The nation's largest Lutheran group is urging the church to continue defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But the group did not offer a consensus on same-sex relationships.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America released a report Thursday, that broadly studied Christian views on sexual morality, premarital sex and other family issues. The report is called a "Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality."
In it, the group did not condemn same-sex relationships, but expressed regret that Lutheran teachings have been used to hurt rather than help homosexuals. They said the Bible "can be abused and misunderstood through selective use as a moral guide," noting that verses were once used to justify slavery.
Still, the report stood firm on the definition of marriage, and the importance of love and reserving sexual intimacy for marriage.
"The church recognizes the historic origin of the term `marriage' as a lifelong and committed relationship between a woman and a man, and does not wish to alter this understanding," it said.
A 15-member panel of Lutheran clergy and scholars developed the draft. It was part of the denomination's recent efforts to bridge differences within the church over the Bible and homosexuality.
The ELCA is one of several groups divided over gay relationships. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a separate, smaller group, is theologically conservative, and teaches that same-gender relationships violate Scripture.
Next year, the panel will decide whether to revise current standards that bar gays and lesbians from being ordained if they are sexually active.
Read the entire report here.
Sources: Associated Press, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America