Q: Is it proper for the church to discriminate on the basis of sex or marital status, pertaining to the level of compensation given or the type of fringe benefits offered its paid staff?”
A: I am assuming that you are not talking about different pay for different kinds of duties, different levels of education, or different qualifications in terms of experience. Nor does it appear that your question concerns giving a bigger housing allowance to one, due to the necessities of maintaining a larger family. Very likely your concern is, for example, giving a housing allowance to men but not to women who teach in the Christian Day Schools.
God never likes favoritism (Acts 10:34; Eph. 6:9). This not only is true in the matter of salvation (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Gal. 3:28); but it is also true in the matter of compensation for labor in general (“I will be quick to testify against. . . those who defraud laborers of their wages,” Mal. 3:5), and especially for public work with the Gospel (“the worker deserves his wages,” Luke 10:7). When Paul writes, “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal. 6:6), he does not qualify this by saying that in the area of parochial education this applies only to male teachers and not female teachers.
It is true that God has placed his church workers into specific spheres of responsibility. Not all who teach in the Christian Day Schools are qualified or called to be principals; and we know further that God has limited the responsibilities of the pastoral office to qualified males (1 Tim. 2:12). But when the responsibilities and the office/job description are identical, the local congregation would be hard pressed to find any Scriptural passages in support of such monetary discrimination.
We would hope that within our Evangelical Lutheran Synod the issue raised in your question is being properly and lovingly addressed in those situations where salary review is