This year, as they have in the past years, the Lutheran Laymen’s League (Lutheran Hour Ministries) is set to have a float in the Rose Parade. The theme they have chosen is “Jesus Welcomes All”. Throughout this past week or so I have seen great pictures from President Harrison of folks working hard to make the float a reality (as well as helping other floats get ready). Click here for the Rose Parade’s info on the LLL float.
There is another float that is going to be in the parade. This float is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float celebrating gay marriage. The theme of this float is “Dreams Come True”. This float will feature a gay couple that was “married” that morning as its featured riders, who will be having a “ceremony” on the top of the float (see it here).
So what, right? We don’t have such a thing as “Parade Fellowship”. The problem is the order in which the two floats have been arranged. In # 82 comes the AIDS float celebrating gay marriage, and right after it, you guessed it will be #83, the “Jesus Welcomes All” float of the Lutheran Laymen’s League. So right after the message of dreams coming true and two men being proudly “married” will come the message from the LCMS (or as many will probably not make the distinction, the “Lutherans”) of Jesus welcomes all. This presents some trouble for any witness that was wanting to be achieved from the float. It is very sad that this order had to be set up the way it is.
Now, before anyone gets upset with LLL about this, realize they didn’t have knowledge of order or of what the AIDS group is doing. They most likely also had to submit the design months in advance and any change would probably be frowned upon or completely disallowed. They have had volunteers working like crazy to get their float put together and it will look very nice. However, the order of the parade will likely make the float say something completely different than what they intended it to say.
This is the problem with a ” ‘Gospel’-only” statement on display before the world (“Jesus Welcomes All”). The Law brings the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). To remove one is to remove the harmony between the two, and really then you lose both. As Walther says in his proper distinction, “Without the Law, the Gospel is not understood; without the Gospel, the Law benefits us nothing.” This is why the public preaching done in the Scriptures involves both Law and Gospel. This is why our public proclamation, from church signs to public services (including civic events) and public displays ought to involve both God’s Law and His Gospel (for an example, click here). So, how many will view the proud newly married gay couple celebrating their sin and connect it to Jesus welcoming all? The message will at best be confused. At its worst, it will be confused to think that those “Lutherans” are once again affirming impenitent sin and the desecration of one of God’s institutions. My suggestion for next year would be to go with a more Biblical theme of repentance and forgiveness, something involving both Law and Gospel properly distinguished from each other. This way no matter who is in front or behind the LLL float, the message cannot be confused.
Maybe there is some way the order could be changed yet this year. I hope that such arrangements are being made. The good work of those volunteers shouldn’t be confused with something they never intended to say.