So-called “Gay Marriage” is now the law of the land in the State of Illinois. The idea of marriage as a life-long union of one man and one woman is considered, at best, quaint and old-fashioned; at worst, hateful and bigoted. Even amongst those who recognize that marriage is only possible between one man and one woman, the “for life” idea is considered outdated and not realistic for our modern-day enlightened ideals.
Our Lord ordered His creation from the get-go in a specific way. He created one man and one woman and brought them together (Genesis 2:18-24). God ordered the marriage relationship in such a way that it’s His spoken intent that marriage would bear fruit – that children would come from the one-flesh union of husband and wife (Genesis 1:28). After sin enters the world, after the Flood, God reiterates this good order for His creation (Genesis 9:1).
From this good ordering of His creation, we in the Christian Church declare to the world that the family is the foundational unit of humanity. God spoke it into existence in this way, and He spoke its continuance until the Last Day.
One of the chief concerns the Church faces today – if not the chief concern – is the rapid destruction of the family, which our culture is in the midst of engineering. At times there is a place for finger pointing and assigning blame, but that’s not why I write this to you. Rather, I write so that we can be aware of this reality and commit ourselves to addressing it, both among ourselves at Good Shepherd and in these communities in which we live, serve, and share God’s Word.
It shouldn’t surprise us that this is happening in the world. Sin is the taking of what God has established as good, and twisting it into evil; something we all participate in. Satan is at work, too. But he’s most concerned with attacking us within the Church. He already has the world enslaved; he is after those who belong to another, who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
How does Satan do this? One way is by tempting us to despair over the depravity of the world, as if God no longer has dominion over His creation. This is a lie, for thus says the Lord: “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” (Psalm 50:10-11).
Another way Satan works is by convincing us to forsake the very things which sustain and strengthen our faith: the Holy Word of God, in which works His Holy Spirit; the saving waters of Holy Baptism, promising to us our adoption as children in God’s family; the Body and Blood of Jesus, fed to us in the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of our sins. Satan works to convince us that our presence in the Divine Service should be secondary to almost anything else in our lives: work, sports, relaxation, sleep. I’ve observed that this is especially rampant in today’s families, who re drawn every which way by the demands and temptations of the world. But none of us is immune.
So this month I’ve included several articles that I hope will aid us all, but especially the families of our congregation and other families that are in our lives. My intent is not to condemn or judge: we all face the challenge of faithfully living our lives as Christ’s freed men. I do offer them with the hope and prayer that they will provide food for thought and, perhaps, spur you to action. I hope that, in reflecting upon what these writes say to us, we’ll all reprioritize our lives in putting God and His gifts first, not only for ourselves, but also for our husbands, wives, and especially our children.
The articles include (The first article is not available online at this time):
- “Shaped by the Cross” – Rev. Alexey Streltsov (of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church) writes encouraging and exhorting words to us Lutherans in America, from the perspective of a Lutheran and pastor who has served in the midst of persecution and great need all of his life. If you read nothing else in this newsletter, please read this article from the June/July Lutheran Witness.
- “Persecution in the Ball Diamond” – Adriane Heins (managing editor of The Lutheran Witness) relates a story of a young man who knew the importance of receiving Christ’s forgiveness in the Divine Service on Sunday, and faithfully endured the consequences on the playing field for it.
- “Teaching the Faith” – LC–MS pastor Rev. Daniel Hinton reminds parents that instructing children in the faith is first and foremost the responsibility of the parents; and that this instructing ought to begin from day one. And, especially, this instruction should be coming from their father.
- “How to Nurture Children with Theological Language” – Allison Kieselowsky (an LC–MS pastor’s wife) encourages the daily, purposeful indoctrination of children with pure, rich theological language (as well as other topic areas). This is in line with the reality that children learn first the “grammar” – the building blocks such as the simple words – before they can process those building blocks into more complex concepts and ideas.
If you have any questions or want to talk about what you’ve read in any of these articles, don’t hesitate to email, call, or stop in my Study.
– Pastor Schuermann