ELCA cwa09 and Twitter

The ELCA Church wide assembly is underway.  Day one is in the books and Day 2 is up and going.  Yesterday was debate about parliamentary procedures.  One of the big items was the passage of the rule to only require a simple majority for passage of ministry recommendations concerning homosexuality.  I did not listen to this debate via live streaming through the ELCA website but entered the discussion afterward on Twitter.  It is really fun to see the number of people Tweeting the assembly via Twitter.  But if you are doing that make sure you are getting accurate information.  Go to the the ELCA website for updates or follow “pglutherans” on Twitter.  She is posting Tweets of news stories and other information about assembly action; a reliable source of information (pglutherans is reliable, maybe not so much the mainline media).  You can also follow the ELCA on Twitter for up-to-date information as well.

Last night, as I was following various people on Twitter about CWA news, I got into a discussion with a fellow Tweeter about what was going on.  Obviously we hold different views about homosexuality.  One of my Tweets indicated that I hope and pray that the delegates are not just following societal trends.  By the time we were finished with our discussion/debate I was accused of being “uncharitable towards those who disagree with me”.  At that Tweet I stopped the discussion…not because I didn’t have a response, but rather I wanted to process that discussion we were having and respond later.

Well…later is here…

“Uncharitable”?  Without giving you the full text of the conversation I want to respond.  And in all fairness to my colleague (who I follow on Twitter and on her blog…and whom I respect) I am not going to take shots or anything like that but rather respond in a general sort of way.  Our discussion/debate last night is between the two of us and anyone else following us on Twitter.

“Uncharitable” — I have heard similar terms such as that when connected to the debate about homosexuality.  The other terms I have heard are: “Unwelcoming”, “Intolerant”, “Unloving” and even “Homophobic”.  I am not suggesting that my colleague was eluding to any of those terms, but rather I have heard all of them in the same debate.  Am I “uncharitable”…NO.  Am I passionate about what I believe…YES.  For the record:  I believe in the traditional view of marriage between ONE man and ONE woman. But…if a gay couple walks through the doors of the church I am serving will I welcome them…ABSOLUTELY…and I hope and (frankly) expect everyone else to as well.  Will that gay couple be welcomed as members of the congregation…YES.  I will preach the Gospel to them; pray for them and serve with them…just like everyone else.  I just can’t support their lifestyle.  If a gay pastor comes to serve a congregation in Jackson what will my response be…I will work with my colleague and that congregation in an ecumenical way as I always have.

I may sound “uncharitable” to those who disagree with me but maybe that is because our view of scripture is so different.  Maybe it is because we are at a point where debate about homosexuality is not going to change the view of people who are already entrenched in their view.  Maybe I sound “uncharitable” because saying that you disagree with the homosexual life style proponents generally hear that you have “closed your doors”.

I am not “uncharitable”…I am just passionate about my beliefs and I hope the delegates remain faithful to their convictions and beliefs as well.  I hope and pray they do not get swayed by societal trends or media/societal pressure.  I hope and pray that the delegates remain and continue in prayer…and remember to listen.  I hope and pray that people are respectful.  And…no matter the out come of the vote this week…I hope and pray that the ELCA can get back on track and proclaim the Gospel, continue in mission and be evangelically focused.

There’s much work to be done, but nothing will happen through our own strength and understanding.  May God be praised and glorified in all we do.  And remember…be charitable to all people…regardless of beliefs.

Praise be to God!


15 thoughts on “ELCA cwa09 and Twitter

  1. Pastor Eric,

    One of the things that first drew me to your blog is your heart. Your heart comes through loud and clear in your writing. You have a heart for God and for doing His work on earth. It is also very obvious — to me, at least — that you have a great deal of compassion towards others. You write with a wonderful combination of strength, wisdom and humility, grounded in faith in God and a passion for serving Him as best as you know how.

    I do not know exactly what transpired in the debate you had with your colleague, but from what I have seen on your blog, “uncharitable” is hardly how I would describe you. I would encourage you to continue seeking God, and do not let the words of others distract you from where God leads you. May God bless you and your ministry, and may the Holy Spirit continue to write His word on your heart!

    1. heartofapastor

      Thank you, Mike, for you very kind words. It is good to hear that my heart comes through in my writing because that is indeed the point…all to the glory of God of course.

      May God continue to bless your ministry as well.

  2. There are lots of people – many of whom are in the church! – who lead lifestyles of which I do not approve …. 😉 Oh that we would get up in arms about those who don’t give 10%, or who fail to live lives of justice, or those who indulge in luxury and over-consumption while others wallow in poverty! In fact, if I read my Bible right, it says much more about these other issues than it does sexuality. Oh well. Our society’s bizarre fascination with sexuality continues …

    1. heartofapastor

      Point Chris…Jesus talks about money a whole lot. He only talks about marriage and adultery a couple times and nothing about homosexuality. It’s an important issue but we do spend a lot of time on it.

  3. What are your thoughts about divorce, something about which Jesus is quite clear? I’m not sure how, using the argument of the reliability of Scripture, one can accept divorce but not homosexuality.

    Well, respond if you like. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but just thought I’d ask. Thanks.

    1. heartofapastor

      O.K…it’s morning and I am ready to respond to your question, Chris. What are my thoughts on divorce?

      You are right…Jesus is quite clear on his teachings about divorce. In cases of unfaithfulness/adultery then it is O.K., but what about other cases? What about cases of domestic abuse? Would Jesus say then, “Yes…the abused my file for divorce”? I can’t pretend to know what Jesus would say for sure but I believe that is O.K. But then where do we draw the line? That is the real question.

      Our first response to divorce is proper pre-marriage counseling. We live in a society that says cohabitation is alright. Of the 8 weddings I have done only 1 couple did not live together (but that couple did move in together 1 month before the wedding). I talk about this and couples see nothing wrong with it. As pastors we need to be proactive here.

      Now…does a divorced couple deserve grace, forgiveness, acceptance, etc…YES…as do homosexuals…as does everyone. I don’t judge people because they are homosexual or because they are divorced, because we are all sinners. That is clear. Even though I do not agree with divorce (or homosexuality) I accept and love people who are divorced (and homosexual) and so does Jesus.

      I hope this answers your question, Chris. If not…feel free to fire away again.

      1. Cool – I hear your pastoral concern and graceful response. Nice. You seem to be working with an appropriate hermeneutic of love and life … that God loves human life more than a vow, and that divorce is permissible especially when there is abuse or harm (physical or emotional) to that life. The rubric here is one of love and the value of life, and is a rubric that allows us to reinterpret Scripture (the teaching against divorce) faithfully.

        But let me continue, then, to draw a parallel to what’s happening in Minneapolis this week – the social statement takes seriously this rubric of life and love, and is willing to re-interpret a few choice verses in the Bible on basis of this Biblical rubric of life and love. It seems to me that, in terms of how we read Scripture, the social statement takes the same leap in the homosexuality debate as do most of us when we “accept” divorce. Bible says “no” to divorce, but we accept divorce on the basis of God’s love and value for human life. Why not make the same leap on homosexuality – Bible says “no” to homosexual acts in a few passages, but on the basis of God’s love and and value for human life (not to mention science) why not reinterpret those passages and accept homosexuality?

        Or, if we are going to restrict access for gays to marriage or ordination, why not restrict access to marriage or ordination for divorced people?

        I just see a double standard, here. Bible says “no” to homosexual acts and to divorce, but we accept one and reject the other, using different rubrics. It just seems inconsistent, that’s all. (Same argument about consistency can be made about role of women in the church … why do we accept the ordination of women – divorced women, at that! – but not homosexual persons?)

        Again, I don’t mean to push, but you’re open to dialogue and I like that.


        1. heartofapastor

          I’m still wrestling with your question. Saying “no” to homosexuals and “yes” to those who divorce or who commit other sins. Why do we just single out homosexuals? I still believe homosexuality is against God’s plan for creation and therefore I do not approve of it, but I am still wrestling with the homosexuality and ordination issue. I will respond more later.

          1. The ordination part is a challenge, to me, to not have it available puts us in the “welcome… but” arena. Yet, I can see the opposing view as well, esp since I held it for years.

            Certainly if one holds to a sacremental view of ordination and marriage, the consistency of approach can be comforting. It ends up not so much being a “welcome… but” but more so, you are fully welcome, this is the criteria for marriage and ordination.

            When Luther upended the sacrements of marriage and ordination, a whole ton of mysteries entered in, followed by how best to approach such mysteries pastorally. I’m convinced Luther was right, and I would stand with him… but it sure doesn’t make dealing with the mysteries any easier.

        2. I’ve been thinking more about this … if the basis for exclusion of homosexuals from the leadership of the church is primarily “fidelity to the Bible,” then we also need to exclude divorced individuals, women, etc. from the leadership of the church, for the Bible text is (in a “plain sense” reading) clear about divorce and the role of women.

          However, perhaps those who advocate the exclusion of homosexuals from the leadership of the church have other reasons – not primarily the interpretation of Scripture (some understanding of tradition, natural law, etc.?) – for their position? Perhaps. But the argument I’ve heard most frequently is the “fidelity to Scripture” argument, one which I don’t think holds much water when we consider how we’ve interpreted Scripture to allow the ordination of women, divorced individuals, etc.

          Have a good day following the CWA … I’ll be checking in from time to time, but am also writing two sermons and visiting some folks … Peace!

          1. Chris et al – As a divorced pastor, let me weigh in here. I do fundamentally believe that my divorce was a sin, or more properly, it is the result of the sinful nature of two people. Part of coming to terms with the divorce was coming to terms with how my sinfulness contributed to the dissolution of the marriage. I have sought since then to live in repentance for that vow that I broke. I’ve prayed for forgiveness for the all the ways my actions contributed, and went to my confessor on more than one occasion to confess and hear the words of absolution spoken by a Servant of the Word. All this even though my divorce fit the “reasons” given in scripture when divorce is excused.

            Now for arguments sake, if one were to believe that BOTH homosexuality and divorce were sinful, one can make the argument that homosexuals continue to live in a sinful state, while divorced people may be living a life of repentance. And there is a major difference.

            Personally, as a divorced person, I am thankful that my church spoke both Law (what has happened here is sinful) and Gospel (God loves and forgives you) to me. Without both, I would be lost.

            Just a thought…

        3. heartofapastor

          A while ago Chris posed a question to me but I have been hold off on answering since I have been struggling with the question. The question basically was how to we say “no” to homosexuals and “yes” to divorced people when it comes to ordination. Well…I think I am ready to respond (I was working on a response earlier when I accidentally hit a combination of keys that deleted everything I was typing…grrr…so here I go again).

          Robb’s response earlier has helped me frame my thinking a little bit, so thank you again Robb. For me the question begins with homosexuality being a sin (I know there are some that disagree with me but that is my belief). I like what Robb said about divorced people living in a state of repentance and homosexuals not. I can buy that. Since I believe homosexuality is a sin, for a pastor to remain in that state (at least in a committed relationship) goes contrary to scripture. It is almost like me saying that gossip is wrong and then I go out and do the very thing I told my congregation not to do. Or let’s say I preach a sermon on the importance of fidelity in marriage (between one man and one woman) and I go out and have an affair. When I, as a pastor, do things like that I lose credibility. For me a pastor needs to be an example…and…WHEN they make a mistake, repent.

          I think that allows me to say “no” to homosexuals and “yes” to divorced people. But here’s the kicker…if the day comes that a homosexual pastor (and their partner) come to Jackson to serve, I will welcome them as I do any pastor. I will work with them in an ecumenical way like I do any other pastor. I will ask God for strength not to judge them but to show them grace. We live and serve in a church where people have a variety of beliefs, but as the CWA09 delegates agreed to do, I will respect the “bound conscience” of all people. The main thing to remember here is advancing the mission of Christ (more on than in a post to come).

          Chris, I hope this answers your question. I know it is not a perfect answer as I am still wrestling with this, but at least it is a start. thank you for the question. God bless.

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