Failing Homosexuals

law“Preach the Law as if there is no Gospel; preach the Gospel as if there is no Law,” is a Lutheran dictum, and it is here we have failed homosexuals.

The LCMS’s latest foray into our society’s blitzkrieg of accepting sexual deviancy is found in the October 2013 issue of The Lutheran Witness.  There is hope yet, but not if we don’t break from our past. True to bureaucratic thinking there is no formal backing away, let alone repenting of, the 1999 “A Plan for the Ministry to Homosexual and Their Families” prepared by The Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families.  Yet the Witness only has one reference to once a homosexual always homosexual and the myth that there is such a thing as a Christian homosexual.  There can’t be anymore than there is such a thing as a Christian murderer, liar, thief, or adulterer.

The 1999 Plan said both. Homosexual orientation is not a sin, and that you can be a homosexual and still be a Christian.  On page 21 we read, “If homosexual orientation and behavior are not differentiated in public preaching and teaching, the person with a homosexual orientation will perceive himself or herself as condemned before God without redemption.” Wait a minute isn’t that what a heterosexual oriented toward his neighbor’s wife, a teen oriented toward his girlfriend, or an adult toward a child ought to perceive?  Isn’t that preaching the Law as if there is no Gospel?

Later on it said this, “Sexual orientation does not invalidate Holy Baptism. God’s grace and the inclusion of the baptized into the family of God are fully present in the person of homosexual orientation.  God does not love someone less because he or she is homosexual” (28).  Insert “Orientation towards violence to others” and “oriented toward violence,” and “a murderer” in the italicized portions above.  And if you can’t do that with the Fifth Commandment, you can’t do it with the Sixth.

In reality, the position expressed in the 1999 Plan is the same position the ELCA had in the 90s: you can be gay as long as you are celibate.  This is the first step on the path to where the ELCA is today.  It begins with distinguishing homosexual feelings from acts (Again try doing that with heterosexual lust and adultery; Jesus says you can’t in Matthew 5:28.).  Step two is accepting celibate homosexuality.  Step three is to accept homosexual acts.  The reasoning that leads to this is as follows. We deny celibacy is a command from God in regard to heterosexuals, so how can say it is in the case of homosexuals?  This in turn leads to the necessity of Step Four the acceptance of gay marriage.  That’s the only acceptable way for homosexuals not to have to live a life of enforced celibacy.

You can tell that the Plan started from a foggy understanding of the issues by the fact that one of their resources according to footnote 6 was “A communication from a homosexual Christian to the task force” (38).  Well computer companies use hackers and home security companies use thieves why shouldn’t we be using homosexuals to understand homosexuality?  Hackers and thieves are not used to better understand them but to better defend against them, and companies use them with the understanding between criminal and company that the criminal is wrong.  Not so the Plan. Here is how they used their homosexual resource. “’If you want someone who is creative, is hardworking, gets along well with people, and has extra time and an abundance of love to share, then find a homosexual’” (26).

Only one author in the October 2013 Witness takes a similar approach.  He too cites words “from a fellow LCMS Lutheran.”  “’I am gay but believe the only God approved place for sex is marriage between a man and woman.  For this reason, I have chosen celibacy….’Unclear Law is not the problem.’  At age 10, when kids called me ‘fag,’ ‘sissy’ and ‘queer,’ it was not a traditional way of proclaiming Law and it was not done in a Christian manner.  But it was still Law.’”  The self-identified gay man goes on to recount how in 8th grade a hand was held over his mouth till he turned blue and everyone laughed at him, how in high school a teacher greeted him ‘Hello, princess,’ how adults told fag jokes.  Our gay friend is right; all of these are the Law.  He says he has had enough Law.  He needs hope, not hope “’that I will be straight – that’s never going to happen – but hope that somewhere out there is someone who truly is a friend of sinners. Can you give me that hope’” (10)?

Preaching the Law as if there is no Gospel says there is no hope for anyone who defends any sin.  I can’t stand before God and defend my heterosexual lusting anymore than he can stand before God defending his homosexual lusting. But what about orientation?  If we accept homosexual orientation we have no grounds for rejecting pedophile or bestial orientation.

Is there hope?  Of course there is! Paul trumpets it in I Corinthians 6:9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”  No more than the unrighteous, fornicators, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, or swindlers can inherit eternal life can homosexuals.  But the Gospel is that no one is bound to their sins by genes, by addiction, by fate, by chromosomes.  Jesus living the perfect life we can’t, and dying the guilty death we should broke the bonds of not just Death, not just the Devil, but Sin too.

We have to repent of approaching this sin differently than we do all others.  One, it is a very ancient sin.  St. Augustine in the City of God says, “These effeminates, no later than yesterday, were going through the streets and places of Carthage with anointed hair, whitened faces, relaxed bodies, and feminine gait, exacting from the people the means of maintaining their ignominious lives” (VII, XXVI, I, NPNF, II, 137).  Luther knew of this sin asking, “Whence comes this perversity? Undoubtedly from Satan, who, after people have once turned away from the fear of God, so powerfully suppresses nature that he blots out the natural desire and stirs up a desire that is contrary to nature” (LW 3 255).  In some ways this is remarkably close to a conclusion reached by Jerry Satinover, M.D. in Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth and Adolf Koberle in The Quest for Holiness.  Koberle, the Christian, speaks of how repeated sinning against one’s conscience leads to ever thickening chains to a sin so that one no longer regards it as sinful. Satinover, a psychiatrist, speaks of how a person by repeatedly doing something can change their “hardware,” so they regard deviant behavior as perfectly normal.

As far as the poor gay man or lesbian woman having no choice because they are made that way, the Marquis de Sade also believed that.  Writing in the late 1700s he said, “Laws, morals, religions, paradises, hells, gods, and gallows, all will collapse when it is found that perversions are due to differences in blood, nerves, and organs, factors over which man has no determining voice” (Jurjevich, The Contemporary Faces of Satan, 275).  Writing in the 80s when most think homosexuality was still in the closet, George Gilder said, “The most powerful tool of the homosexual culture is the myth that homosexuality is a fixed and immutable condition, like the color of one’s skin, is widely taught in sex-education programs, in secondary schools, and in college psychology and social science courses and endlessly repeated in all the media” (Men and Marriage, 73). The view of homosexuality accepted by the world ought not to be accepted let alone parroted by the church.

There are dissenting voices to popular culture’s universal acceptance of homosexuality and pitying of homosexuals. Professor George Reekers, at the time in the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina said that there was no such thing as a homosexual child (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 84).  And James Nelsen exposes the concept of homosexual orientation for what it is.  “Nowhere does the Bible say anything about homosexuality as a sexual orientation…Our understanding of homosexuality as a psychological orientation is a relatively recent development” (Embodiment, 181-182).

The last mentioned book was published by Augsburg Books in 1978, the ALC publishing house.  In thirty years those in the ALC went from dismissing homosexuality as an orientation at all, let alone a legitimate one, to embracing and celebrating gay pastors and homosexuality.  The second person down a slippery slope goes all the faster because the path is well worn. The second church goes faster still.

 

Associate Editors Note:  The following was offered by Pastor Harris to clarify some concerns from commenters.  I am posting it here since the comments have gone to multiple pages.

“Homosexual orientation is part and parcel of original sin; it’s out of the heart, so it’s in all of our hearts mine and yours included. But there is no such thing as homosexual orientation that is not sin, that can be excused by upbringing, genes, or even abuse. (No more than I can defend the beating of my child by the fact I was beaten by my father.) Same sex attraction has to be treated the same way that other-spouse attraction is treated. Sometimes it comes unbidden from the heart, i.e. the birds flying over our heads, and sometimes it is a sin of volition, i.e. we let them nest there and enjoy it. You willfully undress that spouse. I quoted the Augsburg book that said homosexuality as a psychological orientation is recent and the Bible says nothing about it. Homosexual orientation is the hill that homosexual activists must die on (N.B. I’m not saying our would be apologists is one of them.) because that makes it never a matter of choice which as I say in the article it can be and once it is and is accepted it is reinforced until the person really believes it is normal.
Of course, it’s also true we are all children of wrath by nature, i.e. by orientation. If a person can say that we’re all children of homosexuality by nature and therefore, as such we’re under His wrath, I would agree. But they only began to speak about homosexual orientation in order to distance it from homosexual acts. This in effect took homosexual orientation out from under the Law, and therefore, out from under the forgiveness of the Gospel which is the whole point of my piece. We are failing homosexuals because we are not letting the Law be Law and the Gospel be Gospel. It is St. Paul not me who said such “were some of you but you have been washed, you have been sanctified, etc.” I can say at one and the same time I am oriented toward other people’s spouse and I am not. Our possible apologists doesn’t seem to understand the simultaneous saint and sinner concept. The cure for sin is not changing behavior, but being forgiven. Change in behavior, I turn away from the other man’s spouse and look somewhere else, is a result of being forgiven. But no one wants to be forgiven for what they don’t believe is sin. I want to be forgiven for my orientation to other women other than my wife, of all my lusting heterosexual, homosexual, and asexual. I don’t want to be forgiven for being male, being bald, or being handsome.”


Comments

Failing Homosexuals — 88 Comments

  1. @Leah #3
    I understand your sentiment. Nonetheless, I do believe that quite a few people might actually benefit from reading what you posted, and then deleted.
    And then again, some of us might not.
    Nonetheless, I understand your sentiment – even though I also think that blanket accusations aimed simultaneously at everybody and at nobody in particular have a great potential for missing their mark – although, as well as because they have no real mark to miss…

  2. @Rev. MD #46

    Thanks for your response. I realize people can read an article and come to different conclusions just as people can hear the same sermon and come to different conclusions about its intended meaning – especially if the language isn’t clear.

    Here is an example, in my opinion, of confusing language from Pastor Harris’ article: “Yet the Witness only has one reference to once a homosexual always homosexual and the myth that there is such a thing as a Christian homosexual. There can’t be anymore than there is such a thing as a Christian murderer, liar, thief, or adulterer.” You must understand that when a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction hears a pastor (or an article) say that you can’t be homosexual and a Christian at the same time, when such a person HEARS is that I can’t be a Christian as long as I have same-sex attractions – and this is false teaching! In fact, I would argue that there IS such a thing (contra what pastor Harris says) as a “Christian murderer, liar, thief, alcoholic, etc.” if we understand that sin is not merely behavior but also desire in the heart and that repentant Christians are guilty of sinful desires and behaviors all the time. This is why the CHRISTIAN Paul can say “I am the worst of sinners!” Pastor Harris might as well say there is not such thing as a “Christian sinner.” What people (especially if such people are not well grounded in their knowledge of Holy Scripture, as is the case with many who sit in our pews!) need to understand is that the difference between unbelievers and Christians is NOT that Christians never sin but that Christians agree with God that their sinful desires and behaviors ARE sinful and then they trust in Jesus for forgiveness and the strength to turn from sin and do better (but “do better” will NEVER reach perfection this side of heaven!).

    Another example from Pastor Harris’ article is this: “The 1999 Plan said both. Homosexual orientation is not a sin, and that you can be a homosexual and still be a Christian. On page 21 we read, ‘If homosexual orientation and behavior are not differentiated in public preaching and teaching, the person with a homosexual orientation will perceive himself or herself as condemned before God without redemption.’ Wait a minute isn’t that what a heterosexual oriented toward his neighbor’s wife, a teen oriented toward his girlfriend, or an adult toward a child ought to perceive? Isn’t that preaching the Law as if there is no Gospel?” First of all, the 1999 “A Plan…” never said that homosexual orientation is NOT sin but that simply HAVING a “homosexual orientation” does not mean that one cannot be a repentant Christian who can receive absolution. Second, using Pastor Harris’ words, if a “heterosexual man oriented toward his neighbor’s wife” hears that he can’t possibly be a Christian if he has such desires he will then despair because he will not be able to hear that the Gospel is FOR HIM because the language of the pastor’s sermon suggests that as long as he has sexual desires for his neighbor’s wife he must not be a Christian and therefore must not have saving faith to receive forgiveness.

    I realize that as pastors who are used to using theological jargon we can use language with one another and assume what the other means even though the language doesn’t make it clear because we know what the language implies. But many laypeople do not have this knowledge which is why we have sermons so we can explain particular passages of Scripture which by themselves (interpreted apart from the wider narrative of Scripture) can be misunderstood. Therefore, the language of our sermons (and articles!) must be VERY CLEAR and we must make careful theological distinctions for our people in the pew so that they can hear that the Gospel is FOR THEM lest we unintentionally become tools of Satan to accuse the people of God.

    Finally, you ask me: “I guess I would ask, do you assert that “same-sex attraction” is itself a sin for which a person must be forgiven? Or is it somehow NOT a sin? Or is it somehow a different “classification” of sin than, say, the envy engendered by driving by a POWERBALL billboard?” My simple response is: “Yes! Same-sex desire/lust IS sin and needs forgiveness!” The only point Matt and I are trying to make is that many who struggle with same-sex attraction hear (even though we don’t intend to convey this with our language) from many of us that simply HAVING same-sex attraction means that they are impenitent unbelievers who cannot receive forgiveness. Thus the need for careful clarification, which is what the 1999 “A Plan” attempts to do.

  3. @Jais H. Tinglund #48

    If my “Amen” to Matt’s point that Pastor Harris’ original article gives the impression that simply HAVING same-sex attraction means that one is an impenitent sinner was taken as an attack on pastor Harris himself or that I was assuming the worst of his motivations, then I am sorry and ask for forgiveness for not being more clear with my OWN language.

    I do appreciate pastor Harris’ clarification of what he intended to say. But that doesn’t change the fact that his original article “as worded” conveys a meaning other than what he intends to say. Therefore, unless changes the language of the original article itself, anyone who reads it here or elsewhere will likely come away with a meaning pastor Harris did NOT intend to convey.

    In any case, I agree that we should use language in our posts that convey respect and charity for those with whom we disagree or, likely, simply misunderstand. We are all sinners and need to repent of our bad use of language all the time.

  4. @Jim Pierce #49

    I do NOT believe that is what Pastor Harris MEANT to say. Matt and I were simply pointing out that his original article “as worded” gives the impression (especially to those not well grounded in the teaching of Scripture) that a person cannot have same-sex attraction and be a repentant Christian at the same time.

  5. Pastor Tom Eckstein :
    The only point Matt and I are trying to make is that many who struggle with same-sex attraction hear (even though we don’t intend to convey this with our language) from many of us that simply HAVING same-sex attraction means that they are impenitent unbelievers who cannot receive forgiveness.

    Unfortunately that is just not true.
    Matt insists that jb or somebody else answer the question: HOW EXACTLY DOES EXPERIENCING TEMPTATION INVALIDATE BAPTISM??? (sic!). Thus, Matt is implicitly making the untrue point that Pastor Harris and jb have said that it does, which, by the way, is not correct.

    Matt makes the point one should definitely use caps to make one’s point.

    Matt makes the point that Pastor Harris “withholds that forgiveness from those who experience same sex temptation without even asking if they are repentant” although Pastor Harris has clarified that this is not his position.

    Matt makes the point, based on what is obviously a misunderstanding (since a clarification has specified it) that “What Harris demonstrates is not theological acumen but theological sloppiness”.

    Matt makes the point, that Pastor Harris’ original posting is “really stupid and evil theology statements that lock heaven to repentant sinners” – again, name-calling aside, after it has been clarified that it is not the meaning of the original post.

    These are other points, and significant ones, than merely “that many who struggle with same-sex attraction hear (even though we don’t intend to convey this with our language) from many of us that simply HAVING same-sex attraction means that they are impenitent unbelievers who cannot receive forgiveness.”

    You might, by the way, note that in the first response to the original posted I requested that Pastor Harris validate, or at least respond to, a much similar point.

  6. @jb #50

    Honestly, Jb, have you understood a word I’ve written?

    Yes! Same-sex attraction flows from concupiscence and IS sin! Matt and I are simply pointing out that the language of pastor Harris’ article gives the impression that simply HAVING same-sex attraction means that one can’t possibly be a repentant Christian – and pastor Harris’ HIMSELF saw the need to clarify the meaning of his original article (which was NOT obvious!) to avoid this confusion. So, what’s the problem?

  7. Pastor Tom Eckstein :
    @Jim Pierce #49
    Matt and I were simply pointing out that his original article “as worded” gives the impression (especially to those not well grounded in the teaching of Scripture) that a person cannot have same-sex attraction and be a repentant Christian at the same time.

    Again, not true.
    Although it might have been all that you intended to point out.

    The enemy of my opponent is not always one to whom I would want to bind myself too tightly.

  8. @jb #50

    P.S. I don’t even know who “Gary” is, so your reference to him means nothing to me. I rarely post on this blog (in fact, I think this is only the third time I’ve commented on some article or blog post). The only reason I’m here is that some who read pastor Harris’ article were very concerned about what the language implied (which is why pastor Harris himself saw the need to give a clarification) and thus I have given my input.

  9. @Jais H. Tinglund #11

    O.K. I’m trying to put the best construction on MATT’S intentions – even though I admit some may view his language as inflammatory. I can’t address Matt’s choice of words. He will havce to speak for himself. But if some view Matt’s language as a bit over-the-top and maybe too hard on pastor Harris, then also at least consider how much the language of pastor Harris’ original article hurt Matt (and others like him) and caused him spiritual torment.

  10. Pastor Tom Eckstein :
    He will havce to speak for himself.

    That is pretty much what I am suggesting.
    Not only your “Amen” suggested otherwise, though, but also, and even more so, your emphatic statement that “Amen” was all I can say in response to Matt’s posting – by a so emphatic statement of absolute approval it seems to me that you have already addressed Matt’s choice of words, and afforded it your unreserved endorsement.
    Now you have clarified that such was not your intention. Again, fair enough.

    Pastor Tom Eckstein :
    But if some view Matt’s language as a bit over-the-top and maybe too hard on pastor Harris, then also at least consider how much the language of pastor Harris’ original article hurt Matt (and others like him) and caused him spiritual torment.

    Yes, I can see how that would make it good and right and decent to claim in such derogatory language that Pastor Harris hold positions he has clarified that he, in fact, does not hold; that would be no way, nohow …

  11. I have added the clarification to the bottom of the article since we have now gone to multiple pages of comments.

    Pastor Eckstein, does being hurt justify hurting others? You defend Matt. No matter what gets written you can’t avoid how some will read it. Pastor Harris has clarified what he said. You continue to defend Matt, it seems to me like you have a bias towards something or someone.

    I find Matt and your comments to be very much presumptive of Pastor Harris and other commenters and your “Amen” after Matt wrote what he did was uncalled for. You did not specify what you were saying Amen to.

  12. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #16

    No, being hurt does not justify hurting others. I think Matt would also agree to that.

    Again, as I noted in a previous post, my “Amen!” to what Matt said was merely INTENDED (and I confess that my language did not clearly convey my INTENTION) to support Matt’s concern that the original wording of pastor Harris’ article gave the impression that merely HAVING same-sex attraction means one is an impenitent sinner. I appreciate pastor Harris’ clarification and I know that was not what he intended his original article to convey. However, since my “Amen” to Matt’s words have given offense, I ask for forgiveness.

    I do wish to make one other observation. Why are some on this board so quick to point out Matt’s inappropriate inflammatory language but are not just as quick to point out the confusing language in pastor Harris’ original article and how he assumes the worst of the 1999 “A Plan…” and reads into what they were trying to say as though they were saying that same-sex lust is NOT sin? They were NOT saying that!

  13. Pastor Tom Eckstein :
    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #16
    I do wish to make one other observation. Why are some on this board so quick to point out Matt’s inappropriate inflammatory language but are not just as quick to point out the confusing language in pastor Harris’ original article and how he assumes the worst of the 1999 “A Plan…” and reads into what they were trying to say as though they were saying that same-sex lust is NOT sin? They were NOT saying that!

    Let me just, mustering as much modesty as is within my capabilities (which, according to my wife, is really not all that much), point out that in the very first comment posted to the original posting I did inquire as to what would be Pastor Harris’ alternative to the approach of the 1999 “Plan” – and that I have a couple of times expressed my gratitude for your clarifications in that regard.

    But you are probably right that some of us tend to be more tolerant toward human frailty resulting in confusing language than toward directly malicious and rude behaviour such as the employment of demeaning and defamatory language …

  14. @Pastor Tom Eckstein #5

    I guess at this point we have come to having arguments over words which St. Paul forbids. Asking for and receiving clarification is one thing. Continuing to argue about the thing after it is clarified is another.

    A constructive comment such as, “It would have been better if Pr. Harris had said…” is more helpful. It doesn’t impugn Pr. Harris, or ascribe the misunderstanding and mishearing of his audience to being his motivations or his intentions, but simply helps others see a more helpful way forward.

    Having read “A Plan” at this point, I understand the distinction you are trying to emphasize in your comments here with regard to the distinction between the individual who has same-sex attraction and is also a Christian. I think your underlying point is valid – that the individual who is a believer and struggles against same-sex attraction should not be made to think that on account of their struggle they are not saved. That said, I think the synechdoche of “homosexual Christian” pushes the language too far in the other direction.

    Ink and electrons aren’t that expensive… it would seem that a more clear way of making the distinction that “A Plan” wishes to emphasize would be to express it as I did above, “an individual who has same-sex attraction and is also a Christian” or “an individual believer that struggles with same-sex attraction.” This identifies the struggle with the sinful nature as part of the life of the individual who is a Christian without conflating the “Christian” (more properly considered the regenerate man or the “saint” of the saint/sinner dichotomy) with the sinful nature that is to be daily drown and put to death in baptism. Would you agree that this is a better way to express what you are trying to say and be a more clear way to “differentiate” between the Christian Saint and the unholy sinner?

    After the resurrection, there will be no same-sex desire – neither will there be murderous desire – within the Christian who is raised to eternal life in Christ (about those destined for damnation, I have no idea nor will I speculate). Therefore, properly speaking, there can be no such thing as a “Christian murderer”. There can be an individual who has murdered and is a Christian, but murder is not part of Christianity.

    This distinction is even further muddied in “A Plan” when it says, “God’s grace and the inclusion of the baptized into the family of God are fully present in the person of homosexual orientation.” (p. 29 – right after the statement, “2. Sexual orientation does not invalidate Holy Baptism
    “). I don’t think the authors intended what is expressed by those words. What is expressed by those words is that God’s grace is fully present IN the OLD SINFUL NATURE.

    (1) This sentence comes close to teaching the gratia infusa of Rome, but I’ll leave that aside…
    (2) I’ll also leave aside the confusing concept of “inclusion of the baptized into the family” being “fully present in [a] person”…
    (3) Focusing rather on “grace … [being] fully present in [a] person” – I will give the benefit of the doubt and take “grace” here as meaning the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. However, the sentence “as written” violates the language of Paul that indicates that the Spirit is at war with the Flesh (old sinful nature) and the Flesh (old sinful nature) with the Spirit. It is true that the Holy Spirit dwells in those in whom the old sinful nature still inheres and remains. But, St. Paul is able to distinguish between “Christ living in me” and “Sin which dwells in my members”. It seems we would do well to pattern ourselves after his sound words and not claim that Christ dwells where sin reigns as this statement “as written” does.

    Finally, once again back to my original question pertaining to language that has been labelled the “most inflamitory” in this discussion as it has proceeded here and in other places:

    In “A Plan,” the concept of the sin of same-sex lust “invalidating Baptism” is used. Pr. Harris picks up on this language and concept, but it does not originate with him, it originates with “A Plan”. Where does this language of “invalidating Baptism” come from? Where and how does any sin “invalidate Baptism”? And do you consider this language of “invalidating Baptism” a proper conceptualization of the relationship between Baptism and sin?

    From the foregoing – I think we can ALL agree that we have allowed our language to be sloppy on this topic and have failed in our attempts at clarity. Sometimes the pendulum has swung one way and sometimes the other. It seems we would ALL do much better to focus our efforts at constructively seeking to clarify both our own language and seek to ask questions that clarify the language of others – rather than impugning the intentions and motivations of the other party.

    Pr. Harris sees a danger in the language used by “A Plan” and in the LW article and was identifying that danger. The LW article and “A Plan” were formulated to militate against the opposite danger. It seems, that the ensuing turf war has done nothing but harm the good will of people who love and care for sinners for whom Christ died should have for one another – and we are all the poorer for it.

  15. The problem with this article surfaces in the opening sentence. “We have failed homosexuals.” It buys into the notion that “homosexual” is a category of humanity. The Scriptures speak of circumcised/uncircumcised, slave/free, male/female, all of which are transcended in Christ. The Scriptures also speak of believer/unbeliever or saint/sinner, though the “simul” forbids us from making those categorical. The Scriptures do not recognize homosexual/heterosexual. Sexual desires or conduct do not shape identity. This is a fundamental error that causes the rest of the paper to go off the rails. We should not let the world frame our preaching/teaching of the Law and the Gospel.

  16. @William M. Cwirla #20
    Sexual desires or conduct do not shape identity. This is a fundamental error that causes the rest of the paper to go off the rails. We should not let the world frame our preaching/teaching of the Law and the Gospel.

    Since you mention it, Pr. Cwirla, is there “A PLAN” to help teach our young heterosexuals that “friends with benefits”, “shacking up”, “one night stands”, “sleeping around” or any other designation for sex before marriage is not in the best interest of sustainable marriages?
    We knew that once, just as we knew that marriage was for life. Where did those truths get lost?

    We spend an awful lot of time talking about the problems of the -+ 2% that the world/the devil wants to focus on, and almost none on the majority of our young people. There is a lot of pressure from the schools and society to be a heterosexual sinner, and near silence from the church on the subject of helping people deal with that.

  17. @Rev. MD #19

    Thanks for your well thought out response. Since I just found out one of my 42 year old members died of a sudden heart attack – leaving behind a wife and 3 children – I will have to get back to focusing on ministry in my congregation and so I won’t have time to give a thorough response to your post or to be involved with further discussion on this thread in the coming days.

    Having said that, let me say that I agree with you that the 1999 “A Plan…” could have used less confusing language that making a distinction between “homosexual orientation” and “homosexual behavior.” As you point out with your own suggestions, I would have preferred making a distinction between a repentant believer who struggles with same-sex desires versus an impenitent unbeliever who affirms his/her same-sex desires and/or behavior. Those who authored the 1999 “A Plan…” were not intending to teach what some accuse them of teaching, but I do agree that its language could be improved. But the way, those serving on the “God’s Gift of Sexuality Task Force” are aware of this and will strive to use language that is less confusing. Thanks for you input!

  18. @William M. Cwirla #20

    I agree! Which is why when I address this issue I try to make a conscious effort to speak of people who struggle with same-sex desires rather than speaking of such people as “homosexuals.” But world has used “homosexual” so often that I even find myself using that term by habit (because of hearing it so often) if I do not make a conscious effort to NOT speak that way.

  19. helen :
    @William M. Cwirla #20
    Sexual desires or conduct do not shape identity. This is a fundamental error that causes the rest of the paper to go off the rails. We should not let the world frame our preaching/teaching of the Law and the Gospel.
    Since you mention it, Pr. Cwirla, is there “A PLAN” to help teach our young heterosexuals that “friends with benefits”, “shacking up”, “one night stands”, “sleeping around” or any other designation for sex before marriage is not in the best interest of sustainable marriages?
    We knew that once, just as we knew that marriage was for life. Where did those truths get lost?
    We spend an awful lot of time talking about the problems of the -+ 2% that the world/the devil wants to focus on, and almost none on the majority of our young people. There is a lot of pressure from the schools and society to be a heterosexual sinner, and near silence from the church on the subject of helping people deal with that.

    Helen, I agree with you!

    Whenever I’m invited to speak somewhere on the issue of “homosexuality” (this is the term people use, whether we like it or not) I begin by thoroughly discussing what Scripture teaches about Marriage and Sex (in that order!) in a POSITIVE sense and then I go on to discuss how sin distorts God’s very good plan for our sexuality – and I begin by showing discussing various HETEROsexual sins that, sadly, even the church has “winked” at compared to how forcefully it has rebuked same-sex desire and behavior. Most of children know that the church teaches we should save sex for marriage, but they don’t know WHY – and we need to teach them WHY so they can begin to reject the sinful nonsense of our culture which reduces the sex act to using another person as an object of one’s own sexual gratification.

  20. To everyone on this blog, I will no longer have time to get back here and respond to posts because of duties in my congregation. So, I’m not ignoring you. I just have other things that need my attention. God Bless!

  21. helen :
    Since you mention it, Pr. Cwirla, is there “A PLAN” to help teach our young heterosexuals that “friends with benefits”, “shacking up”, “one night stands”, “sleeping around” or any other designation for sex before marriage is not in the best interest of sustainable marriages?

    One of the problems in this regard is that there is no consensus about this issue in Synod – not only when it comes to practice, but also as to whether or not it is even legitimate to begin with to consider sexual relations prior to marriage a sinful activity.

    I experienced this lack of consensus among Pastors as a very destructive element in my precious parish.

    And just to illustrate to which degree consensus is lacking: my former District President saw and, as far as I know, still sees no problem in writing in a public letter to one of my former congregations that the conflict some of the members had with me about this issue, Closed Communion, and other similar matters “”is not a matter of doctrine, or preaching, or teaching, but is more a matter of “personal issues”.

    I kid you not!

  22. @Jais H. Tinglund #26
    And just to illustrate to which degree consensus is lacking: my former District President saw and, as far as I know, still sees no problem in writing in a public letter to one of my former congregations that the conflict some of the members had with me about this issue, Closed Communion, and other similar matters “”is not a matter of doctrine, or preaching, or teaching, but is more a matter of “personal issues”.

    I kid you not!

    Oh, I believe you! It’s almost : “Well, s/he is sleeping with the opposite sex; at least we can be relieved that s/he is not lesbian or gay.”

    [No guarantee of that either! There are a couple of more letters to that acronym. It seems to sprout another every year or so.

    @Pastor Tom Eckstein #25 ]

    I’m not sure that “most” of the children do know that sex should be saved for marriage. They are not necessarily going to get that information even from some of the pastors, as Pr Tinglund points out. For the future of the church, which is the next generation, perhaps some serious thought should be given to the subject. It sounds like it needs to start with BOC classes for the council of presidents!

  23. @William M. Cwirla #20
    Apparently you did not read the whole article.

    @Pastor Tom Eckstein #5
    Can you read an article in context before launching into misdirected diatribe? The clear context of the article is 1 Cor 6. Pr. Harris speaks like Paul speaks. Perhaps a couple of lines in the article could have been said a little better or clearer. Even so, I suggest we’ll get a much better product out of Pr. Harris if we would toss the ’99 “plan” in the trash, disband whatever the current task force is, and just let Pr. Harris write.

  24. Jesus speaks against divorce. Paul speaks against homosexuality. Yet our church allows divorce and condemns homosexual behavior. We should condemn both or neither or we continue to be hypocrites.

  25. @Eugene #29

    There are those of us who are quite disturbed at our church’s lax divorce policy. We do have many items to address. Don’t really let us skate by on that….

  26. @Eugene #29
    Jesus’ words and Paul’s words are both God’s Word.

    Just because the focus of the article and the comments on it has been on the issue of homosexuality does not mean that the people you write to are necessarily permissive of unbiblical divorce. That is your assumption projected upon them. Among the pastors I know personally who have written for or commented on this website I am unaware of any who teach that unbiblical divorce is acceptable. I know personally of some of these pastors who have had to go to the extent of church discipline in cases like these.

    I don’t know which church you mean by “our church,” because you have not identified it. I would suggest that if this is going on in your congregation that you speak with your pastor about it.

    But there are two other things to think about in your line of reasoning.

    The first is that you are arguing the possibility that two wrongs can make a right. Even in human logic this is known as a fallacy (a form of Tu quoque). The real issue is whether or not we are admitting real sin before God as He declares it in His Word. We cannot use a perceived lack of consistency as an excuse to sin more (Rom. 6). The very fact that you would make this argument is cause for concern. If you do actually believe that Jesus’ words and Paul’s words are God’s Word, then why would you pit them against each other as if failure in one annuls the other? I am going to assume that you are sincere in this and encourage you to think about the danger your argument presents in excusing sin and placing an offense in front of others that would lead them to accept and do what God calls sin.

    The second is that you are using what is known as an “Appeal to hypocrisy” (another form of the Ad Hominem: Tu quoque fallacy). Unbiblical divorce and homosexuality are sins because God’s Word says so. They do not cease to be sins because a sinner is inconsistent in his faith, words, or actions. Neither can the inconsistency of the sinner be taken as a legitimate cause to set aside God’s Word on any matter.

    What your appeal to hypocrisy actually does is:

    1: It causes the reader to look at your claim to follow Jesus and Paul, then your pitting them against each other to undermine them.

    2: It causes the reader to evaluate your willingness to suggest that homosexual behavior should be allowed because of what you allege your church allows with regard to unbiblical divorce.

    What you wrote is actually a personal attack dressed up as if it were a rational argument. The Tu quoque statements are Ad Hominem attacks that belittle those who disagree with you. Your charge of hypocrisy might be right, but your statements do not advance your claim on the basis of Scripture. Rather, you use the fear of being labeled a hypocrite as the basis for advancing your claims.

  27. @Joe Abrahamson #31
    I am not entirely convinced that what Eugene is advocating is necessarily that we neglect Biblical preaching and practice on both counts rather than that we do on neither …

  28. @Jais H. Tinglund #32
    Yes, that’s why I wrote:
    ” I am going to assume that you are sincere in this and encourage you to think about the danger your argument presents in excusing sin and placing an offense in front of others that would lead them to accept and do what God calls sin.”

    But Eugene made an all-or-nothing statement doubled with the accusation of hypocrisy. If he didn’t mean that I hope he can learn what he was actually doing, and that he can learn rather to advance his argument based on Scripture and clear reason. In the other case, I would hope that he could learn to be more candid.

  29. @William M. Cwirla #20
    Dear Manly Doctor Reverend Cwirla,
    I suggest that you read Pastor Harris’ post again. If I understand it correctly, I think that it makes the very same point that you do. The whole purpose of Pastor Harris’ post is to expose that the LC-MS task force is making the same unbiblical distinctions that you say ought not be made, and that this is just the first step on the same path of other “Lutherans”. The first sentence of the post does not, as you say, buy into the notion that “homosexuals” are a different category of humanity; Rather, it opens with an assertion that the Law and the Gospel ought to be preached to their fullest, and that failing to call concupiscence sin is failing him who would call himself a “gay christian”.

  30. “Homosexual orientation is not a sin.” (from the CTCR document)

    That’s true. It isn’t. It is also true that the sinful nature is not a sin. But we still confess it. (“We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean, AND that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.”)

    Questioning the idea of homosexual orientation is not the way to go. No matter what you want to call it instead, the fact remains that some people involuntarily desire homosexual contact. And we need to distinguish between those who fight this as a sinful temptation, and those who accept and act on it–just as we do with every other temptation.

  31. 1) Those involuntary desires are not nearly as strong, and besides they are nearly universal. They don’t demarcate a group of people.

    2) I expect you appreciate it when people (esp the IRS) distinguish between those who do cheat on their taxes, and those who would just like to.

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