Author Topic: Res. 6-03A To Care for Foster and Adoptive Children in Pure and Undefiled Way re  (Read 4899 times)

peter_speckhard

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This emphaticaly rejects placing adopted and foster children into homosexual couple/families. It specifically says any Recognized Service Organization of synod "may not knowingly place adopted or foster children into any intrinsically sinful situations..." after describing homosexual relationships as such. This came back from committee after toning down the language a little from the original resolution, but still recognizes homosexual practice as intrinsically sinful.

Speaker wants to include "revealed law" to "natural law". Received as friendly.

Speaker from floor wants to make sure this is theological, not sociological. We must speak the truth in love, and keep the specific references to homosexuality. Chair calls the orders of the day to end debate. Debate ends

Res. 6-03A slightly amended passes with 95% in favor. A few applause.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007, 11:16:41 AM by peter_speckhard »

ptmccain

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Very, very strong vote of affirmation.

prsauer

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Peter et. al.

As regular readers of Lutheran Forum will know,  I am an adoptive parent. I cornered my District President (who was the floor committee chair for this resolution - the correct spelling is Benke by the way :) ) on this issue and urged him not to "tone down" the language, but to modify it in a way that is more consistent with our theology (he was pretty agreeable - could be that we were on the golf course). I believe this resolution as passed does just that.

The whereas statements are pretty clear about what the LCMS views as a God-given household in which to raise children, and yet the original resolved statements only focused on homosexuals. It is my understanding that the "toned down" language now is broad enough to include unscripturally divorced and remaried individuals, single parents, and people living together outside of marriage as situations that need to be considered when placing children. To do anything less than that, in my view, is to make a political statement and not a theological one.

This resolution may have been a slam dunk, but it is extremely important. The adoption industry has grown to a billion-dollar a year business, and with that, in many cases ethical behavior has been thrown out the window. A couple of our Lutheran Social Service agencies currently have lawsuits pending against them for unethical/illegal practices - makes it awkward for me at adoptive parent meetings when the subject comes up.

+Paul Sauer

ptmccain

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Thanks Paul for your efforts on this.

Just one thing, could you help me on the second paragraph of your note. Are you saying the language is now broad enough to allow all the situations you mention? I was not sure after reading it several times if this is what you meant.

« Last Edit: July 18, 2007, 01:37:03 PM by ptmccain »

prsauer

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Sorry about the lack of clarity. I believe that the language as written (I am going from memory - due to parish life, I have only really been able to follow the convention through Peter) means that given what we believe the God-given family to be, the situations I described in that second paragraph would now be included among the negative factors that should be considered when placing a child. The broading or "toning down" of the language as Peter puts it, now allows for the inclusion of these as considerations beyond just considering homosexuality. I haven't seen the wording adopted by the convention (and again, I don't have the documents in front of me), but that is my understanding.

ptmccain

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Ah, ok, great Paul. That's what I thought/hoped you meant, but was not sure. Appreciate the clarification.

Revbom

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Thanks to Peter and and all the contributors for the play-by-play.  My wife across the room keeps asking me what I am laughing about as a I read.  This is about the only to keep abreast of the proceedings and still do pastor stuff.

This adoption bit has been a hot topic in the NED where I serve.  LSS-NE is a joint gig between the LC-MS and ELCA.  When the Roman Catholics opted to obey God rather than men and get out of the adoption business in MA, an LSS-NE spokeswoman was quoted in the Boston Globe saying , in effect, the “Lutherans” have no problem with placing kids with homosexual parents.  That got us LC-MSers riled up.  While some delegates urged an immediate “cease and desist”, our last district convention more gently directed our DP and his posse to take this up with LSS.

More could be said about that but what I want to reference here are the comments of one of our pastors  during debate on the resolution.  There was lots of ra-ra-ing about how  horrible it is to place kids in homosexual homes, etc.  This guy got up and wondered allowed why all the sudden we’re so concerned about homosexual adoptive parents when we’ve never said a word about pagan parents.  I.e., granted we ought not be party to the sin of placing kids with homosexual parents but should we not be at least as concerned about placing kinds with Muslim, Jewish, or “Agnostic-I’ll-just-let-my-kid-decide-for-himself-what-to-believe-when-he-grows-up”, parents?  Do the “intrinsically sinful situations” of this resolution cover first table as well as second table “sinful situations?”  Plain old unbelief or idolatry is certainly as “unnatural” (as in not the way our Creator intends) and “intrinsically sinful” as is homosex or unscriptural divorce.  We should recognize that if, as Paul S. notes, we want to keep this thing theological rather than political.

The adopted amendment to include “revealed law” along with “natural law” would seem to require this interpretation.  No parents can be said to be living “in accordance with the Lord’s natural and revealed law "  unless they are Christians.  If we want to get picky and grant a strong interpretation to “in accordance with,” we might even say they have to be LC-MS Lutherans!  (Then again, as a big fat sinner  myself, I don’t do such a good job of living “in accordance” with the law myself ... I, a poor, miserable father/husband/[name your vocation]...maybe we should have said "striving to live in accordance with" or some such thing.)

PS-- I’ve never written in to one of these things before, but it looked like fun.  If this is all bunk, let me know and I’ll promise never to contribute again.  Of course, if it is, it could be because when I typed this up last night, I was almost out of vermouth.  Ergo, the manhattan helping me muddle my way through the days proceedings had to be pretty much straight bourbon.

Revbom

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Forgot to tell you who I am on that last post.  Blame it on the bourbon,

Ben Maton

peter_speckhard

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Ben, welcome. No, I don't think it is all bunk, and it would have a been a good point for someone to have brought to discussion on the floor. I think sometimes people amend the text for more feel-good reasons without having thought through the actual ramifications of the change in practical terms. If adoptive parents have to be living according to the revealed Law, well, the only way to do that is through the Gospel, so they'd have to be Christians. Maybe that is a good rule to have, but maybe it isn't what the resolution intended and ought to have been considered separately rather than received as a friendly amendment without discussion.

John Martin

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This was a strange resolution that, I think about 40 people felt, appeared to be in violation of a strict understanding of the Lutheran theology of the Two Kingdoms. As was pointed out in a previous post, "Plain old unbelief or idolatry is certainly as “unnatural” (as in not the way our Creator intends) and “intrinsically sinful” as is homosex or unscriptural divorce."

I know of at least one monogamous "married" Christian Lesbian couple that has a child that they are raising together in the Christian faith. While I do not approve of their sexual activity, I think that their child is much better off than in some de-churched family where there is no Christian upbringing. This is not a black and white issue.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 07:18:01 PM by John Martin »

Jim Butler

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I'm going to add to Ben Maton's post and give some of my (many) thoughts on this. As an adoptive parent of twins, placed with me through LSS/NE ten years ago, I have a bit invested in this. But let me share with you some of the struggles in this issue.

1) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all adoption agencies to service GLBT couples in order to be licensed. Catholic Charities sought a religious exemption, but it was denied. I wish this could be a theological discussion between us and the ELCA and then decide what to do (and I know Bp. Payne's opinion on this matter) but the Commonwealth gives LSS no choice. They cannot even say, "We don't work with homosexual couples, but you can go next door."

2) The Commonwealth requires "wrap around" services from foster care agencies. Therefore, if LSS says, "We won't do adoptions any longer" then they also lose their license to have group homes, foster care, and a host of other things.

3) The adoption services of LSS are self-supporting. They receive no money from the general budget; they are funded by fees paid by the couples and/or the Commonwealth.

4) Having said that, I have to wonder what, if anything, is Lutheran or even Christian in the LSS adoption services. The course we took was exactly the same one that members of our church took through the local Dept. of Social Services office. There was no discussion of God, Christ, or the Gospel. We did not open or close with prayer. If we cannot connect the Gospel to our social ministry, is it then a ministry?

5) What LSS (and Catholic Charities) excels at is in placing very hard to place children. The definition of a "special needs" child is basically "not a white infant." But some children have more needs than others (some of them lots more). LSS is very good at finding homes for them and also in doing therapeutic foster care.

6) Sometimes, there is a lesser of two evils. I know of two boys who were adopted by a gay couple. One of the boys has severe emotional issues. No other family was willing to take the chance of trying to raise them; these two men were. Maybe we could take care of some of the gay adoptions if Christian families were more open to adopting special needs children.

7) As it is, the NED churches and pastors will not support the adoption services of LSS/NE. As far as I can tell, this means I can tell people, "Do not go to LSS/NE for adoption; they do gay adoptions. Go to some other place that does gay adoptions instead." After all, every adoption agency in the Commonwealth has to do it.

It is a mess!

Jim
The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

John Martin

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"Do not go to LSS/NE for adoption; they do gay adoptions...."

Does LSS/NE do pagan adoptions? Are they able to discriminate on the basis of Christian faith and practice? Should not this trump any concerns about gay adoptions?

I think that this resolution was unnecessary and risks actually inadvertently sending a message to the gay and lesbian community that the church hates them. We need to bless gay and lesbian relationships (phileo) without condoning their illicit (eros) lifestyle. This radical and generous orthodoxy is a hard road to follow, but it takes the best of the liberal ELCA and conservative LCMS thinking and forges a new unity and common ground Christian ethic for interacting in the public square.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 04:28:45 PM by John Martin »

Jim Butler

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John, My last remark was meant to be a bit ironic. The NED does not want to support LSS/NE in its adoption work because they service homosexual couples. Fine. But it's not like I can recommend an adoption agency in Massachusetts that doesn't do them. So, I'm not sure what good it really does.

Jim

The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

Revbom

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We need to bless gay and lesbian relationships (phileo) without condoning their illicit (eros) lifestyle.

What exactly do you mean by a "phileo" gay/lesbian relationship?  Male-Male friendships?  Do you mean non-sexual relationships (homosexuality without without the "homosex")?  If so, I can't see that as much of a factor in the adoption debate.  Are there, after all, couples of men not engaged in illicit homosexual behavior desiring to adopt or serve as foster parents?  Or by "phileo" do you mean, committed/monogamous homosexual relationships?  If that's the case, flesh out for me what you mean by this "new unity and common ground" to be forged between "liberal ELCA and conservative LCMS thinking."

And to Pastor Butler, I see where you are coming from asking "what good it really does."  After all, we're not really cutting down on the number of children placed with homosexual couples by either convincing LSS/NE to get out of the adoption/foster care business or by the LC-MS severing connections with LSS/NE altogether.  To do that, one thing we could (and should!) do is what you suggest -- get Christian couples to adopt more children, especially those with special needs.

But there is still the issue of non-complicity in sin and the Church's vocation as public witness to the Truth.  When a cohabiting heterosexual couple comes to me desiring to be married and refuses even to talk to me about their "illicit" living arrangement, I (very pastorally) tell them I will not marry them because it would not be good for them to go on in unrepentant sin and because for the public minister of the Word to marry them would would be for God's church to publicly condone what God condemns.  I love that couple and my God too much to marry them.  After they flip me the bird, that couple is going to call the next church in the phone book (with a pretty sanctuary) and get married there.  So what good did it do?  Did I put an end to a sinful situation?  No.  But I did (however feebly) make a public confession of the Truth .  What I mean to say was better said in FT a while back (added underline, for the whole essay, see http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5318&var_recherche=massachusetts+adoption):

...in Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict asserts that there is a difference between social work and social justice. Mother Teresa observed this when she argued that her Missionaries of Charity “weren’t social workers.” Social work is about meeting a need, while social justice has to be about meeting the need in a way that chiefly highlights the godly dignity of both the person being served and the person doing the serving. Even if you aren’t particular about how your need is met, I undermine the dignity of my own personhood if I serve you in a way that I believe is contrary to your dignity as a child of God. As Pope Benedict wrote, “Those who work for the Church’s charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity... It is tempting to ask what it would hurt. Why shouldn’t we let a well-meaning homosexual couple take in a child? But this is the wrong question. The real question is, “How can the Church serve at all if the Church is compelled by the state to serve in a manner that detracts from its primary mission; to point to eternal truths, to be a means of sanctification, and to stand as a witness to the Christian anthropological foundations of the human person?” If the state will not allow the Church to be Church, then whatever else it does, the Church cannot allow itself to become a social service agency that stinks of incense and good intentions.   


 
Peace,
Ben Maton

Jim Butler

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Thanks for your reply, Ben. Hope life is good in CT and RI these days.  :)

I think you have a good analogy there in marriage, except... Well, by refusing to marry one couple, you are not thereby refusing to marry all couples and you are not giving up your right to perform all marriages. The states of CT and RI allow you to choose whom you will and will not marry; you are not required to perform the marriage of just anyone who shows up at your door with enough money for a wedding. However, LSS/NE is required by the Commonwealth to work for an adoption of any couple who does show up at their door with enough money, providing completion of a successful home study and (in required) a MAPP class. If they do not, they lose their adoption and foster care licenses.]

As I said at the NED convention, I wish that Massachusetts would allow for a religious exemption, then we and our ELCA partners could discuss this and make a decision. If LSS/NE then decided to continue with homosexual adoptions, then I would favor severing connections in this aspect. But LSS does not have a choice. That's where I'm left struggling.

I think your quote from _First Things_ is right on. In this matter, I do think the Church is being compelled by the state to act in a manner that detracts from one of its missions (although I would argue that it's "primary mission" is to proclaim the Gospel).

In the end, I agree with you more than I disagree. Part of my frustration is that LSS/NE has no choice. It would be a lot easier for me if it did!


The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris