Friday, June 10, 2005

Talking points

I think my friend Philipp treads too softly, but if you are going to the mike ...

I recognize the good hearts and minds of those of you who oppose my resolution. I know that you are people of love, and I do not want you to be discouraged, nor to think that I doubt you. But it is precisely because you seek to practice Christian love that I respectfully ask you to consider supporting my resolution.
This is what I believe: The starting point for all questions of Christian love and pastoral care is the will of God for us. Whatever the Lord wills for us is right. It is trustworthy. Whatever he wants us to do, or to refrain from doing, is swept along by his deep love for us, and so we should go with it, even if it is hard for us to understand at first.

We all know that resolutions about committed same-sex relationships are deeply pastoral matters. We are dealing with the lives of people, every one of whom is precious. In our parishes there are people of tempted or searching conscience. We do not want to be found misrepresenting the will of God to them, for souls are at stake. We are creatures of God’s Word. That is one of our most fundamental Lutheran convictions. If we say “Thus saith the Lord,” when the Lord has not said so, then we risk being false shepherds and leading our own people astray, which would be a terrible sin.

Now, through the long ages of Church history, it has been settled moral teaching that to say Yes to homosexual sex is to misrepresent the Word of God and to lead people astray.

The holy Law of God constrains each of us at some point in our Christian life. Then it becomes harder to be in Christ, for his image constrains us and makes us feel uncomfortable at first. But if we let that get in the way, then what becomes of the call of Jesus to take up our cross and follow him? And how can we make sense of the saying of Jesus that “he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matthew 10:39)
I am alarmed for our people, including our homosexual brothers and sisters in the Lord. I do not want them to be misled. People say that homosexual people are born that way. That might be true. Fresh from the hand of God they might be homosexual. I do not deny it. I am just saying that each of us is made by God and born into a fallen world in which many us seem to have to struggle mightily with a whole category of sins so famous it has its own name. I speak of the sins and temptations “of the flesh.” But it is part of the Christian life that we take our passions and desires and try to order them toward Jesus. Whoever we are, whatever our genetic predispositions, we are to seek to become like Christ, and in so doing, we are promised life.

Maybe! maybe the Holy Spirit is up to something new in our generation. But the case is profoundly doubtful because the witness of the Bible and of the Communion of Saints is strong against this new teaching. But meanwhile, we must preach the Word of God now, for we have immediate pastoral responsibilities. What are we going to say now? I believe that it is safest and in full accord with Christian love to abide by the settled moral teaching of the Church until there is manifest consensus, high and low, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant, that we should change the traditional teaching of the church.

Do you not see that the traditional teaching of the Church and this new teaching about homosexual marriage and ordinations are what the logicians call “true contraries.” They cannot both be true. If you affirm this new teaching, you thereby deny the old. Maybe if the advocates of the new teaching had offered their teaching with fear and trembling, in humility, saying that they were willing to risk their souls on it and the souls of the people of their parishes, but were not requiring everyone else to go along with it, then maybe this would have worked. But it must not work this way -- this way of declaring to be Gospel what the Church has always denied is Gospel.

Again, there is no love for our neighbor apart from the will of our Maker. The Church has always believed that it is the will of our Maker that we not engage in homosexual sex. Committed relationships of friendship -- indeed friendships for which one is even willing to die, as St. Paul said -- are good and beautiful things on earth. But as for our passions and desires, we should submit everything to Christ and encourage one another to do the same.
Thank you.


Katie Kilcrease said...

Hi Shrimp,
I would like to share this with my pastor and others at my church, but it would be helpful to know who said it and where....could you give me that info?
Thank you!

Shrimp said...

Sure, Katie. Pr Gregory Fryer is a faithful pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Manhattan, NY. He gave that a few weeks ago at the Metro NY Synod Assembly.

You can read an amazing thing (I foung googling) he collected of email correspondance following the 2004 assembly with his bishop, dean and Dr Jenson.

cut and paste

Where is your church? Your pastor is biblically orthodox? What kind of worship, people?

Katie Kilcrease said...

Thank you!

I am in a large church in Central Florida. One pastor is quite orthodox, but our senior pastor is very faithful to the ELCA...At our recent synod assembly, the elected delegates, our associate pastor, and lay minister all voted against recommedation three, while our senior pastor and lay members who are involved in the ELCA on a synodical level all voted pro.

Our congregation as a whole is conservative with a large minority that is not. We are currently losing members over the sexuality issue and the direction of worship. We are using a lot of the renewing worship materials.

We have two traditional services and one contemporary.

My son and I will be volunteering at CWA and we will be staying at the hotel. Do you expect to be there?


The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...