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The Appeal of a” Sexist” British Wedding Tradition…revised and expanded

July 25, 2013 1 comment

kate-walking-down-the-aisle-with-her-fatherhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/7750368/Swedish-princess-emulating-sexist-British-tradition-of-giving-bride-away.html

This is several years old, but an interesting story anyway.

1.  “Sexist British tradition of father giving bride away.”  If the historical practice in Sweden is that bride and groom walk down the aisle together, that is probably not because Swedes were feminists centuries ago when the tradition started.  I know it’s hard to believe that the Vikings, in between splitting skulls and capturing slaves, weren’t also working to create an egalitarian society.  But I’m afraid that they probably weren’t.

Nope.  Olaf probably wasn’t like, “What’s that, Hedvig?  You say you want to go out with the warriors in the longboats and make a career out of slaughtering monks and then get married and have kids later? Sure thing, hon!”

“What’s that, Hedvig?  You think you’d like to go out on some dates with the blacksmith’s son rather than marry the son of the earl?  You say you want to marry for love, and you can’t guarantee you’ll stay a virgin until you find the one you’re ready to settle down with?  And if you get pregnant and then no one wants to marry you you’ll just leave the kids here with me and your mother while you get a job looting?  Whatever you say, sweetheart!  We’re here for you!”

“What’s that, Hedvig?  You want gender neutral wedding vows, and for you and Ragnar to both hyphenate your last names?  That seems fair.  And I don’t think Ragnar is less of a man at all if he agrees to that!”

Nuh-uh.  Sorry.  That was not what Sweden was like whenever the tradition of walking down the aisle together started.

2.  It’s probably right that the British custom is gaining popularity in Sweden because young women are influenced by the custom as it comes to them through American movies.  But isn’t it fascinating that many young women, even in Sweden, are attracted to, or at least willing to tolerate, the pretense that they are under the protection and authority of their father until given to the protection and headship of their husband?

Of course, it’s all make believe.  If dad’s are going to give away their daughters, they should make sure their daughters aren’t giving themselves away while they still live in their father’s house.

I mean, just a thought.  At least the Swedish ladypriests are sort of paying attention.

3.  Nobody in American weddings wants to have the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, in my experience.  The main reason for this, I think, is because it takes a way the bride’s big moment, when all eyes are on her.

And to be honest, I’m not sure that pastors ought to be too critical of this.  It is true that our sinful flesh wants to be front and center and make things about us.  But that’s true of the pastors too.

Besides, Christologically: the Church is the beloved of Christ.  And when He presents Her to Himself as a radiant Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, the eyes of all creation will be on Christ’s bride, admiring the beauty that Christ has given to her and the love with which He wed her.

So I don’t think it’s wrong that the bride wants her “moment”, although it’s important to try to work with that desire to try to get the couple to see that their wedding is not the culmination of their existence, but rather points to the wedding that will be–the wedding of Christ to His Church.

Isn’t it interesting that after all these years so many women still love this ceremony?

They want to walk down the aisle alone and be the bride whose husband is waiting for her to receive her like his treasure–even though once they get married they will work outside of the home and inside of the home and essentially not be taken care of at all.

They want to have their fathers walk them down the aisle and give them away, even though neither European nor American girls are in any real sense under their father’s authority after adolescence begins.  Teenage boys in America deflower virgins and then talk about it on facebook in front of their dads.  I imagine most teenage boys would be shocked if a father said, “No, you can’t go into my daughter’s bedroom alone with her and close the door.”  And if you opened the door and caught some little boy clambering all over your daughter and ejected him from your house after introducing his rear end to your shoe (which incidentally you paid for, just like you will pay to feed any grandchildren randy teenage boys might accidentally sire with your daughter)?  The teenager would quite possibly feel self-righteous indignation at your tyrannical interference in his love life.  Not to mention the fact that any hint of physical force used against such a child would almost certainly result in your arrest.  Although if he is a child and therefore should not be beaten by a grown man the question is–why should he get to act like a grown man in terms of freedoms?  A grown man should be able to protect his wife and baby as well as provide for them.  If a teenage boy wants to take liberties with someone’s daughter the very least expectation he should have is that he might have to take a beating for it.

I wish when I was in high school dads had been like that with their daughters.  I would have appreciated the encouragement toward chastity implicit in that.

But no.  It’s horrible to take any steps to make sure your kids are chaste.  It’s being a good dad if you let your daughter sleep with one or two or three or four or more selfish and irresponsible adolescents while she still lives at home with you.  Do that and don’t say a word and you’re a good dad.

And yet brides want to be given away by their fathers.

They want to pretend that they have been protected by their fathers, and treated like a hidden treasure, and are now being entrusted to a man who is good and trustworthy and will provide for her and protect her, even though neither of those things is true.  If women were guarded and protected by fathers and husbands, that would be the end of feminism.

And yet apparently it’s attractive to a lot of women, at least on their wedding day.  How come feminism hasn’t destroyed this tradition yet, even though the reasons for the tradition were annihilated decades ago? Why did the tradition of the would-be groom asking the father of the bride for his daughter’s hand come back from the dead in the US, long after fathers had allowed their daughters to choose whom they would give their hands to and for how long?

It’s almost like young women wish that their fathers and husbands would be…dare we say it…

…men?

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In Dauides dyrre maegan

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

O joy of women in the host of heaven!  Winsomest maid through all the borders of the world, of whom the ocean dwellers ever have heard story!  Reveal to us that wonder which came upon thee from on high, how thou in childbirth didst conceive, yet knewest naught of human love after man’s kind.  Truly, we have never heard that such a thing befell in days of old as unto thee was granted in wondrous grace; neither may we look for it to happen in any time to come.  Verily, fair faith abode in thee, for that thou barest in thy bosom the Prince of glory, yet was thy radiant maidhood no wit stained.  As all the children of men sow in sorrow, so again they reap; they bring forth unto death.  The blessed damsel spake, holy Mary, rich in triumph:

“What is this wondering wherewith ye wonder, and this sorrowing that ye mourn with sorrow, Salem’s daughters and sons?  Eagerly ye ask how I did keep my chastity, my maidhood, and yet became the mother of the glorious Son of God.  To men that wonder is not known, but in David’s beloved kinsmaid Christ made known that all the sin of Eve is done away, the curse cast out, the lowlier sex lifted up.  Now hope is come that both for man and maid amid celestial joy of angels, with the Father of truth, bliss may abide forever.”

 

…Now is fulfilled which there the man of wisdom with eye beheld.  Thou art that wall-door; through thee the all-ruling Lord once journeyed out to earth; and even so, adorned with power, pure and chosen, Christ the Almighty found thee; even so the Prince of Angels, Lord of Life, locked thee after Him as with a key, all undefiled…We city dwellers pray that thou show forth thy Son, a comfort to the peoples.  Henceforward may we all have hope, since now we see the Babe upon thy breast…

Lo!  How wondrous change is wrought in the life of men, since the mild Creator of mankind received from mortal maid flesh undefiled; neither knew she any whit the love of man, nor by the seed of man came the Lord of triumph upon earth.  But more of craft was that than all the dwellers of  earth might comprehend, how wondrously the Glory of the skies, High Lord of heaven, through His mother’s womb wrought help to men.  And so the Saviour of the nations, the Lord of hosts, dealeth out each day in succor unto man forever His forgiveness. 

Cynewulf, Christ (I) (Exeter Book)

 

“That’s Too Catholic” part 1: Shaving.

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

The Augsburg Confession: WAYYYYY too Catholic.

I can’t tell you how many times people in my congregation have said to me that I was doing something that was “too catholic.”  9 times out of 10 whatever it was that was “too catholic” was a  very small departure from the baptist/methodist liturgical ethos and piety that is familiar to so many Lutherans. IE, “You made us stop singing happy birthday in the sanctuary (after 5 years.)  That’s too Catholic!”

So after awhile, I tried using “that’s too catholic” as a way of preventing changes that people asked for that I didn’t want, or in order to puncture people’s certainty that everything they like and were familiar with was not catholic, and eveything they didn’t like was catholic.

I decided to start adding this regular feature to the blog called, “That’s too catholic.”  I will either be describing things that Lutherans will frequently say is “catholic”, and how they’re not.  Or I will point out how a lot of things that Lutherans love and would complain about if you took them away are really originally from the Roman Catholic church.

Now, for our first example. When I grew a long beard several months back, all I ever heard was about how I should shave because I looked like I lived in a cardboard box.  Back then my best response was, “I’m trying to reach the young people, because beards are cool now.” 

Little did I know that when I was told to shave by someone shaking my hand outside of church and was told that my beard was like that of a bum, I should have made a deeply disgusted face and said, “Shaving?  That’s too catholic!”  [I have really tried this response in a couple of cases, but I’ve found it didn’t work any better than the “trying to reach the young people” thing does.]

See the post below.

http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-lutheran-beard.html?showComment=1347313021072#c2142108356610538089

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Lutheran Beard

Feel like doing something Lutheran for Reformation Day? Misplaced your copy of oppressive canon law and thus can’t toss it in the bonfire? You can metaphorically, yet more substantially, oppose the false pretenses of the Bishop of Rome (if you are a secular cleric) by growing a beard.
Exempla:

[Luther is the guy on the top.  He grew the beard when he was in hiding after he became an outlaw and was fair game to be killed by order of the German Empire.  The second guy is Martin Chemnitz.  He helped write “The Formula of Concord”, the final document in the Book of Concord, the confessions of the Lutheran church.  He is considered the second greatest Lutheran theologian in history after Luther.]

Apparently Lutherans grew beards in reaction to the canon law of the Pope’s church, which made it mandatory for clergy to shave.

So far as concerns England in particular it was certainly regarded throughout the Middle Ages as uncanonical to allow the beard to grow. A cleric was known as a shorn man (bescoren man, Laws of Wihtred, A.D. 96), and if it should seem that this might refer to the tonsure, we have a law of King Alfred: “If a man shave off another’s beard let him make amends with twenty shillings. If he bind him first and then shave him like a priest (hine to preoste bescire) let him make amends with sixty shillings.” And under Edgar we find the canon: “Let no man in holy orders conceal his tonsure, nor let himself be misshaven nor keep his beard for any time, if he will have God’sblessing and St. Peter’s and ours.” A similar practice obtained generally throughout the West and it was one of the great subjects of reproach on the part of the Greek Church, from the time of Photius onwards, that the Romanclergy systematically cut off their beards. But as Ratramnus of Corbie protested, it was foolish to make an outcry about a matter which concerned salvation so little as this barbæ detonsio aut conservatio.

The legislation requiring the beard to be shaved seems to have remained in force throughout the Middle Ages. Thus an ordinance of the Council of Toulouse, in 1119, threatened with excommunicationthe clerics who “like a layman allowed hair and beard to grow”, and Pope Alexander IIIordained that clerics who nourished their hair and beard were to be shorn by their archdeacon, by force if necessary. This last decree was incorporated in the text of the canon law (Decretals of Gregory IX, III, tit. i, cap. vii). Durandus, finding mystical reasons for everything, according to his wont, tells us that “length of hair is symbolical of the multitude of sins. Hence clerics are directed to shave their beards; for the cutting of the hair of the beard, which is said to be nourished by the superfluous humours of the stomach, denotes that we ought to cut away the vices and sins which are a superfluous growth in us. Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth.” (Rationale, II, lib. XXXII.)

The kind of effeminate thinking in the last quote is the very reason that we should recognize the spirit of antichrist at work in Rome.  By extension, Durandus is arguing that men are more sinful than women.  But Scripture teaches that it is the office of men to lead spiritually, and that it was the neglect of this office that led to the fall into sin.  So why should clergy, of all people, want to look less manly and more feminine?  So they can be more like the woman who was deceived by the serpent?

Femininity and Christianity should not be synonymous.

The Catholic Encyclopedia goes on:

In spite of this, the phrase barbam nutrire which was classical in the matter, and was still used by the Fifth Council of Lateran (1512), always remained somewhat ambiguous. Consequently usage in the sixteenth century began to interpret the prohibition as not inconsistent with a short beard. There are still many ordinances of episcopalsynods which deal with the subject, but the point upon which stress is laid is that the clergy “should not seem to be aping the fashions of military folk” or wearing flowing beards like goats (hircorum et caprarum more), or allowing the hair on their upper lip to impede their drinking of the chalice. This last has always been accounted a solid reason in favour of the practice of shaving. To judge by the portraits of the popes, it was with Clement VII (1523) that a distinct beard began to be worn, and many among his successors, for example Paul III, allowed the beard to grow to considerable length. St. Charles Borromeo attempted to check the spread of the new fashion, and in 1576 he addressed to his clergy a pastoral “De barbâ radendâ” exhorting them to observe the canons. Still, though the length of clericalbeards decreased during the seventeenth century, it was not until its close that the example of the French court and the influence of CardinalOrsini, Archbishop of Beneventum, contributed to bring about a return to the earlier usage. For the last 200 years there has been no change, and an attempt made by some of the clergy of Bavaria in 1865 to introduce the wearing of beards was rebuked by the Holy See.

As already noted, in Eastern lands a smooth face carries with it the suggestion of effeminacy. For this reason the clergy, whether Catholic or Schismatic, of the Orientalchurches have always worn their beards. The same consideration, together with a regard for practical difficulties, has influenced the Romanauthorities in according a similar privilege to missionaries, not only in the East but in other barbarous countries where the conveniences of civilization cannot be found. In the case of religious orders like the Capuchins and the CamaldoleseHermits the wearing of a beard is prescribed in their constitutions as a mark of austerity and penance. Individualpriests who for medical or other reasons desire to exempt themselves from the law require the permission of their bishop.

So as a good Lutheran, I can’t allow any bishop to tell me how long my beard can be.  I’m almost required to grow a long beard.  And am I going to let the women around me tell me how long my beard can be?  No, no, no.  We must stand firm in the freedom with which Christ has made us free men.  Thus, I’m going to grow a sweet beard not only for Reformation but maybe all the way to Easter.  No razor shall touch my face, except maybe a little bit on the sides so that it grows down instead of out, because my beard got kind of round last time.

It’s funny that in Eastern lands a smooth face carries with it the suggestion of effeminacy.  You know, if we weren’t used to men trimming or shaving off their beards all the time, it would look effeminate to us too.  Kind of like it would look masculine to us for women to wear pants all the time if we had lived a few decades ago when you could still see women wearing dresses.  I’m afraid dresses are going to become extinct.

At this point the deeply moving writing of Clement of Alexandria on this matter needs to be heard:

To such an extent, then, has luxury advanced, that not only are the female sex deranged about this frivolous pursuit, but men also are infected with the disease.  For not being free of the love of finery, they are not in health; but inclining to voluptuousness, they become effeminate, cutting their hair in an ungentlemanlike and meretricious way, clothed in find and transparent garments, chewing mastich, smelling of perfume.  What can one say on seeing them?  Like one who judges people by their foreheads, he will divine them to be adulterers and effeminate, addicted to both kinds of venery, haters of hair, destitute of hair, detesting the bloom of manliness, and adorning their locks like women….For their service the towns are full of those who take out hair by pitch plasters, shave, and pluck out hairs from these womanish creatures.  And shops are erected and opened everywhere; and adepts at this meretricious fornication make a deal of money openly by those who plaster themselves, and give their hair to be pulled out in all ways by those who make it their trade, feeling no shame before the onlookers or those who approach, nor before themselves, being men.

In other words, the classical world was full of what we now call metrosexuals.

But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly!  And in truth, unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women.  For although not allowed to wear gold, yet out of effeminate desire they enwreathe their latches and fringes with leaves of gold; or, getting certain spherical figures of the same metal made, they fasten them to their ankles, and hang them from their necks.  This is a device of enervated men, who are dragged to the women’s apartments, amphibious and lecherous beasts.  For this is a meretricious and impious form of snare.  For God wished women to be smooth, and rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane; but has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him, as an attribute of manhood, with shaggy breasts, –a sign this of strength and rule.  So also cocks, which fight in defence of the hens, he has decked with combs, as it were helmets; and so high a value does God set on these locks, that he orders them to make their appearance on men simultaneously with discretion, and delighted with a venerable look, has honored gravity of countenance with grey hairs.  But wisdom, and discriminating judgments that are hoary with wisdom, attain maturity with time, and by the vigour of long experience give strength to old age, producing grey hairs, the admirable flower of venerable wisdom, conciliating confidence.

This, then, the mark of the man, the beard, by which he is seen to be a man, is older than Eve, and is the token of the superior nature.  In this God deemed it right that he should excel and dispersed hair over man’s whole body.  Whatever smoothness and softness was in him He abstracted from his side when He formed the woman Eve, physically receptive, his partner in parentage, his help in household management, while he (for he had parted with all smoothness) remained a man, and shows himself man.  And to him has been assigned action, as to her suffering; for what is shaggy is drier and warmer than what is smooth.  Wherefore males have both more hair and more heat than females, animals that are entire than the emasculated, perfect than imperfect.  It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.  But the embellishment of smoothing (for I am warned by the Word,) if it is to attract men, is the act of effeminate person,–if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society….

….Rather we ought not to call such as these men, but lewd wretches, and effeminate, whose voices are feeble, and whose clothes are womanish both in feel and dye.  And such creatures are manifestly shown to be what they are from their external appearance, their clothes, shoes, form, walk, cut of their hair, look.  “For from his looks hall a man be known,” says the Scripture, “and from meeting a man, the man is known: the dress of a man, the step of his foot, the laugh of his teeth, tell tales of him. ”

… Lions glory in their shaggy hair, but are armed by their hair in the fight; and boars even are made imposing by their mane; the hunters are afraid of them when they see them bristling their hair.

…Of the nations, the Celts and Scythians wear their hair long, but do not deck themselves.  The bushy hair of the barbarian has something fearful in it; and its auburn colour threatens war, the hue being somewhat akin to blood.  Both these barbarian races hate luxury…I approve the simplicity of the barbarians: loving an unencumbered life, the barbarians have abandoned luxury.  Such the Lord calls us to be—naked of finery, naked of vanity, wrenched from our sins, bearing only the wood of life, aiming only at salvation.

Clement of Alexandria, “The Instructor,” Book 3, Chapter 3 (p. 275 f. in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2)

I guess here is where I have to give the caveat that you are free in Christ to shave and dye your hair or whatever.  However, I do think Clement has some points here that we shouldn’t brush off so easily–about the sin of vanity, for instance.  About the order of creation and the wickedness of trying to invert it.  But I’ll save it for another post.

Just be a real Lutheran and grow a beard.

http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-lutheran-beard.html?showComment=1347313021072#c2142108356610538089

Great in the World and Great in the Kingdom of God

August 30, 2012 9 comments

Martyrdom of John the Baptist (observed)/ Altar Guild Opening Service

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Mark 6:14-29

August 30, 2012

 

Dear sisters in Christ, fellow servants of our Lord who was crucified for us:

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

 

Yesterday, August 29th, was the festival day of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.  As I’ve said before, originally Lutherans kept the saints’ days for the purpose of teaching how people in the past lived the life of faith in Christ.  What they got rid of was the invocation of the saints, the prayer to the saints.  In those days the idea was that the saints were spiritual giants that we could never hope to be.  So you went to them so that they would pray for you and ask God to give you grace. 

 

But as Lutherans, we don’t get off that easy.  We don’t get to have other people be saints for us.  We must become saints ourselves.  That’s why John’s martyrdom is such a useful story and example for us.  It shows us exactly what we are signing up for when we are baptized and confess faith in Jesus.  It shows what it means for us to receive Jesus’ body and blood.  To be a Christian is to receive salvation as a free gift through the death of Jesus, apart from our works.

 

And to be a Christian is also to die with Jesus Christ, to share in his rejection, as John did.

 

We have a clear picture of this in the gospel.  Consider the contrast between

 

            The great men and women of the world and

            Those who are great in the kingdom of God, men and women.

 

And also

            The feast of the world contrasted with

            The feast of Jesus. 

 

Who does Herod spend his life with?  Not with John the Baptist, a man of God who comes out of the wilderness and says, “Repent.”  He comes into contact with John, and for awhile he listens to John.  But that is not who his life is spent with. 

 

Herod’s life is among the powerful, among the beautiful, and among the wealthy.  The rich, leading men of Galilee—the foremost citizens.  Men who have operahouses named after them.  Among generals and officers.  Men who carry swords.  Killers.  Among lesser lords whom Herod has to control but also keep happy.

 

Herod lives among celebrities, but the world is also treacherous.  Powerful people, wealthy people, violent people—they have to be tough, clever, or smooth, or some combination of all of them.  It is a tough world in which to be honest.  It’s hard to be rich, powerful, or a successful warrior without knowing how to get what you want and forcefully pursuing it.  People trying to get power or wealth, men aiming at being successful fighters or soldiers—they don’t usually understand or respect the meek.  Meekness makes you a victim.

 

But in secret, Herod’s life in this world is thrown into an uproar by John the Baptist, who fearlessly says, “You are damned because you have married the woman who was one flesh with your brother.  Repent.”

 

He speaks with that kind of boldness to Herod, and calls Herod to kneel.  But not before him—before God.  Who speaks this way to a king?  Only someone crazy; or someone who really seeks nothing else than to speak the truth in the sight of God.

 

What about the great women of the world?  Like Herodias, they know how to get what they want.  This man, that man; but it’s not necessarily the man she wants but the man’s status and power.  And when a crazy, fundamentalist, bumpkin man of God comes and tells her husband, “You should not have married your wife.  You have incurred God’s wrath.  Repent”—Herodias’ eyes narrow.  This man must die because he interfered with her pursuit of happiness. 

 

And her daughter is growing up to be just like mom.  She’s learned to use her sexuality to control men and get what she wants.

 

And isn’t this how our daughters are being taught that they should live today?  And aren’t are sons taught to be Herods?  And if you’re not powerful, rich, violent, sexy, what good is your life?  If you don’t know how to get what you want, you’re a chump.  A lamb to the slaughter.

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

But those who are great in the Kingdom of God are different.  In opposition to Herod, and his generals, and the rich men and nobles of Galilee, you have John the Baptist, John’s disciples, and the disciples of Jesus.

 

John does not seek glory in this world.  And he doesn’t get it.  He gets crowds of miserable, poor, wretched sinners who come to be baptized.  He gets the hatred of Herod’s wife. He gets prison, and in the end he gets neither love nor honor.  His wild man, hairy head is cut off and put on a plate and given to a teenage harlot.  He is hated and written off as demon-possessed by respectable, orthodox religious leaders as well as powerful, wealthy, ungodly rulers. 

 

And what about John’s disciples?  All these poor ragtag nobodies can do is take the headless body of John and bury it.  And mourn that once again the sheep are torn apart and the wolves are fat and sleek. 

 

Jesus’ disciples have it no better.  John’s story is recounted because Herod, addled and tormented with a guilty conscience that is unwilling to part with sin, hears about the miracles that Jesus’ disciples are doing and begins to think that God has raised John the Baptist from the dead.  You can see the terror with which John’s preaching burned Herod’s conscience. 

 

The disciples would like to think that their miracles, done by Jesus through them, mean that they will have a different outcome to their discipleship than John the Baptist did.  They do not want to listen to Jesus that He will be killed in shame, brutally humiliated and broken; they do not want to hear that the same fate awaits Jesus’ disciples. 

 

We don’t want to hear it either.  We are not able to accept it.

 

And what about the great women in the kingdom of God?  They were not loud and brash.  They did not use sex to manipulate men.  They served—Jesus and the disciples while they taught God’s Word.  They submitted.  They did not presume to teach and dominate men, as Eve had done.  They did not perfume themselves and make themselves up to own male attention and get their way.  They poured perfume on Jesus; they used their hair and their beauty in service to Jesus.  Even when Jesus was crucified, they tried to honor Jesus and in some way to show the great honor that was due to Him.  They loaded his body with expensive spices and ointments.  They were back early to do more to care for His body.  They were lowly; they served Christ and his disciples.  They put themselves in subjection.  Just as the world despises men who don’t know how to take what they want, and how to manipulate power, the world despises women who submit themselves to their husbands and who do not usurp authority over men.

 

Yet these women were great in the kingdom of God. 

 

What they did is also what you do.

 

Just as they cared for Jesus’ body even though no efforts of theirs could properly reveal His glory, so you prepare this earthly building so that it will in some way proclaim in our poor, weak way, something of the glory of Jesus.

 

Jesus was dead and laid in the tomb, yet they still lavished rich, expensive spices and perfumes on him to try to say, “Even as a dead man, this is the King and the Son of God.” 

 

Even though Jesus’ body and blood come to us in such a scorned and despised way, nevertheless your work proclaims—Jesus the Son of God is here in our midst in this church giving us salvation!

 

Let us compare briefly the feasts of the great people of this world, and the feast of Jesus Christ, the world’s true king.

 

People want church to be more like Herod’s party, with more people willing to come, especially more of the lords and great men of Galilee.  So even if we don’t put out caviar and fine wine and have the daughters of successful harlots shake it at the church’s feast, we do come up with things along the same lines.  Music that people like.  Sermons that are appealing to our world, which tend to be Americanized versions of the old rationalistic preaching in the Lutheran church in Germany that caused the true Lutherans to move to the US.  Then the pastors would come out and preach that God was the Father of us all and was willing to forgive everyone who tried to do what he knew was right; God didn’t really  need the bloody death of His Son to forgive us.  And they preached “useful” sermons, like modern farming techniques, or 5 steps to controlling your temper, or 3 to drinking less beer. 

 

That’s what church is, far too often, and it’s what we’ve come to expect out of church—it will be, like everything else, from the mall to fast food restaurants—a sensory experience designed in every way to appeal to your desires.  Like Herod’s feast, except with a religious spin, and the sex, drunkenness, and gluttony toned down. 

 

Herod’s feast is a display of earthly delights.  But you know that those delights often turn bitter in our mouths.  Neither wine, nor rich food, nor a much-sought after wife, nor the beauty of a young woman, can take away the horror and pain of a conscience that feels the weight of sin.  Herod is sorrowful about killing John because he knows he is committing grave sin—murdering the man who comes with God’s Word.

 

Earthly pleasures have their time and place.  But the feast of earthly pleasures that the great ones of this world struggle for—their pleasures last only for a time.

 

Christ’s feast is different.  Jesus is also a king, but His feast is not simply rich food and well refined wine.  He feeds us a different meal that also gives us joy.  But not the joy of wine, women, and song.  His joy is spiritual joy.  It is a sober joy, a joy that remembers that all of the pleasures of this world perish; Food for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God will destroy them both (1 Corinthians). 

 

At the feast of Herod the powerful come because they want something from Herod.  Herod needs to share the spoils of power and wealth with them.  But Herod needs their cooperation.  Everybody is at the earthly feast to get something.

At the feast of Jesus, we receive, but Jesus only gives.  In order to spread this feast for us He got only suffering from us; He took our sins and the fury of God’s wrath against them. 

 

Our participation in Jesus’ supper is a participation in His death, a communion in His death, in His pierced, crucified body, and His blood streaming down the tree to the earth. 

 

He participated in the righteous wrath of God against us—He bore it in our place.  He became a communicant in our sin, even though he did no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth.

 

We are communicants in His death—in His martyrdom.  That means we are responsible for it.  We are also redeemed by it. 

 

Now if on this earth we have constant sorrow and cross—and we are despised, and people walk away from the church, and they cast out my name or your name as evil, if even sometimes members of the church despise me or you—we are only receiving a little bit of what Jesus received, and His disciples received.  It is not success, beauty, power that makes you great in the kingdom of God—that is what makes you great at Herod’s feast. 

 

In Jesus’ kingdom, you are great when you believe in Jesus and you share in His suffering–in being despised, laughed at, or cast out as evil. 

 

But none of this comes from us.  John didn’t do it on his own.  It comes from eating the food at Jesus’ table—the Word of God.

 

Jesus alone by His suffering and death has saved you and brought you through the red sea of sin and death.  In Your Baptism all of that was poured out on You.  And as you eat and drink His body and blood the life that He gave for You strengthens the life of Christ within you, so that you do not faint and falter and lose the victory given to you in Baptism. 

 

Yes, when you, me, and this whole congregation come and receive Christ’s body and blood—we are participating in the eternal feast of Jesus’ wedding, that will go on forever—the feast of salvation.  The glory of that feast will completely put to shame the Herod-feasts that the world throws for itself. 

 

But when we come to this altar, we sit at this feast already, because Jesus gives all of himself to us now.  That is why it is a beautiful thing that like the women who anointed Jesus for burial, you show love and honor to His body and blood by caring for the altar. 

 

But the body of Jesus, for the women who buried Him, as also for us, does not really need us to care for it.  Jesus allows us to do so.  He accepts our service.  But it is really Him who has saved us by His death in the body.  It is really Him who works in us through His body and blood so that, with John the Baptist, we cling steadfastly to Jesus with a good conscience, and do not let the hatred of the world or its contempt make us lose heart, or forget that the feast of everlasting life is made open to us now.

 

May the Lord bless you as you work to keep the house in which that feast is celebrated among us beautiful.  But even more, may the Lord work in us through His body and blood, so that we are and remain His house, His temple, now by faith and forever in eternity.

 

Amen.

 

The peace of God, that surpasses understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

Prayer of a Wife Who Has an Evil Husband

July 15, 2012 23 comments
English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree.

English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At long last!

Prayers like this don’t make it into today’s prayer books.  Now we figure that if we have an evil husband, God wants us to divorce them.  Just like if you’re attracted to the wrong sex, that means that God really has decided that same-sex marriage pleases Him.

It’s so common for people to think this way that it sounds incredibly rude and heartless to say: Actually, no, God doesn’t want you to divorce your husband just because he’s evil and you’re unhappy.  The reason we think God is always nice and compassionate in such a way that we’re always given whatever we want?

Because we are in an idolatrous society, and we have turned to them instead of them turning to us.  We also have become idolaters.

Even though God loves the fools who live in our society, they are still fools.  It is not loving to tell fools that they aren’t fools.  You’re a fool if you think God wants you to get a divorce from your husband (or wife) just because they’re evil.  He doesn’t want you to do that.  He wants you to pray for them and trust Him to help you instead of turning to the false gods of our society that cry out against the truth as “not compassionate.”

God is compassionate: “…Your dear Son Himself has given, and extends His gracious call; to His supper leads us all.  And to this our soul’s salvation, witnesses Your Spirit, Lord/ In Your Sacraments and Word./  There He sends true consolation/ Giving us the gift of faith/ That we fear not hell nor death.”  True consolation,” see; not the consoling sappy lies by which the dragon lulls you to hell, but the consolation of the Spirit who proclaims that Christ’s propitiatory death under God’s wrath is for sinners with no merit–including you.

But here is the prayer:

 

used with permission from Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63794459@N07/

157. Prayer of a Wife with an Evil Husband

–Johann Quirsfeld, Archdeacon at Pirna (1642-1686).  from his “Geistlicher Myrrhengarten”–“Spiritual Myrrh Garden.”

(Myrrh was an ointment which helped cure wounds; it was also used to preserve and embalm the dead.  So the book is a ‘spiritual medicinal garden’ so to speak.)

Oh merciful God and Father, all-knowing Lord, You know my misery better than I can express it in words or lamenting or complaints.  My spouse, whom at one time You gave to me, is sadly living in an indefensible way, and with him I carry a heavy cross in my house almost every day.  It is so severe that I don’t know what I should do in such a wretched and sad state of affairs, because Satan, hounding me, makes the holy estate of marriage with my wayward husband exceedingly bitter.  We cannot separate from one another, because we were joined by you in such a way that nothing but death alone can separate us. 

 

Now I turn myself to you, Lord my God.  Without Your counsel and will, and without Your permission, nothing can happen.  So I must consider this bad behavior of my spouse a cross made specially for me, for I admit that in other ways before You I have certainly been to blame.  But still give me patience towards it.  Assist me to bear it with your fatherly hand, rich in love.  Let us not forever live with each other in such disgust, but instead rule the heart of my spouse, that he would become different, and offer himself up as a pious Christian wife is entitled to expect and as is due her.  Govern the tormenting marriage-demon and other wicked mouths, through which my spouse would often be ensnared.  Plant upright fear of God in his heart, and also honest, wholehearted love toward me, that by it we may from now on live in peace and unity with one another.  Grant us so to continue in our household affairs and daily bread, that we walk as obedient children according to Your commandments, and that we might be and remain the blessed of the Lord, here in time, and one day, there in eternity.  Amen.

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/wedding-sermon-your-voice-is-sweet-and-your-face-is-lovely/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/the-joy-of-marriage-is-in-its-trials-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-joy-of-lamentation/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/prayer-of-a-husband-with-an-evil-wife/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/god-treats-us-so-that-we-do-not-know-what-he-will-do-with-us-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/prayer-in-great-disgust-and-disgrace-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/prayer-about-the-hardness-of-my-heart/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/honest-piety-the-difference-between-training-and-combat/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/short-prayer-against-the-deadly-arrows-of-satan/

Thursday Morning Blessing: https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/lutheran-prayer-treasury-thursday-morning-blessing/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/unwillingness-to-suffer/

Mother Kills Her Baby, Considers Prayers For Her “Threatening”

The world can’t be upside down forever? Where will people go when they get sick of having their hand held while they kill themselves? Probably not to the people who were holding their hands or doing something other than vigorously warning them.

Mundabor's Blog

You couldn’t make this up. 

A young Feminazi mother has the satanic idea of posting on the Internet material (allegedly) concerning the murder of her own baby.

The horror finds an echo on pro-life sites, and as a result the young she-Himmler starts to receive emails of various kind; many of them, no doubt, explaining to her in detail what kind of  person she is, and whereto she is headed. These she calls “hate mails” and up to here, we can call this ordinary liberal madness.

Where the liberal madness becomes extraordinary is in the following affirmation of the young Nazi murderer, here given in the context of the interview. Emphases mine:

She noted the content of numerous “hate” e-mails was some variant of the message: “Maybe you do not know God or that abortion is a sin? Praying for you!”

Even hearing that someone is ‘praying for me,’…

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Martin Luther’s Ambassador: An Unclean Frog Spirit

April 27, 2012 3 comments

Martin Luther's face and hands cast at his death.

Martin Luther's face and hands cast at his death. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 

Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  Revelation 16:13-15

So….the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has created a new office of “ambassador”…and it appears that one of the chief tasks of the ambassador will be to practice diplomacy on behalf of Martin Luther to the postmodern west.  God knows, Luther would really need it, were he living.  He would have many things to say, but I can only imagine what he would say at the thought of a lady in preaching tabs trying to salvage his legacy by saying, “In spite of his hatred of Jews, his support of the slaughter of the proletariat during the Peasant’s Revolt, and his backward attitude towards women, he’s still a role model.”  (Yes, that’s what she said.  Use google translate and you’ll get the gist of it.  http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/luther-botschafterin-margot-kaessmanns-thesenanschlag-11731642.html )

Oh, and did I mention this was the lady who resigned as chairperson of the EKD a couple of years ago after she was arrested for driving while falling-down drunk?

Yep.  Margot Kaessmann.  The writer of the article, it appears (with my limited German), is decrying the hypocrisy of the EKD in creating the new office for the woman who recently resigned.  He notes the irony of a priestess who serves at the altar of the gods of modern, tolerant, multicultural europe–and, considering her disgrace, the service of those idols has not been unprofitable for her–now serving as ambassador for the man who said, “Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.”–and went on to live the rest of his life under a death sentence.  And what was his crime?  Fidelity to Christ crucified, to the Triune God.  Standing by faith on the Scripture as God’s Word, not taking refuge in the authority of the Pope or the Magisterium or the councils or the Fathers, but clinging to Scripture against his conscience and the devil, against the terror of hell, and against all the power of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.  Luther risked his life and his soul to believe and confess and teach that a man is justified by faith alone without works of law (Rom. 3:28). 

The first and chief article is this, That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25.  And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6.  Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3, 23 f.

Now since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us…

Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink into ruin.  For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12…And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope. the devil, and the whole world.  Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and the devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.

Yes.  And what has Margot Kaessmann risked for her gospel?  That is to say, her priestly service at the altars of feminism, tolerance, political correctness, and the other regnant gods in the west?

Well, she got hammered and resigned, and has kept busy with gigs teaching theology.  And now she’s Luther’s ambassador at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Now,  God bless Ms. Kaessmann and be merciful to her.  I have no pleasure in her being disgraced in public and struggling with alcohol and the attendant personal pain she’s no doubt has.  If I was anybody famous, it could be me whose name was on the front pages in 2010.  I sin, and even if I’m not getting drunk and driving today, it would not be surprising if I fell into sin.

However, making her the ambassador for the Reformation is ludicrous.

First of all, even people who don’t care about Christianity at all can see the lack of dignity in this.  Apparently this is a trait of German pseudo Lutherans as well as American ones.  The lady suffered public disgrace, and now you make her the spokesman for the Reformation on its 500th anniversary?  Are you kidding?  Christians are supposed to endure disgrace–that’s the theology of the cross.  But the theology of the cross does not invite you to disgrace yourself by sin and then parade it in front of the world and say you’re glorying in the cross.  “If you sin and suffer for it, what credit is that to you?  But if you do good and suffer patiently, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also left you an example, that you might follow in His steps.  He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.”  (1 Peter 2)

That’s number 1.  Number 2: Luther’s “Ambassador” is actually obscuring what Luther preached and what the Reformation was about.  The thesenanschlag (I learned a new word today)–what we Americans refer to as the “nailing of the 95 theses”–turned the world upside down.  What was such a big deal about it?  Was it that, since we’re justified by faith alone apart from works, we no longer have to worry about sin?  That was what the papists smeared the Lutherans with at the time of the reformation–that the doctrine of justification taught by Luther would lead to moral laxity and would undermine social order.  There would no longer be clergy and laity, public worship would become anarchic and undignified, etc.

Well, what the Papists smeared Lutherans with, claiming it was their teaching,now actually is the teaching of mainline Lutherans–or rather, those churches that still call themselves Lutheran even though they have given up the Lutheran confession and united with the reformed. Actually now the Lutherans think that the doctrine of justification means, as Bonhoeffer said, “the justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner.”

Unfortunately, what this means for Luther’s memory, those who want to still believe and confess his doctrine, and the witness of the Reformation is that on the 500th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenberg door, the world will be receiving a false witness concerning Luther, the Gospel, and the Reformation.

Why did the Reformation happen?  It happened because the Holy Spirit saw fit to restore the Church at that time and place, ultimately; but it didn’t happen to make it safe to sin, nor to undermine the Pope’s political authority.  Those were, perhaps, effects of the Reformation, but not its reason.

The Reformation occurred because the Word of God was proclaimed, which declares not that sin is no big deal, but instead that it is an incredibly big deal, so big that God will not allow the smallest sinful impulse to go unpunished, but in His justice He will reward with His undiluted wrath all ungodliness, and that no amount of human striving can free us from this wrath.  This was the first part of Reformation preaching, which made clear what the Law of God actually says–that no amount of human activity can deliver us from God’s wrath, because God is just.

But the second part changed Luther, and Germany, and Scandinavia, and broke the Pope’s chokehold on France and the low countries and Britain; it made it so that the Americas and Africa were also not locked up in the darkness of a false gospel with no light permitted to enter (at least, not by the church’s hierarchy), as Europe had been.

That was the Gospel–that on account of Christ’s agony and death, God counts as righteous all who believe that they are received into favor for Jesus’ sake.  God has laid the sins of the world and His inescapable wrath on His Son, and through Him declares the full forgiveness of sins–and we receive this grace of Christ not by working and striving, but as a gift, when we believe what the Gospel declares–that He suffered for us and our sins are forgiven on account of His blood.

This good news doesn’t free us to live immoral lives, because no one who believes that their sins have been forgiven at the cost of the suffering of God’s own son, and who believes in the great, passionate love that Christ has for him–no one who believes that wants to go out and purposely trample on Jesus’ blood and crucify Him again.

That’s why Luther, later on in the reformation, fought vigorously against Lutheran preachers who eradicated the law from their preaching, saying that the law should no longer be preached, but only the love of Christ, and that people should be moved to repentance not by God’s threats but by the love of Christ revealed on the cross.

What Luther fought against–antinomianism–is now going to be paraded about in 2017 as Luther’s gospel.  That’s what makes this whole thing a frightening blasphemy, bordering on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Let me close by painting a picture in broad strokes:

What is left of Christianity in the West in 2012?  Rome.

The heirs of revivalists and pietists–but they are floundering, trying to find something more substantial to stand on than emotion and evangelistic zeal and appropriation of American consumer culture.  Sadly, when they start floundering, they usually find Calvin–and through him some connection with the church fathers and with sola gratia and sola fide.  But Calvin is not the pure gospel.  Perhaps he’s an improvement on Arminianism–but it was the flaws of Calvinism that led to the spread of Arminian theology in America anyway.  If your assurance of salvation is located in your sanctification, or your experience of the new birth–no wonder if tormented sinners who have no assurance that they are elect look for comfort in the idea that they can choose to be saved.

The vast majority of the rest of protestantism is looking increasingly like Unitarian Universalism.  There are some confessional Calvinist enclaves.  There are also some confessional Lutheran enclaves, but either we don’t get out much, or we still don’t speak English well.  One way or the other the Lutheran Confession–the pure Gospel, the authentic evangelicalism–is mostly unknown as a living faith and a living church.  To many people it’s just one more religious movement whose dogmas are locked away in old books in libraries that only experts and scholars visits.  To most people it’s simply unknown.

So what happens when, in 1 or 2 or 3, or 5 generations the West’s moral rot finally leads to cultural exhaustion?

We can’t be that far from that now.  Human beings can’t fornicate and sodomize and look for heaven in food and consumer products thforever.  Eventually cultures like ours that believe in nothing don’t have the energy or the heart to fight the barbarians.  They end up convincing themselves that even though the barbarians rape, murder their children, enslave, and plunder, it’s probably bigoted of us to think our values are better than theirs.

But the kids who grow up seeing society fall apart and who lose their birthright have a different outlook.  They have forced upon their consciousness things that their parents really knew but convinced themselves that they didn’t–things like–you can’t just sleep with whoever you want, because without stable families and without ordered relationships between the sexes, society crumbles.  Things like: there is a moral law, and it’s not forever unclear and uncertain.  And the reason there’s a moral law is that there is a God who created the earth and who cares whether or not we live according to the law.

Kids who watch society collapse suddenly have to get honest about these things that we already knew.  And when they do, religion won’t seem foolish to them–unless it’s the kind of religion that lied to them and their parents and never bothered to tell them that God hates sin and punishes it in this world and the next, and that He brings judgment on nations that become sclerotic in their rebellion against Him and His law.

Nope, they won’t listen to lying “Lutheran” preachers, and they probably won’t listen to any Christians who even seem similar.  They’ll probably be so disgusted with the lying preachers who did not sound the alarm and tell the truth that they won’t want anything to do with the real Luther either.

And that will leave…Rome.  Or Islam.

So anyone who wants Jesus but knows that antinomianism is a lie will be all set up for Rome.  And people will have forgotten why the Reformation happened.

That’s why it’s not just ironic or sad that this is what the EKD is doing to celebrate the Reformation.  But it is in reality a fulfillment of the words of St. John’s Revelation quoted above.

The dragon (the devil), the beast (the Roman empire, or its descendants), and the false prophet (the Antichrist) have unclean spirits come out of their mouths, and they go out to deceive the nations and the kings of the earth, and gather everyone together for the battle against Christ.  That is what is happening when the world is deceived into rejecting the Gospel.

Right now we think the worst thing that’s happening is the dechristianization of the west.  It’s true that when the communists in Russia and China killed and imprisoned Christians and made the church go underground, that was the work of antichrist.  And in those countries where Islam beat the church into submission, not allowing them to proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors–that was also the work of the spirit of antichrist.  And now, to have the state churches of Christendom apostasize, and formerly Christian nations willingly living like atheists–that is also a very bad thing.

But there is something worse.  Much worse.  That is what the Reformation was about.

Worst is when you have a whole continent where the Church is everywhere, where images of Christ crucified are everywhere, where the Holy Trinity is confessed and people are baptized and the Scriptures are read and Christ’s body and blood is even eaten and drunk–but the Gospel is hidden; the saving knowledge of Christ is not preached, and if anyone tries to preach it they are killed and branded an enemy of Jesus.

In that case, the devil’s false prophet has taken his seat in the temple of God, in the Holy Place, and has proclaimed himself God, arrogating to himself the right to contradict God’s Word and displace Christ as the head of the Church.

That is what the antichrist does–and Luther knew who the antichrist was.  If the antichrist went into a Jewish temple or simply attacked the church from outside it would be easy to recognize him.  What is so awful about the real antichrist is that he looks like a Christian.

Rome is shaping up to look like the only ones who have managed to hold the fort on the only things unbelievers are able to grasp–that is, morality.  Note how when the ELCA permitted union with the reformed, or tolerated those who denied the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus or the atonement, there was no huge vote and the church didn’t split.  What made the church split?  Homosexuality.  Unbelievers can tolerate idolatry and waffling on Christian doctrine (I’m not saying that all ELCA folk are unbelievers…what I am saying is that the majority of people in most denominations are weak in faith and usually still think according to the wisdom of the flesh, which does not understand why faith in Christ is important but does understand works.)  But even unbelievers know that if there’s one place a line should be drawn in the church, even if we give up all the others, it’s probably homosexuality.  Didn’t God send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah?

So the Lutherans are the ones who are okay with homosexuality.  But the Catholics?  They publicly have held the line there–and about abortion, contraception.  They end up looking far more Christian than mainline protestants.

But the problem is that the catholic church, which emphasizes holiness and proclaims the mystery of the incarnation and death of the Son of God with more awareness of its depths than the Lutherans–denies Christ by making Him a lawgiver but not our only righteousness, our only mediator.

Detail of: Portrait of Pope Leo X and his cous...

Detail of: Portrait of Pope Leo X and his cousins, cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is why Luther knew the Pope was the antichrist.  Because from the very heart of the church of God and looking like a lamb, the papacy enslaves and murders souls.

In Luther’s day the Pope ruled the whole of western Christendom.  But for the last five hundred years his total control has been broken.  Even though in reformed nations a perverted form of the Gospel was preached, the deception that the pope was the head of the Church by divine right was broken over about half of Europe–and then in the US, and through protestant missionaries a Christian church independent of the antichrist spread throughout the world.

And as a result, many of the things that the antichrist “prophesied” came true.  Popes prophesied that the doctrine of justification and the loss of the papacy would lead to lawlessness.  They were right.  If the pope still dominated the consciences of the west, Hitler would never have happened.  Communism wouldn’t have happened.  The kings might have grappled with the Pope, as they did throughout medieval history…but they couldn’t get free of him, even if they wanted to, because if the pope put the country under the interdict the king could be certain that he would lose his throne.  That’s what happened when people feared the pope’s authority and believed that he had absolute authority over the church (and the authority to command kings and to release their subjects from obedience to them).

If the papacy had remained unchallenged, we wouldn’t have seen the “secularization” of the west either.  Because the pope enforced outward submission to the Church by force.  When that compulsion was broken–just as he predicted–many people now used the freedom as an opportunity to be the godless people they already were in their hearts.

The problem is that the pope’s compulsion was not the Kingdom of Christ.  Because Christ does not make people behave by force.  In His Kingdom people become obedient and live holy lives because they are willing, because they are new creatures, and the Holy Spirit compels them to do good works and to resist sin.

So yes, when the Gospel was preached and it broke the Pope’s chokehold on Christendom, it also freed people to be godless and to reject Christ.  But it was worse under the papacy.  Because then, in the name of Christ, people were forced to give a certain outward allegiance to Christ.  But at the same time they were kept from Christ and Christ was kept from them.  Because the pope condemned to earthly death anyone who preached the good news of Jesus as written in Scripture, and he threatened anyone who departed from his authority with damnation.

Have you ever noticed how so many people who are lifelong catholics–who may barely practice it at all, or who may be disgusted with it, or who may have embraced some form of protestant theology–how hard it is for them to leave Rome?  It’s because just about anything can be permitted in the realm of antichrist–except rejecting the authority of the antichrist and what he calls the “church”.

The lying spirits in protestantism don’t look like fools because they’re all stupid.  The devil makes sport of them.  He enjoys this because he is still angry that the Gospel arose and dealt a mortal wound to the antichrist’s kingdom, so it’s fun for him to make a joke out of those who bear the name of Luther.  But more importantly this mockery and apostasy within protestantism prepares people to be deceived by the antichrist.

May God have mercy on all pastors who have departed from the Gospel; on the EKD and Ms. Kaessmann, and on all those who are presently deceived by lying pastors or a false gospel, or who are imprisoned by the antichrist.  And to spite the devil and for the sake of His mercy, may Christ grant again that His pure Gospel be heard loudly and clearly and unmistakeably throughout the world once more before He comes to judge the living and the dead.

Luther at 34--my age. If only he was alive to tell us what he thinks about a lady in a preaching gown as his ambassador.

“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”

–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 2410b, p. 110.

ht: http://tollelege.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/i-must-be-angry-by-martin-luther/

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