In response to Bishop Edward J. Burns’ column “Defending Marriage” in the March 13 Empire, I would like to clarify that the joint letter referred to was signed by representatives of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the North American Lutheran Church, who do not represent nor speak for all expressions of the Lutheran tradition, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The ELCA Social Statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust states “The church’s historical experience supports its confidence that solemn promises, made before a company of witnesses who ask for God’s blessing on a man and a woman, have the power to create a unique framework within which two people, a new family, and the community may thrive. Consistent with that experience, this church has confidence that such promises, supported by the contractual framework of civil law, can create a lifetime relationship of commitment and cooperation.
Recognizing that this conclusion differs from the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, some people, though not all, in this church and within the larger Christian community, conclude that marriage is also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong, monogamous relationships. They believe that such accountable relationships also provide the necessary foundation that supports trust and familial and community thriving. Other contractual agreements, such as civil unions, also seek to provide some of these protections and to hold those involved in such relationships accountable to one another and to society.”
The ELCA recognizes the messiness that is the diversity of human relationships, as well as the conversation about the diversity of human relationships, and names it as gift and trust. We welcome all people into our worshipping community, and walk with them in the joys and challenges of loving each other, as Jesus commanded us.
Reverend Sue Bahleda
Resurrection Lutheran Church