Rev. Paul McCain wrote this gospel-centered response to the vote this morning by the ELCA to endorse same sex relationships as acceptable by the Word of God. This is a wondeful response that is not judgmental, but focuses on the cross.
At its Churchwide Assembly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a "social statement" on human sexuality that includes an endorsement of same-sex relationships that are "chaste, monogamous and lifelong." This is, of course, contrary to Holy Scripture which teaches us that God, in His creation, created man and woman to live together as man and wife in a chaste, monogamous and lifelong relationship. This is the natural order of things which is inherent in God's good creation itself. Deviation from this natural order, and natural law, are a consequence of the fall into sin. There is no middle ground on this issue. The ELCA has, again, demonstrated that it is outside the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church to the extent that it has embraced this false teaching.What then are we Lutherans to do who do not share this view? While much could be, and needs to be written, on the enormous implications of this action for a whole host of issues and relationships we have with the ELCA, for now it is important for our pastors and all the faithful to do the following:Be clear about what we stand for as Lutherans who do not share the ELCA's opinions on this issue. To do this, it is good once more to familiarize ourselves with the basic truths of God's Word regarding homosexuality. The pamphlet What About Homosexuality offers an excellent brief overview. Here is a link to this pamphlet on The LCMS web site: http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/LCMS/wa_homosexuality.pdfWe also need to make it clear that we, in no way, are "excluding" homosexuals from the Church. We exclude nobody, but welcome all to join us as repentant sinners before the throne of a loving and merciful God. We reach out with God's word of Law and God's Gospel. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod produced a very helpful Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families, which you may download here: http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CIC/minhomfam.pdfWe must remember that even as much as we deeply disagree with this action on the part of the ELCA, and while it causes us great grief, anguish and, yes, even anger, we must be careful to remember that this is an opportunity to demonstrate loving care and concern for those caught up in this error and for those who are striving to resist this false teaching. Let us make our witness constructive and take care that in our zeal to condemn error we not bruise the bent reed and snuff out the flickering flame. We witness to the truth, speaking that truth in love. The truth is that this action, while dramatic and a "flash point" for man, is simply a very visible symbol of the profoundly deep theological error that has the ELCA in what can only be described as a death-grip. What has happened is very much akin to seeing a large, old, beautiful tree suddenly break and fall, and upon examination, we see that inside, at its core, there set in years ago a rot that could not be overcome.In a gentle, caring and loving manner, we can use this situation to lead people to recognize that this is by no means something that is really shocking or surprising. The ELCA was formed by three liberal Lutheran church bodies that had already long before walked away from a faithful Lutheran doctrinal position on the authority of the Bible. The many "full communion" agreements over the years have signaled, time and time again, that the ELCA has lost sight of what it is to be a faithful, Biblical Lutheran church body. We should use this situation to help people understand how things reached this point. We must do so humbly and without any hint of triumphalism or "good thing we are not like *those* Lutherans." We are all sinners before our God and we must now bear one another's burdens, in love, truthfully and faithfully.
Rev. Paul McCain