Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lutherans tackle issue of Gays in the Church

Yesterday we were discussing John Piper's suggestion that the Minneapolis tornado was a sign of God's judgment on the Evangelical Lutheran Church for its discussion of same gender relationships, including the possibility of the ordination of openly gay candidates for ministry. Apparently the Lutherans didn't see this as a harbinger of God's displeasure, because a majority of delegates approved both referendums -- one recognizing the right of congregations to bless same-gender relationships. It also affirmed the right of congregations to call openly gay pastors to serve their congregations.

There will, of course, be much discussion within the Lutheran Church. It's possible that some congregations will leave the fold. This is always a possibility when denominations make major course changes.

As one who supports both gay marriage and the ordination of gays to ministry. I rejoice in this decision. I also know that the way forward will be difficult as this church wrestles with how to keep together when not all agree.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was a happy surprise. Good for them. David Mc

John said...

This is an issue I would tackle as well.

John

Gary said...

I would like it if the Lutherans, and Cornwall, would stop pretending to be Christians, and stop playing church. And since God detests hypocrisy, I know God would like that too.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Gary, as they say -- hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder. We all choose the texts we want to emphasize. You like to focus on gays, others would point you to Matthew 25 and suggest that the way we treat the poor and the marginalized is a better gauge of our piety!

Technology said...

This is quite a dangerous decision. Allowing homosexuals to serve as clergy will confuse a lot of people.

John said...

Technology,

Are you suggesting that if we allow people to live lives of grace, some people will be confused into thinking that Jesus teaches about living in a kingdom of love and compassion and grace instead of seeking a kingdom of judgment, requirements, rewards, and punishments?

Since I already live in the latter kingdom every time I leave the sanctuary, I can't wait to be a part of something better.

John

Anonymous said...

I doubt that clergy who happens to be homosexual would have the goal of confusion in mind. Quite the opposite I would imagine.

I think you'll find no difference at all. That's the whole point.

If he or she did include an occasional story about their lifestyle or partner, it would stress common feelings and experiences. I could imagine such persons might be a bit more vocal (brave) about discrimination and oppression in general though.

David Mc

Anonymous said...

Gary, there's a difference between trying and pretending.

We would be bigger hypocrites if we refused to learn and grow and ignore our own knowledge about human nature. For whatever reason, some things we have to accept as real even though our imaginations can’t fathom the personal and natural need of every person. David Mc

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Confusion lasts only as long as we allow it to exist. For the Lutheran's this provides a teaching moment.

I remember when the Episcopal church first ordained women. There was as much resistance to that as there is to gays. In fact, the majority of those who left or are threatening to leave over the gays refused to ordain/fellowship with women priests. When Barbara Harris became the first woman bishop, there was a great uproar. Now the Presiding Bishop is a woman.

I remember hearing stories of parishioners biting the hands of women priests who served them communion.

Confusion, perhaps, but of what kind?

Anonymous said...

I think the confusion technology refers to is the lifestyle confusion and how to apply Biblical family teachings. For instance.. who is the head of the family? They can't have children.. so all the Biblical promises of inheritances to offspring would not apply. There is of course teaching children about Gary and Gary vs Gary and Mary. Song of Soloman might read a little different through the eyes a gay person. What about sex before marriage?
Sorry.. its dangerously naive to brush off the comment. To not spend the time thinking through all the ramifications is dangerous.

Chuck

John said...

Chuck,

Your use of the term "the ramifications" assumes there are options other than embracing gay persons as brothers and sisters in Christ.

They exist and they were created that way and so for me the question is not whether to embrace them, but how. With love and acceptance or with approbation and rejection.

The more I reflect on this issue the clearer it becomes to me. We are called to embrace all people in love, whether they are in prison or not whether they are poor or not whether they are disabled or not, whether their sexuality follows the same pattern as mine or not, whether they are Christians or Jews, whether they are men or women.

The question is what adjustments are non-gay Christians going to
have to make to respond to our gay brothers and sisters in a Christlike manner?

John

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Chuck,

I think that the problem here is that we can't turn to the Bible for specific family life guidance. In the Old Testament, for the most part polygamy was allowed.

In the first century, women were still considered chattel. Both Jesus and Paul raise their place in society, but there is a mixture of voices here.

As for who is head of the family -- I practice mutual submission -- so we try to work together as husband and wife. And as for having children, if we make this a criteria then we must insist that every couple have a child or . . .

Each generation must wrestle with the notion of what family is. The equation of the nuclear family with the biblical family is simply unworkable.

What is interesting is that we see same problem in Islam. Muhammad was, for his day, very liberal when it came to family life. But, when Muslims try to impose 7th century guidelines on the modern world we get problems.

Whatever confusion there is will be overcome through conversation, discernment.

Gary said...

Accepting sodomites as being moral, requires rejecting what is written in the Bible on the subject, which Cornwall, John, David Mc, and others have done.

If you will not accept God's decision about homosexuality, I see no reason to believe you would accept God's decision about any other sin, whether it be adultery, idolatry, stealing, murder, or any other. Some may object to certain sins, while ignoring, or even embracing others, but the same spirit of rebellion against God that enables one to embrace the sodomite, almost always works in that rebellious heart to reject other things God has said, and is not limited to just those things God calls sin. It manifests itself in unbelief of any part of Scripture that the rebellious one finds objectionable.

Anonymous said...

John and Bob.. I would say that in Timothy, Paul gives a pretty straight forward account on who should be leaders and deacons in the church. This conversation I limiting to just leadership to keep it simple. John, I think we would agree on loving everyone, however the application might differ. We would love the prisoner, but we wouldn't let him lead until he has walked out a life of repentance, or obviously the Jew wouldn't be leading a church.
Bob, why is the Biblical definition of family unworkable? Where is the break down? In its purest form, it works beautifully. The father leads and teaches his family and lays down his life for his family. The wife follows in submission as the husband gives his life for the family and God. The problem is we shrug and say.. "it can't work" and try to lift up a less than ideal rather than strive for the calling.

Chuck

John said...

Chuck,

Perhaps I was not clear, but I had no intention of comparing homosexuals to criminals; my analogy was with reference to ourselves as Christians: we are constantly called to reach outside of our comfort zones and accept and embrace those whom as we as nonChristians would reject, those whom society would reject. We are called to love those whom we deem unloveable.

An orthodox Jew may not lead a church community but we may be uplifted by their spiritual teaching. Moreover, if they claimed Christ as their savior, we would the welcome them into positions of leadership without their having to denounce their Jewish roots or their Jewish cultural attachments.

As for family life, there are so many permutation within and without the Bible, all of which we, as ambassadors of Christ, are called upon to accept and come to terms with, and we are called to do so without judgment. People don't choose their family circumstances - we are all captured by circumstances beyond our control - and we adjust and do the best we can to be faithful to those we love.

For example I highly doubt my marriage of 25 years would have lasted even a day if I had ever suggested to my wife that I alone was head of the household or that she was to be submissive to my leadership. On the other hand, there are times when I do lead, and times when she leads, and we follow one another out of trust and confidence that in that moment the other knows the way. So the Biblical model described by Paul does not make any more sense in my household then it would in a household peopled by two homosexuals.

People are not made from cookie cutters, and neither are families. Christians are called to respond to each person with love and compassion, regardless of family circumstances. We cannot impose "our" model on any one else just because we made it work for us.

In the end, we must admit the truth that homosexuals are just people, God's children, trying to find their way, trying to find hope and acceptance and love, in a world which is at best indifferent toward them, and more often at war with them.

Is not the Kingdom of God large enough to encompass us all? Are not the leaves on the tree of life, intended for the healing of nations, meant for me and you and them as well?

John

jasonbradyut said...

This is just appalling. If Luther, the late German Christian protester, would still be here…where the denomination “Lutherans” derived from, he would be stunned and completely disappointed in this horrible abomination to the Word of God and the Gospel. I totally am against this election. When God created “man” he created Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and STEVE!!! Hello people. This is a direct form of disobedience to God. And this is happening in a Church, a denomination that professes to know the Word of God???? Please, God will have to deal with you guys…and it won’t be pretty.

John said...

Jason,

Luther was a protester, and when he saw that the Church had missed the point of the Gospel he spoke out loud and clear, and he led the people in a different direction. Why should not the denomination which goes by his name not do this once again when they discern that the Church has missed the point of the Gospel?

By the way, it seems you have broken the 2nd Commandment, by idolizing certain words in the text, and like the Pharisees focusing on words and not intent.

Even Gays (if they are sinning in their alleged abomination as you claim) are merely guilty of fornication and they do not break any Commandments that I am aware of. In their desire to be mainstreamed into the church are they not giving witness to their love of God and of their neighbor?

John