Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We're expecting

To those of you who read my blog, I thought I'd simply post the news that we are expecting our first child on or around November 8th. The journey toward fatherhood is quite a ride. There are more miracles in this process than the miracle of new life, which is miracle enough. There is also the miracle of the transformation that occurs in your thoughts and in your relationship as you plan to make the change from being two to being three. We've been surprised by joy so far- and have also been sufficiently warned to "sleep now, watch movies now, go out to eat now, cause once the baby arrives..."

On other fronts:

The ELCA and its condition seems to be a constant center of conversation. There's gloom and doom on all sides. I'll be honest. I'm not worried. We know, because of the witness of Christ and the Spirit, that God is faithful. The church will weather this churchwide assembly, because the center always holds, it is the center that is the Trinity.

I'll be even more honest. I'm an evangelical catholic, or one could say orthodox Lutheran, I don't know, titles are funny... anyway, I believe we can be faithful to the full witness of Scripture and tradition and admit we've been wrong about faithful same-sex relationships. The church can bless them, because I believe and hope that God blesses them. Until the time when our church officially recognizes this, I will continue to uphold and practice the public teachings of my denomination and church. I hold a public office. But as a public witness in the world, I say it is time for us to admit that we've been wrong. The church begins with confession, yes?


  1. Norsk1:47 PM

    Clint, as a self-identified EC, how do you incorporate into your thinking the collective witness and teaching of the church catholic, both through time and today? Certainly the teaching of the universal church, even today, is overwhelmingly opposed to saying "we made a mistake" in the manner you advocate. Many ECs are very hesitant to act in ways that enhance disunity with the church catholic. How do you think about this aspect of the issue?

  2. Clint, I echo Norsk's question. It seems a pretty big step to deny what has been virtually a unanimous denial of the sanctity of same-sex relationships. (I share the discomfort of many in saying this out loud -- and for a variety of reasons). But I do not see in Scripture either in its black-and-white form or in its transmission through the teaching and preaching of the Church any suggestion that we may "bless" same-sex relationships.

    I am willing to go as far as Paul Hinlicky (and to some extent Robert Benne, although he's less "gracious" than I would want to be) and "recognize" or "acknowledge" or somehow give public support to a committed relationship. But that is not to bless it. (I'm also with Hinlicky in that I don't think the Church can faithfully "bless" second or third marriages; it can and should, however, offer support to the partners/spouses to live faithfully together. And I say that as a divorced and re-married man.)

    Thanks for being so straight-speaking, though.

  3. The distinction between "supporting" and blessing seems silly to me, quite frankly. In fact, it is just these kinds of distinctions that are forced on this particular issue that makes it clear to me that we've been wrong. I can think of no other ethical issue where the arguments need to be so convoluted, so frequently referencing "orders of creation" or "the tradition". Most other issues of ethics that confront me on a daily basis are of a different order- they clearly do damage either to our relationship to God, or to our neighbor. Committed same-sex relationships do neither, IMHO.

    Scripture and tradition care about faith and faithfulness, not the "natural order". The eschatological nature of the gospel inspired Paul to write, "for there is no longer slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, male nor female", because all are one in Christ Jesus. On this particular issue, I'm putting my money on oneness in Jesus. False distinctions and presuppositions have held sway for too long, and we have hurt our brothers and sisters in Christ in the process.

  4. First of all, congratulations! May God grant your child (and you and your wife) many, many years!

    As you probably know I respectfully disagree that we can be faithful to the full witness of Scripture and tradition and admit we've been wrong about faithful same-sex relationships. Because to say that "we have been wrong" rests on the idea that the teaching in question is our teaching, not the teaching of Scripture in Tradition. To say that "we have been wrong" is to say that for two millenia faithful Christians have misread Scripture and passed on a corrupt tradition, but that now, twenty centuries on, we understand it better. At the very least I find that unlikely.

    I understand your discomfort with "convoluted arguments" made in support of the Church's teaching. If the teaching is ultimately dependent on human arguments about "order of nature" and so forth, then it is not the Church's teaching - it is not the radical and eschatological Gospel.

    But that is not the case. Our human argumentation is not the basis of the Church's teaching; it is merely an effort better to understand and explain the teaching. No one would confuse the theological analysis of the Trinity of an Augustine or an Aquinas (replete as it is with philosophical terms and concepts and human rationality) with the radical revelation of the Trinity itself. In the same way, human exploration and argument about why God forbids sexual activity outside marriage is not to be confused (or worse, substituted) for the simple fact that He has forbidden it in His revealed Word.

    I have often said that this is the one issue on which I genuinely wish that I could be a liberal. The "traditionalist" position on this issue feels like an offense against Christian charity and simply a lack of kindness. My experience of homosexual people (and it is extensive) tells me that, by and large, they are good folks, sinners just like me (and certainly no worse than me) and that the Christians among them are simply working out their salvation just as we all are.

    But much as I would like to be a liberal and say that "we've been wrong", I cannot. The teaching of Scripture and the witness of the Tradition is just too clear. My conscience is captive to the Word of God.

  5. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Chris. The fact that this one issue stands out for you as the one place where you "wish" you could be a liberal is further confirmation for me that the issue is unique among ethical questions in the church. Unlike any other ethical issue, where I can see how the breaking of God's law hurts neighbor, self, or God, this one just doesn't look the same to me. My conscience is also captive to the Word of God, or so I hope, and that word is a word of life.

  6. congrats on the children!

  7. I found your blog and enjoy reading it, mostly silently with no comments. Just wanted to say congratulations to you and your wife and thank you for your honest comments on the assembly.

  8. Clint,

    Thanks for bearing witness to some good truth, or Truth, or TrUTh, or whatever.

    Meanwhile, I'm pleased that Amanda really wasn't really put off the other night when I felt for a kick. You still totally set me up, though. ;)


  9. Clint-
    Congratulations and God's blessing on your family.

    I agree with your thoughts on same sex marriage. Let's have a consistently strong code of sexual ethics that applies to all Christians regardless of orientation.

  10. Thanks for all the congratulations and well-wishes. Eric, your succinct comment especially captures my view of the matter as well.

  11. Congratulations to you and your wife, Clint! I look forward to meeting you at General Retreat next month.