Tuesday, September 8, 2009


(This is a response from a retired pastor who attends Amazing Grace. He gave me permission to post this here. "Popcorn with Pastor Paul" was the name we gave to a congregational conversation about the recent changes in the ELCA).

It was billed as “Popcorn with Pastor Paul.” What brought the large group of somewhat anxious people together was neither popcorn nor Pastor Paul (though he deserves enormous credit for getting us together and structuring the communication procedures). The attraction was the subject matter. The 11th Biennial Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) had just decided to allow for the blessing of same-gender relationships and the rostering of those in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships.

We have learned again that voting often creates more confusion than it resolves, especially when it comes to hot moral or theological issues. And the vote in Minneapolis was unbelievably close. Beyond ELCA, observers are saying that this particular issue may be the biggest threat to the unity of Christians in 150 years (slavery).

The “popcorn people” shared their reactions to this ELCA move with respect and enthusiasm although it was evident to this observer that we all have a lot to learn about what the Bible teaches and what modern science is showing us about the nature of homosexuality.

Jesus knew he would not be around when many thorny issues come up so he said he would ask the Father to send the Spirit to help us. Some of us think we know the answers already. Actually, we know very little for certain, especially the part God plays in all of this and what God wants us to do with it.

The purity laws of the Old Testament are not of much use to us here unless we want to enforce ALL of them. The Gospels do not mention homosexuality at all and nowhere is it addressed as a loving, committed relationship. Instead of anticipating and addressing the complications we would face 2,000 years later, Jesus left us with this: “A new commandment I give to you—that you love one another.” Martin Buber translated the second half of the great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as a person like yourself.” Now the question becomes not “what does the ELCA want us to do?” but “what does it mean to love my gay neighbor.”

Charles Prewitt, DMin

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