Elina Hellqvist

 hellqvist-e Elina Hellqvist, Post-doctoral researcher
Recognizing Otherness in Sexuality and Gender: an Analysis of Current Church Debates in Lutheran Churches

This study attempts to achieve a systematic understanding of current Lutheran church discussions regarding the rights of homosexuals, focusing on the same-sex relationships and marriage. It is based on a representative, contemporary documentation from 3-4 churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Church of Sweden, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Lutheran World Federation. Lutheran churches provide an interesting case in this issue, because there are, first, somewhat differing views on the relationship between ethics and dogma. Second, the status of Lutheran churches in the society varies from national, majority churches of Scandinavia to small, minority churches elsewhere. Although a documentary understanding of such processes is already valuable in itself, the main aim of the study is to understand the processes in terms of recognition.

Applying the concept of recognition could provide fruitful, new insights to a sensitive, difficult discussion that is carried on both in the Lutheran churches and in the wider society. This recognition could be a mutual act, or, sometimes, one-sided recognition in which the differences persist but can be tolerated within the particular framework of the act of recognition. While sexuality needs be seen as an important area of recognition and identity, the aim is not to study sexuality as such, but the results should be applicable to other processes in which the issue of recognition is at stake.