An LCMS Statement on the ELCA’s Study and Recommendation on Sexuality
Rev. Matthew Harrison is the Executive Director of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Board for World Relief and Human Care. He and his department relate more often and more directly to agencies and entities of the ELCA than any other in the Missouri Synod. I appreciated Pastor Harrison's tone and clear word of concern about the implications and meaning of the ELCA's social statement.
Statement of Rev. Matthew Harrison on ELCA’s Task Force on Sexuality Study
LOUIS, Mo. – Yesterday the church commemorated the 463rd anniversary of
the death of Martin Luther. His last written words, found on a note in
his pocket, were "We are beggars: This is true." Hermann Sasse regarded
these final words as a summation of Luther’s great legacy to
Christianity. In all matters of faith and life, Christians are beggars
who receive what the Lord gives, and as the Lord gives. Salvation is
all by grace, all by Christ’s doing. All that we are to believe and
practice in the church is very clearly given in the Bible, God’s own
Today the ELCA’s Task Force for ELCA Studies on
Sexuality released its "Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies"
(http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney). The report recommends a path for
the ELCA’s 2009 church-wide assembly to recognize and accept publicly
accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships of clergy
in those synods (ELCA regional divisions) and congregations, which
desire to approve of such relationships.
The LCMS position on
homosexuality is that of the Bible and the church catholic from the
very beginning. Revisionist readings of the Bible that assert otherwise
are deeply dependent upon views of the Bible that are at odds with its
self-definition as God’s very Word.
We at LCMS World Relief and
Human Care (LCMS Board for Human Care) have many tasks mandated by the
Missouri Synod, which involve a great deal of interaction and
partnership with ELCA offices, entities, affiliated agencies, and
individuals. We have sought to carry out these mandated tasks with
complete and uncompromising fidelity with charity, faithful to the
LCMS’s clearly stated positions, including those on human sexuality.
This task is becoming ever more complex, and the proposals of the ELCA
task force promise to increase this complexity greatly. We will
continue to the best of our ability to ensure that service
organizations recognized by the LCMS "respect and do not act contrary
to" (6.2.1 LCMS 2007 Handbook: Constitution, Bylaws, Articles of
Incorporation, page 200) the biblical position of the LCMS on this
To say that we are disappointed in the Task Force
proposals would be a vast understatement. But we are not surprised. We
are deeply concerned about many ELCA friends (on both sides of the
issue) and especially about those who find themselves holding the
orthodox position while their beloved church body slips into
heterodoxy. But we do not write in order to self-righteously castigate
the ELCA. Rather in deep humility and repentance, we think of our own
many and deep sins: our own failure to hear the word of God; our
failure to bear convincing witness on this issue; our own deep sins and
our lack of love for one another, which have often rendered our witness
of no effect; our lack of love and failure to reach out "with might and
main" to those who struggle with the issue of homosexuality.
Feb. 19, 2009, is a day of deep repentance. Join me in praying for the
future of the Lutheran church, in America and throughout the world.
Please join me too, in praying for the hundreds of Lutheran agencies,
which faithfully struggle to serve those in need. We are beggars: This
Rev. Matthew Harrison
LCMS World Relief and Human Care
a further discussion on this topic from a biblical and Lutheran
Confessional viewpoint please see Armin Wenz’s The Contemporary Debate
on Homosexual Clergy published by LCMS World Relief and Human Care.)