Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who oppose same-sex marriage may no longer enjoy the protection of a social statement that respects their conscience.
Delegates to the denomination’s churchwide assembly approved a motioned called the “Revision to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust Social Statement.” The ELCA will create a task force to review the issue and make recommendations to the 2025 assembly. Most attendees who spoke on the motion supported the measure. Considerable applause broke out after Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton confirmed its passage.
Michael Schulte of the Southeastern Synod spoke in favor of the motion, saying he was raised in a church that considered homosexuality a sin.
“I know firsthand how harmful it is to grow up in churches which tell you that your identity and your sexuality damn you to hell,” he said. “I know firsthand how hard it is to grow up in schools that have teachers and church leaders tell you that you are ‘less than’ because of your sexuality.”
Pastor Beth Schlegel of the Lower Susquehanna Synod spoke against the motion, noting that the “bound conscience” measures were meant to recognize diverse views on homosexuality, not just those opposed to same-sex marriage.
“To disregard the variety of understandings of the holy scriptures on this would be a disservice to our church,” she said. “I hope there is a way that we can find a path to be welcoming of all people but also respectful of various viewpoints regarding the authority of scripture.”
Adopted at the ELCA churchwide assembly in 2009, the statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” acknowledged that a “consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same-gender committed relationships” within the denomination. The statement recognized four “conscience-bound” positions on homosexuality, including those who believe that “same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice