The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment

This was released this morning; I found it on CyberbrethrenSource, and letter.

The statement was signed by LCMS President Matthew Harrison

Religious Leaders Voice Shared Commitment to Protect Marriage

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2010) — Leaders of some of the largest religious communities in the United States have come together to express their commitment toward the protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In an open letter released today, entitled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment,” leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Sikh communities in the United States affirmed the importance of preserving marriage’s unique meaning.

“The broad consensus reflected in this letter—across great religious divides—is clear: The law of marriage is not about imposing the religion of anyone, but about protecting the common good of everyone,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and one of the letter’s signers. “People of any faith or no faith at all can recognize that when the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it legally binds a mother and a father to each other and their children, reinforcing the foundational cell of human society.”

The release of this letter comes the same morning that oral arguments on the Proposition 8 case are set to begin. In August, Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, based in part on the claim that defining marriage as between a man and a woman lacked any rational basis at all, and instead reflected nothing but religion-based hostility to homosexual persons. This ruling has been appealed and its hearing is scheduled for today, December 6.

“Today is the moment to stand for marriage and its unchangeable meaning. We hope this letter will encourage just that,” Archbishop Dolan said. “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment” is being circulated nationwide. Downloadable PDF versions of the letter can be found at A backgrounder on the statement can be found at

Dear Friends,

Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.

As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensable place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.

Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Sincerely yours,

Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals

Dr. Thomas E. Armiger
Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
Dr. Jerry G. Pence
The Board of General Superintendents
The Wesleyan Church

Dr. Gary M. Benedict
The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Glenn C. Burris Jr.
The Foursquare Church

Bishop H. David Burton
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. Ronald W. Carpenter, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church Ministries

Nathan Diament
Director, Institute for Public Affairs
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Jim Eschenbrenner
Executive Pastor
Christian Union

Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Gammon
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Conference

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

John Hopler
Great Commission Churches

Dr. Clyde M. Hughes
International Pentecostal Church of Christ

Ken Hunn
Executive Director
The Brethren Church

Bishop Harry Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Richard Land
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Rev. Frederick J. Moury Jr.
National Conference Chair
Evangelical Congregational Church

Dr. James Murray
Interim Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Manmohan Singh
Secretary General
World Sikh Council – America Region

The Rev. Paull E. Spring
North American Lutheran Church

Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International

Rev. Phil Whipple
Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment — 130 Comments

  1. Norm, how would anyone know it, if there is no Scripture in the document? It’s not natural, for me to stand w/Mormons, Jews, or Sihks. Two openly deny my Lord, one twists Him.
    That is what you say is natural for me to do? I know me, rather well, I think…and no, it’s not natural for me, whether in the public arena or in any theological one. If Todd can post on what he does, speak on what he does, at ISSUE’S, no…this isn’t natural, it’s done for me, or rather, mine and they know it. At least I’m willing to be kind & have courage enough to say it, they just read what I forward or like on Facebook.
    I seem to remember President Schroeder being praised here at BJS, for his words on ELCA. And PK being critizied, for not being strong enough. Why was that?

  2. @Dutch #101

    I simply don’t understand why this post has generated 100 comments. How is this statement not biblical?

    Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.

    It’s time to drop it and go away with our own opinions. We all need to re-read Pastor Noland’s comment and think for a day or three before commenting again.

  3. Folks, I Dutch, disagree with this action. I can go round & round over it, but I disagree.
    I’ll read this, but won’t comment, I’m hearing enough on it where I sit. I won’t be a red herring, I won’t be a baited hook, and I can’t say it’s right, when I believe it’s not. Benke did it, & was condemned for it, rightly so. PK was critizied for it & not being strong enough in his words, rightly so, …nor is this, even if it’s President Harrison.

    I must be unbiased & fair. Otherwise, I’m biased & political, just as those who spoke out against this site, said we were. I won’t do that. I think too much of BJS.

    I picked up my ball & bat & went home. Talk about me, discuss what I’ve said, but don’t ask me to respond. I won’t.

  4. @Martin R. Noland #68

    Eighth, in our present position in this country, silence is consent. Most people don’t know that there are different Lutheran denominations. All they have heard, so far, is that the Lutherans approved same-sex marriage blessing and homosexual ministers. If LCMS does not speak up, who will know that many Lutherans in this country disagree with the ELCA on this matter? Here, in this case, it becomes a matter of “confession,” which President Harrison has done.

    Pr. Noland,

    All your points were exceptionally good and well made. I think the above point is excellent and needs repeating. Far too often in this day and age silence is taken as consent.

  5. Benke did it, & was condemned for it, rightly so. PK was critizied for it & not being strong enough in his words, rightly so, …nor is this, even if it’s President Harrison.
    I must be unbiased & fair. Otherwise, I’m biased & political, just as those who spoke out against this site, said we were.

    I applaud your desire to be fair and stick to principles, and not be political.

    Having said that, I can’t agree that this is comparable to the Benke case. Pastor Benke presided publicly over a religious service that was co-presided over by clergy of many faiths, not all of them Christian. That is a far cry from writing a civil document that appeals to natural law.

  6. @Mrs. Hume #93

    In my understanding, you are correct. The First Amendment upholds the free exercise of religion and prohibits the (federal) government from establishing any religion. How this is interpreted, however, varies. For example, I’m pretty sure the Episcopal Church was the established church of the state of Virginia for a few year after the Constitution was signed. On the opposite side, there have been court cases involving Santeria, Rastafarianism (maybe), and a few other religions (I mentioned the American Indians further up) in which the Supreme Court decided “even though a certain practice is intrinsic to your religion, if that practice violates U.S. law, you cannot do it” (Santeria and sacrifices, Rastafarians and marijuana, American Indians and “the liturgical use of shrooms”).

    The concept of “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution; it was a concept which Thomas Jefferson invented. He felt that the religion should be able to do its own thing, and the government should be able to do its own thing.

    As I understand it, “separation of church and state” is not a Lutheran concept. According to the “Two Realms,” we are to obey the secular government because it has been established by God. However, this does not mean blind obedience; in America we are part of the process in the “Left-Hand Kingdom” (voting, running for office, etc.). Likewise, we are called to take a stand when the secular starts to speak against God’s revelation.

    As a historical example, Paul commanded to obey the government (even though that meant Nero). However, this did not mean that Christians were to obey everything the government ordered them to do; in fact, many Christians were martyred because they refused the government’s order that they burn incense to Caesar.

  7. Dutch :

    Perry L, you were right. Forgive me for disagreeing. It was naive of me to do so.

    Dutch – I was not offended and I am learning from the experience. You are certainly forgiven.

  8. In #95 Andrew claimed:

    I basically said that if Carl was right and those FAQ did not in fact reflect the purpose for which it was written then they were lying.

    I said no such thing. Since the premise is incorrect, therefore the conclusion is not proven for such a claim.

    In #71 I stated:

    I checked the USCCB FAQ web page on how the letter will be used. Nowhere on the page did it indicated that Pres. Harrison signed off on the USCCB FAQ questions or answers. Being the FAQ is on the USCCB web site, it more likely indicates how the Conference of Catholic [Romanist] Bishops will use the letter, not how the LCMS will use the letter.

    So far there is nothing on the LCMS website about Pres. Harrison signing the letter on marriage or if and how the LCMS will use the letter.

  9. @andrew #84
    If they are not the ones who wrote it, who invited Pres. Harrison to sign it, and if they are indeed promoting a purpose and use for it not intended by the signers than it would well behoove Pres. Harrison to publicly challenge them on their lies.

    @andrew #95
    I’m not saying that it is improper – nor was I ever the one who accused them of lying.

    I basically said that if Carl was right and those FAQ did not in fact reflect the purpose for which it was written then they were lying.

    You might have chosen your words more carefully the first time, perhaps?
    “Lies” is a strong word and “if” is a short one, easily missed.

    Thank you to Martin Noland and those others who attempted to see the thing for what it was and not demand that six other impossible things be incorporated.

    Y’all had a busy evening! Some posts might have benefited from editing in the morning.

    A good Thursday to you!

  10. @ Concerned Seminarian #25:

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough with my statement. If the letter is sent to every member of a legislative body (i.e. the house of representatives or a state legislative body) then that, to me, is lobbying. If this was filed as a brief with a lawsuit, which may be the case as you point out, I would not view that as lobbying. I would view it as a position paper on an issue in response to a lawsuit that affects the fabric of society. I think it is too narrow of a field and too narrow of an audience (i.e. 3 to 7 judges compared to 439 representatives) to be considered lobbying.

  11. From the 100+ posts about the letter on marriage, here are some of the objections raised to Pres. Harrison signing it:

    – Signing the letter on marriage is an act of lobbying the government, which is not the duty of the church.

    – Signing the letter on marriage is an act of unionism and syncretism.

    – Signing the letter on marriage is signing an oath with people who are not Christian.

    – Signing the letter on marriage ignores the Gospel, does not witness about Christ, and will work against what the letter seeks.

    – Signing the letter on marriage attempts to use the 1st use of the law and ignores the 2nd use of the law.

    – Signing the letter on marriage commits the signer to support not only the statements in the letter but also whatever the other purposes of the letter writer/originator are.

    Other posts on this thread have addressed why these claims are not valid.

  12. Carl,
    So, what are your thoughts on the article in the Reporter, LCMS begins Dialogue with ACNA
    or Breakaway Anglicans talk with Conservative Lutherans, Canadian Lutheran Online article?

  13. One wonders if the signing of the letter on marriage, released on December 6, was discussed at this November 10-11 meeting between LCMS and ACNA officials. According to the December 1, 2010, Reporter article, “LCMS begins dialogue with ACNA“, Dr. Joel Lehenbauer noted, “This dialogue is not intended to result in full communion, altar and pulpit fellowship. Rather, it is hoped that our churches will be able to affirm one another in significant ways as fellow Christians, stand together against certain societal and ecclesial trends, and cooperate together in works of mercy.” The November meeting was the first of a four-part dialogue; that’s some dialogue. I wonder if Pres. Harrison and his staff are having similar dialogues with the erring heads of various misdirected districts.

    I agree with Dr. Lehenbauer in that it is doubtful any A&P fellowship is planned with ACNA. In 2009 the ACNA began to re-kindle ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox Church in America, and has already announced cooperative efforts with Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Nashotah House, an Anglican seminary, to further the ecumenical relationships. It was also noted elsewhere that the ACNA church in Minneapolis had a female preacher at its Dec. 12 church service, which fits with the USAToday report that “[ACNA Bishop] Duncan says the church may continue to ordain women as deacons and priests. But pushing forward to name them as bishops, he says, is seen by the rest of the Anglican Communion as “a sad and arrogant American approach. The bishop is the symbol of the diocese and putting someone other dioceses do not recognize as capable of holding the office in the post is divisive in the international church.”

  14. Carl,
    The only reason I ask is I was looking for this announcement on LCMS, or ACNA, & all the other sites, belonging to the signers. It would appear, that Tim Dolan, is the spokesman, for it. It would appear, that this letter will be sent to RC’s 19,000+ Parishes, as a bulletin insert. The only other entities that signed, that have anything on their sites, are the LDS, USCCB, and then the Orlando Sentinel.
    The LCMS site or the Reporter had nothing on it. The SID did, & had a copy of a letter sent. SWD didn’t post or link that letter, the SID had. As I understand it, the CTCR & President Kieschnick, began the process. Apparently there was discussion over the ACNA dropping the “filioque” when courting the Orthodox Church, but w/LCMS, they are still semi-plegias (?), & in the 39 Articles, the Sacrament of the Altar, is kind of a sticky wicket.

    Ironically, the Sacrament wasn’t mentioned in the Lutheran sites, but it was in the Anglican ones I saw. Execept it was called a “Eucharistic sharing”. Whatever that means.

  15. Carl,
    I don’t think for a second, that President Harrison, is doing anything under the table. But, if ya look at the timelines for all this, & the letter posted in the SID, it just looks funny.
    The SID letter mentions homosexual marriage, so does this document released above.
    What happens behind closed doors, is closed. But, if things leak out, in this type of progression, it looks weird.
    WELS dialogue bad, ACNA dialogue good. How does that work?

  16. @Dutch #116
    WELS dialogue bad, ACNA dialogue good.

    Who is saying that WELS dialogue is bad?

    Matt Harrison said he would be as transparent as he could.
    He did not say that he would wear a wire so that we didn’t miss a syllable of any conversation. (Fewer speculative opinions might be most helpful.)

  17. So far there is nothing on the LCMS website or Pres. Harrison’s websites or Dr. Collver’s website about Pres. Harrison signing the letter on marriage.

  18. Concerned #118,
    It’s heresay, but it was mentioned on another thread. I think it’s weird that on the sites for the Jewish Council, LDS, & the Sihk council, they have Dolan’s comments. Even the Orlando Sentinel, used Dolan’s comments.
    It’s weird that this letter is going to be sent to 19,000 Catholic Parishs & used as bulletin inserts, but no mention on LCMS site. All I found when I looked for it, was the ACNA bits.
    I just think it’s weird, that if that is in fact true, why WELS are “private” talks and this is out there & ACNA dialogue is something PK/CTCR started, after the request came in. The letter to the SID even mentions homosexuality. It just looks odd, from where I sit. I didn’t say, anyone had to agree w/me. It just looks really odd.
    No, President Harrison doesn’t have to “fill us in” private converstations, but if they leak out, it would be nice to at least know his take on it. Especially if the 1st of 4 events was open to the “public”.

  19. I meant to add this from the article as a statement from President Harrison and another reason why I like this letter: “He said he appreciated the fact that the statement “was not a joint proclamation of the Gospel,” since “there’s no understanding on that between all of the signers.”

  20. One wonders from his statements if Pres. Harrison read the comment previously posted on this BJS thread. In addition to Pres. Harrison’s statement noted in #122, The Reporter also noted:

    I like the statement and what it references,” he told Reporter. He believes, he said, that religious organizations have a duty “to make a common commitment to a natural understanding of marriage. It’s our responsibility to speak it and to be heard.”…

    Harrison also liked that the letter was pro-marriage rather than anti-homosexual.

    “We can and ought do a much better job of letting those who struggle with homosexuality know that we welcome them as fellow sinners,” he said. And, “we certainly don’t condone treating sixth commandment sins as though they are unlike any other.”

  21. @Dutch #120
    Concerned #118,
    It’s heresay, but it was mentioned on another thread.

    Whether it’s hearsay or heresy (gossip sometimes gets close!)
    I think we can wait until we’re told, instead of quite so much speculation.
    I am confident that we will be told, as soon as we need to know.

    Times, (or at least my opinion of them), have changed at least to that extent.

  22. Helen,
    The ACNA bits, came out on LCMS, prior to this announcement.
    So…the ACNA…Dolan & other news sites, called this an “alliance”. With Dolan doing all the talking, w/ACNA doing the visits, & ELS/WELS being asked “why didn’t ya sign”…..
    This does not look, the least bit odd, to anyone else, but me?!

  23. @Dutch #126

    Dolan just got his job and there was some comment in the news about that. He’s in New York, so what he does & says is likely to be in the papers. [That’s New York; the Muslims haven’t taken it over entirely yet.]
    The R C Bishops’ conference met and discussed this in December; people were watching that meeting, too. The article quoting Dolan was in reference to what the Bishops would advise their constituents to do.

    I don’t know what ACNA is doing. I don’t know where I should look to find something that “came out on LCMS”. (Frankly, I can’t keep up with all these acronyms to know whether I should care!)

    Are ELS/WELS being asked anything, or did one person ask you? (I haven’t read anything along that line.)

    I shouldn’t wonder if this statement hasn’t gotten more column inches here than anywhere else in the country! 🙁

  24. Helen,
    I’m from near Milwaukee, I knew Dolan is new to New York. His brother has a sport’s radio show here, & Dolan has been on radio & local TV, prior to departing for New York.
    Comment #1, (A Beggar) was the 1st, on this thread asked where ELS/WELS signatures were. 1-5 were an exchange on ELS/WELS.
    ACNA has been courting the Orthodox Church, & LCMS, to mention 2.

  25. Helen,
    Let me ask you this. Would you prefer to go into open public dialogue with WELS/ELS (Lutheran) or the Anglican Church of North America-ACNA (Anglican), who’s 39 Articles at times, conflict with Lutheran Doctrine & who’s Archbishop believes in the ordination of women?

    (Archbishop Tim Dolan is #8, Archbishop Duncan is # 9, and President Harrison is #12.)

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