Saturday, November 19, 2005

What Sticks in My Craw

a guest columnist writes

A parishioner of mine recently had a conversation with a high synod
official about my on again off again relationship with the synod—a
relationship that is right now in the off mode. I call it being off the
reservation again. The Metro New York Synod ELCA met in a special assembly in
October—an assembly triggered by the national denomination voting in
August to remain faithful to Scripture and Tradition in regard to
homosexual practice among clergy. That was the assembly where they borrowed a
page from Yassir Arafat and instituted local option while insisting
they were not violating the constitution and practices of the ELCA. The
synod official began with a compliment as to my work as a pastor. But
there was a but: “…but he has this one issue that sticks in his craw and
he cannot let it go.” That issue of course is the attempt by homosexual
advocates to overturn Scripture and Tradition and create an exeption to
Christian discipline and ministerial eligibility for practicing
homosexuals and lesbians.

When this was reported back to me, my immediate response was to say
that there is a single defining issue of our time as Church and this synod
official is on the wrong side of that issue. Let’s be fair, the whole
stinking synod is on the wrong side of this issue. Oh sometimes we
almost vote to be faithful, but we never pull it off. No matter how
ridiculous the resolution might be, if the homosexual advocates back it, it
passes. Due to a whole constellation of events, there is only one issue
that the ELCA in this decade must be faithful in regard to—whether the
clear word of Scripture and tradition applies to the behavior of
homosexuals and lesbians, or whether we suspend the clear word of Scripture and
tradition for them and them alone (others to follow) because they are
“victims”. Because this issue involves our obedience to the moral
teachings of Scripture and Tradition, it must not be let go of. It must stick
in our craw if we are to remain part of the one holy catholic a
nd apostolic church.

Having been in the Metro NY Synod of the ELCA since its inception, I
have become used to lax discipline. Divorcing clergy are winked at,
adulterous clergy are given new career opportunities, pederasts are honored
at synod conventions, lesbian activists are lionized, individuals
involved in shady finances are spoken of in glowing terms. If lax discipline
and the official incompetence and dereliction of duty that enable it
were the issue, I could shut up and swallow. The church has always done a
less than adequate job of enforcing the code. It has not always openly
rejected the notion that the code comes from God.

If as my opponents insist, Church unity were the overriding issue, I
would have no recourse. The intent of Christ is that Church be united
(John 17). The fact that my secularized opponents in this synod would
argue that Jesus never intended a Church and the high priestly prayer in
John 17 is apocryphal, does not prevent them from giving lip service to
unity even as they engage in provocative actions to advance their
agenda. “If you will just stop being divisive, I can complete my hostile
takeover. Now where were we…” The duplicity of the homosexual advocates
notwithstanding, the point remains serious for those of us who know better
than they: Jesus intended a Church and Jesus intends it to be united.
One must exhaust all reasonable means to maintain the unity of the
Church. One must not divide the church over bad politics. If this were
merely a putsch that former Missouri synod liberals have brought to the
synod, I could shut up and swallow. Church politics have always falle
n short of the Kingdom of God.

It is for the sake of my membership in the one holy catholic and
apostolic church that I am at war with a synod that has sold off its
birthright for a mess of pottage. However much the revisionists enjoy the mess
of pottage they are buying, I cannot shut up and swallow. As
judicatory, the synod is my primary connection to the one holy catholic and
apostolic church. I am not a Congregationalist. I cannot retreat into the
pressing affairs of congregational life and pretend that the heresy of
antinomianism has not infected the MNYS. I cannot sound to my
parishioners the uncertain trumpet which says that you can trust the promises of
God because you can trust the Word of God –unless of course it gets in
the way of expressing your sexual impulses, in which case it is the
misleading word of evil hetero males which is to be rejected in favor of
the New Christian values of egalitarianism, responsibility, mutuality and
respect. When the synod becomes apostate, I must find another link to the una sancta or be a branch cut off from the vine. I cannot just shut up and swallow.

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