Who Told You that You Were Naked?

That’s the second question the Lord asked of the newly fallen Adam.  The Lord came looking for His friend for their usual cool of the evening stroll in paradise, but Adam was hiding from Him.  When God asked why, Adam replied, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  “Who told you that you were naked” was the Lord’s response and it seems that question should be asked of LCMS’ “Non-white leaders.”

The March 2010 Reporter’s banner, front page headline reads “Non-white leaders share concerns, seek voice.”  This un-Gospel, un-Lutheran assumption upon which the ELCA was erected has at last reared its ugly head in the LCMS.  (Now I’m exaggerating; it’s been here since at least 1981. 1981 Resolution 6-20A “To Consider Employment of Black Faculty and Professional Staff,” (1981 Proceedings, 193)  encouraged all colleges and seminaries to consider “employment of at least one Black faculty or professional staff member.”)  So in some respects when the ELCA, founded in 1988, was built upon a quota system for synodical conventions they were yesterday’s news.  But they carried it a step further; they made racial representation a law.  There had to be a certain percentage of women, minorities, etc.  In light of last summer’s convention, does that mean a certain number of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people must now be delegates?

From whence the impetus to establish the multi-headed Leviathan of “equal representation” in the LCMS?  You can’t say LCMS World Relief started the idea; you can say they paid for the event where the idea was spawned.  According to the Reporter, The “multi-ethnic symposium” was sponsored by “the Synod’s Board for Black Ministry Services, the Black Clergy Caucus, National Mission Affiliates, the Center for Hispanic Studies, and national Mission Executives, with funding from LCMS World Relief and Human Care” (March 2010, 1, emphasis added).    I would have thought the majority of their funds, not loaned to Ablaze!, would be in Haiti and Chile. Silly me.

Again I ask,  who told our non-white brothers and sisters in Christ that they were missing something essential?  Are they really lacking because they don’t have enough seats on the convention floor? Is their Lutheranism or Christianity second class because they don’t have them? I’ve been a pastor in the LCMS for 26 years; I’ve never been a delegate to a synodical convention.  Moreover, of the twenty-something resolutions that I have sent in not one has made it to the convention floor. Where are my concerns?  Where’s my voice?

This road is not easily retreated from or repented of.  From now on we’re going to have to start hyphenating what type of Lutheran we are.  And to be “fair”, a word of Law not Gospel, we’re going to have everyone represented according to the exact percentage their group is found in the LCMS.  If all the Black Lutherans in America (70,000) are members of the LCMS that means they should have about 3 % of the delegates.  For the 2007 convention of the 1,250 delegates about 38 would’ve been black.  But is that 100% black or can some be less; than again should we have another group for mixed race?

The travesty here is that we white people will think we’re really addressing the problem of racism by the LAW of delegate representation.  And it will be impossible to put this genie back in its bottle.  Now no matter who you are, unless you’re clothed with the mantle of equal representation your concerns are not known and your voice is not heard.  Yes, while there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female in Christ (Galatians 3:26), He doesn’t clothe skin color.  White is white and non-white is lacking something.

When I arrived at a parish in Detroit, I was admonished by the school principal that I had to be color blind.  I could not think and certainly not speak in terms of black and white, and until I did I was really still a racist.  Some twenty years later, the official organ of the LCMS speaks this way in the name of equality.

 Truthfully, I will never be free of the sin of racism or any other sin apart from robes of Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  This is what I need to be clothed with not the fig leaves of synodical representation.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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One Response to Who Told You that You Were Naked?

  1. Scott says:

    Very good point. Well said. Amen

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