Guest / Limited Access /

A resolution against disciplining pastors in "a mutual, chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship" is drawing criticism from some within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

The resolution, adopted on August 11 at the 5 million-member denomination's biennial assembly, seems to contradict a church policy that prohibits ministers from engaging in homosexual sexual relations. "We all know the old saying, 'Practice what you preach.' There has to be consistency," said Jaynan Clark Egland, president of WordAloneNetwork, a Minnesota-based renewal group of more than 230 ELCA churches.

ELCA delegates postponed any official changes to the denomination's policy until 2009, when a task force is scheduled to complete a sexuality report. Many who voted in favor of the resolution, which passed 538 to 431, cited embarrassment caused by a recent case involving the Rev. Bradley Schmeling. Officially defrocked after an investigation into his gay relationship, his Atlanta church nevertheless kept him as pastor.

"The trial of Bradley Schmeling put this into public focus throughout the country and throughout the church," said the Rev. Paul Landahl, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod. Landahl said he proposed the resolution as a temporary fix.

"It's not a matter of looking the other way," Landahl said. "There's a movement toward acceptance. To me, it's a gospel issue."

The resolution may do little to quell sexuality disputes, however. Paull Spring, chair of Lutheran core, another renewal group, said most bishops would continue to abide by the church's policy. "I had several bishops speak to me personally [at the assembly]," he said, "and they said they have no intention of restraining discipline."

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedJames MacDonald Asks Forgiveness for Unbiblical Discipline of Harvest Bible Chapel Elders
James MacDonald Asks Forgiveness for Unbiblical Discipline of Harvest Bible Chapel Elders
Megachurch pastor confesses board slandered three elders as 'false messengers' last year.
TrendingDeconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Deconversion: Some Thoughts on Bart Campolo’s Departure from Christianity
Bart Campolo's departure from Christianity–some reflections about faith and (our) families.
Editor's PickThe Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
The Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Michael Horton's message to restless believers: Stay put, and build the church.
Comments
Christianity Today
Moving to 'Acceptance'
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.