Skip to comments.Gay Marriage and the LCMS
Posted on 05/22/2014 7:53:21 PM PDT by lightman
It is over, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Conservatives have unconditionally surrendered, at least on the gay marriage debate and probably on the culture wars more generally.
Or perhaps I should say that any who havent surrendered will soon become like the fabled Japanese soldiers who fought WWII long after 1945. Its been prophesied by academia, declared by the judges rulings, and ratified by Hollywood, so there is no going back. You will therefore permit me to repeat emphatically, like Dickens speaking of Marley, that it is over. The culture formed around traditional marriage is dead as a doornail.
We can complain all day that the victory of the progressives subverted our government by ig-noring not only the text of the constitutions of many states but also the outcome of repeated popular votes, but it wont matter. However it came to be, the fact remains that it was a long fought but ultimately resounding victory for progressives, decay being progress of a sort. And to those for whom everything is reducible to power struggles, victory by bogus judicial fiat counts the same as any other. As athletes say, a win is a win.
Religious leaders who have no king but Caesar will shrug, say their hands are tied and reluctantly just go with the new reality, while those who dare not call a thing what it is will naturally laud these rulings which require everyone to pretend (at least officially) that two men are husband and wife. But American churches in line with historic Christianity on this issue increasingly find themselves in a new and foreign context. So what will happen in and to the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod as a result of this new con-text, and what should we do about it now that weve (possibly) forgotten how to be strangers in a strange land? Allow me to offer first two predictions and then two prescriptions.
First prediction: this will not unify the LCMS. I know, I know, Im going way out on a limb there. But there is always the idea floating around that becoming an embattled minority will galvanize people who share a cause to put aside other differences. At first it may seem like this will happen in the LCMS; the various camps will rally together around a common identity as torchbearers of traditional marriage. And that may even seem to be happening for a little while, but it wont last. I truly hope Im wrong on this (stranger things have happened, I readily admit), but I think Evangelicals will soon go wobbly and this cultural change will, given enough time, simply provide another stage on which the same LCMS play is enacted.
The more conservative and separatist strain of the LCMS will see nothing really new be-cause of this issue; as usual, theyll refuse to change and as a result will become more isolated. Theyve always felt like an embattled minority in American Protestantism anyway, caught between the poles of liberal Protestantism and Evangelicalism, and they still fume about the Council of Trent preventing them from being Catholic. Meanwhile, the more moderate and culturally mainstream strain of the LCMS will eventually find plausible reasons to cave on this issue. The larger, more contemporary-minded LCMS congregations have never found Evangelicalism so distasteful anyway, and many coastal and urban LCMS congregations feel fairly comfortable with ELCA-style liberal Protestantism; so both of those groups of moderates will find a way to embrace the new cultural reality. Oh, it might take a decade or so and they wont formally and officially cave, theyll just act with congregational autonomy to gradually get their practice in line with the new cultural expectations, first allowing for some exceptional cases and then allowing the exceptions to become the norm, all while claiming to be completely in line with LCMS doctrine and practice. So the LCMS will eventually become divided on this issue, too, and the division will fall on the same general fault lines as demarcate our other divisions.
My second prediction is that the long dormant issue of artificial birth control will make a comeback among conservatives in the LCMS. This has long been a pet topic of minehow and when (and why) did our teaching on birth control go from one position to the near opposite of that position in one generation? It seems to have simply been a matter of going with the flow of the culture more than actually thinking it through. But the reason it has a chance now to become more than the pet topic of a few people is that when the LCMS explains why we dissent from the culture on gay marriage, well (as usual) be accused of singling out homosexuals for special condemnation. After all, we drifted along with other drastic changes to our understanding of the nature and purpose of sex and marriage, so why not this one? It is a good question, and we ought to take it to heart, not by changing our position on gay marriage but by re-examining how we interacted with similar cultural changes in the past.
Birth control is intimately connected to the gay marriage debate because one of the key arguments in favor of gay marriage is that by normalizing birth control (and declaring it an indispensable part of womens health care), our society has already established that procreation is entirely incidental to the true nature of sex and marriage, so the whole man/woman thing is irrelevant. An interesting and perhaps persuasive point. So I expect (and welcome) a thorough discussion of artificial birth control among advocates of traditional marriage, which could have the added benefit of increasing our inter-action with Roman Catholic social teaching. It isnt that well necessarily come to the same conclusion as Rome, but at least well have studied the matter and made a deliberate decision instead of our past practice of just doing whatever Episcopalians do.
Now my prescriptions: First, I would like to see the LCMS listen to our worst critics as though they are speaking the truth. True, just because people say you are treating them hatefully doesnt mean you are, but it is also true that just because you say you are treating them lovingly doesnt mean you are, either. Lets not kid ourselves; the heart is deceitful above all things. We ought not claim to understand our own motives so much more clearly than do the people who impute bad motives to us. We have the evidence of our own thoughts that re-mains hidden from them, but such evidence can deceive us. And they have other evidence hidden from us, evidence which is also not infallible but still to be taken into account. Speaking the truth in love is so much easier when there is a clear proof text to establish the presence of truth and no evidence required or admitted to establish the presence of love, or even to establish a bare minimum of understanding and sympathy. It can just be speaking the truth with a tacked on assertion of love, which takes no effort and requires no harsh introspection and generally fails even to be true.
So something I think would be helpful would be a seminar or convocation, possibly at one of the seminaries, at which formerly LCMS homosexuals honestly describe their experience with LCMS churches. The rules for the audience would simply be no argument or contradiction, no embattled defensivenesswe arent admitting to the truth of the charges just by listening to them, but we are considering the possibility of the truth of the charg-es, or if not charges, at least negative experiences. It would just be a genuine, face-to-face explanation from homosexual people who have left the LCMS of their reasons for leaving. There could then be a pan-el discussion led by seminary professors or President Harrison or district presidents or some other recognizable LCMS leaders, with or without the homosexual former LCMSers present. It wouldnt be a matter of What should our position be? but How shall we go about holding this position effectively in our new context? I think such an event, if widely attended, could not only help on this issue but also be a step toward a positive change in the general culture of the LCMS.
My second prescription is that we double down on supporting our Lutheran school system. Were closing schools as fast as we can purchase locks for the doors just at the time when we should be reopening the old ones and starting new ones everywhere. Practically every parish used to run a school way back in the day, but as we came out of our German-speaking ghetto the reasoning behind running our own schools seemed less obvious and the expense of doing so skyrocketed to keep up with the material standards of public education. So what we used to offer for free, we now offer only in select areas to those who can pay tuition.
Most churches that run schools face constant battles between those who think the school is a money pit detracting from other missions and those who think of the school as the primary mission of the congregation. In our new context, I think the latter group once again has the better argument, since once again our entire worldview (this gay marriage debate being but one manifestation) is out of step with the dominant culture around us. A parochial school system can be our mission not only to the next generation but to our communities, and in many cases to our fellow Christians of other denominations who want Christian education for their children but whose congregations lack the experience or know-how to run a much needed Christian school. Christian schools are something the future of Christianity in America requires, and the LCMS is very good at it.
Schools as missionary Predictably for the LCMS, though, our polity could be the thing holding us back. Because our schools are typically parochial in the strictest sense, meaning run by congregations, they flourish only where congregations are strong and wealthy. And because they are run by congregations, they cannot be effectively consolidated where they arent flourishing or started where they are most needed. No-body has the authority.
Furthermore, if schools are a mission to the future and to the communities around us, the idea of tuition presents a paradigmatic problem. You cant charge people for your mission to them. Nor can you simply print more money to run a Lutheran school. Most LCMS schools have given up on the idea of not charging tuition. The reality is the one-to-one parish to school ratio with no tuition will never work, and parishes trying to go in together on a school is a dicey prospect due to innate territorial-ism. Lutheran schools in America will have to be-come missions for every congregation, like overseas missionaries are missions of every congregation. It isnt just the past that is a foreign country; the future is a pagan country to which our Lutheran schools make the best missionaries. And for that to happen, we might need districts to start operating schools in places where congregations cant. That would raise other questions about the nature of the call and relationship between the school and the local church, but that, too, would be a welcome discussion. I envision Lutheran schools simply serving anyone who wants to learn about the world accord-ing to the Truth free of charge, with donations of whatever you can afford welcome. Thats sort of how charity hospitals used to be operated; think of a good Lutheran school as an expensive homeless shelter, offering life to those in need. We could afford it if it mattered to us. And maybe it does.
Certainly if we give up on our schools we will have little presence in the American future. Were too old and odd but too accustomed to thinking of ourselves as normal to survive much longer without our own school system. I should note as an aside that the old K-8 model of education is not the only one out there and perhaps there are other models incorporating aspects of home-schooling and online education which could make the whole endeavor of Lutheran education more affordable.
Fr. Richard Neuhauss last book was entitled American Babylon. Its a good title. Whatever shape the world takes, whatever context we find ourselves in, the task remains to be a collective witness to the truth, to keep the flame alive, to live in such a way that the people around us must at least take us into account as they form a worldview. The good thing about living in Babylon is that, come what may, you never run out of opportunities for bold witnessing. --by Peter Speckhard, associate editor
Pr. Speckhard is one of the few persons--other than FReepers--to connect the dots of acceptance of ABC with acceptance of the gaysbian agenda.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
What he writes about can apply to most other denominations as well.
Namely, how will churches continue to define marriage as a man and a woman, when the dominant culture says marriage is just any 2 people? Or in the future, sanctions polygamy and group marriage? More liberal members of all denominations will come to accept homosexual marriage as part of the mainstream culture, and perhaps push for it within their churches. They may be voted down, however, this issue has the potential to cause upheaval down the road.
I also want to see if homosexuals start suing churches over the marriage issue. Having gotten civil marriage rights, will they then continue their lawsuits, this time to force religions to accept homosexual marriage, or else lose the right to perform marriages at all, or lost tax exempt status due to “discrimination”. We don’t know if the LGBT peoples will let it go, or continue to steamroller this issue through courts, this time with the target all of organized religion.
“Namely, how will churches continue to define marriage as a man and a woman, when the dominant culture says marriage is just any 2 people”.
The Catholic Church does not change it’s doctrine on what’s the “dominate culture”. The Catholic Church safeguards the truth. Marriage is a sacramental union of a man and woman, so says God. That is not changing. At least in the Catholic Church.
He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
“Pr. Speckhard is one of the few persons—other than FReepers—to connect the dots of acceptance of ABC with acceptance of the gaysbian agenda.”
Every non-Catholic Christian who rejects it that I have found is invariably very conservative. On the other hand try to find one person of any faith who accepts abortion, gay marriage, or female clergy but who also thinks bc within marriage is wrong.
Civil divorce and remarriage or at least easy civil divorce and remarriage also is a big contributor. That one conditioned a lot of folks that the state defines marriage and can change it to anything at all if judges, pols, or 50%+1 of the voting public agree it should be changed at any one time.
All points on the slippery slope which will inevitably lead to “acceptance” of infanticide, euthanasia, plural “marriage”, and pederasty.
Thank you for referencing that article lightman. Please bear in mind that the following critique is directed at the article and not at you.
To begn with, why is Rev. Peter Speckhard waving the white flag at the gay agenda?
The consequence of many generations of parents not making sure that their children are being taught how constitutionally enumerated rights and 10th Amendment-protected state powers work is the following. Many patriots unsurprisingly do not know the Constitution well enough to stop pro-gay activist judges from legislating gay rights from the bench.
More specifically, PC, pro-gay interpretations of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protections Clause aside, not only have the states never amended the Constitution to specifically protect gay "rights," but the Constitution's silence about such rights also means this. The states are free to make laws which discriminate against constitutionally unprotected gay agenda issues like gay marriage, as long as such laws don't unreasonably abridge constitutionally enumerated rights.
In fact, note that the Supreme Court case of Minor v. Happersett shows the following. Virginia Minor basically argued that her citizenship and the Equal Protections Clause of the then recently ratified 14th Amendment gave her the right to vote regardless that she was a woman. But the Court argued that wasn't so because 14A didn't add any new rights to the Constitution, it only strengthed constitutionally enumerated rights.
3. The right of suffrage was not necessarily one of the privileges or immunities of citizenship before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that amendment does not add to these privileges and immunities. It simply furnishes additional guaranty for the protection of such as the citizen already had [emphasis added]. Minor v. Happersett, 1874.
And since woman suffrage wasn't a constitutionally enumerated right before the 14th Amendment was ratified, neither was it a right after its ratification.
Note that Virginia Minor's efforts did not go unrewarded. This is because her case inspired the states to ratify the 19th Amendment which effectively gave women the right to vote.
On the other hand, it remains that PC gay rights remain constitutionally unprotected.
Finally, a way for patriots to fight judicial activism is the following. Citizens need to work with state and federal lawmakers to make punitive laws which require all judges to promptly, clearly and publicly specify all constitutional clauses which justify their decisions. And when the Constitution is silent on a certain issue, such as gay marriage, such laws should also require judges to state that the issue is a unique, 10th Amendment-protected state issue.
Female clergy is another big one. One thing I wonder about is there any faith group that hadn’t accepted bc within marriage but accepted female clergy?
Now, for sure there are groups that have accepted bc within marriage that might never accept female clergy, but did any that did accept female clergy do so before they accepted bc within marriage?
“To begin with, why is Rev. Peter Speckhard waving the white flag at the gay agenda?”
I didn’t get that from the article. Where does he say we shouldn’t fight? Unless you think that his predictions for the LCMS aren’t honest? I mean I don’t think someone who bothers to write an article like that is suddenly going to accept ‘gay marriage,’ no matter what the LCMS does or doesn’t do.
The reason we are opposed to "homosexual" marriage is because it is a deadly proposition!
As long as we're not subjected to "pastoral" acceptance of homo sex.
How are they connected? Last time I checked, Leviticus 18 only addressed one of these two issues.
His discussion of religious schools raises many interesting issues.
Of course, just like any other unrepentant sin.
Of course, just like any other unrepentant sin.
What does that translate to?
When Nancy Pelosi (supposedly a Catholic) supported abortion she was DENIED Holy Communion. That was HUGE. I've never seen that done before and kudos to the priest who denied it to her.
So what is the punitive action for a LCMS member?
Excommunication, denial of the Sacrament. Pelosi has managed to get back to the Table even at the Vatican. If the unrepentant sin is known, the denial of the Sacrament should be in force in Synod congregations.
Since she got "back to the Table" she had to have done a few things.
1. Go to confession.
2. Confess her sin of endorsing abortion.
3. Ask for forgiveness.
THEN she was able to "get back to the Table."
I don't believe her, not in my wildest dreams do I believe her. But then I don't like or trust her. I never did.
Pelosi is already 74 years old. Let's hope she leaves real soon.
Feinstein is 80 years old, which is too old for her to do much more damage.
Hillary Clinton is already 66 years old...TOO OLD to start on the road to the White House.
Since she has continued to endorse those positions, I doubt she managed to do any of what she should have. She continues to receive.
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A sample quote from a very well thought out and very honest article; this is among the best of what I've read in the last few years.
It would be an interesting question to ask her, wouldn't it? She made her peace somewhere, with someone. In the end she'll have to make her peace with our good Lord.
Truly, it is great insight and well said.
May the wisdom of this article be accepted by LCMS. This Catholic will pray that LCMS hold firm on the issues in question. May LCMS do whatever is necessary to retain the LCMS schools without which the denomination’s future will be bleak. May God bless you and yours!
Fr. Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International (founded in 1981), said early on The Pill would lead to manifold increase in homosexuality.
Its very simple: once sex becomes loosed from primary purpose of marriage, that being reproduction (call it discrete), it becomes entirely recreational (indiscrete).
The acceptance of any kind of homosexual behavior—much more the abomination of sodomy-marriage—has been and is increasingly defining the lines between true and apostate Christianity.
Conservative denominations like the LCMS must develop and have clear disciplinary actions for pastors or seminary professors—or even lay church teachers—that will excommunicate those who teach that homosexual behavior or “marriage” is acceptable.
One of the big separators between evangelical & orthodox Christians of all kinds from the liberals used to be the issue of homosexuality...now a few so-called evangelicals and emergents have rolled over and are going with the enormous flow of culture... Such persons who cling to sinful teaching must be rejected and removed from our fellowships like cancer.
The early Church did this with all kinds of false teachers; we cannot be afraid to excommunicate false teachers today—for the love of Christ and His Body.
More than even BC is feminism itself—which brought ABC into the limelight, and using shame pushed its acceptance.
If, as modern feminists claim, there is no difference between men and women other than plumbing, and there are no roles distinct to each sex—everyone is interchangeable in public and private life—than logically, why wouldn’t that apply to the bedroom? No wonder supporters of feminism, abortion,and, homosexuality are usually all the same people.
Modern feminism has been one of the most profoundly anti-feminine—and therefore anti-human—influences on our society.
The blood of 55,000,000+ babies aborted in America alone, must be laid at the feet of the ideology of feminism.
I’ll go along with all that. Very well said.
Debating whether to send the link to a particular LCMS friend. Conservative (on most things) as they come, but this part might strain our friendship.
It still took several centuries to stamp out most of Arianism and it continues to resurface in slightly different guises.
The challenge today is that with the multiplicity of denominations and sects excommunication means "start your own church" to most people.