In February of 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Task Force on Human Sexuality released a document recommending to its leaders that they allow homosexual offenders to serve as clergy and officially declare that same-sex unions exist. (ELCA news release). Sadly, it has long been clear that the so-called “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” (ELCA) is neither Evangelical nor Lutheran nor even Church. The only thing truthful about its name is that it is “in America.” (See Her Church, an ELCA congregation).
In April of 2002, the late Richard John Neuhaus, a former ELCA pastor who had become a Roman Catholic priest, spoke to this developing situation:
It was sadly amusing to read that a Lutheran denomination in this country is undertaking a major study with a view toward revising its teaching on sexual morality, with particular reference to homosexuality. Especially striking was the assurance that the study would be conducted “without any prior assumptions.” Imagine that. The entire course of Christian fidelity is obedience to the received truth of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit’s guiding of the Church’s reflection on that truth.
At some point this Lutheran body will arrive at its new teaching. Through a complicated process of bureaucratic planning, interest group agitation, and a legitimating majority vote, it will eventually arrive at the point of saying “this we believe, teach, and confess.” Undoubtedly Scripture will be cited, but, as Luther said, biblical texts, like wax noses, can be twisted to fit.
If, as seems probable, this body adopts a new teaching and one asks by what authority it teaches this new doctrine, the only honest answer will be, “Because we will it to be so.” “It is what was decided by the procedures adopted by our religious society,” they might say. “Ours is, after all, a voluntary association, so nobody else has any right to complain.” By the rules of that denomination, the Church through time and the contemporary Church universal, to which Christ promised the Spirit’s guidance, does not get a vote.
Paragraph breaks and emphasis added. (First Things, “How I Became the Catholic I Was,” April 2002 A.D).