Author Topic: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule  (Read 51269 times)

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #300 on: November 18, 2007, 05:22:51 PM »
Not "in question" as if it was one relationship among many, but the only relationship in view in the culmination of the second creation story, a relationship set up and set apart from all others narrativally from 2:18 through 2:25, and the only one God deemed as an acceptable "helper" to the man.
Was it God who determined who was acceptable or Adam?

Considering that there were no other humans in the story, it was the only human with human relationship possible.

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So yep -- there was only one type of relationship the text has at all in view as satisfying God's desire that the man not be alone -- that between the man and the woman in the culmination of a sexually differentiated -- or better stated -- a humanity where the two sexes are "fit" for each other, where the man views the woman as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" where the woman is taken out of man, and in their joining, the "one flesh" of humanity refigured.
It is not God who goes "ga-ga" over the woman, but Adam. Apparently Adam was not homosexual.

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In this story, there is no room for any other relationship as making sense of the narrative,

Of course not, there were no other possible relationships. In the story there are two and only two people. The only other option for Adam was with the animals -- which God made in his attempt to find a helper fit for Adam!

Thanks for the thoughts.  I don't consider any of them serious enough to motivate me to make a response, so I'll be happy to just let them sit as the best defense of your thought.

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #301 on: November 18, 2007, 05:23:25 PM »
To repeat (again) Lou's and my question (which is apparently shared by Tim as well):

In any case, best I can tell there's nothing in the logic of the argument so far presented that argues for the ordination of folks engaging in homosexual sex that precludes a promiscuous heterosexual from being ordained.  Promiscuity is against Scripture, but so is homosexual behavior.  So why do folks support the one but not the other?

Can anybody show how the inherent logic of the one doesn't lead to the acceptance of the other?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #302 on: November 18, 2007, 05:28:06 PM »
Can anybody show how the inherent logic of the one doesn't lead to the acceptance of the other?
We could try to show you, but why waste the effort.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dadoo

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #303 on: November 18, 2007, 05:29:47 PM »
As for priestly celebacy:  It was done away with because Luther realized that it violated the order of creation and the Noatic edict to be fruitful and multiply  In other words: refusing to marry, concieve, and raise children was an afront to God who had commanded and made one to do just that.  Luther clearly rejected the idea that celebacy should be abolished just because it was hard to keep.  Vows have to be kept even if they are difficult to fullfil- unless the vow itself was against the will of God and that will was that humans marry and raise children. 

Luther opposed  priestly celibacy primarily because of the compulsion under which the vow was made.  Since it was not part of God's call to the ministry, but a human rule added to it, its addition required persons who could not promise celibacy to reject God's call to ministry which should have the greater claim upon the individual:  thus, the rule of celibacy was spiritually dangerous. 
He also felt that because many entered orders at a young age there was a risk that they could not fully appreciate and thus fully consent to what was being asked of them in such a life-long commitment.  He eventially came to be wary of such "perpetual vows" that were connected to life-choices, poverty, celibacy, etc..

I think we can say that he also felt it was wrong to forbid marriage as a choice of life.  He did not, as far as I know, base that in a universal command that all persons are to marry and beget offspring.  If that were the case, celibacy would be wrong for anyone, even as a choice.  He did not reject celibacy that was freely chosen.  Rather, he believed that since marriage was God-pleasing, it was improper to forbid it.

His own vow weighed beavily upon him and while believing celibacy should not be required, he initially had no intention of repudiating his own vow and marrying; but eventually Katie wore him down.   


Thank you for reminding me: yes, in Luther's day one was picked; often at an early age to become a priest.  We are currently working with an all voluteer clergy where everyone is self identified.  Quite a difference.  Yes, we used to "raise" pastors once upon a time.  And we complain about the candidacy process- go figgure.  On the whole the one raised had, for all intents and purposes, no choice not to become a priest at the end of the process.  

Luther's letters do indeed complain that many were in this way "tricked" into the vow, but they had taken the vows and vows were holy.  In letters to Melanchton he is clear that keeping the vows being hard was not enough for him to do away with holy vows.  It had to be proven that the vow was actually against the will of God to do away with it.  The call to fruitfulness was one of those places were indeed the will of GOd contradicted the universal vow of clebacy.

But there is more at stake:  Celebacy was the inovation.  THe reformers knew from scripture that Peter had been married and that Paul seems to have known married bishops since he urges them to be husbands of only one wife.  The inovation later led to weird biblical exegesis like the one that claimed that "one wife" refered to the church in respect to the bishop.  And since the inovation came from the pope it was assumed that it was the SPirit who had moved the church to do this new thing.  The reformers therefore "undid" an inovation.

We are looking at being asked to do the opposite today: we are being asked to make an inovation.  
Peter Kruse

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Dadoo

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #304 on: November 18, 2007, 05:31:07 PM »
It is the main interpretation of the Church throughout 2,000 years of Christian teaching and is still the teaching of majority of Christians throughout the world.
So is the denial of ordination to women. For a large part of Christendom, marriage is not allowed for the ordained. Just because something has a long history in the church doesn't make the interpretation or practice right for all times and places.

This is going to open a can of worms, but the idea that ordaining women and ordaining "faithful" gays are the same kind of issue is something I have never understood.  LCMS pastors make this argument and revisionists within the ELCA make this argument.  Oddly, it is something they agree on, that ordaining women and ordaining gays are the same kind of issue.
Now that this has been consistently thrown at me, I am beginning to have second thoughts about whether women should be ordained.  This may be an unintended consequence of the drive to ordain gays, namely that womens' ordination will become more suspect. 

I don't understand the linkage, because I don't see an innate sin question in the matter of ordaining women as I do in the matter of ordaining gays and lesbians.  A better linkage to the question of gay/lesbian ordination is whether promiscuous males should be ordained or not, because, after all, science has clearly established that the male sex drive (regardless of orientation) is innately promiscuous. 

For quite some time now church tradition has held that promiscuous sexual behaviors (and same-sex behavior) are sin and therefore men in particular need to fight their natural urges and work at being chaste, or, if they choose to marry, at the concept of monogamy despite their innate desires.  It seems to me this hermeneutic applies to gays and lesbians who must fight same-sex desire, as males in general must fight promiscuous desire.  Sadly, gay men seem to have a double whammy when it comes to this.  An inability to contain one's innate desires, whether promiscuous or same-sex, married or single, should disqualify one from pastoral leadership, (but not exclude said sinners from a congregation where all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.)

Lou



I take a pragmatic approach, I guess.  Those who feel called to serve, who have the gifts to serve, in whom the body of Christ also perceives those gifts to serve-- let them be set apart to serve.  If they are men, fine.  If they are women, fine.  If they are gay or lesbian, fine.  If they are in committed relationships, fine.  If they are single, fine.  God calls whom God calls and the church is in need of pastors to serve, so for those who are called and able, let them serve.  And if their parishoners affirm that the Gospel is preached and the sacraments administered, it is enough.  If there are specific problems, then deal with those specific problems.  Some would say that being female, or that being gay/lesbian in a committed relationship, is enough of a problem to bar one from ministry.  Others disagree. 

Erik Doughty
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Gifts:  What gift are you prevented from exercising because you are not ordained?
Peter Kruse

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #305 on: November 18, 2007, 05:33:52 PM »
Some would say that being female, or that being gay/lesbian in a committed relationship, is enough of a problem to bar one from ministry.  Others disagree. 

If I read this correctly, Erik, your implication is that being female or being g/l may be enough for some communities to bar one from ministry, and for other communities it may not be so.  But I'm also hearing you say that being promiscuous should be enough to bar anyone from ministry in any community.  On what basis do you bar being of one type and not being of another type?  From my hearing of science, male promiscuity is as much a "being" as "being" gay or lesbian, or "being" female, for that matter.  On what basis do you exclude promiscuous people, (males in particular)?  Maybe we should have ONLY female pastors ... since the female sex drive is not innately promiscuous, according to science... and according to the theology you seem to be promoting, the sole purpose of boundaries around sexuality is to prevent promiscuity.
Lou

Not speaking for Eric, but for myself.

"On what basis do you bar being of one type and not being of another type?"   I would say it has to do with the quality or character of the acts in question.
To be promiscuous, like fidelity addresses the quality of a behavior.  Homosexual like heterosexual describes not the quality of the act but is a descriptor of the actor.   Thus one might be a promiscuous homosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone; just as one might be a promiscuous heterosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone.  Promiscuous/chaste/committed describe the action; homosexual/heterosexual describes the actor.  Promiscuity is dangerous to our relationships because it violates a human need for partcularity and stability in our relationships.  Made in God's image, we are also "jealous" beings.  Promiscuity inhibits our ability to partner meaningfully with another person.  Once partnered, promiscuity risks alienating our affections toward our partner as we turn to others for comfort, support, and intimacy.

Homosexuality in itself doesn't inhibit our ability to partner meaningfully with another person, any more than heterosexuality does; it is just that the object of the affections of heterosexuals and homosexuals differ.  That category of being doesn't go to the character or quality of the relationship behaviors (among them sexual acts).  

To the suggestion that "...the sole purpose of boundaries around sexuality is to prevent promiscuity":  I wouldn't think so.  Not the sole purpose anyway.  It is important that we understand not merely that the boundaries prevent promiscuity, but why they mark promiscuity as a problem/sinful behavior.  
To say the sole purpose is to prevent promiscuity only reflects, if you will, the negative purpose in an abstract form, and it neglects the positive purpose of the boundaries.  The boundary of fidelity exists to protect our relationships with our partners and to protect others from expecting from us what we have given to another.  We are expected to respect the boundaries which enclose our neighbors with their partners as well.  
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #306 on: November 18, 2007, 05:49:44 PM »
Not speaking for Eric, but for myself.

"On what basis do you bar being of one type and not being of another type?"   I would say it has to do with the quality or character of the acts in question.
To be promiscuous, like fidelity addresses the quality of a behavior.  Homosexual like heterosexual describes not the quality of the act but is a descriptor of the actor.   Thus one might be a promiscuous homosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone; just as one might be a promiscuous heterosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone.  Promiscuous/chaste/committed describe the action; homosexual/heterosexual describes the actor.  Promiscuity is dangerous to our relationships because it violates a human need for partcularity and stability in our relationships.  Made in God's image, we are also "jealous" beings.  Promiscuity inhibits our ability to partner meaningfully with another person.  Once partnered, promiscuity risks alienating our affections toward our partner as we turn to others for comfort, support, and intimacy.

Homosexuality in itself doesn't inhibit our ability to partner meaningfully with another person, any more than heterosexuality does; it is just that the object of the affections of heterosexuals and homosexuals differ.  That category of being doesn't go to the character or quality of the relationship behaviors (among them sexual acts).  

To the suggestion that "...the sole purpose of boundaries around sexuality is to prevent promiscuity":  I wouldn't think so.  Not the sole purpose anyway.  It is important that we understand not merely that the boundaries prevent promiscuity, but why they mark promiscuity as a problem/sinful behavior.  
To say the sole purpose is to prevent promiscuity only reflects, if you will, the negative purpose in an abstract form, and it neglects the positive purpose of the boundaries.  The boundary of fidelity exists to protect our relationships with our partners and to protect others from expecting from us what we have given to another.  We are expected to respect the boundaries which enclose our neighbors with their partners as well.  


Though I'm not Lou, and I'm sure he'll be happy to respond, for my part, thanks for the answer.

I understand your argument for boundaries and appreciate your view that we are made in God's image and so are, in a sense, "jealous" as He is "jealous".

However, it strikes me that also as a part of God's image we were made "male and female", as God also says in Gen 1:

Genesis 1:26-28 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”


I quote before and after because we do see that the imaging of God is of a specific character -- dominion over creation in vs. 26 and being productive, as vs. 28 indicates ("be fruitful...").

So insofar as I can certainly agree that promiscuity is a violation of the God-given boundedness of our life, so, too, is the imaging constitued in men and women and their relationship, a relationship that is productive / creative in bearing life.

Therefore, looking at the image of God, we see that this image is actualized not just in boundedness or jealousness, but also in gendered relationship.

The image of God, then, would not just militate against promiscuity, but also against unions that are not a part of that image; i.e., homosexual unions.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 05:51:16 PM by Sco tt Yak imow »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #307 on: November 18, 2007, 06:22:25 PM »
Does this system have a spell-checker? I can take "celebacy" once or twice as a typo, but not continuously. The word is "celibacy".
As for wasting time... Well, no one is required to read or post here. Brian's postings have been consistent, persistent, and insistent in these precincts for several years. Scott has not been around so long, but still seems intent on proving Brian wrong. That is probably not going to happen for Brian or those who think he is on to something. Furthermore, the LC-MS folks posting here come at things from a foundation that is not quite the same as the premises used by the ELCA. I am one of the naive blue-sky optimists who think this is not the worst thing in the world, but no one else here agrees with me on that.
If one requires what Scott and the LC-MS seem to require for concord, then it is going to be extremely hard to find; even - I dare say - among all the members of the LC-MS. 


Team Hesse

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #308 on: November 18, 2007, 06:41:09 PM »
Promiscuity inhibits our ability to partner meaningfully with another person.  Once partnered, promiscuity risks alienating our affections toward our partner as we turn to others for comfort, support, and intimacy.

First of all, thanks Jim for a thoughtful response.  Scott has anticipated and correctly asked additional questions I would have.  I am grateful I've finally found someone in this process who at least attempts to work with the question of "being" -- as in "born that way" -- and why one state of being is problematic and another is not, rather than the dismissive "I simply don't see it that way" which I have so often heard, and has even been spoken in this discussion.

That being said, what is the scriptural basis for promiscuity being more problematic in relationships than same-gender relationships?  There are sufficient examples in the Old Testament that would indicate God would seem to have less problem with mulitiple couplings than he does with same-gendered ones.  The understanding that promiscuity is problematic is held by many in our culture, and legitimately so, but it is far from monolithic, even in our own culture where Hugh Hefner and his ilk seem to have somewhat of a following.  I seem to remember one of the Crosby-Stills-Nash-Young songs from the '60s which told people "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

It can be argued that multiple partners help people get over their jealousies and self-centeredness and lead to stronger interpersonal relationships.  I'm not going to make that argument but certain Mormons in Utah do, and it's been broadly hinted at in several Star Trek episodes.  These notions about what defines meaningful relationships are all culturally conditional once you remove the authority of an external word from the discussion.  The external word I pay attention to seems to make same-gender relationships more problematic than multi-partnered relationships. 

As my wife just pointed out to me as we typed this, multiple partnered people seem to have no problem with multiple partners as long as its done openly, above board, and committedly.  The true discomfort arises from the dishonesty and deception that goes with single person commitment and nefarious promiscuity.   A Nigerian who was in my speech class at Iowa State once made the argument in an advocacy speech that because of the strength  of the black African male sex drive, and the fact that a single woman would be unavailable to him during her period or pregnancies, that it only made sense to practice polygamy.  In that culture, they seem to be fine with multiple partners.  So to argue that promiscuity automatically leads to  alienated affections between partners would seem to be more culturally bound than the argument often made that a bias against same-gender relationships is culturally- and time-bound.

Lou

Team Hesse

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #309 on: November 18, 2007, 06:49:48 PM »
Furthermore, the LC-MS folks posting here come at things from a foundation that is not quite the same as the premises used by the ELCA. I am one of the naive blue-sky optimists who think this is not the worst thing in the world, but no one else here agrees with me on that.
If one requires what Scott and the LC-MS seem to require for concord, then it is going to be extremely hard to find; even - I dare say - among all the members of the LC-MS. 

First of all, Charles, I resent the implication that this is simply an LCMS v.s. ELCA discussion.  I have not been LCMS for 17 years.  The theologians who worked with me and have been supportive of me while I was working with these issues (and since) are not LCMS and were never LCMS; some were not even Lutheran.  This crosses a number of denominational lines, as you well know. 

So if you have nothing substantive to add, let us have our discussion in peace.  As much as you complain about certain others always pointing fingers in a negative fashion at your denomination, you'd think out of personal integrity you could refrain from doing the same yourself.  As one of my former ELCA pastors once told us, "the faults you see in others are the things you don't like about yourself." 

Lou

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #310 on: November 18, 2007, 07:05:12 PM »
Does this system have a spell-checker? I can take "celebacy" once or twice as a typo, but not continuously. The word is "celibacy".
As for wasting time... Well, no one is required to read or post here. Brian's postings have been consistent, persistent, and insistent in these precincts for several years. Scott has not been around so long, but still seems intent on proving Brian wrong. That is probably not going to happen for Brian or those who think he is on to something. Furthermore, the LC-MS folks posting here come at things from a foundation that is not quite the same as the premises used by the ELCA. I am one of the naive blue-sky optimists who think this is not the worst thing in the world, but no one else here agrees with me on that.
If one requires what Scott and the LC-MS seem to require for concord, then it is going to be extremely hard to find; even - I dare say - among all the members of the LC-MS. 

Anything to say that's pertinent to the scriptural case being made, Charles?  If not, then thanks for the thoughts.

But premises can hold their own in a discussion or they don't.  However, as many ELCA people on this board seem to agree with me to at least some degree, labeling this as an ELCA-LCMS squabble is simply wrong.  Otherwise, the issue of homosexual behavior wouldn't be as big a debate in the ELCA as it is now.

And normally Brian and I have very good discussions, but when he starts half quoting verses (Eph 5:31b? -- c'mon) and makes an argument dependant upon their distorted quotation, I get testy.  It's  below him (he's extremely intelligent and thoughtful) and below this board.


BTW -- just for new folks.  This is a new profile for me.  I deleted my old one (somewhere north of 1500 posts) and have been around for 1.5 years or so on this forum.  But Charles knew that.  And as if that's important.  ::)
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 07:52:30 PM by Sco tt Yak imow »

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #311 on: November 18, 2007, 08:38:01 PM »
Promiscuity inhibits our ability to partner meaningfully with another person.  Once partnered, promiscuity risks alienating our affections toward our partner as we turn to others for comfort, support, and intimacy.

Homosexuality in itself doesn't inhibit our ability to partner meaningfully with another person, any more than heterosexuality does; it is just that the object of the affections of heterosexuals and homosexuals differ.  That category of being doesn't go to the character or quality of the relationship behaviors (among them sexual acts).  

Another thought to add to Lou's (excellent) insights.

While I'm certainly not against the idea of "partnering meaningfully", again we seem to have another criterion by which licit sexual relationships are judged, something akin to the idea that a relationship must be "mutual-loving, committed, etc" to be judged OK.  That is, you are assuming that a relationship is licit if "meaningful partnering" is going on.  As such, it runs into the same set of problems that the other adjectives / criterion do -- we dont' see such an idea functioning as a criterion within the biblical witness.  We do see the man-woman union functioning as a criterion, though, as Scripture's unanimous condemnation of deviations from this union make clear (homosexual behavior is ALWAYS condemned in Scripture when it's brought up; not treated positively, not even treated neutrally, but ALWAYS condemned).

To this point, we haven't seen how another criterion like "partnering meaningfully" can be established biblically in an independent, non-question-begging manner.  All we've seen along these lines is a mention of a "one-flesh" union as the foundation of such a criterion, but as this "one-flesh" union is specifically and inextricably applied to the man-woman union by the text, it doesn't cut the mustard.  But perhaps there's another line of thought to explore.

What we are given is a relationship within which sexual behavior is God-intended -- between a man and a woman -- as Gen 1 & 2 (to mention a single cluster of ideas) make clear.  That is, the "one flesh" union referred to is not a reference to an abstract, gnostic spiritual concept separable from its enfleshment between a man and a woman.  Rather, it refers explicitly to this very real, very concrete union, a union that is blessed and commanded ("Be fruitful...").
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 08:40:03 PM by Sco tt Yak imow »

Scott4

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #312 on: November 18, 2007, 08:54:35 PM »
To be promiscuous, like fidelity addresses the quality of a behavior.  Homosexual like heterosexual describes not the quality of the act but is a descriptor of the actor.   Thus one might be a promiscuous homosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone; just as one might be a promiscuous heterosexual or one who is in a relationship of fidelity, or one who is alone.  Promiscuous/chaste/committed describe the action; homosexual/heterosexual describes the actor.

Sorry for the piecemeal response, but when you have kids tugging at your elbow, sometimes that's how it happens.

Again I want to thank you, Jim, for your thoughtful reply even though, again like before, I'm going to disagree with your reasoning here.

I think that you're making a false distinction in this quotation.  One can describe the quality of a behavior as either homosexual or heterosexual by saying: "He engaged in homosexual (or heterosexual) behavior."  This is clearly describing the quality of the act, just as it would be if you said: "He engaged in promiscuous behavior."  Likewise, the actor can be called a "promiscuous person" or a "homosexual person" or a "heterosexual person" as a description of the actor.  All work, and all are used in the same way.

Therefore, the distinction that your argument relies upon here is a specious one, and we're left with a similarity of descriptors.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #313 on: November 18, 2007, 08:56:55 PM »
Sorry. Having nothing "substantive" or "pertinent" or "scriptural" to add, I'll lay low. Like another frustrated poster upstream, I'm finding little here of use to my day-to-day ministry, save for some of Brian's exegetical suggestions.

Jim_Krauser

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Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #314 on: November 18, 2007, 10:57:23 PM »
[I quote before and after because we do see that the imaging of God is of a specific character -- dominion over creation in vs. 26 and being productive, as vs. 28 indicates ("be fruitful...").
 

1.  I cannot see how homosexuality has any bearing one way or other on the prinicple of dominion, so let's set that aside.

2.  Being productive.  One cannot deny that this is a gift bestowed upon humanity in a collective sense.  But no one of us is under any obligation to have progeny, otherwise there would be no discussion of celibacy here or elsewhere.  From this we may conclude that a life (or sexual identity) which is not directed toward reproduction is any less moral per se than one which is.  That then places the subject of the productive life as pertaining to coupled relationships. 

Here again we have to admit the reproductive character of the human creature is not determinative of the moral character of its social organization or pair bonding.  Nowhere in scripture do we see the validity of marriage questioned because of infertility in the couple.  We do see several ways in which persons sought to overcome that obstacle, not all of which would meet with ready acceptance today.  {One might make a argument for surrogacy based in biblical precident, but for my part I have a problem with surrogacy as I think it risks commoditizing human life.}  Indeed childless couples are not treated with approbation but with pity and a sense of sadness though perhaps within the culture of the biblical peoples some attidutes toward the "barren" were less than sympathetic or kind.  I am aware that some aspects of some pre-marital counseling regimes sniff around questions of infertility seeking to see if someone is trying to avoid "doing their duty" to bring children into the world.  Frankly, I find these questions offensive and don't find any kind of strong biblical warrant for them.  It is striking that rather than being a cause of sympathy, the barrenness of homosexual relationships becomes a reason for their condemnation. 

The long and the short of it is that many men and women commit to each other in marriage and have sexual relations with each other without any hope of conception; many others seek to regulate the timing and circumstances of conception.  For Lutherans, as opposed to Roman Catholics, these issues have seldom been much of an issue.

The point, and I'm sure you've seen where I'm going by now, is that while reproduction is a blessing to the marital relationship, it does not constitute it absolutely.  And the conclusion that I make from that is that homosexual relationships are no more "disordered" on this basis than those between heterosexual relationship where one or both of the partners is unable to procreate.

In the end, and what always seems to be passed over, the primary and foundational meaning of human relationships is companionship.  This given center stage in the narrative that begins in Genesis 2.  Companionship is the primary purpose and rationale for human pair bonding, full stop.  God says, "It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him a helper as his partner."  While one might infer from the physiology that family and progeny also address the need for society, the text only speaks of the one.  God does not say "It is not good that the man should be alone." ---I will therefore give him a wife and kids.

In the pre-fall existence fed by the tree of life, reproduction is not particularly anticipated (other than in the physiological differencs) as there is no need for it.  The human species continues without it, because the two do not die.  Further the aspect of sexual relations is not even raised in that partiuclar narrative stream until the post-expulsion period.

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So insofar as I can certainly agree that promiscuity is a violation of the God-given boundedness of our life, so, too, is the imaging constitued in men and women and their relationship, a relationship that is productive / creative in bearing life.

Therefore, looking at the image of God, we see that this image is actualized not just in boundedness or jealousness, but also in gendered relationship.

The image of God, then, would not just militate against promiscuity, but also against unions that are not a part of that image; i.e., homosexual unions.

I have heard this line of thinking any number of times and it always strikes me a yin-yang "theology" and foreign to the mind-set of the Bible.  I do not see that because the male and female are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1) that God in some way participates in phyiscal implications of those distinctions.  It just presses the metaphor too much.    The imago Dei rests in that which is common to the two not in that which makes them distinct from each other, or that some divine male-female identity which seeks reunification (completiion) through the sex act.  To me that's reading something into the story that just ain't there.

In addition, in Gen. 2, the language of imago Dei is not used, and there the wo-man is clearly seen as derivative of the man thus the sexual differentiation has no particular connnection to the divine at all, but once again, must be carried in something which is common to both.  Further, in this same narrative, the man declares the woman the fit companion not because she is different from him (other) but because she is same (bone of bone, flesh of flesh).  Indeed, God seemingly provides the other animals as potential companions (the dog clearly the runner up).  But it is the man who identifies the object of his affections.  Does God force his hand?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  I would say he freely chooses his partner, one aspect of the nature of marriage that we would hold is essential to a valid marriage (though in many cultures and in the culture of the Bible, this was not always a great concern).

How is it then that the scriptures would then restrict the freedom of that choice of partner?  Of course scripture did feature such restrictions.  It was forbidden to marry outside of the tribe, the people.  But the prohibitions against intermarrage fall away:  Ruth being one of the great examples.  We are appalled at those who would assert a biblical mandate to keep the races pure today by forbidding persons to marry according outside of their race?  How is it we don't see that the circumstances of gay and lesbian persons are similar?

Sorry this is soooooooo long.
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY