Married in the Sight of God: Theology, Ethics and Church Debates over Homosexuality

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Married in the Sight of God is a case study into the contemporary sexual ethics debates in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Christian B. Scharen analyzes the origin, rhetorical use, and institutionalization of the Lutheran "orders of creation" theology used to exclude gays and lesbians. In addition, this study shows that the Lutheran tradition holds neglected possibilities for an affirming theological and ethical position that blesses the lives and leadership of people — homosexual or heterosexual — ...
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Overview

Married in the Sight of God is a case study into the contemporary sexual ethics debates in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Christian B. Scharen analyzes the origin, rhetorical use, and institutionalization of the Lutheran "orders of creation" theology used to exclude gays and lesbians. In addition, this study shows that the Lutheran tradition holds neglected possibilities for an affirming theological and ethical position that blesses the lives and leadership of people — homosexual or heterosexual — who make life-long promises of love and fidelity one to another.

Author Biography: Christian Batalden Scharen teaches at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

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Editorial Reviews

Reading In The Light Of Congregations
Hopefully this work will provide guidance for those in leadership of the various churches as they seek to reevaluate their understandings of humanity, ministry, and God's creation.
— Rev. Wilton S. Haffey, Jr.
Booknews
Opening with a dedication to "gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians who struggle to be faithful to their loved ones in the midst of churches who will not yet fully welcome them," and Martin Luther's words about otherwise pious priests married in the sight of God, the author tackles the issue of how "unchangeable" norms may change through a case study of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Scharen, who by now may have earned his doctorate in social ethics in religion at Emory U., values an inclusive theology of marriage. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Reading In The Light Of Congregations - Rev. Wilton S. Haffey
Hopefully this work will provide guidance for those in leadership of the various churches as they seek to reevaluate their understandings of humanity, ministry, and God's creation.
Reading In The Light Of Congregations - Rev. Wilton S. Haffey Jr.
Hopefully this work will provide guidance for those in leadership of the various churches as they seek to reevaluate their understandings of humanity, ministry, and God's creation.
Religious Studies Review
This book provides helpful background for pastors, seminary students, and theologians.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761817680
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian Batalden Scharen teaches at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

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Table of Contents

Foreword viii
Preface xvi
Acknowledgements xxv
Chapter 1 The Times Have Changed: Reflections on Doing Christian Sexual Ethics Today 1
Method: Critical Christian Ethics 2
Critical Tools: Archaeology and Genealogy 5
Constructive Use of a Tradition 9
Using the Varieties of Sources 10
Revision in Sexual Ethics 12
Outline of the Book 15
Chapter 2 Honoring God's Handiwork: Luther on Sexuality And Marriage 19
The Primacy of Pastoral Concerns 21
Luther's Revisions in Moral Teaching 28
From a Two-Tiered Ethic to a Horizontal Ethic 28
From Marriage as Sacrament to Marriage as Estate 34
A Sketch of Luther's Full Views on Marriage 36
Sexuality and Marriage as Divine Ordinances 38
Marriage as a Civil Estate 41
Marriage as a Christian Calling 48
Interpreting Luther Today 52
Chapter 3 The Heterosexual Structure of Creation: The Orders of Creation in American Lutheranism 55
Order of Creation: An Unchangeable Norm? 57
The Unlikely History of the "Unchangeably Normative" 58
Lutheran Church in America 58
American Lutheran Church 78
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 87
Chapter 4 Vision and Expectations: Theology and Policy for Exclusion 93
Bureaucracy and Disciplinary Power 95
Producing Candidates for Ordained Ministry 100
History of the Problem: Authority, Candidacy and Sexuality 103
History of the Solutions: Authority, Bureaucracy and Discipline 111
Guidance and Necessary Evaluation: Candidacy Processes and the Interview 117
Developing Candidacy Process 117
The Examinations 119
Chapter 5 Promises of Fidelity: An Inclusive Theology of Marriage 127
The Letter and The Spirit 127
Theology and Policy: Reasons for Revision 128
Toward an Inclusive Theology of Marriage 131
Luther 132
U.S. Lutheranism 143
Conclusion: Theology and Social Change 149
Bibliography 153
Index 169
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2000

    Critical study of American Lutheran debates over homosexuality

    Many denominations in the United States agree on only one thing with regards to Christianity and homosexuality--the issue causes conflict. Married in the Sight of God provides a case study in the contemporary debates over sexual ethics in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, one of the largest protestant churches in the US. Useful both to Lutherans and to other Christians struggling with similar situations, the book offers a needed history of the current debate. The history serves as a critical examination of the theological and institutional roots of the exclusion of gay and lesbian persons from full participation in the life of the church. The author exposes and analyzes the origin (chapter 2), rhetorical use (chapter 3), and institutionalization (chapter 4) of 'orders of creation' theology, the dominant means by which the church has labled same-sex relationships 'immoral.' However, the author believes critique should serve a constructive agenda. Thus the book shows how Luther and the Lutheran tradition hold neglected possibilities for an affirming theological and ethical position on marriage and ordination for gay and lesbian people. In a final constructive chapter (chapter 5) the author works toward a theological position that would fully bless the lives and leadership of people--gay or straight--who make life-long promises of love and fidelity, one to another.

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