Behind the Closing of Concordia, Portland

Once again, the LCMS actually does some things behind the scenes and in private communication that are good (Dean Wenthe’s statement against homosexuality and Pres. Harrison’s private demand for the school to leave the Concordia system are laudable). But they either care too much about appearances, want to save face, or avoid a media relations scandal. LCMS leaders fail to speak the truth clearly publicly. It, therefore not only comes out as a poor confession, lay people are left confused, and higher-ups look like liars and hypocrites to the world—because there is some truth to that.
For all his bad theology, at least former president Schlimpert is honest and gives some information. The fact a gay club was allowed for a decade is shocking—but instead of dealing with it directly, we get behind the scenes politics—which is not very churchly. The man who scheduled “Drag queen bingo night,” sees the matter from the world’s perspective and speaks what he sees: “The LCMS didn’t even want to teach evolution, that’s how backwards they are … No women on the pulpit. No openly gay professors.”
The world is more honest—they expect acceptance. The confession and lifestyle based around unnatural sexual relations is assumed to be unharmful to “faith” to the world. A confession that is only private and behind closed doors is not healthy. But the issue is behavior and living in the body Christ gave. A Christian may not let sin reign in perverted desires—homosexual or heterosexual—our Lord made the body we have for Himself and His institution of marriage, not sin.
In the end, the world will not accept the church if it is faithful. “Proactive damage control,” and “engaging and winsome manner,” are not the only way forward. At times, error must be resisted—not wooed and coddled. The author rightly notes “But it was a bit late for a charm offensive.” Charm and good appearances cannot save the truth—but speaking consistently is a better way.
Concordia, Portland’s leaders were not Lutheran, of course, and foolish for thinking their enclave of sexual deviancy would be rescued—but this stalemate should have been resolved so the average LCMS member could know what to think and believe. Private discipline for public sin is cowardly at best, and unfaithful, misleading, and deceptive at worst. “ The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (Jn. 7:7). —ed.