The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod owes its very existence to the religious freedoms in the United States. Many of the founding fathers of our church body emigrated from German states where their Lutheran faith was being infringed upon by other Protestant rulers. The state was imposing laws on the Church that were making it illegal to follow their Christian consciences. So they fled that oppression, and made America their home.
Recently the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a mandate requiring everyone, including religious employers, to offer insurance coverage that includes sterilization and contraceptives (including abortion-inducing drugs.) While many voices cry out “separation of church and state” when the church speaks, there is much silence in the public sector right now.
The Concordia Health Plans of our own Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have been grandfathered, as officials in St. Louis have been monitoring this development. Sadly, many other church bodies have schools and organizations that will not be grandfathered, and are being told to transgress their biblically-informed consciences.
Dear friends in Christ, this is NOT a political issue. It is spiritual. The issue at hand is: what does the church do when told by earthly authorities to go against our understanding of God’s Word? Lutherans have always had a solid teaching of Romans 13, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed…”
Yet, along with the apostles, when we are given the sad choice of obeying God, or submitting to humans, we must confess: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 ESV.) The American bishops of the Roman Catholic Church have spoken bravely and clearly on this. So has our own LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison.
A church that gets caught up in earthly politics and picking favorite parties or endorsing candidates confuses itself. Remember, Jesus says, “You are not of the world” (John 15:19 ESV.) Do not speak on behalf of the Church in matters of opinion, political philosophy, or policy. However, when others are opposing the biblically-informed conscience of the Church, we have no choice but to confess the Word of Christ, and kindly and respectfully ask the world to remove itself from such imposition.
For this reason, the entire Church on earth should be standing “shoulder to shoulder” with our friends in the Roman Catholic Church. We respectfully, yet with resolve, tell the world that it cannot force Christians to sin against our Scripture-led consciences. Let the Church be Church, and let the State be State.
Pray for our friends in the Roman Church. Pray also, that such infringements do not multiply. Lord, have mercy! Amen.