A Series of Unfortunate Events

I believe Jesus is Lord.  He is the only Man who keeps His promises.  That’s not in dispute.  I do not despair, no matter what happens in any given country, because my hope is not in this world or its rulers or its laws.

Nevertheless:

As far as the secular realm goes, this is not a good day.  This is not about Mitt Romney.  I have no idea how a Romney Administration would have turned out, and we will never know.  This is about the policies of the current Administration, as well as the arguments that this President and his Administration have made in the public square.  In the Hosanna-Tabor case before the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration argued that there is no “ministerial exception,” which, if that argument had succeeded (and with 2 or 3 new Justices in the next four years, it may yet), would mean that neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod would be able to limit its ministerium to men.  You can bet that both churches’ Biblical and traditional arguments would have been challenged in court, if the Administration had won that argument.

More recently, the Administration has argued that religious freedom (i.e., “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]”; and, further, the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly) does not extend to business owners such as the owners of Hobby Lobby.  If you think this is going to stop with contraception and places that are not explicitly “houses of worship,” you are fooling yourself.  Who really believes that the pushers of the absolute secularization of the public square are going to let churches get away with flouting the new progressive order?  (“First they came for the Roman Catholics…”)  For a litany of other attacks on religious freedom in the United States, see here, including

In our universities, those citadels of toleration, we find that toleration can be sharply limited. At the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society was denied any status on the campus because it would not abandon its requirement that members commit themselves to traditional Christian norms regarding sexual morality. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in 2010, held that the student group’s rights were not violated by a “take all comers” policy. Following this lead, Vanderbilt University has rewritten its student organizations policy and effectively chased every traditionally Christian student group off campus, denying them regular access to campus facilities. And at the University of Illinois, an adjunct professor of religion, hired to teach a course on Catholicism, was let go because a student complained about his patient explanation of the Catholic Church’s natural law teachings on human sexuality. (He was later restored to his teaching duties, but at the expense of the Newman Center, not on the state payroll.)

In our states and localities, we see other kinds of pressures. Authorities in Washington state and Illinois have attempted to force pharmacists, against their conscience, to dispense “morning after” pills when other pharmacists short distances away make these abortifacients available. New York City has barred church congregations—and them alone—from using public school buildings outside school hours. In New Mexico, a Christian wedding photographer was fined for violation of a state “human rights act” because she refused to take the business of a same-sex couple who claimed to want her services at their civil union ceremony. And in Massachusetts, Illinois, San Francisco, and the District of Columbia, the adoption and fostering agencies of Catholic Charities have been shuttered because they will not place children with same-sex couples, as the local authorities demand.

So welcome to the continuation and expansion of the Brave New World, where the unborn are problems, diseases, and accidents; where fighting against a “war on women” is a euphemism for fighting against the birth of human beings (including, obviously, unborn women); where there may not be any limit whatsoever on the “right” of a woman to kill her own child, as long as it’s still inside her womb; where we have a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) policy of Lebensunwertes Leben, whether the youngest, the oldest, or the most handicapped.  (It is not a coincidence that somewhere between 80-90% of those diagnosed with Down Syndrome–whether diagnosed correctly or not–are aborted.)  Welcome to a world where the most pro-abortion President in history (Cecile Richards’ fawning is evidence of this) now does not have to worry about being re-elected, and so has more freedom to push the extreme edges of his agenda.  Welcome to a world where you have the freedom to worship, but that’s it, and when your religion’s convictions come into conflict with the State, the State wins, simply by virtue of being the State.  I would take a civil-religion, one-nation-under-whatever-god, syncretism over this anti-religion any day.  If the State is the overarching authority, that means that it must and should overrule family, community, religion–anything that opposes its all-consuming agenda.  We will soon discover if this is an overreaction.  But the Obama Administration has given us no hints of any moderation on this or any other issue.  They know what is right and good, and if you oppose them, you are wrong and evil.  There is very little gray area for the defenders of such statism.

If these things are true, the next four years are going to be very bad, and successes on the part of the Administration will mean a lot of this will be very hard to repair.  The damage will already have been done.

Nevertheless:

The Church will continue to do what the true Church always does: preach Law and Gospel to sinners; pray for and obey the properly constituted authorities up until the point when the State interferes with the Church’s proper sphere (and the HHS contraception mandate clearly crosses that line).  Then we must always obey God rather than men.  But what am I going to do today?  The same thing I do every day, Pinky, try to take over the w–, oh, um–I mean, prepare my sermon, visit my people, pray, and confess.  We’re not in control, anyway.  God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes in Christ.  Will this country progress (regress) to the point where it is illegal to call sin sin?  Will churches lose their tax-exempt status?  Will churches be sued for refusing to violate their collective conscience?  Perhaps, and we should fight against such things for the sake of our neighbors.  But, ultimately, the Church may lose those battles.  No matter.  Trust the promise of the Promised One.  Though all men are liars, He is the Truth.

“O Thou, whose coming is with dread/To judge the living and the dead,/Preserve us from the ancient foe/While we dwell on earth below” (LSB 351:5).

And, “Preserve Your Word, O Savior,/To us this latter day,/…O keep our faith from failing;/Keep hope’s bright star aglow./Let nothing from truth turn us/While living here below. … Preserve, O Lord, Your honor,/The bold blasphemer smite;/Convince, convert, enlighten/The souls in error’s night. … Preserve, O Lord, Your Zion,/Bought dearly with Your blood;/Protect what You have chosen/Against the hellish flood./Be always our defender/When dangers gather round;/When all the earth is crumbling,/Safe may Your Church be found” (LSB 658:1, 2, 3).

Timotheos

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Abolitionism and the Presidential Election

I am an abolitionist.  I want all induced abortion abolished.  I do not think there should be “exceptions” for rape or incest, as if we could “except” those little humans’ lives because they were conceived in a horrible situation.  Punish the rapist, punish the child molester, but don’t punish the child.  That makes no logical sense.  In the limited number of cases where the death of the child results from trying to save the life of the mother (e.g., tubal pregnancy), I pray Kyrie eleison.  The parents have a heart-rending decision to make, and they need God’s mercy in Jesus Christ, especially if they feel guilty about the choice they make.  That’s where I stand, because I believe the Son of God entered His mother’s womb as a fertilized egg, a zygote, an embryo, a fetus.  What He assumed, He has redeemed.  And our callous disregard of human life, our discussion of it as “the rule” and “the exceptions,” is foolish and destructive.  It becomes even more ridiculous when those (especially politicians) who claim to be pro-life are subjected to continual questioning about what “exceptions” they would allow to their positions, when the pro-abortion lobby wants no exceptions whatsoever to its unlimited abortion license, and is never questioned by the media about this hypocrisy.  When was the last time President Obama was asked whether he believed there should be any exceptions to his parroting of Cecile Richards’ position that abortion is a fundamental human right?

So I want abortion abolished.  Even the difficult decision that has to be made when the doctor says it’s your life or the baby’s is a result of sin corrupting and poisoning God’s good creation.  One day, this will happen, when all things are made new, when every tear shed for lost children will be wiped away by the finger of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  But this is not that day, and I highly doubt that the day will will come in these United States when abortion will once again be either illegal or socially condemned (although I will vote and pray and work within my vocation for that day).  The fact is, if pro-life candidates for the presidency do not play the silly little exception game, and if they do not say they will allow, at least, exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother (as the litany goes), they will not be elected.  Politics, for better or worse, is compromise.  No compromise, nothing gets done.  A truly pro-life candidate being elected president is about as likely as a pro-life Democrat securing his or her party’s nomination.

So what’s an abolitionist to do?  There are essentially two positions (especially as I survey my pro-life friends’ Facebook posts): 1) make the best of a bad situation and vote for the candidate who will defeat the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history; or 2) vote for a third-party candidate who is truly pro-life.  At this point I am in the first group.  I do not trust Gov. Romney to do much substantial work in turning back the culture of death, but I also do not think he will hasten it on.  If this were a truly open election, and the Constitution Party (read their excellent platform here) had even a slim chance of having its candidates elected, I would vote Goode.  But since that’s not going to happen, I can’t help but think that those who vote for a third-party candidate are simply trying to salve their own consciences.  They can say, no matter who is elected, especially if things get worse, I had no hand in that.  But if they take their votes from the support of the less immoral (and politics always has a twinge of the immoral about it) position to support what they view as a wholly moral position, they do, in fact, end up supporting the status quo.  I know the electoral college enters in here, but if enough people vote one way, the electors almost always vote the way the people of that state vote.  So votes do matter practically, even if they wouldn’t have to theoretically.  And that means that practically those who vote for a conservative third-party candidate are essentially voting for the liberal or progressive main party candidate (usually the Democrat).  And those who vote for a liberal or progressive third-party candidate are essentially voting for the conservative main party candidate (usually the Republican).  If you want to deceive yourself that your vote is clean because you didn’t vote for the “lesser of two evils,” go ahead, but I’m not convinced.  This is the system we have, good or bad, and we really only have a single choice when it comes to the presidential election.  When it comes to local elections, we have much more control, and we are also much more likely to have truly pro-life candidates to support.  In NW Minnesota, we even have a pro-life Democrat!

I’m an abolitionist, but this year I’m forced to vote for a presidential candidate who is not.  Because I will take a little promised progress (and maybe even a surprise SCOTUS nomination!) over a guarantee of Planned Parenthood’s political arm running the country.  And I take solace in the fact that Cecile Richards and her NARAL and NOW counterparts are scared witless by the thought of a Romney/Ryan Executive Branch.  No compromise on my abolitionist principles; compromise to gain any available political advances.  That’s the way it goes in the civic realm.  But also no compromise within the Church’s proclamation of the Law of God against taking blameless human life, along with the Gospel of God in Christ that all sin is forgiven and there is mercy for all at the font and altar.  Politics are one thing; the Gospel is another.  They intersect, but they are not the same, and they are not run the same way.  Vote for Romney/Ryan, and don’t give the enemies of life and religious freedom another four years to carry out their designs–all the while recognizing that politicians will never accomplish all (or even the majority) of their promises.  (Of course I’m hedging my bets; how could I not?  Trust not in princes.)  I’m voting for the devil I may not see, against the devil I can clearly see.  I welcome your attempts to convince me otherwise.

Timotheos