A few New Year’s predictions

Publicado: enero 20, 2014 en Luteranismo, LUTHERAN CORE, opinión

ducks

I predict that in 2014:

-The media will have moved beyond Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty to find some new cause for offense.

-The Rev. Frank Schaefer (who was defrocked by the United Methodist Church for refusing to follow the Book of Discipline regarding LGBT issues) will make more money on speaking tours than he ever made serving his parish.

-Adoring fans of Francis will not have figured out that the Pope is Catholic.

-And those of us who hold to traditional moral values will still not know how to make our case to our culture.

Many years ago the sainted Lutheran theologian James Burtness caught me off guard by saying that if we allow heterosexuals to do anything they please, our prohibition of homosexual conduct is a social justice issue. He was not in favor of same-sex relationships; he was pointing out that the rampant immorality that was being accepted in churches even then (roughly thirty years ago) made our objections to same-sex relationships not credible.

The attraction of the Robertson family on Duck Dynasty (a show that I have never watched and don’t plan to) is not the crude comments the family patriarch made about homosexuality or his ignorant statements about race. I suspect that seeing a family, which apparently lives out solid values in an atmosphere of love and enjoys doing it, is the reason for its popularity. People like them not for what they may be against but for the way they live—sort of a twenty first century version of Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best but with more hair.

The pro-life movement took decades to realize that its tactics were self-defeating. Boisterous protests at abortion clinics fueled the lie that pro-life people were dangerous and violent, although the truth is that pro-lifers were far more often on the receiving end of violent attacks.

Similarly, comments such as Phil Robertson’s do not change anybody’s mind, but they support the accusation that those of us advocating traditional Christian values are hateful people who unjustly oppress and bully those in “sexual minorities.” If you are reading this, you know as well as I do that those accusations are not true except for a tiny, tiny minority of people who constantly embarrass the rest of us.

The issue with Pastor Schaefer has been featured regularly in my local newscasts, since his home is less than an hour from mine.

I have no doubt that Pastor Schaefer deeply loves his gay son, as I do mine, and that he believes he is supporting a group of people who are unjustly discriminated against. The fact that it will split the global United Methodist denomination if he is successful is lost in our North American ethnocentrism.

The true character of some of the activists was shown by their temper tantrum (strangely overlooked in media reports) that included throwing chairs, as well as by their threats to do everything they can to disrupt denominational events until they get their way.

We dare not be like that!

First, we need to get our own houses in order. We need to pray and commit to love our own spouses and children or, if single, to observe chastity in our lives. We need to show people by our example that sexuality is a beautiful gift from a loving God, which He gave us to solidify the lifelong faithfulness of a man and a woman, and which is the healthiest atmosphere in which to pass on faith and moral values from one generation to another.

Many of us need to repent of our complicity in the “sexual revolution,” which began in the 1920s and was normalized by the 60s. We need to be honest about our own failings to “fe r and love God so that in matters of sex our words and conduct are pure and honorable, and husband and wife love and respect each other.” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism)

And we need to take time to get to know gay and lesbian people. I have been surprised by the young gay men who have confided in me and shared their personal struggles. They know my position on their lifestyle, and I needed to pray about how to respond. The answer I received was, “You love them; I’ll fix them.” The Robertsons will have more impact if they speak less and let their lives be their best argument.

The gay men I have been privileged to talk with have not been strident, and they have experienced great anguish as they have tried unsuccessfully to change. I believe that sometimes God takes away our sinful desires, but other times He says as He did to St. Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Folks struggling with same-sex attractions need our love and our friendship, not our condemnation. Each of us battles our own demons, and only in the cross of Jesus do we find victory.

For this New Year, I ask all of us in Lutheran CORE to guard our words carefully and our actions even more so. We are not going to argue people into changing their attitudes about sexuality. But our lives can be a powerful witness, leading others to seek the love and stability God creates in us. Speak the truth, yes, but speak it in love. (Ephesians 4:15) And the Body of Christ will be built up in the power of God’s Word and Spirit.

 

Pr. Steve Shipman, director of Lutheran CORE, can be reached at 570-916-7780 or sshipman@lutherancore.org.

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