The ELCA assembly, held this past August in Minneapolis, approved proposals that would create the possibility for Lutherans in committed, publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA clergy and professional lay leaders. It also adopted a social statement on human sexuality which refers to several topics, including same-gender relationships and marriage.
The Rev. Alex G. Malasusa, ELCT presiding bishop, commented on "same-sex marriages" in his Easter sermon at the Azania Front Church, Dar es Salaam. Malasusa said the local church did not support the decisions of the ELCA and the Church of Sweden because "it was against God's word," according to The Citizen, a newspaper in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The newspaper reported that Malasusa said, "Lutheran churches in the U.S. and Sweden had strayed from the Scriptures, and it was up to Africa to bring them back into line."
"ELCT has refused to recognize the decision to allow same-sex marriages because it is against the Holy Bible. It is in direct contravention of God's word, which has not changed," Malasusa was quoted as saying.
"It's time Africa preached to the rest of the world and remind them of God's word because it seems they have forgotten what the Bible says," Malasusa said. The newspaper said that comment brought cheers from worshippers.
Malasusa also urged the church in Tanzania and across Africa to strive for financial and economic independence. "We should be independent so that they don't use their money and wealth to threaten us … we should leave them with their money and stick to the word of God," the newspaper reported.
In addition member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Africa met March 24-28 in Abuja, Nigeria, in an Africa Pre-assembly and Church Leadership Consultation. The consultation was one of several held throughout the world in advance of this summer's LWF Assembly in Germany.
In their final message after the consultation, the LWF churches in Africa commented on the topic of marriage, family and human sexuality.
"We strongly affirm our decision taken in Lund in 2007 that 'marriage is holy, ordained by God and is a relationship between a man and woman.' Therefore, the majority of African member churches say "NO" to homosexual acts and regard it to be sinful," the message said.
"Further to this affirmation of our position on this matter, we are extremely disturbed and deeply regret the recent developments taking place in some member churches of the communion who have taken unilateral decision on same-sex marriages, disregarding the strong sentiments expressed by other members of the communion. This unilateral action has negatively impacted our life together as a communion, something which could have been avoided," the message said.
"We pray for the Spirit of discernment and for the grace of God to abound as we seek to resolve these issues," the African churches' message stated.
Posted news release here.
The text of the LWF African churches' message is at http://www.lwf-assembly.org/uploads/media/Africa_Pre-Assembly_Message.pdf on the Web.
There are some very encouraging quotes from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. This one, "(W)e should be independent so that they don't use their money and wealth to threaten us … we should leave them with their money and stick to the word of God," is one I have been hoping to hear. Money can be a powerful motivator to comprimise on Biblical truth. It is my hope that other national denominations will put there faith in God's provisions and cast away the ELCA with their opposition to God's Word as well as their "dirty" money.