Pastor Gjerde’s Letter Asking Bishop Eaton to Stand Against Abortion
Christ the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
There is no greater promise than the one our Lord Jesus gave to Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11: 25)
There is no greater source of strength than what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15: 54)
There is no greater reason for hope than what is expressed in the book of Job. “I know that my Redeemer lives; and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19: 25-26)
The resurrection of Jesus is a powerful statement of the value of life. For why would God give us resurrected, eternal life if life were not precious?
Another powerful statement of the value of life is the cross. For why would Jesus have endured the suffering and pain of death by crucifixion if He did not place the highest value upon what would be obtained through that sacrifice – forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life?
Please find below a letter which Pastor Steve Gjerde, Vice President of the Board of Lutheran CORE, has written to Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, asking her to take a stand regarding the harm and tragedy of abortion in America. We are also asking her to acknowledge the conscience and convictions of the members and leaders in the ELCA who are a part of the pro-life movement. Because Bishop Eaton has recently written about the preciousness of life, and because the ELCA advocates for many other kinds of victims, please pray that she will be led to go a step further and lead the Church in taking a stand against this industry that takes the life of the unborn.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE
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Dear Bishop Eaton,
In your most recent article for “Living Lutheran,” you wrote powerful and succinct words about the value of life: “Life is precious and beautiful and, even in its painfulness, something to be fiercely protected.” Those words reflect the fierce love of our Father in heaven, who sent His Son into great pain for the sake of freeing this whole creation from its bondage to decay. Thank you for that good statement.
Those words also reflect the commitments of Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (LCORE). With numberless Christians across the world and throughout times past, Lutheran CORE is committed to supporting the Church in faithfulness to Holy Scripture and God’s gift of life. I now write on behalf of Lutheran CORE, asking you to lead the ELCA into a renewed appreciation of the pro-life movement and convictions at work in the ELCA membership.
Members and pastors of the ELCA turn to us weekly for guidance, counsel, and comfort as they contend for life, health, and compassion in the midst of a culture and church that drifts from the vision of justice that we have learned from our Lord Jesus Christ. Having once been a growing child Himself in the womb of His mother, He leads us to see God at work in the wondrous events of human conception and development, and especially to see Him, the once Rejected One, in those growing human beings whom no one wants or welcomes.
It has long rankled members of the ELCA that our insurance provided through Portico (formerly, ELCA Board of Pensions) will support elective abortion. Likewise, the messages of the Office of Presiding Bishop, as currently listed, do not display a letter addressing the harm and tragedy of abortion in America. Frequent messages on behalf of refugees and the victims of violence appear, but there are no messages remembering the victims, both nascent and adult, of this killing industry, nor even a call for us to love and welcome the unborn into our homes and congregations through prayer, care, and the support of parents and struggling families.
Since social statements (such as the social statement on abortion, 1991) do not represent the end of conversation and speech, but a platform for further teaching and public witness, and since both Holy Scripture and our Lutheran heritage encourage hospitality towards unborn children, the Lutheran CORE board of directors and I hope that you will soon release such a letter. We also hope that the ELCA would, in love for its members and neighbors whose consciences are bound to resist abortion and work for a caring culture of life, explore ways to free its rostered leaders, with no penalty, from having to participate in an insurance program that supports elective abortion. Given the current state of insurance in America, we know that it is no easy task, yet we also believe the beauty and preciousness of life are worth the effort.
A letter from your office might necessarily acknowledge, as the ELCA has frequently tried to do, that a diversity of opinion on specific matters relating to abortion exists. Yet it would be good to see that the ELCA knows that the pro-life movement also exists; that it is an honorable expression of Christian faith and love, active among members and leaders of the ELCA; and that abortion has unjustly and violently excluded neighbors from our human community, damaged families, and afflicted the consciences of both women and men.
Some of our sisters and brothers in the NALC even worked with Lutheran CORE to develop a statement on the Sanctity of Nascent Life, which I commend to you (here). Although the ELCA social statement on abortion guides the work of your office, the joint NALC-LCORE statement joins you in valuing the beauty and preciousness of life, even in its painfulness, and it helps us reflect on how the weakest among us are to be protected. It also represents the voice of many people in the church that you and I serve, who have frequently sensed that their voices are marginalized in congregations and synods.
Again, thank you for such a beautiful statement regarding the sanctity of life, and for all the ways that your work points to the Lord of both the living and the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Steven K. Gjerde
Vice-President, Lutheran CORE