Bishop Leila Ortiz

August 9, 2019

Lutheran ‘Love’: ELCA Bishop Leila Ortiz Praises Polyamory

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.

20 Responses to Lutheran ‘Love’: ELCA Bishop Leila Ortiz Praises Polyamory

  1. “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.”

    Oh, I didn’t realize that if it wasn’t a “new” or public sin then it was OK. Got it.

    These goats and their followers never had excuses before (Romans 1 and all that) but they really have not excuses now.

    • Rev. Randy says:

      Agree. After all, if not being “just a fad, [but] a reality that has always been” were a criterion for being morally correct, then stealing, beating, and killing could all be considered “right” by this standard.

  2. “In those days there was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judg. 17.6, 21.25)
    “Those days” are here again.
    “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.,
    but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29.18)
    True prophetic vision comes from the Word of God.  But false undershepherds like ELCA “bishop-elect” Leila Ortiz do not believe the Word of God, especially its teachings on marriage and sexuality, discarding the “foolishness of God” for their own wisdom.  And so, “the people”, like the three poor, lost souls pictured above, “cast off restraint”, indulging impenitently in the passions of the flesh, blithely ignorant of the serious damage they are doing to their immortal souls.  The sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6.9-10), but in the final Judgment of God will be excluded from the holy city, the new Jerusalem (Rev. 22.15), cast into “the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev. 21.8).
    But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (I Cor. 1.25).  The Lord Jesus says, “For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,’ not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (Rev. 3.17-18)
    But they spurn His offer.  Not finding the Jesus of the Bible sufficiently amenable to their wanton sexual passions, they empty Him of His Biblical identity, keeping only the shell of what they perceive they like about Him, and then they fill this shell with empty platitudes like “love don’t judge”, as if the Jesus who said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Mt. 7.1), did not also say, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (Jn. 7.24)
    “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
    “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!  Amen.” (Rom. 1.21-25)
    And so the madness grows, and the Church of Jesus Christ is consumed by it.  When the Church becomes more like the world, it does not grow: it withers and dies.  And we see this painful reality playing itself out in the formerly Mainline American Protestant denominations, like the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Baptist Churches USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  When Literary and Historical Criticism of the Bible came into vogue in the academy, these denominations adopted it with gusto.  When Evolutionary Theory became all the rage, they jettisoned the Biblical doctrine of Creation in favor of it.  When candidates who disbelieved the Virgin Birth, the Substitutionary Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection, and even the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union were presented for ordination, they did not hesitate to find pulpits for them.  And now that Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity dogma has made sexual perversion socially acceptable, these same churches were in the vanguard to jettison Biblical sexual ethics in favor of fad, prostituting themselves in a vain effort to a world that finds them useful but does not love them, nor ever will.
    O King Jesus, forgotten and presumed upon by Your Bride, so that everyone may do what is right in their own eyes, come quickly, and set your Church to rights!

  3. MikeW says:

    “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10 When sexual perversion replaces the marriage covenant of one man and one woman… and when persons worship the flesh and do not worship in the Spirit or truth… they are truly lost. Also, to proclaim oneself as a bishop – an ordained minister of the Word and Sacrament – and believe that Polyamory is acceptable, is a blasphemy before God.

  4. Lee D. Cary says:

    They don’t call D.C. the “Swamp” for nothin’.

  5. Mike says:

    Wow. Just wow. No semblance of Christianity here. This is depressing to see people lead down this path.

  6. Michael Snow says:

    Something I wish I’d never seen! Few Christians speak up and defend the love of the Bible. We have few disciples/learners these days. It is why I wrote “When Love Becomes Heresy”

    • Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary says:

      I understand your response, but I’m glad I read this piece, Mr. Snow.

      The ELCA is just another example of the long death rattle among the old, liberal “Seven Sister” Protestant denominations, struggling to stay alive.

      The UMC will be the next, and last, major “Sister” to expire.

      For all the Sisters, it’s been, and will continue to be, a merciful death by suicide.

      Meanwhile, the Body of Christ lives on among others, elsewhere.

  7. MikeS says:

    Liberal Christianity lacks a stable belief system or morality. If a heretofore-proscribed act is desired, then lo! the bible is discovered to actually give warrant to the act. Tradition was just wrong for all those centuries. As others have noted, this is a contributing factor to the demise of the liberal churches. If in the final analysis we are free to do any consensual act we want, why bother attending?

  8. Donna Shirley says:

    I am a Lutheran, & I am appalled at this!!!!!!!! This does not go with our teachings, & the Bible

  9. JR says:

    I do recall that Jacob had a couple of wives and a couple of concubines. And he seemed to be blessed by God… he certainly wasn’t called out on it. Plus Abraham, David, and Samuel…

    Personally I find this a bridge (maybe a couple of bridges) too far, but I’m not particularly interested in sharing like this.

    It seems to me that it’s a lot more ‘searching for something to get people upset by’ than a notable issue for Christianity.

  10. Jeffrey Crawford says:

    If it were possible, I wonder if Abraham would weigh in on how his lack of faith in God’s promise, which led to him taking Hagar as another wife, cost the world. Remember, his son with Hagar was Ishmael…

  11. Randall Johnson says:

    In the video, the husband is the one who encourages his wife to explore her bi-sexual desires. Instead of leading her to be holy, he encourages her to explore and ends up endorsing the threesome lifestyle. Ephesians 5 says the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church….washing her and presenting her without spot or blemish. He has failed his wife and gone against his responsibilities as a Christian husband.

  12. Philip Roberts says:

    Well done the Pentecostal Church in Baltimore where they were in the worship band.

  13. Sue says:

    This is appalling. I’m confused, though. This is a quote from the National Presbyterian Church’s website: “According to scripture, Christian marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman. We understand weddings to be worship services that glorify God, and that dedicate the couple’s lives to upholding this covenant.”
    But the caption below the video says that Ortiz will be made Bishop there in October.
    Can someone clarify? If they hold the standard of biblical marriage, wouldn’t they also hold it for bishops?

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Sue, Ortiz has been elected a bishop in the ELCA. The service will be held at National Presbyterian Church (home to a PCUSA congregation) but it will not be a PCUSA worship service, rather an ELCA one. In this instance, the ELCA is the tenant, and National Presbyterian Church is the landlord. I don’t think the ELCA has a large national church in DC, so they probably reached out to National Pres in order to borrow their space for what will be a larger-than-normal church service.

  14. Trace says:

    If Methodist change their doctrine and do not separate; then they will be the next to advocate for polygamy. In fact, some of the radical liberals have stated that will be next. When you start down the slippery slope there is no stopping. By taking no stand, as some bishops have done, they are taking a stand in just allowing people to justify whatever makes them “feel good”. This is no different then the secular world. Anything goes. If your bishop will not lead, then essentially they are just collecting money and not doing the job appointed to, and worse setting a very poor example for believers.

  15. Deaconess Kelly says:

    Polygamy is supported irrefutably in Hebrew scripture just as celibacy is supported in the NT…the real question is what to do when we cease to wrestle with God, sanctification, and the meaning of righteousness? The moment anyone of us points at others embroiled in something “sinful”, we have already begun to dismiss our own sins. Jesus has a few things to say about that…

    Peace to you, my fellow sinful Siblings in Christ. May we be more discerning of our own harmful postures and give grace in the places it is most needed, so that we can be effective ministers of the Word in this lonely, dark world.

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