HOUSTON—With no debate, delegates to the Missouri Synod convention here adopted two resolutions in response to actions taken by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its August 2009 Churchwide Assembly. At that assembly, the ELCA resolved to recognize “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships” as morally acceptable and to authorize the ordination into pastoral ministry of individuals who are living in such relationships.
The resolutions were offered by the Floor Committee on Theology and Church Relations (Committee 3) on the third business day of the 64th Regular Convention of the Synod meeting July 10-17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center under the theme “ONE People—Forgiven.”
Adopted by a vote of 1133 to 35, Resolution 3-01A commends to the Synod for “study and reference” a statement prepared by a task force appointed by Synod President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick titled “Theological Implications of the 2009 ELCA Decisions” and the International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) statement “Same-Gender Relationships and the Church.” The ILC is an association of 34 confessional Lutheran church bodies (including the LCMS) from six continents.
The 10-page task force statement looks at the two church bodies’ differing views on the authority of Holy Scripture and the resulting difference in their understanding regarding human sexuality. “Where the Bible speaks clearly regarding matters of human values, conduct, or behavior, such teachings may not be denied or qualified, but must have continuing relevance in every era of the church,” states the report.
The ILC’s three-paragraph document states that, “Rooted in the Bible’s witness and in keeping with Christian teaching through 2,000 years, we continue to believe that the practice of homosexuality—in any and all situations—violates the will of the Creator God and must be recognized as sin. At the same time,” the statement continues, “we declare our resolve to approach those with homosexual inclinations with the deepest possible Christian love and pastoral concern, in whatever situation they may be living.”
Rev. Donald J. McCoid, ELCA executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, responded to the resolution’s passage, stating that in the ELCA’s Social Statement: “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” there are “differing conclusions on the basis of biblical and theological interpretation within the ELCA regarding same-gender lifelong relationships. The ELCA continues to be committed to theological and biblical conversation with all Christians on moral and ethical concerns.”
Resolution 3-02A, adopted by a vote of 1093 to 61, supports efforts of the Synod together with the ILC to bring together Lutherans “for the purpose of promoting confessional Lutheranism through the world,” noting that “many congregations and individuals have withdrawn from or are considering withdrawal from affiliation with or membership in the ELCA” and that “individual and congregational contacts from the ELCA with LCMS congregations and officials have increased significantly since August 2009.”
The resolution also requests that the Synod “pray for her brothers and sisters in the ELCA, including those who have departed from this biblical and Christian understanding” and asks “that the ELCA would reconsider—even now—its actions.”
Posted July 13, 2010