I think the immigration laws of this country need to change.
I’m for health care reform.
I think the Bible is accurate in the message it conveys, but I don’t believe in the modern notion of inerrancy. In the words of a friend, “subjectivity is all there is.”
However, the ELCA just took one step further than I could ever go. As of Friday last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now allows people in committed, same-sex monogamous relationships to be ordained as clergy. Further, the ELCA will now allow its churches to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies for couples seeking to married.
This vote ultimately wasn’t about sexuality. It was about Scripture and what place we allow it, as individuals and as a denomination, in our lives. Will it be at the head of the table or underneath our feet? Will it be the prime rib on our plate, or the place mat our plate sits on? The ELCA, sadly, has decided it will be the authority to God’s Word, not the other way around.
Scripture makes us uncomfortable at times, either in its silence or in its clarity. To my conviction (and to many others), Scripture is clear regarding homosexuality.Ã‚Â I have been persuaded by the word of God, by thousands of years of faithful interpretation and by the sweet voice of Spirit. In the words of Martin Luther, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Here I stand, I can do no other.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â As uncomfortable as this may make me personally, I cannot “unconvict” myself. I know many peopleÃ¢â‚¬â€œmany good-hearted peopleÃ¢â‚¬â€œwho are gay or lesbian and at times, it is hard for me to reconcile my affection for them and the teachings of Scripture. “If they are loving each other well,” I think to myself, “how can that be wrong?” But my emotions are not the authority. God’s word is.
It is clear from Scripture that God’s intent for human sexuality is between a man and a woman in the freedom of a covenant relationship. It is affirmed and held up as the standard from Genesis to Revelation by Yahweh, the Prophets, Jesus himself, St. Paul and St. John. Contrary to the popular argument, there is no “progressive truth” to behold here. This is not the same as eating pork or wearing a cotton-poly t-shirt. The original language does not affirm homosexuality no matter how it’s (poorly) translated. Jonathan and David were not lovers. We cannot make God’s word say something it does not, no matter how hard we might try.
I am frustrated that this had to come to a “vote.” Certainly because of the outcome, yes, but also because I feel we are “beating a dead horse,” that being the moral status of homosexuality. Even though my position is firm, I believe many years of faithful reconciliatory work between the gay and lesbian community and the Church is now strained. That community, to some degree, is saying, “We know where you stand. We get it. You think it’s sinful. Enough already.”Ã‚Â While someone may hold the conviction that homosexuality is less than God’s best, one does not need to rub it in others’ faces mercilessly. It is much like a scab that is never allowed to heal: It is picked at for so long that the body is not allowed to do its job and effect healing. The wound is never permitted to close and healing, truly, never takes places. All that’s left is an ugly scar. That scar is on us as the Church. Simply put, you can hold a conviction while maintaining civility. One does not need to be a jerk in order to be “right.”
This isn’t about being “inclusive” or “accepting” or “welcoming.”Ã‚Â God does not hate homosexuals. I don’t hate people who are gay and lesbian. Far from it. But I do believe the Bible is clear. This is my standard, no matter how hard it is for me to grasp at times. But even in my conviction, this does not mean I must hate people who disagree. I refuse to do that. Will you offer me the same courtesy?
The ELCA took an immeasurable step backwards last week, regardless of how progressive it believes itself to be. Being a lifelong Lutheran, it pains me to see the fracturing of this once great denomination. The ELCA will lose the support of many congregations. It will lose support from Lutheran partner churches in Africa, Asia and Europe. It will lose members like never before because it has lost its soul. I believe if Martin Luther himself were alive today, he wouldn’t recognize the denomination that claims his name, either in the spirit or the letter of the law.
Perhaps I am wrong. Hopefully I am. May God have mercy on the ELCA in this time of tribulation, even if that mercy means dissolution.