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Topics - Jim_Krauser

Would this even apply to clergy blessing of a civil marriage which occured in another state where such a marriage would be legal?


Indiana GOP passes law making it a crime for clergy to marry gays (AmericaBlog)
Indiana GOP passes law making it a crime for clergy to marry gays

"In what appears to be a rather massive violation of the freedom of religion, the Republican party in Indiana appears to have amended the state criminal code to either make it a crime, or confirm that it remain a crime, for clergy to conduct weddings for gay couples.
While it is not widely known, numerous mainstream American religions permit gay nuptials. The faiths include reform Judaism, Evangelical Lutherans, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ, among others.
The amendment to the criminal code, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014, makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000 for clergy "solemnize" a marriage of two men or two women:"

IC 31-11-11-7
Solemnization of marriage between persons prohibited from marrying
Sec. 7. A person who knowingly solemnizes a marriage of individuals who are prohibited from marrying by IC 31-11-1 commits a Class B misdemeanor.
As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.3.

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Your Turn / Home to Rome?
June 03, 2013, 02:49:08 AM
"Going home to Rome." 

I find the oft used expression and image of the Roman church as "home" (for all western Christians) to be both overly romantic and errant. 

As Lutheran Christians we descend from the western branch of the family tree, this is true.  However, as is true with any branch there is a point of departure which naturally separates it from other branches even while all the branches are nourished via the same root system.
The Lutheran Church(es) and the Roman Church share a common point of divergence in the mid-second millenium.  Neither of these (or for that matter any others) exist exactly the same as the church which existed at the time of separation (nor as that of any other previous point), that is to say none of us own an exclusive claim upon any point in the trunk.  What is more, all of us have reformed (been pruned) in some measure and all of us have grown in new directions. 

There is no "home" to return to. 

Such an expression suggests that one branch has a greater claim upon the roots than another.  I believe that if necessary (and it isn't) we can make a pretty persuasive case, that the Lutheran Church has as great a claim if not a better one to the family "home" as any other descendants--even that body which claims the family surname of Catholic as its own.  Going "home" to Rome, speaks a language that recognizes only patrilineal descent, as if the modern Roman Church is descended from an only elder son, while the rest of us from younger daughters with lesser inheritances. 

Certainly we all have our notions of what represents "health" in any particular branch, but these judgments are best made in humility, with an eye primarily toward our own health, and prayers that the vinedresser will be as gentle with the others as we trust he will be with us.   

I prefer the image of the family tree that I have drawn upon which maintains that there are divergences in the life of the Church, but not true separations.   

The "home" image is based more on the notion of family and households, but in using this we should be clear that in this model, we should not confuse structure with relationships.  While Jesus does us the image of a house of many rooms, scripture also gives us the images of a city, or even an entire kingdom as the nature of the dwelling place of people of God.

If compelled to speak in the language of households, I would point out that no family maintains a single home over many generations, let alone millenia.  What descendants share is a heritage, not a home.  In our divergent expressions, not all aspects of the heritage are preserved, nor should they be.  Some aspects were unhealthy; not all are well-suited to all times and all places.  We may from time to time enjoy family reunions, share well-wishes, engage in common endeavors, but we are not and cannot be of one home. 

Once we leave the botanical image we may move into the animal kingdom of living people as a more apt image but there the image is not homes, but heritage (DNA and traits), passed on and shared, but there is no "going home" in that construct.  In the world of homes (families), each generation establishes for itself a new home, an idea present in scripture.  The child must leave father and mother, carrying with it much to be sure, but taking on much from other families and sources as well.  If the goal of our life of faith is to go "home" we must be careful lest we find ourselves taking up residence, living in the past, with our forebears in the cemetery, for that is where they now dwell, not in the family home.

Thus in the image of "home" understood as family, we can hope and pray for continued relationships and even in the long line of generations expect that there would be eventual intermarriages of the descendants and reintegration of many part of the original family genome, but we must also understand that we cannot go home again, even while we may treasure much that we were given there.
I still own our family home, but when I go there it is very much changed.  Many of the artfacts are still there, all of the memories are still there, but it is a lonely place--for the family that lived there lives there no more.   My home is elsewhere, as it should be.  Eventhough I live alone, where I live now is a living home, that other place, in spite of all of my sentimental attachment to it, is just a house.
Your Turn / A Lutheran View of Government and Taxation
October 12, 2012, 12:14:33 AM
In the context of the election season, do the paragraphs below hold up?  Are these principles that transcend nearly 500 years and in a very different polity?  Do we explictly teach these in any way?  Would our Lutheran church bodies still affirm them today? 

I plan on reading the first excerpt to the congregation on the first Sunday in November in preface to a prayer for the country as we go to the polls.

      But God sustains government and through it gives peace and punishes and guards against the wicked, so that we may support wife and children, bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of God, have security in our homes and on the streets, that each may help the other, and communicate and live with another. Such gifts are altogether of heaven, and God desires that we consider and recognize them as gifts of God. He desires us to honor government as a servant of his and to show gratitude to it because through it God gives us such great benefits.
     Whoever, thus, might see God in government, would have sincere love towards government. Whoever could estimate the blessings which we receive through government, would be heartily thankful toward government. If you knew that someone had saved your child from death, you would thank him warmly. Why then are you not grateful to the government which saves you, your children, your wife, daily from murder? If the government did not restrain the wicked, when could we be secure? Therefore when you look on wife and children, bear in mind that these are gifts of God which you may possess through the government. And as you love your children, you should also love the government. Because the common man does not acknowledge such blessings as peace, justice, and punishment of the wicked, we need often to remind him of them and diligently to explain them to him. 
Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 283). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

The people are also to be exhorted to pay honestly and willingly the tax imposed on each. Even if some obligations are heavy each one is bound to pay on account of his duty and his obedience to government so that peace may rule throughout the land. For what else is unwillingness to pay tax or render service than giving rise to thievery and murder?
     So they especially who bear the name of Christian should do this in love which willingly bears all burdens, and gives beyond what is due, which pays, even when burdened unjustly, and seeks no revenge through its own powers, as Christ teaches in Matt. 5[:39]. We ought to bring honor to the holy gospel by paying honestly, as a matter of course, so that the holy gospel is not slandered and disgraced as happens in the case of those who claim in the name of the holy gospel to be free from tithes and other temporal burdens. 

Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors  Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 40, Page 286-287). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Your Turn / Support for torture?
May 05, 2009, 02:32:34 PM
The headlines regarding a corrolation between church attendance and support for torture were eye-popping.  Apparently the correlation isn't so strong for us mainline denomination types but I don't hold out much hope.  It may be that we're not really supportive, but our quietist tendencies keep us from making too much of a fuss.

Coincidentally, I wrote the following for my congregational newsletter before the survey was published.  I'm expecting some flack.

We Have Sinned

Torture is wrong.  Our government has consistently affirmed this.  This idea lies behind the rejection of "cruel and unusual punishment" in our Bill of Rights.  Where we lost our way was when we tried to draw a line as to "how far one can go" in the use of "aggressive" or "enhanced" interrogation methods.  These terms themselves are cynical euphemisms.  The rule should be quite simple.  If it would even look like torture to the average person, if you would be ashamed to have a video of it put on national television, the line is crossed.
Some will undoubtedly disapprove of this column as political.  It is not.  Indeed, therein lies the problem.  Those who advocated the use of these "brutal" methods, as the New York Times called them, looked only to the legal limitations, not the larger principles.  Simply because something may be legal, and the legal justifications in this instance are far from certain, does not mean it is moral.

It is shocking that there has not been a greater sense of moral outrage.  It is understandable, I suppose, on one level.  These things were done to (most certainly) bad and evil men.  In the mind of most, they deserve no pity, no mercy.  And of course, humanly speaking, they do not.  But righteousness is not measured only by how one treats one's friends or how one benefits one's own, but Jesus teaches us that it reaches to how we treat our neighbors, whether they be near or far, countrymen or strangers, friends or, yes, enemies.

The question of our morality or righteousness is one which is most effectively analyzed when we are tempted to lose control.  It is when we are anxious or enraged that our moral character is supposed to kick in and overrule our baser thoughts and desires.  It is supposed to stop us from "taking the gloves off" and applying the "whatever it takes" standard.  A "whatever it takes" standard is a frightening notion in the hands of individuals, let alone in the hands of a government as powerful as our own.  It suggests there is no overriding moral judgment or moral compass other than results—to guide us and that the real standard in place is that the ends justify the means.  But such a strategy, if it can be called that, does not take into account the real and long term costs,  not only the legal costs or political costs, but the costs to our very own souls.

Bishop Hanson, along with the leaders of many denominations in the US, signed on to a statement by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  It states the argument against torture with unambiguous moral clarity.

Torture is a Moral Issue
Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved — policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished values. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed? Let America abolish torture now without exceptions.

The materials revealed in the last few weeks should remove all doubt as to the moral quicksand surrounding the defense of these tactics.  The claims of efficiency and effectiveness in defense of these or other "harsh" methods are mocked by the disclosure that two men were water-boarded more than 250 times in one month.  In the past, our government sought to assuage our pricked consciences by assuring us that these "special methods" were only used against two "detainess" and the impression was given that these events were limited.  Well, yes and no.  The water-boarding all took place in the span of a month.  But, as we now know, at a high level of repetition.  Exactly how this is calculated — whether by the number of times water was poured over the face of the individual or the number of sessions involved — it betokens a level of sadism and savagery, most of us would not have thought possible at the hands of the American government, which is to say, at our hands.

And there is the worst of it.  In a democracy we cannot simply denounce government actions and turn our backs.  If the government did it and those responsible for it are not held accountable or punished for it by the American people, then we have acquiesced to, approved of and abetted in this disgraceful episode.  We must and should expect accountability in some form.  The legal consequences, if any, for those who devised and authorized this policy the courts will have to sort out.  But the judgment of the conscience of the nation should be harsh and severe.  We have sinned. 

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