The church has been broken and needs fixing. On Friday, August 21, 2009, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have voted to approve for ministry those who are practicing homosexual pastors. The vote passed 559-451 with 1,045 eligible voting members. It was by a margin of 108. No longer do people with same-sex attraction (SSA) have to remain celibate. As long as they are in an “accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationship”, the church will recognize, support and uphold them for ministry.
I think this signals the end of the church, as we know it. Many in disagreement with this new church policy will probably see no hope of a reversal of it. Once it is implemented, another churchwide assembly to reverse this is unlikely. It also signals where the leadership of the church is. I suspect that an overwhelming majority of the church leadership is on-board with this new policy. However, if one were to take a grassroots poll, I don’t feel that the majority would approve of this. But this is what happens in a representative type of democracy. The majority opinion is not heard.
Who is eligible to vote in the ELCA? The documents of the ELCA states that each synod “shall elect one voting member … for every 5,800 baptized members in the synod” and “one voting member for every 50 congregations in the synod.” Sixty percent of the voting members must be lay persons, 50% male, 50% female, 10% of color whose primary language is other than English. The structure of the ELCA is like a representative democracy. Not every pastor has a vote, nor does every member. Is this democratic? Not really. I feel an overwhelming majority of the grassroots membership in the church would not approve of this policy. [see some reactions and videos here. ]
This signals what has already been happening within the undercurrents in the church—a disregard for obedience to biblical teaching. The teachings of St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 1:26-27 clearly states that homosexual practice does not meet God’s approval but we have gone against God’s written word and approved this. The teachings of the church have its source in holy scripture and when scripture is disregarded in favor of human policies, the church will ultimately move into a wrong direction. This week’s voting results is an example of this human policy.
Gender identity and sexual orientation should be based on biological reality. To tear this down and reconstruct this goes against reality. I believe that all of humanity were created for heterosexuality. If one were to honestly answer this question: “How could a man be designed for anal sex?” It’s clear that there is no other way to answer this but to say that a man is not designed for anal sex. If God meant for humankind to have anal sex, God might be an absurd God.
For those men and women who want to reverse their same-sex attraction (and there are many), there is no more justice for them in the ELCA. Hope has been removed in the name of justice for those who desire to ordain ministers with same-sex attraction.
I predict that there will be a large exodus in the future of the church. Some have already left, but many more will begin to leave the ELCA, and there will be no stopping the floodgates because the gauntlet has already come down. Well, the church is, after all, just a human institution, full of faults and errors. But God is already fully aware of this. A prophetic sound from outside the ELCA, through Pastor John Piper, has spoken out about our tendencies toward disobedience. Take a look at the photo of the broken steeple at Central Lutheran that broke at 2:00PM on August 19, 2009. The church has been broken and needs fixing.
For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. (Romans 1:26-28, NRSV).