Former Presiding Bishop of the ELCA Confronts His Catholic Peers about Gay Marriage

Herbert Chilstrom

Herbert Chilstrom is the retired presiding bishop of the ELCA, and before that he was a bishop in Minnesota.  In his work, he developed strong ties with the Catholic bishops of Minnesota, a group that is currently fighting to constitutionalize a prohibition of same sex marriage.  And Chilstrom doesn’t get it:

Over my 35 years as an active and retired bishop I have come to know hundreds of gay and lesbian persons. I have yet to meet even one who is opposed to the marriage of one man and one woman. After all, they are the daughters and sons of such unions.

What they cannot understand is why church leaders would oppose their fundamental desire and right to be in partnership with someone they love and respect who happens to be of the same gender and sexual orientation. They don’t understand why they should not enjoy all the rights and privileges their straight counterparts take for granted.

Read the rest: Lutheran leader confronts state’s Catholic bishops over gay marriage | StarTribune.com.

  • http://www.thoughtsonministry.net Jeff Greathouse

    Tony, what am I am missing ?

    I read the link.

    You mention that he does not get it, you then give a quote from him from the article (bold a statement) but do not expand.

    Can you help me ?

    • http://emarkthomas.wordpress.com/ Ethan

      I think that perhaps Tony is calling attention to the bishop’s thoughts, helping his voice to be heard and his message broadcast wider.

      Judging from the usual context of Tony’s blog, he doesn’t really need to say anything else, I think. Spending ten minutes browsing his posts will tell anyone all they need to know in order to discern how Tony feels about this subject, and so with all of that information I think we can interpret this as being the point, and not need to wonder what point he’s trying to make.

      By the way, Tony, as a young gay Christian, thank you. Your posts are a constant source of refreshment and encouragement for me. Thank you.

    • Ethan M

      I am pretty sure that Tony means that the Bishop doesn’t “get” why the Catholics are “currently fighting to constitutionalize a prohibition of same sex marriage.” That is the “it” which the Bishop fails to “get”.

      I don’t think that Tony means, “Look at this quote from this foolish Bishop, this guy clearly doesn’t get it.”

      However language is slippery and perhaps I am the one who doesn’t “get it.”

  • http://tommyab.wordpress.com tommy

    I don’t understand how it could be a good point…
    This guy start with the basic western post-enlightment assumption that “rights” and “desires” are to dictate our behavior.
    So marriage becomes a “right”.
    And our “desires” become what we ought to do.

    And what if I “desire” to kill my neighboor? do I “have to” do it?
    And what if my “right” to have children is precluded by a medical cause? is being cured by medical techniques a right?

    so basically… very flawed thinking.

    • Frank

      Exactly! A weak theological point from a weak theological position to further a non biblical viewpoint.

    • Basil

      Ahh, so those who want to marry their same-sex partners are equal to murderers. So where is the victim in this “crime”?

      Your analogy is completely flawed nonsense, and the fact that you would make such a hateful analogy is just despicable. It’s prima facia evidence of your bigotry.

      • http://tommyab.wordpress.com tommyab

        … you stumbled upon my bad analogy… which I agree is a poor one.
        and for sure I said that “those who want to marry their same-sex partners are equal to murderers”… (sarcasm)

        a good way to have great conversation: touchiness.

        but you didn’t answer my point about this very american way of making “rights” and “desire” dictate our behavior.

  • Doug Mostrom

    Hey Tony – I, too, am wondering what I’m missing. From what is visible, Bishop Chilstrom does get it…however, we can only see what Jeff said.

    • Ethan M

      You can see my attempt above to explain my conjecture that Tony does actually think that the Bishop “gets it.” He just doesn’t think that the bishop is getting “it” where “it” is understanding with the Catholic church is “currently fighting to constitutionalize a prohibition of same sex marriage.”

      • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

        Yes, Ethan, thanks.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Guys, click thru the link at the end to read the whole thing.

  • http://johnmeunier.wordpress.com John Meunier

    I’m pretty sure Tony means that Chilstrom does not understand why the bishops are taking the stand they are. It is not a critique of Chilstrom when he says he does not “get it.” It is a description of his confusion over the Catholic bishops’ stand.

    “I don’t get why you are doing this.”

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Please see my review of Jack Rogers book – “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality!” http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2011/12/here-is-my-letter-to-very-special-gay.html

    • Frank

      Very well said Daniel! Keep up the good work!

  • http://tommyab.wordpress.com tommy

    - a sure sign we are in USA: people talk about marriage as a “right”

    • Larry Barber

      Even if marriage isn’t a right, and I would argue that it is, or, at least that the government has no just power to end marriage; equal protection under the law is unequivocally a right. The government is required to treat all who come before it the same.

  • Basil

    The article was quite moving. Thanks for posting the link!

    • Basil

      Correction: TONY, the article was quite moving! Thanks for posting the link!

  • Marshall

    @Tommy & Daniel:

    “The disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. … Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.’”

    Even if you think homosexuality is sinful, I don’t see why it isn’t preferable to let gays who are willing enter into committed life-long loving community-oriented relationships rather than wandering the bars and parks. We can at least allow them relief from the sin of fornication.

    We’re all sinners, one way or another. It says here.

    • Frank

      So we are to suggest to people that its ok to exchange one sin for another?

    • http://tommyab.wordpress.com tommyab

      in fact, we have to distinguish 2 things here.

      … since when the church is concerned about the ways things work in this world?
      do we see Corinthians christians making street demonstrations for political changes? Do we see Jerusalem christians lobbying? Do we read Paul writing about moral issues in the Roman empire that the christians should care about?

      no.
      we are basically having concerns that are new, compared to what we see in the New Testament.

      many call it “constantinianism”.
      basically, christians in America are playing the “democracy” game, thinking that it is our role.
      and we have a nostalgia, created in our head, about something which never existed, about being a “christian nation”, so we feel responsible to be in charge of the well-being of this nation.

      I would strongly suggest Hauerwas & Willimon book, Resident Alliens.

      in fact, i tend to be in favor of gay marriage, because of the reasons you just mentionned. But you don’t need to be the church to have “great ideas” like this.

  • Marshall

    I don’t see an exchange. And you didn’t answer my (implied) question.

  • http://tommyab.wordpress.com tommyab

    “They don’t understand why they should not enjoy all the rights and privileges their straight counterparts take for granted.”

    you don’t need to be christian to have such a great insight…
    you just need to be american.


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