JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHERE I STAND ON SEXUALITY ISSUES.
I believe that some people have an innate attraction to members of the same sex. This is an oversimplification, of course. Human sexuality is a spectrum that includes heterosexuality, homosexuality,bisexuality and transgenderism. Still, the best research indicates that homosexual orientation is not a disease, a mental disorder or a willful perversion. Homosexuality is a normally occurring subset of human sexuality.
I believe that sexual orientation is morally neutral. Homosexuality is no more "good" or "bad" than heterosexuality. Sexual acts have an ethical character; sexual orientation does not. I believe that sexual acts are unethical when they are abusive, coercive, degrading, demeaning, dishonest, unloving, uncommitted or damaging to the human psyche.
I believe that the Bible's condemnations of homosexual acts do not apply universally. The reasoning behind this belief can be found in some of my earlier posts, for example here, here, here, here, and here.
I believe that the Bible absolutely condemns unethical sexual acts.
I believe that the Bible does not give a single definition of marriage.
I believe that marriage is a positive good for society and that one of its important functions is to provide an ethical outlet for sexual expression. Even within marriage, sexual acts may be unethical if they are coercive, abusive, and so on. But marriage, being a covenant of commitment and mutual fidelity is a step toward ethical sexual practice.
I believe that marriage is essentially a social contract and is rightly regulated by the State. Whether a marriage contract can be entered into by persons of the same sex is a question for the State to decide.
I believe that same-sex marriage is a benefit to society.
I believe that some gay people are gifted for and called to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. As I understand Lutheran theology, an individual's sense of call is ratified by the whole church through a process of education and examination, but that individual is not ordained until he or she is called to serve a particular congregation.
I believe ethical sexual practice includes celibacy outside of marriage and chastity within marriage. I believe that celibacy is a gift, and that not everyone, gay or straight, is so gifted. I believe, with the Apostle Paul, that it is "better to marry than to burn" with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). I believe, with Martin Luther, that requiring celibacy for the clergy violates the freedom of the Gospel.
I believe that homosexuals and heterosexuals should be held to the same standard.
I believe that no one, regardless of sexual orientation, is worthy of the call to ministry. We serve by God's call and by God's grace, not by our own merit.
I believe that some congregations may wish to call a pastor who lives in an ethical, committed same-sex relationship. I believe that they should be free to do so.
I believe that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions regarding sexuality and ministry are right.