What is the church good for?

For example love - what is the church for?

"... because the Savior was born to you today," the angel calls out to the shepherds on Christmas Eve. Outside, in front of the city of Bethlehem. With those who do not belong. Christ "emptied himself and assumed the form of a servant," is how the apostle Paul sums up the birth of Jesus. It is written in our church's family book: “The church is only a church when it is there for others.” This is how Dietrich Bonhoeffer sums it up.

He goes on even more radically: “To start, she must give all her property to those in need. The pastors have to live exclusively from the voluntary gifts of the congregations, possibly exercise a secular profession. It must take part in the worldly tasks of human community life, not ruling, but helping and serving. It has to tell people of all professions what a life with Christ is, what it means to “be there for others”.

Is the? Will we succeed? Do we want that?

Bonhoeffer writes from the prison in Tegel. The Nazis arrested him. Because of treason. It said the death penalty. Life shrinks to the essentials.

Live on donations. Do a worldly job. In the euphoria of my youth I could have imagined that. I often worked as a postman during the semester break. Pastor and postman in one person, on the road on a double mission - that would be something! But later? As the managing pastor of a parish with 7,000 members? With a working time of well over 40 hours? As a supervisor, husband and father?

“Anyone who is not a communist at 20 has no heart. Anyone who is a communist at 40 has no sense. ”Winston Churchill once said. The sting remains: "Church is only church if it is there for others."

And when it comes to love?

At the end of June, the Bundestag decided on “marriage for all”. Since October gays and lesbians have been able to marry "normally". Not only to “partner”, but at the registry office, like everyone else, to tie the knot for life.

And we as a church? Hesitation and hesitation after this development: "Can homosexual couples marry in church?" The answer on our website

The regional church quotes a declaration of the regional synod from 1993: "In our church the insight has grown that with the exclusion of homophile people a wrong path has been taken that contradicts the gospel."

After all: the insight grows. Nevertheless, nothing will change for the time being: "A church wedding for homosexual couples is not possible at the moment ... because an internal church consensus on this issue has not yet been established." I can understand this to a certain extent: the consensus, the unity the Church is a great good. But: at whose expense is such a consensus maintained?

At least a “blessing accompaniment to homophile people” is possible “in a pastoral setting”. "How such an act of blessing can be designed should be discussed with the pastor on site." It will be difficult

at the concretion: may the bells ring? Does such a service have to be "approved" by the church council?

Of course I know scriptures that condemn homosexuality. It has been discussed for decades. The realization is gaining ground more and more: it is never about the love of two people. It's about foreign cults, about demarcation, about questionable habits, about the abuse of power: It was probably anything but fun to be a pleasure boy for a Roman citizen.

But what if two people love each other and want to be there for each other? Share joy and sorrow with each other. In good and in bad times. Living together, turtling, laughing, crying, arguing. Want to take responsibility for children who are without parents.

When I decided to become a pastor at the time, that was my ideal: Church and congregations as pioneers of society. Especially when it comes to

love goes To be there for others.

Jesus dared to do it. I am impressed by his behavior. And we? In practice, we are laboriously lagging behind our own knowledge.


[Hans-Martin Koebler]


Reading tip: "As we desire" by Carolin Emcke (winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2016)