Archived Story

Same-sex couples deserve same benefits [UPDATED]

Published 9:20am Friday, October 19, 2012 Updated 11:21am Friday, October 19, 2012

My wife and I arrived in the Fergus Falls area more than 50 years ago. I was fresh out of seminary, ready to be pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Elizabeth and Faith Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids.

Corinne and I thought we might stay for two years and then move on to “greener pastures.” Soon, however, we fell in love with those wonderful folks and the lake country. We stayed much longer and continued to come to our cabin on Lake Lida for more than 35 years.

Had you asked me in those early days about gay and lesbian persons I would have said I thought they were emotionally warped and needed counseling and prayer. I was certain they would change and become straight like most folks I knew.

That was then. This is now. Over these years my view has changed. First and foremost, as a pastor and bishop I studied those few passages in the Bible that refer to same gender relationships. In time I came to see that they referred to abusive and immoral behavior. That was not what I was seeing in the increasing number of gay and lesbian persons we were getting to know as friends.

It took time, but over the years we came to see that they deserved the same rights and benefits we as a married couple had taken for granted.

This is why I am voting “no” on the Marriage Amendment on Nov. 6. I do so at least in part for personal reasons. I’m convinced that if we can make life more secure for gay and lesbian persons, including those in faithful, lifelong relationships, we will all enjoy a healthier community.

I hope many of you will join us in voting “no” on Nov. 6.


Herbert W. Chilstrom

Former pastor

St. Peter


  • BrendanJanssen

    I completely agree with this letter to the editor. Equality for all is an important part of being American and this is a great opportunity to show love and understanding towards the LGTB community.

    I’m not gay, but I sure think that those who are should be entitled to the same quality of life as myself. To say that they should not be wed via a civil union is an attempt to limit their rights as persons who live in America.

  • BillSchulz

    Would the bishop not call violating God’s Word in Scripture as “abusive and immoral”? The act of same sex relations is clearly forbidden in Scripture. It is a stretch to overlook that, in search of some means of justifying an opinion which places social considerations above God’s laws. This very attitude is the wedge which has brought dissension in the ELCA and allowed its delegates to twist and distort Scripture to justify their ordination of clergy who are actively homosexual. We have all seen the rift between ELCA members who are leaving for other synods or sects which still place God’s revelations above earthly, temporary, fads in social trends and pressures to replace eternal truths with politically correct and Godless behavior.

    With all respect for Bishop Chilstrom’s service as a clergyman, I submit that he is, like all of God’s children, a person who can make mistakes. And, his position on homosexual marriage is just wrong.

    • Richard Olson

      At least once in the fullness of time I would like to hear a clear and justifiable reason a Christian can pick and choose which verses in the bible he has to follow. The bible is full of stuff Christians disregard every day, but want to force their beliefs on everyone else for the stuff they believe.

      I’ve asked this question many times and never received an answer. That tells me Christians have no answer, so they pretend the question is never asked. That way they can skip along happily oblivious to the contradiction in their example. And then wonder why they get no respect.

      Obviously William Schulz thinks that same sex marriage should be banned because someone interprets the bible that way. But no interpretation is necessary for that same bible forbidding (under penalty of death) disobedient children, or working on the seventh day of the week. Is William Schulz equally sure that such sins should lead to the death penalty. Of course not, because he can pick and chose which portions of the bible apply to him, those he likes he thinks he has the right to force on others. Those portions he disregards can be disregarded by others.

      And Merle, reciting another long winded bible verse or 20, is not an answer to my question.

      • Walt Henry

        Richard, I remember teaching my son to throw a baseball. As a 3 year old he would hold the ball in the palm of his hand with all of his fingers wrapped tightly around it and sometimes, though not very often, he would throw it in my direction. As he grew and his physical coordination developed his throws became more accurate. AS a teenager he learned to hold the ball loosely and change the placement of his fingers. He fiddled with the release point and the snapping of his wrist and elbow. There is a whole element of science to throwing a baseball and people use their whole lives to study the physics of it.
        We have people here who repeat the truth they learned as 3 year olds never growing, never knowing there is a science that confirms there is a God and giving us a pathway to understanding He is not a Being of contradictions or restrictions. The letter writer has pointed out he has grown and his faith has matured, some of our commenters have not.

    • benny

      I’ve never met someone more happy to do what they’re told than you.

  • Walt Henry

    One more time–there are zero as is no verses in the Bible that condemn committed same sex partnerhsips. Some commenters here have tried to claim otherwise but all have failed. There are none! Pastor Chilstrom is correct when he writes “First and foremost, as a pastor and bishop I studied those few passages in the Bible that refer to same gender relationships. In time I came to see that they referred to abusive and immoral behavior.”
    There are many chruches in and around the Fergus Falls area. It is time for more people called to minister to God’s people to make public the true meaning of the word of God.

  • Richard Olson

    By the way…..just who married Adam and Eve? Where is the bible does it say they were married?

  • Richard Olson

    GOD DOES EXIST! Look in the mirror and you’ll see him. That’s why his opinions are yours, that’s why only the parts of the bible YOU like are true and this is why he knows you so well. He is you and he only exists in your head.

    • BillSchulz

      Curly, Satan knows that God exists, and threw him into Hell.

      • Richard Olson

        Nice try Bill, but that evasive comment fails (once again)to answer my original question. And proves (once again) that like Camilla Ryan you, despite your vaunted vocabulary are incapable of making a comment without calling people names.

        Syntax also appears to be a problem for you. Reading your sentence as written one is led to believe that you believe Satan threw God into Hell.
        There is no need to thank me for this impromptu English lesson William. Anytime I can clarify issues for you sans name calling, I’m happy to do so.

        • BillSchulz

          Not so, Curly. I said “threw him into Hell”, meaning God threw the devil into Hell. When I or other Christians speak of God as Him or He, we capitalize the words to show He is the Divine One, Creator of all that is, and not some other ordinary being.

          • Richard Olson

            You just can’t admit that you screwed up and I caught you, can you. That flimsy transparent attempt at back tracking is even weaker than your contorted defense of Camilla Ryan. You’re pathetic Bill, you know it, I know it and everyone reading this knows it.
            Perhaps we need to get a English teacher in here to diagram your sentence for you. But that wouldn’t help either, would it Bill.
            You would just lurch into another diatribe that such a discipline was an elitist endeavor reserved for Socialists. Pathetic!

  • Richard Olson

    Bill watches Fox News. That’s why when he says, “Satan threw God into Hell” it really, means that “God threw Satan into Hell……Just like when Megyn Kelly of Fox News said “Declaring something an act of terror does not necessarily mean you are declaring it a terror attack.”

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