Question:  Hi! was wondering if you had an opinion on the whole gay minister thing, particularly re: the editorial yesterday;03/03/2010 in the Argus Leader from Lutheran minister who equated the issue to the rebellion of Lucifer; wanting to place his throne above God’s throne.

Thanks for the question!

I do have an opinion.  I actively supported the recent change in policy.

One of the intriguing things about this entire conversation is the way in which Scripture has been employed.  I have come to decide (not surprisingly, given my vocational bias as a systematic theologian) that the question really is not a scriptural one, but rather a theological one.

That might seem to be a surprising distinction, but here’s what’s behind it:

You can use scripture to back up most anything one desires.  Slavery, women’s subjugation, bashing babies’ heads on stones, multiple wives, socialism (not capitalism, come to think of it), celibacy, giving away all you have…you get the idea; all are encouraged in Scripture.

But clearly, some matters in Scripture we embrace, some we do not.

Add to that the fact that Scripture was written over hundreds and hundreds of years, and hundreds and hundreds of years ago.  So as one of my Old Testament professors pointed out, the one commandment we have ever gotten correct was, “Be fruitful and multiply.”  Made sense then, in a day when they needed to populate.  But in a day when we struggle with overpopulation, well, does that law speak to us even now?

And for the Christians in the group, if you add the notion of the living, breathing, Holy Spirit into it, one can not make the case that the Spirit was done speaking at the end of Revelation.  The Spirit can speak to us outside of Scripture.

The question, it seems to me, is less “What does Scripture say,” and more “On what basis do we interpret Scripture?”

When we begin there, we learn about why different groups are in favor of the new ELCA rostering decision, and why some oppose it.

And when we begin there, we also understand something of context, and might even engage in a new form of respectful and humble dialogue.

So while I disagree with those who are angry with the new choice to ordain gays and lesbians in committed relationships, it helps to learn something of their theological framework, and then the conversation becomes much more fruitful than lobbing Bible verses back and forth.

What do you think?