From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ELCA "Self-Assessment" on Human Sexuality
13 Jun 1996 09:52:07
June 13, 1996
LUTHERAN "SELF-ASSESSMENT" ON HUMAN SEXUALITY (73 lines)
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will have a
"self-assessment" of where it stands on certain issues of human sexuality, said the Rev.
Karen L. Bloomquist, ELCA director for studies. A message is being drafted for
consideration this fall by the ELCA Church Council.
The council gave the ELCA Division for Church in Society the assignment last fall
to develop a message on those areas where there appears to be consensus in the church
regarding issues of human sexuality.
"It is clear that our purpose is not to develop a new social statement," said
Bloomquist. "It is a kind of self-assessment, trying to discern where we as a church
are and to do that in a way that can be genuinely helpful for people."
The ELCA has been studying the topic of human sexuality since 1989 with the hopes
of developing a social statement on the subject. Two drafts of a possible statement
were met with great interest and largely negative response, but portions of the
drafts were praised for clearly stating the church's opposition to abuses of human
"The message itself is building upon and trying to gather some of the consensus
that has occurred through that conversation," said Bloomquist. It is also influenced by
statements on marriage and sexual behavior that former Lutheran churches adopted between
1970 and 1982.
Bloomquist is writing the message with the help of a ten-member advisory committee
and a consultant -- the Rev. Roland Martinson, professor of pastoral theology, Luther
Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. The advisory committee had its first meeting here
"We have a good sense of the kind of document that needs to be produced -- one that
can speak to an anxiety in our church in the face of our not having adopted a social
statement and one that, at the same time, recognizes the number of things we can
say with a significant amount of agreement," said Bloomquist.
Martinson said the advisory committee offered several suggestions on the language
and length of the message. Members also expressed a desire to have a message that
integrates the Christian faith and sexual behavior. "I heard from them counsel
to speak with care," he said.
They'e hoping for a "modest" document that's brief and clear, said Martinson. "We
need to say something about who we are to ourselves in regard to our faith and human
sexuality, as well as to say something to the wider culture about what we stand
for and what we stand against in terms of constructive and destructive forces around us
The message can honor the heritage that brings Lutherans to consensus on some
issues of human sexuality, he said. Potentially the message "also has a particular
power to engage persons where they experience some anxiety around their sexual
identity, their sexual relationships, their relationship to the larger culture."
"It is important that the language carry the essential biblical and theological
commitments of the church," said Martinson. "At the same time it must be fresh and
clear so that it communicates with a wide variety of persons within our
Drafting of the message will continue this summer through a series of revisions and
conference calls. The DCS board must approve sending the message to the ELCA Church
Council for action. The board meets Sept. 26-28 and the council meets Nov.
The advisory committee is made primarily of people who serve on a consulting panel
the ELCA Church Council assembled to assist it in the development of a social statement
on human sexuality.
For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service, (312) 380-2958; Frank
Imhoff, Assoc. Dir., (312) 380-2955; Lia Christiansen, Asst. Dir., (312) 380-2956
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