By Adriane Heins
“It’s important to know that you’re not alone.” That’s Eric Teetsel’s message to Christians and specifically to LCMS Lutherans.
With that statement, Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, encouraged Lutherans in an exclusive July 17 webinar sponsored by the LCMS as part of its “Free to Be Faithful” education and awareness campaign. The Manhattan Declaration is a movement supported by 545,000 Americans that promotes religious liberty, marriage and life issues.
“I know as a relatively young advocate [for marriage, religious liberty and life] … sometimes it can feel lonely, and you’re being pressured on all sides to conform,” Teetsel told viewers. But despite the pressure of the culture, “Each and every person can be an influencer in their own sphere.”
Teetsel is on the front-line discussions of some of the touchiest issues facing Americans — and Christians — today. In his role with the Manhattan Declaration, which he calls a “line in the sand,” Teetsel works to shed light on the fact that “human life and that marriage and that religious liberty and our rights of conscience are the central public policy issues of our time,” noted Tim Goeglein, who moderated the discussion. Goeglein is senior adviser to the president and vice-president of external relations for Focus on the Family.
Some 50 viewers — both pastors and laypeople from Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and other parts of the country — joined the webinar conversation, asking questions about homosexuality, youth, education and the future.
“Religious liberty is paramount,” Teetsel explained to them. “There’s a real, growing push to eliminate what to-date have been fairly unanimously accepted religious-liberty exemptions from otherwise acceptable laws.”
Recognizing this, he said, makes “inspiring the next generation … incredibly important and extremely difficult.” Still, he believes, Christians are up to the long-term challenge: “We understand ourselves to be salt and light … we can really inspire a sea change in the American culture.”
“We’re talking about real people who are part of our communities, part of our families, part of our friends network, people who matter. Those of us who are compelled by the Gospel should be concerned with their souls,” he said, articulating why campaigns like the Manhattan Declaration and Free to Be Faithful matter.
Teetsel rounded out the discussion by urging LCMS members and pastors to move forward in love, presenting “ourselves as people who are desperately searching for the absolute best thing for one another, and then allow our facts, figures and arguments to buttress that position,” all with the goal of pointing fellow Americans “to the cross.”
Viewers, who seemed largely in agreement with Teetsel’s presentation, praised him for his insight on the difficult issues facing America today.
Paul Hauser of Saginaw, Mich., noted, “Thank you for your time and common-sense information to love others with God’s truth;” while Sue Emmack of Elkhart, Ind., said simply, “Excellent webinar.”
The archived webinar may be viewed here. Information about the next Free to Be Faithful webinar, scheduled for Sept. 11 on the topic of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” will be available soon at that same website.
Adriane Heins is executive editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted July 17, 2014