Monday, October 18, 2010

Questions 2 & 3

My letter to the editor of the Enterprise-Dispatch comes out this morning.  It's another version of what I wrote here at my post "Replies to Bishop Chilstrom."  (The former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's letter "Questions for those Leaving the ELCA" was published locally on Oct. 4.)

In my response published today, Oct. 18, I answer Bishop Chilstrom's first question "What is it about sex that pushed you over the edge?" by saying "It's not all about sex."

Bishop Chilstrom's second question is "Why are you organizing new churches?"  He then says there are several other Lutheran denominations and "Surely there must be one among them that would welcome you."  He goes on to say "I suspect the only reason is because none of them ordain women... Why not drop your insistence on the ordination of women for the sake of unity with some existing church body?"

Go to my post of Sep. 2, 2009 entitled "Biblical Equality" for a bit on that subject.  Women's equality is supported in the Bible.  No such Biblical authority supports homosexual sexual activity.  Many excellent articles are the Christians for Biblical Equality website including one entitled "Does Belief in Women's Equality Lead to an Acceptance of Homosexual Practice?" by Catherine Clark Kroeger.  If we "give up" women's equality for the sake of church unity we are not being true to the Bible.

Another reason other churches are being formed is because many of the more conservative Lutheran groups listed in Chilstrom's letter do not look kindly on the full exercise of spiritual gifts.  The Alpha course, for example, and some forms of prayer ministry much needed for the healing and care of the spiritually, emotionally and physically wounded, are not welcomed in many Lutheran churches.  Do a search for "Alpha" or go to "Sozo" on this blog for more on that.  Besides that, some Lutheran church bodies are much too restrictive and formal for those of us who believe God often works in ways that are not scripted or pastor-led.  Check out Testify to the Lord and Tracing New History for examples of how the new wave of spiritual growth has a hard time being contained in the "wineskins" of traditional Lutheran church bodies.  Jesus said new wine needs fresh "wineskins" (See Matthew 9:17).

Bishop Chilstrom's third question: "What will you say to your sons and daughters, sisters and brothers and others in your churches when they tell you they are homosexual?"   That is a very important question and one that we are just beginning to answer.  The book unChristian has a chapter that explores how harmful Christian attitudes can be.  That chapter begins and ends with more questions than answers.  We must treat all people with love and respect--but, if they are pushing an agenda which stands against God's Word, then we must stand against that.  We must understand how complex and difficult this is.  We must teach the truth about God's plan--that God blesses only the male-female union with the potential for new life... but, we must welcome homosexuals into our churches with open arms.

I know of no other issue that is more painful and more difficult than this.  If a son or daughter of mine, a sister or brother or any relative or dear friend is homosexual, I cannot reject them.  I must follow Jesus heart and reach out in love and accept them as I have been accepted.   I must welcome and love and care.  And I must speak the truth in love--homosexual sexual behavior is not a part of God's perfect plan.  It falls short.  It is in the category with all the fallen and broken thoughts, words and deeds that are not pleasing to God.  But God loves every homosexual and somehow they must know that if they are going to come to the Lord and receive his forgiving and convicting love.

It's not easy and I don't have it all figured out, that's for sure.  Perhaps over time we will learn how to integrate Biblical compassion and Biblical sexual standards in a way that works for the salvation of all who the Lord loves so much.  Maybe we just need to spend way more time in prayer than in talk.

I call this blog "Sharing Ministry and Faith" because I believe that's what we do, we share.  There is one who is above all of us, and that One--God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit--that One has given us his Word--in Jesus, in the sharing of the Gospel, and in the Scriptures--as a lamp and a light to our path through this difficult and painful world

Whatever we do, the Word of God and the Message of Jesus' sacrificial love for sinners must shine above all.

Let's share what the Lord is speaking to us and stumble together, often just barely seeing one step ahead... let us stumble together with much prayer toward the future God has promised and prepared.  In spite of all our failings, we can trust him to get us there as we rely on his Word.

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