RECENT DIALOG with other Lutherans in a Facebook group highlighted the depths of separation now found within our Christian denominations. Comments, some harsh and even Satanic, were made when I stated that in the darkness of night my mind was troubled over a present social ministry inadequacy within Lutheranism. The issue bothering me was that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), through its medical plan for clergy and church employees, will yet pay for abortion services with no questions asked. Thus I find it a stretch that friends and acquaintances remain in the ELCA.
Certainly, since scripture reveals that God in all expressions of the Holy Trinity champions life, and more so our redemption unto eternal life… any funding of the dubious practice of abortion raises concern. I view the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) as standing seriously clear, covering the preservation of human life from embryonic to geriatric. Consider that we thoroughly examine our motives whenever we are called to fight wars to defend our neighbor. Thus, even as a sinful pastor I dare say that we are called to consider and avoid abortion whenever possible, and not cause other persons to advance such radical disobedience. For foundation in this position I quote concerning our important responsibility..,
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” (Mark 9:42-43)
Therefore I say that it is far past time for both clergy and laity to firmly cut ties with such heretical expressions as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While such evil is not just restricted to Lutherans, the ELCA’s positions within the last decade on matters such as endorsing ordination for unmarried and cohabitating but sexually-active LGBT persons, plus providing advocacy for gay marriage and funding for abortions… supplies a gross straying from the right interpretation of scripture.
Think of this! The actions that I list here devilishly diminish population growth within the church. The upshot is that many leaders within certain denominations and religious groups decry the loss of membership, even while foolishly accommodating such detrimental ecclesial policies.
In the past I have enjoyed participation with the Lutheran CORE group on Facebook. Historically CORE has accomplished much, railing against many of the apostate actions in the church, even working to establish the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) in which I now serve. In the past, the organization made great efforts in bridging between its ELCA-based membership and those who have gone to the NALC. However, I fear that today boards fall from its span like that of an old and worn covered bridge. When I mentioned my unrest in that group over the ELCA’s abortion funding, it was met with turbulent conversation. First came the charge that I was not being supportive of historic CORE members who presently share my views but remain in the ELCA. A noted respondent waved the “foul” flag from the bridge, citing that my concerns were unfairly aimed since he had recently demonstrated in protest against the gross malfeasance of Planned Parenthood. As many already know, that organization is losing support because of horrid abortion practices and the parting out of babies’ bodies.
However, I evaluate his retort as nonsense. I believe it to be rather hypocritical to hold an ELCA pastorate and serve in a denomination that will insure to provide abortions, and then demonstrate against a group that so cheaply forwards such evil. I wonder why such a faith leader would abide in a denomination that would pay insurance to slaughter even one child. Would it not be better to lead his congregation or a portion of it, away from participation in the ELCA?
Why do such leaders resist so strongly? Is it that they would lose established tenure or financial prosperity? Or could it be that a spouse could lose a job if a proposed congregational vote to leave the ELCA failed, and the pastor then would be conscientiously forced to leave the area to serve another denomination. Maybe uprooting dependent children from a stable and able school system would be unsettling. Could geographic family ties be the hold? Could it be that there are no other NALC churches or Lutheran Congregations for Mission in Christ (LCMC) churches, or independent Lutheran churches… to be found in the preferred area where a pastor has personal history... so that the person could remain locally? Whatever the reasons, I contend that even if accumulated they pale in importance to the precious life of a defenseless child who is aborted.
Argument was then made that it was appropriate to remain ELCA because Jesus himself dined with prostitutes, sinner and tax collectors. While this point seems to have initial merit in that we are called to imitate our Lord, we note that Jesus did not remain content to have those who were immersed in sin to remain as such. He called them to modify their lives! I offer, for example, that he spoke urgently to one woman caught in adultery. As he admonished her like we ourselves who are yet sinful, he told the woman to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11b) All tall order to be sure, but an instruction nonetheless.
Someone thought that I was being rather Pharisaic, claiming righteousness. Not so! I too kneel as sinful and saved only by the grace given as a gift through Christ’s death upon the cross. But I say that the gracious gift should cause us to go from the altar and into the world to properly administer the “Third Use of the Law”. Know that the Commandments condemn us and drive us to find salvation in Jesus Christ, but also they should be rightly used within the halls of society until rotten boards fall from the societal bridge.
Some quote, “Judge not lest you be judged.” This text is often wrongly interpreted and leveled at those who attempt such actions. But I say that in this world we must judge, even as sinners who are made saints in the church. Is it not our civic responsibility to render judgments in either church or state concerning any offenses made against God and neighbor? Thanks be to God that these penultimate decisions, if faulty in judgment… are promised as forgiven through Jesus Christ when we shall stand in the ultimate court of the Father.
Therefore my withdrawal from membership in the online Lutheran CORE group, while admittedly a kneejerk move on my part, may be seen as meaningless to most Lutherans. But it may also grow as a cellular, embryonic statement that honors the birth of the NALC from the maturity of our parent CORE organization. The NALC policy does not insure any abortion coverage!. In any case, I now consider future conversations with CORE to be simply like that of the continued Christian church relationship with those who endeavor in the Jewish faith. We share history, traditions, conversations… and still worship the same God, but now travel different paths. I pray that the Holy Spirit shall continually guide their way and my own. Finally in all this turbulence within the waters beneath the bridge, I say thanks be to God for salvation that is only made possible through baptism into Christ Jesus, our Lord. For in this there is yet hope.