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28 local pastors speak out against “simplistic” interpretations of sexual identity

Being created in God’s image (the imago dei), we believe that all human beings bear this image in many and various ways. Because members of the LGBTQ community are often marginalized and sometimes persecuted in the name of God, it is necessary for us to bear Christian witness to defend and advocate for all whom God created.

Within Christendom (and other world religions), there exists an unhealthy framework of assumptions and accusations. We, the undersigned leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), proclaim that many Christians do not accept a rigid and hateful perspective on persons identifying as transgender, but rather welcome them as part of God’s family.

community voices

Humans are prone to making erroneous judgment in our time based on selective biblical interpretation. Few Christians recognize the biblical admonitions against eating pork (Leviticus 11). Nor do we order the destruction of a building if it has mold for more than three consecutive days (Leviticus 14). We can be, however, tempted to lift other ancient admonitions out of their original historical and cultural contexts to create standards of living if they suit our current ideological agendas.

ELCA Lutherans are guided by a 2009 social statement against such simplistic thinking: “theology prepares us precisely to hold in creative tension the paradoxes and complexities of the human situation. This is also the case with regard to human sexuality.”  Sometimes, the defining binaries (male/female, black/white, rich/poor) are simplistic and reductionist. In fact, we live in a world of continuums in which all of God’s people are found. When we speak of defining characteristics of the human experience such as skin color, gender identity/expression, anatomical sex assigned at birth, romantic/sexual attraction, and personal identity, it reveals to us the incredibly diverse and mysterious beauty of God’s creation.

It is our reading of the Holy Scriptures that God hates nothing God lovingly creates, and there is much more diversity in this world than we at first assume. We strive to view the world through the lens of God’s love for creation, taking seriously the idea that we can love because God first loved us (1 John 4:10). What does God ask of us but to show the love of Christ in seeking to understand those who are different from us as equal partners in life and love? ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton focused on this love in a recent statement on Anti-Transgender Legislation: “Our church teaches that we affirm transgender and nonbinary siblings as God’s children, who are loved unconditionally. Our social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action (2019) also declares that this church commits itself to ‘advocate for and support laws, policies, and practices that respect diverse bodies rather than discriminating against, objectifying, or devaluing them.’”

We all seek love, respect, and acceptance in our human struggles. While it is true that none of us choose the sex we are assigned at birth, it is possible for different expressions of sexuality and gender to exist in the human experience. Instead of shaming people for these different expressions, we can welcome them as God’s children in an ever-changing universe.

We affirm public leaders who choose diversity over exclusion, especially on behalf of adolescent members of the LGBTQ community who face increasing threats and incidents of bullying in real spaces and online. By making a public stand in favor of diversity, we offer hope for LGBTQ youth that this is a world in which they can find love and acceptance.


Rev. Dr. William Avery

Rev. Rosemary Backer

Vicar Elizabeth Baker-Mikesell

Rev. Dr. Gerald Christianson

Rev. Carla Christopher

Rev. Michael Cooper-White

Dr. Eric Crump

Bishop Jim Dunlop

Rev. Dr. Maria Erling

Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin

Rev. Frederick Foltz

Dr. Deacon Nancy Gable

Rev. Andrew Geib

Rev. Stephen Herr

Rev. Sandra Mackie

Rev. Fredrica Meitzen

Rev. Richard Michael

Rev. Dr. Mark Oldenburg

Rev. Dr. Martin Otto-Zimmann

Rev. Dennis Probst

Deacon Barbara Schmitthenner

Rev. Dr. Teresa Smallwood

Rev. Dr. Chris Suehr

Rev. John Spangler

Rev. Dr. Nelson Strobert

Rev. Dr. Joseph Vought

Rev. Amy Wagner

Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann

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Michael Bennett
9 months ago


Fran K. Ingram
Fran K. Ingram
9 months ago

Now let’s hear from an atheist about transgenderism. Richard Dawkins Follows the Science and Rejects the Transgender Illusion by Edwin Benson September 5, 2023 “An atheist is an egalitarian who, to avoid the absurdity of affirming that Man is God, commits the absurdity of declaring that God does not exist.” This description, provided by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his Revolution and Counter-Revolution, aptly applies to the famous biologist Richard Dawkins. Dr. Dawkins is a self-described “man of the left” and the author of many books that promote his atheistic sentiments, including The God Delusion and Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s… Read more »

This Mom
This Mom
9 months ago
Reply to  Fran K. Ingram

There is plenty of science that proves your take and those you quote are outdated and incorrect opinions. It’s willfully denying the actual current and well cited science of biological and genetic study. Gender and sexual expression are far more complicated than any binary and it can be easily understood if you simply look to current medical knowledge instead of old information. A quick Google search will get you there. As for quoting one Lesbian (again from the past) you have missed all the lesbians of that time and now, along with cisgendered women who do not believe sharing the… Read more »

Fran K. Ingram
Fran K. Ingram
8 months ago
Reply to  This Mom

What biological and genetic study do you cite? What is your definition of “identity”? I stand by that everyone has the right to whatever identity they want to to believe they are. But that doesn’t give them the right to say I must accept their beliefs. You still trust Google to be uncensored? I learned my lesson concerning how they censored prominent scientists and medical experts concerning the covid jab and source of the virus. Right now, my concern is not anyone wanting to be whatever fits their agenda at the moment in this time, my concern is ELCA Lutheran… Read more »

Patti P
Patti P
9 months ago
Reply to  Fran K. Ingram

It is difficult for humans to understand things they don’t, personally, experience. We all assume that what we know/feel is “right” or “the same for everyone,” but it’s not. For those who can’t personally comprehend LGBTQ because it doesn’t affect them and they don’t want to believe the science (for whatever reason, so cling to old ways), a quick reminder that sound reasoning includes, “Live and Let Live,” “Freedom,” and from the Bible in Romans 14:10-12, “10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you  despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;  11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” ———————— Personally, I don’t think God condemns that which He has made and I’m quite fine with all… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by PJ
Fran K. Ingram
Fran K. Ingram
8 months ago
Reply to  Patti P

Patti, the LGBTQ community effects all folks when laws are changed to protect them at the expense of others who do not accept the lifestyle and get hammered if they don’t. I try not to bring religion into a personal debate, but since you introduced it personally to me, I ask, “If you believe in the OT and NT, you will find many verses where Jews and Christians are told to warn others if they are disobeying God’s law. Did you learn that when Jesus corrected their behavior and forgave them, He said, “Go and sin no more.” All are… Read more »

Mandy Day
Mandy Day
9 months ago

What a wonderful statement of support, LOVE and true Christian spirit.