‘That is huge,’ says spokesman for 4.8 million-member church.
CHICAGO - Clergy members who are in homosexual relationships will be able to serve as pastors, the largest U.S. Lutheran body said Saturday.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution at its annual assembly urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships.”
The resolution passed by a vote of 538-431.“The Church ... has just said, ‘Do not do punishments,’” said Phil Soucy, spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a gay-lesbian rights group within the church. “That is huge.”
The ELCA, which has 4.8 million members, had previously allowed gays to serve as pastors so long as they abstained from sexual relations.
The conference also instructed a committee that is developing a social statement on sexuality to further investigate the issue. The committee is scheduled to release its report in 2009.
This doesn't surprise me too much. This situation is nothing more than the democratization/Americanization of church life. As soon as you bring the world's idea of "normal" into the church and accept it, the battle for a godly spirituality is lost. This unfortunate event isn't anything new in terms of denominational dysfunction, we've seen it happen to other groups before. I expect it will happen to other groups in the future.
One reason why churches have national boards (or what ever you want to call the big governing body) is to keep heresy out of the church. Thats not what is happening in practice. 538 Lutherans cast a vote that butt sex was more important than Biblical sexuality. Now if you want to be a ELCA member, you have to be accepting of that fact. But that must be what God meant for us to believe, because we VOTED ON IT. I'm sure the creator of the universe will take that into consideration next time he sets up a standard of what he expects from His creation.
I see the wisdom of the Biblical model of church government. Local elders governing local people according to their understanding of the Bible. Is that perfect in terms of out come? Nope. The local church messes up too. One benefit is that if one group goes screwy they don't take everyone else down with them. God no doubt figured this out before He set the system up in scripture. If you belong to a church that has a national governing board that gets to vote on what the Bible says, start looking for a new church now. This type of thing can happen to your church as well.