Another Christian church has made like a Mexican cliff diver and taken the big plunge into politically correct, biblically unfaithful sexual ethics. This time, it’s the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), a sister denomination of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which made the leap last year. According to the ELCIC web site:
Delegates of the 13th Biennial ELCIC National Convention approved three highly anticipated and vigorously debated motions related to the ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality. Delegates approved an Affirmation Concerning the Unity of the Church; a policy statement allowing rostered ministers to preside at or bless legal marriages, including those between same-sex couples, according to the laws of the province; and a policy paving the way for the ordination and installation of gay and lesbian pastors.
These motions, put forth by National Church Council (NCC), were drafted by the ELCIC Faith, Order and Doctrine Committee “to allow us to move forward if the Social Statement on Human Sexuality was approved,” said committee member and Saskatchewan Synod Bishop Cindy Halmarson. The social statement itself was approved during Saturday’s business sessions, following more than two hours of debate.
Affirmation Concerning the Unity of the Church (Motion #26)
Passed by a vote of 204 to 133, the affirmation states that the church should: not be divided because of disagreement over moral issues and that ELCIC members, congregations, synods, and churches who disagree with one another remain in dialogue and unity; maintain unity in the gospel and the sacraments; refrain from actions that will divide the body of Christ.
One church member expressed her appreciation for the work of the committee and NCC for putting forth the motion and offered this comment: “I have consulted with theologians and biblical scholars, and they have verified that in the original language ‘to love one another as I have loved you’ there is no ‘except’ or ‘but.’”
Well, that settles it then, doesn’t it? There’s no “but” in the original, so that’s the end of the debate on whether or not to bless sin. You’ve got to wonder whether this member asked the “theologians and biblical scholars” she talked to about the meaning of agape, or whether she just assumed it must mean the same thing in the New Testament that it means in Britney Spears songs. Given that this was the statement the ELCIC’s unnamed writer chose to emphasize, I can only presume that the rest of the debate was as inane as this.
Passed by a vote of 192 to 132, Motion #27 allows ELCIC rostered ministers to preside at or bless marriages according to the dictates of their consciences and according to the laws of the province in which they serve, including those of same-sex couples.
“I’ve heard several people say that this issue has been dealt with, but the status quo is unacceptable—to love the sinner and hate the sin,” said one delegate. “That is hate, discrimination, exclusion and alienation. That is saying I can ride the bus but sit at the back. That is not love. That is not what Jesus would do.”
Because, you know, Jesus never confronted people about their sin, never condemned sin, never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was so…Canadian!
You really have to wonder about someone who says that you can’t love someone and at the same time hate something they do. This person apparently has never had children…or in-laws…or friends…or any contact with any other human being.
Passed by a vote of 205 to 114, Motion #28 states that sexual orientation is not in itself a factor that disqualifies a candidate for rostered ministry. The motion rescinds two past convention actions that disallowed self-declared, practicing homosexuals to be approved for ordination and call.
“When I look at my experience of 20 years, I can’t see that anything good has come from church’s current policy on this issue,” said Eastern Synod Bishop Michael Pryse. “I’ve seen the terrible results of this policy: broken people, broken families, broken congregations, substance abuse, broken lives. That’s what happens when you demand celibacy of those who don’t have the gifts to live celibate lives. This motion provides the opportunity for willing congregations to consider these candidates.”
As Scrooge said to his nephew Fred, “You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir. I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.” Scrooge was being sarcastic, of course.
Any of the “results of this policy” asserted by Bishop Pryse can be found, in spades, in the gay community. Putting the stamp of approval on homosexual behavior is a panacea for exactly nothing. Suggesting that the policy is to blame for the “results” he mentions is simply sloppy thinking at best, emotional grandstanding at worst.
As for the “gift of celibacy,” isn’t chastity what God in His Word requires of all who are not married? True, that notion (which for all I know has been rejected by the ELCIC with regard to straights as well as gays) is considered ridiculous by the culture, which believes that any adult who doesn’t engage in some form of sex on a regular basis will go blind (that goes double for teenagers). What the bishop and his colleagues are claiming, evidently, is that the culture is correct, and God’s Word wrong, and that requiring chastity of anyone who doesn’t have the “gift of celibacy” is hazardous to their health.
The ELCIC is a dying church (membership has dropped from 188,654 in 2000 to 152,500 currently, a drop of about 20% in just ten years). No church can repudiate its own foundations without bringing down its house.
(Hat tip: Tom Brock.)
UPDATE: Ian Adnams from the communications office of the Lutheran Church-Canada has left a comment in which he makes a point I should have made: the ELCIC no more represents all Lutherans in Canada than the ELCA does in the U.S. In fact, the leaders of the LCC have a statement out that makes clear that their denomination still stands for biblical truth and morality. An excerpt:
Because these decisions will be covered in the media, members of the larger Christian community and the Canadian public in general may mistakenly conclude that these decisions represent the position of all Lutherans in this land. In fact, the ELCIC is the only Lutheran church body in Canada which has approved such a departure from accepted Christian teaching. Further, although the ELCIC formally reports large membership statistics, nearly 40 percent of Canadian Lutherans who worship every week belong to congregations outside the ELCIC.* In addition, it is known that there are churches and pastors
within the ELCIC who are deeply troubled by these changes in their church body and cannot support them.
Jesus Christ declared, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will come one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5). Both in its Canadian congregations and overseas mission stations, Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) will continue to give witness to Christ’s clear teaching that God designed marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman. LCC will not ordain pastors who do not affirm this.
In holding this position, LCC is not speaking from the margins, but from the overwhelming consensus of Christian churches for the last two millennia, and also from the mainstream of ecumenical conviction today. LCC’s solid commitment to historic Christian marriage is shared by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as by the rapidly growing Lutheran churches in Africa and elsewhere. Lutheran unity is not undermined by the faithful who cling to the Biblical teaching they received and have consistently confessed. It is not being ruptured by people resisting the changes now
adopted in a few Lutheran church bodies. It is ruptured rather by decisions which claim to place a blessing on what God has not promised to bless, and by anyone who permits secular notions of justice to override the apostolic teaching of God’s Word.
Thanks much to Ian for this information.