Author Topic: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?  (Read 74030 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #105 on: August 12, 2007, 12:16:12 AM »
Maybe.  It also may come across as something like:  the bishops are being urged not to enforce present regulations in anticipation that they will be changed at the next CWA.  (That does make some administrative sense, actually, if they are likley to change.) 
I note that in the history of the ELCA, only two congregations have been expelled for calling non-rostered clergy, and only three clergy have been through the disciplinary hearing and removed from the roster for being "practicing homosexuals."

Since there are many more congregations who have called non-rostered clergy and many other practicing homosexuals either on the roster or off who are serving congregations, it would seem that bishops have already refrained from or demonstrated restraint in disciplining these offenses.
"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]

John Martin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #106 on: August 12, 2007, 12:23:12 AM »
"...refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining those rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in this church."

So, how do we know that this could not be interpreted by some folks as just allowing for deep friendships of the same gender that are "celibate" in nature? I think it was Tony Campolo who once argued that it is actually good for gay people to be in covenant relationships with the same gender - as long as there is no sexual intimacy involved.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #107 on: August 12, 2007, 12:25:38 AM »
So, how do we know that this could not be interpreted by some folks as just allowing for deep friendships of the same gender that are "celibate" in nature? I think it was Tony Campolo who once argued that it is actually good for gay people to be in covenant relationships with the same gender - as long as there is no sexual intimacy involved.
Frankly, I've never asked gay couples or married couples for that matter whether or not sex (or what kind of sex) is part of their relationship.
"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]

TravisW

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #108 on: August 12, 2007, 12:28:34 AM »
Maybe.  It also may come across as something like:  the bishops are being urged not to enforce present regulations in anticipation that they will be changed at the next CWA.  (That does make some administrative sense, actually, if they are likley to change.) 
I note that in the history of the ELCA, only two congregations have been expelled for calling non-rostered clergy, and only three clergy have been through the disciplinary hearing and removed from the roster for being "practicing homosexuals."

Since there are many more congregations who have called non-rostered clergy and many other practicing homosexuals either on the roster or off who are serving congregations, it would seem that bishops have already refrained from or demonstrated restraint in disciplining these offenses.

It's true that this recommendation basically reflects reality in the ELCA.  However, it puts pen to paper, which does change things a little bit.  In fact, I'll say that we'll never see that position move to a more conservative viewpoint.  

I've been involved with the ELCA since 1992, and it seems to me that there was a sexuality study going on then.  In fact, my entire memory of the ELCA thus far basically consists of "sexuality study" and "ecumenical agreement".  I think as long as we are considering the reality of the situation, we need to consider the reality of the ELCA.  Debates over sexuality are merely a symptom of the main problem, which is that as a synod we don't agree on how we view Scripture.  The fact of the matter is that there are two diametrically opposed views that continually clash.  

The ELCA has a brain tumor, but we've been treating the same headache for 15 (or more) years.  

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #109 on: August 12, 2007, 12:43:43 AM »
The ELCA has a brain tumor, but we've been treating the same headache for 15 (or more) years.  
My hunch is that each group would consider themselves to be the "brain" and the other side the "tumor".
"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]

TravisW

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #110 on: August 12, 2007, 01:00:07 AM »
My hunch is that your hunch is correct. 

Deb_H.

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #111 on: August 12, 2007, 01:04:56 AM »
Actually, the Task Force prior to 2005 was not open to people who were in agreement to the current (former?) policy, Lou Hesse being the only exception. 

One small correction -- Dr. John Prabhaker joined me in dissenting from the 2005 recommendations presented in Orlando.  I was not the only exception.

Lou Hesse

Dave_Poedel

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #112 on: August 12, 2007, 01:17:23 AM »
Some thoughts from one who was there:

- Lutheran niceness led to a bad decision devoid of consistency or integrity.  Churches, of all organizations, should not state one thing as policy but then encourage non-enforcement of the policy.

- Practically speaking, there is no real impact from the decision.  Bishops who haven't been enforcing the policy still won't, and bishops who enforce the policy (mainly via the candidacy/ordination/call process, not the disciplinary process) still will.  And the issue of the policy still will come before the 2009 assembly.  In that sense, the big vote was the one on the policy change, because it would be much harder to reverse a policy already changed than to reaffirm it.

- That said, if the orthodox in the ELCA do not get organized and begin working NOW for the 2009 assembly, it is hard to see a good outcome on policy at that assembly.

Finally, understand that I have thought for a few days before saying this.  Some of you from the LCMS appear to me to be gloating over the infidelity of the ELCA.  Please understand how painfully this is received.  Many orthodox ELCA members, including myself, spent the past week working 18 hours a day at the assembly to try to keep the ELCA from stepping into the abyss.  We are exhausted.  Whether our efforts bore any fruit will be determined in the fullness of time.  We simply seek to remain faithful.  I am somewhat surprised that a word or two of encouragement is not what seems in order to the LCMS folks here.  Perhaps you are unable to offer it, and that is your choice.  But as someone who has been a member of the LCMS and greatly respects that church body, it is a disappointment.

Ryan Schwarz
Steering Committee
Lutheran CORE

Ryan:
Point well taken.  I have been sharing my words of encouragement privately via email and phone calls.  Having a wife who came from the ELCA, and being a member of STS, most of my closest pastoral friends are ELCA Pastors.  To say "I feel your pain" is too Clintonesque, but my prayers have been non-stop, especially as I watched the CWA on the Internet.  I can assure you that there is absolutely no gloating from this Pastor, quite the contrary...tears have flowed more than once this week.

While the right of the LCMS gives me hives, the same effect on me is induced by the left of the ELCA.  There has to be a place for us to come together in faithfulness...for me it is STS.

God's blessings and my assurance to you of unrelenting prayer,
Dave

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #113 on: August 12, 2007, 02:02:33 AM »
As for David Baer's insert sheet "Explanation..." I would think that the average, common-sense, layperson would simply say, "This is pure double-talk."

Yes, it is double talk. But that's what the churchwide assembly did -- double talk.

I'm trying to put the most charitable construction on my neighbor's actions.

How about also putting it in proper context,  such as:

de jure church policy hasn't changed,  but de facto practice has been authorized to be "any thing goes";
and/or
it doesn't make any sense to continue to study whether to close the gate,  when the horse is already out of the barn

fleur-de-lis
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gesstree

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #114 on: August 12, 2007, 02:06:35 AM »

I encourage ELCA pastors who disagree with these latest actions and the trajectory the ELCA is on to do some heartfelt soul-searching and begin to trace these events back to their origins.


Not exactly sure where you would locate the "origins" of our current strife but let me say thank you for your prayers and concern. I know many locate the origins for our current conflict with the hermenutics and exegetical perspectives that came out of the Seminex event that have been very influencial in the ELCA. Others have been even more direct and have said that this is a result of the ordination of women. I do not locate the origins in either of these places. I would locate the origins in the pervasive acceptance and influence of a kind of Liberation Theology/Protestant Social Gospel (call it what you will) that has won the day in our Seminaries.  The primary conflict in the ELCA I believe is a conflict of what the core Gospel is and isn't. It only comes to the fore over the homosexuality issue because to oppose the "liberation" of glbt people is seen as anti-gospel, that is anti-liberation. I believe liberation and work to liberate people from injustice is no doubt a very important response to the Gospel but it is not the Gospel I see in scripture and our Confessions. (Which I would summarize as the event of Christ Jesus and resulting justification of sinners by grace through faith (Art. IV stuff). This is also why I find it very naive to think that we can "agree to disagree" on this issue because it involves not just how we interpret the Bible but what we believe the core Gospel to be.

An unintended consequence of the ordination of non-celebate glbt people will certainly be to tank the needed movement in other Church bodies for the ordination of women and a historical critical method of scripture study. Undoubtedly, both of these will be blamed as the origins of the ELCA's movement toward endorsing and blessing homosexuality (yes in a chaste, covenanted, faithful, etc. context). "See what happens when you open the door to the ordination of women ..." "See what happens when you justify the "loosing" of certain Biblical texts..."    I happen to believe that the ordination of woman is an incredible gift for the Church as is the historical critical method of scripture study, but they do not necessitate the acceptance of the glbt agenda. I know there are others in this same place but it is getting loney in the middle.

As an aside, maybe we are repeating the history that we see played out on the NT, Paul's loosing of old standards and roles for women (Romans 16 as an example) and then, as a backlash, the reversal and reaffirmation of the old norms in the pastorals. Who knows the damage this current movement in the ELCA will ultimately be to the leadership of women in the Church. Anyway...
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 02:11:00 AM by gesstree »

Charles_Austin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #115 on: August 12, 2007, 06:22:06 AM »
I'm curious. Is there anyone in this discussion forum who does not think the Assembly action was wrong? More than 500 people at the Chicago voted in favor of the "restraint of discipline" action and the memorials asking for change had endorsed by thousands of people at more than 20 synod assemblies. Virtually none of the discussion at Chicago was anywhere near as apocalyptic as the comments posted here, and that includes several conversations I had with CORE people in or near their hospitality room. Furthermore, none of the other discussion or debate at the Assembly indicated that people thought the ELCA was doomed, even though this was a disputed issue. I was told that most synod assembly discussions were polite; and it is interesting to note that one synodical bishop who was a staunch and vocal opponent of change, was turned out of office by the synod assembly. This causes me to weigh comments posted here - many of them by people outside the ELCA, or by people who are distancing themselves from the ELCA - against the larger picture of how this discussion is playing out in the ELCA. 

Harvey_Mozolak

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« Reply #116 on: August 12, 2007, 06:31:09 AM »
Charles, your may be totally correct in your assessment of an emotional divide between those at and those in this forum commenting on the actions of the Assembly... but then how to you account for the headlines so far reported in the secular press that I read as somewhat frenzied in their portrayal of a change in direction in the ELCA?  Ya, we always say the press gets things religious all messed up when they report them... I really wonder this time whether that is true.  Don't you somewhat agree that the press conference Hanson held afterwards minimized the results of the convention and certainly was not a realistic but idealistic view of events?  Harvey Mozolak
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Charles_Austin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #117 on: August 12, 2007, 06:44:21 AM »
Harvey Mozolak writes:
how to you account for the headlines so far reported in the secular press that I read as somewhat frenzied in their portrayal of a change in direction in the ELCA?  Ya, we always say the press gets things religious all messed up when they report them...

I comment:
Well, I don't always say the press gets religious things all messed up. The headlines are not exactly "frenzied," but correctly indicate that the ELCA is leaning towards a change.

Harvey writes:
Don't you somewhat agree that the press conference Hanson held afterwards minimized the results of the convention and certainly was not a realistic but idealistic view of events?

I comment:
I don't think the Presiding Bishop minimized or maximized the results of the convention. He stated correctly that the ELCA did not change its policy but made certain suggestions to bishops and others. Was his view "idealistic"? Time will tell, but Presiding Bishop Hanson travels widely throughout the ELCA and it would be uncharacteristic of him not to tell the truth about what he is experiencing. He did agree that the next two years will be a time of intense discussion.

And speaking of discussion: Fewer congregations than expected seem to be taking part in the current study aimed at helping the sexuality task force. So if people feel their voices aren't reaching the right place, at times it is their own fault. 

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #118 on: August 12, 2007, 07:03:02 AM »
Charles Austin comments:
I don't think the Presiding Bishop minimized or maximized the results of the convention. He stated correctly that the ELCA did not change its policy but made certain suggestions to bishops and others. Was his view "idealistic"? Time will tell, but Presiding Bishop Hanson travels widely throughout the ELCA and it would be uncharacteristic of him not to tell the truth about what he is experiencing. He did agree that the next two years will be a time of intense discussion.

And speaking of discussion: Fewer congregations than expected seem to be taking part in the current study aimed at helping the sexuality task force. So if people feel their voices aren't reaching the right place, at times it is their own fault.
Quote

Harvey Mozolak responses:  The secular press headlines may not be frenzied but they are certainly not restrained and do not refrain from making implications that seem rather obvious.  As to telling the truth, I am not saying anyone is lying, but it deeply troubles me that our presiding Bp and well-loved and retiring Secr. spend all their time doing the parliamentary thing and never really tell us, aloud from the podium, where they stand and what thier visions and expectations and disappointments are....  Maybe they would have to turn the mic over to a VP or something or beg a privilege... but if Almen were troubled by our direction, he should have let us know... if Hansen wants to see great changes, he ought to be man enough to express his view on sexuality clearly.  Instead they act they act the elder statesperson, above the fray.    IMO. 

As to the new sexuality study (number three I guess)... one gets tired of working through them...  and who cares if your voice is heard or not... the results are what counts...  this last one was much of the same that we heard at the Assembly mics...  little life stories that are meant to be translated into larger than life conclusions... theology is not written based on our lives but on God's living for us in Christ...   this last study called for responses to questions of casuistry not the scripture...  then there is Galatians and sexuality...  hmmm, not so holy....            fewer congregations responding, the responsibility may not lie so much with those who do not respond as with what they are to respond to in this case.  IMO.      Harvey Mozolak
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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #119 on: August 12, 2007, 07:13:23 AM »
Charles Austin, you said: Virtually none of the discussion at Chicago was anywhere near as apocalyptic as the comments posted here....

True, but then again the discussion under question took two basic courses (with little exception).  One side said, look at all these people and personal stories of loving, kind pastors who need to be accepted.  The other side countered, we should really wait and allow the sexuality study group to do their task so we have something to base a action on at the next Assembly.  Now if I really were confronting the issue of homosexuality and gay partnerships from the view point of whether or not it is a gift from God and a suitable circumstance for the pastoral ministry, neither sides tactics would be very helpful.  The human heart and the human mind... not much about God's words and deeds.  They tend to be more apocalypitic at least in the sense of revealing, don't they?  Harvey Mozolak
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