What Would Luther Do? Re. Homosexuality

Asking what Martin Luther might do in any situation is a bit of a dangerous enterprise. Unlike Calvin, he was less systematic or consistent. He was known to say things impulsively, things that descendants have been hard pressed to explain -- like his anti-Semitic remarks that were used by the Nazi's to justify their anti- Jewish program.
That being said, Luther was revolutionary in many ways. He made nasty comments about "Sodomites" but if he were alive today would he answer the same way, or, as with the anti-Semitism, he would answer very differently?
Mary Zeiss Stange, a professor at Skidmore College in New York, believes that Luther's pro-sexuality statements in response to celibacy would lead him to take a more open view today. She bases her position in part on Luther's commitment to inclusion:

In the Augsburg Confession of 1530 (a conciliatory statement of faith intended to unite Lutherans with other Protestants), Luther publicly agreed with other reformers of his day that biblical references that depart from New Testament inclusiveness — abstaining from eating pork, for example, or requiring male circumcision — not only can but should be set aside. A 21st century Luther would surely recognize that the few biblical proscriptions against "sodomy" — shaky in themselves as condemnations of same-sex love and rooted in a worldview vastly different from our own — should not bar the loving union of two gay or lesbian persons. Equally, a 21st century Luther would affirm the ordination of such persons, as in line with his theology of the "priesthood of all believers."

Playing historical games like this is always difficult because it's hard to separate out one's cultural formation from one's deeply held beliefs. I kind of think Stange is right, but I say that very cautiously. Luther's principle of inclusion would be key in this debate -- even if he imposed it very inconsistently. So what would Luther do?
The column published yesterday in USA Today is found here.


Anonymous said…
Now that is a fascinating question. I always thought Luther went too far is his endorsement of sexuality--he made voluntary celibacy into a sin. But I may have to reevaluate Luther on love, sex, and family life in light of your question. Historical imagination, as you say, is difficult and dangerous--but how else do we learn from the past.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Let's try it again:


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