October 30, 2009

Lutherans Embrace Gay Marriage

Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches ’Sad’ That Lutherans Embrace Marriage Equality

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Oct 28, 2009
Edge Boston

Catholic and Orthodox representatives have given voice to their "sadness" that Lutheran gay and lesbian families are being treated with equality by their faith.

Anti-gay religious Web site LifeSiteNews reported that Swedish representatives of the other faiths released a joint statement saying that they were cast into "sadness" by "the decision by the synod of the Church of Sweden" to extend official recognition to same-sex families by making it church policy to bless their unions.

The church had already been blessing same-sex unions for some time, but the Synod’s vote made the church’s welcoming stance official and allowed those unions to be viewed as marriages within the church.

By contrast, the statement from the Catholics and Orthodox read, "In our churches and communities, we will not unite homosexual couples since it is in complete contradiction with the tradition of the church and our vision of creation," the LifeSiteNews article reported.

The statement went on to lambast Sweden’s Lutheran church, saying that the decision to embrace gay and lesbian families "is a swing away not only from Christian tradition but also from the point of view on the nature of marriage which is typical of all religions."

The statement went on to warn that, "this decision of the Church of Sweden widens the gap" between the faiths.

Some conservative Lutherans voices similar opprobrium. The article quoted Bishop Hans Stiglund, who said, "In my way of looking at it marriage is defined as a relation between man and woman with no room for a relation between partners of the same sex."

Although he supported the outcome, Lutheran Archbishop Anders Wejryd expressed understanding for those who did not, saying, "For my part, the right decision was taken, but I can empathize with the many who believe this has gone too fast."

As reported Oct. 22 at EDGE, the measure originated in June with a petition from the governing board of the Church of Sweden, and was approved by the Lutheran Synod, with a majority 176 votes out of the 249 voting members. The vote took place just three days after the thirtieth anniversary of the removal of homosexuality from the list of pathologies in Sweden.

The decision also follows in the wake of marriage equality being granted to gay and lesbian Swedish families by the Swedish government. The new law took effect last May.

Swedish GLBT leader Åsa Regnér, who heads the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, said, "The Synod’s decision takes a stance in favor of an inclusive view of people. Regardless of whether one is religious or not, this affects the entire social climate and the view of people’s equal value."

Pastors opposed to performing marriages for same-sex couples may opt out.