Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Are Lutherans Going to Be Next?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is picking up the question of ordaining practicing homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions at their meeting this week in Milwaukee. According to an article in today's Chicago Tribune, their hearings on the matter begin today.

The church has undertaken a study (obtain the study documents here) on these issues which is to be completed in 2005, but gay activists and other liberals are pushing for change now:

There is no need for this delay," said Rev. Daphne Burt, associate dean of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago who went to Milwaukee to distribute fliers for the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, a coalition of advocates for gay clergy and same-sex marriage. "This delay is harmful to the church. ... I think it is past time for the church to offer its blessing.

As a bisexual pastor, Burt is in a quandary.

Yes, she is in a quandary indeed, as she has adopted a lifestyle which is at odds with Scripture and the constant witness of Church teaching, which should render her unfit for leadership in the Church.

And the Lutheran Church itself is in a quandary: one of the pillars of the Lutheran faith is Sola Scriptura. They have been gradually hollowing out the meaning of that phrase over the last 20-30 years. If they adopt such a clearly contra-scriptural practice as ordaining active homosexuals, they will demonstrate that they don't even take their own doctrine seriously.

The ELCA already tacitly permits congregations to bless gay unions, so they may be past the point of no return. Not only that, but they are in full "altar and pulpit" communion with the Episcopal Church. That means that Lutherans and Episcopalians may receive communion in each other's churches, and their ministers may preside at one another's liturgies. So the ELCA will be under great pressure to recognize gay ministers in the Episcopal church. And the ELCA responds to pressure from the left about as well as the ECUSA.

In recent decades, the ELCA has responded to liberal pressure by compromising and watering down their doctrine. They have become so wishy-washy on the subject of abortion that they are for all intents and purposes "pro-choice" (indeed, the only pro-life Lutheran clergy I have ever met were Missouri Synod, not ELCA). The ELCA crumpled in the face of demands for women's ordination. So I think it's just a matter of time before they also admit active gays to ministry, and probably not much time at that.