Critical Synodical News – Gay Activist Music Director

A few months ago we the editors of this website discovered that there was a gay activist serving as a music director of one of our sister LCMS congregations. Imagine going up to Holy Communion to receive the body and blood of Christ being accompanied by a known gay/lesbian activist at the organ bench. Here is one of our original stories on this matter:  Click here.

We have contacted the district president involved several times. Here is one past story that talks about those efforts: Click Here.

The handbook of the LCMS makes it very clear that the president of the synod is responsible for doctrinal and moral purity in the synod. President Kieschnick has chosen to ignore this problem. He is wrong. He should be working with the disctrict president to remove this music director. Click here to read about our efforts to encourage President Kieschnick to lead responsibly on this matter.

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Comments

Critical Synodical News – Gay Activist Music Director — 44 Comments

  1. Though few I’m sure, I believe there have been other actively homosexual individuals who are unrepentant and are employed by LCMS congregations.

    While I appreciate the musical talents of some of these individuals, there certainly must be someone who could serve our congregations whose life does not contradict our faith.

    I recognize the difficult challenge of finding someone, sometimes anyone, qualified to play music in worship with any level of proficiency.

    I also recognize the challenge we face when someone who is not a member of our faith plays music in our services at all. Non-members will likely hold a belief that contradicts our positions on Marriage, the Sanctity of Life, practice of the Lord’s Supper, infant baptism or hordes of other positions we hold.

    At least, we shouold be willing to pay well enough to attract talented individuals to our ministries who don’t openly and blatantly contradict out beliefs. But if we are looking for bargain deals from the basement, then we will have to live with all sorts of ungodly positions. That is greed motivation, another commandment.

    Please support our synodical training for the position of Director of Parish Music and encourage our universities to be willing to lose money on such programs which have few students. Also, raise the salaries of our musicians so they can pay their bills on their salary, and finally, encourage, support and send youth to our training programs. Otherwise, this situation will continue to rear it’s ugly head in the future.

  2. What is disconcerting (okay, pun welcomed) is that the congregation does not seem concerned in the least. In fact, it seems rather open, proud and “in your face” about the whole matter.

    Openly unrepentant members must be met with open confrontation of that sin. A church is a member of synod.

    Has the organist been approached by the pastor or congregation”?

    Has the pastor or congregation been counseled by its superiors?

    Has the overseer(s) been counseled by overseers?

    It would be good to know what is going on, huh?

  3. Martin Luther stated the response to issues such as the church’s employment of homosexual individuals when he said, “Unless I can be proven wrong on the basis of Holy Scripture, I cannot and I will not recant.” Scripture says that the sexual mating of two males or females is an abomination to Almighty God.

    Having said that, I do not believe the synod should get involved with creating division in the Church. The congregation involved with these hiring policies must conform to Lutheran Doctrine by following the truth of Scripture, or become an independent church outside of the LCMS body of believers.

  4. I believe this is the same District from which, as part of the CU-Portland faculty, Prof. Herb Hoefer published his suggestions for Moslem-Friendly ‘evangelism,’ including such gems as not using the Name of Jesus in prayers, etc. Those suggestions were quickly removed from the website, but of course no retraction, apology, or repentance ever was forthcoming. It seems genuine evangelical oversight of that district is sorely lacking.

  5. Bruce opined, “I do not believe the synod should get involved with creating division in the Church.” Why is it automatically assumed that a Biblical response to sin is “divisive”? The division is now fully in place because of the one man’s sin, the pastor / elders / congregation admittance of an unrepentant public sinner to its staff and parish life, and the District President who tolerates and thus supports the divisive sin.

    For Synod to get involved, which it likely will not, would not create a division, but rather heal a festering wound. St. Paul made this clear when he excommunicated the man who took his father’s wife into his bed (1 Cor 5). Was Paul, acting at the Holy Spirit’s direction, being “divisive”? Was the Holy Spirit being “divisive”? The man and his step-mother had created the division. Paul’s apostolic action helped heal the body. Thus, “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, … not even to eat with such a one.”

    Unrepentant sin has already caused division and grievous offense, especially to children and youth, who see such a detestable example be tolerated without excommunication. That’s why Christ began His discussion of reconciliation / excommunication in Matthew 18 with a discussion of protecting children from sinful role models and causes to sin.

    The division exists already. The question is, will Synod, the District and the local pastors / elders allow the division to remain, enticing others to sin? Or, will they follow God’s clear Will and Word to heal the gaping wound?

  6. I think it is time the LCMS breathe some life back into the church.

    To say it plainly, what is the point in all of the “technicalities” as it pertains to homosexuality? For example, why spend energy outside of the boundaries of the confessions to hunt down gay and lesbian activity? Certainly the music director and the pastor should be under scrutiny within their own church, if need be; perhaps the Synod also has a role, given that the congregation is an extension of the synod and the synod would like the right to cut the church out.

    But let’s take a moment to consider the thorns attached to this plank in the said director’s eye. It is possible — no a certainty — that satan’s work uses not the homosexual, but the Christian’s homosexual response. That is, by obsessing over a public condemnation concerning gays and gay rights on every street corner, in every church, in every part of the U.S., the church draws their parishoners to focus on the sins of the minoritized “other,” instead of their own sins. LCMS is now inherently political; this drains its ability to promote grace as something given freely to everyone. Why? because the institution is too busy promoting the sin and not the quality of being saved!

    You can’t focus on one type of sin and make it the whipped dog that everything else is measured by. Who are you to judge, and do you really want to be so arrogant and fail to handle what God has already ordained as his territory?

    God ranked the most important things so we wouldn’t get confused — Love God and love your neighbor. This is unequivocal and has no qualifiers attached. Gay people are some of those neighbors. They are not going to go away. They are not going to allow their civil rights to march away. The LCMS can be appalled, to continue closed communion, to do everything it has done before. But when the church invests a heavy focus on this issue, particularly when suspicious congregations use this to bash gays — leaving gay people open to ostracism and injury, then the church has blindly walked into helping satan with what he wants.

    Let’s be honest folks, satan doesn’t give a twit about “rights” or “Biblical” readings of the homosexual issue. He doesn’t care how hard a church publicly denounces homosexuality, and he certainly does not care if the LCMS is the historical church your grandfather attended.

    Satan is, however, extremely vested in limiting charitable feelings wherever he can because these are the products of Christ’s grace as they live in man. Divide these in man and you divide the church. Division is satan’s game, and you guys (and the Synod) have granted him the field.

  7. Tilly,

    You twist the scriptures nearly as well as Satan did when he was tempting Jesus.

    Do you beleive that homosexuality is a sin? Then we need to oppose it.

    Based on on your logic, we should not criticize murder, or bestiality, or any sin.

    TR

  8. Pastor Rossow,

    The kind word has got to come before the stick.

    How is it “twisting” to emphasize that acceptance of our fellow man is every bit as important (if not more so) as the acknowledgement of sin? You are terrible at twisting an argument and completely ignore Christ’s most important instructions. Furthermore, my post makes it clear that I acknowledge sin as a real presence and one that should not be ignored. My point was how to acknowledge the sinner. However, (if I understand your response) you are suggesting that it is okay to “oppose” a specific sin, to make it so public, to frame it as the “sin of all sins,” and to do it in such a way that revulsion and/or acknowledgement of the sin turns people to fear and to hate those that are gay.

    This allows for great harm to be done to some so others can politicize, justify their views and themselves, to feel better because they don’t have to deal with a particular sin. It’s an “us or them” argument completely saturated with division and false pride, which says “I’m entitled to what I want, what I say is right. My way is the only way.”

    False pride. No, this is not as sensational as bestiality or homosexuality or adultery; no one will ever read about “false pride” on the front page of the paper. But in the end that is where sin originate from.

    I wrote to this blog because I wanted to see if I could find some honest answers to the multitude of issues that arise from homosexuality. You see, I have a gay cousin who has been ostracized by his family. I was looking for discussion and answers, not only for his problems but the issue in general. You were unable or unwilling to acknowledge my points because for you, this partiuclar group is an abomination, bereft of hope. This unforgiving attitude says more about you than about his chance to receive grace. This is where you give the field to satan. There is no way you will reach the homosexual community or their families with any hope.

  9. Tilly,

    If you wrote to this blog to find out about the multitude of issues that arise from homosexuality then why did you not state that clearly?

    You still have not really made that clear. What issues do you want to know about?

    Please do not call me unforgiving. My entire vocation is geared toward forgiveness. Where there is true sorrow for sin, I by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the word, announce the forgiveness of sins.

    Do you understand that this whole story is not about the sin of a gay activist? Please read this and the related posts again. No one has criticized any gay people. We have criticized a pastor and a district president for promoting sinful behavior. That is all. If you see anything different in what I have written please point it out to me.

    TR

  10. Pastor Rossow,

    The following examples are taken from the blogs.

    “The solution is to see to it that we do not have open and public sinners serving in our congregations.”

    “Unrepentant sin has already caused division and grievous offense, especially to children and youth, who see such a detestable example be tolerated without excommunication.”

    By no means are these two quotations representative of all the views on this blog, but they aptly address the main point I was attempting to make in my posts, which I will try to clarify.

    Public/private/ and repentant/unrepentant. For these binaries to exist, the following is assumed: one, that some sins are more “public” than others; two, that we are given an “inside” view of the repentant’s heart; and three, that sins are unequal, meaning that one is more apt to condemn than another.

    To put it as plain as I can, I reject the hard-line binaries. To start, since humans interact with other humans, all sins are “public”; that is, given enough time, everyone’s sins are generally up for view. And until they show themselves, we cannot attempt to judge a person’s specific failings. Leave condemnation to God.

    Two: repentance can be vocalized, but the real stuff is in the heart. Only God sees that. So, you can approach the gossip girl with her sin, and you may even get a “public” apology — that is, until she goes back to the same actions.

    I am not suggesting that people are unable to change: only that repentance is often a life-long process, occuring as a series of realizations, before true atonement and repentance alters behavior. We can’t assume that our way of dealing with a specific sin is the way that God might help someone else deal with it, or that they will come to that moment of light in the same way we might.

    And while there are always situations when one person must stand up to another and address a particular sin, this is often an area that is too often abused, where one sinner starts looking for planks in every eye except his own. Hence, the common, garden-variety sinners validate one another’s behavior because only the “uncommon” sinner is a menace.

    In my view, this is the greatest temptation: to judge yourself as someone “better” than another person, as if you bypassed your share of human failures while someone else is failing miserably with a hefty load. To aggravate this temptation in public allows false pride to thrive, where one sin receives more focus from the Christian community, when it is publicized to parishioners as a weightier, more serious offense.

    For example, the music director is made a spectacle because of his “open” resume, but the church lady who reminds you of your grandmother, the one with the viscious, gossiping tongue, who cooks those terrific pies for the pot luck dinners, destroys the fabric of Christian society with rumor mongering, because gossip is considered more common, less volatile. We all do it; hence she is harmless, acceptable. “Acceptable” sins thrive unnoticed, under the protection of others involved in similar sins, in addition to the protection offered by casting the “uncommon” sinner out.

    I’m not suggesting the LCMS give up its doctrinal identity. You have a right to whatever beliefs you have. However, holding on to the political end of homosexuality, taking passages of scripture to create a heavy public focus and diminish other issues gives many people the opportunity to reject family and friends, living in a state of denial, rather than dealing with a sin they find uncomfortable and difficult to understand. Your theological background privileges you to a certain understanding and responsibility concerning God’s grace; you can share this with other pastors; on a level, you have more to answer to if you abuse power. Parishioners do not feel that weight. So many times, they can use the institutional rhetoric for harm, rather than good.

    I’ll end here with one other thought in that direction. My homosexual cousin, who tries to treat others with kindness — as he wants to be treated, is a much better role model for my kids than our snappish church-going aunt, who rejected him because he wouldn’t give up his lifestyle.

    So I hope you can understand where I take umbrage with this public focus on the music director. Grace is open to all people until death (including the aunt); one comes to understand grace as one changes, and I do not think a speedy rejection of the person is usually a way to deal with sin –that is, unless we are going to all stand up and keep out of the church, for the “rules” make us all unworthy.

    I am not looking for spiritual counseling but dialogue with those who hold theological roles in the church, and parishioners if they want to join in. I will do my best to be open to alternative opinions. However, I ask for the same level of respect. Pastor Rossow, you asked me to refrain from calling you unforgiving. Fine, I will do that, accepting the fact I don’t know you. But you also don’t know me, so please avoid making the serious accusation that I twist scripture like satan. Nothing I have said here distorts God’s grace or its meaning in scripture.

  11. Tripe, Tilly. You sound like an emergent, although I rather suspect you’re a troll. If you are, guess it’s working 🙂

    Definitions are really very simple and clear:

    Public means you advertise it, you don’t try to hide it. If you sneak around and try to keep people from knowing, it’s not public. I suppose if you get caught then it becomes public. We have one famous mayor in the US who while married still carried on with his mistress in the public eye. That’s public. We likely have mayors in this country who carry on with their mistress in secret. That’s private.

    Unrepentant is pretty simple too. You don’t say “this is wrong, and I intend to stop.” Coming to repentance might be a process; being unrepentant is not.

    Got it?

    Interestingly, Christianity is pretty much a don’t ask/don’t tell kind of religion. This music guy told; at that point, something has to be done, preferably to move him to repentance but in any case to maintain the integrity of the church.

  12. You didn’t read my post very closely. LCMS has a responsibility to be open about their stance on issues; likewise, the LCMS is irresponsible when denouncing one type of sin, making homosexuality the primary focus in its dialogue.

    A “don’t ask, don’t tell environment” is a self-perpetuated, evil lie, and I can’t believe anyone would suggest this is Christ driven. It sounds more like a group of wanna be’s — individuals who are clearly unrepentant and need to point fingers at others to justify their sense of goodness. Hiding or masking sins, distorting the sins of others, does not make a Christian, just a really comfortable and practiced liar.

    Integrity requires openness and resists insulated justification. That is, if you really expect people to think of the Bible as THE word of God, if it is the lamp on the table, then self-righteousness must be absent.

    Oh, and Bubbles, I am not a troller, or an emergent. I’m a born and bred LCMS Lutheran, one who is extremely frustrated with the evident hypocrisy plaguing church life. I try my best to listen, but — excuse the pun — I refuse to live in a bubble. Christians in bubbles are not much help to fellow Christians or the confused nonbeliever.

  13. Dear Tilly, We are not saying that the sinner should not be loved but that the sin they are openly committing are to be condemed. We try our best as we have with you to point out what God wants from us . Our love of God and our loving obedience to Him. Only after we admit our sinful nature and our love of sin(which we are all guilty of)and then repent of them and ask forgiveness of them are we to theen teach the Gospel of forgiveness. We (true Christians) can not stand with anyone who arrogantly,unapologetivally, and in our face continues to commit sins. I pray you know the differance between Law and Gospel.

  14. Randolph,

    I appreciate your honesty and explanations. The main difference (and the one I find most problematic) is the idea of the open sin — all sin is in your face; we choose to highlight some over others. There is no difference between one sinner or another, regardless if one is open or not. If man is inherently sinful, than we are all — without exception — on the same playing field.

    This is why I made the comparison between the gossip monger and the homosexual. Obviously, an openly gay person with a partner cannot “hide” his/her lifestyle. Yet, in my view, gossip (or any type of sin) is also seen, and is every bit as guilty. My point is that in deciding to unabashedly condemn one particular sin over all others, to publicly ignore the inherent evil in other sins, to support the public condemnation of “open” sinners, to ask them to publicly repent, to withhold their forgiveness, and to be largley silent and passive with sinners whose sins are not always as visible (although many times they are), but not as controversial, is a form of hypocrisy that pollutes the church.

    Certainly, condemning one does not cleanse the rest. The law is just as heavy on the heterosexual person. Gospel is for everyone; it is up to the individual to accept it and realize how this affects their sins and what it asks of them. And last, when we categorically try to withhold forgiveness from homosexuals, we are polluting the gospel with our own fallible judgment, unless we are willing to publicly repent our sins in the same manner we ask the homosexual.

    Are any of us brave enough, as some have suggested the music director should be, to stand up on Sunday morning — in front of families, friends, business contacts, and church members — and confess what we really do in hiding, or what we think in the dark regions of our minds?

    Can’t say yes to that? Then pray for mercy, because you are clearly an unrepentant sinner and are no more forgiven then the music director.

  15. Dear Tilly, I do ask for forgiveness on Sundays in front of all. I commit many sins and you are right that no one sin is greater than another. Also, the reason it may seem that one sin or another is being singled out is that certain sins recieve attention in the public arena above the other equally damning sins. We are all sinners and commit the sin of thinking or at least giving the impression that we are not as bad as that sinner over there. Just as Jesus pointed out that actually doing a sin is no worse than just thinking about it or actually seeing yourself doing the sin in your minds eye. Again I say, you are right that all of us sin and should confess our sins and ask God’s Grace for forgiveness that can be found in the perfect life,suffering , death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think when we concentrate on a sin in a blog that we can get blinders on. But, when a person tries to say that a sinful action is not so because what God’s word says is not right because it conflicts with our view point, then we are wrong. But that attitude makes it harder to see the truth that stes us all free.
    In God’s love to you,
    Randy

  16. Randolph,

    I understand what you are saying, and I respect your views. Again, my point is that when public confession occurs during the weekly liturgy, we all stand together, confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness. No one is scapegoated.

    However, Lutherans expect the music director to stand apart and make confession, in front of, not with the congregation. Perhaps this is expected simply because he is employed by the church? Is it the same type of public penance any employee would have to make, for any sin that may compromise he church?

    But, if public repentance is demanded simply because someone is homosexual, with that sin set apart from other sins, then the demand is hypocritical and sinful in its own right. It’s my view that several LCMS members suffer with this problem. It may in fact be the undoing of many a Christian, which I hope does not destroy the church.

    Thanks for your posts Randolph. You have been honest and open with your views. I appreciate it.

    God’s Blessings,

    Tilly

  17. Tilly,
    I think I understand the position from which you are addressing this situation. I think you are stating that public admition of guilt is not neccessary in the church;meaning the body of Christians as they are gathered in one place.

    In this I am in total agreement with you. We are told in scripture to approach the brother(Sisters are also included in the word brother)should be approached in private by the one that has seen the sin or come to knowledge of a sin by a fellow Christian brother. If the person does not repent then two brothers should go and confront the offender, then if no admission of quilt and no asking of forgiveness is not asked for, then the elders are to call and finally excommunication until the offender recants and repents.

    Now, the above directions are for fellow members of our congregation. Not for those outside the church. 1Cor. 5:12-13 says,”What buisness is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.”

    Again,no public admission for members of the Christian Church. But, sexual immorality is not to be tolorated within the church. 1Cor. 5:9 “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-.”

    In this situation of the organist I think the person is filling a payed job and is not a church member. He is filling a positionthat affects the entire assymbly of Christians at that particular congregation. There-by making the situation a church wide subject for discussion. This is the problem with hiring people from outside the congregation to fill posistions that used to be filled by volunteers from within the congregation. Hiring practices are dictated by the civil authorities and so are the firing procedures.

    But, in conclusion the bible singles out sexual immorality many, many times. If someone announces that they are commiting a sexual sin publically then they are giving up the privacy of their posistion.

    This is a delicate situation in that we as Christ’s representitives on earth must never lose sight of Christ’s grace while still using the Law as a mirror to show the person the error of their ways without using the Law as our own personal club to beat the person over the head with.

    Please, do not abandon us, to not throw us out with the bath-water. Stay with us and keep reminding us all of our Christian duties. People who leave the church thinking that that will show them do harm to themselves and their fellow christians that need your guidance.

    Yours in Christ,
    Randy

  18. Randy,

    Thanks for the comments. Apologies that it has taken me so long to respond.

    To keep this short, no my family has not left the church, although we have for the past two years attended a church of a different denomination, largely because of the dysfunctional nature of our old church and its circuit.

    I think the public vs. private debate is never a decided issue; every instance of sin can harbor different traits, including secrecy. I would also argue that sins other than sexual immorality receive more attention in the Bible: The book of James discusses the evils of the tongue; the primary theme of the parables in Matthew is weak faith, and a similar thread concerning the dangers of judgment and the nature of Christ’s forgiveness is carried out as well. The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

    Again, thanks for you considerate, respectful, answers. You have been a great person to discuss this issue with. At least in my estimation, you are a Christian of strong faith, someone who is able to handle a critique of his beliefs without falling into a heap or jumping to the defense. Blessings to you in your walk with Christ.

    Tilly

  19. Tilly,
    I can’t believe that it has been sooo long since we last talked. I ask your foregivness for my lapse in the conversation. This blog has caused me to really look at myself and to examine my sinfull feelings on this subject. This is probably as hot a topic with me as abortion is.

    What we all have to keep in front of us is the fact that we sin because we are sinners and not the other way around. We have lost the ability to come to God on our own, Adam and Eve have past that original sin down to us, making choosing God’s way impossible on our own. Romans 5:12 “Therefore,just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin,and so death spread to allmen because all sinned-” No one sin is greater than any other, a sin is a sin, and so it is with the word. Ignor just one verse in scripture you ignor the entire Word of God. The fight between the flesh and the spirit will continue until we give up this flesh and our spirit is released to be with Christ in Heaven and eventually in the new world, but we should not throw our hands up in the air and say”I can’t help it, so why fight it?” Romans 6:15 has the answer. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means.” Of course Paul was speaking to Christians in this epistle just as I am speaking to one now. First for a non-christian the Law must be used to break the unrepentant sinner down and to make them feel unworthy. This causes them to seek help, then the Holy Spirit, through the Word, can accomplish His work by establishing faith in that person and continuing to strengthen that faith as the sinner continues to live a repentant life.

    Yes, we are poor sinfull beings and in much need of the forgiveness that is ours if we accept; by not rejecting; God’s love through Christ Jesus. The marks of a true Christian: Romans 12:9-21 “9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
    14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.

    17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b]says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

    You will continue to be in our prayers.
    May God continue to bless you,
    Randy

  20. Sorry to jump in to this a bit late, but why isn’t the simple axiom “God says no” enough?

    Why do we continually look for human-based reasons to circumvent the Word of God in order to, as Dale Carnegie would have put it, win friends and influence people?

    Is homosexuality a sin so abominable as to be unforgiveable?

    Of course not. But that, I fear, is missing the point.

    The response of the Church to homosexuality has everything to do with the way in which it has been thrown into the public’s face by way of various outlets of activists, rampant political-correctness, and a hedonistic, theraputic culture that spares no effort to coddle and cajole that which is most obviously wrong-headed to both Christians and non-Christians alike.

    For every sincere and silent person who is living as a homosexual, there seem to be ten or twenty who insist upon making the business of their bedrooms everybody elses business as well. They remain unsatisfied that there are people with whom they will simply never agree, and are content to label such as ‘haters,’ ‘bigots,’ and what have you. While this may in fact be true for some, where the Christian is concerned that particular assumption is just that, and is a load of rubbish to boot.

    When approached by some well-meaning individual who wishes to discuss the issue of gay rights, I am more than comfortable engaging in a civil conversation, though we almost always part without any accord.

    When approached by two dancing men wearing nothing but their white underwear and sailor hats in a parade (like the one we only recently endured here) and demand that I acknowledge their ‘right’ to carry on so, I am less inclined to charitable response, to say the least.

    And when the Church, taking great pains to underscore that which God HImself has revealed regarding human behavior and sexuality, operates with the proverbial blind eye towards such things in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusion,’ she proves that she is uninterested in certain portions of God’s Word that make some people feel uncomfortable, so long as everyone is made to feel welcome.

    When the carrot comes before the stick, that is tantamount to suggesting that Gospel must be preached before Law; surely we as Lutherans know better than this?

  21. To Randy and Wyldeirishman,

    Those who make up the human church forget too often that Gospel does come before Law. What, to wavering believers and non-Christians in society, could the Lutheran version of Biblical living possibly mean to someone who is completely untrained in a Christian life? How can you express your faith in Christ to the nonbelievers, if you are openly condemning their kind before they have had the chance to find the church door? How is “breaking them down” to work, if they don’t (figuratively speaking)understand your language, the word of the Bible?

    And, if the only thing the non-christian homosexual hears is harsh condemnation, he will fear Christians, not support them, like them, listen to or respect them. He is, as wyldeirishman phrased it, willing to become a rampant “activist,” attempting to put a wedge between he and those he thinks wish to hurt him or take away his freedoms. Continuing to provoke those who are attempting to attain their civil rights (and the mulititude who support them) will not bring outsiders to Christ, the primary goal of the church. This goal is more important than squabbling over doctrine, and it recognizes that God allows us to come to him — he gives us the free will to make this decision.

    Every Christian should keep this in mind when pride in christian living and fear of others steps before the ability to be humble at His feet.

    Wyldeirishman, you are way out line to assume that a Christian will not stand with the homosexual; a fair number of hate and fear-filled Christians have gone out of their way to persecute homosexuals, making it necessary for other Christians (myself included) to stand up and vocalize our support and willingness to protect our homosexual loved ones from those willing to commit acts of slander, violence, even the use of slurs like “fag”, “fairy”, “gay boy,” “dyke,” etc. Perhaps your life has been free of this kind of difficulty, but major and minor acts of hate my homosexual relations have had to deal with, men who are compassionate, hardworking citizens that never retaliate but only ask to be left alone. Could you do the same, if you were in their shoes?

    And no, they do not dance on TV, like the TV image you relish to describe, proclaiming their sexual orientation in their underwear. They do not go about wagging their arms and wearing pink dresses either. Is this really how you wish to see all homosexuals? What was your purpose, exactly, in describing this? Do you really want to fall for and promote a TV image, using it as a sterotype to apply to most or all homosexuals? If so, this is your own set of ignorant and baseless assumptions, possibly a variety of sinful fears that you have allowed to grab hold of you. Otherwise, you would have a better understanding and acceptance of humanity and its frailities. It is time you began to focus on what you have in common with your fellow man — including the homosexual ones — instead of insulating yourself from the very humanity you are a part of.

    And lest we forgot — there are several homosexuals who consider themselves active Christians — don’t they deserve our support, just as heterosexuals expect it, since no one sin is greater than another?

    It comes down to this. God certainly does not mean for Christians to act as lawyers,and yet, here we are, doing it every single day, presuming to judge others (in and outside of the church), filling our congregational heads with concerns of doctrinal law, caring more about politics than people, as if we can fully understand (based on our faulty observations) what is in someone else’s heart. Do not judge lest ye be judged. The most simply explained, but the most difficult of Jesus’ advisements to us.

    So, leave judgment at the door. Hate the sin — then forget it — so you can love the person, to the best of your imperfect ability. Once new or seeking christians are in the door, you can hand out Bibles, offer support, study groups, community, etc.. When they ask, which they will– give them your opinion, the interpretation you believe the Bible to proclaim, while making it clear that you are not judging but feel compelled to believe what God’s word tells you, even though your understanding maybe wrong on certain points. Promoting doctrine that might be construed as the Christian’s right to hate or ostracize does not belong at the pulpit. Instead, we must do what we can to make our fellow man’s internal, spiritual warfare a journey he/she can overcome, leaving everything else to God and the sinner’s choice. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to meet with God about his/her own sins; this is not easy, when, because of sexual orientation, or any other thing we might call sin, a fellow man is ostracized. We all need human support.

    So, if God’s thinking (based on the Bible) is to condemn homosexuality, then he will deal with it accordingly. It is enough to practice what you preach in your own bedroom, to concern yourself with the issue of exual orientation in your own heart and body. It is enough to be part of a church that allows you to receive and offer support on this issue, as with all things of this world. Anything more is faulty judgment, mainly because we are so naturally inept when it comes to issues of justice, virtue, and righteousness.

    And Randy, thanks so much for the Scripture you have entailed in your post. I will continue to think on these things, as with all things in our ongoing discussion.

    God’s best to you all,

    Tilly

  22. My heart is grieving to read these exchanges … it’s because I have a personal sorrow about this very thing…
    for a dear family member, 19 years old, who recently announced he is “gay”. There are many dysfunctional reasons for why this dear child is making this decision to be openly homosexual, but I’m not writing about that … My heart is breaking because I have found out that he is now involved with a community of “Christians” who have twisted the scriptures to say it’s ok to be homosexual and that God is ok with this lifestyle.

    Here’s what I first wrote to him – in a closed message to his Facebook – when I first found out about his “coming out” – and his reply was so telling of the brokenness of this lifestyle…

    My note to him:

    Dear One…

    Since you’re being so open here I’m going to step out in faith believing that it’s ok for me to also be open with you and share with you how my heart is breaking right now…

    I’m always saddened when I see or read how the broken world around us continues to be deceived – this ever since that terrible day in the Garden when Adam and Eve were first deceived and no longer trusted God’s leading – And how the truth of God continues to be twisted into terrible and deadly lies.

    Right now I am praying as I read your page …for it grieves me to learn that your beautiful, kind, and creative spirit is on in such a very dangerous and twisted path.

    My thoughts will be comforted though, as I am reminded of God’s Words of love and healing.

    Yes, I am praying for you, whether you want me to or not, I must, for I can not help but feel the brokenness of it all.

    I am very concerned about the path you appear to be on right now. A very difficult future indeed if you continue to stay on that path.

    But again, like it or not, I’m praying for you – as I have for all of your 19 years… praying that you will seek the wisdom of God from the Word of God, and by His Spirit leading you, you will know God’s path for you – one of Truth and Love. God’s Word says to speak the Truth in Love.

    So I am trying to do that now.

    But in doing so, I know that you already know, that nowhere in the Word of God is homosexuality deemed to be “ok”…

    The Word teaches us that our loving God sees all of the broken things about us and as our true Father and Great Physician, God is always there, waiting for all of us to come to Him, acknowledging our brokenness, asking for his wisdom and healing.

    Let no one tell you it’s “ok” … it’s not.

    No, the Truth of God is the Word of God, Jesus. And His Word is clear; it is not of God’s Love to stay on any broken path…

    And while we all struggle with our brokenness, and from our brokenness, we all side step from time to time onto those broken paths, Jesus is ever near to us, waiting for us to take His Holy Pierced Hand, so He can lead us along the good path, home. I love you so much. And I’m praying for you.

    Your Forever Auntie

    O.K…. Now here’s what he wrote back to me …

    (Note: please ignore the misspellings – young people today do not seemed very concerned about “formality” in their writing):

    “from what you said i dont think its a good idea if you visit me at college…

    and how can you pick and choose parts of me to love? I dont know if I trust that you love me completely which is all i deserve and is what i demand. anything less I will not take…

    And no– I am not happy…

    but as snoopy once said its better to live one day as a lion than 100 as a sheep

    additionally here are some of my favorite lessons christ taught me…

    He who lives without sin may cast the first stone…

    face it just us being human means we’re on a broken path, even you…

    we all fall short of the glory of god and therefore need the gracious gift of christ’s sacrifice …

    so knowing that god loves me no matter what (john 3:16) i will live my life as purely and honestly as I can
    which means yes i will share my life with a man…

    and as broken as that may seem to you it seems even more broken to me that you feel this way so know my heart is broken too…

    Lets be clear I’m not rejecting crist, but only your narrow views…

    I love you still and I’ll prey for you also.”

  23. Auntie,

    In C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” he writes that one of the most important aspects of living is the concept of free will; indeed, without this none of can be truly Christian.
    The idea is this: God wants us to come to Him; there is no force involved here, only that we will accept or reject Him. Some will reject, but for the rest of us, well, none of us will get to know God in quite the same way. And yes, some of us might be terribly wrong about our approach.

    To be honest, I don’t think God is going to say to you, “Gee, you were right to lose contact with your newphew; holding to Biblical doctrine in your relationship with him (when perhaps he was terribly confused and wasn’t quite ready to accept it as you did) was more important than simply loving him, a member of your family.” However, if your self-righteous, he might ask why you cast the first stone.

    Maybe your nephew is having problems outside of his orientation that add to your worries; perhaps he is promiscuous, which is an entirely different set of issues.

    But if this is just simply sexual orientation, then stop playing God and try being your nephew’s aunt. If you have been involved in his life, he would probably like to know you still love him, despite your difference of views. If you can’t do that, remember that your difficulty in accepting your nephew’s choices is more likely a reflection of your inability to let God work in your nephew’s life (and yours), as opposed to your ability to pound him into the kind of Christian you would like him to be.

  24. “Imagine going up to Holy Communion to receive the body and blood of Christ being accompanied by a known gay/lesbian activist at the organ bench”

    I understand this is a big problem for you people. But can you show me where in the Confessions it says the efficacy of a sacrament is limited by the music being played at the time it is administered, or by who is playing it?

    In the meantime, I’ll be giving thanks that the body and blood of Christ is more powerful than narrow minded (not to mention non-Scripturally based) doctrine…

  25. Sam888,

    The point is not about the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper. I agree whole-heartedly with you on that.

    The point is that a known activist for a sinful enterptrise is leading the people of God in thier praise of the God who has said that this is sinful behavior.

    Hope that makes more sense for you.

    TR

  26. I’m so glad I left you narrow-minded folk!! I am equally glad that others are doing the same in record numbers. (Read the “Official Notices” section of your Lutheran Witness.) You have forgotten the first and greatest commandment. You are the greatest sinners of all.

    By the way, I will not be back to this page, so redirect your anger somewhere else.

  27. OK. Homosexuality is a sin. What about how heterosexuals practice their sexuality?

    I think Jesus spoke clearly about men who have lusted in their heart. Yet, I don’t read anything here about removing heterosexuals from paid church positions because of sin in their life.

    There is the hypocrisy.

    All have sinned. No one is worthy. All sin is equal. All sin is deadly. Yet, some of you have decided that heterosexual lust doesn’t disqualify.

    Why are some of you willing to allow the heterosexual to serve and not the homosexual, even though sexual sin remains in the life of the heterosexual?

    There can be many answers to my last question. The answers can be given honestly, from the heart. They can be from a desire of wanting to protect others, especially the young. An honest answer, though, has nothing to do with ignorance.

    If any of you think homosexuality has anything to do with child abuse, you are wrong. Any abusive sexual relationship (rape, child abuse, pederasty) always has to do with one person’s power over another person–never love. It is possible for a heterosexual male to bond with a female, yet have a pathological, hurtful need to abuse children (evidence shows that the gender of the abused makes no difference). OF COURSE THOSE THAT ABUSE CHILDREN NEED TO BE STOPPED.

    But, the subject here is homosexuality, not abuse.

    How many of you have a copy of the Concordia Self-Study Commentary (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971 and 1979)? For those of you that do have one, have you considered the implication of what Dr. Walter Roehrs wrote about Jonathan and his feelings for David on page 198 in commenting upon 1 Samuel 18:4 on page 198?

    “18:4 _Stripped himself_: Jonathan, as it were, merged his identity with his friend. Giving David his weapons and his clothes was an outward expression of an inner union.” [Dr. Roehrs goes on to equate this with believers putting on Christ.]

    In describing David’s eulogy in 2 Samuel 1, Dr. Roehrs describes verse 27–where David says Jonathan’s love was passing the love of women–as “…no more than a choked sob.” (See commentary on 2 Samuel 1:17 on page 205.)

    I doubt very, very much Dr. Roehrs intended to say Jonathan’s relationship with David was homosexual. In the 1970s, the generally understood meaning of such relationships in the general public (especially as compared to abusive relationships) was not there. Yet, he described the same merging one would expect in marriage.

    “2:24 _One Flesh_: Woman’s nature makes possible a union with man so intimate and complete in every respect as to constitute a merging of themselves into _one flesh_” (Walter Roehrs, “Genesis,” Concordia Self-Study Commentary, page 19).

    Again, I do not think Dr. Roehrs intended to equate the relationship of a man and woman, especially Adam and Eve in his comments upon Genesis 2, with the relationship of Jonathan and David. Yet, he described both as a “merging.”

    Are any of us so wise that the Holy Spirit cannot teach us something new?

    This is not to say that homosexuality is neutral or good. I would never say that the lust found in the heart of the heterosexual male is neutral or good. Yet, both are real and both won’t go away no matter how much prayer and fasting you do.

    Denying either (homosexuality or heterosexual lust) through pietistic practice (denial) doesn’t change that fact. I hesitate to use the phrase “sin boldly,” as I am sure some of the learned pastors on this website will launch into a long discourse. Yet, what are we left with?

    We don’t tell heterosexuals they can’t serve because of the lust in their hearts, a lust all honest people know exists. Why tell homosexuals to practice a form of pietism, because it isn’t going to change with whom they are going to love and merge their spirits.

    Sin boldly, for we know God’s grace covers us all, in spite of our sins.

  28. Wow there is certainly a lot of emotion here over this issue

    I know that what I write will probably not be read by many but as a celibate homosexual and a member of the LCMS, I want to throw in my two cents.

    About the original topic, while I can see that church might hire an organist who is homosexual, I do not understand why they would basically advertise it on their website. To do so is a little insulting to people like myself who struggle to live according to God’s Word in spite of our temptation. I suppose it is possible that he is no longer in the lifestyle and sees the mention of his former employment as a way of saying “see what a change God has made in my life.” But if so, it should be put more obviously. I would need far more information to know whether they were right or wrong in hiring him. However, to publicly appear to support homosexuality is just plain wrong.

    As to the topic of homosexuality itself, however, I think the LCMS needs a vote of thanks for remaining firm on this issue. My feelings and desires do not give me permission to sin and I need a church which will tell me so. I do not want a church like the ELCA which will tell me the battle is lost and that I should give in to my desire. They merely kindly condemn me to the hell of my own limitations. I want a church that will hold to God’s Word and honestly tell me what it says even when it may hurt me to know that. I want a church that will call me to repentance not offer me excuses.

    I realize the LCMS is often soft on other sins such as pre-marital sex or gossip but that is not being unfair or unloving to me. It is being unfair unloving to those sinners who also need to hear God’s Law strongly and powerfully preached to them.

    That being said, the pastors and congregations of the LCMS have not made a strong enough effort to understand the fact that 13 and 14 year old kids who face this particular temptation have a very hard time comprehending the Gospel.

    I can not describe how horrible and scary it is to be in Jr High and realize you are attracted to other boys instead of girls. Suddenly, every time the subject is mentioned everything that is said seems to be directed at you. When your dad talks about “those fags” you know he is talking to you. When the pastor uses homosexuality as an example of sin in a sermon, you know he is talking about you. When Bible study dwells on how the Bible says homosexual sex is wrong, you know it’s talking about you. When the men at church tell crude gay jokes without realizing you are overhearing them, you know they are talking about you.

    The level of self hate, fear and despair is so intense and hurts so much. I don’t know how many tears and how many desperate prayers I went through in my teen years. In my late teens I even went through a period where I was cutting and burning myself whenever I had a homosexual thought in an effort to make them go away – thankfully the period was short and I did not do any major damage to myself.

    That self hate makes it hard to comprehend the Gospel message if it is preached in a general sense. Believe me, our teens are getting the Law about this subject in a very specific an targeted manner. I heard it at home, at church and at school when I was called “gay” or “fag” by the other kids and I got the Law very directly in the times I was beat up or punched by the other boys whenever the teachers were not looking.

    What I needed to hear was the Gospel as directly applied to me and my situation. General statements like “God loves everybody” or “God forgives all sin” just could not make it through all the layers of the Law, shame and fear.

    I needed to hear the Gospel applied specifically to me and my situation.

    I need to hear “God forgives homosexuality too.”

    I needed an invitation of private confession put in a way I could understand. I needed to hear a pastor say “If anyone is facing homosexuality please come and talk to me. I will be gentle and kind and will help you to know what God’s love and forgiveness is all about.”

    I needed to know that even though I was afraid my own family would hate me if they found out about my desires, God’s table was open to me, a homosexually tempted kid and that I was welcome there.

    I needed to know that baptism made me God’s child and that He would not go back on that promise because I faced homosexual desires.

    We tend to preach the Law specifically but preach the Gospel generally and that is a grave mistake.

    This is why, to the confusion of many Christians, homosexuals often think the church hates them, because they heard the Law applied directly, specifically and thoroughly but heard the Gospel in a way they could not really comprehend it.

    We really need to open our eyes about how we are applying the Gospel when it comes to this issue.

    Thankfully I did learn to apply the Gospel to myself. I have learned in my adult years that God loves me not just in spite of my sin but because I am a sinner – the Son of Man came to seek and to save the sinner. No, I will never sin boldly. To do so would be to dishonor Him who died for me. Neither will I make an attempt to have a loving sexual union with another man. God did not design either our bodies or our souls to work that way. I may never be able to change my feelings and desires. But instead of using that as an excuse to break God’s Law I see it as a call to come to the cross where the broken are welcomed and given a new identity even while battling the old man. If heterosexuality is never open to me, I can at least face my temptation with the grace of God and maintain purity and celibacy and repentant joy as a child of God. He truly is the Spring of Living Water and the Bread of life.

    I do still wish for one thing. Christ is the bread of life but it would be nice to have the peanut butter and jelly of Christian fellowship too. I can live on bread but I can’t help wanting a bit more. I haven’t told a lot of people about my temptation because it doesn’t usually turn out well. I’ve had two or three who have been understanding and supportive but in most cases I find that I kind of drift out of people’s lives because they are uncomfortable with the fact I am attracted to men instead of women. So, i don’t tell anyone anymore. I remember when I was 15 that the only thing I really wanted was a hug from someone who know about my homosexuality and loved me anyway. I’m 50 and I’ve pretty much given up on getting that hug now – but it would still be nice if it ever came.

    In the end, I need Christ’s love. I don’t need yours. But I would really like to have both. I wonder if that will ever be possible.

    Well that was more than two cents, I guess, maybe a whole dime. I doubt anyone will read it and if anyone does, I hope I didn’t sound too insulting – I didn’t mean to be.

    God bless and thank you to the LCMS for both the Law and the Gospel.

  29. Anonymous for a Reason,

    Thank you for that heartfelt comment. It was helpful for this LCMS pastor to hear. You are forgiven just as I am forgiven for my lusting, gossip, idolatry and so on. I am so glad you learned how to apply the Gospel to yourself. Don’t forget also that the words of absolution spoken each Sunday are for you as well.

    Thanks again for posting,

    TR

  30. Thank you Pastor Rossow.

    I do appreciate that.

    But I wasn’t really looking for assurance for myself – though I do appreciate it. What pastors and congregations really need to know is that the target age for dealing with this issue should be 12-14 when the kids are just starting to deal with this issue but too young to be able to apply general Gospel to themselves.

    6 of the 20 kids in the youth group I grew up in were homosexual. The adults did not talk to us about homosexuality because they felt it was “inappropriate” to talk to kids about it. Phfffft! Each one of us 6 could have told them more about homosexuality at age 15 than most straight adults know today.

    Today I am the only one still in the LCMS. As far as I know the other 5 don’t attend church anywhere anymore. I know at least one is atheist. The others were gone by the time they were half way through college. One died of AIDS at 23.

    The LCMS has to realize that if we don’t specifically target the Gospel and Means of Grace to the kids struggling with homosexuality by the time they are in middle school or early high school we may never have the chance to do so.

    If we don’t, then the first time those kids walk into a gay bar in their early 20’s they will find they have more in common with every single person in there in the first 10 minutes than they ever did with anyone in their home congregation in 2 decades. They will have shared experiences of hurts, guilt and fear with those people in that gay bar that will tie them together on a level deeper than mere sex. These are things they should be able to share with the church but can’t.

    As it is now, our church talks about homosexuality but, because we talk about it as an adult problem to adults, we are just talking to ourselves. The pastors and people are not talking to the people who need to hear it – they are already long gone by that age. The whole debate on this blog and others like it is useless on a practical level because it is talking about homosexuality rather than to homosexuals. It feels good to say “God forgives homosexuality” but unless you are actually saying that to a homosexual you have accomplished nothing.

    We have two excellent resources in this Synod – “A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families” from the LCMS website and “A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality” by Dan Puls from CPH. But the failing of both is that they are targeted toward adults and situations where the person’s homosexuality is known.

    The vast majority of homosexuals Pastors are actually dealing with are kids who have not left the church and are too ashamed to reveal their homosexuality.

    Unless the church learns to speak to the kids at all times as if one or more of them may be dealing with this issue and we want to assure them they can safely come to their pastor for help, we will not reach them.

    That does not mean the pastor has to be overtly mentioning homosexuality all the time. (Although in 50 years of life I have yet to hear a pastor talk even once as if he were aware there might actually be a homosexual in his congregation.) But it does mean a pastor need to be aware that some of the kids in his congregation might be experiencing this and does need to mention it now and then while watching to make sure all his words about homosexuality are Gospel oriented.

    My experience growing up homosexual was no different than most. Every single gay friend I have could tell you stories of nearly identical feelings and experiences to mine. So please, next time you pastors walk into your confirmation class look at the kids and realize that one or more could be going through that self hate, fear, guilt and hopelessness and you have no way of knowing. They are probably the boy or girl who seems most interested and asks the most question because they are desperately looking for answers and help. Take a look at your youth group and realize that the most likely place for homosexuals in your church is among the most active of those kids. Feeling guilty, most of us who grew up in Christian churches went overboard in being helpful and friendly at church to try and make up for our guilt. Unfortunately, any compliments we received about how sweet we were or how helpful we were only made us feel worse because we felt like such liars.

    Sop, just be aware that homosexuality is not an academic exercise or an interesting theological discussion. It is a practical matter and you are working with young homosexuals every week in your congregations. You just don’t know who they are, but what you say will either lead them to Christ through a proper use of Law and Gospel or damn them to hell through rejection and hopelessness. So, pastors, please, look at what you say and ask yourselves what they are hearing.

  31. Anonymous,

    I did get your point and it will change the way I approach homosexuality. Hearing it again in your last post was also helpful.

    TR

  32. Where can a guy go to escape! The Churches have been falling apart, the U.S. is failing, come Lord Jesus and bring Your Kingdom!

    Maybe I will become Eastern Orthodox.

    Maybe I will just worship at home with my family.

    I’m so tired of protestantism CONSTANTLY failing.

  33. To anonymous,

    I wish I would have read your post sooner. Thank you for taking so much of your time to point out the obvious. It seems that many of us need to relearn the Sunday school basics God first inspires within us: to love God with all your soul and strength and to love others as you love yourself.

    As you deftly point out, all people, regardless of orientation are not sterile objects to be excised for church debate that naturally leads to their ostracization. The burden of lost faith placed on those homosexuals ostracized and permanently separated from Christ because of their vulnerability falls on everyone’s shoulders. The burden of changing this state lands there as well.

    Starting with pastors and elders, everyone must set the example.

    We each have a role to play, to willingly and humbly open our offices, families, and homes to homosexuals. We have an equal duty to admonish those who would do otherwise, to publicly condemn and confront the ignorance spread by homophobes who preach alienation of homosexuals and crack moronic fag jokes, to strive against the gleeful humiliation and violence launched against numerous homosexuals sitting within our congregations — and those standing outside our church doors. Certainly, no one posting here can say such despicable behaviors are acceptable to God? Are part of God’s work? Lead to conversion of the newly repentant or exemplify a Godly lifestyle? Always, homophobic acts are equal in weight to the acts of the unrepentent homosexual.

    Violence and humiliation of homosexuals are not Biblical laws; such behavior does not instruct and does not regulate society for the betterment of all. Instead, such divisiveness works to confuse and hurt, to strip all people of their faith and right to worship with a diverse body of believers sharing same Biblical values. To not alter discriminatory practices is to remain wholly unrepentent, risking salvation. This is real failure, when Law and Gospel are ignored and fall on many a deaf and fearful ear — within the church body that is supposed to “know” better.

  34. @Paul, welcome to the Church of the last 2000 years. Of course it is failing (if you look at outwardly works and successes). It is made up of people who are sinners who *gasp* sin and has always been so and always done so. You will find it no different in the Eastern Orthodox or in your home because you will still be among sinner who sin.

    Yet the true power of the Church is dependent on that very sin. For our peculiar power (how I wish they had not changed that in the maroon catechism as it is truly “peculiar” in every sense of the word) is the office of the keys, the forgiveness of sin and the opening of the doors of heaven to the repentant sinner. To seek where sin is less and success is greater is to be doctor seeking to cure the healthy – with this exception, a doctor may cure a sick person but, this side of the grave, a sinner will always be a sinner.

    @Tilly, thank you. But we also need to be careful. We tend to put this discussion in extremes and that is dangerous.

    I’m 48 years old and have lived all my life in the LCMS and have never felt that any pastor or congregation member in any way sanctioned violence or humiliation against homosexuals. If anything, I have always received the message that our pastors and people are very much against such violence and do, in fact, proclaim such acts as absolutely sinful. The vast majority of LCMS people I have known are polite and friendly to the homosexuals in their life and really do want to do something to help. They just don’t know how. Concentrating on extremes our pastors and people are not doing, such as violence and humiliation, doesn’t help people to learn what they can do.

    What it comes down to is simply this, we need to remember who we are and the basics of our doctrine in Law and Gospel.

    We need to remember that faith, salvation and change come from the Gospel. We have not done a very good job of applying that Gospel to this issue. In various discussions about Concordia Chicago’s desire to put on the play “The Laramie Project,” for instance, I saw lots of people talking about everything wrong with the play and why it should not be presented. But I never saw the one, greatest argument – that our Church strives to proclaim forgiveness, which is always a far greater power than the plea for mere tolerance the play presents. The play may have many flaws but its greatest flaw is that tolerance is always insipid compared to the exhilarating savor of forgiveness.

    I don’t need tolerance. I don’t want tolerance. To tolerate me means you “put up with” me or “bear” me. Tolerating me makes me either a problem or a burden. And I don’t find hope or joy in being either. To sort of misquote Christ in Revelation, I rather you be hot or cold to me but if you only tolerate me then your “love” of me is so lukewarm it can’t even be called friendship, much less love.

    No, what I need is love and that can only come through forgiveness. That can only show if you care enough about me to tell me I am a sinner and then tell me of the forgiveness of Christ which washes away that sin. Auntie, earlier in this discussion, did a wonderful job of that, by the way. Forgiveness shows me real love, forgiveness shows me you find joy in being my brother or sister in Christ. Forgiveness tells me I am a person and not a problem in you eyes.

    To be honest, merely preaching against homophobia, violence, alienation or humiliation of homosexuality doesn’t actually help me out a whole lot. Once again, it is just preaching law, law against someone other person’s sin. Hearing what others are doing wrong or even that the pastor/elder disapproves of such action, doesn’t tell me what I need to know. No, i need to hear the pastor preach against MY sin, for Christ is a Savior of sinners and if I am not a sinner then I have no connection to Him. And then I need to hear and see the pastor and the congregation forgive my sin for then I know the love of Christ.

    We just need to remember and apply the means of grace – it is really just as simple as that.

  35. Hello Anonymous,

    I do understand the distinctions you are making here, between “tolerance” and “forgiveness.” Allow me to briefly elucidate.

    The sense of tolerance I mention above is perhaps better stated as complete Christian inclusion into the literal body of Christ, for people to learn to make no distinction between the homosexual and the other sinners that inhabit this body. It would seem that if grace is embodied within the souls of a congregation then such distinctions are, if not ever completely indistinct (because perfection never can exist), much less a burden to all involved. Simply, we are all more free in forgiveness since it is by faith in grace alone that we experience the fruits of this forgiveness.

    With that said, I understand your caution about teasing out extremes in this discussion. Granted, every congregation is different and most people I believe wish to distance themselves from violence. But in this sense as well, I believe that fag jokes and “silent” exclusion are many times just as harmful as if you strike someone. Homophobia is a major problem where I live and many homosexuals are extremely careful about sharing anything about their orientation with outsiders. Why? Because we have Fred Phelps in our backyard, and many homosexuals who have lost jobs, friends, family and been victims of violence — in and outside of their church. This is where I see the Laramie Project as helpful, because it reveals the attitudes and perceptions that lead to violence. To assume a silent attitude would be most damaging in this area. Not to mention that most (not all) LCMS pastors here REFUSE to discuss this issue outside of stating the LCMS protocols. So, you and I are deluding ourselves if we think a homosexuality handbook is a great answer to this problem. Sometimes, you have to speak out. Your willingness to post your views on the complexity of building relationships with homosexual adolescents speaks to this fact.

    I have a much loved cousin (homosexual and also in his 40s) who finds that the only family member who will invite him over for a meal or share a holiday with him (besides his mother) is me. His Christian faith eroded long ago (partly because of the family issue), but I find his orientation is not a reason for me to avoid him. If anything, it is his acceptance in my life and mine in his that may one day help him to heal and recover some or all of what he’s lost — and it is a biggie because he absolutely has no faith in Jesus now. This is between God and him; I’m just the support person, someone who will not disown him (as he would not disown me) and would rather be “there” to help if a change of faith happens, rather than removed from him because of my own self righteousness.

    For me this is what grace is about. And it is so confounding to me that some fear homosexuality so much. It is certainly one thing to fear sin, but it is another thing to live IN fear and disregard the power of Christ. Homosexuality is not a contagious disease; you do not catch it by association. Nothing changed for me when I learned my cousin was gay. I still loved him, still wanted to interact with him. He was the same person he’s always been.

    It is in honor of my cousin and to bring awareness of his plight and loss of faith that I spend my time posting here. Jesus loves him as he loves me — and I want to ensure everyone understands that. This means accepting the mantle of my own ostracization at times, being willing to get uncomfortable, to confront unchristian attitudes on this issue, wherever I see it. In the long run it has been a small price for something that has been so completely edifying to my faith. And certainly, to do anything less would be a grave sin of omission, a silent sin that I would feel most keenly if I gave in to it.

  36. Tilly, I am so sorry for the loneliness of your cousin. I have had too many of my own friends go through a loss of faith for much the same reason and have often felt my own faith shaken as well. And you are right, “fag jokes and “silent” exclusion are many times just as harmful as if you strike someone,” more so even.

    In an earlier post I mentioned that telling people about my temptation has rarely turned out well. I think that is changing. Over the last month I have been approaching pastors with a presentation of what it is like growing up homosexual and where I found comfort and help in the means of grace.

    I find that the response is much better than I had expected or experienced in the past.

    This is for three reasons, I believe

    1: there is a real hunger to know more about this issue

    2: I am helping fill in some of the gaps for pastors who often did not realize what it felt like to grow up homosexual or what the barriers were to hearing the comfort of the gospel

    3: when they find out there really is so much they can do to help, they feel more confident about dealing with this problem and are willing, even anxious, to step out in faith and try to help – it was a feeling of helplessness that was often holding them back.

    I really honestly don’t think it is homophobia or any kind of hate of homosexuals that causes most pastors to remain silent or stick to the protocols. They just are waiting for someone to patiently help them understand and show the way.

    I didn’t see any rules against posting emails or contact info so let me give you one I don’t use very much and maybe we can talk more directly about how to help the Synod learn how to reach out in love to homosexuals more effectively than can be done on a discussion board. [email protected] I hope that’s ok with the mods.

  37. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your kind words and understanding. I would be interested in having at least a brief discussion on this, but it might have to wait a week or two, at least until my current employment obligations settle down (I’m in an extensive, on-site training program). In the meantime, if you have something short you can post here, I will continue to check the site.

    One thing that comes to mind is to initiate the development of an educational program with an honest perspective that looks at orientation among adolescents as part of human development — and not a choice. I certainly did not “choose” to be straight when I hit puberty; I came by it naturally. Likewise, my cousin has said often that no one in his right mind would ask to be gay, that practically nothing else could so derail your life, risking the loss of family, friends, everything that makes life on earth fulfilling and worthwhile.

    It is important to address this fissure between thinking of homosexuality as equivalent to simple “lust” versus something you are born with. My cousin was 11 when he first realized his situation. Again, the secrecy and the confusion — he did not tell his family until he was in his early twenties; what a long time to go with such a thing in your mind and on your heart, and to do it alone.

    It is this disjunction between adolescent development, an understanding of sexual development, and communication with others in relation to the homosexual person that I believe contributes to the number of homeless kids. I don’t have figures in front of me, but I remember reading somewhere that 25% of homeless children are homosexual: kids who simply were shoved out or ran away from their parents because the revelation was intolerable.

    Anyway, I hope this helps the brainstorming. I’ll keep in touch.

  38. I am exceedingly circumspect about the whole notion of “orientation.”

    If “sexual orientation” were strictly a matter of genetics, one would have to conclude that an enormously disproportionate number of homosexuals end up in prison. He would also expect to see a homosexual population consistantly shrinking, due to the lesser likelihood of procreation.

    A better explanation is that (for example) the lack of women in men’s prisons encourages this behavior there. And if one accepts the idea that homosexuality is genetic in the main, he must at least acknowledge that homosexual men *also procreate with women* or there would be none after a single generation or two (according to such logic).

    A better explanation is that homosexuality is a behavior perhaps encouraged by a propensity *and community* and possibly even physical environment. We must address it as we would addiction to pornography or alchoholism, or infidelity to one’s spouse or pre-marital sex. In fact, our warnings should be with *more* diligence precisely *because* of where such things lead temporally.

    As to feelings of guilt as the law is applied, well, this is how the law is supposed to work *all* the time for *all* sins. I have no doubt that the same feelings of guilt exist when a young unmarried couple must tell parents of a pregnancy or a young man must confess to a crime etc. Any of us can look back to what now seem somewhat innocent things (in secular human terms) where we felt deeply ashamed because the law was true and we were sinful and realized it.

    *Thanks be to God that he blesses us with the words of eternal life in Jesus. This is what all of us who look at our sinful behaviors and fall in penitent sorrow must hear repeatedly.*

    But the word “orientation” comes very close to asserting moral equivalency. This is the exact opposite of what the individual *needs* spiritually. Just as an alchoholic *needs* to see the issue morally, not merely in terms of addiction or disease, so also here.

  39. James,

    Your point about prisons made absolutely no sense. Are you really making some sick explanation for the sexual assaults that occur in a lock-down facility?

    How do you explain when infants are born with male and female genitalia? How do you explain the entire range of intersexual conditions, which are chromosomal and congenital?

    Wikipedia is good for some things: see below.

    Intersexuality in humans refers to intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish male from female. This is usually understood to be congenital, involving chromosomal, morphologic, genital and/or gonadal anomalies, such as diversion from typical XX-female or XY-male presentations, e.g., sex reversal (XY-female, XX-male), genital ambiguity, sex developmental differences. An intersexed individual may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes.[1] Intersexuality is the term adopted by medicine during the 20th century, applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as either male or female.

    If this isn’t genetics, I don’t know what is. If we can be born with these wide-ranging conditions, then why is it so hard to think that homosexuality is an orientation? This blindness toward basic science is the only “community” problem; homosexuality is not alcoholism or some other addictive behavior; the only problem is ignorance that targets a particular group of people, specifically your willingness to confuse someone’s orientation with something like “moral equivalency”.

    Eternal life is for those who let God do the judging.

  40. I’m a gay, confirmed, life-long LCMS’er. I also just finished reading your 41 page manual on how to deal with ‘teh Gay’. It’s repulsive. It’s also filled with psycho-babble that would probably send an LGBTQ person into years of therapy, and reflects very poorly on your folks’ intellect. Do you base your cure manual on scientific research data? Do you consult with Psy.D’s or Ph.D’s working and conducting research in this field? Do you have your own clinical data? I didn’t think so.

    You know what’s going to be a rich day? When you all, especially you, Pastor Rossow, are called to God and he asks you to justify your life’s work and your beliefs. All the hate you have in your hearts, all the anger, all the fear all the existential angst (google it, you probably haven’t read Kierkegaard). Where did this anger/fear come from? Did God give it to you? Did you read it in the Bible? Is this how you’ve interpreted God’s word? If so, it’s curious that the Jews are not this angry and hateful. It might be time to throw on Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ and think.

    Being gay is not a condition, like alcoholism. Being gay is not a disease, like cancer. Being gay is not an abomination, like murder. It’s as meaningless as you liking chocolate ice cream and my liking vanilla. In the words of Congressman Anthony Weiner, “Deal with it.”

    If you haven’t been moved by anything I’ve wrote thusfar, here’s a last bit. I have been blessed beyond belief in my life. I have more money than I know what to do with; I have the most beautiful and kind partner in the universe; I’m highly educated; I’m healthy; my heart is full and I am happy. From the very existence of the Brothers of John the Steadfast, I can’t say the same for you.

  41. Mr. Schenks, articulate why being gay and being a confirmed LCMS’er are mutually exclusive. Please use original, primary sources (scripture) as a basis of your argument. I look forward to it, as my reading renders the two as *not* mutually exclusive so much as an extremely unpleasant status to occupy – mostly because of people like you.

    It brings to mind the question of what your, this organization’s and the LCMS’ purpose is: to win followers and influence people by means of preaching fear, hate and self-loathing or to preach unconditional love and tolerance? One of these approaches seems consistent with Christ, the other not. What you, this organization and the LCMS seem to have concocted is a narrative of fear crafted by lower/middle class white males whom the world and its rich opportunities has passed by — this is all you have left. You’re left looking like a band of paranoid, angry villagers with pitchforks in a (largely) post-racial, post-feminist age. Educate yourselves….there’s still much of life to be lived free of this hate and anger.

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