With the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly underway in Milwaukee this week, we’ve stepped up our coverage of Lutheran news. Last month, I wrote about Bishop-elect Paul Egensteiner of the ELCA’s Metropolitan New York Synod declaring that Hell is empty. My colleague Chelsen Vicari offered a preview of various progressive memorials (the ELCA equivalent of resolutions or overtures) at the Churchwide Assembly.
Meanwhile, another bishop-elect in the ELCA has invited controversy with her endorsement of polyamory. YouTube channel Barcroft TV recently interviewed two women and a man who are in a relationship with one another as a “throuple”.
The Baltimore threesome describe their meeting and eventual departure from a Pentecostal church, where husband Luis and wife Katie performed as musicians. After bringing Raquel into their relationship, they report that they were asked to leave.
Enter the Rev. Leila Ortiz, who recounts their meeting and learning of their relationship:
“There’s still many people who would be scandalized and would even be scandalized by my acceptance of them. And that’s okay, that’s okay. I’m very grounded in my faith,” Ortiz assures viewers. “How do you judge and how do you point fingers and condemn people that don’t know any other way of being? People have been in polygamous relationships for decades, they have just been private about it. So now we are in a place where it is public. This isn’t just a fad. This is a reality that has always been.”
Ortiz was elected June 15 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the ECLA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod (the Barcroft TV segment first streamed August 1). She has served on the staff of the Metro DC Synod for three years.
“It is a kingdom that is not as interested in being right as it is in being in relationship,” Ortiz preached at the ECLA’s 2016 Churchwide Assembly.
A self-described “Luthercostal”, Ortiz refers to the Holy Spirit as “she” and describes a call “to preach and teach in communities that wrestle with their complicity in the unjust systems.” Ortiz is a doctoral candidate at United Lutheran Theological Seminary of Pennsylvania (the consolidation of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia) with an interest in “Protestant Latinx Liberation Theologies”.
Once again, a well-deserved tip-of-the-hat to Lutheran blogger Dan Skogen, who originally flagged the story:
“This is an ELCA bishop proclaiming support for polygamous relationships. Polygamy is against God’s will as He clearly outlined in Scripture (see here). The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has become so opposed to the Truth of God’s Word that threesomes are fine.”
The Lutheran Confessions identify marriage and the family as foundational structures that support human community. In the 2009 document Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, the ELCA notes that the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions have recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman with “promises of fidelity and public accountability.” The document makes reference to “two people” and effectively opens the door to same-sex couples (stating that “consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same-gender committed relationships”) but makes no reference to polygamous or polyamorous unions.
Watch the full interview with Ortiz and the Baltimore “throuple” here:
Ortiz is set to be installed as bishop on October 12 at a ceremony held at National Presbyterian Church in Washington.