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Fewer Americans Believe Homosexuality is A Sin (no surprises here)

January 11th, 2013 Comments off

File under: no surprises here.

Fewer Americans believe homosexuality is a sin. Via Stetzer.

A November 2012 survey of adults in the United States found 37 percent affirm a belief that homosexual behavior is a sin – a statistically significant change from a September 2011 LifeWay Research survey asking the same question. At that time, 44 percent answered, “Yes.” In contrast, the percentage of Americans who do not believe homosexuality is a sin remains nearly the same between the two surveys – 43 percent in September 2011 and 45 percent in November 2012 indicate this belief, with an increase in the percentage of those unsure of what they believe. Seventeen percent in the November 2012 survey said, “I don’t know;” an increase of 4 percent over the September 2011 survey. The November 2012 survey also reveals Americans in the South (40 percent) are the most likely to select “Yes” to the question “Do you believe homosexual behavior is a sin?” as are Americans who attend religious services at least about once a week (61 percent), and those calling themselves “born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian” (73 percent). Americans who never attend religious services are the most likely to say they do not believe homosexual behavior is a sin (71 percent).

 

changeinbelief

 

Responding to President Obama’s Announcement — Challenge and Opportunity for the Church

May 10th, 2012 4 comments

Rev. Ed Stetzer had an excellent blog post today on this, and I’m passing it along.

After both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushed for acceptance of same-sex marriage over the weekend, North Carolina became the 30th state to amend its constitution to define marriage as an act between one man and one woman.

Now President Barack Obama has affirmed his support of same-sex marriage. In an interview with ABC News, President Obama stated:

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married…I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

President Obama’s statements should come as no surprise. His refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Actand his comments about “evolving” on the issue both pointed to this moment. I tweeted last weekend that I expected such a move from the President. To me, the surprise is the timing of his announcement. I, like many others, expected this announcement after he had won a second term in November– though it appears he hasplanned to do so before the Democratic National Convention. This announcement accelerated the timeline of an inevitable conversation.

So how do we as evangelical Christians respond?

Last year I wrote a brief post on the future of the evangelical response regarding homosexuality after Howard Schultz withdrew from speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. In that post, I listed five principles to consider about the issue of homosexuality and evangelical churches. I’ve fleshed those principles out a bit here.

The issue is not going away and you cannot ignore it or seek to downplay your views.Since Stonewall, the gay rights movement has continued to gain influence and homosexuality is increasingly a public issue to which you must have an answer. Evangelicals have responded poorly at times and earned a reputation for intolerance. Now, in seeking a more biblical and grace-filled response, we cannot erase our past mistakes, however, we can control our attitudes and responses in the future by being clear and gracious at the same time.The culture sees this as a “justice” issue– Christians discriminating on the basis of immutable characteristics.
Christians have always believed and taught that God’s standard and intent is a man, a woman, a marriage, and a lifetime. To us, that just makes sense and it seems clear in the scriptures, but to an increasing number in our culture, this is simply discrimination. President Obama clearly justifies his reason for supporting gay marriage because of the Golden Rule– the idea that we should treat others justly, as we would want to be treated. So, we should not be shocked at their response. Many people believe that we are discriminating against other people by restricting marriage from gay couples– much like keeping black people out of a certain section of a restaurant. They see that as unjust and us as bigots.

Though it is easy to make the case in the church that homosexual practice (and marriage) is incompatible with scripture, it will be an exceedingly difficult case to make in today’s culture.
I mention in my new book Subversive Kingdom an example of running for school board. A half a century ago you would not have been considered for public office in most communities without a strong record of service in and loyalty to a local church. Today that same qualification, if the church teaches biblical truths about homosexuality, is a detriment to one’s candidacy in many areas of our country. This will become more of an issue in days to come. Believing what the Bible says about homosexuality will hurt your reputation and will be hard to defend as a “good and right” view in society.

Building bridges and showing grace and love is needed, lacking, and essential when dealing with people with different views and values.
Some Christians seem driven by the need to take every opportunity to condemn homosexuality. Instead, I do not think you or I need to begin every conversation with a statement of our opposition of homosexuality. We can, indeed, show grace and friendship to those who struggle, while believing and teaching what the scriptures clearly say. Without hiding our beliefs, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations, build relationships, and show grace.

At the end of the day, all evangelicals will still have to deal with an issue on which the evangelical view is perceived as narrow and bigoted.
Evangelicals will continue to be pressured to accept a worldview rooted in cultural acceptance rather than biblical revelation. While President Obama’s thoughts on certain issues may evolve, the biblical teaching has not. We can listen to Dan Savage and decide to “ignore” the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality, or we can live with the fact of what the Bible teaches and recognize that, because of such, our reputations will suffer.

Homosexuality is not an easy issue. Christians have said a lot of unhelpful things about the subject over the years– but that does not mean we cannot say helpful things now. The most helpful truth is the biblical truth. In the midst of a complicated issue, we need to admit to poor engagement in the past, speak of the complexities of the issues involved, but always point to biblical truth and change that can be found in Christ.

Liturgical Naming Rite for a Transgendered Member

February 6th, 2012 18 comments

When the time to reprint the Lutheran Service Book Agenda rolls around, this won’t be in it. A rite for the renaming of a person who decides to have his/her private bits snipped and tucked to turn themselves into a new him/her/he/she.

No, I’m not making this up, I picked this up off the web site of one of the champions of the ELCA’s gay agenda. Here it is:

(Prayers of the People)

Presider:

Holy One of Blessing, in baptism you bring us to new life in

Jesus Christ and you name us Beloved. We give you thanks for the renewal

of that life and love in Mary Christine Callahan, who now takes on a new name.

Strengthen and uphold him as he grows in power, and authority, and

meaning of this name: we pray in the Name above names, Jesus, your Son,

whom with you and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God, we adore. Amen

 

(Lindsey) A reading from the letter of Paul to the Galatians.

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no

longer male and female; for all are one in Christ Jesus

The word of the Lord

Thanks be to God

 

(Laying on of hands)

Let us pray:

We pray for your servant Asher, with thanks for the journey and awakening that

have brought him to this moment, for his place amongst your

people, and for his gifts and calling to serve you.

 

O God, in renaming your servants Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Peter,

and Paul, you gave them new lives and new tasks, new love and new hope.

We now hold before you our companion. Bless him with a new measure

of grace as he takes this new name. Write him again in your

heart and on your palm. And grant that we all be worthy to call ourselves

Christians, for the sake of your Christ whose name is Love, and in whom,

with you and the Spirit, we pray. Amen

 

The Giving of the name

 

Pr. Nadia: By what name shall you be known?

Kate: The name shall be Asher 

Asher: My name is Asher

 

The community may respond by repeating

Your name shall be Asher

 

Pr. Nadia: Bear this name in the Name of Christ. Share it in the name of Mercy. Offer it

in the name of Justice.

 

Christ is among us making peace right here right now.  The peace of Christ be with you all. And also with you.

Great Video on Gay Marriage from Pastor Fisk

May 11th, 2011 4 comments

Lutheran Church Apologizes for, At One Time, Being Faithful to God’s Word. What Would Luther say?

September 23rd, 2010 12 comments

The Rev. Anita Hill received acclamation by the assembly on Saturday during the Rite of Reception at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul.

This from Dr. Al Mohler’s blog.

The great moral revolution on the issue of homosexuality collides with the total surrender of a liberal denomination and the result is the church’s apology for having once stood on biblical grounds. That was the picture just a few days ago when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America welcomed three lesbian ministers into the clergy roster through a “Rite of Reception” ceremony held last Saturday at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As the Star Tribune reported: “In a ceremony that started with a public mea culpa and ended with a prolonged standing ovation, three lesbian ministers were officially embraced Saturday by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

This comes in the wake of the denomination’s vote this past summer to rescind a policy that prevented clergy in homosexual relationships from bring listed on the church’s official clergy roster. Since then, conservatives have moved to organize a new Lutheran denomination.

The most interesting part of the “Rite of Reception” was a confession voiced by the congregation. Look closely at this:

We have fallen short in honoring all people of God and being an instrument for that grace . . . . We have disciplined, censured and expelled when we should have listened, learned and included.”

That’s right — the church actually confessed the “sin” of having once stood on biblical ground, and the “sin” of exercising church discipline.

Given their new policy on homosexuality, it is the one who affirms the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality that is called to repent, rather than the unrepentant homosexual.

What would Martin Luther say? It would doubtless be colorful and thunderous. But here is something he did say that fits the situation perfectly:

“You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.”


Jeff Strickler, “Anita Hill, Two Other Lesbians in Committed Relationships Welcomed as ELCA Pastors,” The Star Tribune [Minneapolis, MN], Sunday, September 19, 2010.

ENI Story on First Lesbian Lutheran Bishop in Sweden

May 29th, 2009 5 comments

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
29 May 2009

Swedish Lutheran church elects bishop in lesbian partnership
ENI-09-0436

Uppsala, Sweden, 29 May (ENI)–The newly-elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm says that being a lesbian means she wants to stand alongside people who feel powerless.

“I know what it is to be called into question,” Brunne said in an article on the Web site of the Church of Sweden (www.svenskakyrkan.se) after her 26 May election. “I am in the lucky situation that I have power and I can use it for the benefit of those who have no power,” said Brunne, currently dean of the diocese of Stockholm.

Brunne is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said, and she is believed to be the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

Fifty-five year old Brunne lives with priest Gunilla Lindén in a partnership that has received a church blessing. They have a three-year-old son.

“Once you have been baptised, no one can say you cannot be part of the Church because you are homo-, bi-, or transsexual,” the Web site of the French periodical Tétu quoted Brunne as saying.

She clinched the post by 413 votes against the 365 votes for Hans Ulfvebrand and she will succeed Bishop Caroline Krook, who is to retire in November.

In 2003, the consecration of a V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay divorced man who lives with a male partner, as an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop in the United States, triggered a deep division and threatened a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lutheran churches throughout the world hold different views about matters such as the acceptance of homosexuals in church life, and blessings for same-sex relationships in some Northern countries.

The Church of Sweden, which offers a special blessing for same-sex couples, has faced criticism from some other Lutheran churches, particularly those in African countries.

In 2005, leaders of the Lutheran World Federation removed Kenyan Bishop Walter E. Obare Omwanza as an advisor to its main governing body, the LWF Council, after he consecrated a bishop from a breakaway Lutheran grouping in Sweden, opposed to women priests and same-sex marriage. [355 words]

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The Mainline’s Mainstreaming of Homosexuality

March 27th, 2009 2 comments

This coming summer, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will be voting on whether or not to accept actively homosexual persons as pastors in their church. The decision to do so appears to be a fait accompli, since at their last churchwide assembly they voted to put a moratorium in place on any disciplinary activities against any of their pastors who were involved in homosexual relationships. The deck has been stacked in favor of the motion to adopt homosexually active clergy by only requiring a simple majority vote; but as one of my ELCA pastor friends reminded me, one never knows how this may, or may not, turn out. We will have to wait and see.

The recently released study Bible from the ELCA openly advocates for revisionism on these issues. In its comments on 1 Cor. 6:9, the ELCA Bible declares that the two terms that appear here, which have historically been translated to refer to homosexuality and homosexuality activity, have, in fact, been mistranslated by all modern versions and then it asserts that "neither term applies to homosexuality or the lives of gay
and lesbian people." (p. 1881). In the book of Ezra, the ELCA Bible contains the following: "What is Christian marriage? Marriage is a holy and a permanent union instituted by God and affirmed by Jesus. In choosing a life partner, his or her commitment to faith and life of the church will be of extreme importance." (Note for Ezra 9:1-4). Not a word here about what our Lord says bout marriage: that it is a one flesh union of a man and a woman.

This trend in the ELCA reflects the trends throughout mainline Protestanism's clergy ranks. Two recently completed surveys confirm that acceptance of homosexual behaviors and so-called "marriage" is high among many mainline protestant ministers. You will be interested in reviewing 2008 Mainline Protestant Clergy Voices Survey and then the Pew Forum's survey showing that mainline clergy are in favor of societal acceptance of homosexuality. Here is a graphic depiction of the results of the Pew survey:

Picture 5Source

An LCMS Statement on the ELCA’s Study and Recommendation on Sexuality

February 20th, 2009 8 comments

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

ST.
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
infallible Word.

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
issue.

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.

Today,
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
is true.

Rev. Matthew Harrison
Executive Director
LCMS World Relief and Human Care

(For
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.)

Refutation of NEWSWEEK article on Gay Marriage and the Bible

December 23rd, 2008 4 comments

340x The tidal wave-like pressure on Christians to conform to the latest opinions of culture-shapers in our nation about gay marriage was on particularly dramatic display in an issue of NEWSWEEK magazine a few weeks ago when the news magazine decided to play at Bible interpretation and application. These articles do influence the thinking of our people and the only antidote is constant, careful, pastoral, faithful teaching and preaching. Here is one such very fine example prepared by Lutheran pastor, Jonathan L. Jenkins.

No Mutual Joy:
Response to Newsweek

by Pr. Jonathan L. Jenkins

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Lebanon, Penn.
Advent 2008

Even
many religious conservatives want to be persuaded that they can believe
in the Bible and support homosexual marriage. Lisa Miller (Newsweek,
Dec. 15) raises their hopes in her opening sentence: "Let's try for a
minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define
marriage as the Bible does." Religious conservatives would like to be
taken at their word, for a change.

But the writer does not try.
She says there isn't any biblical definition of marriage, and the very
idea is ridiculous. "Would any contemporary heterosexual married
couple… turn to the Bible as a how-to script? Of course not…"
Apparently Miller hasn't heard about the countless numbers of couples
around the world who benefit from doing exactly that!

"First,
while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and
family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one
woman." The writer never explicitly defines what she means by
"explicitly defines." However, the very first time the Bible speaks of
human beings, the command to marry and bear children is made
"explicitly." (Genesis 1:27-31): "So God created man (adam — in Hebrew)
in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female
he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful
and multiply, and fill the earth…'"

Humankind is not created
"male or female," nor does God first create them "male and female" only
to decide later on that the man and the woman could also marry and have
children. God creates marriage in the very act of creating humanity, in
Genesis 1.

Genesis 2 "explicitly defines" marriage as one man
and one woman — not with a "dictionary definition," but by relating a
story that draws a conclusion. The LORD God made the woman from the rib
of the man "and brought her to him" like the proud father of the bride
(Genesis 2:18-25). "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother,
and they become one flesh." "One flesh." One flesh in sexual union, one
flesh in babies, one flesh in family life — the one flesh that is human
history, from generation to generation. Even marriages that do not give
birth to children exist in accord with, rather than in opposition to,
this definition.

Another "defining" moment is Jesus' rejection
of divorce as a violation of God's original intention (Mark 10:6-9):
"But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.'
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined
to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'" Jesus makes "one man
and one woman" a matter of principle: "So they are no longer two but
one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one
separate." A husband and wife need all the support they can get to
maintain a stable marriage in which to raise the next generation. To
depict gay relationships as comparable is to blur society's vision of
the common good.

Does Jesus ever speak against homosexuality?
"Yes" is the answer, despite repeated claims to the contrary. Jesus
himself proscribed homosexual practice when he condemned not only
"fornication" (porneia – in Greek) and "adultery" (moicheia – in
Greek), but also the licentiousness" (aselgeia – in Greek) that
elsewhere includes homosexual relations (see Mark 7:21-22 and 2 Peter
2:7).

Miller accuses religion of bigotry: "Religious objections
to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, but in custom and
tradition (and to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with
gay sex that transcends theological argument)." If so, Jesus is
included in the indictment, too. In his teaching on sex and marriage,
Jesus, the Jewish rabbi, never departs from the Scriptures of Israel.
The Gospels are consistent with the remainder of the New Testament, in
which some of Leviticus' laws are reaffirmed and reapplied to the new
life in Christ.

"No sensible person," asserts Miller, "wants
marriage — theirs or anyone else's — to look in its particulars
anything like what the Bible describes." On the contrary, the apostle
Paul's instruction to husbands in particular, that they "should love
their wives as they do their own bodies," has transformed marriages for
the better (Ephesians 5:28).

The writer's gratuitous insult
exposes the vast difference between the church's way of reading
Scripture and her own. A helpful term for her approach is
"historicize": she reads "history" in order to "relativize" its claim
on the present. Miller historicizes Genesis 2, for example, when she
quotes Dr. Segal: "If you believe that the Bible was written by men and
not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was
written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world." ‘That
was then, this is now' is how she reads the Bible.

Her approach
imposes severe restrictions on the ways in which Scripture informs its
hearers: "We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can
read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future."
Even a casual reader of the Bible quickly recognizes, however, that
"universal truths" are uncommon. The "universal truths" are tightly
woven into a particular story. Indeed, the "universal truths" are
specific promises and specific commands to a specific people, Israel.

Instead
of timeless wisdom that applies to every time and place, the church
reads Scripture for the narrative that now includes us among the people
of Israel's God. To us, ancient, as well as contemporary practices are
brought into focus through the lens of the whole story, from beginning
to end.

Writers like Miller historicize the Bible in order mute
its authority: "The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own,
it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours." "Rules"
are not the main subject of the Bible, as Miller ought to know, and
their "face value" depends on their location in the narrative. The
degree to which the ancient world is unlike our own must not be
underestimated — or overstated, either. Miller's helter-skelter
selection of examples is devoid of context and begs the question of
continuity and discontinuity.

From the first page of Scripture
to the last, marriage is the "gold standard" — the reality principle by
which all sexuality is evaluated. Biblical prohibitions against
fornication, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, adultery, lust, divorce,
and homosexuality are made from the standpoint of marriage. The fact
that monogamy did not become the norm in the Christian world in the 6th
century is no more to the point than the fact that Christians regularly
fall short of the norm. The "one man and one woman" norm must be
received anew in every generation, and in our generation is under
intense assault from several directions.

The most important
question to ask writers like Miller concerns Jesus. Is Jesus alive or
dead? The answer is decisive to the reading of Scripture. It is
difficult, if not impossible to receive "inspiration" from a rabbi who
has been dead for 2,000 years. But the church believes that Jesus is
alive and is coming to complete his Father's kingdom on earth as it
already is in heaven: therefore Scripture inspires us to know and to
live for the world's true and ultimate good. Is Jesus alive, or does
Miller historicize Easter, too? It's hard to tell what Miller believes,
in view of her remark about what Jesus "would" do "if Jesus were alive
today." The church believes the future belongs to Jesus: that makes
Scripture relevant, no matter how old it is.

Miller correctly
points out that Jesus "preaches a new kind of community, a caring
community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties."
So, too, she draws attention to the promise that in the resurrection
there is no need for marriage, because life will be eternal and death
will be no more (Matthew 22:30). But it is a spurious argument to
defend homosexuality on this basis.

Marriage is a living image
of the one-body-and-Spirit union of Christ and his bride, the church.
St. Paul explains, "‘For this reason a man will leave his father and
his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one
flesh.' This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the
church." Marriage prefigures the final consummation — "I saw the holy
city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven as a bride prepared for
her husband" (Revelation 21:2).

The strongest consideration is
one the writer never considers: human frailty. We live in a world
divided by sin and death, as well as circumstance. There might be
social value in civil unions — independent of gender — that would
extend practical benefits to unmarried friends who desire to form a
legal association. Domestic partnerships could grant rights having to
do with visitation, taxes, inheritance, and insurance benefits. Such
voluntary associations could be beneficial to groups of widows,
celibate clergy, or single persons in the absence of family —
relationships that do not depend on sexual desire. At least it is worth
some discussion. Domestic partnerships are friendships, not marriage
and would not endorse behavior that many Americans deem wrong. It's
true, as she says, Jesus "does not want people to be lonely and sad" —
but Jesus does not want people to sin, either.

All of us know
that this response to Newsweek will be dismissed as "homophobia," but
such dismissals are unpersuasive and have lost their power to
intimidate — as a majority of the citizens of California recently
demonstrated.

Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule

November 10th, 2007 9 comments

And it continues in the ELCA.

110707lutheranjpg_20071106_23_07_09

Statement from Missouri Synod regarding ELCA Homosexuality Decision

August 14th, 2007 12 comments

TO:                 The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod 
FROM:           Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President 
SUBJECT:      Statement regarding 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action
DATE:            August 13, 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings
in the Name of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world and Lord of the
universe, through whom alone we receive forgiveness of sin, life, and
salvation!

On the final day of its 2007 Churchwide
Assembly in Chicago (Saturday, August 11), the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) adopted a resolution which “prays, urges, and
encourages [ELCA geographical] synods, synodical bishops, and the
presiding bishop to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in
disciplining those rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and faithful
committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in
this church.” 

News of this action troubles me
greatly and is causing serious concern and consternation among the
members and leaders of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). We in
the LCMS hold firmly to the conviction that, according to the Holy
Bible, homosexual behavior is “intrinsically sinful.” We are deeply
disappointed that the ELCA, by its decision, has failed to act in
keeping with the historic and universal understanding of the Christian
church regarding what Holy Scripture teaches about homosexual behavior
as contrary to God’s will and about the biblical qualifications for
holding the pastoral office. 

The LCMS firmly
believes that the sin of homosexual behavior, like every sin that
fallen human beings commit, has been paid for in full by the life,
suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The LCMS also believes that we must continue to reach out in love to
all people on the basis of what God’s Word alone teaches about human
sinfulness, God’s grace in Christ, and the new life empowered by God’s
Holy Spirit. 

It should be noted that the ELCA voted
not to amend at this time its governing documents regarding the
expectations of its ordained workers in this area (this matter was
referred to its task force on sexuality). However, its decision “to
refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining” ELCA workers in
“a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship”
raises troubling questions about whether the expectations set forth in
its governing documents will be taken seriously by the ELCA or by the
task force. The potential implications of decisions such as this for
future LCMS-ELCA relations have been discussed in previous meetings
involving leaders of the LCMS and the ELCA. In addition, I stated in my
official greetings to the 2007 ELCA Assembly on Friday, August 10, “For
the sake of our mutual witness and service together, the implications
of such action, should it be taken, would need to be addressed,
fraternally and evangelically.” 

As the LCMS noted in
a resolution adopted at its 2001 Convention (Resolution 3-21A), “we of
the LCMS recognize that many of our brothers and sisters of the ELCA
remain faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and we resolve
to reach out to them in love and support.” As President of the LCMS, it
is my ongoing hope and fervent prayer—as stated in my remarks to the
2003 ELCA Assembly—that the ELCA’s continuing “study and deliberation
of this matter will be made in the light of the biblical understanding
of human sexuality and the qualifications for the pastoral office.” I
also pray that God the Holy Spirit will lead and guide all Christians
and Christian denominations everywhere to seek wisdom and truth from
God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word on this and other critical
issues in our contemporary church and culture.

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Outcry as clergy say calling God ‘He’ or ‘Lord’ encourages wife-beating | the Daily Mail

October 6th, 2006 3 comments

The argument goes that referring to God with male pronouns is quite naughty now and we must sensitively neuter the language to avoid such a thing. Here is a story that throws a cup of cold water on this whole line of reasoning.

Link: Outcry as clergy say calling God ‘He’ or ‘Lord’ encourages wife-beating | the Daily Mail.

Quote from the story:

In new guidelines for bishops and priests on such abuse, they blamed
"uncritical use of masculine imagery" for encouraging men to behave
violently towards women. They also warned that clergy must reconsider the language they use in
sermons and check the hymns they sing to remove signs of male
oppression. The recommendation – fully endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr
Rowan Williams – puts a question mark over huge swathes of Christian
teaching and practice. It throws doubt on whether the principal Christian prayer should
continue to be known as the Lord’s Prayer and begin ‘Our Father’. It means well-loved hymns such as Fight the Good Fight and Onward Christian Soldiers may be headed for the dustbin. The rules also throw into question the role of the Bible by calling for
reinterpretations of stories in which God uses violence.

“Evangelical” Theologian Argues for Gay Rights

March 24th, 2006 6 comments

Louisville, Kentucky—Taking on the most divisive issue in the church today the former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Jack Rogers, argues unequivocally for the ordination and marriage of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) in Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church.

A life-long evangelical and a respected theologian, Rogers argues that fidelity to the Bible demands equal rights in the church and society for people who are LGBT. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality describes Rogers’s own change of mind and heart on the issue; charts the church’s well-documented history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups; argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture; and debunks oft-repeated stereotypes about gays and lesbians.

“The best methods of interpretation, from the Reformation on down through today, call upon us to interpret the Scripture through the lens of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry. Using this method we see clearly that Jesus and the Bible, properly understood, do not condemn people who are homosexual,” Rogers writes in a stirring conclusion that is sure to provoke debate.

Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality was released this March by Westminster John Knox Press to widespread attention and acclaim. Yesterday, Rogers was the featured guest on KQED San Francisco’s “Forum,” which skyrocketed sales on Amazon.com. And next week, Rogers will begin a national book tour with more than twenty speaking engagements confirmed.

The book has also received glowing reviews from some of America’s foremost religious leaders:

“This is an extraordinary book, arguably the best to appear in the long, drawn-out debates within churches over homosexuality,” says J. Philip Wogaman, former senior minister at Foundry United Methodist Church (where Bill Clinton worshipped) in Washington, D.C. “Rogers frames the issues on deep biblical and theological grounds, challenging superficial readings of Scripture. The book is wonderfully relevant… It is a gift to all of us.”

“This book is simply wonderful—an intelligent, well-researched, amazingly helpful contribution by a person of faith to one of the most difficult debates of our time,” declares Joanna Adams, pastor of Morningside Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

“Rogers’s arguments are relentless, accurate, and devastating to those who claim that there are serious scriptural, doctrinal, or confessional reasons to deprive LGBT people from full participation in the life and ministry of the church,” states the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson, the Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church.

“Rogers adds immensely to those who argue for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church and in the clergy,” says the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, Episcopal Church. “His experience in and reflections on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be useful to people of ALL mainline denominations. Especially helpful was his analysis of how ‘other’ theories (natural law, complementary body parts, etc.) are superimposed onto scriptural texts without any scriptural basis. For those who truly wish to know what the Bible does and does not say, this is a real find.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:     March 24, 2006

For additional information contact:
Gavin Stephens, <mailto:gstephens@wjkbooks.com>gstephens@wjkbooks.com, (502) 569-5713

Women Priests: Half-baked arguments and bad history

February 2nd, 2006 Comments off