Press Conference Address by Dr. Eric Elnes
June 15, 2011
For many years, Heartland clergy and their congregations have been prayerfully reexamining long-held assumptions with respect to homosexuality, and gender identity and expression.
To everything there is a season and today we recognize that this is the season of warming. Our silence has been broken, and today we join with many gay and straight persons throughout our great nation to let justice and righteousness flow as mightily as a river.
Today we join with over 150 fellow Christian clergy and congregations throughout the Heartland to joyfully announce that the Good News is better than what many have imagined, and to call for full equality for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
For us, the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, not a birth defect, not a sin. After years of study, reflection and prayer, we find no convincing biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. As William Sloan Coffin once observed, “for Christians, the problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ.”
While the silence of many – including ourselves – has created the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue, now we speak with a united and determined voice.
We joyfully stand with the gay and lesbian members of our congregations whom we have baptized to embrace their full inclusion in all areas of church life, including leadership. We stand as well, with gay and lesbian persons everywhere, advocating for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.
We call upon all fellow Christian clergy of the Heartlands to break their silence and join us in raising a voice of affirmation and inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in church and society.
Finally, we would like to address our Christian sisters and brothers who will be troubled by the joyful words we share with you today.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, in addition to the affirmations we make today, we also wish to affirm our love and belief in you. We worship the same God, follow the same Lord, and pray in the same Spirit.
We understand why some would grow weary of change. But changing our way of thinking in response to God’s ever-expanding revelation is simply part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It is therefore not a burden or hardship, but a privilege and opportunity that takes place within the Good News of God’s grace and love. It is also a responsibility.
We stand here because God’s justice and righteousness has broken through the levies we had once built against it, flooding our hearts with joy at discovering that the Good News is even better than we imagined. Our prayer is that this same joy be yours as well, and that you will join us, as sisters and brothers, in the joy of working for a bright new future for gay and lesbian persons in the Heartland and beyond.
Written by Eric Elnes
Welcome to the Heartland Clergy for Inclusion’s presentation of The Heartland Proclamation. Join us in an ongoing conversation about God’s unconditional love for all people and about advocation of justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.