ELCA Decisions Distressing, but not Surprising

To the Editor: 

Recent decisions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) regarding human sexuality have caused quite a stir in churches that bear the name of the 16th century German reformer, Martin Luther. At their church wide assembly in Minneapolis last week, the ELCA officially gave its blessing to monogamous, life-long, same-gender relationships, and gave permission to practicing homosexual men and women to serve as clergy and church leaders. The ELCA is just one of several Lutheran church bodies and is not to be confused with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, for example, whose ministers and congregations believe that the Bible speaks clearly on the issue of homosexuality.

Sadly, by these decisions the ELCA has effectively set aside the Word of God which condemns homosexuality as sinful. Writing to the Christians in Rome in the 1st century A.D., the Apostle Paul says: “(26) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  (27)  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27). Here, St. Paul calls such acts “dishonorable,” “shameful,” and “error.”

Homosexuality is not something to be embraced or condoned by the Church, but something rather to be acknowledged as a perversion of nature, and contrary to God’s Word. To condone or encourage those who are plagued by the vice of homosexuality is like giving a child the green light to throw gasoline on a blazing fire. It is what the Father of Lies would have us do, not what the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort would require of us. The hearts of all Christians should go out to those both within and outside of the Church who struggle with homosexual thoughts and desires, even as we lovingly call them to repentance, and bid them take refuge in the forgiving mercy of Jesus Christ, who came to call “not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

While it is not true that every member of the ELCA approves of these decisions, it is evident that the majority of those voting at its church wide assembly have given into the post-modern philosophy that truth is relative to the individual, that the only part of the Bible that is binding for Christians today is that which speaks of God’s love and grace. This is distressing, perplexing, and sad, but it is not surprising. It is not surprising because it shows what happens when men allow themselves to be ruled by their emotions rather than the Word of God. It shows what happens when the Bible is viewed merely as a collection of human documents, and not the authoritative Word of God for every generation.

The worst part of it all is that the ELCA has just made it harder, not easier, for homosexual men and women to enter the Kingdom of God. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Rev. Paul L. Beisel, S.T.M.
Pastor, Concordia & Messiah Lutheran Churches (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod)

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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