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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Lutheran Bishops Mull Allowing Gay Clergy

I am not one who spends a lot of time, in the pulpit or out, talking about homosexuality. Some churches seem to talk about little else. Just do a google of the word "homosexuality" and nearly any major American denomination and see how many tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of hits you get.

But when I see a major news headline "Lutheran Bishops Mull Allowing Gay Clergy," I feel forced to say something. Though this particular article does differentiate the major American Lutheran denominations and clarifies that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not the church body that is discussing gay clergy and gay marriage, it doesn't do so until the very last sentence of the article. Many readers will not get that far.

I do not support allowing gay clergy, as the article puts it, and I'll tell you why. But first, I want to be quite clear about what I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying that I hate anyone. I am NOT saying that I think I am better than anyone. I am NOT in favor of discrimation against homosexuals in terms of civil rights. I am NOT even saying that people who struggle with homosexuality can't be fine Christians. So hear me out.

I AM saying that homosexual attraction and practice is sinful. And I am saying that the Christian Church has no right to condone it. Like Martin Luther, our conscience is bound by the Word of God. One does not have to rely on Old Testament Jewish prohibitions to make the case. The New Testament likewise explicitly condemns homosexual behavior.

I've heard some argue that "well, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality." And my response is, "true, but He didn't say anything about date rape, necrophilia or cannibalism either. Does that mean we can put those on the table as well?" Theirs is an argument from silence, which is the weakest possible argument one can make. Jesus did not say anything directly about homosexuality, but a man that Jesus personally called to be his spokesman, Paul of Tarsus, did. Cf. Romans 1:26,27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10.

Some will further argue that homosexuality isn't wrong because it doesn't hurt anybody. Well, that is a premise with which I do not agree. A recent article in the Christian Research Journal (Vol.27/No.6/2005) by Frank Turek ably demonstrates the harm homosexual practice causes to individuals, families and societies. Some of his arguments are stronger than others, but all of them need to at least be considered.

Homosexuality is contrary to the will and design of the Creator. Occasionally, the point is offered that people are born gay. First, there is no evidence of that, though many assume there is. No gay gene has been identified that I am aware of. And even if it could be shown to be a genetic trait, that does not mean that it is good or helpful or the will of the Creator. All sorts of bad things are genetically determined or predisposed: cystic fibrosis, obesity, breast cancer, violent behavior and so on. If I were a Darwinist, espousing the survival-of-the-fittest doctrine, I would think a gay gene to be a harmful mutation that endangers the species. All of that is evidence that God's good creation has been thoroughly corrupted and no one is exempt. The will of the Creator in this case can be discerned by looking at the creation itself. Arguing from design, our sexual organs are fashioned for heterosexual relations. Not otherwise.

All that having been said, it's necessary to remember that heterosexuals are guilty of thoughts, attitudes and behaviors which are just as sexually immoral. And let's not forget that gossip is a sin. As is pride, hatred and sloth. In fact, every one of us stands condemned before God by our sins.

And thankfully, the good news is that the death of Jesus upon the cross was sufficient to pay for all our sins, indeed the sins of the world. So I welcome all who are penitent, no matter what particular sin they struggle against. The rub is when we decide to call evil good and good evil, to upgrade our particular peccadillos from sin to acceptable alternative. We can't give any person's perversities a pass just because it's fashionable at the time, no matter what they are. God is offended by our sins whether we are or not. And by glazing over the offense of God for this or that, we deprive the individual of an opportunity to be reconciled to his Heavenly Father. And how loving is that?

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