Rather than being a turning point for the ELCA, Friday, August 21, 2009 was merely the fruition of what had been brewing for many years in that church body, as on that day, the ELCA, meeting in its assembly, officially gave its approval for active homosexuals to serve on its clergy roster. Members in relationships are expected to remain in them on a "monogamous", committed, and lifelong basis, but the homosexual aspect is no longer a hindrance.
The differences between the ELCA and the LCMS, already vast, have thus multiplied. Although the LCMS was briefly (1969-1981) in altar and pulpit fellowship with one of the ELCA's predecessor bodies, we have never been in such fellowship with the ELCA itself, and its recent action has only vastly increased the existing gulf between our church bodies. In contrast to the ELCA, the LCMS and its members and entities condemn homosexual behavior as intrinsically sinful. There is no way that same sex unions, of any level of commitment, legal endorsement, etc., can possibly be made right. Not only are such relationships contrary to God's holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible Word (Romans 1; 1 Corinthians 6) -- which is reason enough to condemn them -- they also militate against the very order of God's creation (Genesis 1).
There are many true Christians on the membership roles of ELCA congregations -- some of them our own family and loved ones -- who disagree with the ELCA's recent action, and in fact many of the controversial, even anti-Scriptural, stands it has taken, whose prayer could be summed up as, "They've taken my church away and I do not know where they've put it!" Our prayer for them is that they would be sustained in the true Christian faith in spite of the teaching and practice of their current church body, as well as that our Lord would bless them with the discretion as to what steps to take next.
There are, unfortunately, many others in ELCA who do agree with the church's stands and, in fact, helped bring such stands about in many cases. Our prayer for them is that they would be convicted by God's Word and repent of their sinful positions, and especially their use of God's Church to promote such sin. This is, of course, also our prayer for the ELCA itself and its congregations and entities.
Our prayer for ourselves is that we would remain steadfast in God's Word (The Lutheran Hymnal, 261), and that our Lord would bless us so we would temper true Christian love with firmness and steadfastness in our confession and practice, sticking to our position even and especially when dealing with those closest to us, and that we, too, would be aware of our own sinful state and the forgiveness of Christ which is ours as well, that forgiveness being the same forgiveness, won by that same Christ, on that same cross, as for all sinners everywhere.
May God grant it for Jesus' sake.
In the Interest and Service of the Unadulterated Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Rev. Paul E. Gramit, Pastor
Ev. Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS-UAC), Clinton, Massachusetts