So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

(Genesis 1: 27-28; 2:24)

In the creation accounts of Genesis, God defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation (“God created them male and female” and said “be fruitful and multiply”). In other words, a marriage is a union of a man and a woman, since it is physically impossible for a same-gender union (a “gay marriage”) to be “fruitful and multiply”. The Iowa Supreme Court failed to recognize this when they made their ill-advised ruling on “gay marriage”. The fact is: “gay marriage” is an absurdity that contradicts the very definition of marriage. With respect to the Iowa Supreme Court, this is a matter of definition, not a matter of rights. A cat may want to be called a dog, but that doesn’t make it so; and we are not denying the rights of that cat when we refuse to call it a dog. In the same vein, a same-gender relationship may want to be called a marriage, but that does not make it so; and the rights of the people in such a relationship are not being denied when we refuse to call it a marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court can grant same-gender couples all the civil rights that married couples enjoy, but they cannot re-define what the word “marriage” means. To do so threatens to render the word meaningless.

Why do I bring this up? Because this ill-advised decision by the Iowa Supreme Court will cause some problems for us at both the Western Iowa Synod Assembly (May 1-3) and the ELCA Nationwide Assembly (August 17-23). The main topic of these assemblies will be the Human Sexuality Statement and the resolutions that stem from this statement. The first resolution is:

RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

This resolution is at the heart of the matter. All the other resolutions stem from this first one.

The word “monogamous” means “being married to only one person at a time”. Since marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation, the phrase “life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships” is a contradiction in terms. In deed, the word monogamy is derived from “mono” which means “one” and “gamos” which means “fertilized egg”. Obviously, a same-gender union cannot produce a fertilized egg. This still requires a male and a female. The phrase “life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships” is a physical impossibility, and no congregation may “recognize, support, or publicly hold accountable” such relationships. To do so is to equate these same-gender relationships with marriage, which is contrary to what Jesus declared in Matthew and Mark. (“Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” - Matthew 19: 4-6.)

Any same-gender relationship that includes sexual behavior is expressly forbidden in Scripture. Leviticus calls it an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). Paul calls it unnatural and shameful in Romans (Romans 1: 26-27) and refers to it as a perversion in 1st Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9). 1st Timothy teaches that it is also contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1: 10). (Although some dispute the clear meaning of these passages, it should be noted that there are no passages in the Bible that approve of or bless homosexuality or homosexual behavior, nor are there any passages blessing a “gay marriage”.)

To accept same-gender marriage (or to “recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships”) is to accept a false teaching. This is something we cannot do. The constitution of the ELCA states that the Holy Scriptures are the authority in all matters of faith and life. If we accept same-gender relationships as the equivalent of marriage we will not be true to either the Word of God or the constitution of the ELCA. If the first resolution of the Human Sexuality Statement passes, then it follows that we have to accept those who are living in a “life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationship” as rostered leaders of our church (the second resolution), which would require amending the “visions and expectations” of ministers on the roster.

My friends, this is a dangerous time for the ELCA, and for Bethlehem and St. Paul. If this sexuality statement and the resolutions that stem from it passes, the ELCA will be sanctioning a false teaching with regards to marriage and the office of the ministry; one that goes against the Scriptures and its own constitution. Can the ELCA survive such a decision? Can Bethlehem and St. Paul continue to belong to a church body that does not uphold marriage or remain faithful to the Word of God? I don’t know the answer yet, but after the assemblies, we will have to make decisions.

Your friend in Christ,

Pastor Ron.