Yesterday there was a tornado that was almost directly on top of the convention center and church where the leadership of the ELCA is gathering to discuss the issue of same-gender relationships and the church. The church steeple was damaged but thankfully no one was hurt.
However, mere moments after the tornado location was determined facebook and the church-y circles in which I move were aflutter with accusations. The tornado was the justice of God warning us not to change the policies of the church. The tornado was a pentecostal act, a blessing of the Holy Spirit on the work being done. (see Acts 2).
People prayed for the church to be governed by grace and love and not superstition. Others prayed that we would open our eyes to the sins of the world and to keep the kingdom of God in the forefront of our mind.
And round and round it went. And still goes.
Now, I have no definitive position on the tornado - though I do not believe that God micro-manages the weather to fit his mood. I do, however see God's hand in the fact that the damage was minor and all the people were fine. But, the drama and the debate have sparked me to want to articulate what I believe. And since it is my blog I will.
A disclaimer: I will try to keep the post civil and respectful to all people. I ask that you do the same in any comments you feel moved to leave.
What I believe on the idea of same-sex marriage, clergy and the church:
I believe that homosexual individuals are that way by chance, governed by genes or environment or something beyond our control. I do not believe it is a choice. I do not believe that a life lived with respect and love towards another is a sinful act whether in a "traditional" marriage or a same-sex relationship. I do believe that acts that seek to hurt, destroy and separate others are sins - adultery, incest, rape, etc being the sexual examples.
I believe those who are in committed same-sex relationships are blessed by God for their commitment to love and respect. I believe that human failings can destroy marriages whether "traditional" or same-sex but that there is not greater likelihood for one to fail over another. I believe that if the government refuses to recognize same-sex relationships it is the church's responsiblity to be cross-cultural and acknowledge that God can be asked to have a part in same-sex marriages as God can be in "traditional" marriage.
I believe that homosexual clergy and layity have insights and wisedom to share with us about God and the Gospel. I believe that they can be people of faith who have been unfairly limited by the definition of sin in our church. I believe that I am humbled almost daily by the faith and understandings of God that they can share with me. I feel that the church will lose an important voice and insight if they prevent those in same-sex relationships from sharing their love of the Gospel in an ordained way.
I believe that there is no understanding of loving same-sex relationships in the Bible and therefore no Biblical precedent for or against homosexuality as it is understood in the 21st century. I believe that the Bible passages that are used against homosexuality are often mistranslated, misunderstood, and taken out of context.
I believe that there is a greater Biblical precedent to keep women from being clergy than homosexuals, despite the fact that the ELCA and myself agree with the ordaining of female clergy.
I believe in the distinction of Law and Gospel, the paradox of Christ as fully God and fully Human. I believe that the grace of God is given to me for the errors I make in my life. I believe that God respects and acknowledges the attempt to love and care for all of God's people, even those who disagree with me.
I believe that I cannot know the mind of God but that through prayer, study, and deep discernment I have reached these conclusions.
I was going to include the why but that is too much for one post. If you'd like an insight into the whys behind my statements please let me know and I can include them here or in another post. Thanks.