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Month: June, 2013

Responses from LCMS Synod and SD District President regarding Supreme Court ruling on Marriage

Friday, June 28, 2013
Upholding Marriage: God’s Plan and Gift
A statement by the Rev. Bart Day,
executive director,
Office of National Mission

 Updated: Wed. 12:08 PM

Today the Supreme Court issued its ruling, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), allowing for federal benefits for legally married gay couples and potentially allowing for gay marriage in all of California with regard to Proposition 8. Though the ruling is not a surprise, we are saddened for our nation, even as we call our fellow Christians to faithfulness and prayer.

As Christians, we believe and confess that God Himself instituted marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman. Same-sex unions are contrary to God’s will, and gay marriage is, in the eyes of God, no marriage at all. As Christians, we proclaim this truth, no matter what the courts or legislatures may say. We are called not to popularity but to truth. Therefore, we call on our fellow Christians to be faithful first to God’s Word, knowing that another court is ultimately supreme.

Marriage is a fundamental building block of society, binding parents to their offspring. Every child benefits from the nurture of a mother and the leadership of a father. While having one mother is a blessing, having two mothers or two fathers is confusing for the child and detrimental to her well-being. The divorce culture has done great harm to the institution of marriage as well, and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has and will continue to respond to that heartache with Christ’s comfort while simultaneously working to restore a culture where marriage is upheld.

While this occasion reminds us that Scripture calls homosexuality sinful (see Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24–27), the Bible also says plainly that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” that is to say, those who repent and show genuine sorrow over their sin, are forgiven and loved by Christ.

And so as Christ’s Church, we forgive and love too, following His lead with compassion and humility. We forgive and love because we are all sinners in need of His grace and mercy; because no matter the sin, we have all rebelled against our Creator and fallen prey to unbelief; because He has justified us by grace through faith, freely given and joyfully received (Rom. 3:23–24); because Christ has reconciled us to the Father; because He has declared us righteous and we are.

Please consider sharing this email with your congregation, family and friends, reminding them that the LCMS will continue to teach marriage according to God’s plan and gift. We will continue to proclaim marriage as a picture of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. And we will continue to be a place of forgiveness, mercy and healing for all people, even as we will continue to proclaim God’s truth in love. As we move forward, we offer up our prayers for the nation and particularly for marriage, family and children.

Rev. Bart Day, executive director
LCMS Office of National Mission
 
 
Dear Co-workers in the Gospel,
 
Greetings to each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church and Savior for the world.
 
Yesterday you received, either from Rev. Bart Day, the Director of Synod's Office of National Missions or from SD Executive Secretary Olson Rev. Day's statement, "Upholding Marriage:  God's Plan and Gift."  That was in response to the United States Supreme Court decisions overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing gay marriage to stand in California in response to the actions concerning California's Proposition 8,.
 
In light of other recent directions the Supreme Court's rulings have taken, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court's decisions.  However, I am extremely saddened.  These particular decisions reflect a trend that we all have observed over the last many years which is showing our nation's increasing disregard for the influence of religion in general and of the Christian Church in particular.  With each Supreme Court (or Circuit Court) ruling or piece of national or state legislation that continues that trend, the work of the Church becomes more challenging as we take seriously our calling to "preach the Word; [and] be ready in season and out of season..." (2 Tim. 4:2).  We and the people of our congregations live in this culture and are all influenced by this culture.  While prior generations of the Church could understand it as strongly as we understand it today, the need for a faithful proclamation of the truth of God's Word and the corresponding living out of our faith has never been more needed.
 
To be honest, my initial resposes were deep disappointment and a bit of discouragement.  I expect that some, or all, of you experienced the same.  Nonetheless, throughout the last twenty-four hours (including time that sound sleep would have been welcome), my thoughts have gone to the one certain source of encouragement.  Allow me simply to cite a few references and make a few observations.
 
Esther 4:14b - "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  These words were spoken by Mordecai to Esther at a time when the very life of the People of Israel was at stake.  But God used Esther mightily for His saving purposes.  Add this verse to the theme of our upcoming National Convention, "Baptized for This Moment."  We dare not forget who we are as Baptized people whom God has created, redeemed, and called by name (cf. Is. 43:1).  As such, we are in "this moment" of time "to declare the wonderful deeds of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9b).  God desires to use us mightily in "this moment."  The need for us to bring the Gospel (including  "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" - cf. Matthew 28:20, and the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins - cf. Luke 24:47) is now even more important.  And for our important task, have this encouragment that the One who has called us to Himself and into His service is also mightily with us to equip and strengthen us (cf. Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; 43:2; Matthew 28:20b).
 
John 17:11,14-18 - "...they are in the world...I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."  These are some of Jesus' words from His High Priestly Prayer for His disciples of all time, including us.  As I look at these verses and as I know the omniscience of Christ, these words spoken on the eve before His crucifixion have us and our exact moment of time in mind.  We have God's Word.  We may be hated by many because of that.  We are in the world -- sent by Christ (cf. Esther 4:14b above), but not of the world (nor in love with the world - cf. 1 John 2:15-17).  Jesus prays that God will spare us from the evil one (and all his works and ways - cf. the Baptismal liturgy) who constantly tempts us and the world to deny the truthfulness of God's Word (cf. Gen. 3:1f; John 8:44).  In spite of the devil's and the world's attempts to ridicule and totally disregard God's Word, it still is the single greatest truth of all time and for all of life.  It is the source of our sanctification in these increasingly unsanctified times.  And knowing that Jesus prayed for us right before going to the cross for us and that He is still doing so (Rom. 8:34b) is a source of great encouragement.
 
Galatians 1:10 - "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."  Each of us is called to be faithful to God's Word both in our proclamation and in our practice.  I expect that subsequent to the Supreme Court's rulings, parts of our society will find greater reason for the Church either to cease its proclamation of God's truths or to change or compromise those truths (as some have already done).  We must remember that sin still remains sin and needs to be identified as such, regardless of what the culture says (cf. 2 Tim. 4:1-5).  We must remember that regardless of what the culture says, those who sin against God's Word (cf. Romans 3:23) are in desparate need of a Savior (Romans 6:23) and His forgivness and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.   We have the single message that is most needed for our world, our culture, and our time (1 Cor. 1:23-25; 2:2).  Now is not a time for us to be intimidated by the action of our Supreme Court nor the response of so many people.  Nor is it a time for us to be timid (cf. 2 Tim. 1:8; Rom. 1:16).  More and more, whether they realize it or not, people need to hear the message that we as faithful servants of Christ are privileged to share.  And so, with the blessing of God's grace and the encouragement of His Word, we continue to proclaim God's truth!
 
Romans 15:13 -  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believeing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope."  Blessings as you continue in the calling to which you have been called -- not always easy, but more important now than ever.
 

In Christ,
Dale
 
Rev. Dr. Dale L. Sattgast
1 Cor 2:2; 2 Cor 3:4-6; 2 Tim 1:8-14
President - South Dakota District, LCMS
P.O. Box 89110
Sioux Falls, SD 57109-9110
Ph: 605-361-1514 / Fax: 605-361-7959

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