I have held back on commenting about the recent issues in the ELCA meetings and their ultimate conclusion. Frankly, it breaks my heart to watch as my brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA are betrayed in such a way. There was an article that I read before the final vote was taken, and I want to highlight a couple of portions of it for this discussion.
For the ECLA, which has 4.8 million members and 10,500 churches — including 90 churches in the Washington area — the vote is a culmination of years of debate over whether Scripture permits homosexuality.
This word permits lies at the very heart of the problem. One of my good Lutheran friends recently posted a youtube clip that touches on this attitude at his site. I am not saying I agree with the man in the clip, because his message is indeed incomplete, but he calls out the very nature of this attitude that seeks to find how much sin God will allow us to dive into without damaging the relationship with Him. The answer is very simple: none. Sin is serious business to God. It is the reason that Jesus suffered and died on the cross. We can’t pay for our sin. We can’t sin less and make God love us more. When we walk the path of trying to figure out what God permits us to “get away with” we are missing the entire point of the Gospel itself. God has given us the freedom to permit ourselves to death and that is what we are prone to do. It is only in the realization that because of His great mercy we are not consumed, but rather have been loved and sacrificed for that we cast ourselves on that mercy and grace and run to Him. We don’t “set terms” with God. It is done His way or it isn’t done at all.
Great is your mercy, O LORD;
give me life according to your rules. (Psalm 119:156)
There really isn’t any ambiguity in God’s Word regarding homosexuality or any number of other sins. There is a consistent witness in both the Old and the New Testament that condemns any sexual acts outside of a husband(male) and wife (female) in a marriage relationship. There are also a host of positive statements regarding marriage and sex inside of that God given institution. It is not simply a matter of interpretation as some have tried to construe it:
But those supporting the proposal maintain they aren’t going against Scripture.
“There’s no question about the authority of Scripture” in the Lutheran Church, said Phil Soucy, a spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a pro-gay-rights group within the ECLA. “But we certainly can debate the interpretation of Scripture. . . . The very idea that questioning someone else’s interpretation of Scripture constitutes an assault on the authority of Scripture is nonsense.”
This is worse than parsing the definition of “is” in a grand jury. Taking plain language from Scripture (that is oftentimes more specific and graphic in the original language than it is in our translations) and trying to say that it doesn’t really mean what it says due to some heuristic gymnastics is simply disingenuous. It is a fancy way of repeating Satan’s oldest trick of asking, “did God really say _______?”(thanks for the repeated use of that quote in our discussions at Steve’s blog goes to Larry)
My heart grieves with my brothers and sisters both online and in person who are affected now by this and my prayers are with them and those in the ELCA who wish to continue to stand for the integrity of God’s Word and His character.