In a Feb. 22 e-memo to LCMS leaders and congregations, Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick expressed “great disappointment and deep sadness” as he shared comments on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Task Force on Sexuality documents titled “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies.”
The ELCA task force released the two separate documents Feb. 19.
A news release that day from the ELCA News Service stated that the documents “are open to review by the ELCA Church Council — the church’s board of directors — when it meets [in Chicago] March 27-30, and they will be considered by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 17-23 in Minneapolis.”
The “Gift and Trust” document is a proposed social statement for the ELCA.
“The task force’s report and recommendation on ministry policies completes a directive from the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Asssembly to address and make recommendations on changes to policies that preclude Lutherans in committed, same-gender unions from the ELCA’s professional rosters,” the news release noted.
As Kieschnick stated in his memo, the “Report and Recommendation” document “recommends that the ELCA undertake a process that would result in the incorporation of ‘structured flexibility in decision making to allow, in appropriate situations, people in publicly accountable, monogamous, lifelong, same-gendered relationships to be approved for the rosters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.'”
“If this recommendation should be adopted by the Churchwide Assembly,” Kieschnick continued, “it would constitute a change in the ELCA’s present position, which precludes ‘practicing homosexuals’ from being included on its rosters. More importantly, it would constitute a radical departure from the 2,000-year-long teaching of the Christian tradition that homosexual activity, whether inside or outside of a committed relationship, is contrary to Holy Scripture.”
The remainder of Kieschnick’s memo is as follows:
“As the ELCA Task Force Report itself states, ‘This church [the ELCA] does not have biblical and theological consensus on this matter.’ It therefore concludes that the ELCA ‘must seek a common way to live and serve in the midst of disagreements’ such as ‘the understanding of the nature of sin,’ ‘the interpretation of the Bible,’ ‘how the Bible guides our lives,’ and ‘the level of disagreement the ELCA can bear.’
“The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has repeatedly affirmed the biblical truth and historical understanding of the Christian church that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as ‘intrinsically sinful’ and is therefore contrary to the will of the Creator and constitutes sin against the commandments of God (Lev. 18:22, 24; Lev. 20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; and Rom. 1:26, 27).
“Our prayer in the LCMS is that our gracious God will penetrate the lives and hearts of the leaders and members of the ELCA in the coming months as they discuss, debate, and determine the outcome of the task force report and its recommendations.
“In the meantime, it behooves us in the LCMS, in a spirit of sincere humility, love, care, and concern, to continue to endeavor faithfully to honor Resolution 3-21A of the 2001 Convention of our Synod that while ‘we cannot consider [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body … we of the LCMS recognize that many of our brothers and sisters of the ELCA remain faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and we resolve to reach out to them in love and support … .
“God’s grace, mercy, and peace be with us all.”
Posted Feb. 26, 2009