September 2021

September 2021

Our Obligation to Our Society

Toward the end of August, I got to attend a conference at our sister congregation, Trinity Lutheran Church, on the topic, “Caring for Souls in an Age of Sexual Confusion.” The main speaker was Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, perhaps best known for his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. (By the way, because Dr. Anderson publicly affirms that men cannot become women and women cannot become men, he is persona non grata among the elites of our society, and his books have been removed from Amazon. Thankfully they can still be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and some other merchants.) I found Dr. Anderson’s presentation to be very engaging and informative. He knows his topic well and can communicate it clearly.

Of all the themes that Dr. Anderson touched on, what most impressed me, and what I wish to share with you this month, is the insufficiency of religious liberty in dealing with the problem of gender confusion.

Religious liberty is critically important. We need space to come to our own conclusions on matters of faith, so that we worship not by compulsion but according to our conscience. For instance, as the pastor of a Lutheran congregation, I appreciate the fact that none of you are here because our government tells you that you have to be. You’re here because you believe the Lutheran Confessions to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture, and you want to be fed with faithful, biblical teaching. We would lose such voluntary participation if we established a Lutheran theocracy in the United States.

Furthermore, religious liberty as guaranteed by the first amendment of the United States Constitution is a last line of defense for our churches as the society around us degenerates. Our society may have embraced abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism, but at least within the sanctuaries of our churches we can still speak the truth of God’s Word on these matters without fear of government reprisal (for now). Religious liberty preserves our ability to protect ourselves and our children from the most pernicious influences of the world.

But is that all we care about? Do we really want to turn inward and protect ourselves and our children alone while the rest of our country crumbles around us? Heaven forbid! Just this past month we heard the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus expects us to treat everyone around us as our neighbors, deserving of our help. Just because our neighbors believe differently than we do doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to their sufferings.

The fact is that gender confusion causes great suffering to our neighbors.

For instance, marriage exists to guarantee that children will grow up knowing who their father is and benefiting from his provision, protection, and masculine influence. It also guarantees that a mother will have the support of her children’s father in discharging the office of motherhood. When the protective guarantees of marriage are eroded, whether through no-fault divorce or through the redefinition of marriage to dissociate it from motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood, children and their mothers suffer. We Christians have an obligation not only to preserve our own marriages voluntarily under the auspices of religious liberty, but also to champion the institution of marriage in the public square. Non-Christian mothers and children deserve better than a Church that is content to watch them suffer through the destruction of marriage.

Furthermore, the transgender ideology, which holds that children can choose to become a gender not supported by their underlying biology, can lead to extreme forms of harm to those children. Such children are exposed to a medical industry that makes a handsome profit from administering puberty-blocking drugs to them and mutilating them with body-altering surgery, inflicting irreversible damage upon them in the process. Non-Christian children deserve better than a Church that is willing to watch this unfold, all the while saying, “At least it’s not our children.”

There is far more to say about this, and I intend to learn a great deal more about the issues we covered at this conference. But for now, what I would like us all to think about is our basic mentality. Are we called to shield our own Christian communities from the world around us? Or are we called to be salt and light, a blessing to the world around us? Can we labor in the public square for a law and a culture that upholds marriage, supports mothers, and protects children? Religious liberty is a great blessing, but Jesus has called us to more than just that. May we heed that call and serve our whole community in faithfulness and love!

God's Blessings!

Pastor Neuendorf