Tanzania Bishop Tells Lutheran World Federation Gay Relations Unacceptable

By Kenny, Peter | The Christian Century, July 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

Tanzania Bishop Tells Lutheran World Federation Gay Relations Unacceptable


Kenny, Peter, The Christian Century


The host bishop at a global Lutheran conference in Tanzania raised the thorny issue of homosexuality in his sermon opening the meeting of the main governing body of the 68-million-strong Lutheran World Federation--a group that has so far avoided the open fights over the issue seen in the Anglican Communion.

Lutheran bishop Thomas O. Laiser, speaking in Arusha at the June 25 gathering of the LWF Council, said same-sex relationships are unacceptable and go against biblical teachings.

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"What is the witnessing and the stand of the LWF at the moment as [far as] the whole question of homosexuality and lesbianism is concerned?" asked Laiser. "It is an undeniable fact that this question is not even discussable, and therefore it is not acceptable."

LWF president Mark Hanson, who is also the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said he believed that the global Lutheran body has mechanisms to adequately deal with debate and divergent attitudes on the issues of human sexuality.

"There are some people who would love to see us fall apart on this issue," Hanson added.

Although Lutheran churches throughout the world hold different views about matters such as the acceptance of homosexuals in church life and blessings for same-sex relationships in some Northern Hemisphere countries, the LWF has managed to avoid the divisions faced by Anglicans.

Tanzanians, some of them in traditional Masai dress, danced and sang during the two-hour service, which officially began the six-day gathering of the council. The meeting near the foot of Africa's highest mountain had an environmental theme, "Melting Snow on Mount Kilimanjaro: A Witness of a Suffering Creation."

The Tanzanian bishop said: "I am not standing here to tell you how this matter should be in your respective churches and countries; I am only sharing with you a piece of information on our stand in the ELCT [Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania], your host. …

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