ELM’s Response to Pope Francis Statement

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Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries weeps with our queer Catholic siblings over Pope Francis’ words and the church’s refusal to bless queer love. Over the centuries, the Christian Church has committed and continues to commit atrocities against queer and marginalized communities: favoring cherry-picked scripture that, through a patriarchal and white supremacist lens, has inflicted real harm including suffering and death. 
 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries celebrates the beauty and belovedness of all queer identities and the many ways queer families are formed. We claim the Theology of the Cross as a queer gift of grace: radical honesty about the world in which we live, radical love that holds our wounds along with our joy, radical liberation that centers the marginalized and stigmatized, and radical affirmation of our true identities as the beloved of Christ made in God’s image.
 
We also need to point out “the log in our own eye” by acknowledging that the church in which many of our leaders are called and ordained, the ELCA, is not exempt from similar statements, beliefs, and actions regarding queer children of God. The ELCA continues to enact policies that keep queer people from answering God’s call to ministry and subject them to harm.*
 
In his essay, “The Prodigal Church,” queer Lutheran saint, Joel Workin, imagines the church as the wayward prodigal child who returns home to the forgiving parent: the queer community. As the queer family waits expectantly at the mailbox at the end of the driveway for the church to come home, Joel finishes this imagery with these words: 
 
Childish as the church may seem and act, it is not a child. LGBTQ Christians, therefore, await a Church that comes home as an adult. Not happily perhaps, not jumping and skipping, even with some fear and concern, but of its own will and confessing with its lips and heart that “I have sinned against you and against God.” 
 
The queer community is still expectantly waiting like a loving, patient parent for these words of confession. In the meantime, ELM and the queer leaders we organize continue to communicate and embody the Good News of Christ’s radical love by boldly advocating for marginalized communities and loving our neighbors — and celebrating who they love.
 
We join our queer Lutheran voices with those of our Roman Catholic siblings in boldly declaring “queer people are God’s beloved!” 
 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries anticipates a church in which queer leadership is valued, empowered, and celebrated: where queer-led ministries are dynamic and thriving; all marginalized communities are liberated and honored, and justice flows from the sacraments as they overwhelm us and bring us to life.

* “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” adopted at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, continues to define marriage in heteronormative terms (i.e. between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, etc.) and through a teaching called “Bound Conscience,” makes space for ELCA Lutherans to claim that “they believe same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law…They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle.” (p. 20)

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