Why the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s “Bound Conscience” Concept is Not Being Followed
From the CORE blog site:
Services receiving persons who are in same-sex sexual relationships as ELCA pastors have included attacks on the “bound consciences” of those who uphold Biblical teaching on sexual behavior.
Even though the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly committed the ELCA to “respect the bound consciences of all,” recent worship services receiving the new ELCA pastors have included “confessions” stating that holding the traditional teaching of the Christian Church on sexual ethics is sinful.
ELCA officials claim that holding a traditional understanding of Biblical teaching on homosexual behavior is still an acceptable perspective within the church body. If so, these synod services do not show respect for the “bound consciences” of those who hold what the ELCA claims is a recognized and faithful perspective on Scripture.
In leading or authorizing these “confessions,” ELCA synod leaders imply that they believe that those who uphold traditional Christian teaching are persisting in “sin” and in need of correction.
The Sept. 18 “Rite of Reception” service of the St. Paul (Minn.) Area Synod opened with the Rev. Herbert Chilstrom, former presiding bishop of the ELCA, leading the congregation in a “confession” that recounted the sins of the ELCA regarding its former teaching and practice regarding same-sex sexual relationships. Chilstrom has been a longtime vocal advocate of change in ELCA teaching and policy.
“We have dishonored faithful covenants and withheld from families the respect that they deserve. We continue to debate the worthiness of sanctioning couples whose unions are legally recognized and whose lives are intrinsically rooted through the longstanding fidelity of bonds of parenthood,” Chilstrom said.
“We have used Scripture as a tool of discrimination. . . . We have encouraged violence, promoted invisibility, and rewarded lies,” the congregation responded using words printed in the order of service.
“We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we could have listened, learned and included,” Chilstrom said. “We have studied God’s people, withholding justice so long that count-less died believing their identities and relationships were not worthy of blessing by the church that baptized them.”
“We have seen an oppressive policy overturned. We have witnessed the removal of twin yokes of censure and expulsion. We have seen joy on the faces of synod officials who are now released to do the work of the gospel,” Chilstrom said.
The Sierra Pacific Synod’s “Rite of Reception” service, July 25 in San Francisco, Calif., included a similar “confession.”
Synod Bishop Mark Holmerud began the service by “confessing” the sins of “our church” against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons. “Our church of the reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation,” he said.
The bishop then read a litany of the church’s sins including:
“We have not respected the gift of sexuality . . . We have not honored faithful and loving promises, marriages, and covenantal relationships. We have not acted quickly enough for some who have died and have not made it to this day. . . . We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice. We have misused Scripture as a tool of discrimination. We have forced celibacy upon too many . . . We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty. . . . We have intimidated and disciplined, censured and expelled.”
The “Rite of Reception” services have also included elements that many Lutherans would find offensive or even heretical. These elements demonstrate that some of the practicing gay and lesbian persons being received as ELCA pastors and some synod bishops may deviate from Biblical and traditional expressions and understandings of the Christian faith.
Biblical language for God — including the word Lord and the Triune name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, — was removed from parts of liturgies.
Both synods included options for the Lord’s Prayer that included calling God “Mother” rather than “Our Father.”
The Minnesota service began the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father Mother God in heaven.” The California service included as one of the options for the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer from the “goddess rosary” that begins, “Our Mother who is within us.”
Video of the services is available online.
And more from another blog site:
For people in the ELCA who disagree with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s policy changes on homosexuality, these have been trying times. Yet we are told, “The ELCA took pains to not declare winners and losers. But to rather acknowledge that we were not of one mind as a church body around these issues. That we affirm and support people of conscience who have conflicting views over this.” – ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod Bishop Peter Rogness (watch here)
The truth is the ELCA does not affirm or support your view if you believe what Scripture says about homosexuality. They call your view “sinful” and view you as sinner for holding to Scripture.
Read this confession made July 2010 at the San Francisco ELCA Rite of Reception:
“Friends in Christ as we gather, we seek to speak the truth of the difficulties we have witnessed in our church.
Our church of the reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation.
We have not remembered the life giving words of our own Confessions.
We have not respected the gift of sexuality, nor the joy, delight and vulnerability sexual intimacy creates among loving partners.
We have not honored faithful and loving promises, marriages, and covenantal relationships.
We have not acted quickly enough for some who have died and have not made it to this day.
We have not accorded all families with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We have not spoken up.
We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice.
We have misused Scripture as a tool of discrimination.
We have forced celibacy upon too many, a gift God grants to only a few.
We have encouraged silence and complicity.
We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty.
We have hardened our hearts with bitterness and condescension.
We have intimidated and disciplined, censured and expelled.
This confession claims that because of the ELCA’s previous Scriptural based policies on homosexuality, the ELCA church body members (all of us in the denomination) are guilty of sin for believing and following them.
The ELCA changed its Scripture based policies on homosexuality in August of 2009. But what about those of us who still hold to the Biblical view? If following what Scripture says on homosexuality was a sin before the ELCA’s August 2009 policy change, in the ELCA’s viewpoint, it would still be a sin to follow it today.
The ELCA confesses our sin again at the September 2010 Rite of Reception in Minneapolis, MN.
Former Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Herb Chilstrom reads,
“Blessed be the Holy Trinity, one God, who forgives our sin. Whose mercy endures forever.
Friends in Christ, as we gather, we seek to speak the truth of the church’s troubled history with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of God. Too often our valued heritage of grace has been overwhelmed by messages of shame. We have fallen short in honoring all people of God and being an instrument of that grace . . .
We have dishonored faithful covenants and withheld from families the respect that they deserve. We continue to debate the worthiness of sanctioning couples whose unions are legally recognized and whose minds are implicitly rooted through the long standing fidelity of bonds of parenthood.
We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we could have listened, learned and included.
We have studied God’s people withholding justice so long and countless dying believing their identities and relationships were not worthy of blessing or the church and baptizing.
Throughout our history many have left the church, others have hidden within the church and still others have been cast out of the church for speaking the truth of their lives. It is time to change our history. It is time to seek forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. This rite of reception is an overture to new beginnings throughout our church. . .
Already we have seen an oppressive policy overturned.” (watch here)
I’d like to make a few points:
1) The ELCA invents a new sin. That sin is “believing what God said in scripture.” And they confess this sin.
2) There are many of us in the ELCA (for now) that still believe what God said in scripture regarding homosexuality. Again, the ELCA views our position as sinful toward GLBT people.
3) As the two Rite of Reception services show, the ELCA doesn’t respect our view, no matter how much lip service they give us saying they do.
4) What the ELCA does want is for us to remain in the ELCA and to continue sending them money.
5) How long will the ELCA allow you, your pastors or your church to hold the view that homosexuality is wrong, especially since they see this view as sinful?