At the heart of liberty is the right define one's own concept of existence, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
It was interesting timing to be digesting the reality of the decision during the final day of our district convention. There were a good number of conversations going on as pastors and others discussed how they might need to respond with in the contexts of their own congregations. Pres. Stoterau offered words of calm and caution. We do not need to rush out and protect ourselves. Churches do not need to change their constitutions or stop doing weddings for non-members. We do need to be wise and circumspect in how we function as a church, but this we should already have been doing.
For those of us who work with children and youth, this topic may hit us closer to home than for others in the church. My concern is that for many of our young people, the constant pressures and influences of our culture will continue to work against our teaching and reshape many who lack a biblical foundation by which to have a balanced understanding of this complicated issue. The balance was well articulate by Synod President Harrison:
As faithful Christians, we shall continue to be obedient to just laws. We affirm the human rights of all individuals and the inherent and equal value of all people. We respect the divinely given dignity of all people, no matter their sexual preference. We recognize that, under the exacting and demanding laws of God, we are indeed sinners in thought, word and deed, just as are all (Romans 3:9ff.). We confess that the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sins” (1 John 1:7). We confess that God’s divine law of marriage and the entire Ten Commandments apply to all, and that so also the life-giving sacrifice of Christ on the cross is for all. It is a “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
However, even as we struggle as a church to come to a unified response to this blatant rejection of the entire history of humankind and its practice of marriage, “We shall obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state. We will resist its imposition of falsehood upon us, even as we continue to reach out to those who continue to be harmed by the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage. And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians, churches and people of good will who are resolute on this issue.
We are all sinners in need of a Savior. As the church we must remain faithful to that message. As those called to teach this faith to emerging generations, our task will be to offer a counter-revolutionary message to a philosophy that once was itself a counter-revolution now turned "mainstream." This will not be simple and it will not be easy, but when has youth ministry ever been about what it easy.
This week and in the weeks and years to come do what you have always done, turn to Christ and turn to his Word. Present the Word in both Law and Gospel in your teaching. Create space in your youth ministries for honest questions, honest struggles, and honest answers. Pray that you will bear witness both boldly and with love to the truth of Scripture with regard to the true nature of sin and all of our need for repentance and forgiveness. May we all be blessed to offer the forgiveness of Christ to those we serve.
Resources from the Youth eSource:
HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH’S RESPONSE
BIBLE STUDY: DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE…REAL LOVE?