Strategies and Tips for dealing with COHABITATION

Young and old, it is becoming common.  Even on my Concordia Plan “Be Well, Serve Well” survey (courtesy of CareAllies) it talks about my “spouse/partner”.  The culture is all about giving things a test drive, a test run of the relationship, and the result is often not even marriage if it “works out”.  It used to be called living in sin for a reason, but in a society which no longer talks in terms of sin, it is merely a choice that someone makes.  Whether its two young folks shacking up for fun or two elderly folks coming together without marriage for the sake of pensions.  It is that dreaded sin of cohabitation.

First of all, I will say that Pres. Harrison’s piece “Second Thoughts on Living Together” is a fine piece and is very useful.  You can find it here.

The point of this post is to help pastors, parents, and friends figure out ways to approach those caught in this sin.

Here are a few things that I have found very useful (in my limited experience) to think about when confronting the sin:

Of course there is always the sixth commandment.

There is also often the Fourth Commandment, as mom and dad may completely disapprove.

Sometimes an approach from an unexpected path works well.  I have in the past used the Eighth Commandment (about reputation) to point out to the man in the relationship that living in sin is ruining his girlfriend’s reputation.

Pres. Harrison’s piece actually points out a number of statistics from the knowledge of this world which can be helpful as well.

How about claims that they are just living together for financial reasons, does that relate to the seventh commandment or not?

How do we as a Church serve those who are caught up in this specific sin?

What are some other good ways to address the issue?

Please consider adding your comments on the topic from your standpoint as a pastor, parent, friend, or simply a neighbor.

Perhaps you are a penitent who has been forgiven of this sin, please feel free to share your experience of how your pastor, family, and friends interacted with you.

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Strategies and Tips for dealing with COHABITATION — 243 Comments

  1. So they’re married, with all the legalities that attend marriage? No wedding ceremony, just “now we’re married.” Do they get a document that “proves” they’re married for legal purposes?

    Ok, they’re married. That sounds OK to me.

    I guess common-law marriage means that should they decide to separate, a divorce or annulment or dissolution must take place. Correct?

    OK, they’re married. But they ain’t cohabiting–they’re married, right? OK, OK. Got it!

    Johannes

  2. @Johannes #201

    Yes, at common law, the marriage, once contracted and public, is as fully a marriage as is a marriage solemnized by a ceremony before a justice of the peace, a priest, pastor, or rabbi. Solemnization is a means of publishing the consent, but it is not the only means. The elments are consent and publication.

    Yes, living together is not required for common law marriage. And, neither is it required for a solemnized marriage. In neither case, solemnized marriage or common law marriage, is cohabitation either a necessary or sufficient condition.

    Yes, once married by common law, to dissolve the marriage requires death, annulment, or divorce.

    The questions were asked about common law marriage, and I am just answering them.

  3. @Johannes #198

    Indeed Johannes! A very nice woman in the church I was raised in in the Dakotas was made to stand up in front of the church and appologize to everyone because she broke of an engagement to a man to be married. That must have been around the 1940s or early 50s I am guessing from the age of the woman who related this story to me. She ended up marrying another man and adopted to great kids that were classmates of mine in gradeschool. Such was the piety in practice of German-Russian pietistic immigrants in the Dakota prairies.

    I remember when i went to a WELS college back in the 70s that two professors actually formally debated this proposition. The one in favor of the proposition that “engagement is tantamount to marriage” I remember argued from Dr Martin Luther, etc etc.

    And I agree that this position raises even more questions than it answers. Interesting stuff.

  4. @Johannes #197

    JOHANNES Can a couple enter into a common law marriage and expect to receive God’s blessing, and that of the church? Does a common law marriage honor God?

    FRANK For Lutherans Obedience to the Law is about second table Obedience to the need for Goodness and Mercy for our neighbor. It is not about rendering Obedience to God. Why is that?

    A conscience that is properly terrified by the Law in it´s judgement knows to offer Only the Obedience of Christ , which ALONE is able to be rendered to God to appease his wrath and give him the perfect honor he demands of all.

    But here in the Earthly Kingdom, God does demand that we keep his Law or be punished into submission! Luther in the preface to the Catechisms advises parents to frequently tell their children stories in the bible where God blesses those who keep the Law by doing mercy for others, and punishes those who don´t. We should fear God´s wrath, even christians should! So we should learn to keep God´s demand for mercy to others so God does not need to send us punishments and plagues in order to make us do mercy. God WILL have his Goodness and Mercy happen in Old Adam one way or the other! This does not depend on us. We do have the choice to do this obedience to mercy willingly on earth or be forced to do it. Some “choice” eh?

    JOHANNES Finally, I can’t help but get the impression that you’re pulling my chain, just a little bit.

    FRANK I am following the arguments between you and our brother Joel and forming my own opinions as I read Johannes. The facts I listed are facts. And I agree that it is pretty easily argued that common law marriage is unwise from a practical standpoint, especially if children are involved. But that is a practical argument that is not , ipso facto, a moral argument.

    I am not trying to pull your chain, but I am thinking that adam and eve didnt have a church wedding. And they were married . So maybe joel is not so far off as to intention. And maybe there needs to be added to that some sort of public declaration of intent, and then the community (not the church community since marriage, by lutheran doctrine is not an affair of the church but rather community at large) is obligated to encourage and nurture that intention. What this all looks like probably depends upon the evolved customs of each time and culture. Example: Black americans were not allowed to marry as slaves. So they performed a ceremony where the couple jumped over a broom. This seems sorta odd. But a church wedding or marriage certificate was illegal for them. And besides, the man would probable be sold off and the marriage disolved this way anyhow. Life is mortification isnt it?

  5. @Johannes #198

    I’m going back to my post #121. Couples who live together outside of marriage are in the “far country.” They have left the farm, and are in danger of squandering their eternal inheritance. We pray that they will come to their senses,and return to the farm, to repentance, and to forgiveness.

    I am not so sure that it would be wise for a pastor or others to take this to the point of telling someone that how they administrate this earthly thing that is part of the category of Romans 8 flesh that will perish will determine their eternal fate. Something seems wrong about that.

  6. @T. R. Halvorson #199

    Thanks for that contribution TR. I am not an attorney, but this sounds correct to me. So I am not sure a church would be right then to morally disapprove of such a common law marriage, even observing, as I have, that this is probably not the wisest arrangement , especially if children are involved.

  7. @Johannes #190
    My reason for citing the stats re: cohabitation & divorce/abuse was meant only to demonstrate that living together is no predictor of future marital success. Just a practical matter–no theology intended.

    Just as a thought: the Law is not arbitrary, it is based on human reality – biophysics and psychology. Aside from any punishment from God for breaking the natural law, there are always inevitable consequences. If we murder, even if we get away with it we must live in fear of retaliation and with a mind and soul that have been coarsened and degraded to the point where they can accept such things – not a pleasant thought. If we lust after another’s wife we must live in fear of not only retaliation from her husband, but the fear that somebody will do the same to us. There are always temporal consequences and these must be faced, even if we repent and are not longer in danger of our souls.

  8. @T. R. Halvorson #203
    Well said, T.R.
    I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I believe that we need to define some terms. To be precise, what exactly constitutes a marriage, especially? Is it the ceremony? Not necessarily, because of the wide acceptance of common-law marriage and the wide variety of legal forms. On the other hand, all societies have marriage ceremonies, even if it is jumping a broom in front of the village elders. Also consider that embedded in all marriage customs is the fact that in order to be legitimate a marriage must be consummated. Failure to do so is nearly a universal excuse to nullify the marriage – not even divorce, the marriage doesn’t exist until it is consummated.

    I postulate, then, that marriage per se is the decision by a couple to live together as a marriage couple (faithful, etc, etc) and engage in sexual activity with an eye to having children (or at least accepting the possibility thereof). Everything else flows from the existence of the marriage – love, protection, the roles of husband and wife, father and mother.

    I note that I could find nothing in Scripture defining the form of a marriage ceremony. Scripture talks much about marriage, but nowhere does it – or the Law – define what constitutes a marriage ceremony! Nowhere does God say “now you are not married, and now you are” except for the sexual act. 1 Corinthians 6:16 – Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” (Even if you lay with a prostitute, you are in fact married to her!)

    Why, then the universal ceremonies? Why the ritual, even in the most remote society? Humans need ritual, it’s part of our neural makeup. A ritual allows us to define a point in time and say “as of this moment it is done.” There is no doubt in the eyes of the rest of society; witnesses may be called, official records examined, judges or pastors questioned. It also serves as a foundation for our consciences. A little warning in the back of our heads, reminding us that “we swore an oath” to be faithful, in front of witnesses. God has set these ceremonies in place as an aid to our imperfect minds to help us to fulfill the actuality of marriage. There is also no doubt in the eyes of the society that these two people are allowed to be married in the first place; before a marriage ceremony may be performed, the proper officials must be assured that they are not too closely related and that they are not currently married to someone else. Everything is proper.

    So, I would conclude that yes, two people cohabiting are in fact, married. The mere fact that they have not had a ceremony is not, in and of itself, a sin. However, as with most human rituals and ceremonies, they place themselves at severe risk by not having a marriage ceremony. First, either partner will have a distrust in the other. Either, or both, will feel that they may be discarded or abandoned. Secondly, of course, without a binding ceremony either or both may believe that they are free to “look around” and find a “better” match if they can; there is no ceremony to “lock” them into the marriage. Make no bones about it, it is the act of abandoning your spouse, even if there is no ceremony to make the marriage official in the eyes of society, that is the sin. Scripture is clear that God tolerates divorce, but He does not like it (Matthew 19:8).

  9. @T. R. Halvorson #200

    TR HALVORSON “Delight and extortion? ….[Frank you are claiming that our Confessions make] Too little…of the indwelling Christ for fear that it will erode the article on justification. It is a legitimate fear, because all such talk has a slithery habit of doing just that. But we can [not] save the article on justification by claiming that the law extorts Christ.” [I disagree with your understanding of what you quoted from our confessions in your post #194 https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=15567#comment-182770 ]”

    FRANK RESPONDS Lutherans call this Gospel and Law.

    I quoted from our Confessions to show that this is, in fact, what our Confessions teach and that this is not my opinion. Show me then, how I am misunderstanding what I have presented from those Confessions brother TR. Or alternatively, please accept it as Lutheran Doctrine.

    Note that the Lutherans also call Law and Gospel by the term the Two Kingdoms : Heavenly and Earthly.

    Our Formula of Concord , art VI “The [Lutheran] Third Use of the Law” bases what they teach there about the Baptismal life of a Christian on a Luther Sermon delivered in 1528 at Marburg that is Luther´s clearest sermon on the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. I would urge you to read that sermon and ponder how and why it is the basis for FC art VI on “Third Use”. You simply cannot understand FC art VI until you have done this TR Halvorson!

    You may note that this Two Kingdoms format of Law and Gospel is also the basis for the Dr Luther´s explanation of Baptism in the Small Catechism. Here is how that is:

    In the Small Catechism Dr. Luther first describes what Baptism “works, delivers from, and gives” .

    This is Heavenly Kingdom invisible faith in the Works alone of Christ ALONE.

    This is the Romans 8 Spirit that you are describing TR! And you are right! This is the main deal! This is ALONE what saves us, apart from ANYTHING at all we can see and do in our bodies. Apart from even anything we can see and do in Church.

    This invisible trust in the Works of Another is alone the Fatherly Goodness and Mercy, that is our own putrid sanctified works that can be alone sanctified by being hidden in the Works of Christ, that will endure forever!

    Then Dr Luther describes what Baptism Signifies . This is Earthly Kingdom deathing and mortification that includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies.

    This is Romans 8 “flesh/body” that will perish with the earth along with all who trust in this visible form of Fatherly Goodness and Mercy for Life.

    And these Two Kingdoms or Powers exist within each Believer TR Halvorson as Dr Luther´s FC art VI sermon says.

    Within each Believer the Earthly Kingdom is ALL we can see and do in our bodies (Rom 8 flesh). In this Earthly Kingdom Old Adam who will perish with the Earth, only the Law can drive and extort out of him Goodness and Mercy.

    The Heavenly Kingdom exists in the Believer ” to the extent that he is regenerated.” And this Heavenly Kingdom consists alone of invisible faith , ALONE in trust in the Works of Christ. Alone. And you are so right! In THIS Kingdom, it is the Holy Spirit doing the working in the believer. There is nothing there for us to do! Goodness and Mercy simply flow out of us like “light from sun”, “automatically” and “spontaneously” , and “as the angels do it”. This we can only know is happening in us by faith informed by God´s Word. This will never be visible to us on earth. All we can see and do in our bodies is Old Adam Romans 7. So from start to finish this part is of faith. That is to say it is the evidence of things unseen.

    Bless you TR Halvorson in this Law and Gospel distinction!

    Love,

    Frank William

  10. @Paul of Alexandria #209

    Brother Paul, I am very pleased with everything you present here except this one part. Permit me to disagree and argue this point in a most friendly way:

    Nowhere does God say “now you are not married, and now you are” except for the sexual act. 1 Corinthians 6:16 – Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” (Even if you lay with a prostitute, you are in fact married to her!)

    I don´t agree that “becoming one flesh” = marriage.

    This is precisely sin precisely because there is the physical union without the commitment to a union beyond that physical union. The point is that sex is not to happen outside of the bond of that commitment.

    So it is no marriage even though it IS becoming one flesh with that other person.

    Does that make sense to you Paul?

  11. @fws #211
    Ok, I’ll accept that. Paul is rather specific, it is the carnal knowledge that makes us one-flesh. That knowledge is only permitted within the context of marriage. The sin, however, is not the lack of ceremony, but the breaking of the commitment to the person that you laid with.

    I think that the situation is similar to the liturgy. Scripture commands us to honor the Sabboth and to come together to share the body and blood. Nowhere, for Christians anyways, is the precise form laid out. Theoretically, we could simply get together Sunday evening over dinner. The services that we use, the liturgy, exist because of our human failings – see the other post on traditional vs contemporary services. We follow them because they focus our minds, allow us to fall back on repetition when necessary, and present what is needed in a format that has been proven to work.

  12. @Paul of Alexandria #208

    Just as a thought: the Law is not arbitrary, it is based on human reality – biophysics and psychology. Aside from any punishment from God for breaking the natural law, there are always inevitable consequences.

    Natural Law is defined in romans 2:15. It is the Devine Law Devinely Written and Revealed in the Reason of all men, even those without bibles! Reason agrees with the Decalog precisely because it is the SAME Divine Law. (Apology art IV “on justification” near the beginning).

    Biophysics etc are not a revelation of Devine Will and Original Intent in contrast. Why not? God has cursed the Order of Creation for our own good. God´s Original Intent and Will was this:

    No thorns and thistles (Nature would not resist man´s dominion over it)
    No sweat of brow ( Work would always be pleasurable and feel like vacation )
    No pain in childbirth ( Life would be pure joy and no suffering)
    No Domination of Men over women ( God designed female to be fully equal to men)
    Women would not center their longings on men ( Not sure what this would mean…)

    We can only know these things to be true from God´s Word. The observation of the Order of Creation will yield a different MIS-understanding of God´s Will since it is fallen. A good example is the Authority of Men over women. This IS the Order of Creation as God has cursed it , and so , in one sense IS God´s will.

    But it is God´s Will in the SAME sense that weeds and labor and pain in child birth exist.

    And no one considers it a perversion of morals to use roundup or give a woman pain medicine when she gives birth. For some odd reason we treat the authority of men over women as something in a different category. There is a category error there happening based on what Genesis 3 says about the Order of Creation. What St Paul says needs to be read in this context.

    TR Halvorson quotes Luther as saying exactly this in his wonderful Genesis Commentary.

  13. @Paul of Alexandria #212

    Paul that is a wonderful insight!

    Luther and our Confessions proclaim exactly what you are saying. In the Small Catechism Luther shows us, by the very structure of how he presents the 10 commandments, that Fatherly Goodness and Mercy cannot happen in sinful humans without Mortification or the structure you describe.

    So on earth the formula for Goodness and Mercy or Righteousness is this Goodness and Mercy = Mortification/Discipline + Love.

    In sinners Love (aka Fatherly Goodness and Mercy) simply cannot happen without effort, practice , self discipline and the practice of these things until they become habit. This is Saint Pauls point when he describes the christian life as looking like someone training for an athletic event.

    In heaven this Goodness and Mercy will simply happen without our even thinking about it or breaking a sweat. This is even now what we are told to believe, in blind faith, is happening in our New Man. But here on Earth we need to work at it! And so the Liturgy is about disciplining the Old Adam even in Church.

    We need this discipline more than anywhere else in Church, for that is where Satan and our flesh wishes most of all to subvert God´s Will that Mercy and Goodness be done. And Old Adam argues for this position this by saying that the Believer has no longer any need for rules or structure since he is In Christ. Quite the opposite is true! This is not freedom. Freedom is to intentionally enslave ourselves to the needs for Goodness and Mercy of our neighbor. Only faith has this freedom.

  14. @fws #213
    Biophysics etc are not a revelation of Devine Will and Original Intent in contrast. Why not? God has cursed the Order of Creation for our own good. God´s Original Intent and Will was this:

    Yes, and as a result of the fall, the biophysics changed (for instance a natural lifetime (sans the tree of life) decreased from 900+ years to 120 years, women often have pain in childbirth, etc). I’m not disagreeing with what you say, but it’s rather beside the point. God’s Law is not arbitrary, it is the best way for a human society to live. Paul, again, is rather specific on the topic – if we were not fallen, and after we are resurrected, there would be no need for the Law. We would/will follow what should be done naturally. The Law exists because of our fallen nature (Galatians 3:18, 19). Therefore, logically, it is based at least partly upon that fallen nature and what that nature requires in order to live in a God-pleasing (and life-promoting) way.

  15. @fws #207

    I should add a qualification to the explanation of common law marriage that I gave earlier. In a number of American states, the legislatures have made modifications of or additions to the elements of common law marriage. Since common law by definition is the law that grows by analogy through court decisions and is a rough and ready type of natural law (in the jurisprudential sense, thought not necessarily a theological sense), and since legislation is by definition a type of positive law, meaning that it is law that comes from some authority with power to posit it, these legislative changes are not strictly speaking common law elements. But, in such states, common law marriage with those legislative changes is called, not entirely accurately, common law marriage. Some of the states have by legislation added cohabitation as an element. So, whether what is called common law marriage requires cohabitation as an element has varied with time, and today can vary by jurisdiction.

  16. @Paul of Alexandria #209

    I wonder about a lot of those same things, and I have come to no conclusions. I have some personal preferences that stem only from temperament and frustration with the course of American history, but those are no basis for theology. I recognize that when speaking of civil righteousness and the power of the will in civil affairs, the confessions speak of a freedom people have to “contract marriage.” I like to think of marriage as much more than a contract, but in the face of the confessions, I have no basis to put my preferences out as a doctrine. I also don’t much like the idea of the state’s jurisdiction to define, license, or solemnize marriage because of the scripture, “what God has joined together” and others. Had I my way, the church would have the sole jurisdiction to marry. But the confessions do give those powers to the state, so I spend little to no time promoting my preference, and I recongize that, considering what the confessions say, my position must have dangers that I am not perceiving.

  17. @fws #211

    I don´t agree that “becoming one flesh” = marriage.

    So it is no marriage even though it IS becoming one flesh with that other person.

    Boy, I am with you big time on that. Thank you for saying it, and putting it clearly.

  18. @fws #210

    Thanks for engaging on this.

    The unregenerate man is simple. He is simply a sinner. The regenerate man is still a sinner, but not only a sinner. He is now complex because he is both a sinner and saint. Regeneration really does something. He has both the nature of Adam and the nature of the new man, the indwelling Christ.

    The relation of the law to an unregenerate sinner is similarly simple. But the relation of the law to a regenerate sinner-saint is like the sinner-saint himself, complex. While the law is one and the same, the natures in the sinner-saint are not one and the same. While the law continues to accuse the sinner, it does not accuse the indwelling Christ, and it does not extort anything from the indwelling Christ. Instead, it serves as a guide, rule, or instruction, as our explanations of the Catechism say.

    The term, “third use,” may be contributing to confusion because it is in the singular. Really, in the third use there are two uses, one for each nature in the sinner-saint.

    The following is from Scott R. Murray, Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism (Concordia, St. Louis, 2002).

    “According to Elert, since the Law always accuses, the Law does not provide a third use, a didactic use. The Law can never be only didactic. Here is the crux of the argument about the third use of the Law for Lutherans. Elert set up a false alternative: Either the Law accuses or it is only didactic. The Formula of Concord does not present such an alternative. Certainly Christians are still accused by the Law insofar as they are still sinners, … [but] Elert is on the verge of dissolving the dilemma faced by the Christian in concrete circumstances, namely, that as a regenerate Christian he delights in the Law of the Lord and as a sinner he is accused and condemned by the Law. The Formula of Concord lets the tension stand in the application of Law in the life of the Christian.” pp. 28-29.

    If we choose one side of the tension that the Formula lets stand, we depart from Lutheranism. This begins the slide either back to Rome or toward Pietism, Calvinism, Arminiansim, or some form of quietism. When we cherry pick the confessions for excerpts to show the one side of the tension we have chosen, we engage in confessional reductionism. We distort the confessions by oversimplification.

    The result of choosing one side of the tension and denying the other side is that there really is no third use of the law. In the result, “The third use of the Law is nothing more than the second use for the Christian.” Murray, p. 60.

    In reacting to the Calvinist idea of a third use of the law, many Lutheran theologians refuted Calvin, but not the Formula of Concord. They answered what Calvin said, but not what the Formula said. In failing to recognize this, they then rejected the Formula’s article on the third use.

    It might be significant that this elimination of the third use was done by the Valparaiso theologians (not that others have not also eliminated the third use). It would be worth researching whether, because the Valparaiso theologians eliminated the third use, people like Prof Becker can reach all sorts of heterodox and heretical conclusions while claiming to be Lutheran.

    For the purposes of this thread, I don’t believe we can achieve much on the problem of cohabitation by only using the law to extort. We must use the law for its accusation against Adam, and we must use the law as a guide, rule, or instruction to the new man.

  19. @T. R. Halvorson #220

    You are most welcome TR. Article VI in the Formula, for some reason is always an article that has sparked my interest.

    I will need to give some thought to what Murray says and his criticism of Elert. I am not personally familiar with either of their writings, but I am pretty intimate with FC Art VI.

    I would URGE you to read that Luther Sermon on the Two Kingdoms that FC art VI itself points us to as both the organic basis and further explanation of what FC art VI says.

    It is just a fact that no one is qualified to speak to FC art VI until they have read and understand the Luther sermon on the two kingdoms that the article inself urges upon us as the basis and explanation for the article.

    I would also declare it to be a fact , that unless one has fully digested the Apology, especially articles II, III and IV, one will never understand in a Lutheran way, what FC art VI says!

    I am always sort of amazed that I have NEVER even once heard ANY Lutheran theologian refer to this Marburg 1528 sermon, when FC art VI itself urges this sermon as the way to further unpack and understand what the article is trying to express. This seems suspect and odd to me . I especially criticize men like Nestingen on this, who write articles expounding on the Third Use and even rejecting it, as though that Luther sermon does not even exist. It is all right there in that sermon just as FC art VI says!

    I will need to reflect on what you have presented and respond later. This is good stuff TR. You are doing your homework!

  20. @T. R. Halvorson #220

    I would like to make one more observation that might be helpful TR. Our confessions use the words extort and compell and coerce etc as to how the Law always works.

    May I suggest that extortion can be both carrot and stick. And as carrot it may not feel like extortion. We get up in the morning and go to work not feeling like this is being extorted or coerced out of us . Why not?

    Well, maybe it is because our ego is invested in doing a good job or building something we feel is important or a sense of pride. OR. it could be carrot in the form of earning money to buy something we want or to please or take care of a loved one, or such sort of thing. This too does not feel like coercion.

    But whenever you tell someone something like “If you do this thing , then you will be rewarded with something you want” there is an implied threat in that isn´t there? What if you DONT do that thing? Then what.

    This is especially to be remembered when we tell someone this thing that is true : “a christian should WANT to do good works merely to please God and out of Love for God.”

    Ok. This is a threat. How? What if we DONT do that? And when we read God´s Word we should be terrified because God´s Word judged our will and heart, even as believers, and finds that we are lacking. So we SHOULD feel terror in this. If we dont feel that, even that condemns us, since we are not believing what God´s Word says about our best works.

    So the only reason that our best thinking, emotional response, and virtuous acts do not condemn us, is not that now that we are christian the quality and nature of our good works becomes improved or more worthy. Nope.

    The ONLY reason our good works are now considered holy and spotless and pure is for the simple fact that those works are HIDDEN in the Works of Another. The works themselves are just as putrid as before we came to Christ in baptismal regeneration.

    A calvinist reading this would violently react against what I just wrote. So would the Old Adam of each and every one of us! It is worth pondering why that is.

  21. @T. R. Halvorson #220

    It is important to identify and define what the Lutheran Third use is.

    My opinion is that we need to read the “status controversiae” to determine this.

    One side said that the coercion of the Law is no longer necessary for the Believer.
    The other side said that it was necessary for the Believer.

    I suggest that art VI resolves this by defining that word Believer. They point out that the Believer, properly or strictly or precisely speaking, is called Believer really, only insofar as he is Regenerated. Then…. the Believer is also one who has the Old Adam still clinging to him.

    What they say next is critical:

    They declare that the Law is not necessary and has no power over the Believe, insofar as he is regenerate. For the Believer “insofar as he is regenerate”, the Law has no claim at all on the conscience of the Believer. Further, as to the New Obedience, this Obedience is 100% the work of the Holy Spirit and happens with no effort or work being done on the part of the Believer, again, “insofar as he is regenerate.” The good works happen like “light from sun”, “automatically” “spontaneously” “as the angels render obedience”.

    There is NO work being done for Goodness and Mercy that is God´s Will to happen! It just IS.

    We can´t imagine such an existence. For sinners there is always that internal dialog or fight between conscience/Law and what our hearts really would prefer, which is to sin. Yet in faith we accept that God´s Word says that this is how our New Man even now looks. We can´t see this. We only can see Romans 7. So this is an article of pure faith.

    This is the part you are affirming TR and this is true!

    But then they say this: ONLY because of the fact that the Old Adam STILL clings to us, the Law is necessary. Note: The Law then is ONLY aimed at our Old Adam. New man does not need it except to wield as a club on his Old Adam.

    I hope this helps.

  22. @fws #223

    It is important to identify and define what the Lutheran Third use is.

    It is (3a) an accusation, condemnation, and threat to the old Adam, and it is (3b) a guide, rule, or instruction to the new man.

    From our past discussion, it appears that you and I agree on 3a, but perhaps not on 3b.

    For the sake of dealing with problems like cohabitation by Christians, I think using 3b is important if not vital. The extortive use of 3a, while continuing to be right and necessary, is incomplete and ineffective when used without 3b. (And, of course, even in 3b, the Law remains law and gives the believer no power to follow the guide, rule, or instruction. The power comes only from the Gospel acting by the Holy Spirit upon the new man given to the believer as the gift of regeneration in Baptism).

    Here are some of the reasons why I believe the third use includes 3b.

    The elimination of 3b usually comes about in tandem with the elimination of 3a. In the period 1940-60 in American Lutheranism, there were roughly three groups dealing with this: the Valparaiso theologians, the LCA-ALC, and the old Missourians. Only the old Missourians retained anything of the third use, and in their retention, they retained 3b.

    Murray actually faults the old Missourians for retaining 3b at one point in his book, but we shall see whether he is able to hold to that conistently in the rest of his thought. He included that as one of multiple supposed errors in the synodical catechism (he means not the Catechism per se, but the explanation of the Catechism). He says they are errors because they deviate from the Formula of Concord. Murry, p. 66.

    Having left the ALC, that Missouri explanation is the catechism that my wife and I used to catechize our children in the home. On page 86, the third use is described as, “Thirdly, the Law teaches us Christians which works we must do to lead a God-pleasing life, (A rule.)” [italics in original] As 3b is often called the didactic use because it teaches rather than accusing, threatening, or extorting, the words “teaches” and “rule” in that explanation sound a lot to me like 3b.

    Murray says that’s was wrong, and he seems to imply, but I might be misconstruing him on this, that the old Missourians injected this as part of the upheavals over the third use and other issues in the period of American Lutheranism between 1940-60, in overreaction to what was happening in Valparaiso theology and the LCA-ALC.

    If that’s what Murray means, he is clearly wrong. I can test that by looking outside the parameters of his presentation in several ways: 1. outside Missouri; 2. outside the time frame; and 3. outside the continent.

    My senior confirmation pastor used H. P. Grimsby’s An Explanation of the Catechism. That was in the ALC, not Missouri. On page 5, Q 5, “What is the use of the Law since we cannot be saved by it?” A, “3. It teaches the believers how to live.” Teaches — that’s a 3b answer.

    Before that, my father and his two sisters were catechized using the Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism based on Dr. Erick Pontoppidan by Rev. H. U. Svendrup translated from Norwegian to English by Prof. E. G. Lund. Publication date was 1900, so now we are not only outside Missouri, we are outside the time frame by 40 years insofar as the English translation, and Svendrup’s edition received royal authorization in 1865, and he was working from Pontoppidan’s edition of 1737. So we are very far away from the time frame and off the continent of North America in Norway. On page 26, Q 10, of the Lund translation, “How does the Law profit us then [since in Q9, we cannot be saved by it]?” A, “3. It shows believers the fruits that faith should bear.”

    Fruits and faith. Not only is that 3b, but it even has the ring of words of the new obedience in the Augsburg Confession.

    It is important to note how the Valparaiso theologians eliminated the third use. What were the intervening steps? What was the course or route to it? They were: Erlangen school (viz, existentialism) to Valparaiso, to Law-Gospel reductionism, further reduced to Gospel reductionism, to elimination of the third use (along with lots of other stuff), to elimination of the first use (and another topic for research would be whether they haven’t really also eliminated even the second use).

    In those stages, what brought them through the stage of transition from Gospel reductionism to elimination of the third use? The answer is that besides a reductionism of theology and hermeneutics to Gospel only, previously, during the stage of Law-Gospel reductionism there was another micro-reductionsim within the Law component of the macro Law-Gospel reductionism. Here is that micro-reduction of the law: Because the Law always accuses (Melanthon, Apology), the Law only accuses.

    Because the Law always accuses, the Law only accuses. Murray, p. 107: “Schmidt accepted uncritically the Elertian position that if the Law always accuses, it only accuses.” This is Law reductionism within Law-Gospel reductionism. It removes 3b and leaves only 3a. That’s a reduction. That is a key part of the Valparaiso declension from Lutheranism.

    Because they reduce the Law to only accusing, it could not be fit into two things: 1. existentialism, because since the 3b use would give the new man a definite teaching of what the new obedience would look like in concrete situations, the didactic use of the law was, if you will, an existential threat to existentialism. 2. Law-Gospel reductionism, because the didactic use also threatened the reduced Gospel, so they had to further reduce to just Gospel reductionism.

    Long way around, this establishes existentialism in the place of Scripture, and makes choice a third sacrament of the so-called faith. Hence, pro-choice abortion, divorce for causes less than Christ taught, remarriage, ordination of women, ordination of openly practicing homosexuals, and homosexual marriage.

    Eliminate 3b, the didactic use of the law as Valparaiso does, and you have cryptobeckerism. Give it 40 years and you will be Prof Becker.

    The old Missourians were right to issue that synodical catechism that included a 3b use of the Law, and this issue is still an agenda point of this moment and the immediate future of not only Lutheranism, because 3b is what distinguishes Lutheranism from Calvinism as to the third use, but Christianity at all in America, because without 3b, Arminianism, et al. are all either legalists or, like Valparaiso, existentialists.

    You are right, of course, Frank, that we must read the Formula in the light of Luther’s sermon that you cited. But you will also agree, I trust, that we should read one confession in the light of the others. In Luther’s explanation of each commandment, he says, he says “we should fear and love God” and “we should fear, love, and trust God.” Fear sounds in first use, second use, and 3a. But love and trust don’t sound like extortive relationships. Love and trust point to 3b, from which only the new man can profit. The old Adam can neither love nor trust God. So, hasn’t Luther carried a banner of 3b through he streets with his first part of the Catechism? (With the word “fear,” he is also including 3a.)

    Legalism and existentialism both are powerless against problems like cohabitation. The didactic use of the law, acting on the new man, by the Holy Spirit, toward the new obedience, in the image of Christ the Husband of the Church who marries her, is needed in dealing with such problems.

  23. @T. R. Halvorson #224

    Woops, in haste, I made a reductionist statement of my own there. In saying that the presence of 3b in the third use of the law distinguishes Lutheranism from Calvinism insofar as the third use goes, it might sound as if I meant that as the only distinction. It is a significant distinction, but not the only one. Another, perhaps more important, distinction as that while Calvinism tends toward making the third use the primary or proper use, Lutheranism correctly retains that the second use is the primary use.

    I should also have mentioned that 3b is found in FC VI Epitome 6. With the presence of that, Murry is right that the FC “lets the tension stand.”

  24. @T. R. Halvorson #224

    Wow TR. Great Job! There is alot of meaty stuff in what you wrote, and I will do my best to reply with the same diligence and thoughtfulness you have demonstrated here.

    I would like to preliminarily raise another question that I am becoming aware of. This question seems to always lurk in the background without often being addressed directly.

    My question is this: Is there a “christian” or “biblical” Divinely Revealed Law that can only be known by those who have Bibles? Another way to ask that question is this: “Is there a DIFFERENT or ADDITIONAL Law of God that can only be known to believers (or perhaps Jews as well) and cannot be known by those without Bibles?

    I am asking you to ponder TR if perhaps THIS is really the question that we are addressing. Consider what a difference it would make in our discussion if we decided this one way or the other way.

    I took some extreme pleasure in reading this comment of yours brother: “You are right, of course, Frank, that we must read the Formula in the light of Luther’s sermon that you cited. But you will also agree, I trust, that we should read one confession in the light of the others.” And then I was beyond pleased with exactly how you worked through the wording of the Small Catechism on the Commandments and focussed on those words “fear, love and trust”. I think that is EXACTLY how we are to read, mark and inwardly digest our Confessions and so not merely SAY we are “confessional” but make our theology hang on the very form and not just the content. You were not prooftexting here! You were illuminating the text by repeating and then contextualizing it!

    Now permit me kindly to state how I think our Confessions treat this question. I think it is fair to say that in the Apology they hang their entire argument around this question of the Law. I don´t think that is an exageration. That is to say that the questions you are raising here are THE important ones.

    In article IV of the Apology “On Justification” we start with Romans 2:15. We say then that natural law is exactly where God has Devinely revealed his Sovreign Law in the Reason of all me, even those without Bibles. Then they state that this is precisely why Reason/Natural Law agrees with the Decalog. They assert that this is because it is the SAME Law.

    I want to note in passing that I observe that the Lutherans specifically exclude the Order of Creation as a part of this Natural Law by this presentation. They are familiar with St Thomas who includes this, but they reject it. Why? I suggest this is for precisely the reasoning Luther gives in that wonderful Genesis Commentary passage you quoted and that I keep coming back to. This understanding a) that the Lutheran definition of Natural Law is radically different from the Thomist definition b) and is Reason, is further reinforced by reading Luther´s discourse on the Law of Moses which can be read here:

    http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/LutherMoses.htm

    So ok. If we only go this far, we would conclude that Christians can know no more about the Divine Law of God than any pagan can know. And this is reinforced by reading , again in Apology IV this assertion: “Concerning morality, nothing more can be demanded that the Ethics of Aristotle”.

    But I would then quickly add that our Confessions say that there IS in fact something about the Law of God that ONLY Christians can know. Secondly the Confessions state that this additional something can only, or as they say “peculiarly ” find in the First Table of the Decalog.

    So what is that something about the Law that only Christians can know?

    First the confessions talk about the Veil of Moses. They claim that this veil is precisely the Opinion of Reason the Law of God can be kept by something that we are able to DO. That is to say that veiled Reason thinks that the Law can be kept in a way that satisfies God as one would self justify oneself, correctly so, in a courtroom. On earth this would be true. And Reason therefore argues accordingly.

    Luther´s Preface to his 1545 Translation of Romans, which is cited by our Confessions as a further exposition of the Confessions and so carries Confessional authority as well is a good reading for more on this. It can be found here:

    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

    Pertinent Excerpt:

    You must not understand the word law here in human fashion, i.e., a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That’s the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not. God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn’t let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works done apart from the depths of the heart. All human beings are called liars (Psalm 116), since none of them keeps or can keep God’s law from the depths of the heart. Everyone finds inside himself an aversion to good and a craving for evil. Where there is no free desire for good, there the heart has not set itself on God’s law. There also sin is surely to be found and the deserved wrath of God, whether a lot of good works and an honorable life appear outwardly or not.

    Therefore in chapter 2, St. Paul adds that the Jews are all sinners and says that only the doers of the law are justified in the sight of God. What he is saying is that no one [including Christians] are a doer of the Law by works.

    And this:

    Nowork of sin happens, after all, unless a person commit himself to it completely, body and soul.

    So much for the Lutheran Folk-theology that makes the false distinction between willful vs unwillful sinning.

    So it is true that it is not just the Gospel that only faith can know but ALSO the understanding of the Law of God changes in faith.

    But WHAT is that change? Is it that there are Laws that a Christian knows that a pagan cannot? Like things about divorce, or homosexuality, or even women pastors? No. That is not it. So what is it?

    It is this: Faith now sees, completely, the judgement of God on his very heart, and is TERRIFIED! Now even the best outward virtue, or even the inner faith and emotional response and will and repentence and heart are condemned!

    So then faith knows that even its best faith-push-ups are the moral equivalent of a used tampon (St Isaiah), and so can only HIDE those works in the Works of Another. So Faith does not look for it´s works to become better or purer or more. It simply knows to hide them!

    Reason on the other hand flees the judgement of God. How? It tries harder!

    Here is a great passage on Repentence that speaks TR about that Law Gospel distinction within the believer in the form of Repentence:

    Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Law and Gospel

    7] The term repentance also is not employed in the Holy Scriptures in one and the same sense.

    In some passages…it means the entire conversion of man, as Luke 13:5: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And in 15:7: Likewise joy shalt be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.

    8] But in Mark 1:15, to repent means nothing else than truly to acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to desist from them. This is also true where repentance and faith in Christ, Acts 20:21, or repentance and remission of sins, Luke 24:46-47, are mentioned as distinct.

    9] This knowledge comes from the Law. If faith in Christ be not added, this is not sufficient for saving conversion to God.

    Only the comforting preaching of the Holy Gospel can do this. This preaching is Christ, whose merits the Gospel offers to all penitent sinners. These are those who are terrified by the preaching of the Law.

    For the Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of sins, not to coarse and secure hearts, but to the bruised or penitent, Luke 4:18. And lest repentance or the terrors of the Law turn into despair, the preaching of the Gospel must be added, that it may be a repentance unto salvation, 2 Cor. 7:10.

    And this…

    10] The preaching of the Law, without Christ, either makes presumptuous men, who imagine that they can fulfill the Law by outward works, or forces them utterly to despair.

    Therefore Christ takes the Law into His hands, and explains it spiritually, Matt. 5:21ff ; Rom. 7:14 and Rom 1:18, and thus reveals His wrath from heaven upon all sinners, and shows how great it is; whereby they are directed to the Law, and from it first learn to know their sins aright-a knowledge which Moses never could extort from them. (ibid)

    You read everywhere in the Confessions that we know we now have this understand the Law in this way when even our finest works we recognize as the moral equivalent of used tampons and… we are terrified!

    This is to say that we are not to look for visible “fruits of the New Obedience ” in ourselves that do not fall under this judgement completely TR! This is really the point I am making. Even our most Newly Obedient works do not escape this judgement. We are to see ALL we can see and do in our bodies, even as sanctified christians, and be terrified at what we see! This is a point we are dancing around. A Reformed christian would react violently against this idea. Lutherans embrace it! It is what our Confessions teach us. Let´s continue this same reading from the FC SD on Law and Gospel:

    For as the apostle testifies, 2 Cor. 3:14f, even though Moses is read, yet the veil which he put over his face is never lifted, so that they cannot understand the Law spiritually, and how great things it requires of us, and how severely it curses and condemns us because we cannot observe or fulfil it. Nevertheless, when it shalt turn to the Lord, the veil shalt be taken away, 2 Cor. 3:16. (ibid.)

    The Law, even the Third Use, does all of this, even as it also instructs. Let me make this claim: The Law is to be urged as instruction in exactly the same way upon Christians as it is to be urged upon pagans! I will quote the FC Art VI at the end of this to show exactly that this is what our confessions teach.

    11] Therefore the Spirit of Christ must not only comfort, but also through the office of the Law reprove the world of sin, John 16:8, and thus must do in the New Testament, as the prophet says, Is. 28:21, opus alienum, ut faciat opus proprium, that is, He must do the work of another (reprove), in order that He may afterwards do His own work, which is to comfort and preach of grace.

    For to this end He was earned from the Father and sent to us by Christ, and for this reason, too, He is called the Comforter. (ibid)

    Then this article refers us to Dr Luthers Sermon on the Gospel for the 5th sunday after trinity.

    And then this from the Epitomy on Law and Gospel: Even Christ on the Cross is the most terrifying Law! This sort of took me by surprise the first time I read it. It should!

    Christ takes the Law into His hands, and explains it spiritually, Matt. 5:21ff ; Rom. 7:14. And thus the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sinners [ Rom. 1:18 ], how great it is; by this means they are directed [sent back] to the Law, and then first learn from it to know aright their sins-a knowledge which Moses never could have forced out of them.

    9] Accordingly, although the preaching of the suffering and death of Christ, the Son of God, is an earnest and terrible proclamation and declaration of God’s wrath, whereby men are first led into the Law aright, after the veil of Moses has been removed from them, so that they first know aright how great things God in His Law requires of us, none of which we can observe, and therefore are to seek all our righteousness in Christ: 10] 8. Yet as long as all this (namely, Christ’s suffering and death) proclaims God’s wrath and terrifies man, it is still not properly the preaching of the Gospel, but the preaching of Moses and the Law, and therefore a foreign work of Christ, by which He arrives at His proper office, that is, to preach grace, console, and quicken, which is properly the preaching of the Gospel.

    So ANY preaching of repentance or reproof is a preaching of the Law that always terrifies , accuses and kills. Yes it also instructs us. But it always says “You are not doing enough!” The Law ALWAYS accuses us TR. And this remains true even if it is also instructing and guiding us.

    More on the Veil of Moses here From Apology III. This is a BIG deal. It is a pivot point in the Confessional understanding of the Law. THIS is THE ONLY difference between the Christian and Pagan understanding of the Law!

    12] And Paul teaches 2 Cor. 3:15 sq., the veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ, by which the Holy Ghost is received.

    For he speaks thus:

    But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    13] Paul understands by the veil the human opinion concerning the entire Law, the Decalog and the ceremonies, namely, that hypocrites think that external and civil works satisfy the Law of God, and that sacrifices and observances justify before God ex opere operato.

    14] But then this veil is removed from us. And what does this look like?

    We are freed from this error when God shows to our hearts our uncleanness and the heinousness of sin. Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the Law. Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php#para12

    And now here is the passage from the FC art VI on “Third Use” I promised you. Here Art VI says that the Third Use is to be urged upon Pagans exactly as it is to also be urged upon Christians. So Third use is not just for Christians! Here read for your own self:

    FC Epitome, Art VI Third Use (translation mine from the German):

    Negative Theses.
    False Contrary Doctrine.

    8] Accordingly, we reject this teaching as a dogma and error that injures and conflicts with Christian discipline and true godliness:

    “The [Third Use of the] Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is to be urged only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent, in the way and degree we have described above.

    The [Third Use of the] Law is not to be urged upon Christians and true believers in the SAME above mentioned way and degree.”

  25. @T. R. Halvorson #224

    “So ANY preaching of repentance or reproof is a preaching of the Law that always terrifies , accuses and kills. Yes it also instructs us. But it always says “You are not doing enough!” The Law ALWAYS accuses us TR. And this remains true even if it is also instructing and guiding us. ”

    TR. You might properly object to this by quoting from the FC art VI itself and everywhere in the Confessions that inform us that the Law no longer has any claim upon our conscience and no longer has the power to accuse us.

    And you would be correct in asserting this dear brother!

    But the issue is why this is so. And it is NOT this:

    It is not that now that we are Christians we are working at producing visible fruit of the New Obedience that escapes the judgement of God´s Word as to our works.

    It is clear that this New Obedience is rather this:

    a) not something we can see ourselves doing in our bodies. It is faith alone. See point C for exactly what this means!

    b) This New Obedience is not something we do, but is what the HS does TO us. The Apology you quote says that it is “bound ” to happen. I suggest you do not read this as Law as in “IF we have faith, THEN we are duty bound to be newly obedient.

    Instead, consider carefully my suggestion to read your quote from the apology as the entire phrase and not just the part you quoted and so read it in a Two Kingdoms mode.

    finally,

    c) All of our works are only acceptable to God not because of the works themselves.

    It is because of faith. “That which is not of faith is sin” The opposite of sin is not goodness. It is faith this says.

    That is a way of saying that our works are HIDDEN in the Works of Another.

  26. @T. R. Halvorson #224

    “Because the Law always accuses, the Law only accuses. Murray, p. 107: “Schmidt accepted uncritically the Elertian position that if the Law always accuses, it only accuses.” This is Law reductionism within Law-Gospel reductionism. It removes 3b and leaves only 3a. That’s a reduction. That is a key part of the Valparaiso declension from Lutheranism.”

    Can you somehow demonstrate for me that ANY Lutheran has ever made this assertion:

    The Law ALWAYS accuses,
    therefore it ONLY accuses.
    That is to say the Law does not instruct (christians? pagans? this part is unclear here…)

    Or this (I think ) equivalent assertion:

    Because the Law ALWAYS accuses,
    the Law ONLY accuses.

    What you quote from Murray seems to hang entirely on the assertion that Elert and the Valparaiso group taught this. Is it true? This seems silly to me TR!

    Why? You can see I have NO problem with asserting that the Law ALWAYS accuses, and that it is also, at the same time, ALWAYS profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righeousness.

    Further, I can state, with some considerable Confessional support (as I think I have done), that this is exactly true for both Christian and Pagan in the same way and to the same degree.

    I am unable to imagine anyone arguing that this is NOT so!

  27. @T. R. Halvorson #224

    It is (3a) an accusation, condemnation, and threat to the old Adam, and it is (3b) a guide, rule, or instruction to the new man.

    From our past discussion, it appears that you and I agree on 3a, but perhaps not on 3b.

    I. I agree, and FULLY so with 3b!

    II. I read FC Art VI, as it requests, in the context of the “status controversiae”.

    III. FC art VI Status Controversiae is this: “Is the Law STILL necessary for the Believer?” THIS is the question it seeks to answer. It answers as to “way and degree”.

    IV.The Law accuses Pagan and Christian Old Adams identically in that it demands death. It accuses the Believer, insofar as he is regenerated… not at all!

    V. Guide, Rule, and Instruction: The Law of God, written in the Reason of ALL men (Romans 2:15 ) both “accuses” and “excuses” (ie guides/rules/instructs) ALL men, even those who have no Bibles. This REMAINS true for Believers says FC Art VI.

    VI. The Law Exists, for the Believer, insofar as he is regenerated, ONLY because of the fact that the Old Adam still clings to him. The Believer has NO need for the Law insofar as he is regenerated FC Art VI asserts.

    VII. Further , the New Man agrees, from the heart, with BOTH the accusing and the need for instruction of Old Adam by the Law.

    VIII In the resurrection neither this preaching of the Law OR the Gospel will be necessary. This all pertains only to this earthly (read old adam) existence.

  28. @T. R. Halvorson #218
    I would state it differently.
    1) The ceremonies surrounding marriage, if not the institution itself, are intended for fallen man (“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:30, etc).
    2) The state is instituted by God to keep order in human society – even those states and societies that are not Christian. (Romans 13:2).
    3) Seeing that the institution of marriage is practiced and enforced in almost every known human society, and reading the Decalog, I would feel comfortable in saying that the institution of marriage is included in “Natural Law”, that Law that God puts into the hearts of even the most remote non-believer.
    4) Thus, yes: we can say that the institution of marriage even its purely civic sense is instituted by God for our benefit, even those of us who are not Christian. Even civil marriages, therefore, are ordained by God and we as Christians are to treat them as we would any marriage performed by clergy.

  29. @fws #230

    “and it is (3b) a guide, rule, or instruction to the new man.”

    Assertion: Believers need the Law only on account of the Old Adam which still clings to them. If the Believer were fully New Man, he would not need the Law. New Man does not need the Law for himself. New Man needs the Law only in order to subdue the Old Adam. We need to distinguish carefully between the terms “Believer” and “New Man” is what FC Art VI teaches.

    Luther’s Small Catechism says “as the head of household is to INSTRUCT his family”….

    It just seems to me unfathomable that any Lutheran would contest that this instruction is necessary for Believers.

    But ah… you didn’t say “for Believers”, you say “for the New Man.”
    I think that the FC art VI says that the Law still IS necessary for the Believer but ONLY on account of the Old Adam. This is not merely a nuance or semantic difference I dont think. Consider….

    Epitome Art VI
    3] 2….The preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence, upon the unbelieving and impenitent, and also upon true believers, who are truly converted, regenerate, and justified by faith.

    4] 3. [Believers]… are regenerate and renewed in the spirit of their mind. yET…

    +[BECAUSE] in the present life this regeneration and renewal is not complete, but only begun, and
    +[BECAUSE] believers are, by the spirit of their mind, in a constant struggle against the flesh, that is, against the corrupt nature and disposition which cleaves to us unto death. and…
    +[BECAUSE] this old Adam, still inheres in the understanding, the will, and ALL the powers of man [even believers!]….

    It is needful that the Law of the Lord always shine before them, in order that

    + they may not from human devotion institute wanton and self-elected cults
    + that they may frame nothing in a matter of religion from the desire of private devotion, and
    +may not choose good works not instituted by God’s Word; likewise,
    + So that the old Adam also may not employ his own will, but
    + may be subdued against his will,
    +not only by the admonition and threatening of the Law, but
    +also by punishments and blows,
    + so that he may follow and surrender himself captive to the Spirit, 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 6:12, Gal. 6:14; Ps. 119:1ff ; Heb. 13:21 (Heb. 12:1).

    and

    7] 6. Thus the Law is and remains both to the penitent and impenitent, both to regenerate and unregenerate men, one and the same Law

    And this from the solid declaration FC art VI

    6] And, indeed, if the believing and elect children of God were completely renewed in this life by the indwelling Spirit, so that in their nature and all its powers they were entirely free from sin, they would need no law, and hence no one to drive them either, but they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God’s will; just as the sun, the moon, and all the constellations of heaven have their regular course of themselves, unobstructed, without admonition, urging, driving, force, or compulsion, according to the order of God which God once appointed for them, yea, just as the holy angels render an entirely voluntary obedience.

    Also, again, I would point out that the FC art VI asserts that there is NO intrinsic difference between the works themselves of a christian vs a pagan. Stated another way, there is no essential difference between the good works of a christian and the good works of a pagan. the ONLY difference between a Christian and a Pagan is invisible faith.

  30. As to your post #226:

    I am going to pick out a couple of what I take to be the core propositions of your post and give my response to them. Please let me know if they are core, or if there is another one or more that are also at the core.

    we are not to look for visible “fruits of the New Obedience ” in ourselves that do not fall under this judgement completely

    I agree. Looking for those signs is part of the error of infused grace.

    It is an error not only when reasoning backwards for assurance of justification, but also an error when inspecting for sanctification.

    The second use, and use 3a always destroy those enterprises, and those enterprises fatally change the Gospel and the article on Justification.

    The Law ALWAYS accuses us. And this remains true even if it is also instructing and guiding us.

    I agree. Murry is right that the Formula lets the tension stand, and what you wrote there is one way of expressing the tension briefly. Since what seemed earlier in the discussion to be the issue was whether 3b is part of the third use, I placed a lot of emphasis on it, while having expressed that of course 3a is part of it and always true. While the new man is being instructed on how to live a God-pleasing life, the old Adam is also always being accused, condemned, threatened, and terrified. Meanwhile the Gospel also is still in force, so there is another dimension to the tension.

    As to your post #229:

    What you quote from Murray seems to hang entirely on the assertion that Elert and the Valparaiso group taught this. Is it true?

    On that particular page, yes, Murray was talking about Valparaiso. Here is why I selected that page and quotation. I was laying out what happened in American Lutheranism 1940-60 as to the third use. There were three groups: Valparaiso, LCA-ALC, and old Missourians. Only the old Missourians retained the third use. There was little connection between the old Missourians and the LCA or the ALC, so though similar things happened with them, I omitted them from what was already bound to be a long posting. There was more connection with Valparaiso and LC-MS, and more current relevance here on BJS, because of the recent discussions about Prof Becker and Valparaiso. So I spoke of how Valparaiso came to a more or less strictly existentialist position that firstly does away with Scripture qua Scripture, and submits Scripture to Gospel reductionism as a hermeneutical principle, and submits every other doctrine, such as the third use of the law, to Gospel reductionism.

    But in the ALC, I lived through a similar but somewhat different course when Paul Tillich and his take on existentialism became all the rage. The intervening stages of transition were a little different in LCA-ALC than among the Valparaiso theologians, but the outcome was quite similar, so that today what differences exist between ELCA and Valparaiso have little significance.

    I understand how you are mystified that anyone would argue against what I have labeled 3a and 3b, that is, two applications of the third use of the law, one to the old Adam and another to the new man. It mystified me in 9th grade when my confirmation pastor retired (I was in his last class) and we got the new existentialist pastors, until I got a grip on what existentialism is and what Gospel reductionism is. Existentialism needs Gospel reductionism to survive. The undreduced Gospel and the unreduced Law are lethal to existentialism. So, the existentialists gradually developed the Gospel reductionsim they needed to maintain their existentialism. Gospel reductionism takes over as THE hermeneutical principle, and it takes over as THE condition within which all other doctrines must accord and live. It’s wrong and it is transparently and obviously estupido. So in one sense, you will never be able to satisfy yourself as to why they would deny 3a and 3b, and that’s not a failure of your faculties, but the nature of their stupidity that you are trying to understand. The result is designer religion in which Baptism and Communion are mere licenses for choice.

    As to the further evidence that Murray’s statment that the Valparaiso theologians turned “always accuses” into “only accuses,” I did not include that because my purpose here was to apply 3b to the problem of cohabitation. If I were not doing that, everything we are now discussing would be a diversion and hijacking of the thread. For the purpose of showing how we could benefit from applying 3b to the problem of cohabitation, it was not necessary to fatten the posting by double to give the evidence that Murray is right in that statement. With the page citation, anyone wanting that off-topic information can go find it. Of course, also, Murray is not the only one who says it.

    As to your post # 230:

    I agree, and FULLY so with 3b!

    Fantastic. Glad to hear it.

    I am having a little trouble with the following two things:

    Your statement that, Here Art VI says that the Third Use is to be urged upon Pagans exactly as it is to also be urged upon Christians., and your quotation from FC Epitome VI Negative Theses that, “The [Third Use of the] Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is to be urged only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent, in the way and degree we have described above. I might be getting the polarity of this reversed in my head. I do that sometimes. But doesn’t the FC quotation say that the third use should not be urged only on unbelievers rather than saying that it should not be urged only on believers. In other words, with the double negative of not and only, both of which are negatives, isn’t that another way of saying that the Law has a third use, which is for believers. Unbelievers already have the first and second uses. This article is not about the unbelievers but about whether in the Christian life there is still a use for the Law.

    I have not answered the question about the Law and Pagans because the thread is about tips and strategies for dealing with cohabitation among congregational members because, although any congregation is a field of wheat and tares, I am taking the topic as being tips and strategies for dealing with cohabitation by Christian believers. To answer about the Law and Pagans would be to wander off on a bunny trail that is nontopical and not edifying to anyone but you and me.

  31. @Paul of Alexandria #231

    amen. on all your points.

    luther expresses this by saying that God rules everything in order to make Goodness and does this in two ways. by the law and by the gospel. marriage is about goodness and mercy happening by the Law.

    in the fallen order women are cursed to be under the thumb of men for goodness and mercy to happen. in the prefall and the new creation men and women will be equal once again. this is why marriage pertains only to the fallen state, is a result of sin and the fall and the curse, and yet exists to produce goodness and mercy.

  32. @T. R. Halvorson #233

    TR HALVORSON We are not to look for visible “fruits of the New Obedience ” in ourselves that do not fall under this judgement completely

    I agree. Looking for those signs is part of the error of infused grace.

    FRANK Thats the way I like to hear agreement with a brother. You not only agreed, you also sharpened the Confessional point! I was obviously cautious that you were making the New Obedience a way to do fruit inspection and so distinguish wheat from tares. Great. You are soooo not there.

    TR HALVORSON While the new man is being instructed on how to live a God-pleasing life, the old Adam is also always being accused, condemned, threatened, and terrified. Meanwhile the Gospel also is still in force, so there is another dimension to the tension.

    FRANK I would suggest that we could say that both the old adam and new man are being instructed. I think I see in the FC Art VI two points a) the good works of pagans and christians are identical as to the works themselves. Or said differently, there is no difference between fruits of the Spirit and Works of the Law in that they are both identical Goodness and Mercy worked by God. and b) pagans and christians have and can know and do the same law. Romans 2:15.

    TR HALVORSON As to your post #229: I understand how you are mystified that anyone would argue against what I have labeled 3a and 3b, that is, two applications of the third use of the law, one to the old Adam and another to the new man…

    FRANK Epitome FC VI :

    … thirdly, even after men are regenerated much of the flesh still cleaves to them. Therefore on account of that cleaving flesh, they might have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life http://bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part6.1

    I am seeing one application , alone, to the Old Adam that clings to the Regenerated. I am not seeing that” the Believer , in so as he is regenerated” needs the Law for either instruction or compulsion. Or the New Man. (Full disclosure: Frank would have liked to see art VI use the terms Old Adam and New Man. But it does not. It says ” The Believer insofar as he is regenerated and Old Adam. There must be a good reason why since Chemnitz is very careful about such things. So I need to wonder why he did not just say: New Man rather than “the believer insofar as he is regenerated.)

    TR HALVORSON As to the further evidence…I did not include that because [I didnt want to hijack the thread]

    FRANK It would be good to see how he develops that evidence from Elert. I will take your word for it TR, but it still boggles my mind that this is possible. Those sorts of books are hard to come by here in Brasil. Unfortunately I am pretty much limited to google and the ft seminaries online resources.

    TR HALVORSON As to your post # 230:I agree, and FULLY so with 3b!Fantastic. Glad to hear it.

    [ I am not getting your FC quote!] I might be getting the polarity of this reversed in my head. I do that sometimes.

    FRANK I was hoping you would check me on that actually TR! I translated that from the German, and, as a translator took the liberty of reversing the “polarity”. My question is this: Does it change the meaning of the phrase?

    How? Why? The point is this: Is the “Third Use” a special Law or use just for Christians that in some way pagans do not have access to? I am leaning very strongly against this because of alot of what I am reading in the confessions. Maybe I am missing some important nuance here. This was my stumbling way of approaching this. That is why I try to include the link always to the version that is in the online Book of Concord when I serve up my own translation of a passage.

    I am obviously thinking that this is a critical point to nail down in some form. And of course I am open to having missed something here. I am specifically thinking of how the Apology unpacks and presents their arguments around the Law in art IV and III and II. There they seem to actually lean on the idea pretty hard that is presented in Rom 2:15.

    TR HALVORSON. I have not answered the question about the Law and Pagans because the thread is not about tips and strategies for dealing with cohabitation among congregational members because, although any congregation is a field of wheat and tares, I am taking the topic as being tips and strategies for dealing with cohabitation by Christian believers. To answer about the Law and Pagans would be to wander off on a bunny trail that is nontopical and not edifying to anyone but you and me.

    FRANK Maybe. But what if the tips and strategies should be identical for Christian and Pagan. After all we can’t distinguish wheat and tare, and the Holy Catholic Church is just such a group that includes hypocrites and true believers (apology VII) yet we address all the baptized , in love, not as an article of faith, as true believers. I am suggesting that there is not morality and christian morality. There is just morality. I am here thinking of apology art IV “nothing can be demanded as to morality beyond the Ethics of [pagan] Aristotle.” Along with , of couse FC art VI and many other confessional cites. So maybe this actually is right on point?

  33. I would suggest that we could say that both the old adam and new man are being instructed.

    Then we are unfortunately back to disagreeing about 3b. In 3b, the law instructs regenerate people how to live a God-pleasing life. The old Adam is not regenerate, never will be interested in pleasing God, and never can be instructed how to please God. Therefore God never intended 3b for the old Adam, and nowhere do the confessions say that He did.

    books are hard to come by here in Brasil

    It’s a Concordia Publishing House book. Are you able to order from them and get delivery?

    as a translator took the liberty of reversing the “polarity”. My question is this: Does it change the meaning of the phrase?

    Yes. It made a statement about the regenerate turn into one about Pagans. The correct translation is, “We reject the teaching that the Law must not be applied to Christians and true believers (in the way and degree mentioned above) but only to unbelievers, non-Christians, and the unrepentent.” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, Second Edition (Concordia Publishing House, 2006) I.e., the Law must be applied to Christians and true believers (in the way and degree mentioned).

    Btw, also note that here Chemnitz IS using the terms Christians and true believers, not just the term regenerate. So that eliminates another side issue.

    Is the Third Use a special Law or use just for Christians that in some way pagans do not have access to?

    We have been over this more than once. The Law is one and the same, but the natures in a believer are not one and the same. A believe has two natures, the old Adam and the new man. I already pointed out the FC Epitome VI 6 says this, and that the difference is not in the Law but in the persons of unregenerate and regenerate people. Para 6 expressly says, “The Law is and remains … one and the same Law. … The difference, as far as obedience is concerned, is only in the person.” I.e, there is a difference between a regenerate and an unregenerate person. There is more elaboration in the pargraph, but we have belabored this here enough. The Law is the same, but as to 3b which teaches rather than accuse the new man, teaches rather than condemn the new man, teaches rather than threaten the new man, teaches rather than terrorize the new man who is the indwelling Christ received in baptismal regeneration, this use never can have any application to a Pagan or the old Adam. God does not by his third use of the Law accuse, condemn, threaten, terrorize, or extort the indwelling Christ.

    While you said you agree with 3b, I can’t tell from what you’ve said afterward whether you are really there yet or not.

    But what if the tips and strategies should be identical for Christian and Pagan.

    1.) Until the IF is removed, it is still a waste of the bandwidth here to take the thread off to a bunny trail about Pagans, when the topic is dealing with cohabitation by believers.

    2.) The “what if” exists only because of the reversed polarity of your translation, which is corrected by simply using a standard, published, generally accepted translation, such as I quoted and cited above.

    3.) And, again, 3b is for the regenerate, so we already know it will not be for Pagans. The whole “what if” is, I don’t mean to be harsh, a waste of time, and not edifying to anyone else in the thread. So, don’t count on me repeating anything again even if you ask, because love has flanks, not just centers. Love loves everyone else in the thread too.

  34. @T. R. Halvorson #236

    6] And, indeed, if the believing and elect children of God were completely renewed in this life by the indwelling Spirit, so that in their nature and all its powers they were entirely free from sin,

    Can I read this as IF the believers were entirely new man?

    they would need no law, and hence no one to drive them either, but they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God’s will; just as the sun, the moon, and all the constellations of heaven have their regular course of themselves, unobstructed, without admonition, urging, driving, force, or compulsion, according to the order of God which God once appointed for them, yea, just as the holy angels render an entirely voluntary obedience.

    Are we talking past each other TR? We are both saying that Christians, believers, true christians, the regenerate….. need the Law for instruction as to righeousness , just as pagans also need it. In practical terms, we would be to be in the same place.

    I am glad you agree that pagans and christians have the same Law and can equally know and do it outwardly in their efforts at thoughts words and deeds and faith.

    And I am suggesting, from the quote above, that FC art VI says that believers do not need this insofar as they are regenerated, but ONLY because the Old Adam still clings to them.

    Where is our difference?

  35. @T. R. Halvorson #236

    sorry for losing track of what your 3b etc are…a, found it….h.. you are saying that the Divine Law will never be a “guide rule or instruction” for the Old Adam, ie for pagans…

    and then you assert this:

    ? The old Adam … never will be interested in pleasing God, and never can be instructed how to please God. Therefore God never intended 3b for the old Adam, and nowhere do the confessions say that He did.

    cf Romans 2:15 God has written the Law in the Reason even of those who have no bibles. The confessions say that Old Adam is very interested in pleasing God and is of the opinion that this can be done by an outward keeping of the law such as faith, a right emotional response, and good works. Do I need to repeat what I have already quoted on this and fail to show love to the others on this blog TR? 😉

    So you are saying that the law is for mirror and for curb to pagans but NOT for pagans as instruction in righeousness?

    I must be misunderstanding you TR. You will simply NOT find this in scriptures or the confessions.

    Nope.

  36. @fws #238

    Your thesis distilled is this:

    God never intended the Law as a guide rule or instruction for the unregenerate/pagans/Old Adam.
    The confessions nowhere say that the Law serves as a guide rule or instruction for the unregenerate/pagans/Old Adam.

    I am assuming you agree that unregenerate, pagan and old adam and unbeliever are interchangable terms.

    Are you SURE you want to assert this TR? Or am I missunderstanding you?

  37. @T. R. Halvorson #236

    as a translator took the liberty of reversing the “polarity”. My question is this: Does it change the meaning of the phrase?

    Yes. It made a statement about the regenerate turn into one about Pagans. The correct translation is, “We reject the teaching that the Law must not be applied to Christians and true believers (in the way and degree mentioned above) but only to unbelievers, non-Christians, and the unrepentent.” Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, Second Edition (Concordia Publishing House, 2006) I.e., the Law must be applied to Christians and true believers (in the way and degree mentioned).

    I don’t agree that you have made your point. I still assert that the two translations yield identical meaning.

    Btw, also note that here Chemnitz IS using the terms Christians and true believers, not just the term regenerate. So that eliminates another side issue.

    What side issue. Christian, true believer, believer, regenerate are all interchangable terms. I dont see your point here.

  38. @T. R. Halvorson #236

    Try this TR Halvorson:

    Old Adam looks to the Law of God to “use it” in order to find instructions, guidance, etc so that he can Live.

    He seeks life in the Law. He therefore exactly seeks Life Virtue and keeping the Law. He seeks to present this to self justify before God even. This is precisely to seek Life in Romans 8 “flesh/body” things that will perish.

    The Reformed imagine that this process is what Sanctification looks like. They don´t claim that this justifies them before God, but still they seek some “sign” of Life here with sign being a form of tangible evidence that Life exists in them. They are wrong.

    New Man looks to this SAME Law of God with the intent of using it to find instructions and guidance so that he can die. This is the Lutheran Third Use.

    New Man´s sole intent, in seeking instruction in the Law is to learn to participate with the Holy Spirit in killing (mortifying) the Old Adam. New Man himself has no need for the instructions and guidance of the Law except to carry out only this task.

    This IS a “sign” that Life exists (cf “Holy Baptism sign-ifies that….”). But in a different way than the Reformed would have it. It is about death and mortification In Christ . It is about small-l life in Christ that will perish with the Earth. This is not about capital-L Life that IS Christ that will not perish. In this the New Man seeks to work, alone , death in Old Adam, for only faith does not seek Life there in DOing , but alone, in the Works of Another.

    Are we saying the same thing TR Halvorson, or are you thinking we are not?

  39. My daughter and her fiancé want to move in together. Will LCMS church perform a marriage blessing ceremony at a later date if they have a civil ceremony before they move in?

  40. @Kim Stein #242

    You will have to ask your pastor, but it is our theology that a civil marriage is still a marriage before God.

    Without more detail and talking to the couople I can’t even say what I would do, but going ONLY from what you have said I expect your pastor would likely accept this plan. But talk to him beforehand.

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