The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has distributed a handbook on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
According to the Christian Post, the handbook, “Lutheran Introduction to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression,” was created by ReconcilingWorks, a Lutheran ministry that helps “all sexual orientations and gender identities.”
“Many LGBTQIA+ people have learned by experience that they are not truly welcome in church, even in churches that state, ‘All are welcome here!’ says ReconcilingWorks in the introduction of the handbook.
“A general statement of welcome is often heard as meaning ‘everybody but me,’ so it can take a special effort to communicate an authentic welcome to LGBTQIA+ people,” the ministry said.
The handbook is meant to help congregations reach out to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“If you don’t know which identity terms, pronouns or titles to use, and find yourself getting ‘stuck’ on terms, re-center yourself on the fact you are talking about a person,” the handbook says. “It is also ok to ask which pronouns one prefers, or just avoid using gendered terms. Remember, all you need to welcome someone is their name.”
The handbook also defines gender identity as “a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or another gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth. Gender identity is different from the term ‘gender’, which is typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.”
Gender expression is defined as “the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. These norms vary culturally.”
Finally, the handbook defines sexual orientation as “the term used to describe what gender(s) someone is physically and/or emotionally attracted to. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, and straight are all examples of sexual orientations. A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s gender identity and expression.”
Some religious leaders have criticized the ELCA for being “radical” in its policies. In April, the ELCA faced criticism after posting a prayer on social media addressing God as “Mother.”
“Mother God, you have fed us with the nourishment of your spiritual food. Raise us up into salvation and rid us of our bitterness, so that we may share the sweetness of your holy word with all the world,” the ELCA tweeted.
Mother God, you have fed us with the nourishment of your spiritual food. Raise us up into salvation and rid us of our bitterness, so that we may share the sweetness of your holy word with all the world.#Bread4theDay #Prayer— ELCA Lutherans (@ELCA) April 28, 2020
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christian Ouellet
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.