The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

What Would LUTHER Do?

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Still stinging from a strong debate among ELCA pastors this summer, The Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Dunkin pushes to move his synod beyond the controversial topic and offer some reasons of support for the work of the ELCA.  He begins:

The major news coming from the 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s biennial Churchwide Assembly has been the change in policy related to persons in gay and lesbian relationships. The policy change allows congregations to determine for themselves if they wish to offer blessings of same-gender relationships and if they are open to calling a pastor who is in a same-gender relationship.

But, he then moves quickly past the issue, noting the ELCA’s broad partnership of “full communion” with, “the Reformed Church, The UCC, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Moravians, The Episcopal Church and now the United Methodist Church.”  Interestingly, each of these denominations have taken similar measures as the ELCA did this summer.

The point, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin is trying to make is that, regardless of the controversy, the ELCA is still doing some incredible things and, implicitly, the vote to ordain practicing homosexuals not only doesn’t affect their overall ministry, but actually may improve their ability to link with others in an effort to do good deeds to this world.

Yet, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin fails to address a fundamental point vis-a-vis the recent ELCA vote: “What would LUTHER do?”

To try to explain the hallmark of the ELCA, the Rev. Dr. Dunkin pens this graf:

We are Christians who have been persuaded by the good news for and about Jesus Christ by the writings and works of a 16th century monk, priest and university professor named Martin Luther. Luther had hoped to reform his church that he believed was misusing God’s gift of forgiveness. Luther had hoped to debate his church, the Holy Roman Catholic Church. This debate did not take place in 1517. Luther would be excommunicated and the split began in earnest. Luther worked and wrote to remind the church of his day of the proper place of God’s gifts of grace and love. For this, I am also proud.

While this explanation offers a nice understanding of the distinctives of the Lutheranism, it ignores what the Rev. Dr. is hoping to likewise ignore: Christ’s – and Luther’s – teaching on homosexuality.  Good deeds can be done by the unregenerate, undoubtedly.  What made Lutherans (and other former mainline denominations) distinct is that these good deeds were motivated by a complete, Biblical worldview.

We cannot allow the Rev. Dr. Dunkin to skirt the issue.  We must ask the question of him, “Would Luther Vote with the ELCA on Homosexuality?”  Chris Rosebrough on asked and answered that question last month using Luther’s own words:

Would Luther Vote With the ELCA on Homosexual Clergy? Nope. It’s clear that Luther held to the Biblical view that Homosexuality is a sin. In fact, Luther made it clear that the perversity of homosexuality comes from Satan.

Luther identifies the sin of Sodom with homosexuality. Commenting on Genesis 19:4-5, he writes

“I for my part do not enjoy dealing with this passage, because so far the ears of the Germans are innocent of and uncontaminated by this monstrous depravity; for even though disgrace, like other sins, has crept in through an ungodly soldier and a lewd merchant, still the rest of the people are unaware of what is being done in secret. The Carthusian monks deserve to be hated because they were the first to bring this terrible pollution into Germany from the monasteries of Italy”. (Luther’s Works Vol. 3 p. 251-252)

In the same section of the Genesis lecturers, Luther refers to “the heinous conduct of the people of Sodom “ as“extraordinary, inasmuch as they departed from the natural passion and longing of the male for the female, which is implanted into nature by God, and desired what is altogether contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversity? Undoubtedly from Satan, who after people have once turned away from the fear of God, so powerfully suppresses nature that he blots out the natural desire and stirs up a desire that is contrary to nature.” (Luther’s Works Vol. 3 p. 255)

Continue in your prayers that the totality of God’s Truth will be restored to the ELCA.


Written by Jeremy Dys

October 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] Continue Reading at The Family Council of West Virginia’s Engage Blog […]

  2. For starters, Luther would roll over in his grave learning that a church body (mis-) using his name was promoting a grave moral evil.

    That being said, unlike some conservative Lutherans today, he would not have limited himself to solely arguments from Scripture explicitly condemning homosexual behavior. As in the Genesis lectures, he also would have argued from the basis of Natural Law that there is something fundamentally wrong and immoral about it.

    Robert at


    October 1, 2009 at 9:32 pm

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