Pastor Lee Hallstrom is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He preached a coming out sermon to his Minnesota church saying:
“In this journey, its been amazing to see the grace of God at work. One such example is in having someone special in my life. His name is Dennis. Actually it's the Reverend Dr. Dennis… (another pastor)…I was trying to help a _friend find a partner and amazingly I'm the one who receives a partner. I believe the only thing wrong with Dennis is he is not Lutheran!… Dennis thinks I'm far too “Christo” centered (Can’t help being a Lutheran)….I’ve come to see these givens as an amazing display to us of God’s creativity. We have a God who happens to love diversity! Again, please know that no one would choose being gay.”
I personally know what this struggle with same sex attraction is about (see my article “My struggle with same sex attraction” at pastorsstudy.org). I also know the Bible is clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. We may not choose our temptations in life but we do choose what we do with them. Deciding to get a partner and engage in homosexual behavior is indeed a choice.
Now 80 percent of Pastor Lee’s congregation has voted to allow homosexual “weddings” at the church. Pastor Hallstron was interviewed by the local newspaper and defended his position. From the article:
“Hallstrom responded to some of the arguments against the church’s position.
“We, as an ELCA church, take the Bible very seriously,” Hallstrom said. “It’s our authority for faith and life. We realize those five to seven references to homosexuality in the Bible don’t speak of homosexual orientation. They don’t speak of two people wanting to love each other in a committed relationship.”
Another argument Hallstrom has heard suggests the ELCA, and the local congregation, is “caving in to culture” or “whitewashing the Gospel.”
“No, we’re saying, ‘What does the Gospel say to us through the power of the Holy Spirit today through God’s Word?’” Hallstrom said. “That’s very important to me because I don’t want people to think we’re irresponsible with the Bible.”
Instead, he suggests interpreting the Bible contextually and asking, “What would Jesus do?” “Jesus said absolutely nothing about this issue in the Bible, so it leaves us with Jesus’ life,” Hallstrom said. “He spent his earthly ministry largely including the excluded of the day.”
My response: Those “seven references” to homosexuality happen to be God’s Word on the subject. It is not true that these verses do not speak of two people wanting a loving, committed relationship. There were many homosexual relationships in the ancient Roman world and the Apostle Paul condemns them all as “shameless acts” in Romans 1:26-28, saying they are “against nature.” He doesn’t add “But its okay if you love each other.” (see here)
Hailstorm brings in “the Holy Spirit today” in his defense of homosexuality. It is common for liberal pastors to say that the Holy Spirit is saying “something new” to the Church about homosexuality. But for that to be true the Holy Spirit would have to contradict Himself since He is the one who inspired the writing of the Bible. And did Jesus say “absolutely nothing” about this issue? Read Matthew 19:4-6 where Jesus refers to marriage as between one man and one woman. It is true Jesus never explicitly addressed homosexuality, but He never addressed rape or incest either. We are not to interpret His silence as approval. Jesus was a Jew who believed in the Old Testament teachings on such issues.
So what we have now in the ELCA is a Lutheran pastor in the pulpit who preaches to his church about his homosexual partner and defends homosexual behavior in the local newspaper. I will say it again, this ain’t my grandmother’s Lutheran church. If you are a member of the ELCA I highly encourage you to take you time, talent, and money and join a denomination which honors Christ and the Scriptures.
If you or someone you love struggles with homosexuality, please go to restoredhopenetwork.com and see if there is help in your area. You can also view TV shows I have done on my struggle with same sex attraction at pastorsstudy.org
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock