to reflect the love of God to others and to be respectful, honest, caring and compassionate.  I cannot say what will be the fate of those who engage in homosexual acts, just as I cannot say what my fate will be...Will God judge me to be unworthy of life with him or worthy?  I do not know.  I only hope for life with God through the merits of Jesus Christ.  All have sinned and to loosely qoute from Revelation "salvation belongs to God".  It is God's gift to give.

Some in the ELCA are not in favor of change our policies and standards.  Some simply want to be able to be what the church is called to be.. a body that calls all people to repentance and ammendment of life and proclaims the grace of God given through Christ our Lord.

Well said, and I agree. Generalizations are stinky, whether they are ascribed to "gays and lesbians" or to "fundamentalists" or to "Yale students" or to "people on the ALPB Forum."
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Dennis on August 15, 2007, 02:48:31 PM
Just as a corrective - yes, there are pastors ordained with the exception from CCM. However, there they are not on a separate roster and are not limited by the ELCA as to where they can serve.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 15, 2007, 05:56:34 PM
Just as a corrective - yes, there are pastors ordained with the exception from CCM. However, there they are not on a separate roster and are not limited by the ELCA as to where they can serve.
Do they not have to present an acceptable argument to their bishop for why they want the exception?
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Dennis on August 15, 2007, 06:14:15 PM
Yes, they do.  They have to make the request and usually write an essay/paper to explain why they believe they should be granted the exemption.  The bishop, in conversation with the Synod Council and Presiding Bishop, makes the decision, which is final.  Sometimes the exemptions are granted, sometimes not.    Also, I would say that there are certain synods where the exemption is almost guaranteed and other synods where the bishop is really opposed to granting any exceptions.  But, however the ordination occurs, all newly ordained are placed on the one clergy roster.
Title: Re: Full inclusion through grace and standards for leaders
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on August 16, 2007, 12:37:04 AM
Yes, they do.  They have to make the request and usually write an essay/paper to explain why they believe they should be granted the exemption.  The bishop, in conversation with the Synod Council and Presiding Bishop, makes the decision, which is final.  Sometimes the exemptions are granted, sometimes not.    Also, I would say that there are certain synods where the exemption is almost guaranteed and other synods where the bishop is really opposed to granting any exceptions.  But, however the ordination occurs, all newly ordained are placed on the one clergy roster.
Do we not need to have some kind of indication of those exceptional ordinations for the sake of our Episcopalian partners. Lutheran clergy with the exceptional ordinations would not be permitted to preside at Episcopalian tables as I understand CCM. (My hunch is that a Lutheran candidate who sought the exception wouldn't want to preside at an Episcopalian table.)