Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Women Pastors... Stories of Women Who Left the LCMS
You can visit the site for yourself and see if my characterization is on target. In the interest of full disclosure, I realized I had known two of the Pastors described unfavorably in two of the stories. I did take the characterizations personally and would challenge the accuracy of their description in these stories. On the other hand, it was remarkable how I saw that my own pastoral practice would be judged similarly. Example: One complained that their mean old LCMS Pastor did not grant them a transfer to a non-LCMS, even non-Lutheran congregation. It is LCMS standard practice not to transfer but simply to release those who join a congregation with whom we are not in formal fellowship. That is my practice. Shockingly, the Pastors of the LCMS (which does NOT ordain women) disparaged these women from pursuing theological training designed to lead to ordination. I would do the same thing. So what did these women expect? Would they assume that an LCMS Pastor would promote the ordination of women and encourage them to pursue ordination knowing that the LCMS was not close to even considering the issue much less approving it? What kind of two faced Pastor would I be if I actually encouraged a woman to pursue what I knew was not possible within the LCMS?
I could go on but I won't. My point is this. If the LCMS and its clergy affirm their own stated position, they are being bigoted, presumptive, arrogant, and rude. That seems to be the standard line in the stories. In other words, the only good LCMS Pastor is one who is at odds with his own denomination's stated doctrine and practice.
I know many folks in the ELCA, many of them are clergy, some of them are female clergy in the ELCA. I know going in that this is not only an issue of tolerance but of full and enthusiastic acceptance. I would be surprised to find ELCA people who do not fully support the ordination of women. I would find it odd that an ELCA person (clergy or lay) would be at odds with their own denomination's stated doctrine and practice. I would consider the person not a good member of their church body to be at odds with something so central as teachings of church and ministry. Who would want as their Pastor someone who is purposefully at odds with their own denomination's stated doctrine and practice? If an ELCA clergy or lay person cannot with full conscience affirm their own church's stance, I would expect they would find a place more compatible. If an LCMS clergy or lay person cannot with full conscience affirm their own church's stance, I would expect they would find a place more compatible. Maybe not right away but at some point.
The common thread in these stories is shock and surprise that the clergy of a church body would actually believe, confess, and teach in accord with that church body's stated doctrine and practice. How shocking is this, really? Is this not the assumption -- fair and honorable -- that one would make of any clergy or congregation -- that they are in accord with their denomination's stated doctrine and practice? I am not talking about little things here but major areas of doctrine and significant aspects of the practice that defines our walking together.
In other words, in order to be open to the Spirit, faithful to the Lord, and true to myself, I would need to believe and live in conflict with my chosen church body. How tenable is that? Most of the stuff I read in these stories I can dismiss without a thought but I cannot get over the idea that the only good Lutheran is one who believes and practices at odds with their Lutheran jurisdiction. What a sorry state we are in when such is the inevitable conclusion we must make!