The Missouri Synod can often be a skitterish, frightful bunch. In many ways our clergy can act like a gaggle of Junior High Girls. We will stand together in a corner (say, isn't the German word for "corner" "Winkel") and titter away on the latest scuttlebutt.
This tittering is always interesting when one of our own leaves the Synod (or is rumored to, at least) - swimming the Bospohorous and goes East or swimming the Tiber and becomes Roman Catholic (yes, we have cute little names for this too). And often, like the Junior High girls, there are all sorts of wild reactions. There often is anger - fierce, biting, accusatory anger. Often there is fear - who will be next, will this start the tide that spells the ruin of our cool girls club... I mean Synod?
How do I react? Me, I think of a Chris Rock routine.
I heard Chris Rock do a routine about OJ Simpson - and this was well after the fact when the wild passions had cooled down. And Rock comes out and says that we know OJ did it. But then he paused, and said something along the lines of imagine your wife in your car with your money running around with another man... but building it up. And after all the build up he said words of wisdom.
"I ain't saying it was right, but I understand."
Whenever I've come across the tales of these folks who have left the Synod... I'm not filled with anger (maybe a bit of sadness) - I'm not worried about the doom of everything. These things happen in life. This world is harsh, and we get kicked in the teeth, especially pastors.
And we as pastors get scared, we get angry at institutions, we get hurt and bruised and battered. And some of us... go away.
I ain't saying it's right, but I understand.
Most every pastor who has left the LCMS that I know of (other than the folks who just fall off the moral wagon and move in with their new boyfriend or something like that) has some wound, some hurt some pain. And they think that leaving will keep that pain at bay.
I understand that. And you know what - for many things they are right. That specific pain might get covered. If you are being kicked in the teeth, the teeth kicking will stop. If you want to chant in peace - well, "they" will find a place where you can chant in piece. If you a tired of the lack of oversight (i.e. you don't want to be the bishop anymore, you want to be under a bishop who can take care of you), you can find that.
That I understand.
Far too well.
But the reason why I've never really been tempted to go anywhere else is two fold.
First, It might make you feel good, but it's not worth the cost. It's the same reason why I don't do drugs... that might make the immediate problem go away... but it's not worth the cost. And yes, other confessions might safe guard you from the strife that you are facing right here, right now... but they don't have the Gospel in its clarity. And I can't give that up - that is too high a cost.
And more over - I'm a historian. You take your lumps here -- and while they might shield that bruise you have now... there's plenty of filth and kicking going on everywhere. It's the nature of this world, it's the nature of the Church militant. If you fear the Evangelicalizing trends in Missouri... you realize that wave is coming in the East, right? You're jumping right into an Americanization process. If you go to Rome, you've seen their liberation theology, you've seen their capitulation to reason... and you've seen that their hierarchy is coming under much more scrutiny, right?
And that's just the junk I see. I can go talk to my RC friends or my EO friends and hear plenty of complaints about the parish across town.... It's an awful lot of "2nd verse, same as the first."
I ain't saying it's right.
But sometimes - when we are in the moment, in the trial - under those specific pressures and burdens... we just need to go.
When you go my friend, know this.
I won't be saying that you're right, but if you want to talk about it, I will understand.