The Seminary paper has a new section called "Something to talk about" this is what I submitted to them. Think they'll accept it?
You likely remember the recent ruling about homosexuality at the ELCA General Assembly that urged leaders to “refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining” people and congregations who call qualified leaders on the professional rosters of the ELCA "who are in a mutual, chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship." Some may also have heard that the Episcopalian church, to keep the Anglican commune from schisming has pledged to “exercise restraint” in approving gay bishops.
Both groups are urging restraint, but different kinds. The former involves restraint of an authority and a law; the latter involves restraint by an authority figure and a use of a law. Those that have moved the Episcopalians to act as they have did so because they understand law derived from canon to be immutable. Those that brought the ELCA to its decision did so because they believe law to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. One quotes Jesus, “I did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.” The other, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Yet, notice this is not necessarily a “conservative” “liberal” distinction, at least not in our narrow Red State/Blue State sense of these words. After all the Episcopalians hold a much more “liberal” position than the ELCA. Instead, the question of restraint, literally, “to restrict or limit,” becomes a question of whose power should people who try to follow Jesus limit? Do we limit the power of absolutes over humans, or try and enforce the power of absolutes in order to limit humans? There is a good case to be made for both.
We attempt to limit the power of absolutes because absolutes become idols, often masks like the Great Oz, hiding behind them the idiosyncrasies of little men. We often become so enthralled by their power that we do not hear the Spirit blowing.
We enforce the power of absolutes because we are sinners; we fall short of the mark and see only a minute fraction of reality, and will defend that little patch of “truth” to the death. If the rule of God seem strange to us the problem is likely on our end.
Is it any wonder Matthew writes about a “narrow gate”? On one side is a post made of bellybutton gazers, on the other is those who make an ideal their god. “Make straight the path.”