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Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)

2009 CWA: Reactions to the social statement by delegates & media

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Reactions by CWA delegates:

bullet Curtis Sorbo of Adams, N.D., a convention delegate from the ELCA's Eastern North Dakota Synod said: "We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality based on a reality that's shaped not by Scripture but by today's culture." 6 
bullet "Chefhomier" posted a comment to an article in the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune, saying:
"The original, orthodox qualifications for church leaders are clearly presented in the cannon of Holy Scripture known as the New Testament and are specific to The New Covenant and The New Testament Church. Holy Scripture, The Bible, is the inspired Word of God and not open to interpretation. Literary criticism and the hermeneutic principals are used to determine the one meaning of Scripture. You may then apply your decisions to this one meaning or draw some significance. The qualifications for Bishops, Pastors, Elders, Deacons and Deaconess are clearly stated in 1st Timothy 1:3 and Titus 1:5. Both of these states that male church leaders should have one wife and children and that female church leaders should have one husband and children. Because The ELCA now practices extra-biblical folk religion, official statements of belief in the Bible as the inspired Word of God should be removed because these are confusing. God says in His Word that He is not the author of confusion, therefore it is concluded that your currant policies and statements are apostate and diabolical. ..." 7

Reactions by the media:

bullet Associated Press: Patrick Condon wrote:
"Leaders of the country's largest Lutheran denomination have agreed to disagree on homosexuality, endorsing an official statement on human sexuality that says there's room in the church for differing views on an issue that's divided other religious groups."

"Delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's nationwide assembly in Minneapolis on Wednesday approved a "social statement on human sexuality. ..."

"The 34-page social statement actually touches on homosexuality only briefly, and is intended as a sweeping definition of the ELCA's approach to matters of human sexuality. It also sketches out the church's approach to gender, friendship, marriage and children, cohabitation outside marriage, the commercialization of sexuality, and the global sex trade."

"But it acknowledges what Larson described as an utter lack of consensus toward homosexuality and same-sex relationships across the ELCA's membership. She said the statement's drafters agreed that such differing views could be accomodated because the homosexuality issue is "not central to our faith," the [Rev. Rebecca] Larson [an official in the ELCA's headquarters] said." 6

bullet The Lutheran World federation stated:
"Prior to the assembly vote, speakers opposed to the social statement said they believed endorsing the document would abandon the church?s reliance on the Bible and separate the Lutheran denomination from the majority of Christendom. But those favoring the document insisted that a greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the church and its ministry is consistent with the command to care for one?s neighbor and to build trusting relationships."

"Speaking earlier at a 17 August news conference as the ELCA opened its eleventh biennial assembly, Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said a respectful discussion on sexuality by the church would demonstrate that while Lutherans may not be 'of one mind,' they can still be 'united in faith and in our shared mission together'."

" 'We have an opportunity this week to bear witness in a culture that often wants to polarize and see all questions in their polar opposites,' Hanson noted. The bishop said he was confident that the church could learn to live with its differences."
bullet The Minnesota Independent: Andy Birkey stated:
"The social statement is a long document that essentially says that the church will agree to disagree on the issue of same-sex relationships, but will neither punish congregations that decide to bless such relationships nor force congregations that reject blessing same-sex couples."

" 'This church also acknowledges that consensus does not exist concerning how to regard same-gender committed relationships, even after many years of thoughtful, respectful, and faithful study and conversation,' the statement says in part. 'We do not have agreement on whether this church should honor these relationships, uplift, shelter and protect them, or on precisely how it is appropriate to do so'." 9

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "ELCA Assembly Adopts 'Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust'," ELCA News Service, 2009-AUG-19, at:
  2. David Virtue, "MINNEAPOLIS: ELCA Leaders follow Episcopal Church on Homosexual Marriage," VirtueOnline, 2009-AUG-19, at:
  3. "Press Release from Goodsoil regarding the human sexuality social statement," ELCA CWA blogspot. 2009-AUG-20, at:
  4. Ted Olsen, "ELCA Assembly: Was God in either whirlwind?," Christianity Today, 2009-AUG-20, at:
  5. John Piper. "The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality," Desiring God blog, 2009-AUG-20, at:
  6. Patrick Condon, "Lutherans move toward more open view on gays," Google News, 2009-AUG-19, at:
  7. Jeff Strickler, "ELCA validates 'chaste' same-sex relationships," Star Tribune, 2009-AUG-20, at:
  8. "LWF President underscores focus on Church witness," Lutheran World Federation, 2009-AUG-20, at:
  9. Andy Birkey, "A day of close calls: ELCA braves a tornado and a tough vote on LGBT issues," The Minnesota Independent, 2009-AUG-20, at:

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-SEP-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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