Sunday, August 05, 2007

And the Lutherans Shall Lead Them

Out of the Closet and into the Fire

Have you seen news about this? I read about it in this column in the Austin (TX) Statesman. In an August 3 column titled, "That's One Big Closet," Eileen Flynn writes (in part):

Are you serious, I thought when I heard the voice mail. More than 80 Lutheran ministers will go public with their homosexual identity next week? Mind you, these clergy members serve a comparatively liberal branch of Lutheranism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

But still, many of those coming out on Tuesday are in homosexual relationships, and the ELCA restricts ordination to heterosexuals who are faithful in marriage or celibate homosexuals. As it happens, the ELCA will be debating the issue of dropping the celibacy requirement for gay ministers at its biennial assembly next week in Chicago. . . .

Now again, this is the liberal Lutheran denomination — not the Missouri Synod, which takes a much harsher stance on homosexuality. But still, the ELCA, like most mainline Protestant churches, does have a celibacy rule. And if church leaders don’t change that policy at this convention, aren’t these folks putting their collars on the line? . . .

Read a little background on the debate in this Chicago Sun Times story. And here in the Tribune.

Flynn is exactly correct: These 80 Lutheran ministers will indeed be "putting their collars on the line." They know the consequences. What a courageous action!

This set me to thinking of the many well-informed people in the upper levels of the Episcopal Church who frequently say that Bishop Gene Robinson is not the only bishop who is gay – not the only one in the Episcopal Church, and not the only one in the Anglican Communion. He is, as they often say, merely the first bishop who has been honest about the fact. The rest of the gay bishops throughout the Anglican world (on the left, right, and center) continue to hide under the hem of his chasuble.

Eighty brave Lutheran ministers are set to come "out of the closet" next week during the ELCA's biennial national assembly, knowing they are likely to be defrocked as a consequence. I expect those ministers don't have the savings, mutual funds, and pensions that our closeted gay bishops have. Those 80 Lutheran ministers will "put their all on the altar." Oh, how I would love to see our closeted gay bishops show similar courage!

And what will the closeted gay bishops in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion say when the 80 Lutherans "come out"? You know the answer as well as I do. They will say absolutely nothing. If anything, they will dig their closets a little deeper and wider. As far as I can tell, not one of them has the courage that these 80-something Lutherans have. Not one of them has shown Gene Robinson's courage.
Of course, the response will be thunderous silence from the Anglican bishops who sit in closeted comfort. I know that. But I hope events like this will cause them more and more pain, as they see what cost some people pay while they sit safely under their mitres, hiding – not leading, not shepherding.


Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, I am thrilled by this. I wrote a thought for the day post about something like this. Here's the link.

It's a first step. God bless the clergy of the ECLA. Perhaps the clergy of other denominations will follow suit.

8/05/2007 7:45 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks for this info about the Lutheran clergy. I had never stopped to wonder about OTHER Episcopal priests than Gene Robinson being gay. Now that seems rather dense of me. He didn't start a rush of disclosure. How impressed I am of these brave Lutheran ministers.

8/05/2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ah, I see it now, Grandmère. I missed it on the first go-round.

No doubt, fancies like this strike all of us from time to time.

But bravo for the Lutherans planning to do it and not just talk-talk-talk about it. I hope their press conference will get good coverage.

8/05/2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Jan, there are very many gay and lesbian priests in our church. Several of us have also heard from reliable sources that there are also plenty of gay bishops, both within TEC and in the wider Anglican Communion.

Believe it, my sister!

8/05/2007 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Linda McMillan said...

You know, I really ams tarting to like those Lutherans.

8/06/2007 12:55 AM  
Blogger Suzer said...

I wish the UMC clergy would have the same courage. A couple have, but as of yet there has been no group effort to do so. Their livelihoods are at stake, so I understand there fear.

8/07/2007 9:03 AM  
Blogger Suzer said...

"there" fear? I can't believe I typed that.

"their" fear.

And it's not even Monday.

8/07/2007 11:31 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

The pro-gay forces in the ELCA have decided that they can’t win the argument through democratic means, so they will resort to blackmail. The message is clear: change the policy, or the pro-gay forces in the church will threaten synods and bishops with the financial burden of the trials necessary to remove these 80 clergy members. They are going to cost our denomination dozens and dozens of clergy, and/or thousands of dollars. These clergy will not conform to the rules of the denomination, so it will result in what could have been an avoidable ending. If the gay clergy publicly "come out" they will lose if they are removed from the roster. The ELCA members will lose the dollars that the trials would cost that would be better going elsewhere. Or, if the ELCA decides to change it's stance it will result in a HUGE division of the ELCA church, which will result in less resources to carry out the Great Commission that our Lord instructed us to. It is a sad day for ELCA members like me.

8/07/2007 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Pu-LEASE Bryan.
Listen to yourself: what you sound like youare sayiing is "they should stay in the closet where they belong". It's not even that you are mad that they are gay, just that they may finally be honest about it!


8/07/2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/07/2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/07/2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

I never said, "they should stay in the closet where they belong". I didn't say it in my post. I didn't insinuate it in my post. Please don't put words in my mouth. Regardless what I believe I am saying that this is a lose - lose situation for all members of the ELCA.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "only the believer is obedient and only the obedient believe". In the ELCA Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Ordained Ministers it says "The biblical understanding which this church affirms is that the normative setting for sexual intercourse is marriage. In keeping with this understanding, chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage are the norm. Adultery, promiscuity, the sexual abuse of another, or the misuse of counseling relationships for sexual favors constitute conduct that is incompatible with the character of the ministerial office. Practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the ordained ministry of this church."
There is nothing discriminative about this. It applies to you and I along with everyone else, regardless of color, sex or sexual orientation. It is black and white. If this rule is not considered valid then what happens when a drunkard makes an argument to be included in the roster of clergy? I want, and in fact encourage the drunkard to attend my church service, but I don't want him to lead my church. Rules are rules and until they are changed and we need to live by them. There are procedures to change the rules. However, strong arm tactics is not the way.
We all have the gift of justification, that is the gift of grace. However along with justification comes the sanctification part, you can't just throw sanctification "out with the bath water". We need to keep justification unified with sanctification. Otherwise we are guilty of being the recipients of "cheap grace".
You are welcome to think what you want about the future of the church after this years Churchwide Assembly but, you don't know me from Adam. You don't know anything about me. My role model is my Lord, Jesus the Christ. I try to use him as an example in everything I do. He is not a bigot and like him I am very "tolerant" of everyone but, I do not accept or condone quit a few things in the society we live in today. Please don't tell me what I am saying or thinking. I am capable of that all by myself.

8/07/2007 5:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Bryan, there's no blackmail involved. The ELCA simply met in assembly and decided to take a step back to consider what our Lord would have us do. Please don't get your panties in a wad.

8/11/2007 8:52 PM  

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