In connection with a televised town-hall on LGBTQ+ issues earlier this month, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said that he was in favor of revoking the tax-exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex “marriage”. Aside from the arguments for and against churches’ in general having such tax-exempt status, the federal government’s denying particular churches’ tax-exempt status because of what they teach or do certainly seems to be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution’s prohibition of “establishing” one religion or permitting another’s free exercise.
The church body of which I am a part certainly would be subject to such a revocation at present. As recently as this past summer convention delegates passed resolutions related to affirming what have been traditionally understood as the Bible’s teaching about both God’s creating people either male or female and His uniting them in marriages of one man and one woman for (arguably “eternal”) life. Such teaching is, of course, not the essence of – but nevertheless an important part of – Christian faith and life.
We proclaim the fullness of God’s law, which condemns not only homosexuality but all sexual and other sin, and we proclaim the fullness of God’s Gospel, which forgives all sin, whatever the sin might be, for the sake of the suffering and death of the God-man Jesus Christ. Those who repent and believe receive forgiveness through God’s Word and Sacraments and then at least try to keep God’s Commandments as they live out their various callings in life. We speak the truth in love even when we experience negative and hostile reactions to such teaching.
For more discussion of Christianity as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community, all are invited to attend a sixth-annual Symposium in Kilgore on Sunday, November 3, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Devall Student Center Ballroom on the campus of Kilgore College. There will be an opening presentation, responses from local pastors, and audience interaction. There is no charge to attend the event, though an offering will be received to help offset its costs. All are welcome, so please join us!
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.