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A Matter of Honest Labeling

January 6, 2010 | 5 Comments

To the Host:
What is your reaction to the ELCA's recent decision to allow congregations to bless same-gender unions and/or call openly gay pastors? How are the decisions playing at Lake Wobegon Lutheran?

Jeffrey S.
Winlock, WA


My reaction, Jeffrey, is that I wouldn't want to be the historic First Gay Lutheran Pastor and walk around with a plaque on my back. People would expect you to be a saint and to give off radiant beams of light. They would await miracles. Pastors are servants and in the Lutheran church, congregations call their own pastors, so this decision is simply a matter of honest labeling. If a congregation wants a hetero pastor, they should have one and if they want the other brand, they can have that, too, but let the clergy be honest about who they are. You shouldn't order a Ford and get a Chevy. In Lake Wobegon, the Lutherans are all in turmoil about it and I don't know if they'll stay in the ELCA or not, or whether some of them might pull out and form their own un-gay church — they're all busy shovelling snow now. But the urge to separate from others is strong and there will always be restless people. In every marriage there is a strong case for divorce. One thing that keeps Lutherans together is the love of singing. There is nothing like a Lutheran congregation for singing acapella the old hymns and when they are riven by divisive talk, the antidote is to sit them down in a room and have them sing "Beautiful Savior". You'd hate to have the tenors and half the sopranos walk away over some doctrinal difference.


I'm proud to say my minister (Episcopal) is one of the first two women appointed the Bishop's assistants in the Los Angeles Diocese.
The other minister is a lesbian. Thank goodness women, and at that lesbian women, are being recognized for their accomplishments. I agree that there are people who will "divorce." That's their perogative -- aren't we happy we live in a country where this can happen?
San Clemente, CA
(A pretty conservative place...)

This Lutheran pastor (and fan) agrees with Garrison wholeheartedly. I hope and pray that people of faith who either affirm, struggle with or oppose the recent decisions made at our churchwide assembly will remember that we are bound to one another not only by tradition (from doctrine/dogma to singing, coffee, potluck suppers, etc.), but most deeply by the one in whose name we gather. There is a place in Christ's church for everyone. This is most certainly true.

Glad to see you are open-minded on the subject. Do you remember when it was seen as being a tragedy if a woman didn't get married or a couple remained childless, the wife was called barren. In a world becominng over-populated it is curious that alternate life-style choices are becoming more acceptable. In a perfect world it would be recognized that being gay is not a life-style choice; if God made us that way why should men judge us. Don't know if the day will arrive but ideally in an egalitarian world so-called sexual preference should not be an issue. Certainly it should not be associated with moral uprightness. There are sexual preditors who are hetero, to paint homosexuals that way a priori is a travesty. Calling the union of gay partners marriage, however is another kettle of fish. It is ironic that the denomination that requires celebicy of its priests looks down its nose at homosexuality. In the end the issue is not fact but appearance, whatever an organization's official position you are right in saying that it is the acceptance of a congregation which calls a gay pastor.

Thanks, Old Scout, for your many opinions and offerings. For twenty years, I have been going to a Presbyterian church in a rural part of Maryland, because my wife and I just like the people there (At first, I did not like some of them, but those have left or died.) When this small but vigorous congregation decided it was not going to reject certain people, it lost some substantial but good-hearted members, as well as others. Too bad, but this diminishing congregation of about 60 formal members is vigorous and friendly but old, and I am 73. It is great while it lasts.

I would like to thank you for not "taking sides" on this issue for the Lutherans of Lake Wobegon. Many of our churches have chosen to ignore Biblical standards that are clearly written and to choose sides for the show would alienate a good portion of viewers ... for no good reason. Better to show it like it is ... an argument and let them wonder out loud at the cafe. I used to be Lutheran ... sing more, sin less. Now I'm a Baptist with the same motto :-)

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