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What Luther Says

You're Baptized! Not 'FILL IN THE BLANK'

The timing of this couldn't have been better!

We've been looking at homosexuality from a Christian perspective the past few days and while yesterday's post dealt with what I believe to be the proper Christian response to any one individual who identifies themselves as being "gay," I think this piece by Rev. Mark Buetow from Higher Things is even better.

In fact, it is quite possibly the perfect bookend, the perfect exclamation point, and certainly the perfect Lutheran response to this issue about imperfect sinners like you, me, and the "gay" man or woman who you know.

Baptized Not "Gay"

“Pastor, I’m gay.”

“No, you’re baptized.”

“What do you mean? I know I’m baptized but I’m telling you I’m attracted to the same sex.”

“Yes, and you’re baptized.”

“What does that have to do with being gay?”

“Because what defines you is not your sexual orientation or your addictions or anything else like that. What defines you is not your sins. What defines you is what Christ has done for you and given to you. So, you are baptized.”

The trouble with talking about “homosexuality” or any other sexual “orientation” is that when we define people by whom they are attracted to, we’ve already given into the world’s lie that you can be and do whatever you want. The world’s underlying assumption that “anything is okay, provided it doesn’t hurt someone else” is a powerful and compelling argument that is tough to refute. Maybe you’re defined by whom you sleep with. Same sex? That makes you gay. Maybe it’s by what you’re addicted to or recovering from, such as alcohol—so then you’re an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic. We love our labels and it is precisely those labels that allow us to excuse our sins and at the same time demand that people recognize us and give us consideration based on our sins!

St. Paul pulls no punches with the Corinthian Christians. He declares: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The simple fact is, sin harms our neighbor and separates us from God. It draws His wrath and judgment. And it isn’t just this sin or that sin, it’s all of them. No one is excluded from that list. If you lust after the same sex, then this judgment falls upon you. If you lust after the opposite sex, well, same judgment. If you steal, drink too much or are straight but sleep around, you’re under this judgment as well.

But St. Paul is not done there. We completely miss the point if we ignore the next verse: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Here St. Paul takes all those sins and drowns them in the waters of holy baptism. Just as your Old Adam was drowned in holy baptism, a new man came forth in Christ, to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. And there it is: the answer to all of our lusts and others’ sin. It is the truth that our Old Adam pursues his selfish pleasures while the new man is free in Christ from the chains of sin. You are baptized. Therefore what does it all have to do with “homosexuality”?

For those who are gay or struggle with some gender issue. You are baptized! God has not abandoned you. You are not less in His sight because of your struggles against sin. He has beaten sin for you. All of the guilt, doubt and despair you may feel has been answered for on Calvary. The struggle you face to live a “sexually pure and decent life” is the Spirit’s work in you. Your failings to do so are covered by Jesus’ blood and left buried in His tomb. Your victory over these very real and very bitter struggles is the baptism which the sign of the cross remembers, the absolution your pastor speaks, and the Body and Blood of Jesus He gives you.

For parents or friends or family of someone who is gay. You are baptized! Every struggle you have, every tear, every harsh word, every uncertain reaction, every bit of mockery or derision from others—all of that, too, has been nailed to Jesus and His cross. The very real conflict between shame and support, between loathing and love, is bound up with the God who became flesh for you and washed you to make you His child. And that water and Word have washed away every sin you’ve done dealing with all of this, too.

The simple fact is that the Christ loves His Church and gave Himself for her. He has washed her and made her His spotless bride. She was born from His side in water and blood and she is washed and nurtured by that same water and blood. The church is the Bride of Christ, bought with His suffering and death, purified by His Word, and prepared for her Lord for an eternal wedding celebration.

Homosexuality, promiscuity, divorce, adultery, fornication—anything that is against marriage or denies marriage—denies the truth of Jesus and His church. But it is precisely in the truth of what Christ has done for His church that all sins are forgiven. 
All of them. Without exception. None greater or less than another. All of them are covered by Christ’s blood. And every struggle, and every failing, and every transgression, is covered by the promise of your baptism. This is why the whole Christian life, whatever you struggle with, is nothing other than a life in the Divine Service, hearing over and over the promise that Christ does not abandon us in our sins but forgives and gives us life.

The church does not accept the world’s view that “anything goes.” But neither does it seek to judge certain sins more than others. Rather, the church lives by Christ’s gifts. By His forgiveness. By His Word, water, body and blood. There is nothing else by which the Spirit works in us to rescue us from the world’s way of thinking and the darkness of sin. And that is why, when it comes down to it, the question isn’t “Are you gay or straight?” It’s “Are you baptized?” And if you are baptized, you are the Lord’s. Your Old Adam is a dead man and in Christ, you are righteous, innocent, and pure, now and forever.
Author’s note: The reality of genders struggles, often driven by the influence of the permissive world around us, means that much confusion can arise. Readers facing these sorts of issues and struggles are encouraged to speak with their pastor, whom the Lord has given to bring forgiveness and the comfort of Christ to them.

Rev. Mark Buetow is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois and serves as the deputy and media services executive for Higher Things. He can be reached at buetowmt@gmail.com.

The only comment I'd like to make in response is how appropriate this reminder was for me personally too -- even as a heterosexual male.

That's because my old Evangelical, slightly Calvinistic, slightly Reformed, non-Denominational past self has to be CONSTANTLY reminded to think and talk in these terms.

By that, I simply mean that I need to add Baptism and the words "I'm baptized!" to my thought process and pattern of speech, because it wasn't until I became a Confessional Lutheran that I began to understand the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism (the importance of my own Baptism!) and what it means for me as I got through this life as both a saint and a sinner simultaneously.

I really don't think that I could add anything else on this subject that wasn't already beautifully said here by Rev. Buetow.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, as baptized believers, our identity is defined first and foremost by Jesus Christ and not by our struggle with sin.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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