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Luther on the Estate of Marriage. Part 1

October 8, 2013 1 comment
Jörg Pencz, The Family at Table (1534). This woodcut illustrated a poem by Hans Sachs on table manners which advised guests not to sit at the head of the table, the seat reserved for the master of the house, to wait for Grace, to close their mouths while chewing, and not to flirt. Source: Henry J. Cohn, The Impact of the Reformation on Women in Germany.

Jörg Pencz, The Family at Table (1534). This woodcut illustrated a poem by Hans Sachs on table manners which advised guests not to sit at the head of the table, the seat reserved for the master of the house, to wait for Grace, to close their mouths while chewing, and not to flirt. Source: Henry J. Cohn, The Impact of the Reformation on Women in Germany.

I had an email handed to me that someone had sent to someone else asking some questions about divorce and remarriage.  In our time the church struggles when it comes to counseling people about divorce and remarriage.  Even though in the Old Testament divorce was permitted, God says through the prophet Malachi:

“You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, …16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”  [Malachi 2:13-14, 16]

And Jesus taught that a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her (Matthew 19: 9).

On the other hand, the New Testament permits divorce in cases of adultery and desertion (1 Corinthians 7: 15, Matthew 19: 9).  It also permits separation for Christian spouses (1 Cor. 7:10-11).

So what do we do in a setting in which there is so much divorce, particularly in the case of those who have troubled consciences?  It’s not a simple question for pastors.  In the case of those who are unrepentant it seems pretty apparent to me that there needs to be remedial teaching and a return to church discipline.  But in the case of the repentant who have perhaps remarried already, or in the case of spouses who are not seeking a divorce and yet have functionally abandoned their spouses already, it’s not always so clear.  So for those who have unsettled consciences I thought I would post Luther’s sermon from 1522 on marriage, not necessarily as referring to it as the definitive answer to questions about marriage for our time, but as a place to begin thinking about the questions confronting pastors and congregations with regard to questions of marriage and divorce.

http://pages.uoregon.edu/dluebke/Reformations441/LutherMarriage.htm

Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” (1522)

How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others. The shameful confusion wrought by the accursed papal law has occasioned so much distress, and the lax authority of both the spiritual and the temporal swords has given rise to so many dreadful abuses and false situations, that I would much prefer neither to look into the matter nor to hear of it. But timidity is no help in an emergency; I must proceed. I must try to instruct poor bewildered consciences, and take up the matter boldly. This sermon is divided into three parts.

Part One

In the first part we shall consider which persons may enter into marriage with one another. In order to proceed aright let us direct our attention to Genesis 1 [:27], “So God created man… male and female he created them.” From this passage we may be assured that God divided mankind into two classes, namely, male and female, or a he and a she. This was so pleasing to him that he himself called it a good creation [Gen. 1:31]. Therefore, each one of us must have the kind of body God has created for us. I cannot make myself a woman, nor can you make yourself a man; we do not have that power. But we are exactly as he created us: I a man and you a woman. Moreover, he wills to have his excellent handiwork honoured as his divine creation, and not despised. The man is not to despise or scoff at the woman or her body, nor the woman the man. But each should honour the other’s image and body as a divine and good creation that is well-pleasing unto God himself.

In the second place, after God had made man and woman he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” [Gen. 1:28]. From this passage we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply. Now this [ordinance] is just as inflexible as the first, and no more to be despised and made fun of than the other, since God gives it his blessing and does something over and above the act of creation. Hence, as it is not within my power not to be a man, so it is not my prerogative to be without a woman. Again, as it is not in your power not to be a woman, so it is not your prerogative to be without a man. For it is not a matter of free choice or decision but a natural and necessary thing, that whatever is a man must have a woman and whatever is a woman must have a man.

For this word which God speaks, “Be fruitful and multiply,” is not a command. It is more than a command, namely, a divine ordinance [werck] which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore. Rather, it is just as necessary as the fact that I am a man, and more necessary than sleeping and waking, eating and drinking, and emptying the bowels and bladder. It is a nature and disposition just as innate as the organs involved in it Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not of choice.

[continued…]

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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?

The Log in the Eye of American Christians About Marriage, Sex, and Babies

June 28, 2013 2 comments

be fruitfulBelow is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article on Jonathan Ned Katz, an “LGBT historian” who argues that “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” are categories invented in the 19th century.  Prior to that, the “traditional” view was to see sex as primarily for the purpose of procreation, rather than pleasure.  As a result, according Katz (or at least according to the Wikipedia article’s reading of Katz), the tendency was to see all sexual expression that was not aimed at procreation as deviant or immoral.  There was no need for terms like “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” because heterosexual sex apart from marriage and the possibility of creating human life was considered perverse or immoral.

However when sex came to be seen as a means primarily of receiving pleasure (towards the end of the 19th century), “normal” and “deviant” sexuality were redefined and the terms “heterosexual” and “homosexual” arose.

Also according to this reading of Katz it is inappropriate to try to read into forms of human sexuality in earlier eras of history our contemporary categories “hetero” and “homosexual”.

           The Invention of Heterosexuality

            “The Invention of Heterosexuality was first published as an essay in 1990 and then expanded into a larger book. In it, Katz traces the       development of heterosexual and homosexual and all the ideology, social and economic relations, gender expectations that were packed into it. He notes the radical change, in the late nineteenth century, from a sexual ethic of procreation to one based on erotic pleasure and sexual object choice. Noting the distinction that a procreation-based ethic condemns all non-procreative sex, categorizing sexual relations based primarily on this point. A gender-based sexual ethic is concerned with procreative sex on a secondary level, if at all.”

“Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1889, and then in English in 1892, marked the clear turning point from a procreation-based sexuality to a pleasure-based ethic which focused on gender to define the normal and the abnormal. Krafft-Ebing did not, however, make a clean break from the old procreative standards. In much of the discourse of the time, the heterosexual was still a deviant figure, since it signified a person unconcerned with the old sexual norms.”

“For a variety of economic and social reasons, Katz argues, during the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, this new norm became more firmly established and naturalized, marking out new gender and sexual norms, new social and family arrangements, and new deviants and perverts. One of the important consequences of this line of thought which Katz notes in “Homosexual” and “Heterosexual”: Questioning the Terms, is that we can only generalize sexual identities onto the past with a limited degree of accuracy: “So profound is the historically specific character of sexual behavior that only with the loosest accuracy can we speak of sodomy in the early colonies and ‘sodomy’ in present-day New York as ‘the same thing.’ In another example, to speak of ‘heterosexual behavior’ as occurring universally is to apply one term to a great variety of activities produced within a great variety of sexual and gender systems.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Ned_Katz    (emphases mine)

 

If this article is right in its reading of Katz, I think it puts its finger on the problem in the gay marriage debate.

Christianity’s problem with homosexual marriage is not that it’s wrong to have sexual pleasure with someone of the same sex but okay with someone of the opposite sex.  It’s that Christianity looks at sexual pleasure, the lifelong bond of marriage, and the procreation of children (when God wills) as all of a piece.  At least it did up until around 1930.

If Christians accept the premise that sex is primarily about personal satisfaction and pleasure (and most do), no wonder we have such difficulty sustaining our own marriages or being credible in the public square.  Of course sex is pleasurable, but if that’s it’s primary purpose it does seem a little ridiculous to say that two people of the same sex can’t engage in it.  Why not?  If they are able to have pleasure, and that’s the point of it, it’s unjust to refuse it to them.

Pleasure is a result of sex, but its “chief end” is children.  Reason teaches us this.  If sex only resulted in pleasure and not in children, both sex and sexual pleasure would cease to exist in short order.  Procreation of children has to be the chief purpose of sex; without that there would be no people of any “sexual orientation” to enjoy the pleasure of whatever sexual acts appeal to them.

But since Christians have essentially agreed that the overriding concern in sex and marriage is pleasure (i.e. falling in love, finding your soul mate, finding a person with physical characteristics as close as possible to your ideal)—we lose the argument.

Christians: marriage is not primarily about finding what you like and living happily ever after.  It’s a calling from God where you are united to another person as one flesh and are called to love them and serve them “for better or for worse”…a calling that God blesses with children (according to His will).  “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them…” (Psalm 127)

This applies to us with regards to abortion, too, probably.  It’s not that we shouldn’t have said abortion was wrong.  But being anti-abortion is not yet being pro-life.  If Christians had lots of kids in their marriages they could show by example that having a child when it doesn’t seem like an ideal time is possible and that God can sustain and bless us through these children we fear will be an unbearable burden.

But that’s for another day.

Hell-Bent: Why Gay Marriage Was Inevitable. by Aaron Wolf (part 2)

June 28, 2013 1 comment

GayMarriageEvolutionHell-Bent: Why Gay Marriage Was Inevitable

 

Aaron D. Wolf

 

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.  July 2013 (pp. 16-19)

 

http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/  (the article is not published on the site, but other writing from the author can be found here)

 

[part 2]

Americans who are convinced that homosexuals are “born that way” are also confident that one day science will confirm it.  Every so often, we read the latest breaking news or see it on television—some peer-reviewed journal has announced that an incontrovertible discovery has been made that solves the mystery of why some people are born gay.

 

These breakthroughs tend to begin with a bang, but end with a whimper.

 

In 1993, scientific researcher and self-identified homosexual Dean Hamer claimed he had found the gay gene…There have been numerous other studies, of course, but today the unfruitful search for a gay gene has yielded to the burgeoning science of epigenetics, which studies not the genes themselves, but sex-specific “epi-marks” that regulate the transmission of genes…

 

You know who doesn’t like any of this?  Gay activists.

 

In a letter to the editor…in the New York Review of Books, homosexual historian and activist Jonathan Ned Katz took…gay-genetics-friendly researchers to task:

I honestly don’t understand how biology can play any role in determining all the different, discontinuous forms of human relationship revealed by historians: “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” and “bisexual,” “lipstick lesbian” and “old butch,” “ancient Greek pederasty,” “Victorian true love,” “romantic friendship,” “early-colonial sodomy,” and the Native American “berdache” (so-called by the French colonizers.

I don’t see how biology can determine the social, historical, and political use of sexual preference to create two dominant and subordinate classes, “heterosexuals” and “homosexuals.”

 

What Katz and many other gay activists deny, then, is both the ability of science to identify a specifically gay gene or biological marker and the very existence of homosexuals and heterosexuals overall.  And their reasoning is clear: If science could locate the biologically determinative factor that “causes” homosexuality or “makes homosexuals,” that factor would be a mutation, a deviation from the biological norm, a scientific basis for classifying those who experience same-sex attraction as a “subordinate class”.

 

Thus, when gay activists such as Katz insist that they didn’t “choose to be gay,” they are not claiming that “sexual preference” is biologically determined.  Instead, they are declaring that they eschew all categories that would constrain their choice of sexual partners.  They are denouncing the very notion that sexual deviancy exists at all (apart from a purely conventional age of consent).  They are rejecting the notion that “heterosexuality” is the norm, because for them there categorically cannot be a sexual norm…

 

This perspective becomes even more interesting when we consider that, in the words of The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta, “probably less than 2 percent” of Americans identify themselves as homosexual.  The title attached to Franke-Ruta’s piece, “Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are,” elucidates the finding of a [sic] ongoing study by Gallup, which discloses that, based on 2011 data, “U. S. adults, on average, estimate that 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian.”

 

Of course, The Atlantic’s goal is to mollify those homophobic holdouts who are ignorantly afraid that…there will soon be round-the-clock gay weddings on every street corner.  What’s more interesting, however, is the disparity itself, the gap between opinion and reality.  Why do most Americans…assume that one fifth to one quarter of Americans are homosexual?

 

And for that matter, if only two percent or less of Americans are self-identified homosexuals, and a fair number of them see same-sex marriage as a threat to their sexual freedom, why has same-sex marriage triumphed politically and culturally?

 

Perhaps we should as why it took so long.  Living as we are in the moribund late phase of what Harold O. J. Brown (and his mentor, Pitirim Sorokin) called a “sensate culture”, we should not be surprised by any of this.  Long gone is the ideational culture that built the West, in which Christianity’s foundation of divinely revealed biblical truth shaped society, restraining man’s darker impulses.  Since at least the Enlightenment, European civilization has been hell-bent on throwing off the shackles of the Christian Faith, consigning it to an ever-shrinking private sphere of life.  In its place, the sensate culture demands that truth be drawn only from the immediate experiences of our physical faculties.  One by one, the remnants of public morality grounded in revealed truth are questioned, jettisoned, then put on display for public ridicule.  And as the sensate culture reaches its late and dying phase, virtually unguided by any ideational truth, all that remains is pleasure.

 

….in his 1990 book The Invention of Heterosexuality…[Katz] notes that the very terms homosexual and heterosexual did not come into use in the United States until the tail-end of the 19th century, round about the time that the population began to shift from the country to the city, mechanization and technology began to boom, and the human body began to be seen as less an instrument fit for work and production and more of a vehicle of consumption and pleasure.  With Christianity and Victorian societal mores on the wane, physicians began to speak clinically about normative (“heterosexual”) versus deviant (“homosexual”) sexual behavior, appealing to science to save the appearances of a bygone social order.

 

Coincidentally, I would add, this transition marks the beginning of American society’s acceptance of contraception. But the decades-long public debate over its use (at first, of course, permissible only within the confines of marriage) and its first churchly blessing at Lambeth (1930) were not cause but symptom of the deterioration of society, the dimming of the light of a sensate culture in which pleasure is always the goal because pleasure is always the good.

 

In this materialist milieu, the marriage vow of love is not seen as a sacrificial commitment to the good of another.  Love then degrades into mere acceptance of the other, which amounts to little more than a refusal to deny the other whatever pleases him—coupled with a reciprocal demand for acceptance.  And that which pleases is not limited to sex or the fulfillment of sexual attraction.

 

In an episode of AMC’s often insightful series Mad Men, a show about the advertising culture of the 1960’s, creative director Don Draper is faced with the fact that government-sponsored studies have challenged his ads’ claim that Lucky Strike cigarettes are safe and healthy.  Rather than challenge those studies publicly (thus drawing attention to the cigarette’s association with cancer and death), he convinces the tobacco company that all they need to do is change the subject.  He thus sells the makers of Lucky Strikes on an ad campaign that says simply, “It’s toasted.”  His reasoning?

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness.  And you know what happiness is?  Happiness is the smell of a new car.  It’s freedom from fear.  It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams, with reassurance, that whatever you are doing is OK.  You are OK.

 

This is why gay marriage was inevitable.  In a moribund sensate culture, pleasure may come in a variety of forms—overeating, shopping, even deviant sexual behavior; or it may come in the form of simple acceptance….

 

A tiny portion of the population has successfully overthrown an institution that has existed since the Creation of the world.  How?  In 1993, two same-sex couples in Hawaii simply wanted to be married, and we as a society have no publicly recognized basis for saying no.  But more to the point, like the very neat categories of hetero- and homosexual, gay marriage “screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is OK.”  Gay marriage screams acceptance to the vast majority of Americans who do not personally experience same-sex attraction, but who want public reassurance that whatever they want to do—whether to consume deviant pornography, or to trade in their wives over irreconcilable differences, or live in deliberately childless marriages and accumulate toys—is OK.  You are what you are because that’s how you were born.  And any challenge or restraint on what you want to do, on what pleases you, cannot be tolerated.  Fair is fair.

 

Conservative Christians have failed to stop the juggernaut of gay marriage because we have embraced the values of the sensate culture.  American society is not ruled and normed by Scripture, and so any appeal to it…in defense of “traditional marriage” appears as nothing more than special pleading, an appeal to what pleases us.  Christians who follow the “pleasure ethic,” to borrow from Katz, who divorce at a higher rate than the unbelieving world, who view marriage chiefly as a means of self-gratification and not an opportunity for service and sacrifice are in no position to speak a prophetic word to society.  Our God is no longer the Holy One Who loves creatures that are in open rebellion against Him and takes upon Himself our just punishment, but a god who “loves us and accepts us just as we are”, a judge who never judges.  Our sermons are therapeutic, and even “the best lack all conviction.”  Thus saith the Lord—although let us preface by saying that we love and accept everyone, regardless of his or her chosen lifestyle…

 

If “marriage equality” is the law of the land, then technically, metaphysically, the thing that the state offers by way of contract is not marriage in any real sense.  Government mandated “marriage equality” turns real marriage into a mere civil union.

Hell-Bent: Why Gay Marriage Was Inevitable. by Aaron Wolf (part 1)

June 28, 2013 1 comment

google gay marriage The author of this piece gave me permission to post excerpts from it.  It does two things excellently, in my opinion:

First, it explains why even some homosexual activists find the scientific rationale for gay marriage to be unconvincing.  First the genetic evidence is weak or nonexistent.  Second, biology can’t explain the many varieties of “homosexuality” that have existed in various cultures and places in history.  Is it the same “gay gene” that causes one man to have no attraction to women whatsoever and another man to be able to father children before realizing sometime later that he is “gay”?  Do men in the Castro district of San Francisco have the same “gay gene” as ancient Greeks, who tended to sodomize young men while still maintaining relations with their wives and mistresses, but considered it a shame for two men of equal age and social standing to have sexual relations?  Or is there a separate gene for every variety of homosexual (or heterosexual, for that matter)?

Second, it explains why gay marriage so quickly became the law of the land when so few people (apparently) actually are gay–less than 2 percent self identify that way.  Why are people so quick to approve it?  Answer: because we don’t call other people on it when they do wrong to ensure that the same will be done for us.  It’s kind of like why church people are so afraid to ever rebuke any sinful behavior in their brethren, no matter how heinous.  We don’t want to be called out on our sins, so we don’t call out anyone else’s.  By approving gay marriage we are really trying to assure ourselves that we ourselves are permitted to do whatever pleases us.  If I don’t condemn you, you won’t condemn me.  And the Church in America has been complicit in this.  We’ve ignored God’s law in sexual matters and created our own law, permitting divorce where God does not permit it, saying nothing while Christians said “no” to the blessing of children in order to have more material things (or because we did not trust God to provide for the lives He might create through our marriages if we did not prevent Him with contraception).  We were not in a position to speak to the conscience of our society about the meaning of marriage because we had allowed it to be redefined in the Church according to human wisdom.

Christians have to continue to bear witness that gay marriage cannot result in blessing for anyone.  It would be a betrayal for us not to continue to do this.  But this is also a time for us to search our own hearts and ask God to reveal and forgive where our unfaithfulness has contributed to our country choosing this tragic path.  It is one that will certainly result in judgment.  We must realize that future generations of Christians will suffer along with the rest of the nation.  They may perhaps suffer more, and it will be at least in part because of our own unfaithfulness within the Christian Church.

Hell-Bent: Why Gay Marriage Was Inevitable

Aaron D. Wolf

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.  July 2013 (pp. 16-19)

http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/  (the article is not up on the site, but you can find more articles by the author here.)

Like it or not, gay marriage is here to stay.  The Supreme Court ruling matters little.  That was the case well before oral arguments were heard, and not for legal reasons…the real reason gay marriage is now a permanent part of the American landscape is moral.

Most Americans never gave gay marriage a thought until the Supreme Court of Hawaii set the wheels in motion back in 1993, which led three years later to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  Bill Clinton confidently signed DOMA, remarking more than once that his administration had never, ever supported gay marriage…Clinton knew that publicly supporting such a notion would be political suicide.

Barack Obama knew that, too, when he sat on the stage at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church during his first presidential campaign.  Responding to the megachurch pastor’s question, Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.  Now for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union.  You know, God’s in the mix…I am not someone who promotes same-sex marriage.”  Somehow, long ago in 2008, Obama was able to utter this hate speech and still manage to get elected…

Why did the tide turn so quickly?  The answer lies in the way Americans relate to homosexuality in particular, and sexuality in general….

The moral argument is simple: Homosexuals have no choice in the matter of their same-sex attraction—remember, they are homosexuals—and so they cannot be denied any civil right enjoyed by heterosexuals, who also did not choose to be what they are.  Heterosexuals have a right to enjoy erotic pleasures with whoever they choose (“love”), as well as the right to select a mate, stay committed to that mate for as long as they choose (“marriage”), and end that commitment whenever they choose (“divorce”).  And again, these are rights that heterosexuals possess by virtue of being heterosexuals.

To say that homosexuals do not by nature possess the same rights and heterosexuals is to discriminate, which is to hate, which we know to be wrong.  Unconditional acceptance is right.

Because what is is what’s right.  You are a heterosexual man who wants to love women and therefore does love women.  He is a homosexual who wants to love men and therefore does likewise.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.

Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.

Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

It’s easy.

All you need is love…Love is all you need.

And so the argument plays itself out over and over again in the media, whenever some sort of gay news breaks…

[continued]

Scalia: Opponents of Homosexual Marriage Judged “Enemies of the Human Race”

June 26, 2013 1 comment
English: Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of ...

English: Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From Justice Scalia’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):

 

“But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to con- demn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “dis- parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo- sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence — indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/scalias-blistering-dissent-on-doma/277245/

 

 

 

That about sums up not only how the Supreme Court handled the question of homosexual “marriage,” but how all public discussion about it has been handled by the media and other partisans.  Only “enemies of the human race” would question the wisdom of dismissing what nearly all societies for virtually all of human history have thought about the possibility of homosexuals marrying–that’s how the script has run over and over again.

 

If you’re an enemy of the human race it’s pretty much okay to discriminate against you, or defraud you, imprison you, or kill you.  I doubt Justice Scalia chose these words lightly; if I’m not mistaken this was the charge made against Christians when they were killed publicly for not burning incense to Caesar.

 

 

 

 

The Father is Well Pleased with the Cross of Jesus. Transfiguration/ Life Sunday Sermon

January 20, 2013 1 comment

P1000266Transfiguration Sunday [Life Sunday]

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 17:1-9

January 20, 2013

“The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross”

 

Jesus

 

[The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross.

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life.
  2. 2.       The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it does bring life to you.]

 

“I was single, living with some friends, had a good job, and was having a good time. Having a baby just wasn’t in the cards. I told the father, and he said he had no intention of marrying me. He made his intentions quite clear right from the get-go. I had no desire to marry him either. I didn’t think a child was the right reason to get married. He said he’d pay for an abortion. Adoption was, quite truthfully, not an option I ever considered…At the time I thought that I could never give a child up, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done what I did. Giving it up would have been so much better. I didn’t really think of this as being a little person. It was a purely selfish decision. All I thought was, “What am I going to do now? This is a problem, and I have to take care of it.” I went to the doctor, and he suggested a clinic. It all happened so quickly. Looking back, I didn’t agonize. I had to make a decision; something had to be done.”

 

Those words come from a collection of stories told by women who have had an abortion, and you can find them at the top of the bulletin.  Further on the same woman explains how she has tried to deal with the regret and guilt that came to her later as she looked at the children God gave her in her marriage, wondering whether the child she aborted would have been a boy or a girl, whether the child is in heaven.  “I just don’t think about things that trouble me.  I push them down.” 

 

She goes on to describe what she thinks about God’s forgiveness: “I hear the pastor saying that it doesn’t matter how great our sins are, that God forgives us.  But I think, ‘But mine are really bad.’  I guess I believe that my sins are forgiven, but a lot of times I have a lot of trouble feeling that they are forgiven.”

 

There will be people hearing this sermon who have had an abortion or paid for a woman to have one.  Others have been involved in other sins against God’s gift of life.  They should hear at the outset of the sermon, now: God put away your sin on the cross of Jesus.  Don’t despair.  Listen to God’s beloved Son who says “Do not be afraid.”

 

Others know someone who has had an abortion.  And there are those who do not.  Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of legal abortion in the United States, but it has been done in this country for much longer than that. 

 

Regardless, the confession of this woman is not only her confession, and not only the confession of people who have had an abortion.  St. Peter could relate with it.  Like her, he also followed the wisdom of his flesh, called God’s work “bad” and tried to replace it with his own work.  Like her he also tried to gain life for himself in his own way, apart from God’s word.  He also fell into grave sin and would have despaired if Jesus had not restored him with His absolution.

 

 

What was true of Peter is true of all of us.  Apart from the Holy Spirit

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life, but
  2. 2.       the Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it truly brings life to you.

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