ORIGINAL POST: Last week in Minneapolis, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) made waves with their new progressive policies concerning homosexuals and now allow:
- Non-celibate gays to become clergy
- congregations to choose to do to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships.
- people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church
The ELCA is not the first mainline denomination to change their policies on such controversial issues. The United Christ of Christ and Episcopal Church have made similar policies. Every mainline denomination is struggling with how to take a stand for or against homosexuality in the church.
The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
This type of statement, which implies that God sent the tornado, reminds us of Jerry Fallwell’s and Pat Robertson’s statements in which they claimed that the sins of homosexuals and other “sinners” were the cause of the attacks on 9/11/01. Fallwell and Robertson took major heat for their comments. Even President Bush denounced their comments. The two preachers later apologized and retracted their comments.
This type of thinking confuses us because a storm hits the ELCA conference during a controversial vote and it is God who is responsible, but my basement floods from a storm and nobody tells me that God is sending me a message. You can see the obvious problems with this thinking: people claim God is sending messages through selective natural disasters. Other bloggers have called out Piper on his statements and logic.
What is so troubling about John Piper’s statements is not that God is responsible for natural calamities (insurers use statements like “an act of God” to describe natural disasters), but that Piper, by his words, is implying that he is speaking for God or God’s motives. It is simply dangerous to speak for God in such ways. Whether you imply or explicitly make such statements, you are putting yourself out on a limb… a very short, thin, and unstable limb because there is no way to know if Piper is right or wrong. In addition, it is insulting for someone to position themselves on the level of God and God’s omniscience power. Lastly, this type of “calling out” of the ELCA does not improve relations with other Christians and homosexuals.
I may agree with Piper’s objection to the ELCA vote, but I do not approve of his strategy to criticize the ELCA. Our compassion to all people should be evident. We Christians need to think of better ways to remain faithful to our convictions, but should follow Paul’s advice to James: “Be quick to listen and slow to speak…” (James 1)
UPDATE: 9:38 pm John Piper tried to clarify his statements with another blog post, but I fear he has dug a deeper hole:
Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs…
I said to myself three years ago: God’s design in the tornado of this cancer is “to deepen my love for Christ…and to wean me off the breast of the world.” It aims to make my besetting sins look less attractive than they ever have.
This tornado “is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.” In other words, the cancer-tornado was a merciful rebuke to my worldliness and a timely thrust toward holiness.
Wow, where do I start? Instead, I think one person ( discussion page:) summed Piper’s clarification best on Piper’s
This is supposed to be a clarification? So, now tornados are metaphorical? But, this is still the ELCA’s tornado? (“God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs.”) Now, calamities and sunny days are equated? Both are for repentance? (This sounds like backpedaling.)
Frankly, I’m not buying any of this, especially not the “me and all of us” stuff that has been conveniently added in. The title of the previous post was “The Tornado, The Lutherans, and homosexuality.” Titles should indicate focus. And, the focus of the previous post seems to have been to single one group out on one issue. I leave this “clarification” with at least as many questions as before. And, I don’t think this clarification will stand.