Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lutheran (ELCA) authorize churches to marry spirit of the age. Oh, and something unusual happened to their meeting place.

The ELCA meeting in Minneapolis, in good Midwestern fashion, went low key and avoided the gaudy symbolic self-mutilation favored by the Episcopal Church.

But the Lutherans did authorize churches to use slippery language to do pretty much whatever they want. You can read ELCA's own report here, but don't bother if you are looking for a clear church statement of "Thus says the Lord." You'll find ad hoc committees dealing with resolutions on memorials and a vote to not change some language which thereby affirms other language. Powerful stuff.

One proponent of the new thing was honest enough to name the guiding priority:

"We took some risks in the writing of this in ways that we thought were appropriate for these times," the Rev. Peter Strommen said in a news conference following the plenary.

A North Dakota guy saw the guiding priority for what it was and objected: member Curtis Sorbo, ELCA Eastern North Dakota Synod, said the social statement "should be a teaching tool. I don't think that it is. Instead we have descriptions of different sexual relationships that we are asked to accept by bound conscience," he said. "We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality in today's culture because of a new reality. Our church needs to address this issue based on the authority of the word of God, not a description of public opinion and personal desires."

But no worries, brother, 'cuz the denomination feels your pain:

"I am very proud of this church," the Rev. Rebecca S. Larson, executive director, ELCA Church in Society, said at the news conference. "It is a time of diminished joy," she said. "We know there is suffering all around on this issue."

And they will plow right ahead so that the "suffering" of culture-bound Lutherans will be assuaged by approval from their guiding authorities in the old media and other non-Christian cultural niches. The "suffering" of Biblically faithful and traditional Lutherans? Well, ELCA will magnanimously allow them to continue to attend services and contribute money as a sign of inclusion.

Oh, ever heard that saying, "Well, we did X and the roof didn't fall in"? Seems it didn't hold true for ELCA.

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