Skip to comments.Eastern European Lutherans respond to sexuality decisions
Posted on 12/15/2009 7:57:22 AM PST by rhema
Lutheran Churches in Eastern Europe have added their voices to those of Lutherans worldwide who are critical of the decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to endorse same-sex unions and to allow pastors to be in same-sex sexual relationships.
The leaders of the Lutheran Churches in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met Nov. 3-4. The bishops issued a message noting the crisis of faith and fellowship caused by the actions of the ELCA and the Church of Sweden in endorsing same-sex sexual relationships. These churches are all members of the Lutheran World Federation.
At the present time a common witness of churches is vitally important, therefore we express our deepest concern about modern tendencies that weaken the fellowship among Christians and cause divisions in and among churches. The recent decisions made by some member churches of the Lutheran World Federation to approve of religious matrimony for couples of the same gender and to equate such conjugal life with marriage or to ordain noncelibate homosexual persons for pastoral or episcopal office epitomize these tendencies that are tearing apart fellowship among Christians.
"We affirm that marriage is the conjugal life between a man and a woman and that homosexual activity is incompatible with the discipleship of Christ. We believe that in following the modern trends, churches are departing from the apostolic doctrine of human sexuality and marriage. We see the Lutheran communion and ecumenical efforts endangered by such decisions and actions because they lead to a situation where the Lutheran churches, members of the Lutheran World Federation, are not able to fully recognize each others ecclesiastical offices, to exchange the ministries, and to participate together in preaching the Word and celebrating the sacraments.
We call upon our Lutheran sisters and brothers to unity and cooperation based upon the foundation of Holy Scripture and loyalty to the Lutheran Confessions . Contemporary challenges demand a firm stand based upon timeless truths and values. The common understanding of the Gospel by churches is a treasure we cannot afford to lose and it needs to be passed on to the current and future generations. Our mission is to be faithful in that which we have received, Gods mercy. We are to serve our Lord and our neighbors thus until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13), the bishops statement reads.
Estonian General Synod Approves Declaration
The General Synod of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church approved a declaration regarding the stance of churches on homosexual behavior and fellowship between churches on Nov. 25.
Church fellowship grows out of a common faith and is reflected in a common understanding of doctrine. This means that churches in fellowship with one another do not make decisions regarding the historical teaching and practice of the church without reaching consensus with one another within the level of the organization binding together the church bodies. Otherwise, the fellowship between churches, which is founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realized through a common witness and service, is strained and inhibited, the declaration states.
The General Synod of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church declares that the blessing or even marriage of people living in same-sex relationships is not in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Scripture and the Christian faith. When one church officially approves such behavior, that church is expressing a clear difference in the understanding of the Christian faith and church doctrine. This impairs the implementation of altar-and-pulpit fellowship between churches.
Faithfulness to God and to Gods Word demands of us that we teach, proclaim and follow only that teaching which our Lord has entrusted to his Church so that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). We lay down as fact that within the Lutheran World Federation, Porvoo Communion and Community of Protestant Churches in Europe there fails to be a common stand in relation to homosexual behavior. We call upon the churches that have unilaterally changed the up until now held practice or are considering making such changes to return to solid foundation of Gods Word and we pray that the Holy Spirit guide us into all the truth (John 16:13), the declaration states.
The statements by the Baltic Church Leaders and by the General Synod are available at www.eelk.ee/english.php.
The Lutheran World Federation has 140 member churches in 79 countries worldwide.
There are areas of the Bible that are absolutely clear: murder, adultery, coveting a neighbor’s property, honoring your parents.
There are areas of the Bible that allow for some ambiguity: does caring for the poor mean with your own time and money or with that of your neighbor? [I think the answer is fairly clear, but I admit that it is possible that I am wrong.]
Homosexual actions are so clearly in the first category that I am disgusted with religious leaders who pretend otherwise.
* as of August 19, AD 2009, a liberal protestant SECT, not part of the holy, catholic and apostolic CHURCH.
Marantha--Come, Lord Jesus!
After enough exposure to the behavior of elca “elites” their behavior simply becomes banal and smutty. The Maplethorpe of denominations.
I agree with you. I know an ELCA member who supports ordaining gays and gay weddings. She said, “Churches should change, to conform to society.” I said, “No, society should change, to obey the Bible.” We argued for about a half-hour, but neither of us changed the mind of the other.
I'm with you. Even if all of society doesn't obey the Bible (an issue we have faced throughout history), at least the Church should make an effort to set the example.