Carnegie-Mellon University’s “Mosaic”: a community-wide conference on gender issues; Pittsburgh, information pills Penn., U.S.A.; 25 February 2007; Panel: “I’m Gay and I Pray”
Opening statement of panel member Pr. Eric R. Andræ, Campus Pastor, First Trinity Ch.
[All quotations are (adapted) from the pamphlet “What about Homosexuality”, A.L. Barry, 1997, The Office of the President, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, St. Louis, emphasis added, my adaptations are normally in brackets.]
First of all, I would like to thank Jonathan Kroll [Coordinator of Student Development] for inviting me to be a member of this panel. It is an honor to be here.
I want to affirm what one of our panelists has said: any kind of “ganging up” on any individual or group of people has no place in the Christian faith; any kind of “anti-gay” sentiment has no place in the Christian ethic – we are not against any person whom God has created and for whom Christ has died. I cannot be against a person. This young man, Scott [a Jewish homosexual member of the panel], whom I just had the pleasure of meeting is a creature of the same God, with the same dignity and worth as I. This gentleman [a Roman Catholic homosexual member of the panel] is a brother of mine, a brother in Christ. The Christian is not against the homosexual, does not hate homosexual; no, the Christian, as God does, loves the homosexual. Shortly, I will explain what that love means.
All this being said, I am, nonetheless, a party of one on this panel. Through no fault of Jonathan, he was not able to achieve the balance on this panel that he desired. As such, I am the lone voice representing the traditional and by-far-majority perspective of the world-wide religious community on this issue.
In my service as campus pastor, I seek to model my ministry after that of Jesus. We are all very comfortable with Jesus our friend, Jesus the one who comforts us, who loves, who uplifts. And this is right and good. But we must not forget Christ the King who is also the judge of sin, the one who condemns the breaking of God’s commands, God’s law. We must know Jesus in his fullness as judge and savior.
Therefore, along with my ministry to people of all skin colors, to different nationalities, to the poor, to those with mental illnesses, to the young and old, to the newborn and to the dying, I myself have ministered to homosexuals (as well as to other sexual sinners) with Jesus’ judgment of their sin (Law) and then with His healing forgiveness of their sin (Gospel) – this ministry has been very powerful and meaningful to them and to me. However, it would be meaningless for me to help them with the spiritual disease of sin (a disease we all have, though in different ways and with different manifestations), if their disease is not first diagnosed and recognized – this would be ridiculous. It would also be extremely unloving and discriminatory: it would be unloving because it would abandon them in their harmful condition, and it would be discriminatory because it would say that some (homosexuals) are not worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. No, Christ died for the sin of all, and offers forgiveness of sin and life to all – thus I will not discriminate against anyone (homosexuals or murderers or liars or cheaters or thieves or the arrogant or the ignorant) in my ministry – I proclaim Jesus’ judgment and forgiveness to all, a judgment and forgiveness that I myself, as a sinner, also need to hear every day.
“The church recognizes this [issue] as both a significant challenge and, more importantly, as an opportunity to speak the truth in love, reaching out with the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That Gospel is the proclamation that you have the free forgiveness of sin purely because of the death and resurrection of Christ. There is nothing you must or even can do to earn this forgiveness.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, of which First Trinity Church is a member, has as its sole authority the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible is unambiguous in identifying homosexuality as sin – it does this in some of the specific texts already alluded to [Rom. 1, 1 Cor. 6, 1 Tim. 1, etc.]; and it does this in the totality of its worldview regarding the divine creation of male and female and in its presentation of marriage as being a picture of the very relationship of Christ to his Church.
“Through His Word, God teaches us very clearly that homosexuality is a sin. A person who persists in [homosexuality] stands under the condemnation of God’s Word. This is true for anyone who persists in sin without repentance. While this may be an unpopular message, it is the truth taught to us by God in His Word.”
“The church’s message to homosexual persons is the same message it proclaims to all people: Repent and believe the Gospel! All human beings are born with a sinful nature that results in sinful thoughts, words, and actions. Homosexuality is but one of many sinful situations human beings encounter in this life. From the [time we are conceived and] born, all human beings stand under God’s perfect [judgment.] All of us, by [sinful] nature, are lost and condemned sinners. We all need God’s mercy in Christ for our salvation.”
“The church’s most important message to homosexuals is the promise of forgiveness and eternal life through the person and the work of Jesus Christ. God sent His Son into this world to live a perfect life on our behalf, [to keep the commands we have broken,] and to die a perfect death as the payment for all of our sins.” The message of law and Gospel, of judgment and forgiveness, is the same for all!
“The Church, while rejecting on the one hand the movement which claims [acceptance] of [homosexuality] in the name of [some sort of] freedom of the individual and of [so-called] moral progress, must also resist the popular reaction of persecution and ostracism.”
“The Church must exhibit understanding and sympathy for the homosexual, show love and pastoral concern, being ready to give help and encouragement in whatever way possible. It must proclaim to homosexuals, as it does to all men, the judgment of God against sin, above all the forgiveness of sin for Christ’s sake, and the possibility of new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. A Lutheran group working specifically in this area is Keys Ministry in Minnesota.”
So, to the homosexuals here today, to all of you, I say, “Welcome to First Trinity”! You will be accepted there. Indeed, come as you are. But, please know this: God never leaves the sinner as he or she is; God’s gospel is one of transformation. Once you come into contact with God, you’ll never be the same. Come as you are and be transformed for new and wonderful life. Come for an intimacy and completion as you’ve never experienced – an intimacy with and completion in God.
Finally, I relate to the homosexual as to any other person, any other sinner, struggling with sin as we all do! I do not discriminate. I listen. I’m honest. I care! I pray with you. I forgive in the name of Jesus! For ultimately, our truest and deepest identity is not in our sexuality or gender or job or GPA, our identity is in Christ!