Immanuel Lutheran Church (Audubon) of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), a church body based in Mankato, is concerned and disappointed with the recent decision of the national convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which allows the ordination of practicing homosexuals and lesbians as pastors of the church.
Our smaller ELS is not affiliated with the larger ELCA, even though the names of the two church bodies are similar. Recently, ELS President, Rev. John A. Moldstad, said, "Ordaining practicing homosexuals and lesbians to the ministry is a serious departure from the Biblical standards of morality to which Lutherans and Lutheran pastors have historically been held."
This is clarified in one of our documents: We confess that Scripture condemns homosexuality and extra-marital relations (fornication and adultery) as sin. Nevertheless, when an individual caught up in such sins truly repents, the forgiveness of the Gospel is to be fully applied. We confess that the divine institution of marriage is to be heterosexual, in which, according to God's design, a man and a woman may enjoy a life-long companionship in mutual love. We teach on the basis of Holy Scripture that marriage is the only proper context for the expression of sexual intimacy and for the procreation of children. See Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9, 18 and 7:2-9, John 4:17-18, 1 John 1:9, Gen. 1:27-28 and 2:18-24, Matt. 19:4-6. (From We Believe, Teach, and Confess, adopted by the ELS in 1992).
Churches of the ELS welcome those who may struggle with temptation toward a same-sex attraction, but who know in their conscience that this is wrong, and who seek God's help in their struggle. Again, President Moldstad said, "The ELS believes that in this world it is the duty of the church -- as the body of Christ -- to be a community of healing and reconciliation in the Gospel, and a beacon of hope to all humanity. And so, while the church is indeed called by the Lord to condemn as sin that which God condemns as sin, it is the church's privilege also to offer and apply the grace, forgiveness, and acceptance of God, in Jesus Christ, to all who repent of their sins -- whatever those sins may be."
This is Christian love as it should be. Though the ELS shares a common heritage with some segments of the ELCA, it has not merged with them due to continued differences in teaching such as this one. We stand on and will not compromise the clear Word of God. -- Pastor David Thompson for the members of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELS) of Audubon