Lutheran Church Missouri Synod President talks to House Committee about Birth Control Mandate to Religious Institutions
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison answers questions from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during its hearing, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” on Feb. 16, 2012.
I am member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and after watching this am so proud that I am. I am, also, so very pleased with his integrity and demeanor. He handled the questioning gracefully and with resolve, as was called for.
May God bless Pastor Dr. Matthew Harrison and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – One of the largest social service networks in the United States, working in areas ranging from adoption to disaster relief, faces a shakeup because of Lutheran divisions over the Bible and homosexuality.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a theologically conservative denomination, said Wednesday that direct work with its larger and more liberal counterpart, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has become “difficult if not impossible,” because of doctrinal conflicts, including the 2009 decision by liberal Lutherans to lift barriers for ordaining gays and lesbians.
Neither denomination would discuss the potential financial impact Wednesday. Many Lutheran-affiliated agencies receive substantial state and federal grants that would not be directly affected by any split. However, similar to Catholic Charities, Lutheran agencies are some of the biggest service providers in their communities.
Just one of the joint Lutheran agencies, Lutheran Services in America, said on its website that it encompasses more than 300 health and human services organizations with a combined annual budget of more than $16 billion.
“We recognize that this is a difficult issue. It’s complicated,” said the Rev. Herb Mueller, first vice-president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, based in St. Louis. “We’re trying to take a nuanced and caring approach to all of these situations that’s also faithful to what the Bible teaches on these issues.”
The Rev. Donald McCoid, an ecumenical officer for the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said, “we are deeply concerned about the ministries of care that may be challenged by the recent action of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.”
The 2.3 million-member Missouri Synod has been studying the issue for more than a year through its Committee on Theology and Church Relations. This week, the panel issued a 15-page document of guidelines for churches, congregants and ministries deciding whether they should cut off any direct joint work with the Chicago-based Lutherans.
The only immediate announced break was for the Missouri Synod to stop its decades-old practice of training military chaplains with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The president of the Missouri Synod, the Rev. Matthew Harrison, said in a statement that the decision, effective next year, was based on the ELCA decision on gay ordination, and on the military’s plan to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy.
However, the guidelines for evaluating the joint relationships made it clear that co-operative work in many of the agencies is likely to end.
The Missouri-Synod theology committee said members of its denomination should examine whether joint co-operative agencies:
— Adopt operational principles “alien or contrary” to Scripture.
— Hire staff or a leader “whose lifestyle is scandalous or openly and unrepentantly sinful.”
— Have board members overseeing an agency who “become conflicted because of differing beliefs.”
— Have leaders or staff who advocate policies “contrary to the Christian faith.”
The committee used its most direct language to discuss the future of its corps of chaplains who work outside of the military, in nursing homes and hospitals, and on college campuses, among other assignments.
“The ELCA’s current theological course presents serious theological challenges to any continued co-operation in endorsement procedures,” according to the Missouri-Synod report.
The tangle of Lutheran agencies is the mainly the result of decades of splits and mergers among Lutherans in the United States. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with about 4.5 million members, was formed from a merger of four church bodies with Danish, Finnish, German and Swedish backgrounds. Mueller said in an interview that 81 of the 120 recognized service organizations of the Missouri-Synod co-operate in some way with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Mueller said the agencies would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in a process that could take months.
Okay Guys and Gals – Do you see this? We are playing right into the Prince of Darkness’ hand. Satan has a larger agenda – splinter and destroy the social fabric of the country. Forty years of political correctness have brought the LCMS to this point. If the LCMS does not continue to co-fund the social programs with the ELCA, then they are haters, bigots and socially reprehensible in the eyes of the country. If they make a deal and continue to work with a Church body that ignores God’s word, then they are turning their collective backs on God and his word the Bible.
The ELCA has ignored God’s Principles and ever increasing legitimacy among a population who don’t have a clue, we will now watch as the battering ram of the law is applied across the “fruited” plains to every church door.
Teaching that the act of homosexuality is a sin is not hate. It is proclaiming what is Right and what is wrong based on the Word of God. Hate would be teaching that homosexuals are evil or subhuman or not children of God. That they are automattically going to Heck and that God does not love them. That is hate. Such hatred is not taught by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, WELS, the Catholic Church or any other mainstream Protestant church faith.
Sexual immorality is banned by the Holy Bible, it is one of those sins that creates victims and denies us heaven, as Mankind is a predator species that makes any claim (I mean anything). It cannot be supported as a church activity, and it is one of those sins you have to take home. We know sin is common, it is as common as the waves and the winds, but that is the point, we teach heaven, and it is marriage of Man and Woman that gets us to heaven.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
2 Tim. 3:1-5 KJV
As the 2 or 3 regular readers of this blog know I am a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Look at the left column there are links to their website, links to LCMS Sermons – I now have included a link to a WELS church.
The LCMS is a conservative church that holds firm to the teachings of Jesus. The teachings are simple; Jesus died for us on the cross and for our sins. Know that and keep that in your heart and your ticket is stamped to the road upstairs.
I look at the ELCA who split off from the LCMS in the 1970’s and one must think what the heck is going on here? In 2009 they passed by a clear cut majority that Gays can become Pastors if they are in committed relationships.
Martin Luther correctly identifies homosexuality with the sin of Sodom. Commenting on Genesis 19:4-5 he writes:
I for my part do not enjoy dealing with this passage, because so far the ears of the Germans are innocent of and uncontaminated by this monstrous depravity; for even though disgrace, like other sins, has crept in through an ungodly soldier and a lewd merchant, still the rest of the people are unaware of what is being done in secret. The Carthusian monks deserve to be hated because they were the first to bring this terrible pollution into Germany from the monasteries of Italy. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 3, 251-252)
And then in the same section of the Genesis lecturers, Luther refers to:
The heinous conduct of the people of Sodom ” as “extraordinary, inasmuch as they departed from the natural passion and longing of the male for the female, which is implanted into nature by God, and desired what is altogether contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversity? Undoubtedly from Satan, who after people have once turned away from the fear of God, so powerfully suppresses nature that he blots out the natural desire and stirs up a desire that is contrary to nature. (Luther’s Works, Vol. 3, 255)
The ELCA continues to show that promoting their political positions is a major priority. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America just posted on their website and sent out an email asking readers to “Call Your Representative Today to Vote NO on the ‘Cut, Cap and Balance Act.’”
Here is another example of the ELCA using their resources and displaying their true focus — pushing a political agenda.
Now it seems to me that you Joe or Jane ELCA Member that your money that you think is a tithe and gift to God is really going to promote the ideology of the Democratic party, the ELCA’s social justice causes and progressive policies. When you throw in the fact that the ELCA is seemingly indifferent to making disciples for Christ and bringing the lost to the salvation offered by Jesus (to all those who believe).
One would wonder if God would find your Gift and Tithes to be used in this fashion acceptable.
I implore the ELCA to drop the Lutheran name and while they are at it drop “church” as well. Martin Luther is spinning in his grave on what his name has become and stands for in the ELCA’s hands and last I checked out Jesus was married to the church – not a Political Action and Fundraising Committee.
Question for Adam and Steve: If the church doesn’t want to marry you will you go “Medieval” on us with Lawyers?
Next Step, Persecuting Churches?
When the New York legislature passed a law last Friday legalizing same-sex marriage, all of New York’s Roman Catholic bishops signed a statement warning that they now expect efforts to enact laws attacking churches that defend the truth.
“We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love,” said the bishops.
“But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves,” they said. “This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.”
America’s liberal establishment has already shown how it can flout the Constitution and use government to force churches to act against their own moral teachings.
In the Catholic Charities case, a six-to-one majority of the California Supreme Court upheld a law enacted by the California legislature that required Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations to provide prescription contraception coverage for their employees if they purchased any prescription drug coverage for their employees at all.
It did not matter to the majority in California’s legislature, who passed the law, and then Gov. Gray Davis, who signed it, that employees of Catholic organizations were free to buy any kind of contraceptives they wanted — with their own money. These politicians wanted to force the Catholic Church to buy contraceptives against its teaching.
The Catholic Church argued that it deeply believed and clearly taught that artificial contraception was wrong. The church also said it believed it had a moral obligation — as part of its duty to treat workers justly — to provide prescription drug coverage for its employees.
The liberals behind California’s contraceptive law no doubt relished putting the Catholic Church in this box: force Catholic authorities to choose between upholding their church’s teaching on artificial contraception or upholding their church’s view of the just treatment of workers.
They wanted to force the Catholic Church to choose one wrong or another. It is hard to imagine an uglier or more tyrannical impulse in a politician.
The church resisted. Catholic Charities of Sacramento sued the state, seeking to protect its own and everyone else’s freedom of religion.
“This lawsuit has very little to do with health insurance and everything to do with our fundamental rights as Americans,” Roman Catholic Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento explained at the time. “It boils down to a very simple question. Under the Constitution, does the state of California have the right to tell its citizens how to practice their religion?”
Three Protestant churches – -including the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Worldwide Church of God — joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in filing an amicus brief supporting Catholic Charities.
“The state proposes a rule of law that forces a church institution, in violation of its own self-identity and constitution, to pay for something in its own workplace that the institution holds and teaches to be sinful,” the churches said in this brief.
“Today’s case is about contraceptives,” they said. “Tomorrow’s will present some other issue that elicits public division, such as abortion, assisted suicide, cloning, or some issue of self-governance, such as the use of resources for evangelization or who a religious agency may hire to do ministry work.”
The California Supreme Court’s decision was bold and simple. It conceded that the California law demanded that the Catholic Church act against its own teachings.
“We do not doubt Catholic Charities’ assertion that to offer insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives to its employees would be religiously unacceptable,” said the court.
But it concluded that the state’s interest in eliminating “gender discrimination” trumped the Catholic Church’s freedom of religion.
“Assuming for the sake of argument the (law) substantially burdens a religious belief or practice, the law nevertheless serves a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest,” said the court. “The (law) serves the compelling state interest of eliminating gender discrimination.”
Catholic Charities appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court refused to take the case up, letting California’s law stand.
Apologists for New York’s same-sex marriage law argue that it includes a religious exemption that protects churches from having to officiate over same-sex marriages and protects them in “taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained” — including in its employment practices.
That is, of course, until the same kind of ideologues who are now pushing same-sex marriage laws begin suing churches in states where same-sex marriage is a “right” because, they argue, the churches have made them victims of “gender discrimination.”
Then Anthony Kennedy gets to decide.
Religious leaders should NOT stay out of politics for two reasons. First, no matter what people want to say about religion and politics and if it should be there or not, it IS! It is in our Constitution for crying out loud. Those who have religious beliefs are guaranteed rights by the government. Therefore, when those rights get trampled, they have the right to fight back. Second, saying that those with religious beliefs should stay out of politics is unfair. The “leave your religion at the door” attitude is an impossible task no matter what some politicians say. This is the case because it is very much an integral part of our decision making process, just as secular humanism or beliefs in evolution are an integral part of a non-religious person’s decision making process. Why should those of faith be forced to leave their beliefs, thoughts on how things should be, or philosophy out of the political arena while others can think and believe whatever they want as long as it is not God?