Saturday, August 22, 2009

Respecting Bound the Consciences of All

“...the ELCA commit itself to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all”

This was the very first resolution that was passed on Friday morning of the ELCA Churcwide Assembly as they took up the four policy recommendations from the task force on sexuality. It was a covenent that whatever changes were made in the polcy, we committ ourselves “to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all”

It's a beautiful idea and I couldn't imagine how anyone on any side could object to it and in fact, after a little discussion (that often veered off into discussion of other resolutions about homosexuality) it passed by 77%

I was really really happy for that resolution. That is the resolution that is going to make it easier for me to talk about what happened this week with my conservative congregation. That is the resolution that I am going to cling to when some will inevitably bring up the question as to whether or not the congregation should leave the ELCA. (That and my favorite "Well I would be very sorry if you did that because I would no longer be able to be your pastor")

By now you should have heard that we have gone and done it. The assembly voted to find ways for those congregations who choose to do so, to recognize life long committed monogamous same sex relationships and to accept as rostered leaders those who are in such relationships. As you may remember, I predicted they would pass.

I do understand how difficult this is for some people. For many years I experienced something of a cognitive dissonance between the way I had been taught to believe what the bible said about homosexuality and all the gay people I knew who were faithful, gifted people who had much to share with the church.

But let me just share this between you and me (and God knows who else reads this blog) I'm getting a little annoyed and and fed up and not wanting to respect the bound consciences of all. I believe there are ELCA members in real pain and confusion over this. But I just am not buying all the tears of those who are more public about it. I commented about how annoyed I was to hear people take up assembly time at the mike yesterday to share their pain. I was frankly disgusted with Pr. David Glesne from Minneapolis who, after Bishop Anderson gave some very graceful and wise pastoral remarks, claims personal privilege and gets up to tell us all what a terrible thing we have done and how much we've hurt him. In other words, "the hell you with bishop and everyone else I disagree with - I do not respect your bound conscience" But we are supposed to be compassionate and respect his bound conscience.

WELL I DON'T WANNA! I don't want to respect the bound conscience of people who are going to throw that phrase which they don't believe in and will not adhere to back in my face to constantly tell me how hurt they are. I do not want to respect the bound conscience of people who have publicly compared gays and lesbians to dog poop and cattle who have gotten out of the gate. I do not want to respect the bound conscience of people who think a mild tornado that did very little damage was some kind of judgment of God.

But my church has committed itself to do so. And more importantly, Christ bids me do so. That's what it means to be part of the church. And so I will take a deep breath and forgive them. And continue to pray for us all.


  1. Nicely put. It is good, but hard, to point out something that reflects back on the speaker without being snarky. I'm wondering what the buzz will be in church today and I think my pastor won't be back, due to being a delegate.

  2. This is great stuff. I share much of the same thoughts. I come from a denomination where there was little room for "bound conscience." So, on one hand, I like the freedom this idea brings. But how are we truly honoring LGBT people when we say, "But churches can think/act otherwise, and that's okay." I'm new to this whole Lutheran thing, and my local church is not very Lutheran at all, even though it is ELCA. I'm trying to sort out what this means for me, a strong ally of the LGBT community who is proud of my denomination, but not so sure where my local church stands.

    (BTW, I'm voiceofsophia from twitter)

  3. you are doing such great reflections, Joelle!

    Even though I was in town, we didn't get to the Assembly, because we were doing major home repairs, and I thought I would be very unpopular in my family.

    I know how you feel, especially now about a month later when my old Confessions teacher has come out that he is leaving the ELCA and that we are no longer a church (we don't preach law/gospel in its purity -- you can't "vote" "Law" into "gospel".) according to him. Another at my seminary has been coming out with the same sort of opinion.

    I've been struggling with how to write on my blog about this. still thinking...

  4. I used to have alot of respect for Nestigen but really from the beginning of the merger I think he was one of those old white guys that perceived he was loosing power and privedge in the new church and this is just where that resentment has led him.