"Same-sex marriage" Policy Passes

Started by Brad Everett, July 16, 2011, 06:20:22 PM

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Brad Everett

And so it begins. Motion #27 which now allows for same-sex marriage has passed 192 to 132. Of course it took a while to get to the actual vote. First there was a motion to table the motion until the 2013 National Convention in session 3. The delegate who made the motion said we just passed the Social Statement and if it is a 'living document' we need to take some time to live with this and build on it. He suggested the ELCIC take time to let the document breathe before acting on it because he saw the convention moving toward a chasm, and that postponing the motion might provide a bridge if the time was taken.
When the motion was voted on, it required a count but when the dust settled it was defeated 188 to 143.
Immediately after this one of the youth delegates called the question figuring the convention had already heard all the necessary arguments and it was time to move on. However, several delegates for and against Motion 27 asked that debate be allowed to continue to give those present a chance to speak and to listen. Before taking the vote to call the question, Bp. Johnson took a moment to address the convention as the Bishop and advise they vote "no" to allow further dialogue. The motion to call the question was defeated and debate continued.
Again, I'll skip the blow-by-blow account of the debate and instead lift up the comments of two delegates. The first was a pastor from the Eastern Synod who said while he was in favor of the motion he knows he won't be doing any same-sex marriages because his congregation had talked about it and made their position clear that they weren't prepared to have such ceremonies happen under their roof. Thus, it behooved him to bow to the congregation's wishes. He went on to say that he suspected his congregation was not unique—he doubted there would be huge line-ups at any congregation for same-sex marriage. In fact he said he'd be surprised if same-sex marriages happened in 5% of the ELCIC congregation. The question he said, was can we still work with the 5% of congregation's who might do these services? Let them do their ministry and we will do
ours, he said.
Later there was a pastor from Alberta who pointed out that the motion allowed pastors to decide (in consultation with their congregations of course) whether or not they would perform same-sex marriages. In this, it could be said that pastors who said "no" would either be seen as homophobic or as being convinced that if they did such services they would be compromising the Gospel. So, he asked rhetorically, how does NCC plan on handling this reality—pastors who are either homophobic or who believe the ELCIC practice of same-sex marriage as a betrayal of the Gospel.
These two presentations illustrate the problem with this motion. On one hand the rationale is given that this will be done by such a small number of congregations it doesn't really matter. But given that it had been noted by several there is a risk of the ELCIC splitting, it begs the question, is it worth risking blowing up the church to allow maybe 5% of the congregations to perform these services? (Granted the figure of 5% seems arbitrary, but the point is made, it would be a small number). On the other hand how can NCC, or the ELCIC for that matter, live with the ambiguity this motion creates. Are they really all right with pastors who by their refusal being seen as homophobic or as being a witness that this ELCIC policy compromises the Gospel i.e. the that by virtue of this policy the ELCIC is proclaiming another gospel.
It makes one wonder if any serious thought was given to the ramifications and implications of this motion for congregations and the ELCIC? How to have some congregations call something blessed, while others call the very same thing sin?
It's a recipe for division. But now it's time to deal with Motion 28 and the question of ordination.

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