Queer Scripture Reflection: Lewis Eggleston

David & Jonathan 
“The soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”
“They kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.’”
“they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more.”
“[David speaking of Jonathan] greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” -excerpts from 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel

Biblical literalism is frustrating. As queer people we’re expected to defend ourselves from very early ages, yes, as children, against the weaponized few verses that allude to queerness in the Bible. Then as we grow older we have to educate ourselves on Roman historical context & ancient foreign languages when Paul points to inappropriate relationships-not homosexuality; and we have to familiarize ourselves with early Hebrew/Jewish practices from Leviticus and extrapolate on the complexities of shellfish, pork, mixed fabric clothing, selling of daughters, & homosexuality on our spiritual lives. Queer people must become biblical scholars to survive, OR as many queer folks (and allies) have already done; they just walk out the church doors. In the ELCA we’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must stay quiet on queer issues so more congregations don’t leave when the reality is many, many more have stayed clear of our churches because the church does not go far enough to embrace all of God’s creation.
When we lived in Oklahoma I once debated a church leader and his wife. They were opening the town’s homeless shelter and while they greatly appreciated my help opening the shelter, they soon let me know that at some point they would be preaching against homosexuality at the shelter.
In this discussion I brought up the love story of David and Jonathan.
This church leader quickly friend-zoned David and Jonathan by saying he had a similar relationship with his guy friend. That it was a friendship that was different from the relationship he had with his wife, and that he loved his friend very much.
To which I said, “So you two have made life-long covenants to each other, wept into each other arms, kissed one another while also declaring that your love for each other surpasses that of women?”
As you can imagine, his biblical nuancing quickly began. It was only at this point he was willing to point to allegory, stories, contexts; that it wasn’t exactly what was printed in the text- basically he wasn’t a Biblical Literalist when it came to David and Jonathan’s story but everywhere else in the Bible was fine. That David couldn’t love Jonathan as he said, because he also liked women! Forgetting completely that Bisexuality exists. This man started doing what so many others in history have done before him, he tried to put the queerness back into the closet.
As a queer person, there is no other way for me to see this as anything other than a queer love story because it resembles my own queer love experience. The drama of family & disapproval, hiding your love & affection for one another, the feeling of you two against the world, together. Weeping, together. Vowing to protect each other at all costs. Making a covenant, together.
Today, my husband and I celebrate 10 years together, and what’s special about David and Jonathan’s story & their words to each other is that we used their words, their covenant to one another, in our own wedding.
So today, I celebrate queer love- both in Scripture & in my life.

Image Description: photo of the book of Genesis and the ELM logo with the title: Queer Scripture Reflections. 

Lewis Eggleston (he/him) 
is the Associate Director of Communications & Generosity at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. He lives in Kaiserslautern, Germany with his husband and dog-child Carla. He was recently approved for ordination for ministry in Word & Service. He spends his free time running/hiking/or singing to the German wildlife. (Photo: Wedding Photo- Lewis left, his husband on the right.) 

Queer Scripture Reflections: JJ Godwin

For the Love of Lazarus


We know the story of Lazarus. As a seminarian I love learning about John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” As they say: it’s the shortest scripture in the bible. And, the word wept, in the aorist tense, is from the root δακρύω, dakruó, to weep, and is only found in the bible here in this verse. 

What’s more, is that this weeping happens after Jesus asked for and was taken to where Lazarus laid in his tomb. Those around Jesus notice this weeping and call out: “Witness, see, how (Jesus) loved (Lazarus).” The word translated as “loved” in this text is translated from Greek, φιλέω, phileó, meaning “warm affection in intimate friendship, characterized by tender, heartfelt consideration and kinship.” This kind of cherishing of someone in Greek would probably include loving someone so deeply, so intimately, that it would be impossible not to kiss them.

Lazarus, a eunuch and his two barren sisters, Mary and Martha, seem to be Jesus’ family of choice, Jesus’ kin. In Bishop Rohrer’s book Queerly Lutheran, it states “Ancient Israelites believed there were more than two genders: male, female, barren women and Eunuchs. (p 63)” Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, now retired leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, shared in her book Outing the Bible that it was possible that Mary and Martha were sisters as much as Maureen and her lesbian partner, Joanne, are “sisters” in the musical Rent; when Maureen famously says in the song La Vie Boheme, “Hey, Mister, she’s my sister.”

Still, Jesus seems to love Lazarus so much that he thanks God, his Father, for hearing Jesus’ plea for Lazarus as the tomb is rolled away. (v 41) Jesus loves Lazarus so much that Jesus wants to be near him after being in a cave for four days (v 39). Jesus exclaims to Lazarus to come out (v 43) so that the crowd standing around Jesus may know that God sent Jesus here for this moment. (v 42). The name “Lazarus” itself is derived from Hebrew, אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar), meaning “God has helped.” 

For the love of Lazarus, for his queer kin, Jesus helped.


JJ Godwin(they/them) is a genderqueer certified peer supporter living in Texas with their spouse, Michelle; their dog, Radar, and cat, Summit. JJ is in their final year at Luther Seminary studying Divinity and seeking ordination in the Word and Service roster of the ELCA. JJ is in candidacy with the Deaconess Community and a member of Proclaim. JJ is called to mental health chaplaincy and can be found in peer support group ministry on HeyPeers.com and PeerHopes.com. JJ practices self-care sabbath by taking their blue Nissan Frontier 4×4, named Buckbeak, out for hiking and bike riding in nearby state parks, with spouse and dog.

ELM Executive Director Announcement

The Board of Directors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries announces the resignation of Executive Director the Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers), effective November 30, 2021. Over the last year, Amanda has discerned a call to serve the church in a new way by returning to parish ministry. 

In sharing her news with the Board, Amanda wrote: 

‘It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as the Executive Director of ELM for the past four years. I have fostered relationships that have both enriched my life and changed my outlook…I have been extraordinarily blessed to work alongside such a passionate Board of Directors and incredibly gifted and dedicated staff. I have enjoyed working and dreaming alongside you all, and I will continue to dream for ELM and support the organization in its new life.”


ELM is grateful for Amanda’s faithful service to the organization over the last four years and the ongoing relationship we will have with her as a member of Proclaim, ELM’s professional community of publicly identified LGBTQIA+ rostered ministers and seminarians. In her tenure as ELM’s second Executive Director, she has shown exemplary leadership.  In responding to the controversy over United Lutheran Seminary’s previous president and abolishing the ELCA’s harmful document Vision and Expectations, Amanda has amplified the voices of those most impacted and pushed for change, challenge, and faithfulness. Under her leadership, ELM’s staff structure has expanded, and the ELM Endowment became a granting source for creative, faithful, queer, and justice-based ministry projects. Amanda has gracefully led the organization through an ongoing global pandemic, and over the last year, worked closely with the Board of Directors in the strategic planning process that produced ELM’s new Vision, Mission, and Values

Her commitment to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries in these uncertain times has been filled with grace and consistency. ELM has long asked the question, “who is not here?” This is a question Amanda often asked of the Board, the church, and the staff.  As we move into the future, ELM is committed to continuing its growth into an organization that acknowledges its complicity in systems of white supremacy and racism, focuses on living in an active state of repentance, and does the hard and spirit-filled work of living into being an anti-racist organization. In her discernment, Amanda acknowledged the advent of a time for new leadership to empower ELM to live into its new and renewed identity. 

In this time of transition, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries will continue to organize queer seminarians and rostered ministers, confront barriers and systemic oppression, and activate queer ideas and movements within the Lutheran Church.  The history of ELM and its predecessor organizations is rooted in the conviction that our call and authority come from God.  As such, ELM will continue to support the diversity of queer Lutherans leading the church in and outside of denominational contexts.  ELM will continue to push for liberation from the ways bound conscience harms the church.  ELM will own our history and work for an intersectional, anti-racist present and future where the full diversity of the body of Christ is honored and their leadership valued.

We wish Amanda, her wife, and child many blessings. The ELM Board of Directors has launched a Transition Team to determine ELM’s next steps. The Board of Directors gives thanks to Amanda for her dedication and commitment to the holy work she has carried out as our Executive Director of ELM. As we continue the work to which God calls us and the discernment that is a gift in this time, we will regularly update you all, our extraordinary community, on our process of transition.

In Christ, 

The ELM Board of Directors

Image Description: photo of ELM Executive Director, Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson. 

Queer Scripture Reflections – Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson

Image Description: photo of the book of Genesis and the ELM logo with the title: Queer Scripture Reflections.
John 12:4-6 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
John 13:29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 
Obscure and not often quoted scriptures, but ones that grip me when combing the scriptures for evidence of Jesus’ views and experiences of what it meant to be a family as an adult, since earlier in this blog series we explored the beautiful queerness of Jesus’ childhood multi-parent family. 
We know that Jesus asked 12 guys to leave behind their families to cleave to him for life using phrases very similar to traditional marriage vows. We know this group lived, ate, traveled, prayed, napped, and attended parties and weddings together. We know Jesus turned to them in fear and grief as his support network. We know they protected each other and were willing to fight for each other and worried about each other. They fought and forgave. They worked extensively at healthy and clear communication. Then there’s these Bible verses.
One of this created chosen family is referenced as keeping the common purse for Jesus and all the Disciples, not once, but twice. Not only does this unit of at least mostly same-gendered partners (I only trust pronoun translation so far after 2,000 years but that’s another blog) care for each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually, they are also united financially in a very practical and trusting way.
There is no mention in the texts about the Disciples if they were having sex. Nothing says they weren’t, as they traveled together and comforted each other. It’s almost as if intimate partnership could be aromantic, asexual OR romantic or sexual, and to name that as a primary definition of chosen family is of secondary importance. 
In short; the Disciples, queer. Beautifully, lovingly, richly, connected. The early church’s first and the New Testament’s most thoroughly documented and central family unit. There is much we can learn from their family/community of care.

The Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson (she/her/hers) is Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod and Associate Pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach for Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. CarlaChristopher.Com and @RevCarlaChristopher on Facebook or @Rev.CarlaChristopher on Instagram.

The Family of Jesus


by Alex Aivars

Then the people began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 

– John 6:41-42


Image Description: photo of the book of Genesis and the ELM logo with the title: Queer Scripture Reflections.

I’ve been thinking more and more about having kids. My boyfriend and I have had a few conversations about the subject. 


A little research brings up a host of options for us. Those options include adoption, surrogacy, foster care, to name a few. 

With all of these options it will mean that for us to have a child and create a family with kids, it will involve more than simply the two of us. There will still always be at least one more person, maybe even more than one, or an organization, or some other type of legal entity, involved in the creation of our family with kids.

I see something similar in the creation of the family of Jesus.

At the conception of Jesus, yes, there were only two entities involved: God and Mary. When Joseph learns of this pregnancy without him, we are told that Joseph is thinking of leaving Mary. But God persuades Joseph to stay and for them to be husband and wife and raise Jesus as their own son.

This solidifies the family of Jesus. Except Jesus didn’t have only two parents, Mary and  Joseph. In the family of Jesus, there were three parents: Mary, Joseph, and God.

God became the third entity in the life and family of Jesus.

Those around Jesus didn’t understand the family structure that included Jesus. Those around him knew Jesus had earthly parents in Mary and Joseph. And yet, here was Jesus talking about coming down from heaven. At one point Jesus even says that he’s the Son of God. This made no sense to them. A person could only have two parents, not three. 

And yet, Jesus did indeed have three parents: Mary, Joseph, and God.

For myself and my boyfriend, the creation of a family with kids involves more than two people. Just like in the creation of the family of Jesus.

In our baptisms, we become part of this family of Jesus. God was, and continues to be, always with Jesus, doting on their son. God is always with us as well, doting on us. Because God will never leave us. All of us will always be children of God.


Alex Aivars (he/him) is currently in his first call as pastor of  St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Lansing, MI. Since this is a part-time call, he also develops websites for businesses, non-profits, and other churches. In his spare time he likes to read, hike, bike, ski, and make art out of post-in notes.