Friday, November 23, 2007

The Big Lie: ELCA Celibacy Requirement

A couple of days ago when I wrote about the latest irregular ordination in the ELCA, I quoted from this press release of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, the first paragraph of which reads:
On November 17, 2007, The Rev. Jen Rude was set aside for Word and Sacrament ministry by laying on of hands. Pastor Rude’s ordination is the fourth time in 13 months that a Lutheran congregation has directly challenged the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) policy requiring lifelong celibacy of gay and lesbian clergy.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about that statement -- ELM's predecessors have been campaigning against the ELCA's "celibacy requirement" ever since the PLTS Three had their "Approval for Ordination" status effectively revoked circa 1988-89.

There's only one problem: there is no such requirement. No, I'm not referring to the several ELCA Synod Bishops who this last summer finally started admitting that they had not been applying the church's standards for homosexual clergy or congregations that called and ordained them. I'm referring to the ELCA's actual standards.

As I wrote in the TitusOneNine thread on the Chicago Tribune report of Miss Rude's ordination:
The actual standard in the ELCA (see the document Vision and Expectations) is:

"Single ordained ministers are expected to live a chaste life. Married ordained ministers are expected to live in fidelity to their spouses, giving expression to sexual intimacy within a marriage relationship that is mutual, chaste, and faithful. Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships."

No one is asked to take a “vow of celibacy.”
ELCA Pastors vow to "lead [God's people] by your own example in faithful service and holy living" when we are ordained. There is only one appropriate context for Christians, especially those set apart for the Holy Ministry, to engage in sexual relations: Holy Matrimony (marriage). Chastity is expected for all of us -- straight, gay, married, single. Chastity; not celibacy.

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