Bishops Herbert Chilstrom and Lowell Erdahl respond to Dr. Strommen
Retired ELCA bishops Herbert Chilstrom and Lowell Erdahl, whose book prompted a response from Dr. Merton Strommen (see another page in this section), offered a response to Strommen. It follows:
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First of all, Strommen wishes we had read his book before giving the interview. So do we. At that time we were told that it had not yet been published. We trusted that Michael Scherer’s article was a fair review of an advance copy of the book. Now that we’ve had a chance to read the book, our confidence in Sherer is reinforced. [Editor’s note: the interview with Merton Strommen was actually conducted by Metro Lutheran staff writer Robert Ylvisaker.]
Concerning assumptions attributed to us: We have not said that ‘homosexuals are born that way.’ Like Strommen and others, we believe it is much more complex than that. In our book ‘Sexual Fulfillment for Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old’ we do say ‘Sexual orientation seems to be determined quite early in life by factors we don’t fully understand. It is not chosen but discovered, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to signifidantly chang it” (p.127). We are affirmed in this opinion by the June 2001 ‘Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Behavior’ which states, ‘Sexual orientation is usually determined by adolescence, if not earlier, and there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed'(p.4).
Concerning Scripture, we stand firm on our conviction that biblical texts that concern lustful, exploitative, sinful behavior should not be used to condemn persons of homosexual orientation or those in committed, faithful relationships and that it is both incorrect and abusive to do so. With Strommen, we worry about revisionist interpretations of the Bible. For that reason, we value, among others, the insights of competent Lutheran biblical scholars like Arland Hultgren, Terry Fretheim, and David Fredrickson at Luther Seminary and James Bailey at Wartburg Seminary, all of whom have written helpful studies on biblical texts related to homosexuality.
We hope that the books we and Strommen have written will evoke careful study and serious discussion of these vital issues. If that happens we will all be grateful.