The mainstreaming of homosexuality took a big step forward last weekend as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Amercica (the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination), in a 68% affirmative vote, chose to allow “non-celibate gays and lesbians in monogamous relationships” to serve as clergy. What the ELCA has basically said is that homosexual behavior is not a sin. What they have essentially done is chosen to ignore the clear biblical teaching in this area.
Just two days before the vote, an “out of the blue” tornado descended on Minneapolis where the ELCA was holding its convention. The rouge tornado tore off part of a 90-year-old steeple of the Central Lutheran Church and ripped apart large outdoor tents set up to serve breakfast to the delegates to the ECLA convention. The tornado also damaged the convention center itself. Local Christian pastor and prolific author, John Piper (Baptist General Convention), was quick to publicly pronounce the tornado a warning from God on the eve of the historic vote. Said Piper, the tornado was a “gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin.” I think Piper was correct. It’s one thing for the secular culture to approve of sinful behavior. It’s a whole different animal when the Church, carrying the name of Jesus Christ, ignores clear biblical teaching and begins to call acceptable what God has said is unacceptable – what God says is sin.
The ECLA’s decision will have numerous repercussions:
- The denomination is at risk of splitting. There are many wonderful Lutheran folks who understand and respect what God’s Word says and who will not accept the decision of their denomination.
- The demonization of Christian denominations who hold to the clear biblical teaching that homosexual behavior is a sin. As yet another denomination has caved to the homosexual agenda, those denominations who do not cave will find themselves under renewed pressure to “get with the program.” It will be asked, “What’s wrong with the _______________ denomination? Why can’t they be more progressive? Why are they so intolerant?”
- The abandonment of people who need deliverance from the sin of homosexuality. Sex is God’s gift to His children. When sex is between one man and one woman within the bounds of monogamous marriage, it is beautiful. It is God’s BEST. By mainstreaming homosexuality, the Lutheran Church is robbing people who struggle with this sin from finding God’s best for their lives. Instead of God’s best, they will find nothing but bondage and slavery to a lifestyle of sin. They will be deluded into thinking this IS as good as it gets, and ultimately they will blame the church and God and reject both. The scope of the personal tragedy here is incalculable.
- By rejecting God’s Word in the area of homosexual sin, the Lutheran Church has opened itself to jettisoning God’s Word in other crucial areas. This is a slippery slope that is unavoidable.
How could such a thing happen? How could an entire Christian denomination evolve to the point that it ordains a man or a woman who actively engages in sexual intercourse with another person of the same gender and is proud of it? The answer is really very simple. The embracing of sin is always the natural next step when we refuse to accept God’s Word as the final word on all matters of life and spirituality.
The words of Pastor Dan Friberg, of Springfield’s Messiah Evangelical Lutheran, sum up this perversion of God’s Word. Said Friberg, “Jesus said a lot of hard things. Love your enemies, but one of the hardest things we have to do on a daily basis is love one another. Love them. Try our best to understand them, and when we can’t understand them, still love them. That’s probably the hardest part of this whole decision.”
Does the Bible say that we need to love all people including one another? Yes! Does the Bible say that we need to love people who are actively involved in sinful behavior? Yes! But what Friberg and the ECLA have failed to remember (or perhaps it is willful ignorance) is that as Jesus was loving and ministering to the woman caught in adultery, he also said to her, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8).
The church is called to take the love of Christ to all people. The church is called to love all people no matter their flavor of sin, be it homosexual perversion or heterosexual perversion, or whatever else. But the church is also charged with leading people to God’s best. And God’s best is a life in Christ where we say “NO” to our sin nature and “YES” to Jesus.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church has abandoned this call.