One of the most persistent questions in the Day School Confirmation Class I would teach while studying the Sixth Commandment was this: “Why is homosexuality wrong? We have a family member who’s ‘different.’” Or, “my family knows someone who is gay and they are so nice … or ‘cool.’” I would also say that, as I’ve listened to those who still serve in the highest calling of the “parish pastor,” or to congregants who want to talk, I know that similar questions still persist. But now they are also accompanied by additional questions like, “My best college friend, a pretty cool guy, ‘became’ a girl/woman. Although she is so much happier now, was that OK?” Or, “We’ve had two wonderful ladies worshipping regularly with us who also enrolled a cute little girl in our school, and who now want to take our membership class. We were very excited until they shared that they (the two women) were ‘married.’ What do we do?” Or, “what if a woman wanted to ‘become a man’ and she/he said she felt a calling into the Office of the Public Ministry and wanted to go to one of our seminaries … is that OK?”
To be sure, the church in every age will continue to field such questions and, as God’s representatives, we need to be prepared with loving responses; we should be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) not only in our congregations, but also into our communities and culture. It really is unfortunate that too often we are known for our judgmental ideas and responses.
If you would allow me this privilege, I would like to continue here with the beginning of my wife Pat’s letter to all the pastors’ wives in Michigan regarding the upcoming Pastors’ Wives Conference or “Katie Conference” (Luther’s wife was named Katie)—April 21–23, 2017—that she was writing concurrently as I was writing this introduction to our 2017 Theological Conference. Pat writes:
“I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6a NIV).
It only takes a second for the world to change. This week there will be an accident, and someone’s world will change. There will be a birth, a bonus, a blessing—and a shooting, a job loss, a diagnosis, a natural disaster … and lives will change. Change brings the need for adjustment, flexibility, coping, and calm; it may bring a time of sweetness and joy, or in many cases, a time of struggle and spinning out of control. Many of us remember when change marched at a slower pace, and now it runs over us, often trampling our way of life, our values, and our faith.
The good news is from the Good News above: “I the LORD do not change.” In this constantly changing world today, one thing remains true—God has not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).
Indeed, God does not change, and “… God is love …” (1 John 4:16 NIV). Truth does not change and God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). So, we need to let God’s inspired, amazingly relevant Word speak … lovingly speak into our congregations, our lives, our communities, and our cultures. And even as the Lord our God endeavors to speak His truth in our hearts in ways that will cultivate its soil, plant seeds of truth which can bring forth a harvest of understanding, joy, peace, and the confidence to further speak the truth and share the blessings of God … so also we should learn to speak the truth in love and let God bring forth the harvest He desires. Hence, this year’s Theological Conference: Let’s Talk Male and Female.
I am very thankful that we will have four eminent, engaging, well-studied, and well-written scholars as the speakers at this year’s conference. Having heard all of them speak before, I want you to know that they are scholars that speak not only in an eloquent way, but in a way that is easily understandable, and their content is applicable and accessible.
- We will be given a clear and colorful biblical foundation by Rev. Dr. Mark Siefried of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
- That will be followed by a presentation by Rev. Dr. John Pless of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., who is the primary author of our Synod’s forthcoming revised Catechism. This revised Catechism will address such topics as same-sex attraction, gender dysphoria, and the like.
- Angus Menuge, from the sister campus to our Concordia University in Mequon, Wisc., will speak meaningfully into our world’s philosophies which have engendered, encouraged, and exacerbated these present-day issues from a loving, biblical, and thoroughly Christian ethical and philosophical perspective.
- Finally, Rev. Dr. Todd Biermann, of Faith Lutheran Church in Grand Blanc, Mich., will remind us—as we will have heard in the earlier presentations—that our identity is not so much about WHO we are but WHOSE we are. We are given a remarkable identity in our baptisms in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will see how our identities are tied to God and our first parents who were made in God’s image, and to God’s plan for marriage which is to be a life-long union between one man and one woman that is marked by sacrificial, unconditional, and incarnational love.
Won’t you join us for this discussion on one of our ages’ most interesting and pressing subjects?
So, Let’s Talk Male and Female!
Looking forward to seeing you there!