Robert Benne’s Speech during Assembly Debate


Here is the brief speech made by Prof. Robert Benne at the beginning of the Assembly’s debate on the Sexuality Social Statement, given here with his kind permission. My own comment is above.


Reverend Bishop and gathered assembly: some of the most powerful words of the late 20th century were spoken by President Reagan to Chairman Gorbachev. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!!” I am certainly not President Reagan and you, Bishop Hanson, are clearly not Mr. Gorbachev. And I know you cannot intervene in this process like a Gorbachev could.

Yet, I appeal to you and this assembly: “Call this off!!” Call off voting on the Social Statement on Sexuality and the four policy recommendations before us, which will dramatically change our teachings and practices on sexual conduct.

I make this argument not from the anticipated consequences, which will be enormous. Rather, I am pointing to the intrinsic wrongness of proceeding to vote on these matters. It is not meet, right, and salutary that this assembly vote on God’s commandments as understood by the one, holy, catholic church throughout 2000 years. The Word of God should not be put to vote. The great orthodox churches of the world do not even consider the changes we have in mind.

Voting on these matters is doubly problematic because we have no compelling biblical or confessional grounds, nor anything approaching a consensus, to make these momentous changes. This church should not vote on the binding teaching of the church. If it does, this church may soon find itself outside of the church.

I am not naïve enough to believe that we will refrain from voting on these matters. But, as second best, I urge you to vote against all of them.

Robert Benne

3 Responses to “Robert Benne’s Speech during Assembly Debate”

  1. Lawrence804 Says:

    I have tremendous respect for Dr. Benne and agree 100% with his assessment of the situation in the ELCA at this time. But I think it’s just as well the vote was taken in spite of Dr. Benne’s impassioned plea above. Now the situation is clear and defined. A Rubicon has been crossed and actions can be taken in reaction to it. We all know where things stand. The attitudes that lay behind the impulse to effect such a radical innovation in Christian practice were still going to be there whether a vote was taken or not, and what good really would it have done to kick the can down the road for another two years, until Orlando?

  2. Timothy Says:

    Thank you for your witness Dr. Benne!!

    God is faithful: Elijah in his despair was comforted: “Yet I have reserved 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal or kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). And even now, there is only one church, the body of Christ, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). To those who would seek otherwise, the words of Paul in Galatians 1: 6-9 need to be taken to heart!

    May God grant the guidance and wisdom, the strength and persistence necessary, to overcome every stumbling block!

  3. Rev. Kevin Scheuller Says:

    Bravo, Dr. Benne!

    It was additionally, exceptionally brave of you to quote Ronald Reagan’s “tear down this wall!” admonition to Gorbachev at an ELCA churchwide assembly, when the ELCA, and much of liberal protestantism, seems to have become another house organ of the Democratic National Committee.

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