Friday, June 27, 2008

The Thing That Ate Our Church

At our lay ministry meeting last night I found out that our synod wants to collect comments from members of our congregation concerning the in-process ELCA statement on human sexuality, which can be found here .

I find it interesting that, to my knowledge, we're never asked to practice similar group discernment with ELCA statements regarding, say, peace in the Middle East or a Christian response to the environmental crisis or any of the other social issues the church has addressed over the years.

I am so tired of the church being constantly distracted by what a friend of mine calls The Troubles. (Yes, I'm aware that the proposed statement covers many aspects of human sexuality, but we all know the direction this discussion will be headed, really, in most congregations.) I'm reminded of that classic West Wing line: "Why do you have to turn everything into a thing?"

I read the report. It's fine, as institutional reports go. Now, let's, for the love of God, move on, before this thing turns into a thing in our parish.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I hadn't thought about that point, why is it that we don't comment on the other stuff. And most congregations are, I've thought (??) ignoring this report. Our former pastor was placed in an interim position in a congregation that did discuss it and it split them. It is a mine field, no matter what.

The Simpleton said...

You know, I'm reminded of the psychotherapeutic concept of "the return of the repressed." This thing doesn't go away because we never really deal with it. Only, as in the clinical phenomenon, the thing is not really what we imagine it to be. In my non-professional opinion, its identity has to do with a Platonic split between spirit and material (certainly not something implied by an incarnate God) that subsequently wants to slough off the body as quickly as possible. And who better represents the troublesome, material body to the church than those of us who seem to be identified primarily by our genitals? Christians in general could profit by meditating on the place of the body in the Body of Christ.

Also, I was struck, at the study hearings held at our synod assembly, how many people came to the microphone and said "We need to know what is a sin." It's easy to ask that question when you think the answer is going to be about something you don't engage in yourself. But even more importantly, what have we Lutherans been taught that we are so interested in looking at the Bible solely as a rule book, uninflected with Gospel? How can that rich treasure be so consistently boiled down to two or three passages?

Tom in Ontario said...

In 2004 our Synod passed a motion of welcome to a whole host of people who can be, or are, discriminated against and stated that they're welcome. I think that statement made us a RIC Synod with Lutherans Concerned.

In 2006 our Synod passed a motion allowing a local option to bless same-sex unions. Our national church stated we didn't have the authority, as a synod, to do so. We still believe we do but we're holding off for the time being.

In May of 2008 a congregation in our synod ordained a gay man in a homosexual relationship which is against the rules (the bishop says he's in favour of what they hope to accomplish but has to initiate disciplinary action because they didn't do it by the rules).

For years now we've been so caught up in "The Troubles" that we're not "moving on" to anything else. I'm seriously considering, that if (when) a motion comes up next week at our Synod Assembly that has anything to do with human sexuality (more likely homosexuality) that I'm going to move that the motion be "postponed indefinitely" which defeats a motion without voting against it.

I realize the rights of homosexuals is an important matter in the church but it's not the only matter and that's how it's seemed for years now. Maybe we just need a break for a few years before we start debating this again.

I hope that's not insensitive or insulting or uncaring. It's just that it has seemed that our church has been concerned only about one issue for too long now.