The recommendation consists of four interconnected resolutions. Each takes a step in the decision-making process. The decisions are to be taken one by one: if the first is approved, then the second, third, and fourth are considered, but only if the preceding ones have been approved.
Step one asks the assembly whether, in principle, it is committed to finding ways to allow congregations and synods that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.
Step two asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.
Step three asks this church whether, in the future implementation of these commitments, it will make decisions so that all in this church bear the burdens of the other, and respect the bound consciences of all. This means that any solution that serves only the conscience-bound positions of one or another part of this church will not be acceptable.
Step four proposes how this church can move toward change in a way that respects the bound consciences of all. It recognizes that such respect will lead to diversity of practice. However, the majority of the task force believes that the conscience-bound lack of consensus will be respected most faithfully by providing some structured flexibility in decision-making so that congregations and synods may choose whether or not to approve or call people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve on ELCA rosters.
From the FAQ:
How would “structured” flexibility (#4) affect those Lutherans who are convinced that there should not be any changes to ELCA’s present policy regarding people in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships?
If this approach to structured flexibility were adopted, it would still protect any congregation, candidacy committee, synod, or bishop by not requiring them to violate bound conscience by approving, calling, commissioning, consecrating, or ordaining anyone in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship.
This will absolutely never work. It will be impossible to prevent the agenda from also consuming such “protected” congregations, etc. And what could possibly be the argument for allowing such conscientious objectors to resist this new move of the spirit?
Will the laity leave? Will pastors leave?