Thursday, June 05, 2008

And Not Dissenting...

Once upon a time, Lutherans Concerned was, well, concerned about Lutheran churches being a safe place for homosexuals, or those wondering if they might be homosexual, to deal with their struggles. The Church is a place where one ought to hear the grace of God, though often when it came to homosexuality the words of pastors and church members were either non-existent or solely condemning.

On the whole, this was a good thing. After all, what we sinners need to hear is, "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17) And if the only thing thing people, especially young ones, hear about homosexuality from Christians is about how "they will burn in Hell," the two most common responses of those who find themselves struggling with homosexuality are 1) despair that God or anyone else could ever love them (which can lead to suicide) or 2) rejection of Christ and his Church.

20 years ago, Lutherans Concerned/North American (LC/NA) changed -- and it was a quick, radical change -- to a focus on "full acceptance," especially the public blessing homosexual relationships and ordaining those in them. And not simply of gay and lesbian persons, but those of "all sexual orientations and gender identities." You wouldn't know it today, but in the early days of the ELCA when the gay ordination issue blew up, the matter was extremely controversial not only throughout the ELCA, it was extremely controversial within Lutherans Concerned. Those proposing the very ideas were viewed as a radical fringe. 2 years later any dissent to that "radical fringe" had been silenced. (It also moved from being a general "Lutheran" group -- I once met a member of a Wisconsin Synod congregation at a Lutherans Concerned event -- to one focussed on the ELCA alone.)

The idea of "gay marriage" took longer, but in the last 10 years it has become pretty much a demand for most "mainstream" GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, and Queer and/or questioning) advocacy, Lutheran Concerned included. (Though there are still plenty of homosexuals who think marriage and committed relationships is heterosexist nonsense, and want nothing to do with it.) And it seems they were ready when the California Supreme Court set aside 2500 years of Western thought and culture.

The web site for the Los Angeles Chapter of Lutherans Concerned is (Cute, no?) The main page gives the locations of those ELCA congregations that have declared themselves "Reconciling in Christ" (RIC) and/or have a special, explicit welcome for all sexual minorities. You'll find 12 congregations listed, though in actuality any LA area ELCA congregation would welcome just about anyone. Partly because the entire synod is RIC; mostly because Lutherans don't have sexuality detectors at the doors.

And now there's a link titled "Getting MARRIED!" There you'll find 9 congregations and pastors "that will welcome you and are ready to help you plan your wedding day!" 7 of those congregations are on LC/NA's RIC list, and 1 is also on LC/LA's list.

And then there's one more Lutheran church in the Los Angeles area glad to have your gay wedding. Granted, I wasn't terribly surprised to see it on the list for the pastor at that congregation was, in the years prior to being called there, the co-ordinator for Lutherans Concerned/LA's RIC program. I figured the pastor would be giddily joyful upon the the California Supreme Court's judgment. Nevertheless, it's... home congegation: where I was baptized, raised in the Faith and confirmed, where I communed and served in many lay roles, where I was ordained.

[sigh!] How terribly, terribly sad...

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