Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is the Church beginning to open our doors?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA),our ecumenical partner, affirmed that they will accept pastors in monogamous same gender relationships this week, and approved a social statement on Human Sexuality. Earlier this summer, the Episcopal Church (TEC) affirmed that God has called and will called same gender loving women and men as priests, deacons, and bishops. Thus they join the United Church of Christ who welcome sexual minorities as members and pastors int heir communion.
For a while, the UCC seemed to be alone. When we passed the marriage equality statement at General Synod in Atlanta in 2005 it appeared to me that we were out there alone. The affirmations of TES and the ECLA say that we are not alone. We are still in a minority in the Christian world. Many of our sisters and brothers feel as if we have cut ourselves off from the tradition and the faith. But at least, I no longer feel alone. This journey may be difficult, and we may be isolated or exiled. But we are not alone. Perhaps this is the beginning of a long arduous journey to a future when the church universal may live up to its calling of accepting all. That is my fervent prayer.

One observation that I read this week that had an impact on me was that lgbt Christians and their supporters were asked to remain in the church while the church struggled to include us. We remained because of our commitment to Christ's vision of a church united. Now traditionalists must consider whether they will remain in communion. In a strange, yet only God inspired way, the traditionalists may gain some insights from the glbt community-how to remain in communion with people with whom you have fundamental disagreements. The ECLA's reflections on bound conscience may prove helpful for those on all sides of this and other controversial issues.

I conclude my remembering the church dividing debates on slavery. Those on both sides appealed to the bible, and many on both sides condemned those on the opposing sides. These many decades later the church has reached a consensus on slavery. Yet we need to acknowledge that for those involved during the struggles to discern the mind of Christ, the consensus did not happen in their lifetimes. Sincere believers on both sides lived and died arguing their deeply held convictions. The white churches in the United States were divided over this issue. Yet those most impacted by this debated, the slaves, my ancestors, were not allow to participate. So I will err, if I must, on the side of those who suffer injury, who are castigated, those who do not have a voice in official assemblies, yet who continue to transform the oppressors' religion into the glorious tale of liberation, who were vindicated not my might, but by their faith in a faithful Saviour.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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