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Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families

April 7th, 2009
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In light of the news out today that now Vermont has formally legalized homosexual marriages, and the news last week from Iowa’s Supreme Court overturning a ban on gay marriage, I thought the following resource would be helpful. The Lutheran Church, that is, those Lutheran churches that remain true to the historic Biblical teachings of the Lutheran Church, believes and teaches that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s Word and will, and seeks to minister to those who are struggling with homosexual inclinations. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod put out an excellent resource a number of years ago: A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families. Here is the Synod’s convention resolution that called for this document.

WHEREAS, Many voices in our society as well as in various church bodies are expressing the view today that homophile behavior is an acceptable alternative lifestyle; and

WHEREAS, The Word of God clearly condemns homophile behavior in Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, and 1 Cor. 6:9; and

WHEREAS, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in convention in 1973 stated: “That the Synod recognize homophile behavior as intrinsically sinful”; and

WHEREAS, The Commission on Theology and Church Relations document on Human Sexuality, A Theological Perspective, states, “Whatever the causes of such a condition may be, . . . homosexual orientation is profoundly ‘unnatural’ without implying that such a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of conscious, deliberate choice. However, this fact cannot be used by the homosexual as an excuse to justify homosexual behavior. As a sinful human being, the homosexual is accountable to God for homosexual thoughts, words and deeds.” (Human Sexuality, A Theological Perspective, p. 35); and

WHEREAS, The redeeming love of Christ, which rescues humanity from sin, death, and the power of Satan, is offered to all through repentance and faith in Christ, regardless of the nature of their sinfulness; and

WHEREAS, The need exists to make available a carefully developed Law/Gospel ministry plan to congregations and other institutions in order to minister to those who are troubled by their homosexuality; and

WHEREAS, It is necessary for the church to expose and resist the sexual idolatry of our society; therefore be it

Resolved, That The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, in convention, reaffirm the position it stated in 1973, “That the Synod recognize homophile behavior as intrinsically sinful”; and be it further

Resolved, That the President of the Synod direct the appropriate boards and commissions to develop a plan for ministry usable by congregations, campus ministries, institutions, and agencies in the Synod, for the purpose of providing biblical and Gospel-oriented ministry to persons troubled by being homophile in their sexual orientations and to their families; and be it finally

Resolved, That the goals to be pursued by such a plan for ministry be

  1. to offer to our world biblically alternative models of sexual celibacy outside of a committed, permanent heterosexual marriage and same-gender social, but not genitally sexual, deep friendships;
  2. to confront the individual with his/her sinfulness, and call him/her to repentance;
  3. to help the individual recognize that God can rescue individuals from homosexual orientation and practice;
  4. to assure him/her of forgiveness in Christ, contingent upon sincere repentance and faith in Christ, and to assure him/her of the love and acceptance of the church;
  5. to assist the individual to rely on Christ’s love and strength to abstain from homophile behavior;
  6. to help the individual to bear his/her burden without fear of recrimination and rejection by his/her sisters and brothers in Christ;
  7. to find ways of ministering to families which include persons of homophile orientation;
  8. to do all this patiently, persistently, and compassionately in the love and Spirit of Christ, who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
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Categories: Homosexuality
  1. Dr Matthew Phillips
    April 7th, 2009 at 17:40 | #1

    Here is my question. Is it possible to believe that homosexuality is a sin, but still be in favor of legal homosexual marriage or a civil union? I think homosexual marriage is a misnomer. However, should we allow individuals in a free, pluralistic society make their own choices about their relationships? Even if we think those relationships are sinful. I've come to the conclusion that the state should simply get out of legal marriage business. In reality with our divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, and now "homosexual marriage" we are really headed that way anyway. It's unfortunate.

    Now, the separate, but related issue of ministering to sinners who struggle with homosexual desires and have committed sinful acts. We should preach law and gospel as we would to any sinners. I'm not saying there aren't other psychological theories or practices that can help someon with addictions or strong desires that individuals want to overcome.

  2. Pr. Tom Fast
    April 7th, 2009 at 23:04 | #2

    Thank you for blogging about this issue, Pr. McCain, and for posting a link to a very good document. I can hardly imagine the guilt, pain, and sense of isolation which homosexuals and their families have suffered for so many years. To a certain degree, we (I am chief of sinners in this regard) have a share in the legislative decisions which we are now condemning. Partly due to our neglect, homosexuals are driven to attempt to find some kind of connection and some sense of justification outside of and apart from the better community and the genuine justification that is given in Christ.

  3. Pr. Tom Fast
    April 7th, 2009 at 23:05 | #3

    (continuation of the comment above) While we certainly ought to be concerned about what the courts are doing to the estate of marriage, we also ought to be equally as concerned about reaching out to homosexuals and their families, and offering to them the help and hope that is theirs in Christ Jesus. We owe it to them. Homosexuality is not the only sin that doesn't need forgiveness, that's for sure. Yet, neither is it a sin which cannot be forgiven.. The courts and legislatures are simply picking up the ball which we dropped and are dealing with it the only way they know how. They, too, are fumbling it away. But it's hard to blame them. We are the more to blame.

  4. Tom Rank
    April 7th, 2009 at 23:30 | #4

    Thank you Paul, for making this document readily available. I agree with the above comments about the need for the Church to deal with homosexuals as sinners in need of the grace of God. Yes, the sin must be condemned, as must all sin. It cannot be excused away as a "lifestyle" or something that can't be helped due to a supposed genetic disposition (which certainly has not been proven). Homosexuality is a perversion of the way God made us to be, so is adultery and all other forms of fornication. All of these sins of the 6th commandment finally go back to the First Cmdt. This needs to be pointed out so as to bring about repentance: confession of sin and absolution. And then provide spiritual resources (e.g. the rites and resources in the LSB Pastoral Care Companion book) for living with such an inclination.

  5. April 8th, 2009 at 01:23 | #5

    Also ironic is that Barry Goldwater said "you can't legislate morality" as he refused to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  6. April 7th, 2009 at 21:03 | #6

    These documents continue to uphold our churches' Scriptural teaching and position. Thank you for posting them.

    Unfortunately, our courts and legislatures, as well as many people in our society at large, now seem to view the principles of "equality" and "personal liberty" as trumping any notion of civic morality to the point of anything goes provided no one seems to get hurt (as far as I can know). We have become a secular, agnostic society with no corporate morality or accountability. The slide began long before gays got the itch to get hitched. It began when we bit into the notion that "you can't legislate morality."

    • Dr Matthew Phillips
      April 7th, 2009 at 23:00 | #7

      Ironically, isn't establishing "homosexual marriage" as a right legislating morality? Laws against discrimination are an expression of someone's morality. Read the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's sermons. Pr Cwirla, he made your exact point regarding enforcing morality.

      • Don Hansen
        April 9th, 2009 at 18:36 | #8

        It never fails to disappoint, to see people with so much education, have such weak critical thinking.

        Equating homosexuality with race presumes they are analogous. There is no scientific evidence to support such an assertion, and worse, the way you've written it here, presumes it to be a commonly accepted fact (something you know full well isn't the case, particularly in a forum such as this).

        Race is hardly different than hair color, eye color, height, body shape, sound of the voice, etc., and as such is irrelevant to much of anything. Homosexuality, particularly as it relates to marriage, is about a person's feelings, how those feelings are to be dealt with, and whether or not society will try to encourage, discourage, or be neutral in reaction to them. To use one example, from the psych courses I took in college, there have been some genetic links found with alcoholism and "anti-social behavior". Societally speaking, we have concluded that neither alcoholism or anti-social behavior, is acceptable, regardless if "God made them that way". I.e., it's deemed that those behaviors should be deterred. But if someone wants to get drunk every day, he is free to do so. Society does indeed have a vested interest in promoting heterosexual monogamy as the optimal marital unit. Unless one believes there are no inherent differences between men and women (something only a highly educated/brainwashed person can believe) then a mother and father have something unique to offer a child — something which cannot be provided by two (or more) men, or two (or more) women. What's more, if one accepts inherent differences (and I'll add, that they are complementary differences) then those differences inherently provide a maturing aspect to the marital bond, as we struggle and work to get along with the "other". What's more, if you want feelings to be the only guide, then you have absolutely no argument against polygamy, incest, and promiscuity, all of which can come from feelings, and mutual consent between adults.

        Debates about this issue have been raging for decades, and anyone participating in it should already know arguments such as I've laid out here, and should be working from those understandings. It is tiresome in the extreme to have to repeat the same things a thousand times over, as if they'd never been addressed before, particularly to highly educated professional types.

  7. April 8th, 2009 at 02:12 | #9

    Can someone explain to me how anything other than morality can be legislated?

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