By Melanie Ave
One person on Twitter wanted to know how to respond to people “who call us haters for disapproving of gay marriage.”
The response from the LCMS? “All people can love whomever they choose, but that doesn’t give them the right to redefine marriage.”
That was just one of many questions and answers included in an hourlong LCMS “tweet chat” on marriage June 19 — a first for the Synod.
Participants were encouraged to sign into their Twitter accounts and ask questions about marriage using the hashtag #LCMSMarriage. Questions and answers were limited to Twitter’s 140-character limit.
Chat moderators included the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, and Dr. Beverly Yahnke, executive director for Christian Counsel at DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization.
The chat occurred in anticipation of a decision on same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, expected soon.
“The highlight was engaging the world on a critical topic in a media we have not yet engaged,” Day said. “We received many wonderful questions concerning the implications of the Supreme Court decision on the future of the Church and her work.
“Obviously, those questions remain unanswered, yet recent history tells us the Church will be pressed to confess the faith outside the narrow confines of her walls.”
Several participants wanted to know why the Church was concerned with same-sex marriage. “The church seeks to care for and about all who struggle with sexual sins” was the response.
One writer asked: “How should a congregation respond if a gay couple wants to use their church to get married?”
The LCMS response: “Care, counsel & share the truth with them. Love them patiently & lead them to see the marriage isn’t appropriate.”
Others wanted to know the biblical definition of marriage (answer: “Marriage is a divine union, created by God, between 1 man & 1 woman”) or why children need a mother and a father (answer: “People can love whomever they like, but moms can never be dads & dads can never be moms no matter what the law says”).
One participant asked: “What answer from God’s Word regarding argument that marriage debate is impediment to people hearing the Gospel?”
Day and Yahnke replied on behalf of the LCMS: “Law and Gospel are held together. The Gospel always prevails. But we must be saved from that which Law exposes.”
Yahnke called the chat an “unlikely forum to offer deep discussion” on the topic, but she said it offered a clear outreach and invitation to everyone to participate in the conversation.
“Individuals were moved beyond passive reflection on the topic to clear engagement, questioning and sharing of faith and facts,” she said.
“People of faith had an opportunity to share a wide array of questions and resources in a setting that was faith-based. Pressing issues of the day were discussed in light of God’s Word.”
The Twitter forum also allowed those who participated to question one another about their views.
One participant wrote: “My generation overwhelmingly supports marriage equality, and churches can choose what weddings to take. Why oppose?”
Another replied: “To bring life to those who have embraced death by believing truth & righteousness are matters of popular opinion.”
Yahnke said the chat demonstrated that the Synod is “open to an array of media and strategies to respond compassionately and with truth to those in the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community.”
For those who want to delve more deeply into the topic, she encouraged pastors, church workers, teachers and laity to attend a DOXOLOGY conference set for Aug. 14-15 in Mundelein, Ill., titled, “Speaking the Truth in Love: A Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction and Same-Sex Marriage.”
To see a related story about the upcoming DOXOLOGY conference, click here.
Read a transcript of the entire Twitter chat here.
The LCMS offers a “marriage toolkit” to help explain about how Scripture defines marriage. For the toolkit, go to lcms.org/freetobefaithful and click on the “Marriage Toolkit” tab.
Melanie Ave is senior writer and social media coordinator for LCMS Communications.