Statement Clarifying the Position of Concordia University, St. Paul from its President

Concordia University, St. Paul ChapelRecently the secular media has been picking up a story coming out of Concordia University, St. Paul.  It had quoted President Ries in a very strange way (as the media often does in relation to the church, especially in a case that may fit their “agenda”).  There is also a “hashtag” campaign.  Gottesdienst has done a good job starting coverage on this also.(for more on Pr. Larry Beane on worship, come to our Conference in February).

I contacted President Ries and he graciously replied back to me with this clarification that he had sent out to all the faculty, students, and staff associated with Concordia, St. Paul.  There are some issues which have to be settled out with the world, but also some needing addressing within the church as well.  Synod leadership is also working on this situation.

This story is still unfolding, so caution should be applied in responses (and comments).

Dear Concordia University Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.  In this season of gratitude, I am especially thankful for all of you.

Recently an incident occurred on our campus which involved matters of sexual orientation within a student organization.  This challenging incident is providing yet another opportunity for us as an academic community to continue our ongoing dialogue around matters of sexual orientation in the context of the Concordia Mission and Promise statements.  As we continue this discussion, I want to again share with you some important principles.

First, we love all of our students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Second, we affirm the biblical teaching that God’s creative intent is for sexuality to be expressed between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship.

Third, we affirm the biblical teaching of God’s love for all people in Christ, even when we do not live out his perfect intent.  As Jesus clearly shows us, this includes every one of us.

When I say “we” I am speaking for the university as an entity.  Whether or not your personal views of these principles agree with or differ from mine, it is important that they continue to guide our conversations in this academic community about sexual orientation.  As always, I pledge myself to participate with you in this important dialogue on our campus.

I am pleased to see that there is increased interest on our campus in addressing these types of issues and concerns.  Throughout the years of my presidency, I have been publicly encouraging additional student, faculty and staff input to the discussion of difficult issues, and our Board of Regents has been consistently encouraging the same.  I see opportunities for us to review student handbook policies and craft a student support group that is respectful of the needs of all our students.  I hope you, too, are willing to participate in this dialogue with both compassion and conviction.  I know many of you are.

Grace and peace to you in this blessed season.

Tom Ries, President


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Statement Clarifying the Position of Concordia University, St. Paul from its President — 100 Comments

  1. @Pastor Prentice #21

    Jesus engaged in dialog according to God’s Word. President Ries said, “Whether or not your personal views of these principles agree with or differ from mine, it is important that they continue to guide our conversations in this academic community about sexual orientation.” It is the Word of God and the Word of God alone that guides our conversations. So if dialog means that we don’t condemn homosexuality as a perversion against God’s creation, but instead give the impression that we might possibly be wrong as we “dialog” on a level playing field, then “dialog” is precisely what we should avoid. Jesus rebuked harshly those who claimed to be teachers. These students presume to be teachers as they lead worship, and most of them are girls, which is especially contrary to God’s Word (1 Cor 14:34; 1 Tim 2:12). President Ries should not allow the practice of having girls preaching in a worship gathering. But of course, he doesn’t, because he is apparently more interested in having a “dialog” than confessing the Word of God.

  2. @T. R. Halvorson #43

    @T. R. Halvorson #43

    “I am for strengthening both efforts…”

    I’m glad to hear that you are in favor of strengthening efforts to improve fatherly catechizes and external evangelism. I don’t often read, in confessional circles, much about the idea of strengthening external evangelistic efforts. I’ve often been puzzled by reading so much emphasis on “God giving the growth when and where He wills.” While I believe that’s true, it comes across to me like an excuse for not getting outside the church walls to interact with unbelievers. I understand that our efforts don’t take the place of the Holy Spirit does, but I would also argue that engaging unchurched folks is part of my “called and ordained” opportunity to share Christ. I hope that you can use your influence in confessional circles to encourage the brothers to that end.

  3. @RevJimO #53

    Yes, the Holy Spirit’s sovereignty and vocation too often are used as excuses. In fact, when it is our vocation to evangelize, such as by fathers to their own children, fathers use vocation, someone else2, the pastor’s, as excuse for nearly wholesale neglect of their own children.

  4. Regarding “safe places”:

    “Whatever one thinks of their use in these two contexts, it is difficult to imagine any idea that is less compatible with the goals of a university. One can instinctively understand why the gays of the 1960s would want to conduct conversations away from a hostile world. One can comprehend, too, why they sought refuge in private groups devoted to a common political cause. But students? At a place of learning? That makes no sense at all. Unlike gay bars or feminist workshops, colleges are inherently pluralist, and they cannot therefore devote themselves to “a common political project” or “movement” without abandoning their purpose. At a stretch, there is an argument for permitting the establishment of “safe spaces” within universities — traditionally we call these “clubs” — but there is no case whatsoever for turning the entire place over to a particular set of ideological presumptions and for punishing or excluding those who decline to acquiesce.

    And make no mistake: This is exactly what those crying “safe space!” are suggesting that we do. At Mizzou, the protesting students did not hope merely to expel their critics from their private meetings, but to remove them from public ground. At Yale, the shriekers were not asking for a room in which to hold a “politically correct” Halloween party, but for the entire campus to conform to their preferences. When Christina Hoff Sommers visits Oberlin, her detractors do not contend that she is wrong, but that she should not have been invited in the first instance. Put simply, those who have taken to shouting “safe space” are guilty of an egregious category mistake. In pursuit of political power, they have adopted a set of rules that were designed for private groups and attempted to impose them on everybody.”

    Read more at:

    The same seems to apply in the CSP situation, emphasizing the wish for a campus to agree with them, not merely for a support group, for the campus to be a “safe place” rather than a place for like-minded individuals to get together.

    “Tejeda, who set up a website,, to call attention to Hagan’s case, says she hopes it will lead to a more gay-friendly campus. “We just want a safe place for queer students to come together,” she said.”

  5. Campus leftwing activists’ deceit in advocating ‘safe spaces’ (e.g., Concordia-Portland’s homosexual “Unity Club”) was discussed in the November 10, 2015, Atlantic Monthly article, “Campus Activists Weaponize ‘Safe Space’.

    In the video of [photographer] Tim Tai trying to carry out his ESPN assignment [at the University of Missouri demonstration], I see the most vivid example yet of activists twisting the concept of “safe space” in a most confounding way. They have one lone student surrounded. They’re forcibly preventing him from exercising a civil right. At various points, they intimidate him. Ultimately, they physically push him. But all the while, they are operating on the premise, or carrying on the pretense, that he is making them unsafe.

    It is as if they’ve weaponized the concept of “safe spaces.”

    “I support people creating ‘safe spaces’ as a shield by exercising their freedom of association to organize themselves into mutually supporting communities,” Ken White wrote prior to this controversy. “But not everyone imagines ‘safe spaces’ like that. Some use the concept of ‘safe spaces’ as a sword, wielded to annex public spaces and demand that people within those spaces conform to their private norms.”

    Yesterday, I wrote about Yale students who decided, in the name of creating a “safe space” on compass, to spit on people as they left a talk with which they disagreed. “In their muddled ideology,” I wrote, “the Yale activists had to destroy the safe space to save it.”

  6. @T. R. Halvorson #32

    It was evil for Ries to encourage them to start any group, and to even encourage them to have “an advisor who is for same-sex relationships.”

    They should all be expelled.

  7. The December 4, 2015, Minneapolis Red Star-Tribune article, “Bisexual prayer leader’s ouster sparks rally at Concordia,” states:

    In a season of protests, about two dozen students and others marched through the campus of Concordia University in St. Paul on Friday on behalf of a sophomore who was ousted as a leader of a campus prayer group because she’s bisexual. [NOTE: Not mentioned by the Red Star-Tribune is that Hagan, albeit under pressure, resigned rather than being ousted, and that the “rally” consisted of, at the most, 0.55 percent of Concordia-St. Paul’s 4,380 students.]

    Tom Ries, the university president, said he regrets what happened to Hagan and supports some, though not all, of her supporters’ calls for change. He has declined to endorse one of the protesters’ central demands, to permit a gay support group on the Concordia campus, which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.

    “We as a church-related school have a biblical view of sexuality,” said Ries, who is also a minister. “That’s still the position of the church even [with] the cultural changes that the society is going through. That doesn’t mean we don’t love and appreciate people who are in same-sex relationships.”

    Ries said he’s already working on one change: adding sexual orientation to the school’s nondiscrimination policy.

    Well, isn’t that just… fabulous.

  8. “Ries said he’s already working on one change: adding sexual orientation to the school’s nondiscrimination policy.”


    “Ries said he supports the idea, but he’s uncertain about the legal implications of such a move and said it would require the church’s input.”

  9. @Carl Vehse #61

    Well, isn’t that just… fabulous.

    The camel has its head under the tent.
    [And the President has his in one of the “higher education” journals, no doubt? They are “full of it”!]

    I am forced to conclude it’s a good time to be old… with a DNR, [because without one they’ll do you the same way, but slower]… but I am sad for the next three generations.

    Lord, have mercy!

    [Tell me again why you wonder that even PK’s leave LCMS?]

  10. @helen #63

    “[Tell me again why you wonder that even PK’s leave LCMS?]”

    I think you meant that rhetorically, but since the question is near to my heart, I’ll offer that in addition to the various traditional reasons that pastor’s kids leave the church, that the catechesis issue strikes close to those who leave the LCMS. The more I chew on it, the more I think that a well catechized LCMS kid (PK or otherwise, though one might assume the average LCMS PK is better catechized than most) leaves the LCMS because they are more willing to tolerate honest error than hypocrisy.

    Unlike the recent past generations for whom brand loyalty was a virtue, consistent integrity seems the higher value of GenX and the Millenial crowd. From those I’ve met, they will prefer the company of someone who says, “I’m screwed up but trying to do my best,” to someone who says, “I’m right– ignore my seeming issues!”

    I think the well catechized PK who leaves the LCMS gives up on the idea that there’s actually a purely confessing church out there in the world, and surrenders to a life of practical fellowship with erring Christians who are at least honest about being hosed up, and don’t actively work against the individual’s attempt to live out a good confession.

  11. @Brad #64: “I think the well catechized PK who leaves the LCMS gives up on the idea that there’s actually a purely confessing church out there in the world”

    Such a PK is not “well catechized,” but instead is confused in thinking that the LCMS is a church, which it is NOT. A congregation is a church, and if a PK, as a member of that congregation, does subscribe without reservation to the doctrine of the Book of Concord of 1580, he is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

    According to C.F.W. Walther’s Thesis XXV, “The Evangelical Lutheran Church has thus all the essential marks of the true visible Church of God on earth as they are found in no other known communion, and therefore it needs no reformation in doctrine.”

  12. @Carl Vehse #65

    According to C.F.W. Walther’s Thesis XXV, “The Evangelical Lutheran Church has thus all the essential marks of the true visible Church of God on earth…

    In Walther’s day, the Methodists were honest enough to call themselves Methodists and Walther could warn against them.
    When methodist practices are demanded by the pewsitters in a Lutheran congregation, what have you got? [Especially when the district “mission starts” make methodism look good…]

    Reliably Lutheran congregations are getting scarcer, as you and I both know.

  13. @Pastor Andrew Preus #52
    Did you read the note, just the note please. It affirms a Biblical stance, albeit, love was number 1. (I agree with that from a Biblical stand).

    Now if there is more to the story, that I do not know. You must, or you say you do.

    Dialog is always driven from our Biblical stance which we feel is correct. Yes, at some point, we must walk away from the discussion and rebuke.

    But, and THIS IS Biblical, we offer them to “come and see”, as Jesus did to John the Baptist and the boys as the beheld the Lamb of God.

    And yes, the sinner may not like what he sees, many do walk away. Yet, many do see the light in a world of darkness.

  14. @RevJimO #39

    Do your own experiment. Interview any LCMS alumni and see if they can confess the true faith. The vast majority of ex-Christians I have known (quite a few) cannot articulate the Gospel to save their lives. When asked what Christianity is about, they whip out a laundry list of grievances and hangups, most of which have nothing to do with our message.

    Anybody trained well in the Small Catechism can articulate the gospel with clarity and accuracy. Find me the majority of former Lutherans who can do this. Heck, find me one! I have a hard time finding adults in the LCMS who can finish any sentence that starts “We should fear and love God so that…”

    To be clear, as an adult convert to Lutheranism, I never learned it either. I am working to remedy that in my home, and as soon as my children are speaking in English they will be learning it as well. It will be memorized by them before they enter confirmation, and that Pastor better take them from there to understand it deeper.

    But let’s be honest. I can guarantee you that I am the only one in my congregation even trying at this, and you can count on one hand the number of congregations in your district where fathers do this. But EVERY congregation is full of young people who walk away from Christianity, and for most of them, rejecting a faith they never even learned. How is this not self-evidently one of the greatest problems we face?

    I know plenty of our pastors teach the catechism well and require their confirmands to memorize it. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts their retention rates are significantly higher.

  15. @Miguel #71: “Do your own experiment. Interview any LCMS alumni and see if they can confess the true faith.”

    Here’s another experiment: Ask your congregational lay delegate who went to the district convention this year or the lay delegate selected from your circuit to go to the synod convention in 2016 (you do know who your delegates are, don’t you?!?) to name the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to which his pastor and congregation subscribe.

  16. @Miguel #71

    “I am the only one trying at this…”

    I hear you, brother! Sometimes it feels like you’re the only voice crying in the wilderness. It’s good what you’re doing with your own children. I think that immersing children in the Word and catechism gives them a grounding, which will serve them well when they leave home for college and beyond. It also can, if we teach them how, help them discern what’s real from what is faux – especially as they will be confronted by a world that is very skilled in creating an image, but shallow in presenting truth. I share your grief in lamenting the loss of young people to atheism, agnosticism, of whatever is the current fad in the rejection of their faith. While I’m disappointed whenever a young adult moves away from his/her conservative Lutheran roots, I am comforted if that person continues to confess faith alone in Christ. I think that a source of anxiety for any of us who are conservative in our Lutheran-Christian faith is: will our children follow what they’ve been taught? So, brother, keep up the good work you are doing in your setting. God bless you!

  17. @RevJimO #73

    “I think that a source of anxiety for any of us who are conservative in our Lutheran-Christian faith is: will our children follow what they’ve been taught?”

    And, if I may add, whether our children will be able to find a Confessional, Biblical congregation in which to practice this well catechized faith.

    And to Miguel’s point above, the small numbers of families actually catechizing their children to be Confessional Lutherans, is mirrored in the very small numbers of real Confessional Lutheran congregations which still exist.

  18. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Sorry that I am “in and out” of this conversation, but demands of the parish demand it.

    With regard to the conversation here about “dialogue,” I understood President Ries to be simply describing the fact that he, the Board of Regents, and the student council have been discussing this matter for some time. The question may be put in this way: “How do we deal with non-LCMS students, and non-Christians students, who are members of this academic community, but do not share our fundamental religious beliefs and expectations for behavior?”

    You may not realize this, but this non-LCMS cohort is significant in terms of numbers.

    Just look at the 2013 LC-MS Convention Workbook, p. 89. For the CUS as a whole, enrollment was 29,597 in Fall 2012, and Lutheran enrollment (all types of Lutherans) was 6,336 in Fall 2012.

    For recent reports about the numbers of specifically LCMS students, you have to go to November 2013 Reporter, p. 1, which gives LCMS count as 4,030 and other Lutherans 2,119 for Fall 2013. So LCMS students are about 66% of total Lutherans at our CUS schools.

    So let us say, for the sake of discussion, that the percentage of LCMS enrollment among total Lutherans has stayed about the same for the last couple of years. That makes present LCMS enrollment at CUS (based on 2013 figures) to be 66% x 6,336 = 4,181 in round figures.

    Now compare that number of LCMS students to total CUS enrollment in 2015 (see Reporter, Nov. 2015, p. 4). That makes LCMS enrollment to be: 4181 / 37,307 = 11% . Therefore, barring actual figures from the CUS, and some differences between campuses, on the average 11% of the student body at our CUS schools are LCMS and can be expected to know and understand our doctrinal beliefs, our view of Scripture, and our expectations about morality and sexuality. For the other 89%—Who knows what they believe?

    So this puts administrators and presidents in a difficult situation, especially when the present US campus climate intends to eliminate all opposition to same-sex marriage and same-sex activity. I think we should be supporting our LCMS administrators and presidents when and where they tell their students and faculty–and if necessary the press–what our LCMS position is on these matters, and when and where they attempt to act in accord with that position.

    On the matter of “dialogue” itself, I am kind of surprised that Lutherans don’t know their own history on this. All you have to do is look at the Table of Contents of “Luther’s Works.” Before he was excommunicated, Luther offered at least three major theses for “debate” in the pro-con method that was current in the medieval academies: 95 theses (1517), Heidelberg theses (1518), and Leipzig theses (1519). These are all found in volume 31 of the American Edition (AE) of Luther’s Works.

    In other volumes of the American Edition, you can find just a few of the academic disputations over which Luther presided, e.g., see AE 31, 34, and 38 (look for titles with “theses” or “disputation”). In the New Series of the AE, still to be published, there will be two volumes of early works that include Luther’s earliest disputations (VERY SIGNIFICANT FOR UNDERSTANDING HIS PERSONAL THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT) and also two volumes devoted exclusively to the disputations that he supervised at Wittenberg University.

    Although the first reforms of the Wittenberg University in 1513 dropped the disputations, they were reinstituted by Luther’s and Melanchthon’s insistence in the 1536 reforms. This is described in : Marilyn J. Harran, Martin Luther: Learning for Life (Saint Louis: CPH, 1997), 244-245. From the model set by Wittenberg, all Lutheran universities used disputations regularly. Harran states: “disputations occurring at promotions for degrees and at regular times throughout the year in the upper faculties and every second Saturday in the arts faculty [i.e., liberal arts for undergraduates]” (p. 244).

    So why don’t Lutheran universities do disputations today? There is a bit of a leftover of that practice in theses and dissertation defenses, and also in general lectures given for the academic community. But the pro-con mode is gone? Why? Thank Spener and the Pietists for that! (see Spener’s Pia Desideria, under the heading “Defects of the Clergy”, the Fortress Press Tappert edition of 1964, see pages 49-57).

    So we traditional Lutherans should be very comfortable with the “dialogue” or “debate” or “disputations” method of lecture, not just the monologue, because this is part of our most ancient tradition as Lutherans. Just be wary about trying to set up such a disputation without proper procedures and supervision in place (e.g., see Ernst Schweibert, Luther and His Times, ppl. 608-609, for how Luther and his peers did a disputation).

    As to the matter of a “gay club,” I can’t see how that could ever be approved by an LCMS faculty or administration. If the purpose was to promote homosexuality on campus, or to convince students that it is not wrong, or to serve in any way for “gay hookups,” it would be contrary to Scripture and LCMS doctrine. I can see how a “Speech and Debate Club” may want to debate various issues on the subject of homosexuality, but we would hope that is not all that they debate publicly in the course of a year. Christians do not host “support groups” for people who advocate for any sort of sin.

    For students who are struggling with their sexual desires, all our CUS campuses offer both campus pastors and certified counselors of various types. All sessions and discussions are confidential, as they must be.

    Our CUS campuses need your prayers and support, especially when they come under attack from the media, from outside organizations, and even from within their own student body.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  19. @Nathan #22

    Indeed, throughout HIs ministry, Christ “monologued”–He declared, proclaimed, the one truth. In John 3, Nicodemus’ “dialoguing” got him in trouble with our Lord as the Lord exposed his lack of understanding. Best not to “dialogue” where God has “monologued.”

  20. “How do we deal with non-LCMS students, and non-Christians students, who are members of this academic community, but do not share our fundamental religious beliefs and expectations for behavior?”

    If that is the question being asked, it is the wrong question, unless the university has legally bound itself to abide by politically-based regulatory codes of allowed behavior rather than Lutheran-based codes of allowed behavior.

    Otherwise, it is difficult to see how some calculated percentage of non-LCMS students is used to mandate an adjustment in the doctrinal position of a Lutheran school for the purpose of maintaining adequate tuition income.

    As to the matter of a “gay club,” I can’t see how that could ever be approved by an LCMS faculty or administration.

    It’s easy to see. On its webpage promoting a “Pride Club,” which strives to create a safe environment on campus supporting homophiles, transphiles, and other sexual (animal, vegetable, or mineral-phile?) orientations, the Concordia-Portland administration simply attached a notice:

    Disclaimer: The views expressed by student organizations are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Concordia University.

  21. Earlier, the Minneapolis Red Star-Tribune claimed:

    Ries said he’s already working on one change: adding sexual orientation to the school’s nondiscrimination policy.

    However, the Concordia University-Portland Student Handbook (2015-16) already states in its non-discrimination policy (p. 13):

    Concordia University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the university. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, familial status, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation or age in administration of its educational policies and programs, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other university-administered programs.

    Later the Handbook also states (p. 53):

    It is unacceptable to misuse computers, social media, or other mediums of communication or technology (mail service, phones, etc.) for the purpose of harassing, bullying, or intimidating others (behaviors that constitute harassment and bullying include, but are not limited to: comments that are derogatory with respect to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, color, or disability; sexually suggestive, humiliating, or demeaning comments; and threats to stalk, haze, or physically injure another).

    Thus quoting or referring to the Word of God in Romans 1:27 would be a policy violation at Concordia-St. Paul.

  22. Maybe President Ries and the Board of Regents at Concordia University-St. Paul (and at other CUS campuses) could learn from Carson-Newman University and other Christian schools.

    The Federal Government just granted Carson-Newman University a waiver that allows the school to ban gay students, unwed mothers, women who’ve had an abortion and even students who may be pregnant.

    Dr. Randall O’Brien is the president of the private Southern Baptist college in Jefferson County. He says he sent a letter back in May asking to be exempt from Title 9, which says colleges are not allowed to discriminate against students. He said, “This is who we are our religious principles and in a changing world we want to reaffirm who we are and intend to be.”

    He says the waiver won’t change the policy already in place, and again shifted the spotlight on the school’s attorney. “I believe he felt it would strengthen our First Amendment rights. I don’t know why something would be necessary but since he’s counsel I felt we’d follow the template.”

    Students at Carson-Newman weighed in. Sophomore Lauren Graves said, “I don’t think Carson-Newman would outright discriminate, but I can see why, this is Christian university and we need to protect our Christian values as well.”

    The lawyer who advised Dr. O’Brien to file for the waiver also filed for nearly a dozen other Christian schools across the country. A total of 30 are now exempt from Title 9.

    Excerpted from “Carson-Newman University granted exemption from discrimination laws.”

    Some of the exempt schools are: Anderson University, Charleston Southern University, and North Greenville University, all affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention; Judson College and the University of Mobile, affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention; Louisiana College, affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention; Oklahoma Baptist University, affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Union University, affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention (as is Carson-Newman); the University of the Cumberlands, affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention; and Williams Baptist College, affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, George Fox University in Oregon, Spring Arbor University in Michigan, Simpson University in California, East Texas Baptist University, Howard Payne University, and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

  23. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Just a final comment on this post. It was noted above that President Ries was reported to be working on changing the school’s nondiscrimination policy. I don’t know any details on this, other than what was reported there.

    You all should realize that the LC-MS makes a distinction between homosexual desire and homosexual behavior. This is our official stance, as found in the following synod resolutions: 1973 Res. 2-02; 1992 Res. 3-12A; 2001 Res. 2-08A; 2004 Res. 3-05A.

    The synod has also endorsed the report of a Task Force, appointed by President Barry after the 1992 convention, which was designed to be used by “congregations, campus ministries, institutions, and agencies of the Synod” (see 1992 Res. 3-12A). That report is available for free online here: It is titled “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families.”

    So if and when our Concordia University Presidents or Regents revise any language in their public policy statements, their catalogs, their promotional materials, as well as any internal documents–and they do so in accordance with the above-mentioned documents–they are doing the job that the synod called them to, and in cooperation with the synod, not against it.

    If you disagree with the synod’s policy, then you can always write an overture to the convention to revise, correct, or amend, etc.

    But I think “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families,” is a very good one, and I have used it with my own congregations where and when issues of homosexuality have arisen among congregation members. It is Scriptural and confessional. I commend it for your reading and use.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  24. @Martin R. Noland #80

    The alleged official stance on “homosexual desire” is NOT found in 2004 Res. 3-05A.

    The alleged official stance on “homosexual desire” is NOT found in 2001 Res. 2-08A.

    Res. 2-08A does state: “The Law of God declares homosexual lust and activity to be sin and contrary to the created order (Rom. 1:24–27)” and “the Augsburg Confession that “all human beings who are born in the natural way are conceived and born in sin. This means that from birth they are full of evil lust and inclination”

    Res. 2-08A also resolves that “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families,” prepared by the President’s Task Force, be commended as a resource for study and a guide for pastoral care.” This language DOES NOT mean that “A Plan for Ministry” is to be considered a doctrinal statement, which requires ratification by two-thirds vote of member congregations before it becomes the official position of the Missouri Synod (Bylaw 1.09.c.7 from 1998, 2001 Handbooks).

    Also significantly, the 2001 Synod Proceedings record (pp. 130-1):

    (A motion to amend the resolution by adding the following paragraphs failed: WHEREAS, There are individuals who are homosexual only in orientation as distinguished from homosexuals in practice; and
    WHEREAS, Failure to make this distinction can be hurtful and destructive to those who are struggling with their gay orientation; therefore be it Resolved, That we make every effort in our church communications (sermons, publications) to make clear that homosexual orientation is not sinful. The resolution was adopted without amendment [yes: 1,034; no: 52]. The final resolve is added as required by Res. 1-02, adopted by the convention in an earlier session.)

    Thus, the Synod rejected the inclusion of a distinction between orientation (desire) and practice (behavior).

  25. Furthermore, the alleged official stance on “homosexual desire” is NOT found in 1992 Res. 3-12A, which reaffirms the 1973 Res. 2-02 (in which the alleged official stance on “homosexual desire” is NOT found), and which calls for the preparation of a document, “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families.”

    In “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families” (p. 4), a “spin-the-bottle” game of definitions is played, with no substantiation or doctrinal basis given:

    The word itself, homosexuality, means different things to different people . In society at large , the word often means the condition of being sexually attracted to a person of one’s own sex , that is, homosexual orientation. Within the church, however, it is more commonly understood to refer to the actual engagement in sexual activity with a person of the same sex , in other words, homosexual behavior….

    In the interest of clear terminology, this document distinguishes between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior [2] as follows: When the discussion refers to orientation the terms “homosexual,” “homosexuality,” or “homophile” are used. When behavior— whether it is sexual fantasy or sexual intimacy—is under discussion , the specific term “homosexual behavior ” is used .

    2. These terms conform to usage in Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective.
    Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, as prepared by its Social Concerns Committee (September 1981).

    So let’s look at the CTCR’s “Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective” (September,1981) for some… well, theological perspective:

    While not minimizing the threat of God’s wrath against all forms of enslavement to sin, the church needs to recognize in its efforts to help the homosexual that all people are born in need of deliverance from the effects which sin has imposed on their lives. With this in mind it is important to realize that there are those persons who, apart from any deliberate choice on their part, have a predisposition toward homosexuality and have no desire to enter into a relationship with a person of the opposite sex. [37] In order to offer such persons the compassionate help they need, the church, having condemned all homosexual acts engaged in by such persons or by those of a heterosexual orientation, must stand ready to offer its assistance to those who seek to overcome the temptations which beset them and who desire to remain chaste before God despite their homosexual orientation.

    It must be said that a predisposition toward homosexuality is the result of the disordering, corrupting effect of the fall into sin, just as also the predisposition toward any sin is symptomatic of original sin. [38] Furthermore, whatever the causes of such a condition may be– e.g., environmental or genetic-homosexual orientation is profoundly “unnatural” without implying that such a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of conscious, deliberate choice. However, this fact cannot be used by the homosexual as an excuse to justify homosexual behavior. As a sinful human being the homosexual is held accountable to God for homosexual thoughts, words, and deeds. Such a person should be counseled to heed the church’s call to repentance, trust in God’s promise of deliverance (Ps. 50:15), and order his/her life in accord with the Creator’s intent.

    [37] It is not uncommon today to distinguish between the pervert-for whom heterosexuality is natural but who nevertheless engages in homosexual acts-and the invert-who, as far as he knows, has never experienced heterosexual attraction and for whom a homosexual orientation seems perfectly natural.

    [38] For a discussion of the distinction between “propensity” and “behavior” as these terms apply to the question of homosexuality the reader may wish to consult the Lutheran Church in [sic] Australia’s 1975 “Statement on Homosexuality,” pages 1-2. This report was distributed to the Synod by the CTCR in April 1975 as “a worthy contribution to the discussion” of this sensitive issue of human sexuality.

    Wait! What?!?

    No theology! No quotes from the Book of Concord! No Scripture! Just some reference to a 1975 document from the Lutheran Church of Australia which is not in altar-and-pulpit fellowship with the LCMS?!?

    Hey! Was that the ghost of Hermann Sasse that just went by?

  26. In any case, the Lutheran Church of Australia’s “Statement on Homosexuality” contains the following relevant paragraphs:

    “God’s Word is silent about homosexuality as a propensity. In view of this and in the light of medical, and psychological evidence, the Church may not condemn or judge homosexual propensity. It is part of the mysterious disturbance and distortion that has entered God’s creation and his created social structures. Like disease, it must be seen in the context of the Fall and the resultant intrusion of disruptive and abnormal forces which have upset and perverted God’s original design.”

    “God’s word regards this disruption and perversion as a judgment of God on the whole of humanity so that in this sense all people are somehow involved.”

    Here the LCA (not in A&P fellowship with the LCMS) claims that the Church cannot judge homosexual propensity, even though homosexual behavior (in thought, word, and deed) is a sin.

    Perhaps now is the time to take a look at the real Lutheran position on propensity-inclination-(pre)disposition-lust-desire, or whatever synonym one wants to use. From the Epitome, II.3:

    Likewise we believe, teach, and confess that the unregenerate will of man is not only turned away from God, but also has become an enemy of God, so that it only has an inclination and desire for that which is evil and contrary to God, as it is written Gen. 8, 21: The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Also Rom. 8, 7: The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither, indeed, can be.

    And from the Solid Declaration, I.11-12:

    11]That original sin (in human nature) is not only this entire absence of all good in spiritual, divine things, but that, instead of the lost image of God in man, it is at the same time also a deep, wicked, horrible, fathomless, inscrutable, and unspeakable corruption of the entire nature and all its powers, especially of the highest, principal powers of the soul in the understanding, heart, and will, so that now, since the Fall, man inherits an inborn wicked disposition and inward impurity of heart, evil lust and propensity; 12] that we all by disposition and nature inherit from Adam such a heart, feeling, and thought as are, according to their highest powers and the light of reason, naturally inclined and disposed directly contrary to God and His chief commandments, yea, that they are enmity against God, especially as regards divine and spiritual things. For in other respects, as regards natural, external things which are subject to reason, man still has to a certain degree understanding, power, and ability, although very much weakened, all of which, however, has been so infected and contaminated by original sin that before God it is of no use.

    Bottom line: One wonders, given the clear Lutheran confessional position on sinful propensity, what the motivation is for the claim of an LCMS distinction between homosexual desire and homosexual behavior, and for the claim that such a distinction is an official stance of the LCMS, when none of the synod resolutions nor the CTCR documents support such claims.

  27. Thank you for bringing us back to doctrine, Carl. We are all too easily drawn away by the patterns of this world.

  28. @Brad #74

    “whether our children will be able to find…”

    When your children go off to college or post-college careers, and they join non-Confessional Lutheran churches (or non-Lutheran churches), do you grieve or celebrate that? Do you feel they have rejected your catechizing? How do you react to that?

  29. @RevJimO #85

    That’s an awfully personal series of questions for such a public dialogue, RevJimO.

    Why should you expect my children, as an effect of their catechization, to go to non-Lutheran churches, and what precisely is your fascination with my hypothetical reaction to your hypothetical proposition?

    I grieve, in the present tense, that so few Lutheran congregations actually exist. I am frustrated that so many congregations present themselves as Lutheran, and are in fact either ignorantly or contemptuously just various shades of Enthusiasts. I am angry that the LCMS in particular, seems to have sold its theological birthright for the rancid pottage of cultural accommodation. I am revulsed that the purest witness to Biblical orthodoxy on the planet continues to be obfuscated by careless, pretentious, and self-congratulating bureaucrats who think themselves the masters of what the world should understand is Lutheran.

    But, I do celebrate that the Lord has been faithful to my children, and given them the tools via their catechesis to discern their best practical options for receiving Christ in Word and Sacrament wherever the Lord may plant them. And I rejoice that the Lord is always faithful to work through His divinely established means of grace, despite the radical stupidity and ineptitude of the servants charged to dispense them.

    Did that adequately address your questions, RevJimO? If not, you may feel free to contact me privately.

  30. In the LCMS Board of Directors November 19-20, 2015, Minutes, (p. 126) there is this fourteenth bullet in Section 166, President’s State of the Synod Report:

    “The 5-01A Task Force is working to keep the Concordia University System schools close to the Synod and its theology. It is also working to satisfy boards of regents interests in increasing the size of the boards to provide additional assistance and is prepared to propose a solution “that promises to be well received.”

    “Close to”?!?

  31. Would that all this concern with homosexual sin also apply to the eighth commandment and others in God’s commandments. Remove the beam from thine own eye before the mote in thy brothers eye.

  32. @Brad #88

    “my children”

    After looking at your response to my questions, I realize that my wording was very clumsy and implied that my interest was in your own catechizes of your own children. Please forgive me for that! My interest or fascination is not with your children, but rather with the children of the LCMS in general. In particular, it is the children, who when they become adults leave the church and sometimes leave the faith altogether. As the parent of a millennial, who was raised with catechesis and home devotions, and who raised our child with the same, I have found that adult children make their own choices – regardless of how careful we parents were in feeding their faith lives.

    I join you in celebrating how faithful God is, and how enduring are His promises. My favorite is: “a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” There are many times when I am comforted by the fact that God sees a smoldering faith, where I think there is none. The Holy Spirit’s work, through Word & Sacrament, is far deeper than I can judge with my own eyes.

    I don’t feel as discouraged about the LCMS, as you indicate. Perfect? No. In my 35 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve seen our synod at its best and worst, and I’ve learned to be wary of our human capacity to crush each other’s spirit – in the name of whatever is the current adjective (conservative,liberal, charismatic, missional, confession, faithful) by which we label each other.

    Again, please accept my apology for leading you to think I was questioning your catechesis with your own children and implying that they would turn from it later in life.


  33. @Pastor Prentice #94

    I must give a shout out to my Wheaton College (where I am enrolled at), they are in a major battle with culture, but are weathering the storm.

    A religion which denies Jesus Christ was God (or that He died and rose again) cannot be “worshiping the same God”. Thanks to Wheaton, if they are saying so.

    The professor, (not of religion, thankfully) is mistaken… the “best construction” I can think of, … though I can think of other terms.

  34. Previously I had referred to a Title IX religious exemption granted so far to some 30 colleges and universities.

    According to an article, “Powerful Homosexual Group Threatens Christian Colleges and Universities,”

    The anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign is asking the federal government to harass Christian schools that have asked for or been granted waivers that would allow them to live out their Christian faith.

    The 1972 Title IX amendments prohibiting sex discrimination in hiring, housing, and employment at schools receiving federal funds is at issue. The law allows religious schools to opt out of the requirements.

    On the heels of their huge [traitorous] Supreme Court win in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision mandating homosexual marriage coast to coast, the radical LGBT establishment is looking for their next win. They believe they have found it in going after religious companies and employers who may hold that accepting a normalization of the homosexual agenda is against their religious beliefs.

    In the hell-spawned “Human Rights” Campaign report, “Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemption,” Appendix C list those colleges and universities that have requested or received a Title IX religious exemption to practice their Christian doctrine regarding homosexual perversion in their decisions on hiring, housing, and employment at schools receiving Title IX funding.

    Sadly, not one of the listed colleges or universities having a Title IX exemption belongs to the Concordia University System. Does the CUS not participate in the Title IX program?

    Wheaton College does have a Title IX religious exemption.

  35. @RevJimO #93


    Thank you for the kind clarification, and of course your apology is accepted. I suspect my response may have born the trappings of my own frustration and was less charitable than ought to have been offered– and so I ask your forgiveness, as well.

    It would seem we share a common passion for our Christian youth, and a common joy in Christ’s faithfulness to them. May the Lord strengthen our common labors both for them, and for His glory.

    I am heartened that you’ve had a better exposure to the LCMS than I have, and I pray that remains true. My disenchantment is born of my own direct experience and observation, and that of my brothers and sisters who have suffered greatly under it’s mismanagement. But my faith remains in the Lord of the Church, who continues His Work unabated by the miserable works of men.

    Advent and Christmas blessings to you, your family, and all whom you serve.

  36. Concordia-St. Paul, does have a Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Cheryl Chatman, and a Title IX Deputy Coordinator, Sara Mulso. Other universities in the CUS also have Title IX coordinators.

    So why hasn’t any CUS school applied for or received a Title IX religious exemption which would allow the school to use “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” restrictions in decisions regarding students and employees at the school?

    Such a Title IX religious exemption likely would have spared Concordia-St. Paul President Tom Ries the need to issue a tapdancing ‘clarification’ about the pressured resignation of a bisexual 908 student ministry coordinator.

    It would also have saved President Ries and university pastor Tom Gundermann, from having to throw an unnamed 908 student president under the bus.

  37. @helen #95
    They are, I am with them, and it is bringing the heat. Oh well, in the end, all will bow to Jesus Christ the Lord.
    But is has granted me good teaching opportunities to the faithful sisters and brothers that I serve.

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