Friday, August 8, 2014
The sex problem. . .
Consider the majority of members of the Lutheran World Federation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Both have succumbed to the pressure to adopt the official position of feminism with regard to women and the church. Both are decidedly in the camp of those in favor of gay marriage, the full acceptance and incorporation of gay and lesbians into the life and ministry of the Church, and yet both are surprised that this is a problem for the main ecumenical conversations (with Rome and Constantinople). What did they think?
It is the sex problem that has halted the progress of the ecumenical agenda of so many Lutherans. Metropolitan Hilarion summarized the problems at play in Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue in an interview with Der Spiegel. “Many Protestant churches have liberalized their notions of ethics, giving a theological justification to homosexuality and blessing same-sex couples,” he said. “Some refuse to consider abortion to be a sin. We do not share the understanding of the Church and church order, especially as the Protestants, unlike the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, ordain women.”
This is echoed by Roman Catholics who have viewed the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues as some of the most productive conversations -- but to a point. That point being the decisions along the way by Lutherans to depart from historic Christian practice and ordain women (in the US 1970 and in Sweden 1958) and to incorporate the full compliment of gay and lesbian relationships into the life of their churches (2009 for the ELCA). The conversations were to have reached a peak in the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 but it seems that instead the conversations have come to a halt. There is no detour around the roadblock of the ordination of women and the full incorporation of gays and lesbians into the life and ministry of the church.
The point is this. Those churches who have fully embraced the feminist and gay agenda have acted in a sectarian manner. This sectarian choice to depart from historic Christian teaching and practice has consequences. For the ecumenical dialogues, the consequence is pretty much an end to the conversation. Rome and Constantinople are not heading in this direction anytime soon (probably never). So what will will become of the ecumenical movement undone by its own progressive voices acting unilaterally? The only fruitful path will be for Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism to pay more attention to the Confessional Lutherans like the LCMS. The many liberal members of the LWF and the ELCA will have to content themselves to their ecumenical relations with churches that do not care what you believe, how you practice, or what you say -- as long as you do not violate their politically correct "prophetic" positions on women, gays, and lesbians.
What a sad end to what could have been a very significant and fruitful conversation!