Lutherans seek global context for homosexuality discussion

By on September 19, 2011

Most churches in the developing world consider the acceptance of same sex marriages in European and American churches biblically wrong. Photo: Amy Walters

Nairobi, Kenya-The worldwide Lutheran church is seeking to address the issue of homosexuality and the church within a global context, said the Rev. Kenneth Mtata, Lutheran World Federation study secretary for Lutheran theology and practice, at an international theological consultation.

The issue "has to be dealt with as it appears in different contexts … the Lutheran Church is managing [it] very carefully in different parts of the globe so that an appropriate response can be found," Mtata told journalists at a news conference in Nairobi after a Sept. 9 to 14 consultation for Lutheran theologians on contemporary bible interpretation.

"We think there cannot be short cuts for this process. A lot of listening to each other is required. The church is located in different contexts in the world, so we need to look at other cultural issues that come into play," he said. "When you give space for dialogue … for listening, sometime you find change, you may find transformation … people reach comprise."

A traditional interpretation of the Bible says homosexuality is sinful, and that view is often found in the developing world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania in 2010 said it considered the acceptance of the same sex marriages in European and American churches abnormal and biblically wrong.

"ELCT will not welcome anyone living in or supporting same sex marriage or relations to work in this Church. ELCT remains firm and cannot change its position on this matter and thus solicitation, financial conditionality and undue pressure are not acceptable," said Tanzanian Lutheran bishops.

Many churches in the developed world have a more liberal interpretation of the Bible, but there also the issue has caused tension with more traditionally-minded believers. For instance, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2009 voted to open ordained ministry to gay people in committed relationships, but in 2010, conservative American Lutherans split to form the North American Lutheran Church.

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