THE ROAD TOWARDS SAME SEX MARRIAGES
Some notes of Martin Lind’s lecture in Järvenpää Saturday the 15th of October, 2011
A short story from a
visit to the Coptic Church in
That is an honest
position. The Coptic Church has not started their reflection and most churches
have not. But in fact the
A The history
In 1951 the bishops wrote an official Episcopal letter on sexuality where it is said that the church should dissociate herself from criminalization of homosexual acts.
In 1972 the bishop’s conference decided to start an investigation. In 1974 the first official book came on The Homosexuals and the Church. The book (164 pages) recommended the church to support homosexual relations built on mutual love.
Noteworthy is that the
state authorities in
In the synod, the
highest deciding body of the
As a result of this ongoing discussion in the synod, that meets every year, it came a rather comprehensive investigation in 1994: The Church and homosexuality (226 pages). Here for the first time a very clear exegetical work is done where biblical scholars of different opinions come to different solutions.
From 1 January 1995 the
Last week of January 1995 the bishops decide to send a pastoral letter to all the priests in the church. Here the bishops unanimously recommend the priests to welcome the couples of registered partnership for a private intercession within the frames of the priest’s counseling work, pastoral cure. This work is combined with an absolute professional secrecy and is not ruled by the official books. Therefore this intercession and prayer could be done without changing anything in the church’s liturgy or doctrine.
In 1997 the blessing after the intercession was added by the bishops in another pastoral advice.
In 1999 family members and friends were allowed to be present during the intercession, prayer and blessing. When this was officially said by the bishops it was more or less to confirm the ongoing practice.
In Sept 2004 the
national Committee of Theology, a committee serving the bishops and the
national board, arranged a four days Hearing in
In 2006 the synod decided to introduce an order for blessing of registered partnership. The synod gave the board the task to decide how this order should look like. In this way the order as such was not a part of the official liturgy but the fact that such an order was accepted was examined and approved.
In 2009 1st
of May the state of
In October 2009 the
synod of the
The state decided that
the right to marry couples should not any more be part of the priesthood for
priests of the
In the October 2009 synod the Church decided to carry on with marriages valid according to civil law. No priest is however forced to conduct a marriage, neither for separate nor for same sex couples.
B The Bible
(Maybe you all know this, but for the Swedish development these insights have been crucial) It may be helpful if the participants have bibles to read in during this part of my lecture. I will of course read the texts in English but it might be easier with bibles in Finnish language.
Very few biblical texts underline the ordinary marriage. We have the Matthew 19 quoting Genesis about one flesh. But more important may be the emphasis on love as the fundamentals for Christian ethics – see Gal. 5,14. Jesus said: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Mark 3,33
Negative wordings on homosexuality:
Genesis 19, 1-13 (the
Judges 19,16-30 (the Gibeah story) A story rather about heterosexual promiscuity
Leviticus 18,22 and 20,13 (the law of holiness including the capital punishment)
The story about David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18,1-4, 20,41 (kissing), 2 Samuel 1,26 is perhaps not a story about homosexual love but certainly about homoerotic love.
1 Cor 6,9-10 many different translations, often only “homosexuality”, but the Greek language has two words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai”. Malakoi has a meaning of weak, soft, gentle, tender, boyish, lad – all with a slight falvour of “feminine” character. Asenokoitai means rather the opposite: violater, utilize, oldfashioned “masculine”. Seeing these facts the meaning could be that old men should not utilize boys. If so the meaning of forbidding promiscuity is clear. – It could be noted that also “drunkards” are condemned. With present knowledge of alcoholism as a disease it is an impossible position.
1 Timothy 1,9-10 “pervert” is often used as translation for “arsenokoitai”
Rom 1,26-27 “natural relations” – compare 1 Cor 11,14 where it is said that it is against nature when a man has long hair. The question is of course what “nature” means in the Pauline texts.
A possible interpretation is that the bible condemns promiscuity but does not speak about life-long, lasting, faithful homosexual relations in mutual love and respect, because these relations were unknown in the antique time. There might have been such relations but then in secret.
So the bible could not speak about anything that was not known as an existing relation. But homosexual promiscuity was well known in the antique time – and that is obviously condemned.
However the commandment of love is more important than any other biblical rule. And how can love against two people who live together in love?
1) Lutheran perspective of marriage as a worldly order, belonging to the “worldly regiment”. Through history marriage has changed very much:
Polygamy in the Old Testament
The man is owning his wife, more or less as an object
The man and the woman are equals – not even today very common (!)
2) The Lutheran reflection of “order of creation” (Schöpfungsordnungen)
A Lutheran doctrine in the early 20th century. Very soon connected to the so called brown theology, pro-nazi. The four orders were normally: people, race, marriage and work. These orders were seen as static, non-changeable, divine orders, especially in the German National Socialistic time. After the war this was criticized because this theology supported the Nazi-positions. Therefore it was said that the orders of creations – if we at all should speak of them in this way – are all dynamic orders as everything created by God. This was said without any reference or thought of same sex marriages!!
3) Creation theology not only built on biology but also on personal experience. It is a fact that men love men and women women. This is a part of the ongoing creation. And we have to accept the “creatio continua” if it is in coherence with the main Christian ethics, to live in love.
4) Complementarity is often used to underline heterosexuality. But the term must not only be understood biologically. It could also be understood as personalities complementing each other.
5) Love is more important in Christian ethics than gender
D Ecumenical perspectives
My own experiences from meetings with Cardinal Walter Kasper in the Vatican, Bishop Thomas in the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and some Anglican bishops in England. These meetings have been different from meeting with some of my Lutheran colleagues.
The accuses from people
of different meaning have in
But the other accuse is of course a weak point. Everything could be better anchored. It is impossible to say that it could not be better informed, discussed among other churches. Therefore it is important to state that this question has been a matter for discussion among church leaders and church conferences during a substantial number of years.
During all the years from 2000 the Swedish archbishop informed his colleagues in the Nordic churches on this matter. In the Nordic Bishop’s meeting in 2007 this matter was informed and discussed.
In the deliberations and
talks within the Porvoo communion during the years 2000-2009 the
In December 2006
Reports from the Committee of Theology on national level have been translated and sent to the Porvoo churches during the years 2000-2009.
In the Lutheran World
Federation (LWF) General Assembley in
LWF’s council (governing body) decided in 2004 to start an investigation regarding same sex love in biblical, historical, ethical perspectives and with reference to Church unity.
At LWF’s 50’th Jubilee
The final proposal in
2009 on same sex marriages from the governing body of the