Sometimes my posts on religious topics can exceed two thousand words in my efforts to examine an issue thoroughly.
This is not going to be one of those times.
This is one of those times where I just lay down the facts, barefaced and naked, for the world to see.
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is one of the more powerful Evangelical forces in America, especially in the Midwest where it’s centred. The LCMS boasts 2.2 million members worldwide, more than 6,000 congregations, and several colleges, making it the eighth largest Protestant denomination in America. The LCMS is one of the most extreme forms of Christian conservatism out there. It focuses on biblical literalism and inerrancy (they are the type of people who keep money in Ken Ham’s pockets), doctrinal and congregational ‘purity,’ and the old adage ‘traditional family values. The LCMS is also defined by their near-veneration of noted anti-Semite Martin Luther, celebrated reformer and author of On the Jews and Their Lies.
One of the most extreme (and bizarre) doctrines of the LCMS is their ideas of ‘fellowship.’ To the Missouri Synod Lutherans, it’s important that anyone with whom you associate with religiously has the exact same beliefs that you do on every part of Scripture. This includes public worship, public prayer, receiving the Sacraments, etc. The LCMS prohibits its congregants, and especially it’s pastoral staff, from making any sort of indication that fellowship is appropriate between people with doctrinal differences. Otherwise, they claim, outsiders may believe that incorrect doctrinal beliefs are approved by the LCMS and that would be sin. It even applies to the few Lutheran sects that are even more conservative than they are.
As I said, bizarre. But the background is needed to understand the uproar that occurred when LCMS pastor Rob Morris participated in an inter-faith vigil after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newton CT. The vigil included several clergymen of other Christian denominations as well as President Obama. Morris was swiftly condemned by the LCMS for the horrific sin of praying for community healing and salvation with non-LCMS people. Fellow pastor Timothy Rossow compared Morris’s actions to that of a pastor sleeping with a prostitute and stated unequivocally that Morris’s actions were more harmful than the shooters.
Yes. Praying with Christians who are not your specific flavour of Christians is more harmful than walking into a school and gunning down twenty-six innocent people.
Eventually, the LCMS president Matthew Harrison demanded an apology from Morris. Morris admitted that he had done wrong and repented of his sin and all was well again.
Well, until the media firestorm, after which Harrison admitted that his church body may have been ‘insensitive’ to the grieving community.
None of this is surprising. Christian elitism and moralism are common sentiments, especially in America. Viciousness of the kind the LCMS showed against anyone who believes slightly different than they do is to be expected. The fervour with which they defend their closely-held beliefs could almost be admired in a perverse way if they stood by them in all cases.
But guess what? They don’t.
Several religious bodies recently filed a joint amicus brief with the Supreme Court. It urges the SCOTUS to make a firm decisions on the matter of same-sex marriage. It also urges for the upholding of the same-sex marriage ban in Utah, citing arguments that ‘ scholars of all ideological stripes agree that “same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty” and “Judicially redefining marriage powerfully conflicts with religious liberty because…such a dramatic change in the law inevitably will lead to ‘forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations – throughout their opera-tions, well beyond religious ceremonies – to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.'”
The amicus brief is cosigned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Mormon Church, and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
Let that sink in.
The LCMS stands firm on it’s fellowship doctrine when it comes to interdenominational prayer vigils for murdered children. But when it comes to arguing against the civil rights of LGBT citizens, they have no problem with cosigning an interdenominational amicus brief, one that makes a unified statement of religious agreement on the issue, advising the civil servants of the United States to discriminate against certain people to preserve their not-in-anyway-threatened religious liberty.
I’d have a bit more respect for the LCMS if they stood on their elitist principles in all cases rather than making exceptions for the chance to take pot-shots at LGBT people’s civil rights.
Not much more, but a bit.
Christians, this is why when you say that you ‘love the sinner but hate the sin,’ no one believes you. When you say that you treat homosexuality just like any other sin, no one believes you. We have examples like the ones listed above to demonstrate the hypocrisy of your actions and reinforce our understanding of how much you despise your fellow men and women.