A movement has occurred among ELCA churches to split away from the denomination over the issue of homosexuality. This was inevitable and is a sad reminder of the influence of the world on the church, an influence that allowed to run unchecked invariably leads to heresy and schism.
Conservative members of America's largest Lutheran denomination announced that they are splitting from the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, making it the second mainline Protestant church to undergo a major schism over the issue of homosexuality and related matters of biblical authority.
The U.S. Episcopal Church has experienced a similar split, with whole dioceses attempting to leave, new Anglican churches formed and a series of property fights in the years since the 2003 consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
On Wednesday, an 11-member steering committee of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal), meeting in New Brighton, Minn., said it cannot remain inside the 4.7-million-member ELCA after the denomination agreed at its August churchwide assembly in Minneapolis to ordain partnered gay clergy.
That decision, CORE said in a statement, created "a biblical and theological crisis throughout the ELCA and conflict in local congregations."
"We are not leaving the ELCA. The ELCA has left us," said Ryan Schwarz, a steering committee member from the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean, Va. "A lot of people who are planning to leave are telling us, 'We need you to form a new body that is like a traditional church body.' "
Christ calls us to be unified but a unity based in anything other than the truth is a lie. It is unfortunate that this became necessary but Scripture is clear on this issue.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." (1Co 5:9-13)
Unrepentent sin cannot be brushed aside in the name of fellowship and unity. At some point though, these brothers and sisters need to recognize that the issue of homosexual acceptance runs in the same vein as female clergy. It may be a slight overstatement, but wherever we see normalization of homosexuality in the church, it is invariably preceded by the ordination of women. That may be very un-P.C. to say but it is a pretty easy line to draw.