On Jan. 15, The University News published an article entitled “‘Taboo’ drawing fire and ire,” and an opinion piece entitled “Taboo Turmoil,” regarding a conference held on the Saint Louis University campus by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s national campus ministry organization: LCMSU.
We, the members of the St. Louis LCMSU chapter, would like to respond to both of these recent articles. We hold that this conference was in line with the Jesuit Mission, SLU policies and the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, and we encourage members of the SLU community to carefully consider the entirety of both Lutheran and Roman Catholic positions on the issues of sexuality.
The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have quite a bit of common ground, particularly with regard to human sexuality. Though some aspects of Confessional Lutheran and Roman Catholic theology differ, nearly all of the conclusions these two church bodies draw about morality, both sexual and otherwise, are the same. Neither church condones homosexual relationships, any sexual relations outside of marriage, the use of birth control (though the LCMS is a little less strict) or the ordination of women. To attack the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on these grounds is to indirectly attack the Roman Catholic Church as well.
To simply dismiss the Lutheran view of homosexuality as “antiquated and offensive” is to overlook the vast amounts of other Lutheran doctrines that form the foundation of this and every other position we hold. Put another way, this is a dismissal of a whole iceberg after only seeing the tip of it and having no knowledge or regard for the rest of it just beneath the surface. Because of the immensity and complexity of all of these beliefs, we can only provide you with an abbreviated version of them here.
First, we believe than men and women were created by God in His image to serve one another. Then mankind fell. We sinned.
The original sin we are all conceived and born in corrupts our very nature inside and out, and we no longer naturally desire what is right and good.
But there is hope for our fallen race. As St. John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 ESV). We are unable to keep God’s Law, but Christ did. God no longer sees our sins, but His own Son’s righteousness covering us. This does not mean that we no longer sin, but we do confess all our sins knowing that we are fully and unconditionally forgiven. In Lutheranism, this is often referred to as simul justus et peccator, “simultaneously saint and sinner.” This is an extremely important point all too often lost in the conversation surrounding any controversial issue. Everyone hears that the Law of God condemns us.
Of course, this is not a terribly popular worldview. Few people in today’s world want to believe that we are sinners, especially that we are sinners so corrupt that we can and frequently do desire things that contradict the way God intends for us to live. We love to do what feels good, what feels right, what makes us feel happy. It is popular today to define “love” in this way, as the actions and feelings that feel the best to each of us, as something subjective and unique to each individual. However, our own feelings and emotions often contradict God’s Word.
God did not give us His Word just because he wanted to have a reason to condemn us or watch us fail, but because this is the order for society that is best for mankind. God’s definition of love to which we adhere is still love, but it is not always pleasant and is commonly derided as not being love at all. We hold it to be the truest love ever known to man.
We have here provided you with a glimpse of only slightly more of the tip of the Lutheran iceberg, but it should be clear that the conflict brought to light by the Taboo conference held at SLU is the result of much more than a choice of one policy over another.
That said, we understand that many people do not agree with us. However, should not a proper understanding of inclusion at least allow for the existence of all views, even those with which we do not agree?
If open discussion and dialogue are something to be desired at SLU, why would an effort be made to ban events like this from campus and to marginalize conservative religious groups like the LCMS, of which many SLU students are members?