This is a Good Time to Re-read Matt Harrison’s Statement on the ELCA’s Report on Sexuality

Back in February Matt Harrison wrote the following statement on the ELCA’s report on sexuality. (To go to the synod website where it was first posted click here.)

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.)

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.

Comments

This is a Good Time to Re-read Matt Harrison’s Statement on the ELCA’s Report on Sexuality — 14 Comments

  1. And just barely too, if I’m reading the math right. Didn’t it need a 2/3 majority to pass?

    No, I think they had already defeated the motion requiring a ‘super majority’…but, yes, in fact, they got one ‘on the nose’.

    EJG

  2. The vote to end debate required a 2/3’s majority and that they got by one vote but the actual vote only required a simple majority.

    TR

  3. The defeat of super majority I was thinking of is wrt Friday’s vote:

    ELCA NEWS SERVICE
    August 18, 2009

    ELCA Assembly Defeats Super-Majority Requirement
    09-CWA-O3-MS

    MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) — Voting members of the biennial assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America turned back a motion that would have required a two-thirds majority for changes in policies related to the rostering of clergy, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses. The vote, with 57 percent in opposition, came late in the evening of the first day of the gathering, Aug. 17.
    The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
    The defeat of the requirement of a two thirds “super majority” makes it less difficult for proponents to get approval for a proposal to open the ministry to same-gender candidates living in committed same-gender relationships.
    In a spirited two-hour debate, voting members were divided on the merits of requiring a two thirds majority for what has become a contentious issue for the nation’s largest Lutheran church body. The Rev. Gregory Pile, bishop of the ELCA Allegheny Synod, said that the gravity of the vote facing voting members required a super majority.
    Said Ronald Pittman, voting member from the ELCA Oregon Synod, “We only required a simple majority to exclude same-gender candidates from ordination. Only a simple majority should be required to overturn that action.”
    “We have no unity among us on the issue [of same-gender clergy living in relationships],” said John Gates, voting member from the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod. But Jay McDivitt, voting member from the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod, made reference to shifts in conviction, in both the church and the wider culture. He said, “The issue is settled. That may be unsettling to many of us.” He urged voters not to yield to fear. “Christ is our center, and the center will hold,” he said, speaking in favor of using a simple majority for the vote.
    A vote on whether to allow people living in same-gender relationships to be on the professional rosters in the ELCA is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21.
    Voting members approved the rules of procedure as originally proposed by a 979 to 24 margin.

    Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly/ on the Web.

    For information contact:
    John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or [email protected]
    http://www.elca.org/news
    ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog

  4. The defeat of super majority I was thinking of is wrt Friday’s vote:

    ELCA NEWS SERVICE
    August 18, 2009

    ELCA Assembly Defeats Super-Majority Requirement
    09-CWA-O3-MS

    MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) — Voting members of the biennial assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America turned back a motion that would have required a two-thirds majority for changes in policies related to the rostering of clergy, associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses. The vote, with 57 percent in opposition, came late in the evening of the first day of the gathering, Aug. 17.
    The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
    The defeat of the requirement of a two thirds “super majority” makes it less difficult for proponents to get approval for a proposal to open the ministry to same-gender candidates living in committed same-gender relationships.
    In a spirited two-hour debate, voting members were divided on the merits of requiring a two thirds majority for what has become a contentious issue for the nation’s largest Lutheran church body. The Rev. Gregory Pile, bishop of the ELCA Allegheny Synod, said that the gravity of the vote facing voting members required a super majority.
    Said Ronald Pittman, voting member from the ELCA Oregon Synod, “We only required a simple majority to exclude same-gender candidates from ordination. Only a simple majority should be required to overturn that action.”
    “We have no unity among us on the issue [of same-gender clergy living in relationships],” said John Gates, voting member from the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod. But Jay McDivitt, voting member from the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod, made reference to shifts in conviction, in both the church and the wider culture. He said, “The issue is settled. That may be unsettling to many of us.” He urged voters not to yield to fear. “Christ is our center, and the center will hold,” he said, speaking in favor of using a simple majority for the vote.
    A vote on whether to allow people living in same-gender relationships to be on the professional rosters in the ELCA is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21.
    Voting members approved the rules of procedure as originally proposed by a 979 to 24 margin.

    Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly/ on the Web.

    For information contact:
    John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or [email protected]
    http://www.elca.org/news
    ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog

  5. This vote did require a super majority:

    ELCA NEWS SERVICE
    August 19, 2009

    ELCA Assembly Adopts ‘Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust’
    09-CWA-15-MRC

    MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) — The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” with a vote of 676 (66.67 percent) to 338 (33.33 percent) on Aug. 19. The passing of the social statement on human sexuality required a two-thirds vote.

    EJG

  6. First a tornado strike, then a vote by 66.6666666666? What will the hidden God come up with next?!?!

  7. I heard the the cross on the ELCA church across the street toppled off the steeple and landed upside down. A sign?

  8. Please post as soon as possible Our SP’s comments to this convention. I would pray that he would take a law stance and finally state that we can no longer do any kind of joint efforts–but I am not holding my breath!!

    Pr. Sterle

  9. Please post as soon as possible Our SP’s comments to this convention. I would pray that he would take a law stance and finally state that we can no longer do any kind of joint efforts–but I am not holding my breath!!

    Maybe he will offer to trade official church colors.

    EJG

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