A friend and colleague wrote this to me recently, and gave me permission to publish it here. I thought it a worthwhile reflection:
I also wanted to share a thought with you about your comment that some of your friends thoguht they would have to withdraw from the ELCA over the recent synod decisions.
It seems to me they are profoundly mistaken in treating this issue as a statu confessionis issue that must divide the church. I will grant the issue of gay pastors is a matter of the interpretation of Scripture...but the church has disagreed on many other serious issues in the past without fracturing...the ministry of women being only the most obvious in recent years, and on that issue the scripture texts are far more transparent.
We have talked much about "bound consciences"...but it always seems to be on the side of the opponents of ministry by gay persons. I feel my conscience is as surely bound on the other side of the issue, and I am not one to take Scripture lightly. Like Luther, when some argue Scripture against Christ, I will always argue Christ against Scripture.
I think on the gay issue we must take a very long and hard look at our own prejudices, as I think these have been pernicious in motivating or at least shaping church actions for many years if not centuries.
Anyway, I hope your friends can serve as pastor in a larger church that does not always agree with their own vision of what Scripture say. As Cromwell said, "By the bowels of Christ, sir, consider that you may be wrong."