An Approach to Ministering to Homosexuals, by Pr. Rossow

A post I wrote over a year ago still gets an occasional comment. It was about an openly homosexual man who was at the time (and still may be) the organist at an LCMS church in Renton, Washington.

Just today the post got another comment:

October 26th,  2011 at 10:39 | #107
Pastor Rossow – I was born and raised a Lutheran (lcms). I served at a deacon
in the Lutheran Church for 5 years and guess what – I am a gay male. I am
disheartened by the bigotry, hate, and arrogance in the LCMS. I defended an
organist at my own church who was also gay. Because of his sexual orientation,
he never received any pay increases and in the end, was terminated because of
it.

So Pastor Rossow, how would YOU minister to the gay community?

David

It is not clear from the comment if David is a practicing homosexual or considers himself a homosexual but for Biblical reasons does not practice. Here is my response. It assumes that he is the former.

October 26th, 2011 at 14:03 | #108
David,

I would minister with God’s word just like I minister to thieves, liars,
fornicators, doctors, lawyers, bus-drivers, etc.

If someone came into my study and confessed to me that they were a practicing
homosexual here is how I would apply God’s word.

1. I would commend him for his honest confession.

2. I would share with him, that I too struggle with sin.

3. I would point out from scripture that homosexuality is a sin. (I Cor. 6:9, I Tim 1:10, Rom. 1:27, Lev. 18:22)

4. I would point out that Christians fall into sin but do not live in intentional continual sin. (I John 3:4-10) Therefore his willingness to practice homosexuality is slowly destroying his faith.

5. I would ask him to confess this sin and if he does, immediately give him Holy Absolution. (I would probably  suggest we go through the Lutheran Service Book rite of private confession and absolution.)

6. I would offer my pastoral care to him as often as he would like, daily if needed for a while, to build him up in the Good News that through the forgiveness of sin God has conquered our sinful flesh. (John 8:32 ff., Rom. 6:1 ff., etc.)

7. If I discovered that anyone in my congregation hated homosexuals, I would work with them to learn to hate the sin but love the sinner and be willing to help them overcome their sin.

I hope that answers your question.

TR

So, is that a good response? Did I leave anything out? How would you answer David’s question?

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Comments

An Approach to Ministering to Homosexuals, by Pr. Rossow — 196 Comments

  1. @Carl Vehse #148

    @Carl Vehse #148

    Here is something I wrote a while back that is more succinct, that might help you two men bridge the twin truths that you are both articulating correctly:

    The Lutheran confessions identify the Law of God (based on rom 2:15) as being Divinely Revealed in the Reason of All Men. This Law in the mind agrees with the Decalog. Why ? it is the same Law.

    There is a part of the Law that Reason and those without Bibles are veiled to. Because of this Veiled Reason is of the opinion that the Law of God looks exactly like civil Law. It is about doing the Letter of the Law and is kept by following a written code.

    So what is that part of the Divinely Revealed Law that Reason is “veiled ” to or blind to? It is only this part:

    The confession say that this part of the Law that is “veiled” to reason is “peculiarly ” found in “the 1st Table of the Decalog that deals with movements of the heart.” This is that part of the Decalog that demands faith alone in Christ alone. Faith in Christ is what the Apology calls “new movements of the heart.”

    You can find all this in the first part of the Apology art IV “On Justification”. and especially in art III “Love and the Fullfilling of the Law” where it talks specifically how Reason is veiled by the “Veil of Moses”.

    The confessions say further, that veiled Reason is only unveiled when men are given “new heart movements”, ie faith in Christ. This is to know that sin is not in what we do, as civil laws work, but rather is about our hearts that are full of faith in anything BUT Christ. (Apology art I).

    So as st paul says, even in those that have no bibles, the work of the Law is written in the faith-filled hearts of all men that hate the Law that is Divinely Revealed in their Reason or conscience. But it also makes them do love for others. It forces them to do it and accuses and also excuses them. (rom 2:15). “faith-filled hearts” of pagans? Apology art I says that Original sin is that the heart is filled full of faith in anything BUT Christ. So for Lutherans even sin is about faith. What we do is “mere” symptom.

    This work of the Law that is written in their hearts is death. It is mortification. And God works all the 1st article goodness and mercy precisely by employing that mortification to extort his goodness and mercy out of Old Adam. This is the source of all second table Law.

    Now then, here is the most important part for Christians:

    That part of the Law that is veiled to Reason , is the Law that Only the Church can preach.

    Why is that?

    It is that part of the Law that can only be unveiled when it is accompanied with the Holy Gospel . Only the Church is able to unveil that part of the Law because it alone has the Holy Gospel.

    It is this form of preaching the Law alone that works true repentance in the hearts of men.

    The result of this preaching is that men are terrified of their best and most honorable and noble works, and so then only present the Obedience of Christ to God and see that the are utterly void of true obedience in their hearts, even though outwardly they may impeccably keep the Law of God.

    I think this is a faithful summary of the critical distinction our Lutheran Confessions make between the first and second table of the Law Carl and Paul of A. It is one that is not always made clear in Lutheran expositions of the Law and so we sometimes don’t make this distinction as we should. Instead we drift back to a roman scholastic understanding or a neo-scholastic calvinist understanding . Why? Those other positions appeal to our Reason! We are all guilty of this error.

  2. @Matt #139

    TO Matt:, thank you for taking the time to expand on your comments earlier and directly respond to my own. I see we both aspire to be Confessional Lutherans and take the Holy Scriptures seriously. And we have come to some different conclusions.

    You have kindly pointed out what you see to be errors on my part, and I think I see errors on your part as well.

    I will beg your indulgence to take some time to give a thoughtful response that your writing deserves. Thanks!

    TO ALL: I would ask all here to note that Matt can recall thoughts that he would identify as ‘homosexual thoughts” at a very early age. His recollections started around puberty. The norm is probably alot earlier and very much prior to puberty. Most homosexuals can remember such thoughts way before puberty.

    here is the point of my comment:

    I think it is fair to say that most christians who are not homosexual would tend to reduce what they call “homosexual” to thoughts, words and deeds that are about having sex or the sex act. The would visualize a sexualy active male here. They would not visualize anything at all pediatric. Is that fair? And I suggest it is wrong. So this creates the precise dissonance I have been trying to articulate.

    I would suggest that this creates an immediate dissonance in a converation with a homosexual . Why? They first identified as being homosexual or gay, not because of raging hormones directing their desires towards another male.

    No. their first and earlier recollections look like what we all call “puppy love” or a “crush”. So why does that make for a dissonance?

    1) it is not a “sexual desire.” How could it be at age 4, 5, 6…. ? So the question a gay man would ask is “Is that wrong or a sin?” Try to walk in those shoes for just a moment rather than reach for some doctrinal response immediately… This is ALL that person knows from his earliest recollections. It is the only reality he knows from age 4 or 5.
    2) the question is that since it is not a sexual desire then, is it wrong or sinful? Sure it might be “unnatural”. But then we don’t base moral decisions on what is “natural” or not. Not that is if we are confessional Lutherans. That is a Roman catholic and scholastic game and exercise. This is reasonable, but it is not scriptural.
    3) where is the line between “homosexual desires” and “human desires” ? This is what homos struggle with when they listen to other christians. And this is not helped by reducing it all to sexual urges. Are you following me here? We are all made to “not be good to be alone”, and we are all made to look for that cure for aloneness. This particular desire, call it romantic desire, is something that makes most of us full of joy and anticipation.

    4) Finally, I would suggest that it is nothing other than the Law of God, in the form of reason and conscience that drives even homosexuals to finally want to avoid promiscuity in the form of settling down with one person. I am NOT suggesting that that result is the perfect keeping of the Law. yet….Homosexuals are not devoid of that Law of God (Rom 2:15). Sure they want to wrongfully call it “marriage” and sure, it is aimed errantly, but still… can’t we also see that this is the Law of God at work in a Luke 18 sense and that these urgings of the Law, even in homosexuals result in something that mitigates the practical results of sin in the world, such as reduced stds and reduced social conflict and an isolating of promiscuity and the physical and emotional damage that inevitably causes?

    To Matt: I am curious. You focussed on your “sexual” desire for another man. What about all those other desires? Arent those the larger part of things for you? But you don’t comment on those really, even though you do alude to them (“crush”) and alude to them, not the lack of sex actually, as the most painful part of your experience. Would it be unkind for me to ask you to tell us more about that part? Do you feel those other “nonsexual” parts are sin? why or why not? Can you distinguish the two (romantic longing vs sex drive) in any way? is that distinction important to you?

  3. fws, you are beginning to grasp at straws and I’m not going to continue the debate because you insist on using magisterial reason to make Scripture say what you want it to say rather than ministerial reason to accept the plain truth of the Word of God.

    I will answer only 2 points:

    1) In regards to the fact I felt different a young age – so? Every week we confess we are “BY NATURE sinful and unclean.” Magisterial reason says it is unfair to blame a person for something they can not help. Ministerial reason accepts what God says when he proclaims we are sinful at conception

    2) In regard to your last question, I make a distinction between friendship and sexual desire. A distinction between romantic love and proper sexual desire toward one’s wife would be essentially unbiblical since both are covered under the one greek word “eros.” Improper sexual desire toward another of one’s gender or another’s wife is indeed separated out as “epithumeo” “sinful lust” or “covetousnes.” Magisterial reason seeks to find a place in which romantic/sexual love would be acceptable between two men as long as there is no promiscuity and seeks to divide the two tables of the Law. Ministerial reason accepts that the only proper place for romantic/sexual love is between a man and a wife and that in that context and only in that context such love is holy and sacred.

    To the others posting here. I suspect you are getting a bit frustrated with arguing with fws. But there is a reason why logical arguments do not win the day in this debate and that is that the Church has done a poor job of proclaiming Gospel. When we preach law without Gospel or when we say “you are forgiven” but do not show it we leave people with no option but to argue against the law no matter how unreasonable or disconnected from biblical reality their arguments may become.

    I know what it is like to be 13, attracted to other guys, and to hear my father, my pastor and other respected adults in the church talk about “those fags” and “those queers.” To such young people it seems there is little hope for real forgiveness in the church and that the only way to find hope or friendship is to soften the Law. Until we learn to truly proclaim the Gospel to this issue, to treat the homosexuals in our lives with the same friendship Christ extended to the tax collectors and the woman at the well, we will continue to lose the debate.

    The church has never changed society by legislating Christian morals but by creating Christians through the Gospel – christian citizens and christian legislators who, out of the conviction of their faith, then formed societies based on Christian principles. if the foundation is not there, righteousness will not follow. If you desire a moral society then we must spend more time proclaiming the gospel and showing mercy.

    We will always lose the debate if we rely on reason. Our sword is the FULL Word of God both Law AND GOSPEL.

  4. @Matt #153

    Matt you cut off the conversation accusing me of using Reason magisterially without really showing me that or giving me a chance to respond.
    That is usually the way conversations on this topic end isn’t it? “you need to agree that what I say = what the bible says or you are either not being sincere or you are misusing reason or scripture. ”

    Others are watching our conversation. It might be worthwhile to them to continue. I will take some time to respond to what you have said so far for their sakes. That is what we are here to do ideally.

    I would suggest you are, in many places using the reason magisterially. Greek categories are not divinely inspired Matt. To hang an argument on the greek category eros as being somehow biblical is precisely to use reason magisterially dear brother. And there are many other places you do this.

    On the two points I am declaring to be most certain, on marriage and celebacy, I am directly quoting scripture and the confessions.

    So if my usage of those passages are eisegesis, you need to show me from those texts. talk TO them and not ABOUT them. Quote them directly. Don’t talk ABOUT them as in “the confessions were dealing with a particular circumstance” or “paragraph 7 says celebacy is a choice” ( in context it does not say that does it?) , or talk about romans 7 when I have produced 1 Cor 7 as my prooftext.

    I am sympathetic to the fact that you are 50 and have invested , at great personal cost in your views. And I am sorry for the pain you have endured. Here we are to think about others and serving them. It is not about me or you Matt.

    I would suggest that the problem is not TOO much Law and not enough Gospel Matt. No. The problem I suggest is that we don’t spend enough time understanding the Law. The Confessions are about 80% about the Law even though their only purpose is to comfort terrified consciences with the Holy Gospel. Why is that Matt?

    The Law is where Reason lives 100% of the time since the Gospel and the Law that that 1st table speaks to is veiled from it. So reason used the Law in a way that always will attenuate sin and make pleasing God about what we DO or NOT do. Reason always attacks with and by the Law that can be done. We can know of the Law of the 1st table and the Gospel and therefore the fact that we are “all sin by nature and essence… in our bodies, wills and our very soul” (FC art I) only from Holy Scripture.

    I am suggesting that you have not let the Law have it’s full force and so you have attentuated the effects of sin. This is because you have used Reason magisterially. And you are deeply invested in this. You have literally sacrificed yourself. I can understand you now wanting to withdraw from our dialog and call it a debate. and accuse me and then immediately declare an end to the conversation. I really do understand.

    Consider continuing and serving the others who are listening in. You have not even heard me out yet have you? But you rapidly moved to shut down the conversation. I understand Matt. I really do.

  5. @Matt #153

    Matt, It tells me volumes that you chose not to answer really in any way my the questions in my last paragraph and instead turned things to the abstract with the use of the word eros.

    we midwestern Lutherans often turn to abstractions when things get too close to emotional home don’t we?

  6. fws –

    I choose not to answer because you insist on forcing the text into a context in which they do not belong and then attempting to draw your conclusion from the alien context. You place your own conclusions above the statements of Scriptures. When I replace those texts into the broader context of scripture or the confessions you complain. It would be pointless to place romantic love/sexuality into the context provided within Scripture in places such as song of song since you have already demonstrated the context of Scripture holds no value for you beyond forcing those verses you can into you pre-determined veiwpoint. It is simply not possible to have a biblical debate with someone who refuses to use the Bible as anything other than in a twisted version to support his own reason and desires. Nor is it profitable to speak to one who simply does not listen.

  7. @Matt #156

    Well, It’s interesting that I have exactly the same impression of your methods. And it is interesting the different ways we chose to react to that and serve one another. Or.. decide that it would be pointless to try.

    I would rather try to address you as one baptized, assume sincerity on your part, and work at the kindness and charity that I find lacking in myself , as evidenced, pretty profoundly by the lack of charity I see in my own self, that God demands of me.

    Mercy is always underserved. And I am required to show it to you. And I am failing, I am certain , even now to show you the kindness, love and most charitable and generous perception of your words.

    My evidence of my failure to be generous towards you, is precisely that I allowed my Old Adam to sit in judgement on your comments in the same way you are judging mine. It means I am not assuming your sincerity and lack of guile.

    I would ask your forgiveness for my failure to serve you with the goodness and mercy God demands I show to you, and that you are entitled to receive from me Matt.

    Lord have mercy.

    The Lord’s Peace be with you. +

    The Peace of our dear Lord Jesus be with you +

  8. @Matt #156

    I thank you for your comments Matt, because it condemns me in my inner thoughts as pot calling kettle black. I repent and will try to do better towards you and others fearing the punishment of God if I do not change and do better at serving others.

  9. @fws #157

    You produced alot of information Matt in your posts, and I appreciate your kindness in doing so. I will respond but will prepare carefully.

    This will be in service to those who are following our discussion and perhaps not chosing to comment. I would have a bad conscience not to respond. Besides, I fully agree with many of your points. It is as important to affirm agreement, maybe more so, than to disagree.

    In any case, you can feel no obligation to respond. I respect your decision Matt.

    At least a couple of your treatments of the biblical texts seem to be at odds with how the Confessions treat them.

    Your response is helpful . It will force me now to quote more directly from scripture and our Confessions with less commentary. I will provide more links to source so the readers can decide for their own selves which of us is being faithful to context.

    So your criticisms are providing a useful curb to my Old Adam and I must be grateful for that dear brother.

    The Peace of our dear Lord Jesus be with you. +

  10. Paul’s statement about burning with desire and marriage is one text on marriage, and it has a context. The context and the other texts both make clear that marriage is about a lot more than that. The reductionist view of marriage that it is only an outlest for raging hormones not only paves the way for homosexuality, it also demeans and deminished the holy estate of marriage and its rich, manifold purposes and benefits.

    If marriage were only an outlet for lust, then why was there marriage before the fall into sin?

    Why is marriage actually modeled on the relationship of Christ and the Church, if it is only an outlet for lust?

    Think also that the image of God the Trinity — his oneness and manyness, singularity and plurality — was lacking in Adam while he was alone. When Eve was created and they were married, then the Triune image of God in man became complete, because then, like the one and many of God, they two became one, and reflected singularity and plurality, note well, in marrage. This does not work, the image is not reflected, without the diversity of the Persons being reflected by the diversity of the genders. Homosexuality is based on Modalism, Unitarianism, Monism, Pantheism and the like.

  11. fws,

    The problem is not that you do not quote directly or often enough but that when you do quote you are using the non-lutheran practice of “prooftexting.” That is, you take text out of its context and then try to apply it to a broader range than the original text applies to. Every single one of the texts about celibacy you mention occur in a context where marriage is a legitimate option. A Lutheran can not take them and apply them to situations where marriage is not an option.

    This is not only a failing on one side of the issue. Earlier in the thread there was much discussion about the division between temptation and sin of thought. Obviously, all temptation by its very nature must involve an appealing thought about the sin to which it points. Yet there were many earlier in this thread who attempted to take Christ’s statements about intentional in Matthew 5 thoughts and apply it beyond the context to condemn all sexual thoughts as if no sexual thought could be a temptation without crossing the line into sin. This was prooftexting on their side.

    However, as I thought it over last night, I do believe it is important to deal with the concept of romantic love vs sexual desire because this is an issue pastors will face if they do any kind of personal spiritual counseling with a Christian homosexual.

    One of the big questions which comes up in support groups of same-sex-attracted Christians (that is, Christians who are attracted to others of the same sex but believe that sex between two people of the same gender is wrong) is, “if sexual intercourse is forbidden, how far can I go in a relationship?” Is it Ok to hug, to cuddle, to kiss or to sleep in the same bed as long as no sexual activity takes place. It is similar to the question straight teens have when they ask how far they can go with their girl friend or boy friend. Is kissing OK? how about french kissing? fondling? mutual masturbation? oral sex? though most of the questions are about the physical side of the relationship they are similar to the question of whether it is acceptable to have a romantic relationship as long as there is no sex involved.

    As T. R. points out, the relationship is about more than the physical and the romantic and sexual are inextricably linked. The law against adultery is aimed not only at preventing sexual intercourse but, as Luther’s explanation makes clear, encouraging the unique emotional relationship between man and wife, that each should love and honor their spouse. Marriage is about the complete “one flesh union” which can only be shared between a man and a woman. To attempt to have any part of that union, even the emotional or romantic, outside of marriage is wrong.

    T. R. does a good job of pointing out what damage that would do to doctrines such as the doctrine of the Church or the Trinity to broaden the romantic relationship outside of the bonds of marriage. Even when some romantic elements take place outside of the formal marriage – during a time of engagement, for instance – the goal of them is the fulfillment of marriage.

    This is also supported by the statement of Christ, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. ” When He speaks of the sexual impurity which leads to divorce, Christ used the Greek word “porneia” rather than the Greek word for actual adultery “moichao.” Porneia was a much broader term, especially for the Jews, indicating not only physical unfaithfulness but also what we today would call “emotional adultery,” that is, an emotional affair rather than a sexual one. And, indeed, a man who found out his wife was having a purely “romantic” affair with another man would be every bit as justified in being hurt and angry as if his wife had had a pure sexual affair.

    The romantic and the sexual simply can not be conceptually separated. They are both intrinsic parts of the unique same flesh union.

    So to attempt to have a “romantic” relationship with a man is every bit as wrong as to attempt to have a sexual one.

    This is where it is important for pastors to be very astute if they choose to advise a homosexual member. (It is also something pastors need to be aware of when dealing with parents of homosexuals because those parents will have to figure out ways to help their children demonstrate appropriate friendship with their lovers while in the family home while setting boundaries to prevent romantic displays, especially around younger children)

    Friendship is the appropriate relationship between two men and the homosexual needs these friendships as much as, if not more than, any other man. This friendship may be as strong as a romantic love between a man and a woman but is of a different category. Separating those two categories out will be very difficult for a homosexual man because desires for friendship will intermix with desires for the romantic/sexual relationship. Separating the two so that the friendship may be built while the romantic desire is resisted is not an easy process.

    As a general rule I find that the first stage usually involves questions of what physical boundaries should be in place. When is a hug acceptable? How do you know when a hug is too passionate? Is kissing or cuddling ever acceptable? Is it OK to sleep over at a friend’s house?

    The second stage usually involves separating the two relationships emotionally. Just as an example, one of the issues that often comes up is jealousy. A homosexual man forms a strong friendship with a straight man. But then that straight man begins to date a woman and has lest time to spend with his homosexual friend. The homosexual man may very well need help separating out his legitimate hurt as a friend, that he misses the time he had with the straight friend, from jealousy that the girlfriend has an emotional relationship with this friend that he would like for himself.

    This is what I meant earlier when I said that celibacy is more complex for the homosexual than for the heterosexual. The heterosexual can form masculine friendships and have his need for friends met without romantic temptation entering the picture. The homosexual can’t. In meeting one legitimate need he puts himself in a position where temptation is likely to increase, at least initially.

    Added to that is the fact that often the only place a homosexual man will find other men who are willing to be his friend is among other homosexual men. This is just as true for some like me who accepts the Biblical stand against homosexual sex as it is for a gay affirming homosexual. Christians tend to be rather reluctant to offer more than casual friendship even to those who repudiate homosexual intercourse. So the friends I feel most comfortable with and have the deepest bonds with are gay men.

    So, yes, the question about whether the romantic relationship can be separated from the sexual is a question that is on a lot of homosexual men’s minds. And the answer, is that, no, they can not be legitimately separated because they are both part of the one flesh union which can only be formed between a man and a woman. Even when it is impossible to fulfill the sexual part of the union (such as because of an injury) the romantic part of the union can still only be shared with a spouse of the opposite sex. But the homosexual man does need friendship and he may need your help or the help of a counselor to separate his need for friends from his desire for romance.

  12. @T. R. Halvorson #160

    TR,

    1) THE IMAGE OF GOD What then do you do with Apology art II that says that the image of God = faith in Christ alone?

    Your understanding of what the image of God consists of is pure speculation. And it is contrary to Lutheran Doctrine. This means it is very dangerous.

    Show me from Holy Scripture or our Confessions that this is not true.

    2) THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE: Don’t go radical on me TR! St Paul does not say that the ONLY basis for marriage is lust. He says that marriage is THE ONLY solution for those not given the miracle of celebacy to channel their sex drives. If this is not what i cor 7 says, then just show me from that text TR. In genesis God clearly says that the purpose of marriage was because it was the opposite of good for man to be alone.

    And St Paul, as does art XXIII of the confession do both declare that the biblical definition of the word “celebacy ” is that it is something that only occurs as a miracle. Matt has his definition of celebacy which is fine, but that is not the Pauline or Confessional one.

    3) “homosexuality is based on Modalism, Unitarianism, Monism, Pantheism and the like.” You are telling me that our brother Matt’s homosexuality is based on these philosophies. How is that so? This seems like a category error….

  13. @Matt #161

    fws,

    MATT Every single one of the texts about celibacy you mention occur in a context where marriage is a legitimate option. A Lutheran can not take them and apply them to situations where marriage is not an option. [this is how you are taking passages out of context]

    FWS Turn that around then Matt! The assumtion of all our texts is that marriage is the solution for ALL men and women and there is NOONE for whom marriage is not a legitimate option short of a miracle (called the “gift of celebacy”). Show me, Biblically or confessionally that marriage is NOT a legitimate option for homosexuals. You say I am doing eisegesis. I say you are ignoring stuff in the text in order to fit your own ideas.

    And you are defining that word celebacy in your own way, experientially, rather than accepting the definition that celebacy happens only as a miracle and is a gift, not something strived for or chosen. Show me the text that says otherwise! IN context.

    MATT Obviously, all temptation by its very nature must involve an appealing thought about the sin to which it points.

    FWS No this is not obvious. Why not accept the Confessional (and therefore scriptural) definiton of sin found in Apology art II. 1) Original sin is the absence/lack of faith ALONE in Christ in our Old Adams. PLUS 2) it is Old Adam wanting to buckle faith and trust in ANYTHING else but Christ alone. This could include faith that we must be right with God through acts that are PURELY about obedience to God, ie “sacrifice” (eg celebacy) rather that having what we do be ONLY about service to our neighbor ie “mercy”. Obedience to God is something ONLY Christ could do. …. PLUS 3) an acknowledgement that ALL we can see and do in our bodies is ALL Old Adam in our nature and essence and will and very soul (FC art I), which means that ALL sin is willful sinning. The idea that there is sinning that is not willful is contrary to the Confessions and Holy Scripture.

    Matt: Again I would ask you to explain to me what Christ was getting at when he broke the Sabbath letter of the Law . And yes he did break it, and makes the point that he broke it by referencing David eating the sho-bread which was also a clear breaking of the letter of the Law). And he used this as his entrance to send the Pharisees to parse the scripture passage ” God would have mercy rather than sacrifice.”

    Tell me what that means to you Matt. What is the distinction Christ is making, as to keeping of the Law and God’s Will in keeping the Law. Please ponder this.

    So sin is all about where faith is placed as to where we can get goodness and mercy. Sin is about faith. What we do is symptomatic or a manifestation of the underlying faith-disease.

    MATT However, as I thought it over last night, I do believe it is important to deal with the concept of romantic love vs sexual desire because this is an issue pastors will face if they do any kind of personal spiritual counseling with a Christian homosexual.

    FWS Excellent1 Progress!

    MATT the physical and the romantic and sexual are inextricably linked. To attempt to have any part of that union, even the emotional or romantic, outside of marriage is wrong.

    FWS extrabiblical speculation. Show me from scripture or the confessions Matt.

    MATT T. R. does a good job of pointing out what damage that would do to doctrines such as the doctrine of the Church or the Trinity to broaden the romantic relationship outside of the bonds of marriage.

    FWS No. Again extrabiblical speculation. Christ uses marriage, vines, pig stomachs, and lots of metaphors to describe the church and himself and faith etc. To reverse the direction of the metaphor is to subvert the point of the metaphor.

    MATTWhen He speaks of the sexual impurity which leads to divorce, Christ used the Greek word “porneia” rather than the Greek word for actual adultery “moichao.” And, indeed, a man who found out his wife was having a purely “romantic” affair with another man would be every bit as justified in being hurt and angry as if his wife had had a pure sexual affair.

    FWS porneia is also the greek word tranlated as “fornication”. We know that the word means sexual sinning. beyond that we have no scriptural or other basis for knowing the content of this word. Again you are purely speculation.

    And you are using reason magisterially here. Again. And you are being confused, It WOULD be a sin to have a romantic relationship with a married person. Why? It is a property violation! You are taking from someone what is their legal possession. How in the world is that fact proof that it would be wrong for a gay man to have a romantic relationship, say sexually unrequited as in romeo and juliet, with another man? Where is the theft?

    MATT The romantic and the sexual simply can not be conceptually separated. They are both intrinsic parts of the unique same flesh union.

    FWS Romeo and Juliet is a classic romance. And there are many other romances where sex was not consumated. And I suggest that this parallels reality. David and Jonathan are another example. David says that the love of Jonathan was more satisfying to him than the love he had received from any woman. What was that about? Imagine if some man wrote a song about that what his wife would think…. Yet he wrote the song….

    MATT So to attempt to have a “romantic” relationship with a man is every bit as wrong as to attempt to have a sexual one.

    FWS Speculation based upon a magisterial use of Reason and very very bad logic.

    MATT Separating those two categories out will be very difficult for a homosexual man because desires for friendship will intermix with desires for the romantic/sexual relationship. Separating the two so that the friendship may be built while the romantic desire is resisted is not an easy process.

    FWS Don’t project your own experience onto that of others. Most gay men have NO problem maintaining intimate friendships with men with NO sexual temptation whatsoever. Gay men are NOT attracted to every man they meet. Men often have deep friendships with women that are not sexual and with men as well. there is NO difference here between heterosexuals and homosexuals that I can tell. And here we are talking about matters of opinion. Your context here is supposed to be some scriptural one. You are mixing Scripture with your own experience and speculation.

    MATT…first stage usually involves questions of what physical boundaries should be in place. …
    The second stage usually involves separating the two relationships emotionally. … jealousy. A homosexual man forms a strong friendship with a straight man. But then that straight man begins to date a woman…

    FWS Whoa boy! You can only speak for your own self here! I am sad you have gone though all this. Alot of gay men never have. Again. Don’t project. You are giving advice here that pastors will read and think “some christian gay man told me this is how it works for homosexual men so I will counsel accordingly” and they would be following BAD advice here.

    Suggestion: strive to separate what can be said, alone , from Holy Scriptures, and what CANNOT be said authoritatively. and separate that from your personal experience and your speculations on what the bible MIGHT mean, like that bit about marriage, the image of God and the Trinity, that does violent damage to what Apology Art II defines as the Image of God!

    MATT This is what I meant earlier when I said that celibacy is more complex for the homosexual than for the heterosexual. The heterosexual can form masculine friendships and have his need for friends met without romantic temptation entering the picture. The homosexual can’t. In meeting one legitimate need he puts himself in a position where temptation is likely to increase, at least initially.

    FWS Speculation and projecting your own experience and nature upon others. Stop that. Show me this from holy scriptures. magisterial reason or worse is going on here…. None of this is true.

    Again the SCRIPTURAL and CONFESSIONAL definition of celebacy is that 1) it is a miraculous happening . It requires “special divine intervention” and 2) it is a “gift”. Gifts are not something worked for or earned. 3) It cannot be mandated or ordered or required per the confessions and 1 cor 7. This is very very clear. I am NOT taking this out of context. this is the ONLY context there is in the confessions and scripture. The assumtion is that there is NO category of men for who marriage is not THE ONLY option, short of marriage (hetersexual marriage) , short of a miracle, to channel the sex drive.

    Matt , show me where there is ANY other context anywhere in scripture that allows for a category of humans you call “homosexual” that are exempt or unsuitable for the ONLY solution, short of a miracle , for raging hormones, which is heterosexual marriage. You cant!

    You are adding something with magisterial reason , which is that, based upon your own experience, you believe, apart from scripture, that there is a class of humanity called “homosexual” (which class is NOWHERE in scripture, Lev 18 , rom 1, etc assume that the perpetrators are heterosexuals!). that is “unsuitable” for heterosexual marriage arent you?

    MATT Added to that is the fact that often the only place a homosexual man will find other men who are willing to be his friend is among other homosexual men. This is just as true for some like me who accepts the Biblical stand against homosexual sex as it is for a gay affirming homosexual. Christians tend to be rather reluctant to offer more than casual friendship even to those who repudiate homosexual intercourse. So the friends I feel most comfortable with and have the deepest bonds with are gay men.

    FWS Speak for yourself Matt! You represent NO other gay men or lesbians with what you are saying. This is only about you.

    MATT So, yes, the question about whether the romantic relationship can be separated from the sexual is a question that is on a lot of homosexual men’s minds. And the answer, is that, no

    FWS Lets try to have a discussion that is ONLY about scripture and the confessions matt. You are insisting on making alot of pronouncements that you could never prove from holy scriptures. you know that. What is your basis for insisting on doing this? It is wrong to burden conscience of others in this way. it is a sin in fact.

  14. @Matt #161

    matt ,

    here is how I see your logic working out.

    1)
    SCRIPTURE AND CONFESSIONS the definition of celebacy includes the facts that 1) it only happens by “special divine intervention, ie as a miracle , and 2) it is a “gift” which means it is not something we acquire by effort. We can expend effort in using a gift that has been given, but we can’t use a gift unless it has first been given.

    MATT: That can’t be right, because my personal experience is….and military and married people far from home manage to abstain from sex. And I choose to call those things celebacy and declare it is the SAME thing scripture and the confessions are talking about. Even though the extreme exceptionality indicated by words like “miracle” and “gift” do not seem to describe my experience.

    2)

    SCRIPTURE AND CONFESSIONS; Therefore Marriage (heterosexual marriage!) is the ONLY way to keep from passing through life burning with lust. those words miracle and gift are what give force to that word ONLY here. When we say that “the only solution to a problem, short of a miracle, is to do X’ , then we are saying that the ONLY solution IS x”

    MATT: BUT there is a special category of humans called homosexual for who marriage would not be suitable. Why/ Matt says so!

    THEREFORE (here is your logical eisegesis) Since marriage is not an option for gays, then celebacy MUST be an option. AND further, it must be demanded of gays , since marriage is NOT an option.

    This is unscriptural logic.

    Rigid logic would be to say that for ALL men and women , marriage is the ONLY way to avoid burning with Lust, and so ALL men are commanded to take a wife. This would INCLUDE homosexuals.

    This in fact is precisely the logic of the Confessions and Scriptures, yet , because you recongnize that there is a category scripture and the confessions have no knowledge of, you will not acknowledge this. And matt. I agree there is a category that scripture and the confessions know nothing about just as you do.

    where you are doing eisegesis is not there. after all , there are lots of things unknown to the biblical writers…. it is in that you are insisting that celebacy is the ONLY option for gays because marriage is not an option whereas scriptures and the confessions state the exact opposite. they say that since celebacy is NOT an option short of a miracle, then mariage is the ONLY option. you have it backwards..

  15. @Matt #161

    Matt, you are reading into the text and trying to reconcile it to what you know to be true: that there IS a category of humans called homosexuals for whom marriage is not an option.

    Therefore you assume that “celebacy” must be an option, and you then need to insist on defining “celebacy” according to experience, and so you discount the fact that the bible and confessions are clear that celebacy is 1) a gift (ie not something we can chose) and 2) is a miracle that is a special divine intervention (ie it is extra-ordinary, and not ordinary and typical as you and others here say. Please ponder that to say that, really overthrows the entire argument of Apology art XXIII). It really does.

    try reading the same texts, in scripture and the confessions, as though you did not know that there existed a category of humans called “homosexual”. Pretend that you are reading the texts before say, 1930, when the word first commonly entered our vocabulary as being a class of human beings.

    After all, that opinion of yours will be found NO where in scriptures or the confessions.

    Try to get past your eisegesis Matt. I know you are deeply invested in all this. It represents a certainy you need. But trust that if you are wrong, Christ is all the certainty you need!

  16. @Matt #161

    I am suggesting Matt that a plain, strict and honest reading of the Texts says that you and others like you (people who have to really struggle with sexual impulses ) are commanded by 1 cor 7 to take a wife. This is precisely what the confessions , in article XXIII says. It says that ALL men are “commanded” to take a wife. That is how they read 1 cor 7.

    And you say I am doing eisegesis here.

    I say I am reading the text as it stands. They know of and acknowledge NO category that for whom marriage would NOT, in a practical way, be the solution to burning with desire. YOU and ALL men in your situation are commanded to take a wife.

    Why? this command exists precisely BECAUSE “celebacy” is NOT as you are chosing to define it! They say ALL men are COMMANDED to marry, precisely BECAUSE celebacy ONLY happens as a miraculous divine intervention, and is a very very rare gift.

    You are ignoring the logic of the text of 1 cor 7 AND apology art XXIII because you simply assume , from your personal experience (and i agree with your assumption) that it would be sinful for homosexuals to marry. And because it is obvious that the cure for horniness in 1 cor 7 would NOT be any cure at all for a homosexual but would rather be a grave sin.

    So there IS a dilema here Matt. And you are committing eisegesis to get around it! Not me.

    I am not advocating for gay marriage or ANYTHING that is not in the text Matt. But I AM insisting upon a strict reading of the text! AND NOTHING BUT! Not even a reading of the text assuming there IS a category called “homosexual’ that are a group constitutionally unsuitable for marriage! That is an extrascriptural assumtion matt!

    Matt. Matt. Matt…. come clean on this.

  17. To Pastor Crandall, Paul of Alexandria, Vehse, Matt, and TR Halvorson:

    I am freely willing to admit that ALL I have said thus far is personal speculation and could very well in fact be WRONG except for this:

    Here is the biblical argument in 1 cor 7 and the confessional argument in apology XXIII in a nutshell:

    1) Celebacy is a gift that cannot be chosen. It is a miracle that never happens short of special divine intervention. ie : it practically never happens.
    This does NOT describe military on long absence from spouse or Matt’s situation I would propose! Call those “celebacy’ if you like, but DON’T say it is the same thing being called out in 1 cor 7 or Apology XXIII!

    2) THEREFORE : Celebacy cannot be demanded or insisted upon, even though it IS a more noble and higher status than marriage (ap art XXIII)

    3) THEREFORE : It is “commanded” that all men take a wife, ie Heterosexual Marriage.

    note that 2) and 3) are assertions that are directly based upon the facts in 1) . there is an IF/THEN Logical connection there. This is especially true for Ap Art XXIII, which is clearly based mostly upon 1 cor 7.

    Tell me, please, where ANY of this does NOT apply to homosexuals based upon a strict reading of both texts! Where is my eisegesis here Matt and TR and Pastor Crandall and paul of alexandria

    I agree with Matt that a homosexual taking a wife would not provide the relief that St Paul says is to be provided by marriage? So what? We cannot overthrow the very very plain meaning of the text of Scripture and the Confessions to overcome this dilema. That would be sinful and wrong.

    So then: Neither celebacy NOR marriage are a proper solution for homosexuals. A strict reading of the text would leave them burning with desire EXACTLY as St Paul says WILL happen to those who do not marry, short of a miracle. Ok. So what? Do we bend the clear definition of that word “celebacy’ to evade the clear truth?

    I say no. I say we need to struggle with this text and not look for an easy and unscriptural solution.

  18. @Matt #161

    @T. R. Halvorson #160

    @Carl Vehse #148

    I withdraw ALL I have posted before my post 167 from consideration to the extent it is not reflected in post 167. Whatever is not what I have stated in post 167 is pure speculation and personal opinion.

    The category “personal opinion” , also fully includes the opinion stated in 167, based on what i believe is the strongest empirical evidence, that there IS a category of humans called “homosexuals’ who are constitutionally unfit for marriage precisely because marriage would not provide the very relief to the sex drive that St Paul says marriage is to provide. There is NO basis for this opinion in Holy Scripture or the Confessions, and in fact, the Scriptures and Confessions clearly are written as though what they say here applies, without exception to ALL men. Example: ALL men are “commanded” to take a wife.

    Yet even acknowledging that this IS extra-scriptural personal opinion, I would suggest that this opinion IS supported by ample empirical (read scientific) evidence, and is NOT contrary to scripture.

    There are many things that the scriptural writers are unaware of. Lutherans are not the Amish, and therefore do not burden conscience from this sort of silence in Holy Scripture.

    Gentlemen: Please let’s not break a chain of logical thought in scripture and the confessions simply because we wish a solution to a dilema where scripture simply does not provide one according to the letter of the Law. If Homos also need to marry a woman , then that is what the text says.

    The text says that celebacy, as they define it, that celebacy is a miracle and gift rather than a choice.

    THERFORE cannot be demanded and is NOT an option, short of a miraculous “singular divine intervention”.

    THEREFORE: ALL men should take a wife. PERIOD. END. OF. STORY.

    Where is the biblical text that exempts Matt, for example from the command to take a wife.
    This is where Matt is engaging in eisegesis.

    Get married matt if you want to follow the strict letter of the text! That is how you are to please God by doing sacrifice and sacrificing a female and children as well. Find a woman and marry her even if you are repulsed at the idea of having physical contact with her. The bible commands you to do this . That is precise what apology art XXIII says.

    Show me the text that says you are exempt from this command because you are a homosexual.

  19. @Matt #161

    Matt, you are saying that the definition of what you call “celebacy” includes that celebacy is ordinarily available to all who need it due to circumstances or want it .

    So then what do you do with this text from the Apology? Read the entire Article in the AC and Apology please and do not proof text to support your thesis I just described above.

    19] If continence were possible to all, it would not require a peculiar gift.

    But Christ shows that it has need of a peculiar gift; therefore it does not belong to all.

    God wishes the rest to use the common law of nature which He has instituted. For God does not wish His ordinances, His creations to be despised. He wishes men to be chaste in this way, that they use the remedy divinely presented, just as He wishes to nourish our life in this way, 20] that we use food and drink.

    Gerson also testifies that there have been many good men who endeavored to subdue the body, and yet made little progress.

    Accordingly, Ambrose is right in saying: Virginity is only a thing that can be recommended, but not commanded; 21] it is a matter of vow rather than of precept.

    If any one here would raise the objection that Christ praises those which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, Matt. 19:12,

    let him also consider this, that He is praising such as have the gift of continence;

    for on this account He adds: He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

    So I conclude that the Matt definition of “celibacy” is different than that “celibacy” defined by the Confessions and St Paul and Christ our Lord.

    This asserting that celibacy is a gift NOT available to all is the heart of the Confessional argument here. To remove it is to gut the entire argument.

    Conclusion: Neither marriage NOR celibacy are available as a remedy to burning with desire for homosexuals.

    Why isn’t marriage a remedy? 1) it would not provide an outlet for the sex drive of a homosexual and 2) it would not be just for the spouse to marry someone who would be repulsive sexually. But note that these two observations are not base upon anything in scripture! Scripture knows of no such class of people!

    Why isn’t celibacy a remedy, and one that can be demanded? This option is excluded , ordinarily, by scriptures and our confessions by their calling it gift and miracle.

    What then IS the remedy? That IS the dilemma Matt.

  20. Matt and the others here:

    what is your basis in your assertion that celibacy is 1) available to all and 2) can be demanded?

    It appears to be a logical or experiential basis.

  21. @Matt #127

    Matt, here is more from the Book of Concord website. This material would seem to actually support your views wouldnt it?

    [there exists] …the intermediate position of neither marrying nor burning, but of restraining himself by the grace of God, which he obtains of God by devout prayer and chastising of the flesh, by fasting and vigils.

    Furthermore, when some say that Christ taught that all men are not fit for celibacy, it is indeed true, .. but let [anyone] …pray, and he will be able to receive Christ’s word concerning continence, as St. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Phil. 4:13. For continence is a gift of God, Wisd. 8:21.
    Besides, when it is alleged that marriage is God’s ordinance and command,…the commandment does not pertain in like manner upon those able to be continent.
    In vain, too, do they boast of God’s express order. Let them show, if they can, where God has [commanded men] to marry..

    …[there are] other remedies of infirmities [beside marriage]; as, for instance, let them avoid the society of [ men or women if they feel thereby tempted], shun idleness, macerate the flesh by fasting and vigils, keep the outward senses, especially sight and hearing, from things forbidden, turn away their eyes from beholding vanity, and finally dash their little ones – i.e. their carnal thoughts – upon a rock (and Christ is the Rock), suppress their passions, and frequently and devoutly resort to God in prayer.

    These are undoubtedly the most effectual remedies for incontinence…St. Paul said aright that the doctrine of those who forbid marriage is a doctrine of demons. ….

    For it is false that there is an express command concerning marriage, for then John the Evangelist, St. James, Laurentius, Titus, Martin, Catharine, Barbara, etc., would have sinned.

    This seems to line up well with your position that there is something between marriage and celebacy where celebacy is not a miracle or gift but something many must work hard at.

  22. @fws #162

    What then do you do with Apology art II that says that the image of God = faith in Christ alone?

    The image of God in man is faith, as the Apology says. So, then, there must be faith within God, or else how could faith be his image? And how is there faith within God in the case of a unipersonal god? Faith is a relation between persons, but with Modalism, Unitarianism, Monism, Panthesism, and the like, the diversity of persons is exterminated and god is homogenized, and with that extermination and homogenization, faith is abolished.

    The Father, Son, and Spirit, being distinct Persons, though one God, have faith and keep faith one with another. Therefore it is the image of God in man that man have faith. This is shown, in part, by the faith and faithfulness between the Bridegroom and the Bride, and also in part by the faith and faithfulness between human bridegrooms and brides.

    Christians give testimony to the Trinity by holding forth their faithful marriages before the watching world. Marriage evangelizes (as do all the vocations).

    Take away the Trinity, and you’ve undermined the entire Bood of Concord. If you are unwilling to accept the faith subsisting among Father, Son, and Spirit, then don’t bother citing the Bood of Concord any further, or speaking any further of the image of God.

  23. @T. R. Halvorson #172

    FWS What then do you do with Apology art II that says that the image of God = faith in Christ alone?

    TRH The image of God in man is faith, as the Apology says.

    FWS No, the apology does not say that. It says that faith ALONE in Christ is Adamic Original Righteousness and the very Image of God. This was lost to Adam and completely restored to our New Man in Baptismal Regeneration. Completely. Among other things, this means that New man is not waiting to get married to have that Image restored.

    Old Adam, fallen Adam are FULL of faith TR. Sin in fact IS 100% always about an exercise of faith according to Apology art II, III and IV!

    It is not faith that = the Image of God. This image is the faith that we cannot do , vs every form of faith that we can do.

    TRH So, then, there must be faith within God, or else how could faith be his image? And how is there faith within God in the case of a unipersonal god? Faith is a relation between persons, but with Modalism, Unitarianism, Monism, Panthesism, and the like, the diversity of persons is exterminated and god is homogenized, and with that extermination and homogenization, faith is abolished.

    FWS You started with a false premise and then layered onto that speculation about God that we don’t know, then oppose the result of your logic to something else.

    TRH The Father, Son, and Spirit, being distinct Persons, though one God, have faith and keep faith one with another. Therefore it is the image of God in man that man have faith.

    FWS reread the Apology. This logical chain is nowhere to be found there, and does not jibe with what they call faith and how it is the Image of God.

    TRH This is shown, in part, by the faith and faithfulness between the Bridegroom and the Bride, and also in part by the faith and faithfulness between human bridegrooms and brides.

    FWS The meaning of Holy Metaphors are destroyed when we play them in reverse. the Metaphor of Bridegroom to Church is about 1) Jesus purchasing his Bride. 2) she becomes, literally, his chattel property, his slave even , and 3) She has NO volition or choice in the Marriage whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada.

    So it is not about her faithfulness to him. It is about his buying a bride/slave.
    The modern ways marriage happens and the status of the bride overthrows what the metaphor says.
    The metaphor is about how earthly bridegroom and bride AD30 is about Christ and Church. The Metaphor of Christ and Church is not an instruction of how Marriage is to look. In that case this would become a bit of Law that would demand the reinstitution of Arranged Marriages as being “of the essense of marriage’ in that case.
    The Metaphor IS the way the Christian life in general is to look. The Christian life is to look like Jesus dead on the Cross. This was the dowry the Bridegroom paid for the Bride. It was his very life. Our Old Adam is to die for the goodness and Mercy of our neighbor in his transtory creaturely needs.

    TRH Christians give testimony to the Trinity by holding forth their faithful marriages before the watching world. Marriage evangelizes (as do all the vocations).
    Vocation is ALL Law, law, law. It is ALL about death.

    And that death of OUR Old Adam must ALWAYS result in some evidential , tangible Goodness and Mercy being produced for others.

    If there is NOT that evidence, then what we are doing is useless. For then, we are doing stuff to render Obedience to God rather than to serve our neighbor. This is the idolatry of Sacrifice (as opposed to mercy) that denies proper honor to that One Obedience that merits before God. It is an attempt to obtain Mercy by rendering the Obedience of Sacrifice.

    God would have Mercy to others done rather than the Sacrifice of Obedience that renders the Obedience of Christ as unnecessary.

    TRH Take away the Trinity, and you’ve undermined the entire Bood of Concord. If you are unwilling to accept the faith subsisting among Father, Son, and Spirit, then don’t bother citing the Bood of Concord any further, or speaking any further of the image of God.

    FWS Ahem. Go and reread the Apology art II. Conform your teaching to both the form and the content of that sound doctrine and stop speculating in this way. It is not good for you or others.

  24. TR we do not believe that marriage is a sacrament.

    There is NO difference between christians in their vocations and pagans in their vocations.

    there is no difference , intrinsically or essentially between two christians in marriage and two pagans in marriage this means.

    Proof: FC art VI “third use of the Law”. That article states that there is NO intrinsic difference between the list called fruit of the spirit and the list called works of the Law. None. zip. nada. the only difference is in who does the works, not at all in what is done. the Good Works therefore of pagan vs christian are totally indistiguishable! This would include the vocation of Marriage and pastor and every other vocation. Yes there are unbelieving pastors. But we could not tell the difference between a false christian as pastor and a truely believing pastor. ditto everything we can see and do.

  25. You have now argued that marriage is vocation, vocation is all law, and vocation and law are all all death. Do you mean for us to conclude that marriage is death? Can’t you accept that for the redeemed, marriage is life under the cross, not glory, which is to say that it is life through the gospel?

    Back to what I was saying before about gender difference being for the purpose of faith …

    Luther: “He has established it [marriage] before all others as the first of all institutions, and he created man and woman differently (as is evident) not for indecency but to be true to each other, to be fruitful, to beget children, and to nurture and bring them up to the glory of God” (LC I:207, Kolb/Wengert, 414)

    Differently to be true to each other. The difference of gender is for the purpose of being true to each other, i.e., faith and faithfulness.

    In a wedding sermon of 1531, Luther says “God’s word is actually inscribed on one’s spouse. When a man looks at his wife as if she were the only woman on earth, and when a woman looks at her husband if he were the only man on earth; yes, if no king or queen, not even the sun itself sparkles any more brightly and lights up your eyes more than your own husband or wife, then right there you are face to face with God speaking. God promises to you your wife or husband, actually gives your spouse to you saying, ‘The man shall be yours. I am pleased beyond measure! Creatures earthly and heavenly are jumping for joy.’ For there is no jewelry more precious than God’s Word; through it you come to regard your spouse as a gift of God ad, as long as you do that, you have no regrets” (WA 34:52.12-21, quoted by Hendrix, 347).

    Could the Apology have been intended as you use it to contradict Luther on this? I agree with Matt. You use the confessions in an un confessional way. You turn marriage into death and blame that on Lutheranism.

  26. @T. R. Halvorson #175

    TRH You have now argued that marriage is vocation, vocation is all law, and vocation and law are all all death.

    FWS I am not arguing anything TR. I am stating what I believe the confessions say. Rather than inject a spirit of contention, ask me to prove anything at all I say from the Holy Scriptures or the Confesions. That always centers a discussion in useful way.

    Luther: “Life is mortification” Life is death. Not just marriage.

    Why? there are two kingdoms. God rules everthing with his eternal will to be to have Goodness and Mercy done among men. He works that SAME goodness and mercy in two ways, with the Law in the earthly kingdom. and with the Gospel in the heavenly kingdom.

    In the kingdom of the Earth, everytning we can see and do in our bodies is about the Holy Spirit using the Law to extort out of our Old Adams goodness and Mercy for the transitory fleeting happiness of other Old Adams. This process is called “mortification of the flesh”. Mortification is latinate for “deathing.” Your life here on earth, in ALL you can see and do and know empirically is about this death of Old Adam TR.

    So not just marriage is about the death of Old Adam. This is also everything you can see and do and see others do in church. This fully includes the right administration of word and sacrament, teaching sound doctrine. EVERYTHING. It is all Law. And the Law kills YOUR Old Adam which results 1st article Goodness and Mercy for OTHER Old Adams.

    Then there is the heavenly kingdom. This kingdom containes alone faith in Christ. It cant include anything at all we can see or do, because all that stuff is already in that other Kingdom. And this Kingdom is uniquely found, in, with and under the Holy Catholic Church and is called the Communion of saints (apology art VII). This heavenly kingdom that alone contains faith in Christ is ALWAYS found under works of the Law done by sinful Old Adam. this would be works of the Law such as baptism , the lords supper, the preached law and gospel and insisting on sound doctrine.

    TRH Do you mean for us to conclude that marriage is death?

    FWS Precisely. As in any vocation or anything we can see or do , the Law is extorting out of us , or literally killing or mortifying us so that our Old Adam is driven to do Goodness and Mercy for other sinful Old Adams. Mercy is always undeserved. By definition. In marriage you are being killed and mortified in your Old Adam to extort Goodness and Mercy out of your Old Adam for others. There is no Life there. That ALONE is hidden in Christ. ALL that we can see and do is about our death. Any part of sanctification we can see and do is about our death TR.

    TRH Can’t you accept that for the redeemed, marriage is life under the cross, not glory, which is to say that it is life through the gospel?

    FWS Consider what you just said. Life under the cross. Our life is to be expected to look exactly like a dead Jew hanging on a cross. Death. What IS the Gospel? what we can see or do? Sanctification? No. Marriage is about death. It will perish with the earth as all things that are of flesh/body and all righeousness. Romans 8. Only that which is hidden in Christ will live on eternally.

    The Gospel is precisely that our sanctified righeousness, even though it is ALL the moral equivalent of a used Tampon, is ALL hidden in Christ! Hidden. In the Works of Another. The qualitative nature of our works is still that of Used Tampon. sanctification does not change that fact. it is the fact that they are hidden that saves us then.

    TRH Back to what I was saying before about gender difference being for the purpose of faith …

    FWS Ok dear brother….

    TRH Luther: “He has established it [marriage] before all others as the first of all institutions, and he created man and woman differently (as is evident) not for indecency but to be true to each other, to be fruitful, to beget children, and to nurture and bring them up to the glory of God” (LC I:207, Kolb/Wengert, 414)

    Differently to be true to each other. The difference of gender is for the purpose of being true to each other, i.e., faith and faithfulness.

    FWS Ok. You are quoting now from our Confessions and making them the basis of your argument and your basis for what you believe. I try to do the same and am happy to see this. Of course I accept what that says and means. Next you will quote a Luther sermon. And we are not bound by that are we? But Luther is usually good, except for the Table Talks… Let’s see what he says….

    TRH In a wedding sermon of 1531, Luther says “God’s word is actually inscribed on one’s spouse. When a man looks at his wife as if she were the only woman on earth, and when a woman looks at her husband if he were the only man on earth; yes, if no king or queen, not even the sun itself sparkles any more brightly and lights up your eyes more than your own husband or wife, then right there you are face to face with God speaking. God promises to you your wife or husband, actually gives your spouse to you saying, ‘The man shall be yours. I am pleased beyond measure! Creatures earthly and heavenly are jumping for joy.’ For there is no jewelry more precious than God’s Word; through it you come to regard your spouse as a gift of God ad, as long as you do that, you have no regrets” (WA 34:52.12-21, quoted by Hendrix, 347).

    FWS: Note what Luther is doing here. He is saying that “in, with and under” all we can see and do, which is all about our death, faith sees God’s Promises. We are to see the spouse adorned with what? God’s Promise. And so we are to see them as precious treasures. But not just a spouse. We are to look at ALL our neighbors in this fashion arent we? Isnt that the SUM of what keeping the Law is all about? And so faith trusts in those promises, in spite of what it sees, and so there in that very thing that is about our death and looks like all that Old Adam is, faith receives the Promised Mercy!

    This is not about the spouse. It is about the fact that Faith sees what God’s Word says about that spouse, or about changing diapers, or about sweeping the floor, or about parents or about whatever, and trusts God’s Word even though all we can see is stuff that will perish and is full of sin and Old Adam. This is “in, with and under ” talk TR!

    TRH Could the Apology have been intended as you use it to contradict Luther on this? I agree with Matt. You use the confessions in an un confessional way.

    FWS Think about the very very seriousness of what you are accusing me of. And then the casual way you are accusing me. How am I contradicting Luther dear brother?

    TRH You turn marriage into death and blame that on Lutheranism.

    FWS What God has made is ALL Good TR. I think you are hearing me say otherwise. It is not what God has made that is bad, it is how we use it. And also the fact is, that God has cursed creation. And marriage is part of that curse in a fallen world.

    You yourself came up with a wonderful Luther quote in another post. about how originally man and woman would be coequal before the fall.but now , as a curse, women are now under the thumb of men. God uses the Law , in ALL we can see and do, to kill us! It is to kill our Old Adam. And only faith can see that this “mortification” is the only way that Goodness and Mercy can happen out of our Old Adam and those of others, and so only faith can give thanks for this deathing, and thank God for it. and not flee the suffering that comes when we refuse to do Goodness and Mercy to other.

    Yes. Reformed do look for Life in things like marriage. Lutherans, following Romans 8 say that ALL we can see and do in our earthly existence will perish with the earth, along with all who trust in those things for Life. Our Life is alone hidden in Christ.

    While it is true that life is death. It does not follow that death is life! Only that one Death that we are joined to in baptism IS life eternal. This is because Life swallowed up death by a good friday Death that was the death of death.

  27. try this TR: All Good Works are extorted out of us by mortification. Mortification is the Law at work. And so Marriage is about YOUR death, and that death is necessary to produce temporal fleeting Goodness and Mercy for OTHERS. And OTHER old adams are being killed by God and that results in Goodness and Mercy for TR.

    It is about our death for the small l life of others here on earth. and the death of others is the neccesary means that produces goodness and mercy for the small l life of TRH here on earth. But this will ALL perish with the earth. Along with all who think they can find life somehow in this.

    On earth, Love cannot happen without Mortification being inflicted upon Old Adam . Mortification aka self discipline, aka self denial , and self sacrifice. And Love always requires two persons it is about Goodness and Mercy resulting from Mortification for the good of another. Note that this is how the small catechism describes the commandments. we should not + but we should. Mortification + Love. There can be no love without mortification. but the point is love, not mortification. virtue that does not result in loving acts does not qualify biblically as righeousness. virtue is NOT it’s own reward biblical speaking. Virtue is only a means to the end of Goodness and Mercy being done to others.

    but note that no mortification can make the first commandment be kept. see how Luther does not include mortification only in that one commandment! no amount of mortification can produce the love that only regeneration can do.

    and for new man, no mortification is necessary. Love simply happens out of new man. but we cant see our new man . 100-% of what we can see and do is all old adam doing. we know of the new man alone by faith.

    Capital L Life alone is about our works being hidden in the Work of Another.

  28. @Ted Crandall #178

    Pastor Crandall, that is really a good question. And it is a position actually staked out, I think by the majority of christians.

    Would you agree that what you suggest looks precisely like the position staked out in my quote from the Book of Concord site in my post here?

    @fws #171

    Kitty, according to many celibacy is not the same thing as abstinence. It does seem that the Lutheran Confessions though say that there is really ONLY one alternative to burning with desire, and that is for each man to take a wife.

    I would be really, really interested to have anyone wrestle with the actual texts of i cor 7 and AC/Ap XXIII rather than inject theories about gays into it as Matt seems to be doing.

    Matt’s position seems to be that gays are some special case, therefore what is said in the Apology and the AC and 1 cor 7 are being taken out of context when made to apply to the case of homosexuality.

    I can understand his position, but it layers in a very modern extra-scriptural (which doesn’t mean it is wrong, we are not the Amish) understanding, onto the text, that states there is a special class of humans called homosexuals for whom marriage is not an option. Scriptures know of no such classification. So we need to be honest about identifying that is so i believe in treating the texts.

    I am not seeing how it is that I am doing eisegesis. I am willing to be corrected on this, but someone actually needs to engage me on the texts , rather than shout “shame on you!” and accuse me of advocating gay marriage , which has no explicit basis in scripture.

    Anyone can help me out here without the need to shout?

  29. @Ted Crandall #178

    Ted, we need to acknowledge , that a very literal and rigid reading of the text of 1 cor 7 as interpreted by the confessions. that Celebacy is NOT an option, and marriage is the ONLY option offered.

    Instead we turn that on it’s head and say that Marriage is NOT an option, and so celibacy, we gloss, is the ONLY Option.

    We do this gloss because of our modern certainty that there is a class of men and women identified by the very modern label and concept “homosexual” that did not even exist prior to 1930 or so, that is constitutionallly unsuitable for Marriage. So we assume that there MUST be a solution for them, and also simply assume, contrary to the text, that celibacy is THE option for them.

    I suggest that that is not an honest reading of the texts of scripture or the confessions and that there is no readily apparent solution that is explicit in Holy Scriptures or the Confessions. I think we need to be very very honest about this.

    I am certain that books urged on me here do not deal with this point the way our Confessions do. Why would they if they are not Lutheran authors? But we are Lutheran and are bound by our Confession. Or at least we give lip service to that dont we?

  30. @Ted Crandall #178

    Now to keep this conversation honest… I ran all this past another Lutheran who always manages to identify further complications in my thinking, just when I think I have fully identified all the moving parts of a conversation. Here is what he had to say about all this:

    He pointed out the following:

    When we read Luther on morality, we must remember that biblical morality always is about 2 or more persons (unlike aristotelian virtue). So where is that second person on the issue of celibacy that is being harmed? It would be here:

    Luther and those in his time and before him believed in a pseudo-scientific idea that we know now is simply not true. He believed that sperm was little babies. This is readily apparent from the fact that sperm is called “seed.” The idea is that a man’s sperm contains , completely so, everything that forms a human. Why does that matter? It changes the definitions in this way: Masturbation=Murder.

    We now know this is not true, and so, consequently, we are not nearly as terrified at the idea of young men masturbating.

    In addition to this, Luther did not marry until his late 40s, yet we can be certain that he did not consider himself to be “celibate” during that time. That would be because of the concept I just articulated.

    Now how to overlay this assumption onto the texts, and how that would need to change our reading of the texts because of this is something I am still wrestling with. I am very very open to suggestions.

    Lesson: a rigid and literal reading of a text is not always a correct one. Both the authors and the readers have extra-biblical assumptions that need to be taken into account.

  31. @Ted Crandall #178

    a good example of where we right now are overlaying our own extra-biblical assumtions and presuppositions is to recognize that the category ‘homosexual” even exists. This category would be a quite alien concept to those of Luther’s or the NT or OT times.

    Matt’s solution to this is that “well GOD knew even if the NT and OT authors did not, and he did not make provision for gay and so…” is also a bit of logic overlayed upon the text. An argument from silence is always suspect.

    Now I would suggest that Holy Scripture is not always the place to validate such notions. As I said earlier, we are Lutheran and not Amish. And to allow what we know empirically to inform our reading of Holy Scripture is something we all do and it i not necessarily wrong.

    But we need to identify, as best as we can, when we do that.

  32. //steadfastlutherans.org/?p=16070#comment-227023

    Pastor Crandall. I am really thinking that the solution to all of this will be found in our understanding of the Law.

    The problem with the position of the ELCA is that they say that we simply ignore that Law in favor of “Gospel Imperatives.” And so they don’t really come to grips with the Law. Instead then commit the Antinomian error of teaching Law and calling it Gospel. How?

    They say that “mercy” is a Gospel word. While it is true that Mercy is always, and by definition undeserved love, and this sure does sound like “gospel’, it is not Gospel. Mercy is ALWAYS a Law word. It is in fact the God desired fruit that God intends from the killing work of the Law. And the Law ALWAYS kills us. It ALWAYS accuses us. It always Gets it’s man at the end. And it also is the ONLY thing that makes Fatherly Goodness and Mercy flow out of the Old Adam of Christian or pagan here on earth. Goodness and Mercy can never happen in us without a “deathing” (mortification) of our Old Adam. There is , sadly, no other way.

    So the ELCA says that showing the mercy to gays of welcoming them into church is “the Gospel.” Inclusiveness=Gospel. This is an error. And it is a very serious one. Why? They welcome gays into church and then withhold from them the one thing that will change anyone, and that is to know and trust that ALL our doing is hidden in the Works of Another. That, alone, is the Holy Gospel.

    And the Gospel then is not the “transformation” that the Reformed and Evangelicals say it is either. Transformation=Death of Old Adam. Transformation that we can SEE is the work of the Law. And the Law ALWAYS kills and accuses.

    So for Lutherans “life = mortification or deathing. Life is alone faith , apart from works. It is trust that ALL our own works are hidden in the Works of Another.

    And so , yes TRH, marriage and all other vocations are about our death here on earth in service to others. It is not about Life. it is not even a fruit of Life. It is a fruit of the Law in all we can see and do. Life is what is immanent “in, with and under ‘ that in that kingdom that “comes in a way that cannot be seen.”

  33. Frank, you are basing your promotion of homosexuality and denigration of marriage on two decidedly non-Lutheran premises:

    1.) rejection of Luther’s theology of the cross

    2.) rejection of Luther’s third use of the law

    When I speak of marriage as life under the cross here on a steadfastly Lutheran site, as you might expect, and as you and I have gone through extensively here in the past, I am using that as the term of art it is in Lutheranism. I am using it in the sense of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation (1518), particularly as it is exposited in Walther von Loewenich’s Luther’s Theology of the Cross.

    My objection to your claim that marriage is death is not that marriage, as life under the cross, involves no death, but that it is as you say, ALL death. When ALL you see in the cross is death, that is a decidedly nonLutheran view of the cross. For Luther, God is hidden and revealed, and never more so than under the cross. For Luther, the christian life is hidden and revealed, and that means life under the cross. But note, that’s LIFE under the cross, not death ONLY on a cross.

    When only the surface view of a dead Jew on the cross, as you put it, is allowed, that’s the epitome of the theology of glory, teh opposite of Luther’s theology of the cross, which is the precise negation of Lutheranism per se. Take that thought further and water cannot do great things even with the Word of God. Take that view further and bread and wine cannot have the real presence of Christ. Take that view further and the foolishness of preaching remains only foolishness and cannot be the widsom of God or the power of God. Any essentially Lutheran view of Word and Sacrament is excluded by the theology of glory that says that the cross in ALL and ONLY death. It is death, but not ONLY death.

    When we first die, when we first suffer the cross with Christ, is the water of baptism, but note: we are born again, born from above. We lose what looked like life from the point of view of a theology of glory, but the truth is that we were already dead in our trespasses and sins. Death was hidden under the appearance of its opposite, under the appearance of life. Now life is hidden under the appearance of its opposite, under the appearance of death. The christian life looks foolish and dead to the world with its concentration on glory. In daily life under the cross, we are only giving up sin, and gaining life. That involves a violent death of the Old Adam, yes, but that’s not ALL. That death is the way to living by the Spirit, to the life of the indwelling Christ. Christ did not die for the sake of death. We do not die for the sake of death. He died for life. We die for life.

    For Luther, the redeemed sinner in marriage is married under the cross, and that entails the continual death of sin and the Old Adam, yes, but it also involves walking in newness of life. Life is the service of the other. There could be no life in a Unitarian god, for before creation, there would be no other to serve. Life presupposes the Trinity. Without the Trinity, life is an impossibility. With the Trinity, and before creation, the Persons of God served each other, and that service is what can be called life.

    The error of nonLutherans is that the cross is ONLY death, and not life also. The same error happens with all nonLutherans concerning the third use of the law. You and I have been all through this before when I shared from Luther directly and the Missourians as reported by Scott R. Murray in Law, Life and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism, to show that the saying of the confessions that the Law always accuses does not mean that the law ONLY accuses.

    You keep saying that the cross is death and ONLY death. You keep saying that the Law always accuses and ONLY accuses. You keep saying that the law only extorts obedience as if baptism gave no birth or as if whatever life baptism gives is only a life of extortion. In your scenario, the law extorts the indwelling Christ, and that is part of what the Missourians rejected, of Murray is to be believed.

    One of your proofs that marriage is all death and all extortion is that in the resurrection, we won’t be married. Are we not in this baptised life the espoused of Christ heading to our wedding with him in the resurrection? When marriage is transformed to its highest possible level between Christ and the Church in the resurrection is just when you say it is eliminated! And then you use that supposed elimination to prove that marriage is all death and the law is all extortion. Let’s not pretend that’s Lutheranism. If I am not headed to my wedding with Christ in the resurrection, I don’t want to go to heaven. The heavenliness will have gone right out of it without marriage.

  34. @T. R. Halvorson #186

    Dear Brother TR. I am not promoting homosexuality.

    Produce a quote here or anywhere from anything I have written that is a “promotion” of homosexuality. You can’t . So stop accusing me of such a thing. And if you can, I mispoke or spoke in a way that could be misunderstood. A retraction is quick and easy in that case.

    And I accept everything our confessions have to say about Marriage. ALL. of . it.

    Let me elaborate: marriage and family are the basis for all the rest of the social orders. It is foundational. It is one of the greatest gift of God to mankind. It is one of the main, if not THE main Vocation (aka Small Catechism “Holy Orders”) that God uses, when he drives Old Adams of us all to provide First Article Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to happen.

    But! ALL righeousness that we can do on earth, INCLUDING the preaching of Law and Gospel as we are commanded to do by the Law of God, will all perish with the earth. This is what Romans 8 teaches.

    Yes TRH. Marriage IS a form of God demanded righeousness on earth. God providences it and WILL make it happen and no one will ever be able to subvert or prevent that from happening (cf luke 18 and the story of the lawless judge to see how that works….),

    And further, God promises both earthly and heavenly blessings to all who keep his Laws on marriage and so do the Goodness and Mercy to others that is God’s Eternal Will (FC art VI). God also will punish all who do not follow his Law here. Therefore we should learn to honor and support marriage so God does not need to send punishment and scourges to force us to do so.

    Ok. I expect that your emotion on reading this should be one of joy at being mistaken. But I fear that probably your Old Adam and his spirit of contention are robbing you of that joy at this very moment. Tell me I am wrong here. That would give ME some joy dear brother.

    Now the rest of your post seems to be based on the notion that I have that twin agenda. Now, in the name of God, I invite you to back off from that.

    I will respond to your post because there is lots I agree with in it, and that pleases me, and lots that is simply not confessional.

    TRH I have a suggetion. Instead of reading NON Lutheran books and Books that are by Lutherans and talk ABOUT Lutheranism, why dont you instead read LUTHERANISM incarnate? Read your confessions of faith. Read, mark, learn and inwardly Digest them.

    You accuse me of misusing the Apology. READ. IT. And if it takes me to get you to read them just to refute me, then I will be extremely pleased with that result!

    I guarantee that reading, really reading and internalizing the Apology, and not just looking for passages that support what you already “know” will challenge and change your entire approach to theology.

    It has done this to me.

    I will respond to the rest of your post later on.

    The Lord’s Peace be with you dear brother Halvorson! +

  35. Instead of reading NON Lutheran books and Books that are by Lutherans and talk ABOUT Lutheranism, why dont you instead read LUTHERANISM incarnate? Read your confessions of faith.

    I do not recall a nonLutheran book that I have cited.

    Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation is not a nonLutheran book, nor a book by a Lutheran about Lutheranism. It is Lutheranism incarnate. If Luther cannot be take as Lutheran, then I think it becomes impossible to discuss Lutheranism. You previously said you had never heard of the Heidelberg Disputation, and apparently since then you not taken your own advice to digest it, or else you would not dismiss it as being a less reliable portrayal of Lutheranism. I commend to you The Marriage Ring: Three Sermons on Marriage, by Martin Luther, http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Ring-Three-Sermons/dp/158509014X/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_cart_1

    As to the Book of Concord, I attend not perfectly but regularly two confessional reading groups. One is weekly. The other is monthly. While I also reguarly read it alone at home, I think the reading group idea is vital because it is under the direct pastoral care of two confessional Lutheran pastors at least one of whom and usually both of whom are in attendance and leading. This has prevented me from coming away with misunderstanding of the confessions that I would have gotten had I only read them on my own.

    I expect that your emotion on reading this should be one of joy at being mistaken. But I fear that probably your Old Adam and his spirit of contention are robbing you of that joy at this very moment. Tell me I am wrong here.

    With this descent into ad hominem — a change of subject from the topic to the persons — I question the utility of further discussion. Suffice it to say that it is not likely to be an effective approach to differing with Pr Rossow’s approach to ministering to homosexuals to base opposition on a diminished, nonLutheran view of marriage.

  36. I apologize for a cut and paste error when I was citing The Marriage Ring. That should have been at the very end of the posting, but in switching between windows to get the Amazon link, the cursor must have changed locations in the posting and put the sentence at the end of the wrong paragraph.

  37. @T. R. Halvorson #188

    I am saying you were , unintentionally bearing false witness by accusing me of two grave errors I am not holding to or advocating for. And these are not the first time you have accused me of stuff, and been unkind and uncharitable TRH.

    Repent. Before you hit the send key ask yourself if what you are saying looks like something one would read and say “that TRH is such a kind and gentle man! Look at how frank and TRH LOVE each other! ”

    This is what the Law of God demands of you TRH. You can be as right as snow and if you are lacking that tangible evidence of love none of our bloviating really matters dear brother. So take a deep breath. And gimme some love ok? Not tough love. Love in a form that anyone would look and say “TR is full of Love.” Mercy is always undeserved. Show me some of that in your words and their tone please.

    If I have done the same UNlove to you , then call me on it! I too need to repent in that case!

    Let’s try to be about our dear Lord’s business here and not about the ego exercise of trying to win some argument. Lets drop dead to that. Agreed? 🙂 I am fully willing to confess that I am the blackest pot calling a gray kettle black. Ok. My sin is greater than yours. but we need to be loving. my lack of Love towards you is no excuse for anything. set an example for me! I will try for you to do the same.

    And I said that I doubted you would feel any joy when I set the record straight.

    You call that ad homen. Look up the term “ad homem ” . Please! You are not using that word as it means here. Your tone continues to be one of discord, adversarialism etc.

  38. @T. R. Halvorson #186

    TRH Frank, you are basing your promotion of homosexuality and denigration of marriage on two decidedly non-Lutheran premises:
    1.) rejection of Luther’s theology of the cross
    2.) rejection of Luther’s third use of the law

    FWS Now I would expect to follow, a brotherly behind-the-woodshed moment, where you show me how I do this. Let’s see if this is just shouting or something constructive as we read on… I cleared up this accusation in a previous post.

    Instead of an apology, I got snark. and was accused of ad homen.

    TRH When I speak of marriage as life under the cross….I am using it in the sense of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation (1518), particularly as it is exposited in Walther von Loewenich’s Luther’s Theology of the Cross.

    FRANK Why not use the Confessions. It is what binds us together and , literally, is the ONLY thing that identifies us as both being Lutheran. You rarely quote from them.

    TRH My objection to your claim that marriage….involves no death, but that it is… ALL death. When ALL you see in the cross is death, that is a decidedly nonLutheran view of the cross.

    THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS: 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.http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#part5.9

    FRANK COMMENT: Even the Holy Cross with Christ on it is Law and death ALL death in precisely the sense that I mean that Life is all Death and Marriage is all Death insofar as what we can see and do. And there is NO Gospel in Marriage TRH , even if there is a Divine promise of small l life in it as there is in all the Law. Marriage =Goodness and Mercy. mercy is always underserved love by definition. But even though it sounds the same, Mercy is NOT the Holy Gospel.

    TRH For Luther, God is hidden and revealed, and never more so than under the cross. For Luther, the christian life is hidden and revealed, and that means life under the cross. But note, that’s LIFE under the cross, not death ONLY on a cross.

    FRANK This is really a muddled statement. What does it mean? Can you give me a passage from the Confession or passages that say the same thing?

    TRH When only the surface view of a dead Jew on the cross, as you put it, is allowed, that’s the epitome of the theology of glory, the opposite of Luther’s theology of the cross, which is the precise negation of Lutheranism per se.

    FRANK. No. It is not the theology of Glory. It is the Law veiled by the Veil of Moses. Reason is the same Divine Law veiled by the veil of moses (rom 2:15, ap IV, III). And the Veil of Moses is the opinion that one can keep the Law by something WE can do. In Marriage for example. And so we can get right with God by the sacrifice of Obedience rather than the obedience of a faith we cannot do to the Sacrifice of the Obedient One. Read the Confessions. If what I said sounds foreign to you then it is because you havent read them enough.

    TRH Take that thought further and water cannot do great things even with the Word of God. Take that view further and bread and wine cannot have the real presence of Christ.

    FWS You are almost catching the idea TRH! We baptize, do the Supper, and preach because we are commanded to do so. This is Law. And these things are extorted out of Old Adams. The Law always accuses. It always kills. It only accuses . It ONLY kills. Mortification is what the Law does. It is ALL it does. it is the Law-in-action. It makes sacrifice of our Old Adam.

    BUT, the FRUIT of the Law is Mercy.

    See the distinction the Confessions are making? Separate the Law and what it does, mortification, from it’s God Willed Fruit.

    The intended end result of the Law is not sacrifice. It is Mercy. I suggest you ponder what Jesus was driving at when he broke the sabbath Law and then used that as his example to send the pharisees off to find out what God meant when he said that he did not want sacrifice but rather mercy. He intends for the result of the sacrifice that the Law works to be undeserved Love!

    And it is cool that you used this example. The body and blood are where? They are “in, with and under” the bread and wine. and it is faith , invisible faith that makes this thing that we do as Commanded by Christ (ie Law!) into Gospel TRH It is the faith added that makes it gospel. How? Faith hears “given and shed FOR YOU, for the forgiveness of sins”. That is precisely where and how that dead Jew on the Cross becomes Gospel. Right at that Point. and not before.

    and your new man is also “in,with and under” the Old Adam that IS ALL you can see and do. The New Man IS a reality. But can only be known and seen by faith alone.

    In what the Confessions are saying, remember that ALL we can see and do is death. it will perish with the earth. But… “in , with and under” that is faith that clings to the Promise there in those dead things, and there …”in, with and under ” those dead things , faith receive the Promised Mercy. Reread your book. He might be telling you the same thing! I hope so.

    Let me state this in a more stark way: The Holy Gospel ONLY comes to us by means of Good Works! It doe not come to us immediately . And Good Works can only come out of Old Adam by the deathing of the Law.

    TRH Take that view further and the foolishness of preaching remains only foolishness and cannot be the widsom of God or the power of God. Any essentially Lutheran view of Word and Sacrament is excluded by the theology of glory that says that the cross in ALL and ONLY death. It is death, but not ONLY death.

    FRANK . To Reason, which is the Divinely Revealed Law of God veiled by the Veil of Moses, this IS all foolishness. Why? veiled Reason is of the opinion that we please God by Obedience to the Law. By DOING something. And word and sacrament are also idolatry when it is about what WE can do. That is precisely why the Confessions call the Lords Supper idolatry as it is used by Rome. Faith clings not to the outward thing, but to what it receives in, with and under that thing. And true, it doe not separate the Word from the outward thing as the Reformed and Rome do.

    TRH When we first die, when we first suffer the cross with Christ, is the water of baptism,

    FRANK. No. Only Christ suffered. We are joined to HIS death.

    TRH but note: we are born again, born from above.

    FRANK . ameN! And a new man is created in us ex nihilo.

    TRH We lose what looked like life from the point of view of a theology of glory, but the truth is that we were already dead in our trespasses and sins.

    FRANK The Old Adam, which is the believer or “us” as well, STILL clings to us. YES! Old Adam is dead already and doesnt know it! This is still true in the Believer! And Old Adam is ALL we can see and do in our bodies. We only know of the new man and his perfect works by faith. We can’t see it. I suggest to you that looking to see that New Man and his works in our earthly life in some tangible or evidential way, is the theology of Glory TRH.

    TRH Death was hidden under the appearance of its opposite, under the appearance of life. Now life is hidden under the appearance of its opposite, under the appearance of death. The christian life looks foolish and dead to the world with its concentration on glory.

    FRANK AMEN! AMEN AMEN! Hidden, “in,with and under”. Life that is Christ that is invisible to all but faith, is hidden under all we can see. And ALL we can see is …. death.

    TRH In daily life under the cross, we are only giving up sin, and gaining life.

    FRANK Right there. … No we have already fully gained Life in our New man that is hidden, in with and under Old Adam. Holiness/Sanctification is like being pregnant, either you are or you arent. In our New man we are not “gaining life” by some process of giving up on sin. We already completely died to sin, we are dead to sin. We are wholy and entirely sanctified.

    TRH That involves a violent death of the Old Adam, yes, but that’s not ALL. That death is the way to living by the Spirit, to the life of the indwelling Christ.

    FRANK. No. Death leads to Death. Death=Death. It is not Life. And it cannot lead to Life. Life on earth IS death. But that does NOt mean that death is a way to Life or is Life. This Death is ALL about Old Adam TRH. ONLY about Old Adam. And there IS a part of Sanctification that New Man CAN see and do! What? That is to take up the club of the Law and beat up and subdue and kill the Old Adam with …. the Law.

    Then there is that part of Sanctification that is Sanctification in its Narrow or proper sense and in that sense Sanctification = Justification. It is the creation of the New Man and regeneration and sinner-made-holy in the infused sense. And that infusion is instantaneous and complete insofar as the Believer is Regenerate.

    TRH Christ did not die for the sake of death.

    FRANK The point of Christs death was in fact death. It was the Death of death. And it was to kill us as well by being joined to it. You mean to say that that was not the desired end point, that was to give us eternal Life.

    TRH We do not die for the sake of death.

    FRANK. We need here, to distinguish between Death and death. There is only One Death that meant Life. Why? That was Life literal Life, swallowing up the Vaccuum of nothingness called death. Meaning and Light and Life Incarnate filling up everything that was the empty dark meaninglessness called death.

    Our death is for what? 1) our death! 2) for the creaturely Goodness and Mercy of other Old Adams. In that way our death IS like the death of Christ. It is OUR death that is done for the benefit of OTHERS. But then the Holy Spirit works this SAME death in ALL Old Adams. No faith or worthiness or Prayer is necessary ( cf 1st article and the Lords prayer in the small catechism.). This is not about faith or Life. it happens in ALL Old Adams.

    TRH He died for life. We die for life.

    FRANK Almost. Life died for the Life of others, the world, the cosmos. We die for the creaturely and transitory life of others. Goodness and Mercy cannot come out of Old Adam except by his deathing.

    TRH For Luther, the redeemed sinner in marriage is married under the cross, and that entails the continual death of sin and the Old Adam,

    FRANK Yes! Amen. That would be taught in the small catechism on baptism. Excellent catch trh!

    TRH yes, but it also involves walking in newness of life.

    FRANK “involves”. OK, as long as you see this: This also happens in unbelievers. This is 1st article Goodness and Mercy. It happens to and from the unworthy, without our prayer or asking and even for the wicked who seek to subvert this. The blessings of marriage, ALL of them , happen equally in the lives of unbelievers as well.

    TRH Life is the service of the other.

    FRANK Amen! That was my point. Life IS death. Life Is mortification. I think the part you are missing here is that Goodness and mercy (aka service/love of the other/neighbor) CANNOT happen apart from the mortification or death of the Old Adam. You are right .

    Death is NOT Goodness and Mercy. it is death. It is the curse and wages of sin.

    But God can only produce Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam by killing him. And,.. Old Adam IS 100% of ALL you can see and do in your body TRH. There is NO tangible evidence of your New Man or his sanctified and perfect works apart from faith and what God’s Word tells us to believe.

    TRH There could be no life in a Unitarian god, for before creation, there would be no other to serve. Life presupposes the Trinity. Without the Trinity, life is an impossibility. With the Trinity, and before creation, the Persons of God served each other, and that service is what can be called life.

    FRANK This is plausible and holy speculation. But it IS speculation TR. It is not a thought developed unpacked exactly that way in Holy Scripture. And it is better and safer to adhere carefully not just to the content of sound doctrine, but also to adhere to the very form in which it was delivered to us.

    May all our tombstones read: “I never said one thing that was original in an original way!”

    TRH The error of nonLutherans is that the cross is ONLY death, and not life also.

    FRANK Really? Maybe. How so?

    TRH The same error happens with all nonLutherans concerning the third use of the law.

    FRANK You are saying that there is not just death in the Law but ALSO Life, as in capital L Life? Nooooooooooo! You do not mean that TRH. I am misunderstanding you here!

    TRH You and I have been all through this before when I shared from Luther directly and the Missourians as reported by Scott R. Murray in Law, Life and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism, to show that the saying of the confessions that the Law always accuses does not mean that the law ONLY accuses.

    FRANK Yes. The Law ALWAYS accuses means precisely that the Law ONLY accuses. Please distinguish these two things for us. You cannot.

    It does mean exactly that. And the FRUIT of that accusing, if the fruit conforms to the Will of God and Holy Scriptures, is the fruit called Fatherly Goodness and Mercy. Don’t confuse the Law or Gospel with their respective fruits. The God intended fruit of the Law AND the Gospel as to any works either New Man or Old Adam does are identical. FC art VI.

    TRH You keep saying that the cross is death and ONLY death.

    FRANK No. That is not what I said! The Holy Cross is where our Life was won. But yes, even the Death of Life was death. It was not Life. Life is the very Person of our Lord. So the death of Life was THE capital D Death that alone could swallow up the small d death that is the meaningless uncreated thing called sin. So in a sense, yes, the death on the cross was only death. And death is ALL that Reason can see until the Veil of Moses is removed TRH. then , only faith can see the Law in its full deadly effect by the way and know that it is ALL about death.

    TRH You keep saying that the Law always accuses and ONLY accuses. You keep saying that the law only extorts obedience

    FRANK amen! It is what the Confessions say over, and over, and over, and over, and….

    TRH as if baptism gave no birth or as if whatever life baptism gives is only a life of extortion. In your scenario, the law extorts the indwelling Christ, and that is part of what the Missourians rejected, of Murray is to be believed.

    FRANK You are focussed at exactly the place the Confessions would have you focus on. Holy Baptism. This is excellent.

    Baptism consists of a Gospel part…”delivers from, works, gives” and then

    there is a Law part… what it “signifies”. Further the small catechism says that Baptism is done to keep the Command of Christ. Command = Law. The Law ALWAYS accuses.

    Again, you need to see that ‘in, with and under” TRH!

    The Gospel always comes to us by way of Good Works being done! The Holy Spirit always works through those means. This is also true for
    the Gospel and also for Earthly and creaturely Goodness and Mercy that is 1st article.

    TRH One of your proofs that marriage is all death and all extortion is that in the resurrection, we won’t be married.

    FRANK. No. That is not proof. That is an example. There is a difference between proof and illustration or example. Romans 8. Marriage, along with the Preaching of the Law and the Gospel, pertain alone to this earthly existence TRH. They BOTH fall within the Romans 8 category of “flesh/body” . these are things that will perish and die with the earth.

    TRH Are we not in this baptised life the espoused of Christ heading to our wedding with him in the resurrection?

    FRANK there that helps: This is true only according to our New Man. Our Old Adam and our daily killing of him is what baptism “signifies” it is the only part of Baptismal Life that we can see and do. the death part.

    The other capital L life part can be known alone from invisible faith and Gods Word.

    But death is what Baptism “signifies” .

    Life and Salvation and delivery from death and the devil and the forgiveness of sins is what Baptism “works, gives and delivers from. ” Faith and God’s Word are the active ingredients exactly as yeast is the active ingredient in bread. They are both invisible!

    TRH When marriage is transformed to its highest possible level between Christ and the Church in the resurrection is just when you say it is eliminated!

    FRANK I am unaware of the bible passage that says marriage will continue in a transformed state in the resurrection. Where is that passage? I only know the one that says there will be no marriage or giving into marriage in the resurrection.

    TRH And then you use that supposed elimination to prove that marriage is all death and the law is all extortion.

    FRANK Naw. I did not make a logical argumentative chain that looks like that.
    TRH Let’s not pretend that’s Lutheranism. If I am not headed to my wedding with Christ in the resurrection, I don’t want to go to heaven. The heavenliness will have gone right out of it without marriage.

    FRANK. where do you find this form or context of doctrine in HOly Scriptures TRH? that YOU personally will be married to Christ in heaven and have a wedding and that marriage will thus continue?

    Peace be with you dear brother Halvorson.+

  39. For TR Halvorson:

    You wrote and I responded in the last post:

    TRH You keep saying that the Law always accuses and ONLY accuses. You keep saying that the law only extorts obedience

    FRANK amen! It is what the Confessions say over, and over, and over, and over, and….

    TRH as if baptism gave no birth or as if whatever life baptism gives is only a life of extortion. In your scenario, the law extorts the indwelling Christ, and that is part of what the Missourians rejected, of Murray is to be believed.

    There IS a NEW Obedience TRH. But this is an effect of the Holy Gospel and NOT the Law. This is an obedience that happens like spontaneous combustion, as if NO Law existed, like light comes from the sun and as the angels do God’s bidding. This looks like the Obedience of Christ. and it also is the perfect obedience the Believer insofar as he is regenerate.

    but this is unseen to us in this life TRH. we know of this New Obedence only by faith and the Word of God. ALL we can see and do is Old Adam driven by the Law.

    And this becomes different after baptism. How? Before baptism we are ALL Old Adam. And so we resist dying and look for capital L Life how? By righeousness! By doing the Law. By Obedience. By Sacrifice.

    Now that we have the New Man we welcome that same death. And we participate with the Holy Spirit in using the Law to achieve that death. Why? we in faith know that our Life is now hidden away safely with Christ.

    So we wail away at striking the Old Adam with the Law and subduing him and killing him. This is the part of sanctification that we can see and are commanded to do. This is what st paul is about when he tells us to run the race, subdue the flesh, mortify the flesh, etc. It is the New Man using the Law on his Old Adam.

  40. @T. R. Halvorson #186

    The true mark of a christian is that a christian….

    does not seek to please God by obedience to God’s Word.
    This is because the christian is truly terror stricken at what God’s Word says about ALL he can see and do.
    Therefore, he knows that only Christ can render that Obedience.

    rather he seeks to be obedient to God’s Word in doing Goodness and Mercy to others. This is what his life focus looks like. Vocation.

  41. Or, homosexuality is not a choice, therefore not a sin, and therefore not punishable. So before anyone gets all up in some one elses sex life, why don’t you just live your own life the way you want it, and let god judge.

  42. @Richard #194

    Dear brother Richard,

    Or, homosexuality is not a choice, therefore not a sin, and therefore not punishable. So before anyone gets all up in some one elses sex life, why don’t you just live your own life the way you want it, and let god judge.

    In the second table of the Law, it is the actions that flow from our Old Adam heart that matter.

    Would you agree that in the Story of the Good Samaritan that the motives and thoughts and intent of any of the actors is simply and totally irrelevant? Note then, that what matters in all earthly morality is precisely what St James points us to. Our Good Works. ” Tell me your faith and I will show you my works!” This Story of the Good Samaritan is the story that our dear Lord himself uses to teach us what keeping the second table exactly looks like in practice and is an illustration, I would suggest, of the second table law keeping that St James is all about.

    So then:

    Is homosexuality a sin because it is volutary or not? Ask the wrong question and get the wrong answer! This phrasing implies an underlying error.

    Which is what?

    It reveals that there is lurking in the background a Roman Catholic error that there is a distinction to be made between willful sinning and “unwillful sinning”, that is to say, there is a distinction to be made between “mortal” or “capital” sinning (sin that kills the soul) and “venial sinning” (sin that is merely an oops because it is not “willful” or “lifestyle” or “persistent” sinning. ALL sin is willful sinning that our Old Adam is committed to heart, mind, body and soul! This is what our Lutheran Confessions teach. There is NO such thing as UNwillful sinning. Period. So to say that homosexual sinning is somehow different because it is willful or persistent or whatever reveals a fatal theological flaw that must be repented of. Repentence here means to turn and see things the right way in Christ.

    So then. It simply does not matter whether one can prove whether or not homosexuality is a choice or not as a theological point to debate as to whether homosexuality is a sin or not. It is not wilfulness (ie choice) that makes sin become SIN.

    So then what IS sin?

    Our Apology in art II says that all sin consists of two things that are both all about faith.

    First sin is the total and utter lack or absence of faith in the right Object. And that Object alone is to be faith and trust in the Works of Another. Old Adam totally lacks this faith and always will!

    Secondly, sin is faith, but in the second sense it is a faith that viciously insists upon trusting in anything BUT the Works of Another. This could be our own righteousness or goodness, our wilpower, love, good works, or the like. This second sort of faith, and it is faith, is the faith that rushes in to fill the void of that other Godly faith that is faith alone in the Works of Another that Adam possessed before the fall and that was the very Image of God lost to him and his Original Righteousness.

    So note that the Image of God is essentially faith in Christ alone. This Image of God was restored to you as your New Man in the waters of Holy Baptism. And it is also fully restored to any homosexual , alone, in those same waters.

    So then, this is the focus of the discussion of homosexuality. the discussion is not to be about Homosexuals needing to reconform to some Divine Natural Law that dictates a heterosexual pattern or design. That would be to most horribly confuse Law and Gospel.

  43. Over a year ago, I wrote Pastor Rossow in regards to how he would minister to gays and lesbians. I wanted to clarify that I am NOT the former church organist from Renton, Washington. I was a former deacon from an LCMS church in Southern California. I AM a practicing homosexual who is in a committed relationship of over 8 years. From what I have seen in the LCMS, there is no acceptance. They have used “hating the sin but not the sinner” as a facade. This assumption is based on my experience and what I have witnessed from other gays and lesbians in the ministry. The LCMS is falling apart – the liturgy is never used, there is no campaign for social outreach. Instead they have pushed out the very people who loved their church and God. I took the steps to become Episcopalian in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

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