Archived Story

Faith group talks gay marriage amendment during ‘Faith Action Week’

Published 11:29am Friday, September 14, 2012

On Thursday night, spirited and passionate discussion filled the rustic home of Carol Pagel in rural Vining. Approximately 15 people gathered at the home, some life-long churchgoers and others not overtly religious, but the event was reported around the state as a gathering of people from the Vining Lutheran Church.

The informal gathering was promoted by pro-gay marriage group Minnesotans United for All Families as part of “Faith Action Week.”

During the week, religious groups from around the state are gathering together to express their opposition to the state constitutional amendment referendum that, if approved, would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

However, the gathering at Pagel’s home was not an official church event.

“It’s a little touchy as far as an issue at church,” acknowledged Gail Froslee, a Vining parishioner and the discussion leader of the evening’s event. Because she and Pagel weren’t fully comfortable broaching the topic at their church, they contacted church friends and others in various social circles by phone to come to the event.

When the guests arrived, they quickly determined that all of them were going to be voting against the amendment. They then discussed their personal experiences, with many discussing gay and lesbian friends or family members who want to make their marriages as legal as those of their straight counterparts.

Key to the discussion was Froslee, a former Henning elementary school teacher whose son, Brad Froslee, is the pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Brad came out to his parents while he was in college, and he and his partner have a young son named Torin.

“They’re not asking for something that’s different than what we want when we find someone (who) we love,” said Froslee.

A big conversation piece was how to win over people who are voting for the amendment or who are unsure, particularly on biblical grounds. Several group members acknowledged that verses in the Bible prohibit homosexual behavior, although Pagel said that many of those laws are in the Old Testament.

“We drop a lot of the rules from the Old Testament,” said Barbara Olson. “Jesus changed all that!”

However, there still are New Testament verses that appear to prohibit homosexual behavior, including several of the letters believed by Christians to be written by the Apostle Paul. Pagel encouraged people to view parts of the Bible as written in the context of different times, saying that some decrees were cultural, temporary, or made for distinctive reasons.

“(The Bible) talks about slavery and it talks about many, many issues that we don’t believe in today,” she said.

Jan Wally, a political science major who attended the gathering, said that the amendment doesn’t make sense to her because it does the reverse of what most constitutional amendments are designed to do.

“Amendments have traditionally been to give people rights,” she said, adding her belief that allowing gay marriage will not affect the religious freedom of churchgoers.

Earlier this year, the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to oppose the constitutional amendment. The three Vining Lutheran Parish churches, including the Vining Lutheran Church, are part of the synod.

Parish Pastor Carl Andersen was not at the meeting, but he did provide one of the attendees with information about the synod’s decision prior to the event. He confirmed that the event was not an official church event but said that the topic of gay marriage does not come up very often, if at all, in official church discussion or sermons.

He added that he’s had private discussions with people in the church about gay marriage, but he would not say what he believed on the topic.

“Each person has his or her own opinion about it, and we respect each other,” he said.

Froslee recalled at the meeting a conversation she had had with another pastor on the topic. The two could not find common ground on the morality of the issue, but Froslee said it didn’t deter her from seeking legal rights for gay people.

“We are not the ones to judge,” she said. “Our judgment will come from God on the final day.”

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