FARGO – The senior pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in north Fargo has resigned his position, saying his views of the Bible are at odds with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June making same-sex marriages legal across the country.
The high court's 5-4 decision was the catalyst for the Rev. Steve Berntson's decision to resign, he said. He wrote about his decision in a newsletter of the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he said Tuesday.
Berntson said he believes same-sex marriage is a violation of God's word. While ELCA policy doesn't require him to perform such marriages, Berntson sees the the church eventually endorsing same-sex marriage.
The most current ELCA social statement on human sexuality doesn't officially endorse or deny same-sex marriage. It leaves it up to each individual congregation to determine its policy on such unions.
That's a conversation Berntson said he had several times with his congregants in the past four years, including whether to remain in the ELCA.
He said the discussions didn't result in a formal vote being taken, although "many, many" of his congregation's members agreed with him.
Berntson said he has had doubts about other tenets of ELCA policy for some years, including how his beliefs on abortion differ from ELCA policy. Those doubts had persisted since his ordination in 1988, he said.
Berntson's resignation is effective Oct. 25.