At its 67th Regular Convention this week, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) passed resolutions on several topics that have dominated national headlines. Delegates and officials meeting in Tampa, Florida, affirmed the theologically conservative denomination’s stance on traditional marriage, compassionate ministry, and a literal six-day creation account.
Resolution 11-03A, which passed with 97 percent of votes, reaffirms “the biblical truth that God created humanity as male and female,” condemns “acts of abuse” against people in the LGBTQ community, expresses thanks for people who face LGBTQ issues yet “live chaste and decent lives in repentant faith,” and resolves to “minister compassionately” to LGBTQ individuals and their families.
These issues “are in people’s lives every single day,” says the Rev. Terry Forke, LCMS Montana District president. “They don’t know how to handle it, they’re afraid… So we thought it was very important to encourage our people to…demonstrate the love of Christ to people who are lost and confused and need a word of help.”
Immigration, Creation Also at the Forefront
Also at this week’s convention, a resolution “To Encourage Responsible Citizenship and Compassion Toward Neighbors Who Are Immigrants Among Us” passed by 89 percent. An amendment, which also passed, decries “inhumane treatment and attitudes towards immigrants, war refugees, and minorities.”
Resolution 11-05A also states that “political divisions” shouldn’t become “church divisions.” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison reminded attendees “we live in two kingdoms,” saying, “You may very well believe in building a wall in one kingdom, but in the other kingdom, my neighbor’s need is my call to mercy.”
The resolution is vital because there’s “so much confusion and concern,” Rev. Forke says. “Our people want to love their neighbor, but they also want to be obedient to the laws of the land. So we hope we gave some direction.”
Regarding the origins of the Earth and humanity, the LCMS affirmed its confession of a “biblical six-day creation” and rejected the theory of evolution. Debate ensued about the meaning of a “natural” day, but an amendment to remove that word failed.
“We try to only say what the Bible says and otherwise keep our mouths shut,” says Harrison. “It’s hard for me to believe the Genesis account…but I do believe it because I believe it’s the Word of God.”
Convention Aims to Speak God’s Truth “with clarity”
Other highlights of the convention, which had the theme “Joy:fully Lutheran,” include:
A resolution affirming all people’s “common humanity,” condemning racism, and urging “work toward racial reconciliation and equality.”
An emphasis on the sanctity of life.
Reaffirmation of the “biblical definition of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.”
Recognition of 125 years of mission work within the LCMS.
Reminders to church and school leaders about mandatory reporting laws when developing child-protection policies.
Rev. Forke, chairman of the synod’s “Church and Culture” floor committee, says although the resolutions it addressed all had been previously covered, reaffirmation is key: “As the world moves with increasing speed away from the church, it needs to hear, and we need to hear, and we need to speak with clarity the truth of God’s Word and the depth of his love in Christ Jesus.”