Make Up Your Mind: The Lutheran Sexuality Report
- Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Doubtless, some other churches and denominations have tacitly adopted such a stance concerning their laws and governing principles. Nevertheless, this recommendation represents a virtually unprecedented effort to lead a denomination explicitly to admit that it will maintain its policy while looking the other way when the policy is directly and intentionally violated.
Is this a policy of integrity? Where is the integrity in proposing that the church maintain its policy while allowing the policy to be violated, disregarded, and subverted?
This proposed "solution," if adopted, is certain to produce nothing but frustration and a deepening spirit of compromise in the church.
A spokesperson for the Lutheran Alliance--a group pushing for the full acceptance of homosexual ministers and same-sex relationships--went to the heart of the matter. "Essentially, the Task Force is recommending a new policy that allows for the violation of the pre-existing policy . . . . The Lutheran Alliance agrees that we do have to find ways to live together faithfully in the Church. However, the arbitrary enforcement of the current policy as allowed by the Task Force recommendations does not lead to personal or institutional integrity. A new policy of selectively ignoring an old policy is not a good policy."
A Lack of Integrity
The only unity this report is likely to produce is a common acceptance from both sides that "selectively ignoring" the established policy lacks integrity.
As the task force presented the rationale for its recommendations, it returned to the theme of biblical authority. "Though there are differences among task force members regarding the interpretation of the Bible for the present circumstances, all accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life."
That statement may look good in a report, but it simply cannot stand as a logical or truthful description of the church's reality. Those advocating for the acceptance of homosexual ministers and the blessing of same-sex relationships must be fully aware that every single reference to homosexuality in the Bible condemns homosexual practices in every form. The challenge of presenting that biblical truth with genuine Christian compassion has never been easy, but a claim that all parties in this debate "accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life" is both dishonest and unhelpful.
Martin Luther's most glorious moment must certainly have come as he stood with resolution at the Diet of Worms and declared before the emperor and assorted princes--both ecclesiastical and secular--"Here I stand, I can do none other--God help me."
Regrettably, this ELCA task force took as its model, not Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, but Dr. Seuss's Zoad at the fork in the road. Like the proverbial Zoad, this report will go no place at all--with a split in its pants.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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