Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Proposal from the ELCA

Our local church is and has been a member of a larger church body called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). A news item came out today in the StarTribune saying that an official task force of the ELCA has recommended a "compromise" on the issue of officially allowing men and women who are involved in gay/lesbian relationships to be pastors in our church. I am opposed to this not because I hate gay people -- I don't -- but because it is crystal clear to me that God's will is for sexual relationships to be reserved for men and women bound together in the covenant of marriage. I believe this ideal is etched into the framework of creation. I believe God's plan for marriage and sexuality is to support children and families with children who are dependent on them. Because I see this so clearly, I cannot support the idea that a man or woman who is homosexually involved with another, "committed" or not, should serve in a spiritual leadership role.

Spiritual leaders in the church are required, by scripture, to live "above accusation" (1 Timothy 3:2). To me that means that we need to live as an example for others to follow. You will never find a perfect pastor, but because the scriptures speak so clearly about the male-female bond, from Genesis to Revelation, I cannot support this move by our denomination.

It is, however, a proposal, not yet a decision. I encourage each of you to express your beliefs, whether they are different or the same as mine. I encourage you to learn more about the process that our denomination is following. Personally, I'm a member of WordAlone. You might want to check that out.

According to our church, the standard for right and wrong, the "source and norm" of our "proclamation, faith and life" are the Holy Scriptures. We need to begin our discussion there and allow ourselves to be ruled by what the scriptures say. The caution I would share, however, is that Jesus himself, who did live an irreprochable life, reached out generously to those who were considered outcasts. There is no permission given for us to hate those whose lifestyles fall short of God's ideal. For, truly, in various ways, we are all sinners and in need of the mighty grace of God.

I encourage you to comment, email, call, discuss and pray. If you believe there is something we should do or say as a local church, please do not leave it for someone else to do. We will not all agree on this or any other issue, but we can be called to be more and more ruled by the loving Spirit of Christ (that's always first) and also the standards that God himself has written into the creation.

P.S. -- you might want to take a look at a couple of other articles I wrote in 2008 about issues concerning sexuality. See "The Log in My Eye" and "An Interview on Sexuality" and "Don't Forget the Kids."


  1. I'm sorry, but I disagree with you on this. God has blessed me with many gay friends, one of whom has been called by God into the ministry. If that's where God is calling her, then I don't think being in a relationship with another woman should prevent her from that.

    I think this task force has been as responsible as they can on this issue. They realize we're deeply divided, so they're proposing a compromise. Is it perfect? No, no compromise ever is. But I think it's something that both sides can live with for now.

  2. Hey John - thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is important that we talk and not give one another the silent treatment. Perhaps this blog will be helpful in that way. I have not yet carefully read the proposal, so I need to do that. After I do, I try to find time to respond more fully.