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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Try love and open arms

I was caught in my judgmentalism

Recently I had a lesson I won't soon forget: God wants us to love, not condemn, each other.

I had gone to a WINGS (Witness in God's Service) meeting with my daughters, Rachel and Olivia. Rachel enjoys memorizing Bible verses and reciting them each week and playing games with her friends. The discussion centered around the ELCA and its sexuality study, including whether or not to ordain gays and lesbians who are in committed relationships. I have no problem speaking up so I said, "If they ordain gay ministers, then I'm leaving the Lutheran church." Further, I said marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Feeling pretty proud of myself for speaking up, I went home with my children and thought no more about it.

A week later God came to me in a dream, telling me not to leave my church if the ELCA approves gay ordination because it's not my place to judge. Just to love. Shocked, I said, "But, Lord, I thought you'd be happy that I wasn't going to support such a thing." I was told I was being judgmental and to work on loving my brothers and sisters rather than judging them. I awoke feeling guilty and ashamed. Instead of sowing seeds of love that night, I had stirred up seeds of dissension.

I realized it isn't for any ELCA member to ban anyone from fulfilling God's mission. If we ban homosexual people from the pulpit, then we must also ban anyone who's been divorced because Christ said anyone who divorces and remarries has committed adultery. Soon everyone will be banned from serving in the pulpit.

Is anyone truly worthy or qualified? On our own, we are nothing. The Spirit helps us do God's will. That spirit of love doesn't discriminate against anyone. Christ loved the people others didn't love or understand. If he were here among us in the flesh, I believe he'd call us hypocrites and tell us to welcome with love and open arms those who dedicate their lives to him.

This is an emotional issue for many people. If you're considering leaving the ELCA over this issue, please think about my dream. Walking away is easy. But it takes courage and faith to rise above dissension and trust in God's mercy and love.


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