Introduction by JLE Senior Editor Kaari Reierson
I take some comfort in knowing that the ELCA is by no means unique in its struggle to hear God’s call and find its way when it comes to same-gender committed relationships and ordination, consecration, and commissioning of people in committed same-sex unions.  We keep company with many other denominations, not to mention our legal system and state electorates. [explore portfolio]

Why Now? Lutherans Join a Mainline Debate
Jon Pahl, Ph.D.
As Lutherans move toward our Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, it may be good to reflect on our historical context. For Lutherans are hardly alone in being driven to debate sexuality over the past decade. Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians--among others--have been rocked by questions about ordaining gays and lesbians and blessing homosexual unions. Why now? Why at this juncture in history have these questions become so urgent?
[read article]

Recognition, Not Blessing
by Paul R. Hinlicky
How far can confessional Lutherans bend to accommodate an urgently felt pastoral need and, if possible, to preserve the unity of the ELCA (such as it is)? [read article]

The Church as a Community of Moral Deliberation—A Time of Testing
John R. Stumme
The church is about speaking and listening.  For those who believe the church has responsibility in and for society, it follows quite naturally that Christians should talk together about the relationship of the faith to their responsibilities.
[read article]
  Living Together Faithfully in Community While Disagreeing
Daniel Lee
I have great appreciation for the work that the Task Force for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Studies on Sexuality did as they wrestled with some of the most excruciatingly difficult issues of our time. I particularly like their recommendation that we concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements. [read article]

Christian Eye for the Queer Guy by Michael Stoltzfus
Human beings, as far as we know, are unique in their ability to engage in moral choice.  The endeavor to do this is an ancient and sincere striving; one that makes living a happy and fulfilling life a real possibility.  But in trying to make moral decisions we often become overwhelmed by the immense moral pluralism of our modern culture and the sheer complexity of relevant factors that need consideration before informed decisions are made about a given issue of moral choice. [read article]

Antinomians: Then and Now
by William Lazareth
Fortunately, there have been no major attacks on my development of Luther’s theological ethic in the central body of the book itself. As a Biblical and systematic rejoinder to anti-Lutheran critics, there seems to be a broad consensus in approval of its densely-documented central thesis. [read article]

Conscience and

It’s all very fine and good when Luther says “My conscience is captive to the word of God,” and he’s the only one using that particular argument. But what to do when people claim to be conscience-bound to the Scriptures, but with entirely different results?  Given that the Task Force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality faces just such a conundrum and names it explicitly in its recommendations, we thought it wise to examine notions of conscience in JLE. [explore portfolio]

La Diritta Via: An Ethical Response to Terror
by Peter S. Henne
acts of al-Qaeda are not, as commonly perceived, a revolutionary reaction aimed at destroying Western culture; they are instead a systemic outburst to the marginalization of the Middle East in the international system.  Through the use of the theories of John Locke and Carole Pateman, it is determined that the supposed revolutionary nature of the group is based on a faulty tacit consent-based conceptualization of al-Qaeda’s actions, and that the inequality of the international system is the true cause of terrorism. [read article]

A Lutheran Perspective on Teaching Legal Ethics
by Robert W. Tuttle
I have a confession to make.  For the past decade, I have been teaching Lutheran ethics to the students of George Washington University Law School.  This confession will come as something of a surprise to my students and colleagues.  GW is not, after all, a religiously affiliated law school, much less a Lutheran one; and the course in question is supposed to be the school’s standard, two-credit class in professional responsibility. [read article]

Review of Must Christianity be Violent? by Kenneth R. Chase and Alvin Jacobs
review by Mark Hoffman
Must Christianity be Violent?  “Of course not!” is the obvious answer of any faithful Christian.  However, that is the title of this book, a compendium of lectures sponsored in March 2000 by the Center for Applied Christian Ethics of Wheaton College (Illinois).  The impetus of these lectures was to engage the concern often leveled against Christianity, that “Christianity’s tragic legacy has been a reversal of values through which an ethic purportedly driven by love and service has been used as an opportunity for control and subjugation.” [read review]

Review of After Empire: The Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace by Sharon D. Welch
review by
Elizabeth Bettenhausen
Today in powerful places in the USA, compromise is slurred as Truth's enemy, and only the single-minded know justice. Peace will arrive when the other, the different, is eliminated or turned into an impotent minority.  Thus, on the Comedy Channel, The Daily Show never runs out of material. [read review]

Review of After Empire: The Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace by Sharon D. Welch
review by
C. Melissa Snarr
One of Sharon Welch’s gifts is to take a common ethical question and discuss it in ways few have imagined. She transforms questions into prisms which invite us to turn them in the light and meditate on what the resulting refractions might mean for our moral vision [read review]

Review of Three Books on Peace
review by Richard J. Niebanck
Must Christianity –defined as that theological ethos whose normative basis is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ – be violent?  This question, the title of the third book to be reviewed below, is answered with a definite “yes” by the first and emphatic “no” by the second. [read review]

On the Release of Recommendations by the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality: Reflections and Reviews

News reports of the report and recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality displayed various headlines.  “No change” was followed by “Gays Win,” “Tolerate” and “Be Flexible” as news outlets tried to characterize the recommendations.  Those unfamiliar with the history of the issue in the ELCA, the present regulations, Lutheran history, and Luther’s theology might easily find themselves bemused—what are these people up to, anyway?
[explore portfolio]


Just Peace
and Just Peacemaking
In his September 2004 President’s Address to the Lutheran World Federation Council, Mark S. Hanson, President of the Lutheran World Federation and Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, called for theological work among the member communions on principles of a just peace.  Commenting upon Chris Hedges’ book, War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, Hanson said, “In our violent and war-torn world, let us as the LWF deepen our resolve to demythologize these myths [that help to engender war], quell these fears [of the other], and together develop principles for a just peace that become as defining of us as have been the principles of just war.” This issue is a modest beginning of a response from some individual ELCA theologians to this challenging invitation. [explore portfolio]

More than Principles Are Needed by Karen Bloomquist
Having been invited to respond from a Lutheran World Federation perspective (although not speaking officially for the LWF) to the recent JLE articles on just peace / peacemaking, I begin by strongly affirming JLE for having taken this initiative to invite further theological-ethical thinking that can contribute to ongoing LWF concerns. [read article]