By Peter J. Smith

CHICAGO, August 13, 2007 ( – The largest denomination of Lutherans in the United States has decided that it will no longer discipline or enforce a ban against sexually active homosexual clergy.

Delegates at the national assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in Chicago passed a resolution Saturday, by a vote of 538-431, urging bishops to “refrain from or demonstrate restraint” in disciplining homosexual clergy in “faithful committed same-gender relationships.”

Chicago’s Bishop Paul Landahl offered the resolution on the final day of the ELCA’s national assembly at the Navy Pier. The ELCA, which boasts 4.8 million members, had previously compromised on the homosexual issue by allowing homosexuals to serve as pastors with the proviso that they abstain from homosexual activity.

“It’s a huge victory,” delegate Jeremy Posadas, 26, from Decatur, Georgia told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The gospel of inclusion has won and we’re going to keep winning.”

However, conservative Lutherans are flummoxed by the inconsistent logic behind ELCA’s vote and its earlier decision to reject a proposal to scrap the ban prohibiting homosexual clergy entirely.

“I don’t know, as a Christian, as a pastor and as a parent, what really would be worse – a church with no biblical standards to govern our ministry or standards we don’t intend to enforce,” said Jaynan Clark Egland, president of Word Alone Network. “To refrain from discipline in the home is bad parenting, but we’re about to do so in the Christ’s church.”

Traditional Lutherans see the vote as opening the backdoor to approving active homosexuals as pastors of the ELCA. In addition, it is expected the gradual erosion of core Christian sexual values in the Lutheran Church will continue, especially with the national assembly having charged a task force on human sexuality to prepare a social statement addressing homosexuality by 2009, a statement that some expect will continue to push the boundaries. 


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