A Lutheran pastor resigned from Trinity Lutheran Church in Alabama last week after experiencing a “change of heart” towards equality for gay and lesbian people. Pastor Bert Oelschig had initially opposed Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)’s 2009 decision to “allow openly gay pastors” in “committed, lifelong and monogamous relationships” to serve in the clergy and even threatened to “break away with the national denomination.”
But in June, Oelschig experienced a revelation and attempted to explain his newfound support for LGBT equality to his church. Oelschig drew parallels “between the acceptance of homosexuality and those of other social movements, especially the civil rights movement of the 1960s, to which the church, ‘using countless biblical endorsements,’ once opposed but has since come to embrace.” The church council forbade Oelschig from addressing the matter further and eventually suspended him. Still, he returned to the topic during his farewell address last week:
“Before there was any creation, God was love,” Oelschig said, citing imagery from his original sermon. “After creation, gender came along, but God’s essence was still love. It’s my belief that the love between people is not a function of gender. (Homosexual couples) can express love, faith and affection just as we all can … it’s blessed by God.
“Love trumps chromosomes.”
“With all that,” he said, “I can’t say what brought me to that place, except that God, through the Holy Spirit, is revealing to me that homosexuality — in the context of the same thing as marriage — is blessed by God.”
Polls show that religious Americans are indeed increasingly supporting LGBT rights. A ABC News/Washington Post poll from March, for instance, found that 53 percent of white Catholics and 57 percent of non-evangelical Protestants support marriage equality.