• Pastor Bill

This Conversation is Long Overdue

This weekend (10/20) our adult education hour will discuss, “What the Bible says about Homosexuality.” It’s an important and timely topic as we pray about a Welcome Statement for our congregation. It’s timely, but I am also a little embarrassed that we haven’t had this class/conversation regularly for the past 15 years.

The ELCA made a decision allowing same sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ+ people in 2009. Some congregations had a few classes and conversations before the decision was made. And some congregations had a few classes and conversations after the decision was made. But most avoided the subject, preferring to ‘let sleeping dogs lie.’ Was that a mistake? Or did everyone just need some time to think and pray about it? Or maybe we needed some time for the rest of our world to act and react and clarify the issue? For 10 years, churches have split and formed and made decisions, and in many cases “moved on” with regard to these issues.

I think most of our members have “moved on” too. Our young people (let’s say under 30) usually express the belief that inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is obvious. Our mature people (let’s say over 60) usually express the same belief. I suppose we all have a nephew, niece, daughter, son, uncle, aunt, friend, co-worker or neighbor that we love too much to condemn.

That leaves the great middle (myself included) between the ages of 30 and 60, who are old enough to remember a time when ‘we all’ seemed to think one way and who now live in a world where most everyone seems to think the other way. I will say for my part, that a 180 degree change in public opinion in less than 10 years still amazes me. So here we are living in a world that has changed.

In reaction to this change, some people say that in a battle between public opinion and God’s clear Word, there is no choice. ‘God’s judgment must prevail,’ as we sing in A Mighty Fortress. I agree.

But does God speak a clear word condemning homosexuality in the Bible? Or have we been led to believe that God has without actually opening the Book to check for ourselves? This is what we’ll explore during our class on Saturday (10/19) at 3:30pm and Sunday (10/20) at 10:30am.

Now, let me tell you why I’m a little embarrassed about not having this class regularly for the past 15 years. While we were graciously giving our members time to think and pray about this issue, we were not proclaiming a clear word of Good News and Hope to our LGBTQ+ children and neighbors. Some of them were desperately waiting to hear that word. Some of them quit waiting. I am ashamed of that.

This conversation is long overdue. It’s time to tell our children and neighbors what we mean when we say, ‘All are welcome.’ I hope to see you this weekend.


Pastor Bill



PS – You can read more about our proposed Welcome Statement here: https://www.stjamesjohnston.org/post/all-are-welcome

Copyright © 2019 Pastor Bill Bernau. All rights reserved.