Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Bully Sin-Drome

With so much emphasis on the negative impact of bullying in our society, the leaders of the ELCA have decided to ratchet up the supposed plight of the LGTBQ community. The secular world has all but normalized alternate lifestyles, but that is simply insufficient for the leaders of the ELCA. Those that choose the homosexual lifestyle are now lifted up as more saint than sinner by the enlightened leaders of the ELCA. Luther said that each person is at once a saint and a sinner, righteous and reprobate, saved and lost, but apparently those that choose alternate lifestyles are only saints, righteous and saved. Not only are the misguided leaders of the ELCA determined to approve behavior explicitly prohibited by God, they have decided to go all in. Their program, It Gets Better, designed as an anti-bullying program, is primarily focused to acknowledge, accept and celebrate the LGTBQ lifestyle. Openly gay speakers were featured throughout the ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans this year in an effort to indoctrinate those youth attending, teaching them that homosexuality gets the ELCA good housekeeping seal of approval.

Before everyone gets all worked up and points the finger at all of us hateful, homophobic Bible thumpers, think about this for a minute. The sin of engaging in homosexual behavior will not, in and of itself, lead one to damnation nor is a greater sin than any supposedly good Christian engages in daily. Sin is selfishly refusing to obey God’s will. But, when one decides to tell God that He is wrong and they are right, they are not pleasing the Lord. When one decides that their wants and desires are more important than obedience to the teachings of our Lord and Savior, they make themselves and their desires more important than loving God. When I decide that it is all right for me to engage in behavior that is displeasing to God, I fail to follow the Spirit and choose to listen to the lies of the evil one and please myself. When one fills their heart and soul with the love of Jesus, our wants and desires become secondary. And even though we constantly fail to meet our Lord’s expectations, we truly recognize when we decide to disobey and follow our own desires. Romans 2:14-16, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” We truly do know right from wrong and no matter how much this errant denomination wants to minimize or eliminate sin; they simply are doing exactly what the evil one wants.

Love your neighbor as yourself is the rallying cry of the progressive leaders of the ELCA. Problem is, loving one’s neighbor is not enough if they happen to be gay. One must ignore the fact that they are sinners, accepting their sin as no longer sinful, respecting their choice to remain in their selfishness, allowing them to placate their sinful human nature. We are taught over and over in Scripture that to follow Jesus requires great sacrifice. Once we believe and allow the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts, we are made new creatures. Our old sinful selves die and we are no longer subject to the punishment we so rightfully deserve. We go on to a new life in Christ, wanting to please Him in all we do by our obedience and through our lives to give Him all the glory. In a prayer for a new Christian, we pray, “Father, I know that I am broken and my sinful nature has separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life and toward you. Please forgive me, and lead me on the path you have set before me.” We admit our brokenness and sinful nature is a wedge we have driven between us and our Lord. We do not tell our God that He must accept us as we are, with no need of repentance or transformation.

But, the leaders of the ELCA use a different strategy. That which our Lord and Savior expects of us is much too difficult a pill to swallow for this errant denomination. Denial is such a negative word and obedience conjures up images of parental discipline. So, sin is declared good and those that accept this as God’s will place themselves at the top rung of the ladder. The enlightened leaders of the ELCA may believe that they have all the answers, but no one is amazed at their understanding except those wishing to hear what their itching ears long to hear. We are part of a selfish, sinful humanity who, if left to our own devices would sink ourselves to the lowest common denominator, ultimately leading to our destruction. When we finally allow Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, into our hearts and turn our lives over to His will, our wants and desires become secondary. The leaders of the ELCA wish to advocate that humankind place their desires before God’s will and somehow this shows the world our love, tolerance and acceptance. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Jesus has the words of eternal life; the leaders of the ELCA are preaching a gospel other than the one our Lord has taught.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Inappropriately Partisan

In the October 2012 Lutheran Magazine, the featured article is titled Lutherans and Politics, the “two Kingdoms” and putting the needs of others first. The article, written by Darrell H. Jodock, an ELCA pastor who teaches at Gustavus Aldophus College in Minnesota, starts inauspiciously enough, with a tale about his father who got involved in local politics. So, like most of the essays published by proxies of the ELCA, it contains some truth and sound doctrinal premises. But, the central segment of the article does not focus on those truths and sound doctrine. Instead, Jodock decides to rewrite history, inserting his opinions by stating that Martin Luther “advocated freedom of conscience in matters of religious belief.” He goes on to state that Luther believed that “individuals were free to hold theological ideas that disagreed with the church’s doctrines but not to teach them publicly. Americans have, rightly I think, broadened the concept of religious liberty.”  Some Americans have indeed replaced the wisdom and will of our Creator with their own misguided opinions and ideas.

Luther stated, in his testimony at the Diet at Worms, Germany in 1521, “…I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” How one can draw the conclusion that Jodock infers in his essay, is absolutely mind boggling. But, when one wishes to promote a narrative leading to a desired result, the ends are often deemed to justify the means. In fact, Luther did nothing to indicate that he advocated for the freedom of conscience in matters of religious belief or the freedom to hold theological ideas that were contrary to proper doctrine. In one particular instance Luther did chastise his fellow priests at his parish for deciding to serve both the host and wine at Holy Communion while he was away from Wittenberg. Since some congregants did not wish to take the wine, he stated that their weak conscience should be respected and those congregants should not be forced to take both the host and wine. To extrapolate that Luther advocated for individuals to hold theological ideas that were contrary to church doctrine is patently false. Nothing in his writings would indicate this conclusion.

It gets even better as the essay progresses. Jodock states, “For example, Christians bless marriages, but marriage itself is a matter of the state.” Apparently, to Jodock marriage is no longer a sacrament of the church. He goes on, “..the primary question for voters should not be what the Christian view of marriage is but what serves the interest of the community as a whole…But the question of what compelling interest the state has in reserving marriage for heterosexuals deserves careful consideration.” Jesus said in Matthew 19:4-6, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” It is true that our Lord and Savior did not speak of homosexuality in the Gospels, but He made it abundantly clear that marriage is reserved for one male and one female.

Jodock advocates that Lutheran tradition instructs us to focus on specific problems experienced by real people such as, “How can we help those victims of violence who are seeking political asylum in our country and are housed in our jails.” What???? To date, I have found no one meeting the above criteria imprisoned in US jails. Sounds like something any good ELCA Lutheran should be up in arms about, but this is just another patently false claim made by Jodock. The essay continues with an admonishment to the untruths that seem to assail us from all sides in our political rhetoric. “We remember, for example, the false impressions created by describing as “death panels” the proposal in Congress to fund conversations with a doctor about responsible end-of-life decisions.” The untruth about this statement is that the “death panels” that Jodock asserts are benign and normal conversations with their primary care physician are nothing of the sort. These “death panels” he describes are actually bureaucrats that sit in judgment and decide who will be approved for extraordinary measures to prolong life, having the authority to deny treatment to those deemed no longer worth the cost due to age in particular. Jodock cites another example, although he cites no specific circumstances, …”many false claims about refugees and immigrants." What false claims he is speaking of is left up the reader of this essay to invent.

No progressive essay would be complete without reference to the 99% and the evil 1%. Citing an unidentified study, he bemoans the inequities in incomes between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country. Economic inequity on both a national and international level with the predictable rant about changing consumer habits on a global scale. Then it is back at one of his pet peeves, the unfair immigration policies that the US imposes upon those seeking to enter this country against the law. While Jodock acknowledges that government is a gift from God, he implicitly ignores Scripture in this matter. 1 Peter 2:13-14, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” Jodock concludes the essay by returning to more of a Scriptural bent, lulling the trusting reader into believing that the content of the entire essay is also Scripturally based.

When the leaders of the ELCA allow essays such as this, that are littered with untruths and misguided opinions, their members are put at risk. We are sheep of our Lord’s flock and we inherently trust that the leaders of God’s church are led by the Holy Spirit and that their teaching is necessarily God’s will for us. If only the leaders of the ELCA would get back to doing God’s work with their hands by saving the lost and bringing them to the Lord, rather that advocating for the things of this world. 1 Peter 1:24-25, “For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”