One of the largest Christian denominations in the United States has just elected its first transgender bishop as the abandonment of biblical authority within organized Christendom grows more pervasive.
The Rev. Megan Rohrer of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco initially broke barriers in 2006 when she became the first transgender person to be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Religion News Service reported. In 2014, she became the first to serve as a pastor when she was placed at Grace Lutheran.
The ECLA is one of the nation’s largest churches, boasting almost 3.3 million members and 8,900 congregations across the country. Rohrer will become the first transgender person to serve as bishop in any major American Christian denomination.
“It’s an honor to be called to serve the Sierra Pacific Synod,” Rohrer told RNS in a written statement. “During this time when some imagine trans people at their worst, Lutherans have once again declared that transgender people are beautiful children of God. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and my family as I accept this call.”
The 41-year-old Rohrer, a woman who does not appear to identify as either male or female and uses the pronoun “they,” also became the San Francisco Police Department’s first chaplain from the LGBT community in 2017.
She is also actively involved in homeless outreach and LGBT “street activism” and has authored several books. She’s even become a minor celebrity due to appearances on “Queer Eye” and within the pages of Time and Cosmopolitan. She is legally married to a woman.
— Sierra Pacific Synod (@sps_elca) May 8, 2021
Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Rohrer has said she was bullied by Christians and kicked out of youth group when she came out as lesbian. She told a California public radio station that while attending Augustana University as an out lesbian, her fellow students would sing hymns at her “to try to get rid of my gay demons.”
“And I would just sing harmony. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
It was during this time, however, that a campus pastor encouraged her to pursue ministry. In 2002 she moved to San Francisco and attended Berkeley’s LGBT-friendly Pacific School of Religion. Her ordination to the ECLA in 2006 under a process which was “designed to sidestep” the denomination’s policy on LGBT ministers at the time was finally accepted in 2010.
On Tuesday, Rohrer tweeted to critics of her ordination, “If my election confuses you, may that confusion inspire you to notice all the other wonderful things God is up to that you may have missed. Gods call extends to more people than you’d expect, in more places than you’d expect and more often than you’d expect.”
If my election confuses you, may that confusion inspire you to notice all the other wonderful things God is up to that you may have missed. Gods call extends to more people than you’d expect, in more places than you’d expect and more often than you’d expect. #iamLutheran
— Bishop-elect Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) May 11, 2021
The barriers-breaking minister seems to miss the mark when it comes to responding to critics of her position in the church, answering accusations other than what one might typically reference to oppose her ordination, such as the standards for bishops as outlined in the book of 1 Timothy or substantial, scripturally based arguments that a life of homosexuality and gender fluidity contradict the word of God.
In other words, Rohrer’s comments don’t answer the more common objections to her ordination.
“Using faith to tear other people down is not good news,” Rohrer told Cosmopolitan in 2017. “We need to all be as loud and as angry as the people who want to declare that there are types of people that God can’t love.”
Individuals like Rohrer commit a great error when they accuse opponents of LGBT acceptance in ministry of believing LGBT individuals are not worthy of being loved.
Her explanation for why she should be encouraged entry into Christian ministry, like much of progressive Christian thought these days, completely ignores the authority of Scripture, which is the far more glaring issue many Christians take with the acceptance of LGBT lifestyles within the church.
It is painfully ironic that Rohrer will fill the position of bishop within a denomination named for one of the great fathers of sola scriptura theology, Martin Luther, yet she denies the authority of the Scripture he fought so hard to make available to the common man, precisely so they could obey its authority over the teachings of the institutional church.
It is a strawman to conflate those who oppose her position of authority with those who believe that “there are types of people that God can’t love.” There is not a single type of person on this planet whom God is incapable of loving and didn’t die for.
This is because, as Scripture tells us, every person was made in the image of God and Christ died on the cross for the sins of fallen human beings — but his followers are called to be conformed to his image and to obey his word. Christians do not expect Rohrer to adhere to their standards, and we do not teach that she is unworthy of God’s love. Quite the opposite!
Any truly Bible-believing congregation should open its arms up to any and all sinners seeking redemption, no matter what their past may be. We should clothe, feed, show kindness to and love people no matter what they believe or how they live their lives. But there is an important difference between reaching out to people who are living in sin with the mercy and grace shown us by our Savior and telling them to remain in that sin.
If we believe the Bible when it tells us that God loves us and sent his son to die for us, we must also believe it when it says to obey its precepts and turn from what it defines as our sin.
When writing to disputing church members in Corinth, the Apostle Paul warned them not to be “deceived,” that “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
He went on to remind his brethren that “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJV)
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” he later asks them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV). “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
“And such were some of you” is always a humbling reminder for a Christian when judging the actions of the world. The keyword here is “were.” We are called to have a gracious heart toward those who are not walking according to biblical standards because they do not yet know how much God does love them.
Many of us ought to be able to relate to these people, having been born again and redeemed of similar struggles, so that they can share in the salvation bought and paid for us on the cross.
This is at the heart and soul of ministry — the full gospel. Not the acceptance and glorification of the things we struggle with before Christ, but repentance to and redemption from him.
While it sounds like Rohrer has a very big heart for what she does, it is not her capacity to serve or her value in the eyes of the Lord that is on trial here — it is her ability to teach, and adhere to, biblical Christianity.
Because there is no Christianity without the authority of the Scripture.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.