The LCA’s theological think tank and homosexuality.

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

This is going to be a long, involved and kinda complicated post. If such things bore you i completely understand. Please accept my apologies for wasting your time. You may wish to listen to this elevator music instead of reading on…

For the rest of you, I’d like to inform you of 2 things that happened recently.

THING 1

I have been made aware of the Lcai list. It is an email discussion forum for the Lutheran Church of Australia. One of our commentors showed me a prayer that was  posted by one of the  pastors on the list. It read….

Lord of the nations, abide with all those to whom You have given authority over us, especially our Prime Minister, Parliaments and all who make, administer, and judge our laws. Guide them that they may seek to use their authority not for personal gain but to care for us and keep our society safe. We pray especially that they uphold marriage as a union between a man and a woman and that you thwart all attempts to legalize same sex marriages.

Needless to say, reader,  i jumped in boots and all. I told him he was hurting people and that he should stop it! So, he and others came back… some supported my views some didnt.

When i got on the list i was amused to find that one of the paragraphs from one of my blogs was doing the rounds. i think it was the one that said that homosexual couples who enter into lifelong committed loving sexual relationships do not sin. Also, that homosexual people are born that way and that if there is a problem with that then its God’s problem coz God made them.

Anyways…one of the people on the list posted some hefty dissertation on the evils of homosexuality and how it is genetically unlikely that homosexual people are born that way. He quoted some “scientific” sources, some of which have been shown to be completely disreputable. I had already commented on these sources in previous blogs.

(Who says Robert Pollnitz knows what he’s talking about? LCA and the Ex-Gay)

So, i questioned the sources…called the reasearch bogus and the argument continued.

Reader, the tone of the list is very adversarial. I certainly didnt improve it. In fact it kinda did my head in… it brought out a part of me that i dont really like. But…something important developed in the discussion that i want to share with you and keep you informed of.

It turns out that the one who posted the “God doesnt make homosexuals” paper is a member of the CTICR. This is the Commission on Theology and Inter Church Relations. It is the leading theological think tank of the Lutheran Church of Australia. It contains the Presidents of the Church, Seminary Lecturers and others who are elected onto the groiup at the National Synod, presumably because of their theological acumen. So, I was very interested to find out that one of this council, one of the theological advisors to the LCA, used such entirely untrustworthy and discredited psuedo-science that has been rejected by everyone other than the most conservative religious groups. And he did this to back up a proposal that was entirely prejudicial to the LGBT cause.

My interest was further hightened by something else that occurred on the list. Regular readers of this blog will remember when I took the Lutheran Church’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions to task on some of their older statements on homosexuality. As a result of this i was forwarded a more recent and much more compassionate statement produced by the CSBQ. The LCA Council of Presidents were reluctant to release it but i posted it both here and ,upon request, on the LCAi list. The CTICR anti-gay member was surprised to see that this unapproved document had been published on the list. He mentioned that he had submitted a paper to the CTICR in response to that unapproved document. I asked him to publish his paper on the list for all to see. He indicated that CTICR papers were not really for public consumption.

HMMMMMMMMMMM

I wonder what this anti-gay, discredited source using, CTICR contributing pastor might have said? I wonder how much weight his arguments might carry in the LCA’s theological think tank.

OK.

THING 2

I recently visited another CTICR member. He told me about a book that he had read and reviewed for the CTICR. He said that he had appreciated the book very much and that it had helped to shape his thinking on the issue. He loaned me his copy…”The Bible and Homosexual Practice” by Robert AJ Gagnon. I could give a full review myself but perhaps one of the online reviews might suffice. (but…read it later, yeh?… and only if  you are a glutton for long winded punishment. Needless to say…the reviews on this book are not very complimentary.)

http://peacetheology.net/2009/02/10/robert-gagnon-the-bible-and-homosexual-practice/

I will offer a few additional words about the book. I first suspected that it was a bit…off…when i realised that, in Gagnons mind, “homosexual practice” simply meant anal sex. The book is nothing more than an anti-gay propoganda document parts of which rely on the same discredited research that was cited by the aforementioned CTICR contributor to the LCAi list.

I looked into Gagnon’s Old Testament exegesis and Hebrew and found his use of key words and texts to be so selective as to be completely misleading. He invests a lot of time, for instance, in examining  one particular Hebrew word, the word translated “abomination” in 2 instances in Leviticus.  Gagnon found the word again in Ezekial where he noticed “very similar phrasing” to the Leviticus passages.  He concluded that the Ezekial passage probably refers to homosexuality as well despite the fact that homosexuality is never actually mentioned in Ezekial.

Gagnon concludes that homosexuality is the reason that the land of Israel “vomited out” its previous inhabitants. There is only one problem. Gagnon’s “careful research” relies on 3 uses of that particular Hebrew word. It seems, however, that our researcher accidently missed the other 44 (get that?  44) uses of the word in Deuteronomy and Proverbs…none of which (get that? none of which) refer to homosexuality. His exegesis is a sham and his agenda is certainly other than a careful research of the Biblical data on the subject.

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So there it is…Thing 1 and Thing 2 (with apologies to Dr Seuss)… a picture was beginning to form… The CTICR had received a positive review on a book that in the opinion of this blogger is atrociously one sided. And the CTICR receive a paper from some pastor who feels free to quote discredited sources to back up outdated and incorrect “scientific” data.

My interest was piqued… my alarm bells mildly ringing…

How do the CTICR research any given topic? From how far afield do they draw information? What are the qualifications  or expertise of any of the representatives to comment on any given topic? Do they seek the support of outside experts? Do they make sure that the information they receive is balanced? Does someone on CTICR have the time and inclination to check the sources listed in papers and presentations? Do they seek advice and draw from the experiences of the people most concerned with the issue at hand? In this case, have they sought and obtained information from a wide range of Lutheran and other LGBT people?

I sent a letter to the CTICR requesting copies of all of the papers presented and presentations made to and by the members of the CTICR. The response was polite but dismissive. They advised that a relevant discussion paper would be available for pastors at District Conferences prior to the  next National Synod.

I have responded clarifying that i am not requesting a summary report, that I wish to see all of the papers and documents presented. I have reminded them that the work they do is on behalf of the whole Church. I have made it clear that the work they do in this instance is on behalf of the LGBT members of our Church. I pointed out that our LGBT friends deserve far more than a summary paper presented to the laity after pastors in District Conferences have vetted it.

Surely any member of the LCA should have access to all of the documentation that is used in arriving at whatever decision the CTICR finally make on any given topic.

I wish to point out that I have no reason to assume that the CTICR will not be completely happy to comply with what would seem to be an obvious and straight forward request. Further, the secretary of the CTICR, the one I am corresponding with is a person that I have enormous respect for.

As I see myself making these enquiries on your behalf, dear reader, I will keep youi informed of developments.