The statement, which passed in a 559 to 451 vote at the denomination's national assembly in Minneapolis, was a controversial decision in a debate that has roiled the church for 25 years.
[For the full article, see here.]
I was recently asked to write a piece that could be presented to a member church of the ELCA that would help prevent some people from leaving that church as an expression of their revulsion against the decision of that denomination to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to be able to fulfill God's call on their lives to become pastoral ministers.
This is a slightly edited version of what I wrote:
Each Christian has a ministry or ministries given to him/her by God, and it is an offense against God to prevent any Christian from fulfilling that ministry, or calling, that God has placed in his or her heart.
No greater contemporary social issue challenges the ELCA, and all professing Christians, to live up to Martin Luther's emphasis upon the prophet Habakkuk when the latter wrote, "...the just shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4) And the Apostle Paul provided the foundation of that continuing truth, resurrected by Luther in the sixteenth century, that is the hallmark of the Christian life when he reiterated this principle in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11; the author of Hebrews similarly reiterated this principle in Hebrews 10:38.
Paul wrote, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (Romans 12:5) So, our faith both justifies us as being disciples of Christ as befits the life, work, teachings, and ministry of Jesus; the witness of Scripture; the legacy left us by the Great Reformer, Martin Luther.
Let's not let what differences people may have over any doctrinal or social issue in the ELCA, or in any other denomination or church for that matter, override that unity in love that is professed, and that Christians are to live out in our lives and as members of Christ's Church! If it is genuinely Christ's Church, any doctrinal or theological differences must be subordinated to the Gospel and our unity in love!
The Gospel of grace (God's unmerited favor) that we appropriate through our faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances) must override any differences we might have about any matter; we must never thwart the will of God when He has called some of His children to the pastoral ministry.
Gay men and women called to the pastoral ministry within ELCA, and any other denomination, and who thereby desire to fulfill that ministry, are conforming themselves to the will of God for their lives, and none of us must do anything to thwart their desire, for to do so is to thwart God's will.