Thursday Sexuality Debate: No conclusions yet

Started by Richard Johnson, August 09, 2007, 06:46:01 PM

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scott3

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 10, 2007, 01:18:53 AM
There is only one standard that is under discussion. There is only one offense that I know of where pastors have been removed from the roster because of it -- and called to serve a congregation. That one offense is being in a committed same-sex relationship. Every other standards is maintained.

So it's OK to "offend" against biblical teaching as long as a congregation accepts it?  And this is something that, since it happens, should be replicated?

But this leaves aside the whole question of what it means to teach falsely and Jesus' view of those that do.

Let's take an example of someone that I think we can both agree teaches falsely and should not be allowed in the pulpit of any church that calls itself Christian -- Fred Phelps and his group of folks who protest at soldiers' funerals.  If he were called to an ELCA congregations, that congregation accepted him, and he continually and very publicly continued to advocate for the acceptance of his view of Christianity across the ELCA, should he be welcomed?  Moreover, if he garnered to himself sufficient support throughout the entire ELCA, should his view be publicly acclaimed and/or tolerated?

Likewise, I do not think that anyone who persistently and joyfully (and not just mistakenly) teaches falsely should be considered for the office of the holy ministry.

pterandon

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 10, 2007, 01:23:23 AM
Quote from: Sc ott  Yaki mow on August 09, 2007, 10:58:44 PM
But in any case, this is another casuistically-based argument where it is assumed that "since we accept sin in this practice, we should expand our acceptance of sin into other areas."  I consider this whole argument self-defeating as the point is to reform practice to become more in line with how Christians freely act as children of God and not less so.
That wasn't what I was saying. Do any of us constantly meet these expectations from scriptures? I don't think we do. All of us pastors fall short. We are sinners. The issue is when does our sin become a hindrance or make it impossible to carry on the ministry we have been called to do.

I think Brian here is merely stating a Theology of the Cross.   Conservatives shoot themselves in foot by not mentioning the inadequacy of all candidates.  Liberals are asking us to celebrate sin. The fascinating thing in my mind is whether there's ever been a candidate who admitted the brokenness of their sexual practice in the same way that Brian appears to here be admitting the brokenness of his relations with spouse & neighbor.  I have a beef with the celebration the revisionists are asking of us;  I'm wondering if I could live with (figuratively speaking) the hypothetical candidate I just mentioned.

scott3

#32
Quote from: pterandon on August 10, 2007, 07:59:43 AM
I think Brian here is merely stating a Theology of the Cross.   Conservatives shoot themselves in foot by not mentioning the inadequacy of all candidates.  Liberals are asking us to celebrate sin.

You're right to say that every candidate is inadequate and a sinner.  That's why I always acknowledge the sinfulness of every candidate (Brian knows this about me already, and most everyone I know of in the LCMS would have no problem acknowledging our own sinfulness; I'm guessing that he's arguing in this way right now because they're folks new to the board who are currently reading).  So I'm not sure if this is really a live position that Brian is arguing against, at least not in the Lutheran church, as I'm not aware of anyone who would actually assert that candidates do not sin or are not inadequate to be pastors but by the grace of God.

The point, like you say, is the glorification / celebration of sin -- the calling of good as evil and evil as good.

Charles_Austin

Scott writes:
The point, like you say, is the glorification / celebration of sin -- the calling of good as evil and evil as good.

I comment:
Perhaps not quite. The issue is that we do not all agree that homosexuals, living in a committed relationship, are sinners solely because they are in that kind of relationship, or that it is that particular relationship that disqualifies them from Gospel ministry. We may never agree on such things; but some expressions or regions of the church might allow people in that situation to continue their ministry, as is happening now and may happen - under broader church endorsement - in the future.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Sc ott  Yaki mow on August 10, 2007, 07:58:08 AM
So it's OK to "offend" against biblical teaching as long as a congregation accepts it?  And this is something that, since it happens, should be replicated?
The congregations who call such pastors do not believe a same-sex committed relationship offends against biblical teaching.

QuoteLet's take an example of someone that I think we can both agree teaches falsely and should not be allowed in the pulpit of any church that calls itself Christian -- Fred Phelps and his group of folks who protest at soldiers' funerals.  If he were called to an ELCA congregations, that congregation accepted him, and he continually and very publicly continued to advocate for the acceptance of his view of Christianity across the ELCA, should he be welcomed?  Moreover, if he garnered to himself sufficient support throughout the entire ELCA, should his view be publicly acclaimed and/or tolerated?
Let's look at a real case. Herman Otten has been called as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven, MO. He is not on the LCMS clergy roster. He is very public with his beliefs. What has the LCMS (or you) done about him and/or the congregation who called him?
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: pterandon on August 10, 2007, 07:59:43 AM
I think Brian here is merely stating a Theology of the Cross.   Conservatives shoot themselves in foot by not mentioning the inadequacy of all candidates.  Liberals are asking us to celebrate sin. The fascinating thing in my mind is whether there's ever been a candidate who admitted the brokenness of their sexual practice in the same way that Brian appears to here be admitting the brokenness of his relations with spouse & neighbor.  I have a beef with the celebration the revisionists are asking of us;  I'm wondering if I could live with (figuratively speaking) the hypothetical candidate I just mentioned.
My hunch is that most, if not all, clergy commit adultery by lusting in their hearts. That is not a sin that we believe hinders a pastor's ability to proclaim the gospel. However, if a pastor has committed adultery in deed, we usually see that a sin that requires disciplinary action.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Gladfelteri

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 10, 2007, 08:54:01 AM
Quote from: Sc ott  Yaki mow on August 10, 2007, 07:58:08 AM
So it's OK to "offend" against biblical teaching as long as a congregation accepts it?  And this is something that, since it happens, should be replicated?
The congregations who call such pastors do not believe a same-sex committed relationship offends against biblical teaching.
Why is that?  Can't they read?  The biblical texts against that are clear. 

Charles_Austin

The archbishop writes:
Why is that?  Can't they read?  The biblical texts against that are clear.

I comment:
They are not that "clear" for everyone, hence the debate.

Brian Stoffregen

#38
Quote from: Irl Gladfelter on August 10, 2007, 09:11:18 AM
Why is that?  Can't they read?  The biblical texts against that are clear.
No, they aren't. Briefly, the ""traditional" interpretation says that a man lying with a male is about all same-sex sexual behaviors (even those between females). The "revisionist" interpretation says that the texts are addressing particular relationships, e.g., forced sexual behaviors, those related to temple worship, pederasty, using another for sexual pleasure -- just about everything except sex within a mutual-loving, life-long committed relationship.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

scott3

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 10, 2007, 08:30:08 AM
I comment:
Perhaps not quite. The issue is that we do not all agree that homosexuals, living in a committed relationship, are sinners solely because they are in that kind of relationship, or that it is that particular relationship that disqualifies them from Gospel ministry.

Of course they are sinners just as I am a sinner.  There is no difference, though their areas of struggle and my areas of struggle may be different; the fact that we are all sinners is no different whatsoever.

So they are not sinners "solely because they are in that kind of relationship" as I'm sure there are other areas of sin, too (like I have multiple areas of problems with sin).  But the public acceptance of ongoing sexual sin would be a problem in any clergy member.  If any clergy were engaged in an extra-marital affair (where marriage is one man and one woman), heterosexual or homosexual, there would be, to put it mildly, a problem.

But what is being asked for, here, is the public acknowledgment by the church that it is OK precisely to engage in an extra-marital affair (since marriage is between one man and one woman), and that this is something that is God's intention for sexual activity.  This is to publicly affirm and glorify sin.  And herein is the problem.

djbaer

Richard:

Here is what I think is the text of the substitute motion that is being proposed for E2 on sexuality (this is the text of the model goodsoil memorial.  Will you please edit it with any changes based on what was passed out to you all today.  It will make it easier for us to keep track of discussion.

Thanks!


RESOLVED, that the 2007 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America direct the Committee on Appeals to develop an amendment to the definitions and guidelines established under bylaws 20.71.11. and 20.71.12. that removes provisions precluding "practicing homosexual persons" from the rosters of this church; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Churchwide Assembly direct the Vocation and Education unit, in consultation with the Conference of Bishops, to develop an amendment to the policies established under bylaws 7.31.11., 7.31.13., and 7.51.03.b. that removes provisions requiring persons who are "homosexual in their self-understanding" to "abstain from homosexual sexual relationships"; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Churchwide Assembly direct the Vocation and Education unit, in consultation with the Conference of Bishops, to develop an amendment to the policies established under bylaws 7.31.15. and 7.52.13. that permits the reinstatement to the rosters of this church, without the usual requirement of five consecutive years without call, of persons who have resigned or been removed from the rosters solely because they are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Churchwide Assembly direct the Church Council to take the necessary steps to amend the definitions and guidelines established under bylaws 20.71.11. and 20.71.12., the policies established under 7.31.11., 7.31.13., and 7.51.03.b., and the policies established under bylaws 7.31.15. and 7.52.13. in conformity to the preceding directions to the Committee on Appeals and Vocation and Education unit.



scott3

#41
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 10, 2007, 08:54:01 AM
The congregations who call such pastors do not believe a same-sex committed relationship offends against biblical teaching.

Well, that's the issue, now, isn't it?  The Bible is unanimous and unambiguous in its condemnation of homosexual activity.  Whenever it is mentioned, it is always spoken of negatively -- not even neutrally, but always negatively.  We had a thread here some months ago where folks were invited to post any biblical passage that speaks of homosexual behavior positively or even neutrally.  No one did.

But that's just the negative half of the argument.

The positive half is that the companion that God found for a man did not exist anywhere else in creation except as a part of his own body -- a part that was removed from him and made into someone different from him.  It was to this person, his wife, that God created the "one-flesh" union, the only union in which it is possible for children to be birthed and so fulfill the promise and command to "be fruitful and multiply".  God has a wonderful intention for sex -- to be engaged in lovingly between a husband and wife in the context of marriage.  He created the bodies of men and women for this type of union, and he blesses the union with children.

That would be a piece of the positive argument answering the question: "What is God's intention for sex?"

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 10, 2007, 08:54:01 AM
Let's look at a real case. Herman Otten has been called as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven, MO. He is not on the LCMS clergy roster. He is very public with his beliefs. What has the LCMS (or you) done about him and/or the congregation who called him?

I would submit that, while I do not agree with much (not everything!) that he has written and done, his case is much murkier than the case for the non-sinfulness of homosexual behavior.  I'm not aware of any position that he takes that is universally and unequivocally condemned in Scripture like homosexual behavior is.  So from a theological position, what he teaches isn't equivalent.

Now from a structural perspective, I do think that it's problematic for a congregation to call a non-LCMS pastor and remain a congregation in the LCMS.  It seems that LCMS congregations should only call LCMS pastors, and if they don't want to, in what way are they acknowleding their unity with the LCMS?

But again, this is NOT a parallel case because Otten's positions are not universally condemned like Scripture universally speaks negatively toward homosexual behavior.


So, I answered you.  What do you think about Phelps if he were, hypothetically, a pastor at an ELCA congregation?

Or let's take another case.  Pr. Moskowitz was removed from the ELCS clergy roster even as he and his congregation both assert that they have not left the ELCA, and he -- to my knowledge -- doesn't even teach anything different than what Lutherans have taught for a long time.  But he and his congregation were removed even as they had no intention of leaving the ELCA -- even as they were judged by others to have left, over their protestations to the contrary (am I reflecting your situation accurately, Rob?).  

And I've seen you support Pr. Moskowitz' removal on this board.

Charles,

You have argued the same way, as you just said on another thread where you have told Pr. Moskowitz, effectively, to keep his questions to himself because they are "moot" as he has been removed from the roster:

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 10, 2007, 08:48:05 AM
Rob Moskowitz writes:
Thus the question I have posed is how then can section 9.31 of the ELCA constitution for example grant any "authority" when one individual can interpret what does not exist?   


I comment:
With all due respect, Rob, the ELCA constitution no longer applies to you and your ministry. So the questions, from your personal perspective, are moot.

I wonder if you would say the same things to others who have been duly and legitimately removed from the clergy roster (and I'm not saying that I believe Rob to have been so duly removed).

Maryland Brian

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 10, 2007, 08:30:08 AM
We may never agree on such things; but some expressions or regions of the church might allow people in that situation to continue their ministry, as is happening now and may happen - under broader church endorsement - in the future.

  And there are no parallel examples from other mainline denominations where that approach is working.  Perhaps Lutherans go Grace differently, but I suspect they can only hold paradox in tension in certain areas for so long.  Once it becomes official policy, then we will see the ELCA come apart like TEC. Be it personal behavior or institutional life, the trajectory of the past is most often an indication of the future.  Besides wishful thinking that is ...

MD Brian

Dan Fienen

At the risk of resurrecting the much despised domino theory, I wonder about the consequences of making an accomodation for same-sex partnered clergy in some areas where they are accepted in the church.  What happens down the road to churches and clergy who read the Scripture passages differently than Goodsoil?

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 10, 2007, 09:16:24 AM
The archbishop writes:
Why is that? Can't they read? The biblical texts against that are clear.

I comment:
They are not that "clear" for everyone, hence the debate.

So, if it is accepted that there are divergent interpretations of the biblical texts and it is decided that no church wide binding prohibitions should be enacted, would there be provision made for those who read the texts traditionally?  If the example of the Episcopal Church in the US or the Swedish Church are considered, there is reason for doubt.  What was to be tolerated must now be accepted by all.  What of a traditional pastor or congregation who disagrees and considers all homosexual activity to be sinful when his bishop is living in a partnered same sex relationship?  The experience of the Swedish Lutherans and American Episcopals is that what was to be tolerated must now be accepted by all and dissent is not to be tolerated.

What is Goodsoil's long term strategy for dealing with those who do not celebrate what they do?  In other similar situations in other churches it has been "tolerate us until we can become powerful enough and entrenched enough to kick you out."  Can there be an accomodation that truely respects both sides of this debate?  I don't know how it would work, do those who would change the church, know how or must it be a battle to the ecclesiastical death - winner take all the loser is shown the door.

I know, I know, I'm LCMS and so have no standing in the discussion and probably should keep my questions to myself.  Some apparently do not welcome any LCMS opinion in this context.  But no matter the source, the questions given the recent history of Christendom I believe are cogent and even urgent.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Richard Kidd, STS

Dan said

I know, I know, I'm LCMS and so have no standing in the discussion and probably should keep my questions to myself.  Some apparently do not welcome any LCMS opinion in this context.  But no matter the source, the questions given the recent history of Christendom I believe are cogent and even urgent.


Dan,

I am ELCA and I think you make some good valid points. I fear the oppressed will become the oppressor.

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