When I was in seminary I was told, “ethics is the   study   of what is right and wrong”. For Christian   ethics, this means to define what is sinful and not   sinful. With this in mind, Christian ethics is based   upon the laws God gives us in the Scriptures (which   are the authority in all matters of faith and life   according to the constitution of the ELCA). At the   Western Iowa Synod Assembly (June 6-7 in Storm   Lake) one of the main topics was studying the first   draft of the “Social Statement on Human Sexuality”.   For the ELCA, social statements are “theological and   teaching documents that assist members in forming   judgments on social issues” (a quote from the   introduction to the “Social Statement on Human   Sexuality” - page I). In other words, this social   statement is to help us determine what is right and   wrong in matters of human sexuality. This social   statement will be voted on in the 2009 ELCA National   Assembly.

In the discussion at the Western Iowa Synod   Assembly, it was pointed out that the social   statement   failed to show what was right and wrong,   or what was sinful. One of the subtitles (on page 8)   was “sexual ethics shaped by God’s mercy and   compassion”. In my opinion, this is putting the cart   before the horse. Sexual ethics must be shaped by   God’s law, not by God’s mercy and compassion.   God’s   mercy and compassion is seen in forgiveness   for sinners. Sexual ethics should tell us what is   sinful,   so that God’s mercy and compassion can be   shown by forgiving the sinner. Before there can be   forgiveness, there has to be repentance. There has to   be a confession of sin. There has to be an   acknowledgement that we are sinners, and that our   actions are sometimes sinful.

The “Social Statement on Human Sexuality” should   be  telling us what actions are sinful in matters of   human sexuality, based on God‘s law as seen in   Scripture. It fails to do that, which is a serious fault in   the statement. If this social statement is adopted in   2009, it could lead to same-gender marriage and the   acceptance of homosexual activity, something that   the   Bible clearly states is sinful. I have often said   this   in the past, but as Christians and as a Christian   church we must welcome and minister to all sinners,   but we must also reject and condemn all sinful   activity.   We must love the sinner, but hate the sin.

In Matthew 9, Jesus said, “Those who are well have   no   need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go   and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not   sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous   but   sinners.” Jesus came for sinners. If we think we   are righteous, then Jesus did not come for us! We   are   all sinners. We look to the Bible to tell us what   our sins are, so that we can repent of these sins and   try to refrain from them. Then we receive God’s mercy   and forgiveness. Hopefully, the next draft of the    “Social Statement on Human Sexuality” will recognize   this and tell us what is right and wrong, and what is   sinful. For this is what sexual ethics is for.

Your friend in Christ,

Pastor Ron.