This long overdue post literally couldn't have happened without 7 months passing since the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I could have, of course, written something else but didn't feel inspired. Since the Churchwide Assembly and resulting chaos, I have done a good deal of research on the subject of sexuality both in and out of the church as well as homosexuality in specific.
Through the research I've conducted as well as a 20 page term paper I've written, I have actually found myself being drawn back "into the fold" of the Lutheran church. It has been years since I would self-identify as "Lutheran" but I've even gone so far as to change my Facebook information to reflect my return. I would imagine, for many people, the 2009 Churchwide Assembly may have had the opposite effect--while not turning them away from the Lutheran church, it may have turned them away from the ELCA.
The aspect of my research I'd like to focus on is the conversation (abstractly speaking) that has taken place over the past 3 months between my father and I. Upon reading Faithful Conversations, a resource published by Augsburg Fortress (publishing wing of the ELCA), I suggested my father read it as well. While not wanting to speak on his behalf, I think it is safe to say that he disagreed with the ELCA's decision and was deeply disturbed by it.
So my father and I would exchange notes so to speak on the different essays on Faithful Conversations as well as go down tangents based on some other reading I had done for class. The net effect of all this study and talking was that he remained against the decision and I remained for it (and even more). Yet this experiment was a success because in the end we were able to understand and appreciate, while not agreeing, with each other's position. I could sympathize with my father's frustration with having to accept a decision he viewed as an incorrect interpretation of scripture, but my father was also able to accept that scripture could be interpreted in a way to allow for homosexuals as priests without having to rely on logical or hermeneutical gymnastics (at least I think he is!).
This mutual appreciation for divergent views is of utmost importance right now in my own church. People are upset with the ELCA, the synod, and each other not because they disagree, but because they haven't had a covnersation about the topic. The "pro-group" can't relate to the "ant-group" because they haven't heard their explanation and vice versa. A mature conversation between all parties (and there are not just two but many) is needed not to come to an agreement, but to come to an understanding.
If having this conversation can lead me to embrace being Lutheran as well as bringing my father and I closer together, there is no reason to fear having the same talk among a congregation.
For those interested in pursuing this conversation further I recommend the following resources:
The Church and the Homosexual by John McNeil--This is written by a Jesuit and is not impartial. His goal is to set forth and new theology that is accepting of homosexuality.
Faithful Conversation (ed. by James Childs)--This is the collection of essays I mention. It is impartial on the whole, though some individual essays take a side.
Background Essay on Biblical Texts by Arland Hultgren and Walter Taylor--An exegetical exposition of the Bible passages dealing with homosexuality. Impartial as both authors provide differing views. Available for free at
This last resource is part of Journey Together Faithfully which is a three part series on the church and sexuality. Part 2 is specifically about homosexuality