On July 25, 2010, seven lesbian-, gay- or transgender-identified men and women were welcomed into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in a “rite of reconciliation” and a “rite of reception.” The group, known as the Sierra Pacific Synod Seven, or SPS7 had been ordained or worked under the ministry of a group known as “Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries,” a group outside the ELCA, because of their identification as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT).
But a year ago, the ELCA voted “to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships.” It was this shift in church policy that opened the door for the SPS7 – and other LGBT-identified men and women – to be received into the ELCA. A clear departure from orthodox, biblical Christianity.
A number of recent articles commented on the anniversary of this event, noting the impact of this unorthodox decision on the ELCA:
- Some churches voted to exit the denomination;
- Some churches withheld their denominational tithes;
- Other Lutheran groups, such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod wrote about the decision;
- And new Lutheran groups began forming, such as the North American Lutheran Church.
I recognize that not all Lutherans are part of – or in agreement with – this movement toward a revisionist, homosexualist, feminist, faith. Nor are all members of the ELCA happy with this decision. And the movement away from orthodox Christianity has happened in other denominations, too.
The recognition of LGBT-identified men and women is, in many ways, only a symptom of a much deeper issue. Typically when groups begin embracing and welcoming homosexuality, they have already left far behind the biblical view of God and Scripture. The rite of reception illustrates this clearly, as it included:
- Singing to God as “her;”
- Praying to “Sophia, Wisdom and Mother of us all;”
- Revising The Lord’s Prayer to read “Our Mother who is within us;”
- And confessing the sin of disciplining those who violate biblical sexual boundaries.
In response, I’ve begun writing about some of the implications of this, about the link between changing our view of God and changing our view of sex. I am grieved to see parts of the church embrace false doctrines. I hope and pray that a modern-day Martin Luther will rise up and call these parts of the church back to the faith.