Monday, February 23, 2009
Same Song--Umteenth verse...
Note: Over the past few months I have been commenting on the daily Bible readings coming from the ELCA. It has been a good exercise for me, especially at a time when I found it difficult to provide a daily comment on my blog. It has kept Polyhymnia, the muse of the sacred, flowing. Now is the time for me to continue commenting on things sacred and profane.
Yesterday in our congregation we attempted to discuss the Report on Human Sexuality recently from the ELCA. I have to really give the ELCA credit for addressing a very difficult issue. For the most part, the document is a measured instrument that recognizes the polarization in the church and the potential for schism in our midst. But at least they now have a document that has been discussed in most of their congregations before actions have been made that have the potential to tear at the fabric of communion as what happened to the Episcopal Church. It is a document worth wading through the verbage.
Lutherans put much stock in verbage, if the Augsburg Confession is any example. And this new statement follows in kind. Reading it is somewhat like reading the Gospel of John--it goes around in spirals finally coming to the place where it allows that our sexuality is a gift from God for the purpose to be in relationship. It has wonderful statements based upon Scripture and human sciences. It is a document to be recieved with open hands and handled with reverance. It is not something that you can beat someone else over the head with.
This document will be discussed by bishops and then brought to the Church Wide Assembly this summer to be voted upon. But the issue will never be over. No vote will determine this document doctrine because it is not meant to be such. It is a statement of where the ELCA is at present.
It is a healthy look at human sexuality and as ambivilant about how to legislate it as most of us are. The Church sees human sexuality as a gift from God and has chosen to hold that gift gently for the sake of all. On several things it is clear, however. It is says emphatically that a Christian may not exclude or vilify others over sexual orientation. It is a good news after so many centuries of excoriating the lgbt community. It also is emphatic that sexual acts are to be between equals, anything else is abuse.
But like my friend Elizabeth Kaeton who commented on the movement in the seminary community to have human sexuality as a required course on the seminary level, I am beginning to get rather bored with the subject that so many believe to be the litmus test of one's fidelity:
Quite frankly, I've grown really weary of The Great Debate on Human Sexuality - because, well, it's not about Human Sexuality. It's always about Homosexuality and Reproductive Rights - especially abortion.
It has also long ago ceased being a 'debate' or even a discussion. It's more just a religious 'shouting match' which, at this point, the opposing view could write the response for the other perspective.
It seems to come down to two things:
1. What the Bible says - including the infamous Seven Clobber Verses and an interesting if not controversial definition of "life" and "murder".
2. The "ick factor": Those who can't get beyond their own personal revulsion of the graphic pictures of aborted fetuses so popularly promoted by Anti-Abortion folks (an admittedly difficult task, which is precisely why they do it), or of "sex acts" in general, but homosexual (especially male) sex acts in particular.
I am also convinced that we allow ourselves to be stuck here because it's a nifty way to avoid discussing other, more controversial subjects.
Like, say, MONEY - and all of the issues that flow from that one topic. Like, say: what is an effective response Christians can make to reversing the devastating effects of poverty, hunger, lack of education, limited access to quality health care.
You know. Like that. Nah, it's much more fun to have a shouting match over abortion and/or homosexuality. It's much more, you should excuse the expression, 'sexy.'
I do think that the issue of Sex becomes a way to throw a monkey wrench into the real issues that face us as Christians--how do we love one another and how can we serve one another in the name of Christ? It is time to look at much more pressing issues such as how we use money to make us unequal, how we have stratified our society so that we do not have to see one another as equals or how we can be peaceful in our transactions with one another.