Friday, August 12, 2005

ELCA Rejects Proposal on Clergy in Committed Relationships

From the Guardian;

A national meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a proposal Friday that would have allowed gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy under certain conditions.

The measure would have affirmed the church ban on ordaining sexually active gays and lesbians, but would have allowed bishops and church districts called synods to seek an exception for a particular candidate - if that person was in a long-term relationship and met other restrictions.

Delegates voted against the measure 503-490. Even if it had won a simple majority of votes, that wouldn't have been enough; the proposal needed a two-thirds majority to pass...
Pretty evenly split. No doubt this is not the end of this matter. It will come up again. Hopefully the proposal will be clearer next time. It sounds like no one really liked the way this particular draft was written. This proposal, which created a second class roster of clergy based on choice of life companion, was just about as flawed as the C of E's rendition of the old "don't ask, don't tell" compromise.

I simply cannot comprehend how the Church can advocate for fewer committed relationships. Imagine how this era will be discussed 100 years from now. Can there be any doubt that this struggle will be categorized along with other civil rights issues?

If you choose to respond to this ramble, please refrain from bringing up the bible verses here, unless you do not receive any income from interest and don't have any graven images hanging on your wall. I don't buy the "it's about the authority of scripture" argument. Not only don't I buy it, I think it is dishonest, and get offended when the bible is wielded like a weapon to cut down those who don't neatly fit into a thumper's imaginary cookie cutter world.

I'm convinced it's not about the bible at all. What I suspect is that those in the Church opposed to allowing a person to choose their life partner are acting out of the "ick factor." Some folks imagine what couples are doing in private, and find it icky. To be quite honest, if some of the stories I've heard are true, what goes on between some married couples is pretty disgusting to me. I mean, sucking toes??? That's just downright depraved.

That's my own "ick factor" at work, of course. Sometimes I think it's the Word of God giving me a special insight, and I need to start a campaign to insist that all lovers wear socks. But then I remember that I might be viewed as just as disgusting by others if someone put a camera in my bedroom. Now there's a frightening thought.

I expect this kind of thing from the extreme right. To affirm that you are one of the "elect," it is helpful to clearly identify those who are not. Exclusion is the drawing card. Need to boost your self-esteem? Just join a church that thanks God regularly that they are not like all those other "sinners." I had thought that the ELCA, who developed the best study materials for our mandated Human Sexuality Dialogues back in the early 90s, would not fall victim to this inclination towards elitism that has haunted Christianity since James and John sent mom to ask for the best seats. Obviously, I once again underestimated the power of the "ick factor."

503 to 490...another synod, and another vote, and I predict our Lutheran brothers and sisters will join us in proclaiming to the world; "In this Church, there will be no outcasts!"


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