Archive - August, 2009

Just Another Grape Lady Monday

I got it. I finally got it. My “grape lady” shirt came in the mail!

Photo on 2009-08-31 at 09.33

Not only is this a beautifully designed t-shirt, it pays homage to the viral video that started my love affair with social media. That video, of course, is the “grape lady.”

If you’ve been living under a rock and have no idea who the grape lady is (and what happens when you taunt grapes), behold this pop culture prize:

Yes, she is okay. And highly embarrassed. Nothing like the pain of others to brighten your day!

A Lutheran Responds to the ELCA

I think the immigration laws of this country need to change.

I’m for health care reform.

I think the Bible is accurate in the message it conveys, but I don’t believe in the modern notion of inerrancy. In the words of a friend, “subjectivity is all there is.”

However, the ELCA just took one step further than I could ever go. As of Friday last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now allows people in committed, same-sex monogamous relationships to be ordained as clergy. Further, the ELCA will now allow its churches to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies for couples seeking to married.

This vote ultimately wasn’t about sexuality. It was about Scripture and what place we allow it, as individuals and as a denomination, in our lives. Will it be at the head of the table or underneath our feet? Will it be the prime rib on our plate, or the place mat our plate sits on? The ELCA, sadly, has decided it will be the authority to God’s Word, not the other way around.

Scripture makes us uncomfortable at times, either in its silence or in its clarity. To my conviction (and to many others), Scripture is clear regarding homosexuality. I have been persuaded by the word of God, by thousands of years of faithful interpretation and by the sweet voice of Spirit. In the words of Martin Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” As uncomfortable as this may make me personally, I cannot “unconvict” myself. I know many people–many good-hearted people–who are gay or lesbian and at times, it is hard for me to reconcile my affection for them and the teachings of Scripture. “If they are loving each other well,” I think to myself, “how can that be wrong?” But my emotions are not the authority. God’s word is.

It is clear from Scripture that God’s intent for human sexuality is between a man and a woman in the freedom of a covenant relationship. It is affirmed and held up as the standard from Genesis to Revelation by Yahweh, the Prophets, Jesus himself, St. Paul and St. John. Contrary to the popular argument, there is no “progressive truth” to behold here. This is not the same as eating pork or wearing a cotton-poly t-shirt. The original language does not affirm homosexuality no matter how it’s (poorly) translated. Jonathan and David were not lovers. We cannot make God’s word say something it does not, no matter how hard we might try.

I am frustrated that this had to come to a “vote.” Certainly because of the outcome, yes, but also because I feel we are “beating a dead horse,” that being the moral status of homosexuality. Even though my position is firm, I believe many years of faithful reconciliatory work between the gay and lesbian community and the Church is now strained. That community, to some degree, is saying, “We know where you stand. We get it. You think it’s sinful. Enough already.” While someone may hold the conviction that homosexuality is less than God’s best, one does not need to rub it in others’ faces mercilessly. It is much like a scab that is never allowed to heal: It is picked at for so long that the body is not allowed to do its job and effect healing. The wound is never permitted to close and healing, truly, never takes places. All that’s left is an ugly scar. That scar is on us as the Church. Simply put, you can hold a conviction while maintaining civility. One does not need to be a jerk in order to be “right.”

This isn’t about being “inclusive” or “accepting” or “welcoming.” God does not hate homosexuals. I don’t hate people who are gay and lesbian. Far from it. But I do believe the Bible is clear. This is my standard, no matter how hard it is for me to grasp at times. But even in my conviction, this does not mean I must hate people who disagree. I refuse to do that. Will you offer me the same courtesy?

The ELCA took an immeasurable step backwards last week, regardless of how progressive it believes itself to be. Being a lifelong Lutheran, it pains me to see the fracturing of this once great denomination. The ELCA will lose the support of many congregations. It will lose support from Lutheran partner churches in Africa, Asia and Europe. It will lose members like never before because it has lost its soul. I believe if Martin Luther himself were alive today, he wouldn’t recognize the denomination that claims his name, either in the spirit or the letter of the law.

Perhaps I am wrong. Hopefully I am. May God have mercy on the ELCA in this time of tribulation, even if that mercy means dissolution.

When I Grow Up…

What do you want to do with your life?

Tell us. It might just be the first step to making it happen!

Top 5 Posts of the Week: ELCA Edition

Here’s a recap of the top five posts from BeDeviant.com this past week.  This past week was a hot one for those of us in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.) It was a big week, for obvious reasons. If you haven’t heard what’s been going on with us, check out these posts and get up-to-date. These got the most traffic on the site, were shared the most, and had the most comments.

1. 95 Lutheran Pastors Stand Defiantly During ELCA Vote: Taking a nod from Martin Luther, 95 Lutheran pastors “come out” during the ELCA churchwide assembly. Reactions are mixed, but there are reactions.

2. Tornado Hits Near ELCA Assembly Hall During Vote: The headline says it all. A tornado–the first in 90 years in this area–hits during the commencement of some controversial votes at the assembly.

3. ELCA Churchwide Assembly Begins Amidst Controversy: On the docket for this assembly was determining whether or not the ELCA would allow pastors in monogamous same-sex relationships to be ordained. And that was just one day!

4. ELCA One Step Closer to Passing Sexuality Statement: The social statement was adopted. Now how would it be enacted?

5. ELCA Human Sexuality Resolution Status: The on-going status of the four resolutions up for debate at the ELCA assembly. Check out the final tally and whether they passed or not.

So there they are, your top 5 posts of the week! Recap, refresh, re-read, re-tweet!

Have you enjoyed today’s post? Would you kindly consider subscribing to our feed through RSS or email? That way, you’re never out of the loop! BeDeviant.com comes to you, how brilliant. Thank you!

ELCA Human Sexuality Resolution Status

This is a running post which will be updated as these resolutions come up for debate and vote. Check back often for the most recent updates.

1. The ELCA will make decisions so that all in this church bear the burdens of the other, and respect the bound consciences of all. PASSED: 771 Yes, 230 No.

2. The ELCA is committed to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships. PASSED: 619 Yes, 402 No.

3. The ELCA is committed to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as professional leaders of this church. PASSED: 559 Yes, 451 No.

4. The ELCA agrees to remove the blanket ban on partnered gay clergy. PASSED: 667 Yes, 307 No.

You can read the rest of the results of everything that was considered, passed, or not passed here. A special thanks to the ELCA web team for making the live webcast possible!

Caption This: ELCA Edition #CWA09

This is the cross on top of the steeple at Central Lutheran in downtown Minneapolis. Central is an ELCA church that is across the street from the assembly hall where the ELCA this week.

In short, a tornado hit the church and left the cross on the steeple hanging upside-down. That is what you’re seeing. It begs for a caption.

(If you want to read why some believe this to be significant, go here.)

steepletornadodowninMinn

Tornado Hits Near ELCA Assembly Hall During Vote

At approximately 2 pm yesterday, a tornado touched down in downtown Minneapolis. It was the first tornado to hit this area in nearly 90 years. Even more profound is that the agenda for the churchwide assembly stated that discussion surrounding the proposed human sexuality statement would begin at, you guessed it, 2 pm.

I’m not saying that this tornado was sent by God as a warning of the “wrath to come.” But I’m also not prepared to rule it out. Either position–assurance or dismissal–is grounded in pride and arrogance. One has to at least entertain the fact that this is a profound coincidence. Either way, it cannot be ignored.

A Minneapolis pastor, not Lutheran, phrased it like this on his blog:

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

Here are some pictures from the tornado damage at Central Lutheran. This ELCA church was serving as a “home base” for the attendees of the assembly. The assembly hall where the ELCA is meeting is across the street.

The first picture is the steeple of Central Lutheran. The second picture is the courtyard area of the church. You can see the damaged steeple at the top of the picture. The white tents on the ground were to house a “pub” for the assembly attenders, amongst other things.

Central_MPLS_081809_02

Severe Weather

Another interesting observation is that the vote on the sexuality statement passed by exactly two-thirds percent, or 66.6%. Traditionally that number, thee sixes in a row, doesn’t have a great track record. Again, I’m not suggesting we look deeper into this than need be. But I’m also not dismissing it outright.

These are extraordinary times in the ELCA; the Church at large really. I think it’s safe to say that something happened yesterday. Discerning what that something is is a matter of prayer, reflection and time.

You can check out the webcast of the ELCA churchwide assembly here and read our other posts on the assembly here.

ELCA Passes Statement on Human Sexuality

As of 6pm CST on Wednesday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed the proposed statement on human sexuality with the narrowest margin of 66.6% to 33.3%.

Directly from the ELCA’s website:

The 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, meeting in Indianapolis, asked for a social statement on human sexuality. Social statements are theological and teaching documents on significant issues of social importance and form the basis for social policy in the ELCA. If adopted “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” becomes the 10th ELCA social statement.

The proposed social statement was drafted by a task force. An initial draft was released in 2008. Following discussion and comments from throughout the church, the draft was revised and a proposed social statement was released in February 2009. The document was reviewed by church leaders and transmitted by the ELCA Church Council to the Churchwide Assembly. A two-thirds majority is required to adopt social statements in the ELCA.

“Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” addresses key Lutheran principles about living faithfully in a complex world, social structures, trust in relationships, cohabitation, sexual exploitation, abuses of the ministerial office and healthy workplaces.

This means that the ELCA now will ordain people in open and committed same-sex relationships. This is a big deal. Here’s the moment captured by the one, the only, Jake Bouma:

The policies will be voted on this Friday. To the best of my understanding, the proposed policies are how the statement will be enacted throughout the denomination. The what was voted on today, that being the statement on sexuality, “Gift & Trust“.

95 Lutheran Pastors Stand Defiantly During ELCA Vote

Picture 4

In a defiant act of protest, 95 Lutheran pastors have “come out” as openly gay or lesbian in a document being released this week. The release coincides with the ELCA churchwide assembly that is meeting this week to vote on whether or not to ordain gay and lesbian pastors in committed, same-sex relationships. The document can be found here, entitled “One Table, Many Blessings” released by the group GoodSoil.org.

In an article from The Minnesota Independent, a same-gender couple is interviewed and reveals their stance on the ELCA vote:

Among the stories told in the booklet includes a lesbian couple from Minnesota, Rev. Phyllis Zillhart and Rev. Ruth Frost, whose church in California was expelled from the ELCA because the two pastors are married.

“We could not and will not wait for the ELCA to approve our ministries,” the couple wrote in the booklet. “January marks the 20th anniversary of our extraordinary ordinations together with our gay colleague, Jeff Johnson. Yet there are people who do not recognize our marriage, our shared parenthood, or our ministry as legitimate.”

The couple said that young people like their daughter are leaving the church over these issues. “She has marched in Pride parades every year of her life. She is clear about who her parents and her village are to her,” they wrote. “She is not clear what the Lutheran Church as a whole is to her. Her generation will decide what place the Church will have in their lives based on the justice and hospitality they see extended to or withheld from LGBT people.”

Make no mistake, this is a defining issue for this generation. Particularly telling was the portion where the couple’s daughter was highlighted. Her mothers write, “Her generation will decide what place the Church will have in their lives based on the justice and hospitality they see extended to or withheld from LGBT people.

So, what do you think? How would you answer that?

ELCA One Step Closer to Passing Sexuality Statement

If people who opposed the ELCA’s statement on sexuality had any chance of seeing the statement not pass, it all but faded away last night.

In a motion late last night, the assembly voted to accept a simple majority (51% 50% + 1) on the sexuality statement vote on Friday instead of a two-thirds vote. The vote was approximately 60% in favor of a simple majority and 40% opposed. In other words, passing the resolution to ordain clergy in open, same-sex relationships just got much easier.

As someone stated last night on the hashtag for the churchwide assembly, “One person’s hallelujah is another person’s God help us.” It’s no secret that this vote will bring division to the ELCA. This is sad. If you’re wondering what the vote on Friday will be, these four resolutions must pass in sequential order:

1. The ECLA is committed to allowing congregations and synods to recognize and support “lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

2. The ELCA is committed to finding a way for people in such relationships to serve as clergy in the church.

3. The ELCA agrees to respect the consciences of churchmembers who disagree on the issue.

4. The ELCA agrees to remove the blanket ban on partnered gay clergy.

No matter where one stands on this issue, it saddens me to know that the ELCA, in its current form, will never be the same again. With denominations taking a massive hit in general, this will further polarize the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. It may even lead to its demise.

As in yesterday’s post, below is the real-time Twitter feed of the assembly (#CWA09) via Twubs. Stay in touch of the goings on there or tune into the live webcast at http://bit.ly/ELCA-CWA09. Continue to check back here on BeDeviant.com for all the latest updates and results from the vote on Friday.


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