2012 is the last year of the Mayan calendar, believed by some to set in motion great calamities and perhaps the end of time, as the movie 2012 illustrated with spectacular special effects. 2012 will bring to us local, national and presidential elections. 2012 will also bring a new task assigned to each congregation belonging to the ELCA; The implementation and accountability report of each congregation’s implementation of the Human Sexuality; Gift and Trust statement. To quote from the implementing resolutions that were passed by the ELCA church council in April of 2010; *To call upon all congregations, synods, early childhood education centers, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, seminaries, campus ministries, outdoor ministries, social ministry organizations, public policy advocacy ministries, and all church-wide units to carry out the substance and spirit of this statement; and to call upon Church in Society and other appropriate churchwide units to oversee a process of implementation and accountability for this social statement and to report on implementation to the Church Council in early 2012.*
Understand that the ELCA social statement entitled Human Sexuality; Gift and Trust consists of 44 pages that most people have not had the time or inclination to read. This particular document includes the following language; *As Lutherans, we believe that we are justified by grace through faith. The Lutheran Confessions guide us in our understanding of justification by identifying three intersecting affirmations: solus Christus, sola gratia, and sola fide (Christ alone, grace alone, and by faith alone).3 Deeply grounded in Scripture, understood as the living Word of God, these together proclaim Jesus Christ as central to the Gospel: These three emphases also tell us that sin does not have to do simply with the keeping or breaking of rules or laws. Rather, we sin when we turn away from God and look to ourselves. Sin turns us toward obsessive self-concern, with disastrous consequences for ourselves and others. We live therefore within the paradox that in our sexuality, as in other aspects of life, we always encounter both our own sinfulness and God's grace. It is only through Christ that we can turn in faith to trust God, which leads immediately to our baptismal vocation to love and serve the neighbor.*
These words that are solid Lutheran doctrine, would lead one to believe that this social statement is, in fact, true to the foundational principals of Christianity. Indeed, our greatest sin is placing ourselves, our wants and desires above our Lord, which all of us do with amazing regularity. When we place the emphasis on the love of our neighbor above the love of our Lord, we break what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ taught was the greatest commandment. To quote from the above statement, “obsessive self concern”, in this case when that person's sexual identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and acceptance of those lifestyles as good and right in the eyes of the Lord and His church, is of utmost importance. It's not enough to love our neighbors as ourselves, it is now necessary to place the acceptance of our neighbor's sexual identity over our love for them. This social statement places those identities over and above the love of the Lord and our true identity as disciples of Christ. This emphasis on the self breaks the greatest commandment and we, in fact, worship the self above our Lord. This statement from the document contradicts the very doctrine cited to support it; *The church's historical experience supports its confidence that solemn promises, made before a company of witnesses who ask for God's blessing on a man and a woman, have the power to create a unique framework within which two people, a new family, and the community may thrive. Consistent with that experience, this church has confidence that such promises, supported by the contractual framework of civil law, can create a lifetime relationship of commitment and cooperation. Recognizing that this conclusion differs from the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions, some people, though not all, in this church and within the larger Christian community, conclude that marriage is also the appropriate term to use in describing similar benefits, protection, and support for same-gender couples entering into lifelong, monogamous relationships. They believe that such accountable relationships also provide the necessary foundation that supports trust and familial and community thriving. Other contractual agreements, such as civil unions, also seek to provide some of these protections and to hold those involved in such relationships accountable to one another and to society.*
Matthew 19:4-6, "Haven't you read," he (Jesus) replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God had joined together, let no one separate." So, because certain behavior is acceptable in civil society, the leaders and scholars of the ELCA have come to the conclusion that God must be wrong to prohibit that conduct. Soon, the substance and spirit of this statement is to be taught in our ELCA schools, beginning with early childhood centers. Apparently the ELCA needs to reach them early to instill this secular agenda with our children. It is indeed unfortunate that those that truly want to love their neighbor accept this false doctrine, not realizing that they are elevating themselves above the God that they truly love. We cannot disregard the word of God. When we truly believe, we are under grace, no longer under the law. But, when we are truly filled with the love of our Lord, we will do anything to please Him, including denying ourselves the pleasures that He has expressly forbidden. We are nothing without our love of our Lord and our faith in the Risen Christ. Why would anyone want to endanger the grace that is so freely given to us worthless sinful human beings? Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” We must place ourselves and our love of our neighbor secondary to our love of the Lord and obey Him. In everything we do, we must conduct ourselves as our Lord commands and accomplish those things to give the glory to Him.
* denotes* Copyright © 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Produced by the Church in Society program unit, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.