Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hong Kong Lutheran Bishop: "Profound Embarassment"

Shrimp here. No, we haven't forgotten the trials of the ELCA. We've been traveling and been away from the internet -- it is a good thing, when able, to step away from the fray for a bit to be spiritually recharged.

Meanwhile, Pastor Richard Johnson of the ALPB's
Forum Letter has posted the following letter from Bishop Nicholas Tai of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong (a sister church in the Lutheran World Federation) to ELCA Presiding Bishop (and LWF President) Mark Hanson about the sexuality task force's recommendations to the next month's ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Read it and ponder. Shrimp out.

Dear Bishop Hanson and Colleagues in ministry,

Grace and peace be with you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thank you for your letter dated July 6 and a call to prayers for the assembly of the ELCA in August. We do remember you in our prayers.

We are informed about the four recommendations presented by the task force on human sexuality. These recommendations will be discussed and may be accepted by the assembly in August. This matter is also of great importance for us in Asia. Of special concern is the question of homosexual union blessings and the acceptance of ordained clergy in homosexual relationships. A decision to accept these two practices would be a source of profound embarassment for the Lutheran Church in Asia.

Such a decision on the part of the ELCA would affect our companion relationships, as homosexual practice is regarded as sin in the vast ecumenical community in Asia.

Secondly, we live in a morally and ethically shaped society. Non-Christians as well as Christians regard homosexual behavior as immoral. If the Church accepts and practicies homosexual behavior, it will be a big stumbling block for the vast majority of 1.3 billion Chinese, who need the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong regards homosexual practice as a sin and expressly states this in our discipline handbook. If the ELCA accepts such practices, it will be quite an embarassment to explain to our members why our companion Church allows something which goes against the clear biblical norms of our own Church. We as part of the Lutheran Communion could not escape the accusation that the Church is listening to the modern culture rather than to the clear teaching of the Word of God.

Prayers we need in this moment of crisis. We do not know the outcome, but as the sage in the Bible taught us, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord." (Prov. 21:1) We are in God's hand.

Thank you for your companionship and support in Mission!

Blessings in Christ

Nicholas Tai, Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong

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