The following is a letter I wrote to my congregation today, regarding the “historic” passage of Illinois Senate Bill 10 on November 6, 2013.
Dear Beloved in Christ,
I write to you with sadness. According to His good and gracious will, our Lord has seen fit to allow the passage of Senate Bill 10 by the House and Senate of Illinois. Assuming that this bill is signed by Governor Quinn (and he has indicated he will sign it into law sometime this month), effective June 1, 2014 so-called “gay marriage” will be legal in the state of Illinois.
First of all, I want you to know that this is not the end of the world. While our culture and society are undergoing drastic upheaval, the only one who can end all things is the Lord. He has promised good for those who love Him – and for those He loves – and so we can rest assured that even now He has the very hairs of our heads numbered.
Second, I want you to know that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) So too God’s Word: “the word of the Lord remains forever,” as St. Peter quotes from Isaiah (1 Peter 1:25). No matter how much changes, no matter how much the devil rages and wreaks havoc in this world, the life-giving Word that delivers Jesus and His gifts to you will not be silenced; God will not cease to speak to you, and feed you with, His forgiveness.
Those are the things we can be certain about, and I find it very comforting to know this. But there are many unknowns still to come. While the bill intends to provide some sort of protection for religious institutions and organizations, it seems to be very weak in protecting the consciences of individuals whose practice of their religious beliefs may include not condoning or celebrating, or not providing services for, so-called “gay marriages.” In other states that have so-called “gay marriage” – and even in Illinois with its civil unions law – lawsuits have been brought, and fault found by the legal system, against citizens who choose not to provide services for so-called “gay marriages” or events related to them. For example, photographers or bakers have been drastically affected.
We also don’t know – and frankly, cannot know – how the normalization of so-called “gay marriage” will affect the view of the general public towards organizations, religious or otherwise, who speak a message, or teach, against so-called “gay marriage.” While we cannot know the future and what the Lord has in store for us, we must be aware that persecution may well come.
Yet we must also be aware that we are first and foremost called to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. I hope that you’ll join me at Good Shepherd every week to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners. I hope you’ll join me in Scripture Study so that we can delve into the blessed Word of God. Why? So that we can be assured of God’s pleasure with us for the sake of Christ. And so we can be ready to give that answer, ready to minister to those who are being misled and who very well might one day be faced with their sin and seek hope and help from us. We have been entrusted with the words of eternal life from our savior Jesus. Please come and hear them, so that, filled with the Holy Spirit through them, you will be ready to speak them to your neighbors and friends and family.
I have a few resources to suggest to you; I’ve listed them at the bottom of the letter. There are some episodes of Issues, Etc. (a Lutheran talk radio show) that deal with God’s Word about, and the Church’s care for, homosexuals. There are also some articles you can read. I’m also going to order copies of the October Lutheran Witness, which deals with sexuality issues in the culture and the Church’s response. Finally, I will order several more packs of the CPH tract “Same-Sex Marriage” for your use.
This is a big deal. And yet we must be diligent to not let this issue overshadow Jesus and His message of forgiveness. Homosexuality is a sin, but it is not the only one. Every one of us is just as guilty of our own personal sins, and just as much in need of Christ’s forgiveness. So as we speak about this, let us be gentle and full of love while being firm and unmoving from the truth of God’s Word. We want the whole world to know the truth of Jesus, because the truth will set the whole world free.
In the blessed name of Jesus,
Pastor Michael Schuermann
“The Church’s Message to Those Struggling with Same-Sex Temptation” with Pastor Kevin Karner
“Jesus on Homosexuality” with Pastor Tom Eckstein
“Speaking the Truth in Love to Those Burdened by Homosexuality” with Pastor Tom Eckstein
“Homosexuality and the Bible” by Pastor Tom Eckstein
“Homosexuality in the Home” by Pastor Ryan Ogrodowicz
“Bearing Their Burden” by Pastor Tom Eckstein
“LCMS Marriage Toolkit” (Scroll down a select the “Marriage Toolkit” tab)