Once again the ELCA refuses to be honest, to have integrity, and to allow the way it is doing things to be challenged. Instead, once again it just ignores those challenges as it demonstrates that it hopes that those who disagree will eventually just give up and go away.
Towards the end of last November the ELCA declared on its Facebook page, “Before 2009, our denomination sinfully refused to ordain any of our openly LGBTQIA+ siblings.” It also said, “We highly recommend checking out some of ReconcilingWorks’ resources.”
I have several problems with these statements.
Sinful or Favoritism?
First, the ELCA is calling sinful the traditional position on sexual ethics, even though the traditional view was declared by the 2009 social statement to be one of four acceptable “conscience-bound” positions that would have a place in the ELCA. I had the same problem in 2018 when ELCA pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, speaking at the youth gathering, led thirty thousand young people in renouncing the traditional view as a lie and the ELCA did nothing to distance itself from her as well as from her statements and actions.
If the ELCA feels that it is free to take any one of the four positions that were approved in 2009 and state publicly that that is the only acceptable view and that holding to and advocating for any of the other three positions is a sin, then it can also be said that the ELCA still teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin (since that also is one of the four acceptable views) and that the ELCA still believes that ordaining openly LGBTQIA+ persons is a sin.
How can the ELCA, who claims to be a champion for justice and fairness, continue to make public statements and continue to take actions that favor any one of the four “ministry perspectives” over the others? This kind of blatant favoritism is also shown in the Facebook page’s strong recommendation of ReconcilingWorks resources and not also giving equal endorsement to resources that advocate for the traditional view.
Second, what the ELCA has declared on its Facebook page goes far beyond the boundaries of what was actually approved in 2009. The 2009 social statement and changes in ministry policies said nothing about bisexual, transgender, or any of the other letters of the LGBTQIA+ formula. The decisions in 2009 addressed only same sex attracted people who are living in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships.
Third, what the ELCA has declared on its Facebook page denigrates the ministry of same sex attracted people who were serving in the ELCA prior to 2009 while living faithfully according to traditional, Biblical sexual ethics. To claim that the ELCA did not ordain same sex attracted people prior to 2009 is simply false, to say nothing about its being stunningly demeaning to those faithful servants of God.
Two times I telephoned the person whom the ELCA contact center said is in charge of its Facebook page. Two times I left a voice mail message, asking that person to call me back so that I could inquire as to how these statements fit in with what was actually approved in 2009. But neither time did this person call me back. I did not want to be accused of harassing this person, so I did not call a third time, but I do think that that is an interesting way to not be held accountable for the accuracy and fairness of what is posted on the ELCA Facebook page. Just do not call the person back. Then you do not have to deal with what they have to say. Many times I have been asked by people whether I think that what Lutheran CORE is doing will actually get the ELCA to change. I always respond, “No, I do not. It would take an intervention by God to accomplish that. Rather my goal is three-fold – to try to make the ELCA uncomfortable about what they are doing, to alert people to what is happening, and then to be there for people when they become aware.”