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Lutherans Debate Gay Clergy

Reactions continue after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted to allow local congregations to hire noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors. Prior to the vote at last week’s biennial ELCA assembly, there was vigorous debate about homosexuality and the clergy. Several participants spoke with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly about their views. Watch Rev. Bob Rognlien of the Southern California West Synod; Rev. Christopher Berry of the Northwest Washington Synod; Rev. Cori Johnson of the Northern Great Lakes Synod; Rev. Bradley Schmeling of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta; Rev. Mark Chavez of Lutheran CORE; and Phil Soucy of Lutherans Concerned.

  • Roy E. Lockhart II

    ELCA does not speak for all Lutherans. Homosexuality is against the Bible and gay clergy is an abomination to right thinking. The Bible warns about evil actions in the end times.

  • John

    Martin Luther is rolling over in his grave. I hope ELCA can turn the ship around before it’s too late. It is still possible to believe a lie and be damned, even in 2009.

  • Eugene Pistorese

    I’m not sure that I understand why anyone who doesn’t approve of what God said on any matter would ever want to embrace Christianity. I understand post-modernism and constructions of reality as they relate to texts of all sorts, but if one doesn’t believe that God said it when the Bible says, “Thus sayeth the LORD,” that person doesn’t really accept a fundamental tenet of Christianity. If one believes that God said it and disagrees with what he said, why embrace the religion? It doesn’t make sense.

  • Eric

    The Bible is God’s inerrant word but while the Bible is inerrant we are not. We are not questioning God’s word – we are questioning our understanding of it. I ask those on the other side: is it possible that the Bible is right but you are wrong?

    We used to think the Bible supported being under the Pope. We used to think that the Bible said that women can’t teach grown men or be priests (I believe the LMS still believes that – I speak for the ELCA not all Lutherans). The majority of Lutherans and protestants as a whole no longer believe these to be true because we have looked at the Bible and said things like, “This translation doesn’t mean what we used to think it does,” or “We’ve misunderstood these verses,” or “They were speaking form the morals and political structure of their time.”

    The ELCA has spent time and looked long and hard at the verses, questioned our own beliefs about what the Bible really says, and come to this conclusion. So are other church bodies across the nation. While God may have said something, our understanding of what he says may have indeed been perverted by our fallen nature and we constantly have to examine our understanding of it.

  • Mack

    “That *whosoever* believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. ”

    It’s a good thing Jesus didn’t think like his so-called followers or none of us would be saved.

  • Annie

    My family has been Lutheran for several generations. I guess it will end with mine. I am truly ashamed of the ELCA and no longer wish to be a part of an organization who claims Christianity but refuses to live it.

  • Deborah

    There are still many Lutheran Christians and Lutheran denominations/organizations which uphold the historic Christian position on sexual ethics. The problem isn’t the Lutheran approach, but the ELCA, which has embraced a liberal, revisionist Protestant approach, unfortunately.

  • Dick May

    I am still wondering what our “leaders” were thinking. To risk the ELCA in this economical climate was a deliberate act… whom?? Why??

    To use a few people, in this instance, homosexual people, whose ego told them they had a right to use that ego to maybe destroy what they wanted to lead and encourage them to do, so makes no sense to me. For our ELCA leadership to use the Biblical description in Timothy, which is there to define the qualifications of leadership in an infantile church, leaders that had to be well thought of by the community so they could attract new members on one hand and on the other hand, operate under the radar of a hostile occupying force, the Romans, so they wouldn’t do the new church in, seems downright self destructive as well as not using good sense.

    To not recognize that Timothy is about growth and leadership and not sex seems to me to be totally blind. To use the issue of homosexuality alone while ignoring the peccadillos of heterosexual pastors; addicted, divorced, to name a few, conveniently sets up anyone who wants our leadership to adhere to Bible regulations to be considered as bigots. So…as well as just picking on homosexuals, I can only stand with you against the ELCA if you also use the same criteria being used to lambast the homosexuals to apply equally to heterosexual pastors as well. I wonder what that would do to the hallowed “rostered” list. It would seem that in inaugurating the ELCA’s new sacrament, Bound Conscience, the concept of Sola Scriptura has just had another nail driven into its coffin in the name of “Sincerely Held Opinion”
    A couple of places in that old, only-opened-when- convenient book,the Bible, I remember it talks about every man doing what he thinks right. As I remember,those times didn’t turn out too well. But who pays attention to that old Book? We must do what is popular, politically correct, and convenient.

    Perhaps, in the interest of truth in advertising, may I humbly suggest that the ELCA change its name to EFCA (Ego-Fulfilling Church in America)

  • Elzie

    thank God this has passed I’m a faithfull member of my church with my partner now it’s great to know I can serve in my church as pastor like any other member

  • Byron Nichols

    re: the last speaker and his “we learned a new thing” comment….

    slavery was an ECONOMIC issue. so america chose the $, and building its own economy while destroying a race, and failing to make restitution with that self-same people…. OVER it’s choice to follow God. God has always been secondary in “our” choosing… after we’re satisfied economic and even sexually….

    we’re NOT learning new things, we’re just pushing God back. you either believe the Word of God or not, but don’t play dumb with God. make your choices wisely.

  • Billy

    Gay clergy is wrong and against the law. The Old Testament clearly states there should not be homosexuality. By putting these people in pastoral positions, we are going against Gods word.

  • Lutheran Lauren

    This is not a debate over homosexuality is right or wrong.

  • Randy B

    Many of the Hebrew laws were overturned by Christ. I think the issue is between the Lord and those who have fallen in romantic love with some one of the same gender. Its not for us to judge. We should trust the holy spirit, and treat each other with compassion and understanding. Maybe we should remember that advocates for slavery once used the Bible to justify their oppression.

  • R. Birdwell

    If it is to be believed that God is involved in one’s sexuallity and what you’re doing in you own bedroom, then we have lowered him to the status of your nosey next door neighbor who is always ready to pass judgement on you. Shame on you for reducing the omnipotent to the lowest denominator.