Responding to Legalized Sin

US Gay pride flagToday the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. Unless you’re under the illusion that America is a Christian nation, this decision should come as no surprise. This isn’t the first time our country has ignored God’s will and legalized sin. 42 years ago, the Supreme Court granted women the right to murder their own children with immunity, so long as they do it when they’re most vulnerable.

Marriage has been under attack in this country for decades, and most of it has nothing to do with homosexuality. One of the reasons God created marriage in Eden was for the procreation of children. “Be fruitful and multiply” is not a divine suggestion, it’s a mandate (Genesis 1:28). There are many reasons for the decline of the Church today, but the single biggest reason is because Christian couples aren’t having children the way they used to.

What God has joined together—marriage, sex, and procreation—man has separated. When we treat sex as though it had nothing to do with marriage and procreation, you can have it whenever you want (married or not), with whomever you want, without regard for gender—and perhaps eventually, even age or species. The unwanted pregnancy is handled the same way you would treat a nagging cold. Take a few pills, and if symptoms persist, you might need to go in for a more elaborate procedure.

God also created marriage to give us a place to practice self-giving love and forgiveness. We turn this on its head and regard marriage as a means to selfish personal fulfillment. When you finally realize that perfect man or woman is actually a really bad sinner just like you, no problem! Just get a divorce and remarry as many times as it takes until you finally really mean it when you say “until death do us part.” Unless the rest of the country catches up to Utah, we’ll just have to settle for serial polygamy.

So before we get too worked up about gay marriage, let’s be clear: heterosexuals have been doing a fine job destroying marriage all by themselves. It’s not like the less than 2% of gay Americans have come in overthrown the government. In a democracy, the majority rules, and the masses have spoken. The Supreme Court has only affirmed the inevitable. As a friend of mine recently observed, the people who are supportive of this decision are not radicals; many are members in good standing of Lutheran congregations.

The fact that Christians support something so contrary to God’s will goes to show the depth of our corruption. However loving it may seem, it is never loving to condone what God calls sin—and despite what the Queen James Bible says, homosexuality is sin. But the homosexuality of others is just a speck when compared with your own sin. As our Lord says,

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye,” (Luke 6:42).

So what should the Church do in response to the Supreme Court’s decision? The same thing She always does: repent. Repent of your own sexual sin, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual. You’ll never be able to help your neighbor with the speck in his eye while ignoring the log in your own. Repent of your failure to love your neighbors enough to be compassionate and warn them about the dangers of their own sin. Be steadfast and continue to confess the truth of God’s Word as it pertains to marriage and human sexuality, no matter how unpopular it may be. Jesus forgives the penitent, both gay and straight. What He cannot forgive are those who reject His Word outright and stubbornly persist in their sin.

We’d much rather opt for the “live and let live” approach, which sounds a little like something Jesus once said: “judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37). Telling someone what they’re doing is wrong is no fun, so the “live and let live” approach helps us avoid any uncomfortable confrontations. Better yet, if we avoid judging the behavior of others, then they have no right to judge ours either, and we can live however we please, judgment-free.

The problem with this is that Jesus didn’t mean “live and let live.” Scripture repeatedly warns us about the danger of sin and the coming judgment of God. Christians are not free to live however they please and decide for themselves what’s right and wrong.

Nor would Jesus have you turn a blind eye to the sin of those around you, even if that sin is legal in our country. Instead, He urges you to help your neighbor avoid falling into a pit, which is exactly what happens when someone becomes trapped in sin (Luke 6:39). Sin is nothing to celebrate. Jesus likens it to having a splinter in your eye (Luke 6:41-42). Turning a blind eye to something like that is the opposite of compassion.

The nations will continue to rage and plot in vain against God and His Word (Psalm 2:1), but we remain faithful. Even if the United States were to pass laws making Christianity illegal, our citizenship remains in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We stand fast, knowing that Christ will never forsake His Bride, the Church. We trust His promise that this creation will one day be set free from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:21), a promise which is as certain as Jesus’ victory over the grave.


Comments

Responding to Legalized Sin — 97 Comments

  1. Dear BJS,
    Whew…many of us parish pastors got through the weekend, we preached God’s Word, we fed the flock, we did field a few questions and we talked. My sermon was centered on the patience of God for the sinner, yes, I did delve into Torah. Sin is still sin, God saves the repentant sinner.

    The tough part is this:

    We parish pastors are left in the cold. Some asked, “what about the other pastors in the Circuit?” Silence is my answer. Deal with it is the basic tone…we have little support.

  2. @Pastor Prentice #44

    As another bi-vocational pastor, I don’t think we really need more support than the local congregation we serve, and the Spirit of the Living God working through His Means both for us and for them.

    We ought not be discouraged by the lack of other things. We have all that is needful.

    Blessings to you, and faith with courage for the road to come.

  3. @Brad #45
    Dear Brad,
    I humbly disagree in this sense, my personal faith has never been stronger; yet as a pastor of a Church, we need the support, really all pastors need the support of fellow brothers in the ministry.

    Sure, by the congregational polity we can simply exist without Synod in essence, we have what we need in the Church by the congregational support and calling.

    Yet we walk with Synod and District, so I guess I am saying, “Synod / District / Circuit, we are limping and can use some support.” “How about some.”

    And as a bi-vocational man / pastor, you know we do not have the luxury of having extra time like many of the other full time men. Yes, they get days off, you and I we work even on the “days off”. You know what I mean. It takes a toll.

  4. @Pastor Eric Andersen #39
    Rev. Andersen,
    Thanks for the kind words. Those “Stuff They Didn’t Teach Me In Sunday School” videos were a joy to do and have been pretty widely used. I’m glad you found them helpful. It was a privilege to work at LHM–a fine organization in so many ways. it’s also a lot of fun being retired!

    You wrote: “this particular sin is now legally regarded as good and beneficial to the flourishing of individuals and society, even a civic right (certainly not sinful or immoral in any way).” I’m just trying to think all of this through and avoid the “sky is falling” mentality that I’m seeing so much of in the last week (not necessarily from you). Doesn’t your statement quoted above also describe perfectly the First Amendment? With this amendment, isn’t the sin of worshiping other gods (obvious violation of the first and, I would argue, the most important commandment) protected by our constitution and our government? Even we in the church see the First Amendment which, in essence, guarantees people’s right to violate the First Commandment as “beneficial to the flourishing of individuals and society, even a civic right (certainly not sinful or immoral in any way).”

    I don’t view any of the three branches of the government as the moral conscience of the nation. I expect them to make decisions based on protecting the rights, freedoms, property and wellbeing of the US citizens. I don’t really want them to be a “moral compass” because I’m not certain whose morals they would use. I haven’t read all of the dissenting opinions, but, from what I have read, none of the dissenting justices dissented on moral grounds–just on the basis of the definition of marriage and more often on the basis of a violation of the democratic process. I’m most willing to be corrected.

    While Roe vs. Wade brought about monumental changes–and disastrous changes–the murder of millions of tiny Americans, I don’t really see that much has changed with the recent ruling on gay marriage. Folks that were gay last week are still gay. Folks that were in heterosexual marriages are still in those marriages. The court did, of course, overrule the will of the people in 13 states–that’s a problem for me. And this almost certainly opens the door for more gay adoptions and artificial inseminations. I’m thinking that’s not a good thing for kids and I care very much about the welfare of kids. But those adoptions and inseminations were happening already prior to the Supreme Court decision.

    Finally, I hope I’m right–I don’t think the horrible things that people think will come to pass, will really come to pass. I don’t think our clergy will be forced to perform gay weddings–at least that was indicated in the majority opinion of the SCOTUS. And I don’t think churches will lose their tax status. I think your and my right to express our opinion will be safeguarded, as well. An interesting sidelight–here in Texas, our lieutenant governor issued a statement yesterday that any clerk in Texas who objected to same sex marriage, could refuse to issue the marriage license. Now that might draw some legal fire!

    My encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ, calm down. Wait and see how this all sifts out. Our business as a church is to, through Word and Sacrament, serve as a conduit in the Holy Spirit’s job of changing hearts–not necessarily changing governments. Government will be positively influenced by the participation of Christians with changed hearts in government than by pressure from the church on government. As long as we are free to proclaim the Gospel, individually and collectively, I’m happy. Let’s do it!

  5. @Bruce Wurdeman #47
    Dear Bruce,
    Here is the tough part as we shepherd the flock, we are losing and have lost much of the battle in the public square. The left hand kingdom is twisting words, phrases, even using poorly worded (or a many worded good confessional statements) against us.

    In the case of Chicago, the TV News reported that Cardinal Cupich is all good with “gay civil marriage”, in essence that twisted paragraph one of his response, in paragraph two, he still is committed to a Biblical view of marriage. Now the Pope???

    And Bruce, how much longer will we be free to proclaim the Gospel? Time is ticking. The LCMS sent out notes a few weeks ago for our personal Church attorneys to be prepared. Oh wait, all of us have attorneys? Lucky we have a few in the pew.

    The real key is how Satan through the fallen world will erode and pester our people. He has lost we know it…but we don’t want him to pick off any sheep that stray too close.

  6. @Pastor Prentice #48
    Rev. Prentiss,
    You said, “The left hand kingdom is twisting words, phrases, even using poorly worded (or a many worded good confessional statements) against us.” Could you give me an example of this? The example you cited was of the press twisting words–something that happens fairly regularly and has been happening for a long time. I greatly value a free press but the free press is not the “left hand kingdom”. Please provide an example.

    In addition, how are you less free today to proclaim the Gospel than you have been?

    I guess it’s always a good idea to have a personal attorney at your disposal. I’ve been sued. (I won.) Any nut case with $500 in their pocket can sue you. Again, that’s been true for a long time, too.

  7. @Carl Vehse #43

    I take it, then, that you believe the founding documents you describe were _Christian_ and not a product of deistic, theistic, Jeffersonian-Jesus, Masonic-gripping, sons of the Enlightenment? [Steven Waldman, “Founding Faith.”]

    Frankly, I have an _extremely_ difficult time considering _anything_ to be “Christian” which is not founded upon Christ’s vicarious work bestowed through the Means of Grace. When any morality, constitution, or jurisprudence which purports to be Christian apart from the Means of Grace, is it any wonder that it implodes in the course of time?

    Though I suppose if folks are willing to associate the label “Christian” to church bodies or individuals which deny the vicarious atonement and the efficacy of the Means of Grace, then they should be only too glad to extend the same courtesy to a nation . . . like Germany. If the ELCA is “Christian,” then I suppose that the United States can be, too.

    Democracies and republics were several centuries old by the fullness of time when Christ took on our flesh. He did not choose to establish His Church as a democracy; even so much as to say “My democracy is not of this world.” His people have known such governments as patriarchy, theocracy, judges, kingdoms, . . . and yes, democracies. When each of these fell, it wasn’t pretty, but only showed that our hope for righteousness and peace cannot come through any human government.

    We fall into the same trap as did the Israelites at Jeremiah’s time who misplaced their hope in “The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!” (Jer. 7:4) by saying, “The Constitution of the U.S.! The Constitution of the U.S.! The Constitution of the U.S.!”

    I could have admired the Temple. I can admire our democracy, but I do not identify our government as “Christian” to the extent that the deterioration of the state is inextricably linked to the state of Christianity. I don’t think you do either.

  8. @Bruce Wurdeman #49
    Dear Bruce,
    You know what I mean by “agendas”, and you know, is there really a free press that most of us are viewing? No, not really…you need to wade through and make decisions on what you view. OK, might have been channel 9 (WGN) citing Cardinal Cupich, or only citing a portion of the Cardinal’s comments. And you know what happens when you “pick and choose”, people do it all the time in Scripture. That is why we have doctrines.

    Hmmm, as for the Gospel, let me rephrase. We proclaim the Gospel with as much force now as we did in the past. Yet, the world is twisting the Law of God more than ever “it seems”. Gospel is forgiveness of sins, yet the definition of sin is changing.

    Yes, lawsuits will come…oh well, we shall deal with it. I guess in reality, they are suing the Synod and the leadership, we only follow orders (God first, Synod as dispensers of God’s orders).

  9. My earlier comments made no such inference that the founding documents were Christian. Instead my comment about the term “Christian nation” noted that “Christianity is the religion that served as the basis for public virtue and moral obligation (though imperfectly practiced) in the settlement of America and the founding and development of the United States.”

    The founding legal documents of the U.S. did include Christian references, even though a significant number of signers were not Christian themselves. What the founders relied on were the Commentaries of William Blackstone, an English judge. These volumes were widely studied in America before and after the Revolutionary War. Even today citations to the Commentaries can still be found in Court decision (more likely from conservative judges).

    Thomas Jefferson also used Blackstone in preparing the Declaration of Independence, and noted in an 1810 letter (perhaps with tongue-in-cheek) that American lawyers use Blackstone’s Commentaries with the same dedication and reverence that Muslims used the Koran. (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. XII, p. 392, letter to Governor John Tyler on May 26, 1810).

    Note the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” comes from Book 1, Section II of the Commentaries and refers, respectively, to “This will of his maker is called the law of nature” and “The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the holy scriptures.”

    Phrases in the 1789 Constitution also contain terms based on established legal understanding contained in William Blackstone’s Commentaries.

    Who’s saying “The Constitution of the U.S.! The Constitution of the U.S.!” And if so in what context? As a replacement for the Gospel? Not on BJS.

  10. Wow. Just about hit every sore spot in my life. Good job making my past so much of what is wrong with everybody. Sometimes Christianity is a real painful life because of Christians.

  11. @Bruce Wurdeman #47

    I, too, have witnessed “the sky is falling” mentality in action. Faith in Caesar is always misplaced, and you’re right to point out that much hasn’t changed with this ruling. A much bigger threat to the Church than Friday’s ruling is the fairly widespread mentality among Christians that there’s nothing wrong with Friday’s ruling.

    I agree that the First Amendment is good, but that’s because it has a righteous civil function; namely, that it protects the conscience. The SCOTUS decision, on the other hand, has no righteous civil function and, I would argue, is harmful to everyone’s conscience (whether they realize it or not). God does not impose belief on anyone by force; our laws should not try to do otherwise. Such an Amendment is in keeping with our doctrine of the two kingdoms.

    I also agree that the government shouldn’t try to be the morality police, but decisions to protect rights, freedoms, and wellbeing are inherently moral decisions, so they will not be able to avoid such decisions entirely. This is where natural law is valuable; unfortunately, it’s not an infallible compass, and the more you sin against the conscience, the easier it becomes. I haven’t read through all of the dissenting opinions, but those I have seen were based, as you said, on a feeling that the democratic process was being violated, not the conscience.

    You wrote:

    “Finally, I hope I’m right–I don’t think the horrible things that people think will come to pass, will really come to pass. I don’t think our clergy will be forced to perform gay weddings–at least that was indicated in the majority opinion of the SCOTUS. And I don’t think churches will lose their tax status. I think your and my right to express our opinion will be safeguarded, as well. An interesting sidelight–here in Texas, our lieutenant governor issued a statement yesterday that any clerk in Texas who objected to same sex marriage, could refuse to issue the marriage license. Now that might draw some legal fire!”

    I think we’re in the minority here, but I agree with you. I heard about that statement in Texas, and am very interested to see how that plays out.

    I think your final encouragement also bears repeating. Well said!

    “My encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ, calm down. Wait and see how this all sifts out. Our business as a church is to, through Word and Sacrament, serve as a conduit in the Holy Spirit’s job of changing hearts–not necessarily changing governments. Government will be positively influenced by the participation of Christians with changed hearts in government than by pressure from the church on government. As long as we are free to proclaim the Gospel, individually and collectively, I’m happy. Let’s do it!”

  12. @Pastor Eric Andersen #54

    As President Harrison has pointed out, together with various other legal scholars, including the government’s representative during SCOTUS questioning, 501c3 tax status will be difficult to maintain for those organizations– particularly para-church organizations– which violate the new constructed Constitutional right.

    We may be free in our parishes for the moment, but our parish schools may quickly become targets… as will the Concordia University system and possibly the seminaries. Other charitable RSO organizations may be hit, as well. If our Christian schools, universities, and charities are denied tax exempt status, federal financial aid for students, and accreditation, they will dry up quickly.

    The ACLU was already publishing this morning that they no longer support RFRA, because it can be used to protect, in their LGBTQ assessment, discrimination. If or when that falls, so falls the ability of churches, schools, charities, etc., to live out a faithful confession regarding marriage without being charged for discrimination and criminally prosecuted.

    These things are already at the doors. We would be wise to face them now. I think we should start planning for how to exist as the Church without any support from the federal government (from tax status in the parish, to federal support in the schools, to accreditation bodies,) and rather prepare for living under the persecution of the government. It will make us much more circumspect regarding what our money is used for, and how we live out our confession in the public square.

  13. Following the lack of logic used by the left I am confident that very soon it will cost us to support God’s Word as all of it will be considered “hate speech”. This includes The Gospel because it implies a sinful nature and a need for a Savior (how hateful). Pray for strength to deal with what will come.

  14. Concerning the SCOTUS homo-“marriage” opinion, is it just me, or is Lutheran quietism getting a little deep lately?

  15. @Carl Vehse #59

    Well, we don’t want to be pushy like the Methobapticostals do we? I don’t know if I would call it quietism as much as I would call it nobody is listening-ism. A large portion of our country has already made up their mind on this issue, after years of being bombarded by media, schools, and liberal denominations of Christianity. Even our own denomination is horribly divided on numerous issues, and yes the subject of Homosexuality is one of those topics. We are aware that there are clergy in our Synod who are perfectly accepting of homosexuality – often in connection with a myriad of other false beliefs. And the division is even more evident if we look at the folks in the pews, yes our own pews. I haven’t seen any recent stats, but I would wager a sizable number of LCMS laity are firmly entrenched in the belief that Homosexuality is not sinful, or that God doesn’t care about it. No matter how many sermons have been preached, classes taught, questions asked, they just keep on towing the line of the culture, ignoring Scripture, and still claim to be God fearing Christians. Much of the problem is that people are Biblically illiterate while being under the impression they know the Bible. I can see why there are folks throwing up their hands on this topic. And this is just one topic of many to be wrestled with in our congregations week after week. I think it is fair to say that we have a lot of weary laborers in the fields right now. It isn’t that they have been quiet on the subject, or have given up, it’s just that it is falling on deaf ears and hard hearts.

  16. I have a novel idea! How about pastors equipping and encouraging their members to be comfortable sharing their faith with others. We could spread the Word.

  17. @Tileman hesshusius #65

    Huh? According to the linked article,

    However, according to city officials and the lawsuit itself, the Hitching Post [Wedding Chapel] filed papers with the Idaho Secretary of State identifying itself as a religious corporation on Oct. 6, the day before the 9th Circuit struck down Idaho’s ban. The city’s ordinance explicitly states that religious corporations are exempt from the law….

    “I want to make clear,” said [Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike] Gridley, “that the Hitching Post, or any other minister that I’m aware of, is not subject to our ordinance.”

    The claim about the threat of 180 years in jail comes from the lawsuit by Donald and Evelyn Knapp against the City of Coeur D’Alene.

  18. The discouraging thing to this pewsitter is that while I am concerned about our confessional Pastor possibly being jailed for speaking Biblical truth from the pulpit, [as has happened in Canada] what I hear from the bureaucracy is concern about our tax status, i.e. “the MONEY”!

    IF the glass house of ersatz riches were well and thoroughly smashed, the “world” might be doing us a favor! We’d have to get back to faith in the Triune God.

    The false “gospel” of “MORE!, BIGGER!” might finally be discarded.

  19. @helen #71
    Dear Helen,
    No, the parish pastor is concerned about the soul of the person, every person we talk to. I worked out tonight, went for a Lutheran beverage after, and next thing happens, I get into discussions with a few people…and they all called me as a LCMS Pastor, “oh, those guys”. Of course, I stay the course and share the Gospel, but am firm with the Law. An up hill fight. And I will not stop.

    And stop with the money thing, we don’t care about the tax breaks, we would keep doing this no matter what because it is the right thing to do as a God Fearing Christian.

    Now you “may” be on to something though. I asked the Circuit to gather for a meeting to discuss the issues of late, talk, share…silence. Oh, one got back to me, but “no interest.”

    A parishioner told me, “why would they discuss, the economics of the Church does not want sharing, we might steal people away.” We don’t want to share, we must keep our turf.

    Of course. I disagreed from a Christian standpoint, but from a business standpoint, sadly he was right.

  20. @Pastor Prentice #73

    No, the parish pastor is concerned about the soul of the person, every person we talk to.

    You’re a parish Pastor.
    I believe I mentioned bureaucracy… you know, the pronouncements of our elected “leaders”.

    But if you can’t get together in your own circuit because everyone is “afraid of sheep stealing”, you’ve got a problem!
    As Matt would tell you, if you were all “saying the black, doing the red”, your only problem would be getting the hymns up to tempo!

    Matt Mills, that is! Or maybe it was Scott. Or both of them! 🙂

  21. @J. Dean #40

    The difference being that not participating in abortion is not a violation of law while refusing to perform church weddings for same-gender couples may become illegal if it isn’t already. Now that same-gender marriage is legal, will the prevailing zeitgeist cause bitter consequences for the Church, branding the teachings of Christ as hate speech, revoking 501(c)(3) status of steadfast churches for noncompliance, the state preferring the sexual rights of a special interest group over against the natural and religious freedom rights enumerated in the Constitution? Maybe even imprisonment for those speaking the truth in love not just from the pulpit? I take little comfort in the words of Justice Kennedy when he writes, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” I am mindful as of late that God-ordained government in America seeks to suppress the Church by cunning and lies and will plod incrementally to complete the fundamental transformation of the American polity and that fraction of the Church that maintains fidelity to God’s Word.

  22. @helen #74

    Helen,

    The tax status issue is significant for more than the money. Because our government has been, for many years, both coercing and incentivizing through the tax code, the only way to protect churches from government coercion in the modern tax era (ostensibly protecting the free exercise clause) is to exempt churches from various elements of the tax code. To my humble reading of tax law, once you remove tax exempt status from churches, the government will through the tax code support the churches that support them, and burden the churches that do not support them.

    The other money issues are linked to federal funding, upon which our whole post-secondary education system is propped. If/when federal student loans and grants are withdrawn from Christian colleges and universities, the students won’t be able to afford them (i.e., they won’t be able to take on enormous government subsidized debt to get their education in these places) and in very short order those colleges and universities will close (or shrink to 10% of their current size.) Also, if these colleges and universities have subjected themselves to state sponsored (Department of Education) accreditation bodies, they are susceptible to having their accreditation pulled… which will then bar them from receiving federal monies (including VA benefits like the GI Bill, or various tuition assistance programs.)

    But to your point, any bureaucracy is going to be heavily focused on the money, because the only thing that keeps a bloated bureaucracy afloat is other people’s money (interesting analogy to state and federal governments there, too.) Most churches, our own being no exception, has gotten comfortable living on government money, so the government can now influence us through that money. This is why I say that we (and every American church body that even hopes to be remotely orthodox) needs to start figuring out how to exist apart from government money and support… and we need to do it now. We need to tap into our vast ecclesiastical history, and remember how to exist as the Body of Christ under government persecution.

    Of course, if we remember the basic simplicity of the Church, it’s not such a hard thing to envision. If, however, you’re trying to save the bureaucracy– all the stuff that’s not Word and Sacrament– the panic will be palpable.

  23. @Mark #75

    I take little comfort in the words of Justice Kennedy…

    Yes, it’s like saying: “If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.”

  24. @Rev. William Ringer #67

    Well, we don’t want to be pushy like the Methobapticostals do we?

    I don’t know what the ‘metho…costals’ are doing, but the sign outside University Baptist Church says #lovewins. They have a sort of rainbow colored butterfly thing under that. (I was driving by, so I didn’t see exactly what it was.)

  25. Justice Kennedy: “through its (marriage) enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.”

    I’ve been chewing on this statement from Justice Kennedy for a while now. I’m sure there is some positive way to understand it, yet, I can’t help but wonder about the whole finding freedoms of spirituality business. It seems they found the freedom to marry in the first place by force, so I can only assume that other freedoms to be found for same-sex couples will also be found by force.

  26. @Brad #76

    (i.e., they won’t be able to take on enormous government subsidized debt to get their education in these places) and in very short order those colleges and universities will close (or shrink to 10% of their current size.)

    Currently, 10% might be the fraction of the students who are Lutheran/plan on Lutheran church work. Perhaps it was a mistake to “grow” for the benefit of “anybody but Lutherans”? [

  27. @helen #78

    There are many UCC Churches and other liberal denominations here in New England that fly the rainbow flag. The ABC-USA, which is more than likely the background of the Baptist church you reference, is quite liberal leaning in their theology. So they are just pushy in the other direction!!

    A few years back I passed by a UCC church flying a rainbow flag that had a spiritualist festival with psychic medium booths set up. It was quite a sight to behold.

  28. @helen #80

    I’m wondering if the two seminaries may suffer a decrease in enrollment also. As I understand it, the majority of students take on enormous debt which probably includes federal loans etc. Maybe this would not be a bad thing since ‘pastor shortage’ has been a scare tactic for many years now.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  29. Dear BJS,
    As I am doing some study, one thing does come to mind, we truly need to reevaluate our talks with other denominations, such as the ELCA, etc.
    They have a differing view of Scripture, especially since their higher critical thinking denies the inerrency and infallibility of the Bible. How else can they embrace homosexuality and fornication?
    We need to strengthen our denouncing of err against God’s Word. We reach out with God’s Word, they all reach out with a flawed and deadly form of deceit, veiled within the guile of God’s Word.
    What a mess it is. We need to get back to Biblical basics, and if we lose some, we pray more earnestly for them…but we have to stay true to God’s Word.
    God is still good!

  30. Okay, so, we do have one rather shocking SCOTUS recent decision which will hold off the most aggressive of the wolves for a while: Hosanna Tabor. Unanimous, no less, was the Court in saying the state has no business telling churches who their ministers can be. That should provide some (temporary–hopefully, fairly long-lasting, nevertheless) protection for our schools. Not a *blanket* protection, to be sure!
    I agree that we need to avoid panic. I think Pastor Anderson’s article here is an excellent, faithful, orthodox beginning of the conversations we need to be having. As always, 1st of all, Repent! (Thesis 1 of the 95, you know–and more importantly, the first word of Jesus’ public teaching.)

  31. @Pastor Prentice #83

    “we truly need to reevaluate our talks with other denominations, such as the ELCA, etc.”

    Both the LCMS President and the CTCR have declared the XXXA as “embodying apostasy” (although the CTCR used a bad translation of Pannenberg to support their conclusion). What more is there to reevaluate? Talks about what level of hell their handbasket is headed toward?

  32. Wait, wait!!

    On a positive note, the LCMS is in formal fellowship talks with the 6-million (or is it 8-million) member EECMY. These talks are at the super-secret handshake level, but from what is known among the pewsitters there is certainly much to constructively talk about and evaluate in trying to move from de facto A&P fellowship to publicly-acknowledged A&P fellowship.

  33. While I certainly hope and pray that the sky is not falling with respect to the SCOTUS ruling on gay “marriage”, but it is the in-born character of the progressive left to require constant revolution and constant “progress”. I think we dare not underestimate the power of this agenda and we do so to our own peril. Please check out this: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/30/as-left-celebrates-right-preps-for-all-out-anti-religious-assault/

    It is in keeping with the nature and character of Progressivism to expand and control virtually every aspect of private live so that their “melody” is the only one permitted to be sung by anyone. This will especially be the case if yet another progressive President is elected in 2016.

  34. It’s starting….

    Former Mount de Sales Academy band director Flint Dollar filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that the [Roman] Catholic school discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation.

    Dollar, an openly gay man, said he signed a new contract May 1, 2014, to teach at the private school in Macon for the 2014-2015 term. He has said he told the school of his plan to marry his partner in October 2014, and that no one at the school objected. [Note: Elsewhere it was reported that Dollar disclosed his “marriage” plans to the school prior to being fired.]

    David Held, the school’s president, fired him May 21, 2014.

    Dollar, who now lives in New York, contends that he was fired because of his marriage plans and that he didn’t comport with the school’s “traditional gender stereotypes.”

    The school released a letter last year saying that Dollar wasn’t fired because he’s gay, but because same-sex marriage goes against Catholic doctrine.

    Earlier this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a finding that “there is reasonable cause to conclude” that Dollar had been discriminated against based on his sexual orientation.

    Excerpted from The Telegraph‘s June 30th news article, “Former Mount de Sales teacher files discrimination suit against the school.”

  35. Dear BJS,
    This is what I said to my people, perhaps many of you may tear it apart, but what I said is what I said as a public official of the Lord:

    A Note from Pastor Prentice
    Oh my, what a week it was, and yes I refer to the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. I do think many of you want to say, “Give it a rest pastor”. Maybe some struggle with it, I have fielded many questions. It seems I have a target on me that cries, “dig in and get me going.” Not you all, but at work, around the town; I guess they know I am a reverend.

    Here is my first answer…I don’t have every answer in all theological problems. That is why we keep studying, me included. Now you wonder why I am back at Wheaton College, to better understand what God has to say.

    Perhaps we simply don’t like what God has to say on issues like this. Now some ignore God completely, some say God changed His mind, some say God did not mean it for today. We can and should wrestle with God’s Word, but we do believe His Word is timeless (a discussion for another day on inerrancy and infallibility).

    Perhaps some on Sunday in my sermon said, “Here we go, more Law”. But perhaps lost was the comments at the end, God is patient and loving. He does not want to destroy any sinner. His love is their through His Son Jesus.

    Yes, some may ask, “are we welcoming of gay people”. My answer, we are welcoming of all people and what comes with them, all of their sins. I print that on every bulletin cover.

    Yes, but some may say, “That is not sinful behavior”. At this, I can only say, “I want to agree with you, it might make things easier, but that is not what God says.” But I will include, “hang tough, we can wrestle with God’s Word and come up with more and more understanding.” No one said being a Christian is easy. Jesus never thought it was easy either; He spoke of sin and was killed for it (for all us sinners). Yet Jesus never doubted or refuted Scripture.

    We will struggle with this and many other issues, but let us not lose heart, let us wrestle and learn from it.

    Perhaps many of us are like a child whose Mother or Father said something we do not like. We stamp our feet and complain, but as we grow and eventually understand, we then say, “Yes, they were correct.” Oh it does take time.

    Be thankful, we live and breathe another day; God has granted us time to work things out. I sure am!

    Ps) We never know when the last day is coming, so let’s keep active in our working things out…and attending Church is good for that (just saying).

    Pastor Prentice

  36. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #24

    I evidently need to say this much clearer: the only proper position consistent with individual rights and a free society is that marriage isn’t any business of the government – at any level.

    From a solely civil (i.e. kingdom of the world/old creation) viewpoint, “marriage” is nothing more than a voluntary contractual arrangement. As you put it, a “business partnership” so to speak. So, why does this need government approval or endorsement (I would also extend this to ALL voluntary contract or business partnerships)? And to your point, why should it receive special benefits over and above other types of “business partnership” at the expense paid by all other citizens?

    Again, prior to the Civil War their was no such thing as a government issued “marriage license” in order to get state approval of your marriage!

    It stands to reason that in a free society those who are of other then biblical Christian beliefs want a marriage contract or even a (other then Christian) religious marriage (they can start the “church of homosexual love” for example or go to the “church of Scientology”) can find that and should be free to do it. Likewise, Christians would be free to say NO to those seeking other then biblical marriage.

    Unfortunately, you are not seeing the “forest” for the “trees” so to speak because the “marriage contract” aspects are so interwoven into the supposed “benefits” that the American socialist “welfare” state has permeated into all levels of society. The redistribution of wealth via government central planning using the discriminator of “marriage” is another issue entirely and can only be addressed by getting the government out of that business as well.

    Here is a state Senator in Texas that understands the need to get government out of the marriage business at all levels and has a practical plan to do so:

    http://www.texasstandard.org/stories/categories/top-stories/why-a-texas-legislator-wants-a-special-session-on-marriage-equality/

    In the end, those “gay” people who think that being brought under the government’s control or approval process has brought them “freedom” will soon find that what they have instead is slavery (just like in the biblical sense that this sin brings slavery not freedom). It is foolish to think that gaining legitimacy from a government that has violated the life and property of countless billions of individuals is something to be desired. But it is clear that the “god” of the people who celebrate the power of the human “law” of this world do in fact worship at the foot of the almighty state:

    “Oh great god government, destroyer of nations, destroyer of life and property, I look to you for legitimacy, please send your blessing upon me; bring me salvation and make me whole.”

  37. @ Pastor Bolland…..Well said. The reality that marriage is not the purview of the government has been overlooked for some time. I do believe that as pastors we need to cease being “agents of the state” and desist from supporting the government position that they are responsible for it. Quit signing the government marriage contract. Pastors should officiate for Christian weddings and they should be in Christ’s church, but they should not be acting as “agents of the state” supporting their positions and ideas regarding marriage.

  38. @Fred #91

    You don’t seem to like the government, do you? Might I humbly remind you that, according to our confessions, the government along with the church is counted among the chief blessings of God on earth? In AC XXVIII, 4 it says:

    … our teachers, for the comforting of men’s consciences, were constrained to show the difference between the power of the Church and the power of the sword, and taught that both of them, because of God’s commandment, are to be held in reverence and honor, as the chief blessings of God on earth.

    I think a taunting tone vis-a-vis the government is therefore not appropriate (“Oh great god government …”). Counter to what Libertarians might think, it remains God’s agent for good (Rom. 13), even if it at times does not follow / uphold God’s moral law.

    Kind of like our parents, no?

    Both government and parents are included in the Fourth Commandment – you know, the one about honoring those placed in authority over us.

    See the Large Cat. on what “honoring” means (I, 106-107):

    For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden, and requires not only that they be addressed kindly and with reverence, but, most of all, that both in heart and with the body we so act as to show that we esteem them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. For one whom we are to honor from the heart we must truly regard as high and great.

    Of course, where necessary we must obey God more than men – whether dealing with our dear gvmt or our dear parents. See AC XVI,5-7. I think Pres. Harrison pointed that out as well.

    Now, why have Lutherans traditionally taught the involvement of the government in marriage? A couple reasons come to mind, and none really involves “benefits:” Marriage is not a private matter (certainly not a private “contract,” according to Scripture). It therefore ought to be recognized / registered by a public agency to avoid confusion (bigamy, inheritance matters, etc.). The gvmt comes to mind as a suitable public agency for this in our times. Second, marriage belongs to the First Article, to creation – like the gvmt and unlike the church.

    This is why Luther said the marriage of a consenting man and woman ought to “happen” at the town hall. Then, those married couples who so desired could come to church to invoke the blessing of the Creator of marriage on their union.

    So, perhaps the US could be moved to adopt “the German system” in this matter where city hall ratifies the marriage as far as the gvmt is concerned and where people then can go to their church to have a religious blessing on their union. This would be more according to Luther’s thinking on the matter – and pastors wouldn’t have to be deputized as state agents.

    But I also don’t quite see why we couldn’t keep the current system in place where it is understood that pastors / clergy, even as “state agents,” will not be forced to perform marriages that militate against their beliefs: Orthodox rabbis will not need to marry Reform Jews. Catholic priests will not need to bestow the sacrament of marriage on two Protestants. And LCMS pastors will not be forced to marry people who obtained a divorce for unscriptural reasons (“no fault”) – at least not by the gvmt (but – perhaps a more realistic scenario – he might be forced to do so by the church council, elders, or other church members of weight).

    Call me naive but I don’t see how the recent ruling changes that. We still don’t need to honor (bless) every otherwise lawful civil marriage licence if doing so would violate our doctrine. Access to civil marriage licenses / marriages has just been extended to another class of people we don’t believe it should be extended to (like, you know, the unscriptural divorcee). But, in my view, this doesn’t fundamentally change how everything else functions.

  39. @Carl Vehse #77

    No, it IS saying, “Keep your religion confined inside the walls of your church. But don’t try any of this ‘free exercise’ stuff. That has gone the way of the dodo bird. It is so ordered.”

    Take about 20-30 minutes and read the opinions for yourselves. Kennedy’s is a tortured exercise in mush touchy feely non-legal progressive jargon. The dissents are quite a different matter–profound, almost.
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

  40. @Max #27

    If I understand your argument correctly, Jesus didn’t really mean it when he told the woman to “Leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11). After all, for all we know, she was acting on her desire for self-expression. (Nowhere is she descried as a prostitute by the way.) It is one thing to have desires whether they be for the opposite sex or the same sex. It is quite another thing to act on them. Legalizing homosexual marriage does not make homosexual behavior any less sinful. Where in scripture does it OK “Self expression?” Regardless of one’s feelings of sympathy for those who have same-sex attraction, a reading of the plain text of scripture does not OK acting on such attractions.

  41. @Rev. William Ringer #81

    There are many UCC Churches and other liberal denominations here in New England that fly the rainbow flag.

    Is New England the place where the New York Times got the illusion that the UCC is “one of the largest Christian denominations in the country”?

  42. Today, Jan 6, 2016, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order that:

    “Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”

    This prevents the Alabama probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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