Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ELCA Church issue - commentary for discussion purposes

I and many others I know are upset by the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) made at its Churchwide Assembly this past August to allow its pastors be in gay and lesbian relationships. My wife and I have been longtime, loving members of the ELCA, but we cannot fathom why the ELCA leadership would make such a decision that runs counter to the Bible, the history of the church, and the ELCA’s membership.

This is not an issue of whether gays and lesbians are not welcome as members, or that we should not care about them as human beings. Rather, this is a matter of commitment to the word of Scriptures. Among many other statements in the Bible on this issue, in Chapter 1, Verses 24 to 27 of Paul’s letter to the Romans, God makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin:
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. (NIV)

For over 2,000 years, the consensus of Christian teaching is that its members must remain faithful to the Scriptures, which does not approve of homosexual activity. Until its recent Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA and its predecessors were consistent with this consensus in its teaching documents and social statements. If ELCA pastors promise to preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, how can a pastor do so if the ELCA now accepts gay and lesbian relationships as not sinful?

The membership of the ELCA is clearly not in favor of this change to allow its pastors be in gay and lesbian relationships. If permitted to continue on its current path, the ELCA will be in ruins. Look at the Episcopal Church: it has been in turmoil since 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, resulting in congregations leaving that church and growth of rival denominations. Already, ELCA congregations are considering leaving: this past September, 91% of the members surveyed at a congregational meeting of Hosanna! Lutheran Church of Lakeville, Minnesota, one of the state’s largest Lutheran congregations, felt that it should separate from the ELCA.
So, what do those of us who care about the ELCA and the future of the Lutheran Church to do? You and I must take action to alter the current path of the ELCA:

1.Contact others in your ELCA congregation to hold a vote on the issue. I believe all will be more than 90% against the change, like Hosanna! Lutheran Church.
2.Stop all funding of the ELCA at all levels. This is a must! The two largest ELCA churches in North Dakota, Hope Lutheran and First Lutheran, both in Fargo, voted to stop funding the ELCA. Please follow them.
3.Do not leave the ELCA. This is our church! Let’s give it one year to change it.
4.Contact Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal), which offers resources to help individuals and congregations make decisions about the best way forward given this crisis. Information about Lutheran CORE can be found at its website at www.lutherancore.org or by e-mailing it at info@lutherancore.org.

In closing, what upset me the most were the results of an Internet search I did for “ELCA Church Gay Ministries” on the website Bing.com: ads for “Free gay dating” and “Gay magazines” appeared throughout the web pages. The impression this gives is a travesty upon our wonderful church. Please take action.

Bob Lee
Staples, Minnesota

Bob Lee is a retired businessman. He and his wife Betty have been members of Faith Lutheran Church in Staples for over 46 years. Their four children were all baptized, confirmed, and married at Faith Lutheran.


Anonymous said...

This definitely has been a hard time for many people. I hope you and your Wife find an action to take that best benefits you.


For those who are interested in learning more about the issues facing the ELCA and it's members there will be a meeting in Morris about them. Rev Steve King will be speaking at the MAHS beginning at 7pm. I have heard him speak several times and he is very informative. He is the education director for WA and head of Sola publishing ,his visit is sponsored by West Central Area Word Alone. While neither he or anybody in WA or Core are advocating leaving your local church/parish or the ELCA they are happy to provide info to those who request info about their options. If you are unable to attend the event will be videotaped and can be ordered by calling 320-634-4386