Harrison releases letter on landmark Supreme Court ruling

By Adriane Heins

In a landmark 5-4 ruling June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry in any state in America, even in states where same-sex marriage currently is not recognized.

“Today was a tragedy in the history of Western and world civilization,” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison said soon after the ruling. “Five justices cannot rewrite all of history, much less can they redefine what God has defined.”

Harrison

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison

Speaking to the future, he said, “We will continue to be faithful to the institution of marriage as conceived by our founders. If those who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment could have known that it would be misused for this purpose, they would be absolutely shocked and horrified. Truth does not change. God’s Word does not change.”

As for the LCMS, Harrison noted, “We will continue to be faithful to God’s institution of marriage and natural law, and we will also be compassionate to people who are damaged by this misdirection.”

Harrison also released a letter to the church today, noting that “We respect the divinely given dignity of all people, no matter their sexual preference. We recognize that, under the exacting and demanding laws of God, we are indeed sinners in thought, word and deed, just as are all (Rom. 3:9ff.). We confess that the ‘blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sins’ (1 John 1:7).”

In his letter, Harrison also encouraged LCMS Lutherans to “continue to reach out to those who continue to be harmed by the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage.”

Read President Harrison’s letter

Adriane Heins (adriane.heins@lcms.org) is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness and editor of Catechetical Information for LCMS Communications.
 

Marriage Resources

Posted June 26, 2015 / Updated June 27, 2015

, , ,

Reporter Online is the Web version of Reporter, the official newspaper of
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

44 Responses to Harrison releases letter on landmark Supreme Court ruling

  1. alice j. fink June 26, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Well spoken. I am saddened extremely,shocked when I got on fox internet news early. I did not think they would announce until perhaps midday. Even though we knew this was coming, we prayed it would not. We,as Christians must “storm Heaven” with fervent intercession for our country and neighbors as we extend the love and gifts of our Saviour. God give us your strength,wisdom and peace. And we pray for our synod and all pastors who are holding up the cross of Christ,whatever denomination.

  2. Mike June 26, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
    — Thomas Jefferson,

    • Ron June 26, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

      All well and good, but the liberty to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. Liberty is wonderful, but if this is the beginning of a process that ends with the government muscling churches or threatening tax exempt status, it truly is a tragic day

      • James June 27, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

        It doesn’t appear to me that this will be “the beginning of a process that ends with the government muscling churches or threatening tax exempt status” on this issue.

    • David June 26, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      I believe you confuse license with liberty.

      “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,
      and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
      – Galatians 5:1

      “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty –
      only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh,
      but through love serve one another.”
      – Galatians 5:13

      “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
      For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
      – Hebrews 12:1-3

      “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
      teaching us that,
      denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
      looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
      who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
      – Titus 2:11-14

    • Michael June 27, 2015 at 8:04 am #

      You realize you’re quoting someone on the topic of States Rights? Context always matters. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-22-02-0410

      Tho’ the experiment has not yet had a long enough course to shew us from which quarter incroachments are most to be feared, yet it is easy to foresee from the nature of things that the incroachments of the state governments will tend to an excess of liberty which will correct itself (as in the late instance) while those of the general government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working it’s own cure, as all experience shews. I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it
      — Thomas Jefferson

      • Bill June 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

        Jefferson was a fine statesman, but let us not forget that he wrote his own Bible; wonder how that squares with Revelation.

    • Damien Buteri June 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      I agree with this quote, and I fail to see how this ruling is an assault on religion. Churches will not be forced to perform/recognize all legal marriages. Catholic churches have never been forced to recognize couples who have legally remarried after divorce, and pastors and rabbis have never been forced to perform legally recognized interfaith marriages.

  3. Whitney Evans June 26, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    I thought God taught us to love one another. I can’t imagine that God would be upset that there was more opportunity for love in the world. This isn’t a tragedy, this is a wonderful miracle of which God would be so proud. You aren’t God. Remember that. Judge not, lest ye be judged. You. Aren’t. God.

    Let people love one another and focus on the actual terrible atrocities in our world like genocide and unfounded hatred, and child hunger.

    Love is love despite gender, race, religion, and creed.

    Love is love.

    • Benjamin June 26, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

      So you are claiming God’s word to not be absolute? As well as claiming that you can pick and choose what to follow from his will?
      Last I checked 2 men cannot create a life and neither can 2 women. Marriage is in and of itself a union of a man and woman, blessed by god. If he intended for men to lay with men, he would’ve done so.
      No one is passing judgement and no one is staying “you will go to hell for being gay”. That’s on them and they will answer for it in the here after. Do not quite scripture if your intent is to pervert it to your liking so your sins may not be as bad to you.
      Have a wonderful day

    • Jennifer June 26, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

      There is no right to marry” whoever you love” we have a whole host of laws restricting people from marrying children or close relatives for example, this was not an expansion of love, this was the breaking of Gods law, how many of these other restrictions do you now want to give up?

    • Greg June 26, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

      God did indeed say that we are to Love one another but same sex marriage is not an expression of that Love. It is the expression of disobedience and therefore it is sin. The word of God is crystal clear on the issues of same sex marriage and homosexuality . They are both sinful in the eyes of God. (Mathew 19:4-6 and 1 Corinthians 6:9) Lord bless you.

      • andrew June 26, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

        May I add, Greg, that it is not brave to go forward with a lifestyle which goes against God’s will, but brave to know it is wrong and decide to not give in to it, choosing a life within God’s will instead.

      • Eleanor Schulze June 27, 2015 at 6:38 am #

        Thank you for this email. We have lots of work to do and I will continue to spread the word of our Lord.

    • Paul June 26, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      It isn’t a miracle to have two men or women married to one another. We live during a strange period of time with less restrictions. We can still love one another, but it doesn’t mean we should be married to the same sex. This is where people are confused.

    • Sally Johnson June 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

      Yes, God is love and he loves all people, including homosexuals. That does not mean he approves of same sex marriage. We CAN NOT pick and choose what we believe and follow. God’s word is our guide to life.

    • Kristin June 27, 2015 at 12:00 am #

      Whitney, you appear to be trying to speak for God, but you don’t seem to know him very well if you think he would be proud of this. If you have studied God’s word, you should know that he cannot bless what he has condemned.

      “God taught us to love.” Yes, in fact God IS love. In Psalms 13:24, God taught us that “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Love does not mean allowing someone to do whatever he/she pleases. Anyone who is a parent knows that you often have to say “No” even if the child does not agree or understand why or hates you for it. When I told my children not to take candy from strangers, it was not because I did not want them to have candy. We may not understand why God has said “No” to homosexuality, but we have to trust it is for our own good.

      “You aren’t God.” True. But what I believe about homosexual behavior comes from what God has said about it. I personally have nothing against it. If God didn’t condemn homosexual behavior, then it would be fine with me. You also are not God, so who are you to say it’s OK? What do you use to prove your viewpoint? It can’t be the bible.

      “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I don’t have to judge. God is the only judge — and he has made his verdict clear. There are many passages which speak against homosexual behavior and not one that validates it.

      This does not make me a hater or homophobic. I have good friends who are gay. I do not love them less for it. In fact, all my straight friends are sinners, too. But I will not tell any of them their sin is good.

    • Edwin Mercado June 27, 2015 at 4:51 am #

      God has a definitely given rules written in the Holy scriptures which you abused quoting selectively just to satisfy your human desires.

    • Maggi Wulff June 29, 2015 at 7:48 am #

      There is love……..and there is law. God has given many laws, many we don’t like. And he has lots of rules; we can’t pick just the ones we like. My dad had lots of rules and lots of love. I thought the best ones were love, of course, but without his rules, I would not be who I am today. In a humorous vein, I still can’t eat a sandwich without cutting it in half first, nor throw away the crust! 🙂

    • Randy June 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      Well said Whitney.

  4. Joe Ruisi June 26, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Dear President Harrison,

    May the Almighty God keep you strengthened and prepared for the fight ahead for the mission of all Christian Churches against both, the assaults on Christianity and the legalized defiance of the Word of God. We who truly believe in everlasting life granted us by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ need not fear for ourselves, but grieve for those lost in the depths of societal depravity.
    I pray for you, my pastor, the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, and the United States of America.

    With love for God and country,
    Joe Ruisi

  5. June 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Matthew 7:21-23

  6. Fred Maddox June 26, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    I am proud that we have a church leader who is brave enough to stand up to the world and take a firm stand for God’s Holy Word. Thank you Rev. Harrison . God bless you and LCMS.
    I FOR ONE WILL WRITE ALL MY REPRESENTIVES IN CONGRESS AND SENATE TO VOICE MY OPPOSITION TO THS RULEING.

  7. Valerie June 26, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    We are all sinners, whether we are in a heterosexual relationship, or a homosexual one. The gay people I know in long term relationships are just as committed to God and to their partner as many male/female marriages. This ruling gives gay people, many of whom have known they were gay since childhood, the same secular rights that heterosexual people have had for a long time. I am not happy overall about homosexuality, but it exists. I can’t make it go away by pretending it doesn’t. Since it is not going away, those who are gay need the same rights I have.

  8. Julius Steiger June 26, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    I was a bit shocked to hear today that the Supreme Court decided that it should be an acceptable practice for homosexual to marry each other and that such a marriage could actually be considered a LEGAL marriage in America ????
    I thought that because humanity is heading ever deeper into a cesspool of iniquity and most people can see that , including those who make up the highest court in America would be wiser than to decree such a sinful law, but I am not surprised. After all they bow down to those who influence them . Such are the times we live in! A few years ago homosexuality was a mute subject. Those who practiced homosexual acts lived in the shadows of society and certainly did not brag that they are GAY.
    Shame on the judges who voted for this law to be passed !!!
    The day will come when they wished they had voted differently.Because of their authority that they have over the people of America, god will judge them according to what they promoted. The bible tells it very clearly ,” Woe to those who call EVIL good and GOOD evil ” Homosexuality ,no matter how their participants try to rationalize this abominable practice as acceptable , they will eventually reap is rewards with illness both physical and mental. God will not be mocked !!! Homosexuality is not natural but it is an abomination before god. As far back as 1968 Homosexuality was considered to be an abnormal physiological sickness in America. Today people try to glamorize homosexuality and demand the freedom to practice it openly even in public. How far we have fallen !!!!!!!!!

  9. Mike Cannatelli June 27, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    I’m disappointed that the SCOTUS ruled as they did on legalizing gay marriage, but predicted, weeks ago, they would rule this way for one very important reason. The Constitution is NOT a religious document. It is a “secular” document. The government is supposed to represent ALL LEGAL Americans, as gay/lesbians are Americans thus I wasn’t surprised by their ruling.

    On the other hand, as those of us who are religious [I’m a LCMS Lutheran Christian] also are legal Americans, then our beliefs are also to be protected via the 1st Amendment, so no church should be hassled, sued, or threatened, etc, etc, for NOT doing gay/lesbians marriages, and should not be guilty of a hate crime for teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality, that the act of is sinful. Also churches should not be required to ordain gay/lesbians either. So if a church CHOOSES to marry/ordain gay/lesbians, that is their business and they should be protected by the same 1st Amendment that should protect the other churches who CHOOSE to NOT marry/ordain gay/lesbians. It has to work both ways.

    Sadly, my guess is there will be those activists who will want to force the churches to marry/ordain gay/lesbians, so then the big question will be, will SCOTUS, Congress, and whomever the President is follow the Constitution to protect the religious freedom for ALL churches/temples/ mosques/ and other religious institutions of America or will it bow to Political Correctness.

    • Elisa Solak June 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

      OUR CONSTITUTION WAS MADE ONLY FOR A MORAL AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE.
      -President John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 1798.1

      • LuAnn June 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

        Then how do you explain that Jefferson, Franklin, and many of the signers were Deists. not Christian? There have been multiple attempts through our nations history to state officially that we were “under the Lordship of Jesus
        Christ” and it was rejected each and every time.

        The Constitution is a SECULAR document, conceived by those were informed by the Enlightenment. Many of them knew the history of religious wars in
        Europe and didn’t want that.

        Bone up on your history please. John Adams was outnumbered by those who did NOT want a religious state.

        Sinclair Lewis once said “When a fascist government comes to the U.S. it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” I fear an uber-right Christian government more than I fear this ruling. Ever heard of Dominionists? Google the term and start reading. If there ever was a “Christian” fascist movement, this is one. They are NOT faithful to the Scriptures; their message is corrupt.
        Beware of whom you vote for; and be careful of what you wish for because you might just get it!

  10. June 27, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Woke up still in shock and feeling the persecution boldly in my face from those who see this as a victory when in fact is another move towards becoming a nation of pillars of salt.

    This is yet another paradigm shift in the morality and ethics of a nation. We need repentance and forgiveness in Jesus name.

    I pray that the church remains steadfast in it’s proclamation of the good news that there is time and a need to repent. Let there still be the solid proclamation of Law and Gospel.

    I am thankful that we have a President that can articulate what so many of us are experiencing. May God strengthen you and guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
    -Amen

  11. Jim Kumm June 27, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you for President Harrison for your Standing strong on this issue !

  12. R. Stephen Harris June 27, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Should LCMS pastors remain employees of the state?

  13. Tamra Willner June 27, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Thank you Rev. Harris for being so brave, and such a strong warrior for Christ. I am deeply, deeply saddened. Worried, and even angry at this ruling. I worry about our future generations. Even though my teenage and young adult children are against the ruling, they still think the majority of the American people are for this “marriage equality”. If the American Government can redefine marriage, then it worries me about what comes next! I worry that they will force Christian pastors and churches to perform the ceremonies. This is wrong in so many ways.

  14. Pastor B. Steve Hughey June 27, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    Dear President Harrison,

    Your last sentence says it all: “The root of the issue is ‘the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage.'”

    Because that is so, I believe we need to frame the conversation more broady and focus not only on the issue of homosexual marriage as it affects society, but also on the millions in our society who are cohabitating without the benefit of marriage while seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage and a life-long commitment between one man and one woman.

    As we who are God’s people speak and act in a loving manner admitting that we have all sinned in thought, word, and deed, we can expect to make a greater impact upon a society that is more and more prone to follow what feels good rather than what God’s Word declares.

    • Pastor Peter Snyder June 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

      Pastor Harrison, thank you.

      Pastor Hughey, you make an important point. This day has been 50 years in the making. Of course, it has also been 6,000 years or so in the making.

      The misuse of God’s gift of sex, in both homo and hetero ways, is far more damaging to individuals and to society than most care to admit – never mind the bottom line that sin separates us from God.

      To that point, I’m seeing a disturbing and damning trend: all kinds of comments that seem to be saying something to the effect, “Yeah, we’re all sinners, but that’s why Jesus died. Don’t judge,” as if Christ died so we can sin all we want (if we’re even going to call it sin), but don’t be so quick to call it sin. And who needs repentance? This trend must be met with truth and love. Thanks!

  15. James June 27, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    There is no threat to the Church here. Those that believe and follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior will continue to do so in spite of the ruling sent by the SCOTUS.
    And those that believe in equal protection under the law of the land will also continue to believe in that. But, cannot they also believe in the forgiveness of sins? And we all know who the final Judge will be in the end.
    Judge not lest you also be judged.

  16. Doyle Theimer June 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    I suspect that one of the reasons for the rapid change in attitudes in our country is the flood of Internet pornography, which sears the conscience and hardens the heart. I furthermore expect that churches now need to become more proactive and proficient in helping people recover from sexual addiction and obsessions.

  17. LuAnn June 27, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    It will be interesting to see the fallout from this landmark case. Democracy is and always will be, a messy process. Unintended consequences may occur that no one expected, whether positive or negative, liberal, moderate, or conservative. This decision should have surprised no one.

    I for one wish to live in America. I don’t want to live under a fascist government, that declares how everyone needs to behave on penalty of death or imprisonment. And I believe we Christians need to clean up our own acts first so we are credible witnesses
    for the Lord. Hatred of gays and lesbians and the use of racial or gay slurs ( which I have
    heard plenty from fellow LCMS’ers), needs to be gone. If we are to witness in love,
    we cannot hold onto this hate. How many of us actually KNOW someone who is gay or
    lesbian? I know at least 30 people. Or are we too afraid to associate with them? There
    are closeted gays in the LCMS. What are we saying to them? To hold unto hatred of
    anyone who is different from ourselves is hypocrisy for Christians. Our actions ARE watched, as well as our words. Remember, hate the sin, love the sinner.

    . We also need to realize that the Lord is bringing the mission field to US . Don’t feel threatened by this; rejoice in fact that we have been given a unique opportunity every day
    by God right outside our front doors! Whether the people are gay, lesbian, minorities from
    around the world, Muslims, let’s not turn a blind eye to our own neighbors, coworkers, and friends.

    Get out there and witness, don’t just wring your hands. Open your mouth and let the Spirit guide your words and actions.

    • Harold June 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      LuAnn,

      I, too, see this as an opportunity to witness the truth. We have never needed government to concur with us in doctrine or to guard or doctrine. This is a reminder that we are, as CS Lewis observed, in enemy territory committing acts of sabotage and gathering in cells listening to the wireless.

      The ruling is no surprise as the leading ethic is one of individual liberty and religious freedom has long been held as devolving to individual conscience. Marriage, in my state, has been so defined as to permit no fault, uncontested divorce for a $350 legal fee (or so the lawyers’ billboards read). What God decrees as marriage has not existed in the eyes of society, law, and government for decades.

      Yet, pastors can still refuse to marry couples who are, otherwise, permitted by law to marry. No one is suing for refusal to marry divorcees. We should not assume this will be different. The concern over education and federal funds is an issue only because we have chosen to mix our institutions with the religiously agnostic state.

      There will be challenges to ministry, challenges to our ability to speak in love and, possibly, persecution. No matter. We have the help of God. Somehow, this will work into His plan.

      We should also remember that the courts were accused of legislating when they desegregated schools and removed bans on interracial marriage. Let’s not buy into the politicized rhetoric on that note and stick to God’s word in all that we say and do as we are called to address this issue.

      • LuAnn June 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

        Thanks , Harold.

        For some to say this is an “activist” court, I’d like to ask “What was the decision in Ciizens United? It carved out a piece of our Constitution, stated that “corporations are people” and expanded laws for political donations.
        That was by a conservative court; isn’t that conservative activism?” Anybody who says it wasn’t is fooling themselves. Activism is in the eye of the beholder;
        if you’re against it, be against it whether it’s Democratic or Republican. I don’t like it from EITHER side.

        This decision is the current courts interpretation of the establishment clause.
        Like it or not, the courts have become political. And that means justice, in the end, will be the real sacrifice.

    • June 28, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      LuAnn, I love this!

  18. Larry Gerling June 28, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Just a couple comments on Rev. Harrison’s response. 1. He still clings to the misconception that homosexuality is a “preference.” This is a notion which has been completely rejected by the medical and psychological profession. 2. When he calls this decision a “blatant rejection of the entire history of humankind and its practice of marriage,” he is ignoring the Biblical, as well as multicultural practice of polygamy and/or arranged marriages. 3. When he says, “We confess that God’s divine law of marriage and the entire Ten Commandments apply to all,” he is forgetting the fact that the church has for many years ignored Jesus’ words which say that anyone who divorces and remarries is committing adultery, and that anyone who works on the sabbath should be put to death. Who has the splinter in their eye and who has the beam?

  19. Maggi Wulff June 29, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Thank you so much President Harrison! I am sharing this again on my FB today because it is so good. Maybe I’ll repeat it every day. Thank you fro regarding the Highest Authority and not pandering to the PC who have no concept of who God really is.They have created their own God, their prom queen.

  20. Lloyd June 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Larry, you are misinformed that homosexuality as a “preference” has been completely rejected by the medical and psychological profession. I would remind you that there is no gene in the genetic code for homosexuality. There are many instances of people who are confused, and make a choice which they later reverse.

  21. ROBERT MANDAK June 29, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    I’m with you and I agree. If gays want to wed no matter sex let them but by a J.P, and not in a Church of our Lord.

LCMS News & Information