Questions Listed Under Social issues

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  • I was wondering (as most never consider it, yet I most certainly do), what is WELS' stance on donating our earthly body to science? I have several diseases that are very rare and difficult to treat or diagnose. I have beat every medical odd ever placed on me, however, I know that if they could use what is left, once I fall asleep in Christ, it would do so much for many. Is this "echt" for us in WELS?

    This is an area in which the Bible is silent.  Because of that, Christians will not necessarily agree on a course of action.  It is not a matter of right or wrong; it is a matter of personal preference. 

    In situations like this, motives become important.  Endeavoring to help others—your stated motive—is fully in accord with the second table of the law (Matthew 22:39).  So, yes, it would be “echt,” or an acceptable, correct course of action. 

    We do know that whatever happens to our earthly bodies after death, the Lord will raise and glorify our bodies (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:21). 

    With you, I thank God for working so wonderfully in your life.  God’s continued blessings.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

  • Recently I have been looking further in depth as to why WELS members are not allowed to be Girl Scouts as this has always confused me. I understand that in their promise, they promise to "serve God and my country." Although this God is not defined as the Christian god and is left up to interpretation, what is the difference between this and the Pledge of Allegiance? Reuel J. Schulz, a communicant WELS member, published a piece for Forward in Christ saying that the Pledge of Allegiance's god is a nameless god who is clearly not alone the Christian god. But WELS members do not forbid their children from saying the pledge. So why do we forbid any kind of contact with the Girl Scouts, when it is the same exact concept? The Girl Scouts, contrary to popular opinion, do not state that good works will get you any closer to heaven. Not do they ever even use any kind of term similar to "good works." I am baffled by this particular choosing to avoid Girl Scouts when it seems so hypocritical and beyond any kind of concern. Thank you for your time.

    I do not know if, in your research, you came across this study of the Girl Scouts.  If the document is unfamiliar to you, I would encourage you to read it.  The document does spell out how the Girl Scouts organization—with its promise and law—fails to provide clear testimony to the triune God and places everyone’s definition of “God” on equal footing.

    The Pledge of Allegiance enables people to promise faithfulness to the flag and the republic it represents.  “Under God” is a description of that republic.  But that is where ambiguity enters the picture.  Does “under God” mean that we Americans live under his authority and authorities (Romans 13)?  If that is the intended meaning, the pledge presents no problems.  Does “under God” mean that we Americans claim to be united in faith in God?  If that is the intended meaning, then the pledge can present a problem.   Because the recitation of the Pledge is not usually preceded by an explanation of that phrase, ambiguity prevails.  This reference to God is different than the references in Girl Scouts, and that explains the different approaches.  It is not a matter of hypocrisy.  It is a matter of trying to apply biblical principles to different situations.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

  • We hear almost daily of Christians throughout the Middle East being murdered, driven out of their homes, and threatened with taxation, loss of property and life if they do not convert to Islam. I have searched via the internet for some organized effort to come to the aid of these people, and have found nothing. Is anyone aware of such an effort and is WELS at all involved? It seems inconceivable to me that we American Christians who so treasure our freedom to worship as we please would not being doing something.

    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).  In response to God’s love in Christ, we try to do just that.  When Christians are being persecuted for the faith, we naturally wonder how we can “do good” to them.

    A synodical agency that comes to mind is WELS Christian Aid and Relief.  That agency though works with the requests for assistance that come from our home and world missionaries, or the requests from churches in our worldwide fellowship.  In the area that you mention, we have no presence and therefore no established channel for “doing good.”

    When there is a situation when there is no WELS or wider fellowship presence, WELS Christian Aid and Relief partners with an organization called “Direct Relief.”  The organization has no religious affiliation, but the information on their web site leads me to think that they are not in a position to help in the manner or the area that you mention.

    So, with limited options, what can we do?  We can contact our elected representatives and urge that human rights and religious freedom be honored and protected.   Above all, we can pray.  We can pray that
    . God would deliver Christians from their persecutors (2 Thessalonians 3:2).
    . governments and people in positions of authority would allow Christians to live in peace (1 Timothy 2:2)
    . God’s will be done (Matthew 6:10).  “God’s will is done when he breaks and defeats every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world and our sinful flesh, which try to prevent us from keeping God’s name holy and letting his kingdom come.  And God’s will is done when he strengthens and keeps us firm in his word and in the faith as long as we live.  This is his good and gracious will.”  -- Martin Luther’s explanation of the Third Petition.
    . Christians remain “faithful, even to the point of death” and receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

    Sadly, the persecution of Christians is one of the end time signs (Matthew 24:9).  If unrest and violence prevent the offering of tangible help to persecuted Christians, let us all pray for them, as Scripture directs us (Ephesians 6:18).  Prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16) because God is powerful.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.



     
     

  • Is it against God's plan for mothers to work outside the home? I am the mother of two children. I have been financially supporting our family since we have been married. My husband now has a pretty good job but makes about half of what I do. I always felt like God wanted me to stay home and take care of our children; however, I have never been able to do this. Is it okay for moms to work?

    Neither you nor I will be able to find a Scripture passage that explicitly forbids mothers from working outside the home.  This is an area of Christian freedom and one in which a person’s conscience enters the picture as far as decision making is concerned.

    What I can do is list some questions for you and your husband to consider.  My purpose in putting these questions in front of you is not to steer you to any particular course of action but to help you answer the question:  “Is it okay for moms to work?”

    So, in regard to your employment and your husband’s employment, is materialism an issue?   Is income from your job needed or wanted?  Is your income a matter of sustaining a standard of living you have become accustomed to but is not necessary?  Are current and/or future family expenses driving your decision (e.g., children’s educational costs)?  How does your work impact your responsibilities as a mother and a wife?  Do you think it’s wrong for you to work outside the home?

    The answers to those first five questions are important, but the answer to the last question is vitally important.  Scripture explains (Romans 14) that if we set up a law in our mind, even if God has not, we need to follow that course of action.  In this case, if a mom were to think that it is wrong to work outside the home, that person needs to follow the leading of her conscience. 

    Then again, another Christian could explain to that mom that there is no explicit scriptural prohibition of her working outside the home.  The mom’s thinking could then change, and the law she had established about outside employment would disappear—enabling her to do in good conscience what she had previously thought was wrong.

    So, this is really is a matter for you and your husband to discuss, and for you to sort things out with your scripturally-tethered conscience.  In all things we want to act with sure conviction, not in doubt (Romans 14).

    I do commend you for being sensitive to your conscience and desirous of doing what God says in his Word.  God bless your discussions—and your family.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

  • In your Q&A you talk about the Masons. What about social clubs? Moose, Elks, Eagles, etc?

    While the organizations you mentioned may present themselves as social clubs and carry out service projects, they are fraternal lodges that have objectionable religious elements to them.

    To join the Moose International, a person must profess belief in a Supreme Being.  Because other gods are recognized and acknowledged beyond the only God, the Triune God, there is a clear violation of the first commandment.  To reinforce the religious elements of this organization, a lodge or chapter has, among other things, an altar and a Ritual Committee that oversees activities like graveside services and memorial services.

    People who want to join the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks must also state belief in  God—however they want to define God.  Again, this is a first commandment issue.  This organization also makes use of an altar and provides services for deceased members and their families.

    The Fraternal Order of Eagles explains that its members are united by a belief in a Supreme Being.  Again, this Supreme Being is open to interpretation of the individual member.  Once more, this is a first commandment issue.  Local chapters utilize a chaplain, an altar and prayer.

    Organizations like these fail to provide a clear confession of Christ and the Triune God by allowing other “Supreme Beings” to be confessed alongside the only true God.  In the Bible God explains that he is not one of many deities.  He says:  “I am the Lord; that is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).  Christians will not want to find themselves in organizations where the confession of other gods has the same legitimacy as their own confession of faith in the Triune God.  By their actions and words, Christians will want to point to Jesus Christ as “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and the world’s only Savior.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

  • Why is it that I have noticed that conservative Christians seem to hide within the 4 walls of the church and rarely attend
    a political meeting or keep themselves informed as of what is going on?

    I notice that they accept everything the news media, TV, Voters pamphlet says about a person or issue instead of becoming a part of their community, pro-life groups, helping a political groups, or going to hear a person who is running for office etc. etc. It is like they seem to either ignore what is going on around them, or act like it is a sin. I feel like I am
    the only one in my church who makes an effort to attend.

    Remember, Moses, Joseph, David, Paul, Peter, and many more stood up for their faith.....they didn't hide in the churches. We need to be aware what is going on in our country.....just as we need to be aware of what cults teach so we can be ready to give an answer to everyone an answer. I also believe pastors shouldn't be afraid to speak on present day topics...not just Old Testament. They should combine Old Testament and New Testament with current affairs.....not just hide in the churches.

    I imagine much of what you wrote depends upon a person’s perspective and circumstances.  I am personally aware of many individuals in our church body who keep informed of political and legislative matters, voice their opinions and take their civic responsibilities seriously.  From the preaching that I hear—and in which I personally take part—there is application from the Bible to current affairs delivered from our pulpits.

    Your observations and concerns, which I do not discount or dismiss, can serve as an encouragement for Christians to remember and follow God’s instructions regarding their responsibilities toward government (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-2) and to be salt and light in life (Matthew 5:13-16).

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.

  • I have been following some of the LGBT debates and things seem to be increasingly getting worse for those who are not LGBT.
    The debates and consequent actions are increasingly getting serious with the LGBT community being called Fascists etc.due to more and more people being taken to court and/or losing their jobs simply because they don't agree with the LGBT lifestyle. I don't like the idea of being forced to go against my conscience therefore I don't like what the LGBT community is doing to Christians. I don't think we should be forced to be silent or forced to go against conscience or forced to lose our jobs. That does seem Fascist to me. I don't know if the entire LGBT community takes this stance or if it is a minority within the LGBT community. I believe the LGBT lifestyle is a sin and the unrepentant will not inherit the kingdom of God. I believe that we ought to treat the LGBT community with love and respect despite their lifestyle and unrepentance. I believe that Christians should take a loving stand in favor of supporting the true definition of marriage and also sharing the law & gospel with the LGBT community. Please correct me on any of those things if I am taking the wrong position.
    Thinking of Jesus' words to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, what I don't understand is should we be forcing the LGBT community to face similar consequences by making laws against homosexuality? If we don't like them forcing us to do things we don't want to do, how can we force them? I am really struggling with this issue and it is causing family issues, not because anyone in my family is gay but because they support the LGBT community because they think we are all intolerant hate filled bigots. Please help me get my thinking on track.

    It appears to me that your thinking is on track.  Our starting point is that Scripture is true in all that it says.  John 10:35 – “Scripture cannot be broken.”  John 17:7 – “Your word is truth.”  When the Bible labels homosexuality as sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), that is the case.  Impenitence over sin, including homosexuality, is what bars people from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    If we acknowledge that the Bible’s message is true, if we recognize the seriousness of sin and impenitence, if we care about other people, if we confess that there is forgiveness of sins only through Jesus Christ, why would we not speak out about the sin of homosexuality?  Your comments pointed out one (wrong) answer.  Keeping quiet helps to control the amount of flak we get from others in life.  But is that a valid reason to keep quiet?  Of course not.  Is it our goal to go through life with as few difficulties connected to the Christian faith as possible?  No.

    We recognize that the Christian cross is anything we suffer as a result of our faith, our connection to Jesus Christ.  The troubles, like name calling, that we may face because of our Christian witness regarding the sin of homosexuality is a cross, and what are we to do with such a cross?  Jesus said we are to take up our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23).

    You wondered about “doing to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12) with this subject matter.  With our Christian testimony about the sin of homosexuality, we are approaching people sincerely, lovingly, openly, and seeking their spiritual good.  That is certainly how I would want others to treat me.  If my approach toward others who are caught in sin is one of tolerance as it is defined today—meaning that everyone’s opinion is right and valid, and no one is wrong—then I am not helping them in any way.  I am simply looking the other way as they head down a path that leads to destruction.

    Scripture labels the last days in which we are living as “terrible times” (2 Timothy 3:1).  Our day and age can take on that descriptor partly because of the “in your face” attitude that emboldened sinners display in life (2 Timothy 3:2-5).  That attitude, along with the world’s growing acceptance of sinful lifestyles and the distortion of marriage, can lull us into spiritual complacency if we are not careful. 

    So what do we do?  What can we do?  We can continue to speak openly, sincerely and lovingly to others about the truths of Scripture.  We can point unashamedly to God’s law.  We can direct people to the gospel and the forgiveness of sins that all people can enjoy through faith in Jesus Christ.  May God give you strength to continue to do that.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.
     
     


  • I am looking towards Alcoholics Anonymous to help overcome a drinking problem. What is your opinion on AA? Would it be beneficial for a Christian to go to this group or not? Thank you

    As a church body, we have concerns about the religious aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  In step number 2 of The Twelve Steps, there is acknowledgement of a “Power greater than ourselves.”  Participants in AA are free to define who or what that Power is. 

    In step number 3 there is reference to “God as we understood him.”  Participants in AA are free to define God however they understand him.

    Step number 11 uses the same wording:  “God, as we understood him.”  Once again, participants in AA are free to understand God however they like.

    As Christians, we know that understanding God is not like selecting an answer for a multiple choice question where all the choices are equally valid.   In the Bible God explains clearly who he is.  He is a Triune God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  AA certainly fails to provide clear testimony to the truth of God’s Word.  And while AA provides opportunities for Christians to state their beliefs, circumstances can be such where Christian witness is absent much more than present.

    Joint prayer at AA meetings is another concern.  Scripture directs us to refrain from activities like prayer when we are with others who do not share a common belief (Romans 16:17).

    In light of all this, WELS members have been able to participate in AA by not taking part in joint prayer.  In addition, they have recognized the concerns in the three steps mentioned previously and have not, by their words and actions, endorsed the idea that people may define God however they want.

    No doubt you can see that we need to be cautious if we are considering utilizing AA.  Unlike the Scouting movement or lodges that require participation in their religious elements, AA does not demand that Christians compromise their faith.  They provide opportunities to do so, but Christians need to turn down those opportunities.  If you utilize AA, it would be good to debrief with your pastor, as you can, to steer clear of any issues that might impact your faith negatively.

    Finally, be aware that WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions is able to provide the services you need without the concerns of AA that have been mentioned.  That would be my first recommendation to you.  God bless your efforts in overcoming this issue in your life.

    Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.


      

  • Capital Punishment: a right or a duty of the government?


    Governments establish laws on the basis of the natural knowledge of the law and reason.  When governments conclude that capital punishment is the penalty for certain crimes, they are exercising a right that God grants them (Romans 13:4).  Governments have a duty and responsibility to maintain order in society. 

  • I have several current, and past co-workers of both genders that are homosexual. I try very hard not to become close with many of them because of this fact. However, some I become friends with, as I find them to be hard working and trustworthy people. Our work situation doesn't allow for a lot of religious discussions, but when it does, the homosexual person will ask about where to go to church. Some co-workers will say "oh come to my church, we accept everyone" or "try this (enter name of church here) church". How do I approach this. And is it wrong of me to be a friend? I so badly want to say you need to pray and ask for God's forgiveness but in today's workplace, this isn't an acceptable thing to do. (Or it seems)

    Thank you for your sharing your concerns and questions.  You want to do what is right, and I commend you for that.

    For starters, it is not wrong for you to be friends with homosexuals.  You, after all, might be one of their few friends who can share with them the truth of God's Word regarding sexuality.  It is not a problem to be friends with homosexuals.  It is a problem if concern for your friendship leads you to be silent about the very matters those friends need to be hearing.  Remaining silent could send the signal that you approve of your friends' homosexuality.

    So what can you share with your homosexual friends?  You can explain that  your church teaches the truth of God's word.  That truth means that all people are sinners who rightly deserve punishment from God.  Homosexual behavior is one of many sins that condemn people.  That truth means that God is gracious and forgives sinners through Jesus Christ his Son.  That truth means that forgiven children of God distance themselves from sin as best they can through the power that God provides through the gospel. 

    By cultivating friendships with homosexual workers, you will, potentially, gain trust to speak the truth in love regarding their particular sin.  And rather than just talking to them, do listen to them.  Ask them questions.  Ask them questions about the Bible.  What do they know about the Bible's teachings regarding sin and forgiveness?  Their answers will very likely open the door for you to relay truths from the Bible.  Ask your pastor for more guidance.  Also, check out this website of a WELS member:  http://www.poglutherans.org/   Click on "Resources" for some witnessing ideas.

    And, finally, have these conversations with your homosexual friends outside the workplace.  We live in a very litigious society.  God bless you in your Christian witness.

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