Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 2013

St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 25                                   May 2013                                           No. 5

On Marriage and the Homosexual Agenda

            On April 17th, the New Zealand legislature made that nation the latest to legalize gay marriage.  There are now thirteen such nations; New Zealand is the first in the Asia-Pacific region.
Gay rights advocates are hoping other countries in the region will follow suit, including especially neighboring Australia, in spite of Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s opposition to same-sex marriage. The same-sex marriage debate has increasingly become a political point of contention worldwide. Last week the French Senate and lawmakers in Uruguay also voted in favor of a gay marriage bill.
And in our country, the Supreme Court mulls the question, and although it seems unlikely that the Court will stop short of a broad ruling in favor of gay marriage, it’s quite possible to see the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) struck down, and the matter returned to the states with momentum continuing to rise on the side of homosexual activists.
In Illinois, the matter was taken up by the State House and came up twelve votes shy of passage, but momentum, says Speaker Michael Madigan, is continuing to build among Illinois lawmakers, including Republicans.
Even political conservatives tend to concede that it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the law of the land.
The question for us is how then to live in the land as Christians.  Much of this month’s newsletter is dedicated, here and in other articles, to helping our members sort this out morally and spiritually.
First, we need to remember that marriage has always been between a man and a woman.  Never in all of history has it been otherwise.  The new “morality” that calls for “enlightened” thinking on the matter is itself a product of a misguided idea that we are progressing toward a new spiritual reality that is wiser than our parents were,  an arrogance that implicitly denigrates not only our forebears (against the fourth commandment), but the Bible itself.  And speaking of the Bible, it couldn’t be clearer in saying that homosexuality is sin against nature: “likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet”(Rom 1:27).
And here is where we need to be, as Jesus put it, wise as serpents but innocent as doves.  To know that homosexuality is sinful is not the same thing as to consider a homosexual to be beyond hope.  The Church prays for such people, just as she does for all who do not know Christ.  Nor do we consider homosexuals to be more sinful than we ourselves are.  The difference is that like us, they also need to repent, but their lives are clear indications that they have not done so, which we find tragic.  For without repentance there can be no faith, no mercy, no salvation.  Unless the law does its work and brings someone to contrition, the Gospel cannot enter to bring him Christ.  This is ultimately why we must oppose the gay agenda.
(continued, next page)
(continued from page 1)
But now there come allegations that we who have known this all our lives are hypocritical and judgmental.  And such allegations are not only being made from outside the church, but alas, from within.
What I find most troubling about all this is the massive societal movement not only in the direction of gay marriage, but of the “normalcy” of a gay agenda, which seems increasingly to want to silence or at least marginalize any who would have the audacity to call homosexuality sinful.  What this is likely to mean for us is persecution, at some point in the future.  For if the trend continues, not only will the homosexual agenda become widely accepted and approved, but we who disagree will likely be scolded, ridiculed, scorned with increasingly shrill voices, ostracized, and punished.
We can and should pray that it does not come to this, but we should be prepared to know how to behave if it does.  And here, Jesus has made it clear to us: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (St. Matthew 5).
+ Pastor Eckardt

Why Homosexual "Marriage" is Wrong

By Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel, Concerned Women for America.

1. Homosexuals are seeking a special right. They already have the same right to marry the rest of us have-the right to marry a person of the opposite sex. Limiting marriage to one man and one woman doesn't discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation.
2. It denies the self-evident truth of nature that male and female bodies are designed for and complement each other. Opposite-sex marriage is the natural means by which the human race reproduces.
3. Granting same-sex couples a license to marry will not create true marriage. Neither two men nor two women can become one flesh. Licensing the unnatural does not make it natural. It would be a state-sanctioned counterfeit, a sham and a fraud. A licensed electrician cannot produce power by taping two same-sex plugs together. Homosexual sex is dangerous and destructive to the human body and powerless for human reproduction.
4. Homosexual marriage will always be an abomination to God regardless of whether a clergyman performs the ceremony. When God calls something unholy, man cannot make it holy or bless it.
5. Homosexual marriage is as wrong as giving a man a license to marry his mother or daughter or sister or a group.
6. Homosexual marriage will harm children by denying them the love and nurture of a mom and dad. The only "procreation" homosexuals can engage in requires that a third party must be brought into the relationship.
7. Granting a marriage license to homosexuals because they engage in sex is as illogical as granting a medical license to a barber because he wears a white coat or a law license to a salesman because he carries a briefcase. Real doctors, lawyers and the public would suffer as a result of licensing the unqualified and granting them rights, benefits and responsibilities as if they were qualified.
8. Homosexual marriage will devalue your marriage. A license to marry is a legal document by which government will treat same-sex marriage as if it were equal to the real thing. A license speaks for the government and will tell society that government says the marriages are equal. Any time a lesser thing is made equal to a greater, the greater is devalued. For example:
·         If the Smithsonian Museum displays a hunk of polished blue glass next to the Hope Diamond with a sign that says, "These are of equal value," and treats them as if they were, the Hope Diamond is devalued in the public's eye. The government says it's just expensive blue glass. The history and mystery are lost too.
·         If an employer uses a robot as an employee and treats the robot the same way it treats human employees, human employees are devalued. By doing so, the employer says, "A robot can do your job, you're no better." What will you and the public think of your job and you?
·         If the government issues a license to babysitters that grants them the same rights, protections and responsibilities as a child's parents, parenthood is devalued. The government says parents are just babysitters.
·         If government grants professional licenses to just anybody, every profession and qualified professional is devalued. The government says an uneducated panhandler can do brain surgery.

9. The assumption by many is that marriage is just two people with a license who have sex and wear rings. Homosexuals do that; why not give them the license? Engaging in sex doesn't equal marriage. Adults involved in incest have sex too; should government call it marriage and license them? Certainly not.
10. The biggest problem we have in getting people, especially younger ones, to understand why marriage is devalued by the existence of a counterfeit is that much of the public does not value marriage at all. Adultery is no big deal. No- fault divorce is tolerated. Absentee fathers and mothers devalue marriage. Unmarried pregnancies are common. Fornication is "normal." When we make the case against homosexual marriage, we need to speak against these other problems that devalue marriage too. As we acknowledge these problems we can emphasize that legalizing homosexual marriage will compound the problems, not solve or lessen them.

May Anniversaries
5/17/1959        Allan and Barbra Kraklow
5/19/1979        Chuck and Jean Russell
5/22/1976        Ed and Lynn Woller
5/28/1982        Christine and Garry Erickson
5/28/1977        John and Charlene Sovanski

May Ushers
Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson

May Birthdays
5/2       Sheri Kraklow
5/6       Emilie Ricknell
5/10     William Thompson
5/16     John Eckardt  
5/17     Jeffery Boswell
5/26     Preston Powers

May  Meetings
First Tuesday meetings are May 7th, as usual: Altar Guild at 6 pm, Vespers 6:45; Elders 7:15. 

Church Council will be meeting on Wednesday, May 15th, at 5:30 pm.


We will observe Pentecost with its vigil beginning on Saturday, May 18th.  To get the most out of the Feast of Pentecost, come first on Saturday night at 5:30 for the vigil, a smaller and shorter version of the Easter vigil.  Then, on Pentecost Sunday, May 19th, we will again hear the opening verse of the Gospel in several languages, a commemoration of the event described in Acts 2, where the Gospel was proclaimed in several tongues.

Altar Guild Notes

•        Wednesday, May 1st: SS Philip and James, color is RED.
•        No mass on Wednesday, May 8th; instead, mass is on Thursday, June 9th, which is Ascension Day.  The color is WHITE.
•        No mass on Tuesday, May 14th;  Gottesdienst Chicago event prevents Pastor from being here.
•        Color changes to RED for the Vigil of Pentecost, Saturday, May 18th, and remains so for the following Pentecost week.
•        Color changes to WHITE on Saturday, May 25th, for Trinity, and remains white through the Trinity Octave (changes to Green after Sunday mass on June 2nd.

Gottesdienst Chicago

The annual Gottesdienst – Chicago event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14th; pastors and laity are encouraged to come.  Registration is $12.00, and may be paid on arrival.

“Missing Something?” 
—emphasizing the Holy Sacrament and the frequency of its celebration

at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
5259 S. Major Ave
Chicago, IL 60638

Featuring from among our editors:

Rev. Fr. Jason Braaten, MDiv.: “John 6, the Bread of Life, and the Sacrament”
Rev. Fr. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., PhD: “Why the Sacrament? Why Not the Word Alone?”

Panel Discussion: “Every Sunday Communion” with
Rev. Fr. D. Richard Stuckwisch Jr., PhD
Rev. Fr. David H. Petersen, MDiv
Rev. Fr. Larry Beane, MDiv

Recommended hotel: Sleep Inn $159. 6650 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) 594-0001 

Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together
 An Open Letter from about 50 leaders of church bodies across America, including LCMS President Matthew Harrison, dated January 12, 2012

Dear Friends:
            The promotion and protection of marriage—the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife—is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people.  The meaning and value of marriage precedes and transcends any particular society, government, or religious community.  It is a universal good and the foundational institution of all societies.  It is bound up with the nature of the human person as male and female, and with the essential task of bearing and nurturing children.
            As religious leaders across a wide variety of faith communities, we join together to affirm that marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake and for the good of society. We also recognize the grave consequences of altering this definition. One of these consequences—the interference with the religious freedom of those who continue to affirm the true definition of “marriage”—warrants special attention within our faith communities and throughout society as a whole.  For this reason, we come together with one voice in this letter.
            Some posit that the principal threat to religious freedom posed by same-sex “marriage” is the possibility of government’s forcing religious ministers to preside over such “weddings,” on pain of civil or criminal liability.  While we cannot rule out this possibility entirely, we believe that the First Amendment creates a very high bar to such attempts.
            Instead, we believe the most urgent peril is this:  forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.  There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.
            These conflicts bear serious consequences.  They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of “marriage” does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once.  By a single stroke, every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage.  That requirement, in turn, will apply to religious people and groups in the ordinary course of their many private or public occupations and ministries—including running schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other housing facilities, providing adoption and counseling services, and many others.
            So, for example, religious adoption services that place children exclusively with married couples would be required by law to place children with persons of the same sex who are civilly “married.”  Religious marriage counselors would be denied their professional accreditation for refusing to provide counseling in support of same-sex “married” relationships.  Religious employers who provide special health benefits to married employees would be required by law to extend those benefits to same-sex “spouses.”  Religious employers would also face lawsuits for taking any adverse employment action—no matter how modest—
against an employee for the public act of obtaining a civil “marriage” with a member of the same sex.  This is not idle speculation, as these sorts of situations have already come to pass.  
            Even where religious people and groups succeed in avoiding civil liability in cases like these, they would face other government sanctions—the targeted withdrawal of government co-operation, grants, or other benefits.
            For example, in New Jersey, the state cancelled the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run boardwalk pavilion used for religious services because the religious organization would not host a same-sex “wedding” there.  San Francisco dropped its $3.5 million in social service contracts with the Salvation Army because it refused to recognize same-sex “domestic partnerships” in its employee benefits policies.  Similarly, Portland, Maine, required Catholic Charities to extend spousal employee benefits to same-sex “domestic
partners” as a condition of receiving city housing and community development funds. 
            In short, the refusal of these religious organizations to treat a same-sex sexual relationship as if it were a marriage marked them and their members as bigots, subjecting them to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists.  These punishments will only grow more frequent and more severe if civil “marriage” is redefined in additional jurisdictions.  For then, government will compel special recognition of relationships that we the undersigned religious leaders and the communities of faith that we
represent cannot, in conscience, affirm.   Because law and government not only coerce and incentivize but also teach, these sanctions would lend greater moral legitimacy to private efforts to punish those who defend marriage.
            Therefore, we encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined.  We especially urge those entrusted with the public good to support laws that uphold the time-honored definition of marriage, and so avoid threatening the religious freedom of countless institutions and citizens in this country.  Marriage and religious freedom are both deeply woven into the fabric of this nation.  
            May we all work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage and the precious gift of religious freedom.
In Our Prayers
In addition to our shut-ins, our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following.  To update the list, please inform pastor. 
In our parish:
Mark Baker, Ann Baker, Sara Bidni, Don Murphy, Emilie Ricknell, Bob Bock, Ruth Snider

outside our parish:

David Dakin [re Harris]

Anna Rutowicz [re Harris]

Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter, cancer]

Caleb Cleaver [re Ricknell]

Pam Mansnarus [Ricknell]

Christian Johnson [re Kemerlings]

Madison Lindsay [re Andersons]

Tom Fornoff [Jean Russell’s brother-in-law]

Nina [nine-a] Hartz [Sharon’s mother]

Rev. Don Chambers [Manito]

Stacie Liese, wife of Rev. Michael Liese

Lisa Gustafson [with Thyroid cancer - Harlow]

Crystal Stoll

Linda Peterson [re Kemerlings]

Michelle Steuber [re Fischer]

Pat Shreck

Marilyn Johnson [relative of the Kemerlings]

Michelle Loesch [re Clappers]

in the military:

John Eckardt

Michael Fisa [re Kemerlings]

Donny Appleman [re Ricknells]

Thomas Kim [re Shrecks]

Jaclyn Harden Alvarez

Michael Creech [re Murphys]

            in trouble: especially any unborn children in danger of abortion, and those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere. Here are the details. Website:
EGYPT: Hundreds of people gathered at St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo, on April 7th for the funeral of four Christians who were killed during an uprising of inter-religious violence in the nearby community of Khosous two days earlier. (Two Muslim men had also died in the conflict.) As the mourners were leaving the service, they were pelted with stones by a growing number of angry Muslim rioters. This quickly escalated into a massive attack on the cathedral involving firearms, petrol bombs and tear gas. Two other Christians died and over 80 people were injured during the riot which lasted five hours. According to reports, some Christians had retaliated in the mounting conflict. As a result, Egyptian officials have arrested four Christian men.
Tensions leading up to the assault ignited when youth spray-painted inflammatory symbols, including a swastika, on an Islamic institution. This led to a quarrel with onlookers in Shubra el-Kheima, located just north of Cairo. The argument spiraled into a street fight involving automatic weapons. Meanwhile, a local imam called on Muslims who owned weapons to "Kill the Christians and cleanse el-Kheima (of) infidels" during Friday prayers. The mob then attacked a Baptist church and damaged a nursery run by St. George Coptic Church, in addition to destroying and looting several Christian-owned businesses.
IRAQ (Kurdistan Region): On April 1st, it was reported by the Kurdish news agency that a Muslim leader converted to Christianity. Confirming this news, an official in the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of Iraqi Kurdistan announced that the Fatwa Committee in their ministry do not execute those who convert from Islam to any religion. The Iranian media covered this news report as well. 
The difficulty is that the latest constitution says that no law can be passed that contravenes Islam, so guarantees of religious freedom are not particularly trustworthy. Registration of new churches is difficult, and persecution has become particularly ferocious in recent years. About 334,000 Christians remain in Iraq, less than half of their number in 1991. The violence has caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, both Muslim and Christian, to leave the country, and many more are displaced inside Iraq, particularly in Kurdistan.
IRAN: American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran because of his Christian faith, has been suffering from internal bleeding for months. The injuries, which are causing him frequent fainting spells, are the result of repeated beatings in prison. Sources state that the physical abuse and psychological torture are inhumane and gross violation of Iran's international obligations. These troubling developments are of grave concern to Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, who lives with their two young children in the United States.

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
   109 S. Elm Street
   Kewanee, IL 61443

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