Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Division by Subtraction

When the ELCA met in August of 2009 for their national assembly, their leadership had already counted on passing several key agenda items. In order to be more welcoming and accepting of the LGTB community, the resolution, Human Sexuality-Gift and Trust was expected to pass. By stacking the deck with activists and supporters of the resolution, only a few fence sitters needed to be convinced to vote in their favor. Bishop Mark Hanson and the other leaders of the ELCA expected that this decision would cause a rift in the membership of this Synod, and they fully expected to lose 20% or approximately 1 million members along with numerous churches. The resolution passed by the narrowest of margins and the fallout continues. While the ELCA preaches that reconciliation is occurring, the fact is, the outcry over the passage of this and other resolutions at that assembly reverberate throughout the Christian world.

Much of the chorus of disapproval stems from the church’s acceptance of a practice specifically prohibited in Scripture. That the leaders of the ELCA would have the audacity to disregard Scripture and replace it with an interpretation more in tune with the modern, secular world view is where much of the dispute lies. Many of the LGTB community activists take the new doctrine that allows for the blessing of homosexual unions and the acceptance of practicing homosexuals, in monogamous relationships to serve as pastors in the ELCA, as a victory to their cause. Unfortunately, their supposed victory places them and the church that disregards Scripture and encourages sinful behavior, at odds with our Lord. If the church accepts sinful behavior and teaches that God’s laws are no longer applicable, it leads those sinners on a course away from God. We are all sinful beings, no better or worse than any other sinner. It is when we deny our sin that we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. We must confess our sins, all of them, and realize that it is only through our Lord that we are saved. If we decide that our own foolish desires are more important than obeying and loving our Lord, then we are lost.

By placing ourselves above our God and using our bound conscience to disregard any part of Scripture that we happen disagree with, we subtract ourselves from His presence. When God removed His presence from Jesus on the cross, Jesus felt the crushing aloneness that sent him into a despair too deep to even begin to describe. By passing resolutions and adopting doctrines that separate us from our God, the ELCA is taking a course that saddens our Lord and absolutely delights the evil one. The leaders of the ELCA are embracing a misguided course of action, using the buzz words of acceptance, tolerance, and welcoming. Our fellow sinners need to be guided to the narrow path, not sent on the easy and wide path of destruction. What part of Scripture will be the next victim to our bound conscience? How many will be led away from God to fight for social justice while learning to disregard Scripture and place their own opinion over and above the Lord?

We need to learn that God loves and accepts us as His children, but He does expect us to return that love, in part by obeying His law for us. We cannot decide to invalidate Scripture when it does not suit our own selfish cravings. We are, by nature, selfish and it is often more desirable to follow our own fancies. But, if we choose to place our wants above our Lord, we fail our Lord and ourselves. Romans 8: 5-8, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their mind set on what the nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” While the Spirit will never lead you to sin, our sinful nature is disobedient and rebellious and will only lead us to death. We must strive to please our Lord with our faith, our love and acceptance of His Word. This will keep us on that narrow path that leads to our salvation.

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