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JLE Portfolio: On the Release of the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

 
 

[1] News reports of the report and recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality displayed various headlines.  "No change" was followed by "Gays Win," "Tolerate" and "Be Flexible" as news outlets tried to characterize the recommendations.  Those unfamiliar with the history of the issue in the ELCA, the present regulations, Lutheran history, and Luther's theology might easily find themselves bemused-what are these people up to, anyway?  The report relies upon the particularly Lutheran sense of the pastoral, the Lutheran bound conscience, and requires us as simul justus et peccator to live with ambiguity.

[2] In the time intervening between the release of the report and recommendations and the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, endless permutations of discussion can occur.  What does it mean to be conscience bound?  What is the true basis of the community we share?  Can we adjudicate very different interpretations of scripture?  What does it mean to be pastoral to people when their life and faith are intricately tied to different visions of sexuality?  Our wish is that these discussions all contribute to wisdom, discernment, and the faith life of the church.  In Journal of Lutheran Ethics we will attempt to explore the questions which contribute to our enlightened engagement, bringing together people from a variety of perspectives.  We have asked three people from very different perspectives to comment on the report and recommendations.

[3] To provide a historical overview, Journal of Lutheran Ethics has gathered documents from the ELCA, its predecessor church bodies, and beyond, which describe marriage or sexuality.  Note that the issue of couples living together outside of marriage is not new to this church, and witness how societal realities such as rising divorce rates first challenged our social teachings decades ago.  Next to war, it is difficult to imagine another subject about which so much ink has been spilled.  Put into historical perspective, our struggles are all too familiar.

ELCA Documents
Report and Recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality
A Message on Sexuality: Some Common Convictions
Social Policy Actions on Sexuality

Documents from The American Lutheran Church (ALC)
Pastoral Care with Couples Living Together Outside of Marriage: A Study Paper of The American Lutheran Church
Teachings and Practice on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: A Statement of The American Lutheran Church
Human Sexuality and Sexual Behavior: A Statement of The American Lutheran Church
Interracial Marriage: A Statement of The American Lutheran Church

Documents from the Lutheran Church in America (LCA)
Marriage and Family: A Statement of the Lutheran Church in America
Sex, Marriage, and Family: A Clarifying Convention Minute of the Lutheran Church in America

Documents from Prior Church Bodies
Marriage and Family Life: Statements of the Augustana Lutheran Church
Marriage and Family Life: A Series of Statements of the United Lutheran Church in America

JLE Portfolio: On the Release of Recommendations by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality
If God Gives Them the Same Gifts, Who are We to Hinder God? by Walter M. Stuhr
No Red Synods/Blue Synods in the ELCA by Kathryn A. Kleinhans
Sex and 'Church' by Dennis Bielfeldt
A Response to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality by Christian Scharen, with Paul and Sonja Batalden

 
 
 
© January 2005
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 5, Issue 1