A Few Shocking Quotes from the Sexuality Statement Adopted by the ELCA Today, by Pr. Rossow

I mentioned in an earlier post that I did not think that I would get much time for examination of the ELCA convention this week but as it turns out  I did get time to watch the convention in the late afternoon and early evening. My time was a little tight today because I had an elders meeting to prepare for this evening. As it turned out I was able to use some of the material from the ELCA Assembly for our elders Bible study and have some time before bed to get the material on the site tonight.


(By the way, as usual we had a wonderful elders meeting. One of our bits of business was to review the vitas of Matt Harrison and Herb Mueller. Our elders have decided to recommend that our voters nominate these two gentlemen for president and vice president of the synod at our own synod convention next summer. We recommend that your congregation do the same. This website will  provide some help to that end.)


There are two major teaching documents that the ELCA is considering this week. The first is on Sexuality in general and the second one is about allowing actively homosexual clergy to be accepted in the ELCA. Debate on the second one begins tomorrow afternoon. Debate on the first one concluded today with the assembly passing the statement by a two to one margin.


The statement adopted today included several positive things, such as condemnation of pornography and child abuse and support for traditional marriage. However, digging into the statement reveals the true character of the ELCA. The ELCA is  a post-modern denomination that embraces qualified “truth” based on community dialogue and is not an orthodox church that finds truth revealed in Scripture. Below are a few quotes from the document that will give you an idea how heterodox and even heretical this denomination has become. It should also give us in the LCMS pause as we consider how our own synod has slipped into a non-doctrinally based approach to church. The approach in the LCMS has yet to produce such shocking results but the basic method is similar. These sorts of changes did not happen overnight in the ELCA. The fundamentalism of Jerry Kieschnick and his merry band of church growthers will hold this sort of antinomianism at bay in the LCMS for a while but their pragmatist orientation will in the long-run erode the orthodoxy of moral doctrine in the LCMS.


The first quote demonstrates how the ELCA has changed the question from “What is right or wrong in sexual matters according to Scripture?” to “How should we respond to others sexual choices based on the love of God?” This is a shift away from discovering what the text of the Bible says to limiting  what the Bible says based on the extra-Biblical principles of tolerance and  “love trumps all,” even the moral facts of the Bible. (To view the entire ELCA statement click here.)


(line 53) This social statement addresses the question: how do we understand human sexuality within the context of Jesus’ invitation to love God and love our neighbor (Romans 13:9–10; Galatians 5:14)?


This is antinomianism (opposed to laws) and Gospel-reductionism (reducing the law out Scripture leaving only the Gospel).


This next quote shows that the ELCA does theology on the basis of consensus and not on the basis of scripture and the confessions.


(line 623) This church also acknowledges that consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same gender committed relationships, even after many years of thoughtful, respectful, and faithful study and conversation. We do not have agreement on whether this church should honor these relationships, uplift, shelter and protect them, or on precisely how it is appropriate to do so.


The ELCA has now admitted that they do not have consensus on sexual morality. So, what do they do? They simply endorse multiple and contradictory views. In true post-modern tolerance the statement endorses those who think that homosexuality is a sin but then it also goes on to endorse those who approve of homosexuality.


(line 638) On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law. They believe same-gender sexual behavior carries the grave danger of unrepentant sin. They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle. Such decisions are intended to be accompanied by pastoral response and community support.


A few lines later they contradict themselves and say this.


(line 660) On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage. They surround such couples and their lifelong commitments with prayer to live in ways that glorify God, find strength for the challenges that will be faced, and serve others. They believe same gender couples should avail themselves of social and legal support for themselves, their children and other dependents, and seek the highest legal accountability available for their relationships.

In the end this statement of the ELCA allows both approaches. This is  just another example of what happens when a  denomination  stops basing doctrine and practice on Scripture and instead turns to public opinion, or more specifically, “community dilogue,”  as the foundation of thier teaching.


Notice also that the ELCA bases morality on one’s conscience. They actually think they are being Lutheran by doing this since Luther based his stand against Rome on the binding of his conscience. What they are missing though is that Luther’s conscience was not bound by some sort of post-modern, existentialist, ELCA bold act of courage. No, Luther states clearly that his conscience was bound by Scripture.


It has taken time but the ELCA has now nearly entirely forsaken their grandfather’s church. President Kieschnick likewise wants to forsake his grandfather’s church. He has not gone as far as the ELCA but the reasoning is the same – change for the sake of being more pleasing to the culture. That is why the elders at my congregation  are recommending that our voters nominate Matt Harrison for synodical president and we hope your voters will as well. It is time to clarify that doctrine and practice are to be based on the revealed word of God and not on making a church that is pleasing to the culture. The ELCA convention is a wake-up call for the LCMS.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


A Few Shocking Quotes from the Sexuality Statement Adopted by the ELCA Today, by Pr. Rossow — 16 Comments

  1. It has taken me a long while to try to figure out the motivation behind Protestant denominations like the Episcopal and now ELCA’s actions – especially this particular item on human sexuality. Then, the light bulb came on a few weeks ago when I was reading an article by Scott Clark (a Confessional Reformed theologian) on the Episcopal church’s election of a woman as presiding bishop and its own ruling on gay clergy. He calls it “over-realized eschatology.” Here’s a quote:

    “…In most enterprises, anyone who pushed 100,000 people out would be considered a failure, but not so the American religious left. This is partly because they are social and religious elites who take comfort in not being dirtied by hol polloi but also because they are possessed by an over-realized eschatology. The Kingdom of God is or is soon to be wholly realized in the earth. They believe that, with the right social and religious policies, they can achieve it. They really believe it. As Machen said in 1923, Christianity and Liberalism are two different religions.

    Right-wing non-confessional religion (American fundamentalism) is equally elite, in its own populist way, and equally possessed by an over-realized eschatology. Where the left-wingers think in corporate terms the right-wingers think in individualist terms but the lefties and the righties are two sides of the same eschatological coin. This is why they tussle as they do in Washington, because they are siblings. They both want control of the temporal social and religious levers of power in order to achieve their social utopian goals. In the same way Jerry Falwell could see the Kingdom of God nigh unto earth during the Reagan administration so the lefties can almost hear the angels singing now during the Obama administration: Cap and Trade, healthcare, higher CAFE standards. It’s oh so tantalizingly close…” [1]

    Clark makes a good point. Those in charge of the ELCA think they’re actually carrying out Jesus’ commands in the NT by championing social justice, which they interpret through the warped eyes of modern liberalism to mean acceptance of everyone and every viewpoint, regardless of how decadent they might seem to the rest of us.

    I suppose it should come as no surprise, since the ELCA’s roots can easily be traced back to 17th Century Pietists, particularly August Francke. But there are things going on today that would make even those original Pietists cringe.

    [1] R.Scott Clark, “The Presiding Bishop’s Over-Realized Eschatology,” The Heidelblog, July 15, 2009.

  2. I have just a few tiny questions with this,

    If it was JUST passed yesterday, how is it that GLBT clergy & laity took part in the evening get together, if it was NOT accepted & operating already?

    Does anyone know if any of LCMS RSO’s are involved in, GLBT organizations which support, are involved or are friendly to this “cause”?

    Is this subject, which I think (?) has been tabled at past conventions coming up again next year?

    Will the LCMS continue it’s fellowship/communion with ELCA now?

    Are we not in joint fellowship with Lutheran World Missions, i.e.- ELCE & SELK as examples?

    Any answers or more info available?

  3. Pastor – thank you for your excellent summary of events and personal comments. As an LCMS member who is considering leaving the LCMS church this discussion is enlightening and familiar.

    I grew up in California where my father was an Episcopal Priest who fought against the liberal leadership. I watched him attacked for defending the Scriptures. After a long fight he left the church as did my entire family. It is so sad to see the same thing happen to the ELCA and I do fear the same will eventually come to the LCMS.

    The cracks in the armor are already there by way of leadership and this is what is frightening. I saw it and lived it with the Episcopal Church. If there is any weakness at all there will be division and exploitation of that weakness. I believe it is good to stand up and proclaim what is right – which is why I applaud you and your colleagues – but now I question what am I fighting for? If President Kleischnick is so sensitive to “pleasing the culture” how can we expect Pastors to do any differently?

    Can you tell me why I should not leave the LCMS for the Orthodox Church? Can you tell me what the LCMS will believe in when my children are 40 years old? It is time to return to the ancient roots of the church – be that the Lutheran or other … for if we don’t we only have to look at the ELCA convention for a glimpse of the future.

    In Christ,


  4. As far as I know, we’re not currently in altar/pulpit fellowship with the ELCA.

    It is things like this that tend to illustrate why that is.

  5. Thank you for your excellent summary and thoughtful comments. it is nice to see sanity brought to such issues.

    As a former Episcopalian and daughter of an Episcopal Priest it is sad to see the ELCA descend into the abyss. I watched my father attacked for defending the Scriptures. Needless to say our entire family left the church – or should I say the church left us. As a current member of the LCMS I am concerned. I don’t want to see the LCMS go down the same path but I do not see how they avoid it in the long term when leadership can not stand firm on basic issues – as discussed above.

    The common denominator in all modern day failing churches is weak, misguided leadership. I wonder how can that be when Christ is our leader … well, maybe Christ is no longer the Head of the church when Pastors supplant His will …. evidence – the ELCA convention.

    What will be left of the LCMS for my children? Why should I stay in the LCMS and not leave for a representation of the early church that does not waiver in the face of societal pressures? The Orthodox Church is the fastest growing church in America and I can see why. They will not even entertain such heterodox views. If President Kieschnik is willing to “change for the sake of being more pleasing to the culture” than we are doomed. In the face of changing culture we need CERTAIN leadership to bring the flock through uncertain times.

    There are good Christians who are defending the Faith – thanks be to God. Thank you for your part in that effort.

    In Christ,

  6. In regard to the tragic vote of the ELCA, I ponder the question: Who permits us to vote on doctrine in the first place? In their vote, the ELCA set up for themselves Reason as an idol in which they say the Word of God is contained. This pseudo-bibliolatry flies in the face of our quia subscription which takes everything our Lord has taught in all seriousness and reverence.

    Of course, we who stand firm against the ELCA’s disregard for the Word of God stand firm on the revealed clarity our Lord gives us. Homosexuality is, indeed, an abomination in the order of God’s creating marriage. Yet, even so, hpermission of homosexuality as a viable alternative puts another Gospel in the place of the true one founded and grounded in Christ Jesus alone.

    God in His self-giving favor gave us marriage between one man and one woman as a portrait of His Church. (Eph. 5:21-33) Christ cleansed her from every blemish, stain, and wrinkle. How? He baptizes us into the holy Christian faith, just as He has died once for the sins of the whole world. He chose us, not vice versa.

    Luther’s explanation of the Apostles’ Creed’s third article reminds us all that we did not and do not come to Christ by our own reason or strength. To do so is to attempt at bringing Christ down to our level or at raising him up to our supposed standards.
    The creation of a social statement on homosexuality by the ELCA, furthermore, puts that “church” body in the position of adopting a morbid decision theology in which they replace Holy Scripture with society’s winds of change as their flexible source and norm for teaching and life.

    With that being said, how clearly Holy Scripture holds the same standard to us–never to isolate any one doctrine or group of doctrines as more relevant than another. The same Word of God which condemns homosexuality also forbids unworthy participation at our Lord’s altar where He, through His called and ordained servants, distributes His body and blood for us Christians to eat and to drink. The same Holy Scripture which condemns homosexuality as a violation of God’s Law calls us to repent of those sins of which we know and of which we don’t know. Even so, that same Word of God, because of which we subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions (quia) declares free, undeserved unmerited forgiveness to all who repent of our disobedience and trust in Christ alone.

    For Jesus has knitted us, His body, in the true faith, called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, justified, sanctified, promised to keep us holy till His return. In this Christian Church, Jesus truly forgives us our sins of thought, word, and action, of which we are heartily sorry and of which we truly repent. Thanks be to God, our Savior, who calls from darkness of every kind into His marvelous, saving light. (Col. 1:13)

  7. The Orthodox Church is the fastest growing church in America and I can see why. They will not even entertain such heterodox views.

    Eastern ‘Orthodoxy’ is, by definition, heterodox. It does not give glory fully and solely to God, but shares God’s glory with Man.

    It is simply a different manifestation of the same thing.


  8. Rev. Stefanski– as one who has recently been on a different side of a discussion with you, let me say add a resounding “Amen!” to your last posting. You are right on the money–the Eastern Church simply practices what I can “Man’s Religion” (works) as opposed to God’s Religion (faith in Christ).
    I will reproduce below for you and for Kristen my most recent (2:37 today) posting on the “Leaving the ELCA” Blog. Before that, however, I’d like to add that it seems to me that those churches who are joining the homosexual bandwagon simply want to be liked & accepted by the culture, and would rather offend God and their many faithful members that offend the culture. It may have nothing to do with religion, Christianity, or in the case of the ELCA, Lutheranism. Now my most recent posting:

    #46 by Johannes — August 20, 2009 @ 2:37 pm


    It is a heavy and sad thing to leave one’s congregation, let alone the entire denomination. Those whom I know who have left the ELCA did not do it easily or readily. They struggled with the decision, often for several years. As one who left my congregation after half a lifetime, I know. It was necessary for my spiritual and emotional well-being, but it was an agonizing decision.

    Yet I would caution against leaving the LCMS, for anything but a more confessional/conservative Lutheran body (and they are not without their issues). One could hardly call the Orthodox religion a truly orthodox denomination: that is, one truly in conformity with scripture. Will you pray to the Virgin Mary and to the saints if you join? One cannot pick and choose which doctrines one prefers, kind of compartmentalizing their faith. The LCMS is deeply troubled and flawed, but I for one, do not believe that politics alone will bring us back to true orthodoxy. The LCMS still has a lot going for it, however, and I would hope that you could find an LCMS congregation not too distant where the Gospel is purely preached and the sacraments rightly administered.

  9. Pastor Stefanski,

    Right on. Eastern Orthodoxy is yet another attempt by man to elevate himself or bring Christ to our level. Thanks be to God, Christ Jesus didn’t need any bringing by our efforts or our self-elevation. He came to us, shows us His Word and Sacraments, where He locates Himself for our salvation, and all this apart from our worthiness.

    The Eastern Orthodox adherents seek as much solace in things done ex opera operato as do the traditional Roman Catholics. Just so, the liberals subscribing to the social “gospel” of “tolerance” seek a saving/transforming process.

    Thanks be to God who doesn’t work that way. He declares us righteous for the sake of His Sole-Begotten Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

  10. Thank you for your kind comments Johannes. It is agonizing leaving a church you grew up in – let along having your own Father as the Priest.

    I am not defending the Orthodox Church, I am not Orthodox. However I would say some people on this blog are not very educated on what Orthodox believe.

    I would question if you could defend the LCMS on their short comings? I often wonder why we accept putting the blood of Christ in a plastic cup and then throw it in the garbage?

    Why is there a “jumbo-tron” in my church and why is it BIGGER than the cross above the alter?

    Does the high-tech sound system for the rock band that goes with the jumbo-tron suppose to ADD to my spiritual experience? Is this the God-centered church we should support?

    The list goes on – but this is all such a difficult thing for me to do. I have never blogged before … don’t like it after doing it. Perfection does not exist in this world, but we should know better than to go down this road after witnessing the ELCA example.

    Thank you again for your comments. Searching for the right answer is difficult but this is worth it.

  11. Kristen,
    Keep blogging.

    Don’t be discouraged there are very good LCMS Churches that are out there. Don’t throw in the towel yet.

    I happen to belong to a very true to Lutheran LCMS Church.

    Yes we have the little plastic cups but I will say that they are not just thrown away! We have some very diligent people that clean and properly care for these. (Hi Cindy).

    Move to a more confessional LCMS church They are out there.
    If in fact things go astray I will also be looking. But I can tell you that our pastor(s) will show me how to proceed. Keep in touch here and be vigilant.

    John Hooss
    The intelligent donkey (at times)

  12. Kristen
    Don’t just tie yourself to LCMS. If there is no solid, confessional LCMS congregation near you, look to WELS, ELS or any of the smaller confessional Lutheran bodies. If you search them out, you will find them.

    Bill, the fire starter, uncivilized lump of coal and official speedbump

  13. The recent decisions by the ELCA and the Episcopal Church to allow homosexuals to be members of church clergy is now bringing one of the hottest topics in current events to the front page in the spiritual lives of a large swath of Christians. This movement has been coined as a “modern” and “progressive” movement of the Christian Church to catch up to what is considered to be modern thinking. First of all, please allow me to mention that Scripture comments that a Church is created when any two or more people gather to worship the Lord. Therefore, the Church, as well as Faith, is not an institution of man, but rather, an institution of God. It is easy for folks to get confused with this important fact, as obviously man’s participation in this is required for the establishment of a Church. As a self-centered people, humans that are devoid of a relationship with God inevitably default to their own idealistic/ethnocentric view of what they wish to worship. In short, it is easier for people to worship something they have created since it serves their own purpose, instead of being a Servant to God. Obviously, we know this to be idolatry in its truest sense. We run the risk of creating the same falsehood if we delude ourselves into thinking that what Scripture has expressly called sinful is not really sinful. As Christians, we are obligated to confess to God our sins. We are not suppose to justify ourselves before God by making excuses why we have sinned against Him, or call our transgressions anything other that what they are. Our justification comes from Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin.
    The question that is posed by my miniscule mind to the recent ELCA view on homosexuality is that I wonder if we as a people are endorsing sin by allowing homosexuals to be leaders in the Church. Let’s consider that everyone that has been called to the Lord’s service are in fact sinners. The only exception to this in history has been Jesus Christ. When you go to Church on Sunday and listen to a sermon from your priest, you should be aware that this person is a sinner, just like yourself. Also, Scripture also makes clear that in God’s eyes, all Sins are Evil and are an abomination.
    As Christians, it is not our place to condemn our brothers and sisters for their sins. Rather, we exist to encourage each other to struggle and avoid sin. In both of these instances, my experience has been that the modern Christian church is falling short. We are neither doing a very good job of loving and accepting those who have and are living a sinful life. We are thereby deluding ourselves in the same breath because we are creating the illusion that we ourselves are no longer living a sinful life. This effect then creates a push-pull effect to funnel folks into groups that believe that we should not encourage each other to avoid a sinful life. I have observed and felt this destructive dynamic for my entire life. People standing in judgement of others, instead of God being the judge of all people.
    In short, the Enemy is Sin itself and not other people. All Sins are equally as bad, not just the Sin that we choose to declare is more wrong than the other kinds of Sin. Has anyone in the Christian Church pondered the following questions:

    1) All clergy members of the Christian church are indeed sinners. Should the Church discern between one form of sin over another since no sin is acceptable in God’s eyes? If it is not acceptable for a homosexual to be a pastor, then would it also be a mistake for an adulterer or a drunkard to be a pastor in a Christian church? If we exempted sinners from becoming clergy in the Christian church, would there be any clergy at all or perhaps just the ones we choose to be more acceptable and presentable by human standards?

    2) If we do allow homosexuals to become pastors, are we placing a public endorsement on sin, or are we allowing another sinner who is a brother or sister in Christ to serve along with us other sinners?

    3) Is today’s Christian church focusing more on God or on Man as a source for their decisions? Is it possible that perhaps that both conservative and liberal Christians are being led down the wrong path by the same issue?

    Your fellow Christian brother and sinner,

    Gregory Bohlmann

  14. Gregory,

    Please see the homosexuality catechism that we just posted on the site. I think that answers most of your questions.


  15. TR,

    Thank you. The scriptural references there were very helpful and informative. There really needs to be a Study Bible for the 21st century that has easy to find references for a lot of these modern issues such as the internet, genetics, blogs, etc. I’m not sure that the new Concordia Study Bible has this, since I have an older version.


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