If you understood all of that, you may be a Mainline Protestant.
One of my colleagues said recently that he wasn't particularly interested in seeing what the Draft Statement on Human Sexuality said, since it was his opinion that it wouldn't say anything.
I had higher hopes. I've watched our church wrestle with human sexuality (which is, of course, church-speak for "homosexuality") for twenty years now. We tried to get together a statement on human sexuality back in the early nineties. Someone leaked it to the press, the New York Times announced that the Lutherans were "affirming homosexuality and masturbation" and that was all she wrote for Attempt One.
But this is Attempt Two. It's 2008. Surely we're ready to Journey Faithfully into the twenty-first century Together. Surely it is time that the church take the position that gay and lesbian relationships are worthy of the same respect and ecclesial fortitude as straight relationships.
Alas, my colleague was right, and I have never wanted less to be a Lutheran.
This is my favorite paragraph:
It is only within the last decades that this church has begun to deal in a new way with
the longing of same-gender persons to seek relationships of life-long companionship and
commitment and to seek public accountability for those commitments. In response, this
church has drawn deeply on its Lutheran heritage to dwell in Scripture and listen to the
Word of God. This listening has brought biblical scholars, theologians, and rostered and
lay persons to different conclusions. After many years of study and conversation, this
church does not have consensus regarding loving and committed same-gender relationships.
This church has committed itself to continuing to accompany one another in study,
prayer, discernment, and pastoral care.
Apparently a few decades is a short amount of time. Depends upon your perspective, I think. If you're waiting for the church to decide what it thinks about someone else, a few decades may feel short. If you're waiting for the church to decide how it feels about you, a few decades is an excruciatingly long time.
Of course, in using the language of "the church," I've fallen into the same hole the Task Force is trying to write its way out of. As long as we're waiting for "the church" to have consensus, we'll study ourselves to death. There are nearly five million members of the ELCA. No--they don't have consensus on human sexuality. They don't have frigging consensus on weekly communion! Stop me if I'm wrong, but I think that the people of "the church" asked the Task Force to do six years worth of thinking and studying and to make a suggestion about what we as a church were going to stand for.
Apparently we stand for not being able to stand for anything. Please forgive my bluntness, but the idea of "continuing to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, and pastoral care" makes me want to vomit. We just did "study, prayer, discernment, and pastoral care." Six bloody years of it. On top of the twenty years we did before that. If we spent six years and a couple million dollars to learn that we need more study, we could have been feeding hungry kids in Africa.
It's only a draft. It may get better. I'm going to take some deep breaths now and calm down. Then make some notes for the synod listening post next month.