Queensland Yr 12 Student: Part 2. Has the LCA Already Split?

A Post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia

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Quick recap on part 1

A Lutheran College Year 12 student in Queensland was asked a question on a radio program leading up to the Qld state election. The question was to do with gay marriage. The student said he couldn’t see anything wrong with it.

The ultra conservative Australian Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) which is a breakaway group from the Lutheran Church of Australia is based in Queensland. A member of the AELC who was also a past student of the College heard the interview and demanded that the College disavow what the student had said. If not, the member threatened to go to the press. The AELC subsequently placed this ad in a Qld paper.

“While the Evangelical Lutheran Church is not affiliated with (name) College, it nevertheless emphatically states that on the basis of Holy Scripture, homosexuality is to be opposed, and warns that any who continue in this practice are in danger of losing salvation,”

The newspaper lifted the ad out of the obscurity of the ads  section and put it into the body of an article explaining the whole sorry state of affairs under the heading…

“Church makes anti gay stand.”

The whole post is here if you missed it.

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The CLAW decides who will go and who will stay!

Hey reader, If you think the above is disturbing..well the worst is yet to come…read on. I need to give you some background. Its a bit complicated and swamped with the acronyms CLDT, LCA and AELC…but hang in there with me, Ok?

There is a thing called the LCAi List. It is the official email discussion group of the Lutheran Church of Australia. I’ve mentioned it before. I have casual flings on the List…but you, reader,  are my first love <3. Honest!

I had some discussions on the LIst with some LCA pastors who were also members of another, more exclusive LCA Pastors’ email discussion group called CLDT (Confessional Lutherans Doing Theology.)  I was informed by those pastors that the CLDT was formed when some pastors didn’t like the discussions on the List. It seems they were upset when people disagreed with them.

The CLDT is a vetted list. To join, one needs to be recommended by an acceptably conservative pastor and a decision is then made as to whether one is worthy. There are, apparently, levels of membership. One person I spoke to only had “observer status” on the CLDT. Maybe he was on probation.

I spoke on the List of my fears that such a group exists. What does it say to the unity of the whole LCA if there is a separate group who gather in a huddle to stroke each other’s conservatism and mumble about the rest of the not-confessional-enough-pastors who are not allowed to join.

I advocated and advocate still an attitude of openness. Open and public discussion with expressions of disagreement are the signs of a healthy church. Unity comes from an attitude of trust and respect for those we disagree with and a willingness to continually engage in debate on matters of controversy . The CLDT seems to be saying that unity only exists when we meet with and talk to people who agree with us. I guess that is a unity of sorts. But it is destined to become a smaller and smaller group as the “heretics” continue to be weeded out and discarded.

I name the CLDT a cancer in out midst. It comes from and contributes to the present sickness of secrecy, fear and distrust that is growing in our church.

I asked, asked and asked again if I could join the CLDT. I wanted to put that challenge and to hear the discussion. Apart from anything else, I am a pastor of the LCA. Who has a right to decide that I don’t belong on a Lutheran pastors discussion forum? On what basis? We have all made the same ordination vows. We all hold to the same Scriptures and Confessions.

After 3 months of asking…silence.

Neil, you may be a pastor of the LCA but you don’t belong in our group”.

Reader, I know that by now you are weeping uncontrollably at my harsh treatment at their hands, the rejection, the shame, my shattered spirit. But CRY NOT dear reader…I am brave! Through counselling and a dose of shock therapy, I shall recover!

Seriously though, I mention the CLDT to set the scene for two simple little facts that I uncovered as I investigated the events surrounding the yr 12’s statement and the AELC’s subsequent ad.  Simple, but enormously significant for the LCA.

The computer keys were clattering on the CLDT after the yr 12’s simple radio statement.  It is Interesting that the LCAi List went strangely quiet at exactly the same time. And what did these LCA, “Confessional Pastors” think while they were on the CLDT “Doing Theology”?  Well, believe it or not, they were largely in favour of the thoughts expressed by the AELC ad.

It seems that these LCA Pastors were just as threatened by the simple statement of a school student as their Ultra conservative AELC allies. And when i say allies, I mean allies. It turns out that as a result of all this hyper excited key board clattering the  pastors of the AELC have been invited to join the CLDT List.

This attitude, where pastors of the LCA find a closer affiliation with the likes of the ultra conservative AELC than with their fellow LCA pastors, seems to be mirrored in pews of that Queensland town. An AELC pastor (who appears unfamiliar with the concept of overstatement) told me that 99.5% of the discussion in conservative LCA circles was in support of the AELC ad. Even if “99.5% ” is an exaggeration it is entirely likely that half of the average Lutheran pew sitters in that town support the AELC action.

Remember, reader, what we are talking about here…

LCA pastors and parishioners  who are joining the pack, baying for the blood of a school student and then, very publicly, damning the unrepentant gay members of our church to hell.

Respect to the Queensland District President who, in the midst of this nonsense, provides a note of wisdom and common sense. The President said that he didn’t think it appropriate to comment in any way on the personal opinions of a school child who was expressing his own opinion to which he is entitled.

An AELC pastor told me that he was surprised that there was no official comment from the church. he even seemed disappointed.  It seems to me that the Ad may well have been an AELC fishing expedition and the pastor was disappointed in the refusal of the District President to take the bait. The pastors of the CLDT List had no such restraint. They seem to have circumvented the hook and thrown themselves headlong into the boat.

In the end it doesn’t matter if the AELC pastors joined the LCA List. It would be great to be challenged by them and to challenge them back.  Free speech is good. Honest exchange of ideas is good. Challenging each other is good. The environment of trust and mutual respect that is required for such an exchange is good.

It doesn’t matter if pastors of the LCA belong to 1000 different discussion forums about 1000 different things to do with God. Exposure to a broad range of views can only be healthy for the pastors and the church.

It DOES matter when pastors of the LCA form a separate exclusive group based on the premise that they are unhappy with the broader pastorate of the church and that they alone represent what it means to be truly confessional. It DOES matter that they now band together with other pastors who have left the LCA in order to feed their  mutual discontent. These are actions that will only serve to broaden the divide that seems to exist in our church.

Let me conclude by issuing 2 challenges to the CLDT.

1. What are you doing there guys? What is you purpose. What is your agenda? Come clean with us. If, as the AA philosophy states…you are only as sick as your secrets, then it seems to me that you represent a secret little sickness of discontent in our midst.

2. You are so offended by a school student who said that gay people should be allowed to get married that you campaign against him. Or perhaps just use him to make some point. Well, I am a pastor of the LCA. and I state the following…

I believe that homosexuality is about real people and not an activity.

I believe that homosexuality is about a type of love not a type of sex.

I believe that homosexuality is not a sin and that those who express their love for another do not sin.

I believe that the idea that homosexuality is a sin is based on bad exegesis of the Bible, and bad theology and I believe that it that goes against basic Lutheran tenets.

I believe that it is a violation of the fundamental human rights of  gay people that they are not allowed to marry and I believe that the love of God compels us to fight for the rights of this marginalised and discriminated against group.

I believe that Gay people should have the support of their communities as they enter into lifelong, loving and committed unions

I believe that God calls on the church community to support homosexual relationships, their family units and their children by offering the formal blessing of their unions in the estate of marriage.

Ok CLDT, AELC and anyone else offended by this comment! Let the keyboards clatter. Let the gossip begin. Send your letters of complaint and call for the public withdrawal of my statement and my public apology. Demand that my inconvenient voice be shut up. Threaten whatever you may threaten.

Or…do your limit your venom and attacks to school children?

But..here is an alternative. You could enter into respectful, trusting , honest and open debate where difficult matters continue to be talked about, in public and in private, where the things we believe are continually challenged by the scriptures , the confessions and the different views expressed by our Christian brothers and sisters, gay and straight, In a continual search for truth and the voice of God.

I am BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! I come in peace.

Your call i guess. But…come out from your little bubble, yeh?