- Homosexuality is a reality which the church has to take into account in our world. There are different interpretations concerning how the term “homosexuality” is understood and used. For the sake of clarity a difference is to be made between “homosexual tendencies” and “homosexual practice”. Having homosexual tendencies does not necessarily lead to homosexual practice.
- The measure to which people are aware of their homosexual tendencies varies. Becoming aware of these tendencies is a great shock in most cases, and it results in deep feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.
- Different explanations are given for the emergence of homosexual tendencies: Genetic predisposition & Socially conditioned character.
- For both explanations (and their variants) there are examples and verifiable evidence supporting the standpoint. There is no need for the church to take an either-or standpoint in this regard.
- Amongst Christians there are also people with homosexual tendencies. As with all other believers, they form part of the Church of Christ as sinners saved by God.
- Owing to a lack of information, homosexuality is regarded as particularly reprehensible. There are those who believe that people with homosexual tendencies made an active choice in this regard. Homosexuals are often discriminated against (by jokes, ridicule, contempt, condemnation, being avoided).
- The social discrimination homosexuals experience may lead to them living in fear and loneliness. Should it become known that a person has homosexual tendencies, it may lead to such people being rejected by family members, friends, co-workers or even the church.
- A qualified therapist may be able to offer help to homosexuals. If, however, they experience condemnation or are simply given the advice to resist the homosexual tendencies, they may feel overwhelmed, and such reaction may simply serve to intensify the feelings of guilt they already have.
- The church’s view on homosexuality must be informed by Scripture. The practise of homosexuality is clearly rejected as being sinful (Leviticus 18:22, 24; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10). Homosexual practise is contrary to God’s will, according to which he made man and woman to live in a relationship with one another (Genesis 1:27; 2:18, 24). It is therefore not possible for the church to perform marriages of homosexual partners or to bless them in any way.
- Scripture does not make any direct reference to homosexual tendencies. In view of this fact the church should take care not to issue a wholesale condemnation of homosexuals. The homosexual tendency is, however, subject to the mysterious distortion, which resulted from sin entering the world. As with sickness, homosexuality must be viewed in connection with original sin. Scripture characterises this distortion as God’s judgement over all humanity, which somehow affects all people.
- Homosexuality is no “special sin”. Sin in its essence is the turning away of mankind from God and living in disobedience to God’s will. Homosexuality is no different from the other “vices” such as greed, drunkenness, adultery, sexual immorality, jealousy, racism or refusing to reconcile (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
- As homosexuals are vulnerable both psychologically (self-condemnation) and socially (avoidance), they need the special help and pastoral care the church can offer. Christ has come for the sake of the sinners (Matt 9:12 par.).
- As with all sinners, the grace of God applies also to homosexuals. God’s wish to forgive, as well as the unconditional love of Christ are to be made known to them just as they are to every other sinner. They are permitted to be involved in the workings of the congregation, and to be strengthened by the Sacrament of Communion.
- As is the case with other sinful tendencies, or in the case of illness and pain, homosexuals are to bear their propensity as a “cross”. They are encouraged to seek professional and pastoral care. The temptation to rebel against God, is to be countered by faith. Even though the homosexual tendency may be experienced as an exceptionally heavy burden, the Christian is enjoined to practise sexual abstinence.
- While the church clearly states its opposition to a propagation of homosexual tolerance, it is, at the same time, to do what it can for people living with homosexual tendencies. This may be done by showing understanding and empathy, care and love. All Christians rejoice in being justified sinners who have received God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus (cf. Luke 15:7, 12). They accept the power the Holy Spirit imparts to live lives pleasing to God.
Prepared and discussed during the pastor’s convention of the FELSISA from 16-18 August
2010, and released for discussion by the Synodical Council of the FELSISA.
Recent years have brought confusion and discord to churches in various parts of the world—including Lutheran churches—as some church bodies have adopted resolutions stating that sexually active, same-gender relationships are an acceptable way of life for Christians. In addition, some have approved the ordination of pastors living in such a committed, sexually active same-gender relationship. The 23rd World Conference of the International Lutheran Council met August 26-31, 2009, in Seoul, Korea, under the theme, “In Christ: Living Life to the Full.” Our desire to proclaim and to live the abundant life in Christ compels us to make this statement in light of the current turmoil regarding same-gender relationships.
In evaluating the question of homosexuality, even in the 21st century, we believe we are ultimately dealing with the authority of Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God. Even in the sensitive matter of human beings and their sexual identity, the church is to submit in humility to the authority of the Word of God. The Scriptures testify clearly and repeatedly that the lifelong committed union of one man and one woman is the place the Lord intends for human sexuality to be lived out. Biblical passages which address the practice of homosexuality do so in terms of disapproval. Rooted in the Bible´s witness and in keeping with Christian teaching through 2000 years, we continue to believe that the practice of homosexuality—in any and all situations—violates the will of the Creator God and must be recognized as sin.
At the same time, we declare our resolve to approach those with homosexual inclinations with the deepest possible Christian love and pastoral concern, in whatever situation they may be living. Though we affirm the demands of God’s Law without reservation, we Christians confess that the sins of the world have been forgiven through Christ´s suffering and death on the cross. As the redeemed children of God, we lead our lives as “saints and sinners” at the same time. We hope for full renewal and sanctification, but realize that these hopes are not completely fulfilled in this life. This applies to countless temptations. Our sinful condition calls for a lifetime of prayer and struggle. Confession and absolution provide a welcome refuge to receive the Lord´s forgiveness, which He also offers through His Word and the Sacraments. This enables us to continue our personal struggles to live a God-pleasing life in the power of the Spirit.
Adopted unanimously by the International Lutheran Council
August 31, 2009