Int'l Lutheran Council on Homosexuality
(Via LCMS-eNews of October 1, 2009)
ILC affirms Bible’s position on homosexual behavior
By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The International Lutheran Council (ILC), an association of 34 confessional Lutheran church bodies (including the LCMS) from six continents, has unanimously adopted a statement emphasizing commitment to the Bible’s position on homosexual behavior. The action was taken at the ILC’s 23rd International Conference Aug. 26-31 in Seoul, South Korea.
Titled “Same-Gender Relationships and the Church,” the ILC statement notes “confusion and discord” resulting from “churches in various parts of the world — including Lutheran churches” — after “some church bodies have adopted resolutions stating that sexually active, same-gender relationships are an acceptable way of life for Christians” and/or “have approved ordination of pastors living in such a committed, sexually active same-gender relationship.”
The three-paragraph document states that, “Rooted in the Bible’s witness and in keeping with Christian teaching through 2,000 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,” the statement continues, “we declare our resolve to approach those with homosexual inclinations with the deepest possible Christian love and pastoral concern, in whatever situation they may=2 0be living.”
The full text of the statement is on the ILC Web site, at http://www.ilc-online.org.
Participating in the conference were 81 registrants, including 31 leaders of the ILC member churches and their wives, as well as guests and visitors from non-ILC member churches and their wives.
Under the theme of “In Christ: Living Life to the Full,” the conference also featured:
In an editorial he wrote for the October edition of ILC NEWS, Kieschnick cites the organization’s constitution in pointing out that the “expressed purpose” of the ILC “is that member churches ’share information, study theological questions and concerns together … discuss effective coordinated means of carrying out the mission and ministry of the Church, nurture and strengthen their relationships with each oth er, and work toward the closest possible joint expression of their faith and confession.’”
“This purpose statement becomes more important,” Kieschnick continued, “in the aftermath of decisions made by a number of church bodies in the world, including some Lutheran church bodies, regarding the topic of same-gender relationships and ordination of homosexual pastors.”
Kieschnick wrote that the ILC’s unanimous adoption of its “Same-Gender Relationships in the Church” statement “will be most helpful in presenting a clear position on this topic on the basis of Holy Scripture. By the grace of God, the ILC will continue to speak the truth in love, bearing witness to the revelation of God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. We thank God for the opportunity to do so under the freedom of the Gospel, with great love, care, and concern for the lost who do not yet know the love of God in Christ our Lord, and the erring who have lost their way in the darkness and despair of sin and guilt.”
Nafzger said that several leaders of ILC member churches — all from world areas other than North America — asked during the ILC Conference opening session if such a statement would be issued, “since this whole topic has been in the news in recent years, all around the world.”
He indicated that it soon became clear that other church leaders at the conference wanted such a statement, leading to a unanimous decision to prepare one. Three members of the executive committee20– Voigt, Bugbee, and Ekong — developed a draft after volunteering for the assignment. The executive committee then made minor edits before presenting the document to the full conference, which led to discussion and other revisions before the church leaders approved the statement unanimously.
“The assembly encouraged ILC member churches to study the statement and make use of it as they see fit in their own situations,” Nafzger said.
He also said he is convinced that the conference’s adoption of the statement “marks the ILC’s maturing. For the first time, the council felt that not only was it possible, but also important, to make a statement on a contemporary development in the world today. It was a good process — everyone participated and was enthusiastic about making this a good statement.”
“As I said to the members of the Council,” Nafzger recalled, “this marks a new stage in the development of this organization, [which] felt that this was the time to speak out on a theological issue under widespread discussion in Christendom today. And it spoke out with a strong, unanimous voice. It wanted its voice heard about this.”
Concerning the 2009 conference, Nafzger said its “strengths” were that it was “designed to provide opportunities for many contacts and talking with one another and to develop ties between the churches in each of the five regions.”
He also credited the Eckriches and Ludwigs, “whose excellent presentations were very well received,” as well as the Lutheran Church in Korea, LCK President Dr. Hyun Sub Um, and that church body’s staff “for all the work they put into being wonderful hosts. It was a great conference.”
The 2009 ILC Conference was the first in a new three-year cycle for the conference — a cycle approved at the 2007 conference in Accra, Ghana. Previously, Council conferences were every two years.
Starting the new cycle were meetings of the five world regions in 2008, followed by this year’s world conference, and then the World Seminaries Conference to be held next year.
The executive committee, which meets yearly, will determine at its Oct. 24-27 meeting in Wittenberg next year the location and host for the 2012 World Conference. Since conferences are usually hosted on a rotating basis according to world areas, the host will be one of the four North America member churches: the LCMS, Lutheran Church–Canada, The American Association of Lutheran Churches, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti.
The International Lutheran Council was formed in 1993 by Lutheran church bodies whose representatives comprised its predecessor organization, the International Lutheran Conference.
Some information for this article was compiled by Rev. Peter Ahlers, president of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa and editor of the ILC NEWS.