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Statement of the Lutheran Communion in Africa on "Marriage, Family, and Human Sexuality"

by The Lutheran Communion in Africa — July 21, 2012

The statement of the Lutheran churches in Africa on MFHS takes place in the context and background of on-going discussions within the LWF communion of churches officially established in Lund, in 2007. According to the statement of the Africa region LWF preassembly meeting in Abuja in March 2010, the African churches participate in this process for the purpose of (a) strengthening the communion, (b) clarifying the generally shared position of the Lutheran churches in Africa, and (c) also to state clearly that this is not THE pressing issue for the Lutheran communion in Africa region. The Lutheran communion in Africa statement on MFHS is informed by (a) the processes that have taken place from African Lutheran leadership consultations, Lutheran Council in Africa, position papers from some LWF member churches in Africa, (b) processes taken by partner member churches from Asia, Europe, North and Latin America...

The member churches of the Lutheran World Federation in Africa met recently in Nairobi to discuss matters of human sexuality, which have unsurprisingly become a point of some tension within the communion. They drafted the following statement on the subject. A PDF of it can also be downloaded here.


STATEMENT OF THE LUTHERAN COMMUNION IN AFRICA ON ‘MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND HUMAN SEXUALITY’ (MFHS)
Nairobi, Kenya 15-19 May 2012

Preamble

The statement of the Lutheran churches in Africa on MFHS takes place in the context and background of on-going discussions within the LWF communion of churches officially established in Lund, in 2007.

According to the statement of the Africa region LWF preassembly meeting in Abuja in March 2010, the African churches participate in this process for the purpose of (a) strengthening the communion, (b) clarifying the generally shared position of the Lutheran churches in Africa, and (c) also to state clearly that this is not THE pressing issue for the Lutheran communion in Africa region.

The Lutheran communion in Africa statement on MFHS is informed by (a) the processes that have taken place from African Lutheran leadership consultations, Lutheran Council in Africa, position papers from some LWF member churches in Africa, (b) processes taken by partner member churches from Asia, Europe, North and Latin America.

The following summary statement of the doctrinal commission of the Lutheran council of Africa is presented on the basis and in full recognition and endorsement of the contents and sentiments of the message from the LWF Africa Pre-Assembly and Africa Lutheran Church Leadership Consultation in Abuja Nigeria, 24-28 March 2010, which on the issue of MFHS states unequivocally that:

“We strongly affirm our decision taken in Lund in 2007 that “marriage is holy, ordained by God and is a relationship between a man and woman.” Therefore, the majority of African member churches say “NO” to homosexual acts and regard it to be sinful.” Further to this affirmation of our position on this matter, we are extremely disturbed and deeply regret the recent developments taking place in some member churches of the communion who have taken unilateral decision on same sex marriages, disregarding the strong sentiments expressed by other members of the communion. This unilateral action has negatively impacted our life together as a communion, something which could have been avoided. We pray for the Spirit of discernment and for the grace of God to abound as we seek to resolve these issues.”

On this basis the Lutheran churches in Africa present the following statement on MFHS.

The statement:

1. is neither an individual person’s position nor the position of an individual Lutheran church in Africa, but a consensus product representing the generally shared understanding of the Lutheran Churches in Africa.

2. seeks to be faithful to the theological heritage of the Bible and expert advice of African theologians, medical professionals, psychologists, and social scientists.

3. seeks to reiterate the value and sanctity of human life, both individually and communally, hence states categorically that no person shall be stigmatised, abused, harmed or even killed on the basis of their sexuality.

4. affirms marriage between a man and a woman as consistent with biblical teaching (e.g. Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6).

5. affirms that it is generally commendable from scriptures, general practices, and in African traditions/ cultures, that children be born and raised in a family comprised of a mother and father and protective community.

6. affirms that in such a family of father, mother and children, sexual relations between married man and woman be strengthened to set up a good example for the children.

7. understands sexuality as a gift of God to be shared between a man and woman in the context of marriage.

8. regards same sex relations as contrary to generally shared Christian and African values.

9. acknowledges that there is evidence in history, past and present, that there were and are male and female persons who evinced characteristics of the opposite sex. Such persons were not to be persecuted or ostracised.

10. acknowledges the results of medical research which recognise that human sexuality could be shaped, among other things, by biological and psychological factors as well as socio-cultural environment.

11. affirms that human beings are neither only physical beings to be fully understood in terms of their biological or physiological make-up nor are they purely socially constructed passive receivers of the aspirations of their communities, but both in differing proportions.

12.  further notes that socialisation of persons into societal participation is an on-going and complicated process that requires constant evaluation so that such processes do not contribute to the buttressing of oppressive structures.

13. seeks to maintain their biblical and theological faithfulness even if this may be contrary to state regulations on same sex relationships.

14. expects the above understanding to govern the way member churches of the LWF should relate to each other; that no church should seek to have its views regarding human sexuality imposed on another using its advantage of financial strength or any form of coercion.

progressive for Africa...

Posted by Peter at July 22, 2012 00:40
What are the African Lutheran churches doing about Pt 3 on their list? Are they willing to help set up shelters or safe houses for those persecuted because of their sexuality? What have they done in Uganda so far?

Progressives in America

Posted by Mick Lee at July 25, 2012 14:12
One could just as well ask what American Lutheran progressives are doing for the poor besides emitting their gases in the halls of Congress and in front of any TV camera that will have them.

progressives

Posted by Peter at July 29, 2012 01:53
That's one way to avoid my question.

But, to answer your question:

http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/ELCA-World-Hunger.aspx/

http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Poverty-Ministries.aspx

http://www.welcomeministry.org/about/ (you might notice the infamous Ebenezer Lutheran (herchurch) is also involved in this ministry...)

http://www.trinityplaceshelter.org/history/

Locally, I know my congregation assists with meal prep for a local homeless shelter and another local "progressive" pastor started a homeless shelter in her church basement.

Good Works!

Posted by David Charlton at July 30, 2012 14:03
This exchange is an example of works righteousness, or self justification, is it not? The ELCA is vindicated, proven right, because it allegedly does more good works than others?

So much for Hanson's claim...

Posted by Paul Hinlicky at July 24, 2012 17:19
that neither ecumenical progress nor global Lutheran communion have been damaged by the ELCA's willful, sectarian and unbiblical decision of 20089.

Higg Road Blues

Posted by Mick Lee at July 26, 2012 11:55
Look. If all that was left of the ELCA was the presiding Bishop and the staff at Higgins Road, they would still say everything's just peachy between themselves and Rome. Of course, the only third-world Lutherans that count are those who think like they do--however few that may be.

Don't expect the MFHS to get a big writeup in THE LUTHERAN.

BOC1580@gmail.com

Posted by Rev. Paul T. McCain at July 29, 2012 02:28
So, Paul, tell me why anyone is remaining in the ELCA which is slipping beneath the waves while the deck chairs are being placed around the deck?


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Teaching Redeemed
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The Past, Present, and
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Lutheran Bishops

The Numismatic Luther

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