“The Creator’s Tapestry: Scriptural Perspectives on Man-Woman Relationships in Marriage and the Church” is the title of a 76-page report adopted by the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations at its Dec. 10-12 meeting.
It is the commission’s latest and most comprehensive response to a series of questions about “the Scriptural relationship of man and woman” assigned to it by the Synod’s 1995 Convention (Res. 3-10). Following publication (expected in early March), the report will be sent out to all Synod congregations and church workers and posted on the CTCR’s Web site (www.lcms.org/ctcr).
In the first and major section of the report, the commission presents the scriptural view of the relationship between man and woman on the basis of the three articles of the Apostles Creed. Beginning with Genesis and continuing through the New Testament, the report tells the story of how God has created, redeemed, and renewed men and women for service to Him and to others. The report focuses on this relationship as it exists in marriage and in single life, in service to the church, and as participants in Christ’s mission to the world.
“The biblical perspective on man and woman resembles a patterned tapestry,” says the report, “woven with multicolored threads both alike and different. Within the Creator’s design, man and woman share a common human nature. In their sameness yet difference they interrelate beautifully — most intimately within the one-flesh union of marriage.”
In the concluding section, the report addresses the nature of this relationship, pointing out ways in which the Bible describes the complementary nature of the relationship between man and woman. It also calls attention to ways in which this relationship has been distorted and is often caricatured. “In Baptism,” says the report, “every believer is called to service in his or her vocations within the various spheres of life. The body of Christ requires that its individual members exercise the wide variety of their gifts, whether that individual is male or female (1 Cor. 12:7).”
To assist it in the preparation of this report, the commission held four consultations with eight men and eight women representing a spectrum of ages, areas of expertise, and experiences of service in the church.
CTCR Executive Director Dr. Joel Lehenbauer noted that the commission has already completed a number of significant reports in response to this assignment. These reports are available on the CTCR Web site. He also pointed out that there are additional issues touched on in the 1995 resolution that have yet to be addressed by the commission and still need further attention.
Among these are questions and concerns such as:
- the influence of culture on the Christian understanding of man and woman;
- violence and oppressive behavior toward women in society, home, and church; and
- relationships of men and women beyond the context of marriage.
“We hope this document will be genuinely helpful to people as they search the Scriptures to discover anew how its truths apply to various aspects of their lives and relationships as men and women,” said Lehenbauer. “The church must take seriously the challenge of communicating the scriptural understanding of the relationship between men and women winsomely and persuasively in a day and age when many people — both within and outside the church — are not familiar with how God’s Word speaks and the faith-based realities it presents.”
“The greatest challenge of all,” he added (citing the conclusion of the document), “is for us to speak about these matters from the standpoint of the cross. We dare not forget that the heart of the Christian message is not guidance for marriage or sexuality or any other current issue, but the truth of an irreparably broken world that finds forgiveness, hope, and salvation only in Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection.”
Lehenbauer said that the commission intends to continue the work begun in this document by immediately beginning work on issues related to men and women in the contemporary world.
In other actions, the commission addressed a 2007 convention resolution that asked the CTCR to coordinate opportunities for the study of confessional Lutheran theology with members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). It approved a proposal to hold a Confessional Leadership Conference June 3-5, 2010, at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
The ILC will be holding its Fourth World Seminaries Conference on these same dates in Fort Wayne, and the participants in the CTCR-sponsored conference also will have the opportunity to listen to some of the addresses scheduled to be given at the ILC’s conference.
A $40,000 grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will fund the CTCR-sponsored conference, to which 15-20 representatives of ILC-member churches from each world region and also others from around the world will be invited.
The next meeting of the CTCR is scheduled for Feb. 11-13. Lehenbauer said the commission hopes to complete work at this meeting on a report titled “A Christian Commitment to Creation: ‘Together with All Creatures,’ ” which addresses the Christian stewardship of the environment.
Posted Jan. 6, 2010