By Melanie Ave
One person on Twitter wanted to know how to respond to people “who call us haters for disapproving of gay marriage.”
The response from the LCMS? “All people can love whomever they choose, but that doesn’t give them the right to redefine marriage.”
That was just one of many questions and answers included in an hourlong LCMS “tweet chat” on marriage June 19 — a first for the Synod.
Participants were encouraged to sign into their Twitter accounts and ask questions about marriage using the hashtag #LCMSMarriage. Questions and answers were limited to Twitter’s 140-character limit.
Chat moderators included the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, and Dr. Beverly Yahnke, executive director for Christian Counsel at DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization.
The chat occurred in anticipation of a decision on same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, expected soon.
“The highlight was engaging the world on a critical topic in a media we have not yet engaged,” Day said. “We received many wonderful questions concerning the implications of the Supreme Court decision on the future of the Church and her work.
“Obviously, those questions remain unanswered, yet recent history tells us the Church will be pressed to confess the faith outside the narrow confines of her walls.”
Several participants wanted to know why the Church was concerned with same-sex marriage. “The church seeks to care for and about all who struggle with sexual sins” was the response.
One writer asked: “How should a congregation respond if a gay couple wants to use their church to get married?”
The LCMS response: “Care, counsel & share the truth with them. Love them patiently & lead them to see the marriage isn’t appropriate.”
Others wanted to know the biblical definition of marriage (answer: “Marriage is a divine union, created by God, between 1 man & 1 woman”) or why children need a mother and a father (answer: “People can love whomever they like, but moms can never be dads & dads can never be moms no matter what the law says”).
One participant asked: “What answer from God’s Word regarding argument that marriage debate is impediment to people hearing the Gospel?”
Day and Yahnke replied on behalf of the LCMS: “Law and Gospel are held together. The Gospel always prevails. But we must be saved from that which Law exposes.”
Yahnke called the chat an “unlikely forum to offer deep discussion” on the topic, but she said it offered a clear outreach and invitation to everyone to participate in the conversation.
“Individuals were moved beyond passive reflection on the topic to clear engagement, questioning and sharing of faith and facts,” she said.
“People of faith had an opportunity to share a wide array of questions and resources in a setting that was faith-based. Pressing issues of the day were discussed in light of God’s Word.”
The Twitter forum also allowed those who participated to question one another about their views.
One participant wrote: “My generation overwhelmingly supports marriage equality, and churches can choose what weddings to take. Why oppose?”
Another replied: “To bring life to those who have embraced death by believing truth & righteousness are matters of popular opinion.”
Yahnke said the chat demonstrated that the Synod is “open to an array of media and strategies to respond compassionately and with truth to those in the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community.”
For those who want to delve more deeply into the topic, she encouraged pastors, church workers, teachers and laity to attend a DOXOLOGY conference set for Aug. 14-15 in Mundelein, Ill., titled, “Speaking the Truth in Love: A Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction and Same-Sex Marriage.”
To see a related story about the upcoming DOXOLOGY conference, click here.
Read a transcript of the entire Twitter chat here.
The LCMS offers a “marriage toolkit” to help explain about how Scripture defines marriage. For the toolkit, go to lcms.org/freetobefaithful and click on the “Marriage Toolkit” tab.
Melanie Ave is senior writer and social media coordinator for LCMS Communications.
“All people can love whomever they choose, but that doesn’t give them the right to redefine marriage.”
*devil’s advocate on*
All religionists can worship whoever they choose, but that does not give them the right to impose their rules upon those who do not follow their path.
“All religionists can worship whoever they choose, but that does not give them the right to impose their rules upon those who do not follow their path.”
You are right, Christians have a right to worship as we choose in this country. Chrisitians also do not have the right to impose their rules on others under either the civil law, or God’s Law; it is God who will judge our actions.
To you I would say:
Let we Chrisitians have a voice in this debate in our civil courts too.
Those who disagree with you are not always seeking to “impose” their beliefs upon you.
We Christians do have a right to vote our conscience, and we also have a responsibility as good citizens to advocate our conscience. Our conscience says that redefining marriage to include gay marriage as the same as traditional marriage is wrong.
To us, because of our faith, we require no further rationale for this beyond “God says so”. In a civil debate however, especially one in our country where so many differing views prevail, that is not necessarily enough suasion to carry forth our view point. When we move beyond a simple attestment to our faith, and start to include other practical considerations that such a radical shift in societal norms might bring into our side of the arguement, that does not mean we are seeking to “impose” our beleifs on anyone – at least not to any greater or lesser degree than those who advocate for gay marriage are seeking to impose their beliefs on others.
In no case which I know of do we hear Christians, at least not LCMS Christians, advocating the use of coercive force should this Supreme Court decision go agaisnt us.
As such, your assumption that we ARE trying to “impose” our beliefs upon others is insulting, and shows either a misunderstanding on your part of our motives, or a purposeful attempt to color our motives in a darker, more sinister shade than they display upon their own merits.
I would like to gently remind you of Exodus 20:16 ESV:
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
…and also remind you that by assuming a position which implies there should be a limit to Christian inclusion in civil debate in our country you are the one who is, in fact, “imposing” your beliefs on others.
Christians have a right in our country to speak, and vote, their conscience too!
Thank you for this chance to express my thoughts on your post.
Yours in Christ,
Dave, that is an excellently balanced and clear response, absent of the harsh tone with which many so-called “tolerant” people deliver their comments. Thank you for making the point so eloquently.
Thank you for responding. I am glad there is no vitriol. I do not intend to say that Christians should restrict their speech or participation. Far from it!
The deal is that this nation was born under the Enlightenment and the Founders (mostly Deists) thought that religion was mainly good for morality. This nation is not what people call a “Christian Nation” (that is, a nation run according to ‘Christian’ ideals with Christianity as the de facto American Civil Religion) but a nation in which all citizens can participate. I only see three ‘natural laws’ when it comes to American governance– life, liberty, and property. I do not see how any couple straight or otherwise threaten my rights to my life, my liberty, and my property.
I do not need a government to get permission to be married. I go to my church to get married. This is why I advocate privatization of marriage and only go to the state for codifying legal contract. (Keep in mind that my views need fine tuning.)
Disclosure, I am a civil libertarian and a minarchist, pro life as well. I do hold a quia subscription to the Book of Concord.