The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has been meeting this week at Navy Pier in Chicago. The big-issue has once again been the attempt to legitimate homosexual practice among clergy. This issue will divide the church for certain. But those who propose the acceptance of the practice officially have shown no concern about church unity at all. They believe that this is an issue of justice and thus it is time for the church to repent and embrace their sexual identity and practice.
On Tuesday 80 gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered ministers attacked what they called a present policy of "don’t ask, don’t tell." This policy, in effect, allows some latitude for such clergy so long as these ministers do not openly create divisions in their churches that bring about opposition. But this policy is not enough for the aggressive activists. They want a church-wide policy that embraces their lifestyle as biblically and morally ethical. Many of those who openly displayed their opposition to the ELCA on Tuesday are part of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, a group of ordained gay clergy who are excluded from the church rolls but who serve congregations in the ELCA that choose to call them, thus the "don’t ask, don’t tell" phrase and the way it is used in this debate.
An ELCA pastor in Chicago was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying, "I think this particular moment is pivotal. It really calls the church to accountability for its ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy.’"
I agree with this argument completely. A "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has already given away the moral high ground since it allows the very thing the church says that it does not allow. It is hypocritical to the extreme and both sides know it quite well. The ELCA ought to go ahead and adopt a pro-homosexual agenda entirely or allow historical Christian tradition and biblical authority to trump this cultural captivity of their church body so as to begin some kind of new reformation. The battle is likely lost already, it is really just a matter of time. And the membership losses in the ELCA will likely continue now more than ever.
By the way, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson was re-elected this week. Hanson is noted for his outspoken criticism of our war efforts in Iraq and his continual unwillingness to express an open opinion on the matter of gay clergy. Does anyone seriously doubt what his position is on the latter issue? Please don’t tell me there are not ecclesiastical politics on the left just as there are on the right. No one is immune. If we are talking about a important ethical issue here, and both sides think that we are, then there can be no middle-ground in the end.