In another example of spectacularly unchristian behavior from Christians, the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has rescinded its recognition of a ministry that aids the poor and the homeless because their associate pastor is an out lesbian.
The decision by the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which oversees congregations in parts of Southern California, marks the most severe punishment of a Lutheran congregation over the issue of homosexual clergy in more than a decade.


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America allows gay clergy only if they are celibate. Thirteen other congregations that have installed openly gay and lesbian pastors have received milder punishments.

Pacifica Synod Bishop Murray Finck said the Central City mission violated the church's constitution when it installed Pastor Jenny Mason in April because Mason is not on the church's official roster of recognized pastors. He said the Oct. 29 decision has nothing to do with Mason's sexual orientation but also said Mason is not on the roster because she is gay and not celibate.


Since 1990, no congregations have been stripped of recognition for installing gay clergy. National church leaders are studying the issue ahead of an August meeting of the church's National Assembly.


Mason previously served 10 years as an officially recognized Lutheran pastor and missionary in Chile, but the church learned of her long-term relationship with another woman and forced her to resign in 2001.
This story hits particularly close to home for me, as I was raised Lutheran, and my parents are still active in the Lutheran church. I have several quarrels with organized religion in general, into which I won’t delve here, but before I turned away from organized religion wholly, I fell away from the Lutheran church, and their stances on gender- and sexuality-related issues were the primary reasons.

The church I attended in my youth was a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, which is even stricter. It will not allow gay or lesbian ministers, and in fact says
homophile behavior is intrinsically sinful, expressly condemned as immoral by the Scriptures.
Because of this position, open homosexuals cannot serve in any other position in the church, either.

Although I understand that many would argue the church’s right to refuse to employ those whose sexual lives they deem sinful, it’s ultimately little more than gussied-up selective discrimination. Each of us is a sinner, they say; such is the very reason for the church’s existence. There is no reason, no justification, to bar one group of “sinners” when your doors are meant to be open to all.

The Missouri Synod is equally as radical in its (mis)treatment of women. Women are not only not allowed to become ministers in the Missouri Synod, they are also not allowed to help serve communion. The basis for these decisions is as follows:
The LCMS believes that those Scripture passages which say that women should not "teach" or "have authority" in the church (see, for example, 1 Cor. 11 and 14; 1 Timothy 2) mean that women ought not hold the authoritative teaching office in the church--that is, the office of pastor. Women are allowed to hold other offices in the church, as long as these offices do not involve the one holding them in carrying out the distinctive functions of the pastoral office.
What this position fails to acknowledge is that if you walk into any church on any Sunday, the vast majority of Sunday School teachers are women. Having attended Sunday School, and having been a Sunday School teacher as a teenager, I cannot imagine how such as role could be described as anything but “carrying out the distinctive functions of the pastoral office.” Indeed, the women who teach Sunday School minister to the children of the church, teaching them the stories of the Bible, which inevitably involves interpretation, praying with the children, providing counsel to them, etc. These are the distinctive functions of the pastoral office, and they are being provided to the most impressionable members of the congregation. So why doesn’t the Missouri Synod prohibit women from serving as Sunday School teachers? Simple: because if they didn’t do it, there would be no Sunday School.

Indeed, their website acknowledges:
Nearly half--over 9,000--of the Synod's professional, full-time church workers are women (serving in such offices as teacher, deaconess, director of Christian education, etc.).
And yet women remain somehow unfit to hold the office of minister.

Selective discrimination is not of the law of this land, nor was it a part of Jesus’ message, giving the church no basis for its application against homosexuals and/or women. It is as distasteful and foolish as cherry-picking parts of the Bible to suit one’s needs, disregarding others that make life inconvenient. Both undermine the message the church purports to convey to its parishioners, both reinforce judgment and prejudice, and both have made the church an unappealing place for one who believes that we are all equal, in God’s eyes or anywhere else, warts and all.

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