The official website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has listed some “Don’t miss” stories for its readers. The first listed is the story of Bishop Kevin Kanouse, Bishop of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod of the ELCA, who announced his homosexuality to teenagers at the ELCA’s national youth assembly this summer. He has stated that “the Holy Spirit” led him to do this. He told the teens that earlier in his life when he was struggling with God’s call, God said to him “You a**hole, why aren’t you listening to me?”
What has happened since his coming out? “The support …and love I have received have been amazing…Perhaps 98% of emails, letters, texts, notes, phone calls, and conversations have been positive. Some have told how their mind has changed as a result of my courage in coming out…”
What an indictment of the ELCA, that 98% of those writing him have rejected the Bible’s teaching regarding homosexual behavior to embrace the bishop’s “courage.” No, Bishop Kanouse, it would have been courageous of you to say “I have this temptation, but I believe this behavior is contrary to God’s Word.” But the bishop didn’t say that. Instead he encouraged young people to embrace homosexuality.
The bishop writes “the majority of teen suicides are caused by depression and fear over issues around gender identity and rejection.” He cites no study to support this statement, but even if it is true, could not the culprit be not “society’s condemnation” but that there is something inherently depressing and destructive about homosexual acts themselves? Given the liberal climate of the ELCA, it would have been courageous for the bishop to encourage teens to abstain from homosexual behavior, but he didn’t do that.
The bishop writes “Among the first comments I heard when I sat down after delivering my sermon at the Youth Gathering where I came out was: “You saved some lives today.” That brought tears.”
No, bishop, perhaps your sermon damned some lives that day since I Corinthians 6:9-11 states that those who continue to live in impenitent sin, including the sin of homosexual behavior, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The bishop continues to share the results of his coming out sermon: “Soon another pastor said: “One of my girls came up to me and asked if I would mind if she talked to our youth group tonight about her own sexuality. She has never told anyone that she is a lesbian.” So the bishop’s message of accepting homosexuality is spreading to ELCA youth groups.
The bishop writes of more results of his coming out:
“Said one pastor: “…my bible study group (made up mostly of people over 70) spent the entire hour telling stories of people we knew or to whom we were related who were gay or lesbian. We talked about how times have changed. We laughed together and we cried together and in the end they wanted me to tell you (bishop) that you are always welcome to come to our church …”. That kind of heartening response has been repeated over and over again.”
Next the bishop writes:
“A mother and father pulled me aside… with tears in her eyes (the mother) told me of her daughter…who had come out to her as a lesbian… She said: “I have prayed every night: ‘God change her. God change her.’ Then I read your (bishop’s) letter and subsequent story about your experience and I picked up the phone and called her right away. I apologized to her and reassured her that I love her.” Their daughter had pretty much dropped out of church some years before, perhaps because of this reality in her life, but the following Sunday they were in church, all three of them.”
So the point appears to be “Lets get people back in church by telling them their sin is okay.” The truth is that liberal churches which do this are shrinking and conservative churches which uphold the Bible’s teaching are growing. And where is the bishop’s concern for people’s eternal salvation? There are more important things than pleasing people and getting them to attend an heretical church.
Lastly, the bishop states “if God can and does love us as we have been created, with all our uniqueness and individuality, how can we as a church reject anyone? Indeed, how can we continue to live with self-hatred, doubt, and rejection? Since God loves us as we are, created in God’s own image, we indeed are freed in Christ to love ourselves unconditionally. That is a new acceptance of grace for me and from me toward others who are LBGT.”
My response: Yes, God deeply loves us sinners, but wait a minute, bishop, what about original sin? The Bible (Romans 5:12, 15-19) and the Lutheran Church teach we are born in sin and need to be redeemed from sin. This bishop seems to say we are all born wonderful and have no need to repent of whatever “uniqueness” we have. No, bishop, we are to do what the Apostle Paul writes “If you are living according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Tragically it appears the bishop is using his influence to teach that homosexual sin is not really sin, so no need to repent. Again, if I Corinthians 6:9-11 is true, what the bishop is doing is not loving, but damning.
I know what this struggle with homosexual temptation is about. I encourage people to read my story entitled “My struggle with same sex attraction” at pastorsstudy.org Also read my article there “What does the Bible teach about homosexuality?” The difference between my position and the bishop’s is the difference between the Bible and the world, truth and falsehood, light and darkness.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock