Friday, October 20, 2006

Vote Yes? Or Vote No? The Gay Marriage Ammendment.

November 7th our state will include on its ballot a proposed constitutional amendment. The language will read as follows:

“Marriage. Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?”
Obviously this has been a topic of hot debate in our state. But I would like to suggest a differnt take on the matter than many LCMS Lutherans I have heard.

For example: Recently a representative from the South Wisconsin District emailed a link to its pastors directing us to the pro-amendment website: The Family Research Institute of Wisconsin This is a conservative political think-tank which offers all sorts of pamphlets, brochurse, and pledges in support of the amendment.

I have heard other LCMS pastors encouraging the distribution of similar materials at our congregations. I haven't heard it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if some LCMS pastors even publicly endorse the amendment. Especially this coming Sunday in the three-year series, in which we have readings from Genesis and Mark relating directly to the topic of marriage.

I think all who do this mean well. But I think it is inappropriate for a pastor to specifically encourage his flock to vote yes - even on a matter such as this. Let me explain.

The pastor's job is to teach and preach what the Word of God says. He is not supposed to go further than this. The pastor should, even must speak what God speaks about homosexuality (that it is sinful - Romans 1), and about God's design for marriage (Genesis and Mark,this Sunday). Scripture leaves no doubt as to where the Lord stands on these issues.

But that is a different matter from a political measure such as a constitutional amendment. Though Scripture tells us which actions and attitudes are sinful, and which are honorable, it does not give us guidance on the details of implementing these values in our secular governments.

Therefore, many Christians who are convinced from Scripture that traditional marriage is the only God-pleasing marriage may disagree on HOW to enact laws which support this reality. Many will, doubtless, see the constitutional amendment as the appropriate measure to take at this time.

But some Christians, just as convinced of what the Word says, may take a different route. Is a constitutional amendment necessary, or would a simple law suffice? Are the current laws adequate, as they already prohibit "gay marriage"? Is it better to work through the court system, or in some other way, to enact laws which reflect moral decency in our government? Some might argue so, and be just as Biblically grounded, just as Christian, just as Lutheran.

I am not saying how I will vote, personally, though I have made up my mind. The reason I will not publicy say is because as a public servant of the Word, I know my role. It is to preach and teach the word. How the word is applied in the Left-Hand kingdom of secular government is for the individual Christian to decide, not for the pastor to tell them.

Feel free to share your thoughts...


Lynn of St. John's said...

Be either hot or cold but not lukewarm.

Article 7 said...

I would definitely back you up on this and even go so far as to say that your position on "politics and pulpit" betrays an excellent understanding of Luther's "two kindgom" theology. The particular function of politics (left kingdom) is not to bring people to Christ and the particular function of the pulpit (right kingdom) is not to protect people and property through a fair and just system. Individuals (including preachers) can and should be politically active, but churches need to be independent from political candidates and parties. I have, however, given a number of sermons on marriage, abortion, etc. just sticking to the Bible and not making specific reference to political action.

BTW - my father is a Lutheran pastor who currently is also the elected County Clerk of Niagara County, NY. We mix religion and politics all the time at family gatherings!

Preachrboy said...


I remember when he was the Sherrif and a pastor too. All the jokes about Law and Gospel. My, my.