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Moral Theology 2018

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
September 14, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Moral Theology 2018

Lutherans are conversant in doctrinal theology, in the many tenets they believe, teach, confess and rejoice in. Articles of faith concerning the Trinity, Two Natures of Christ, Sin, Grace, Redemption, Sacraments, Worship, Prayer, Church, Ministry, and the Lord's coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

But while maintaining these we must be careful to uphold our moral theology as well.

To this end may every Christian remain ever knowledgeable of, and faithful to, the Ten Commandments with their Christian meaning; as well as  with Scripture's several catalogues of vice and virtue such as Romans 1:18-32,  Galatians 5:19-26 and others.

Why this emphasis now?

Because spiritual warfare today is not being conducted on the doctrinal front nearly as much as on the moral. The devil, the culture and sinful nature ceaselessly strive with all their might to bring the church, humanity's only hope, to her knees by attacking the moral foundation of her teaching and the behavior of her members. And so a reminder is always in order. As St. Paul writes to the Philippians Christians (Phil. 3:1), "It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you."

In this brief essay we will consider 3 chief sins that many churches, clergy and laity, have justified and normalized as acceptable Christian behavior: homosexuality, abortion and sexual intimacy apart from marriage. And so the first thing we should remember today is that these behaviors are most serious violations against the will of our God, and against one another.

When I name these three moral errors I am not speaking of them as political triggers, but about actual engagement in them, the rejection of the Divine Word such behavior represents, and the grave harm that always follows in their wake. 

The homosexual sin is forbidden in Sacred Scripture. Leviticus 20:13 is but one clear statement of what the Bible teaches throughout against this patent moral error. But it is not only a grievous sin against God but also a sin against reason, against nature, against anatomy, against the participants, and against life itself: because it cannot produce life. Because it is a distorted, dead-end imitation of the mystery of human life. Of that grand privilege whereby created beings are permitted to work in concert with their Lord to bring about his magnificent plans. Plans we can no more grasp than can a gold fish the complexities of the world outside his bowl. To practice the homosexual sin, and to approve of it, is an egregious moral trespass. But in the wisdom of God it is forgivable!

Should a person repent and call to Christ for mercy it will be forgiven, purged and forgotten by him who says, "I will remember their sins no more." (Jer. 31:34) In addition new power will be richly granted, and the very angels of God will minister to, and protect, the repentant sinner from further harm, even as an angel came from heaven to strengthen Jesus in Gethsemane.

Next is the sin of abortion. Again I am not speaking about the political debate here but about a person. A living body and immortal soul created by God, and entrusted to a woman, whose life is mercilessly stripped away. This is an unspeakable cruelty and wrong!  But even it is forgivable!

Like the homosexual sin, following absolution, it too will require an immense measure of divine grace to protect the penitent from overwhelming guilt, sorrow and regret. She shall not want because the Lord will be her shepherd and shield, in life and in death.

Lastly the church of Jesus Christ must reaffirm today that sexual intimacy apart from marriage is a sin against God, and against another person(s). Jesus says in Matthew 18:6-7 " ... but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!"

This sin goes by several names in Scripture: adultery, fornication, impurity, debauchery and orgy to name a few. All of them are denounced by the Almighty God. Besides the wrath of God this sin brings untold misery to all involved. It breeds selfishness, hatred, bitter anger, waves of unrelenting sorrow, anxiety, poverty, child abuse, family violence, great bodily harm, homicide and more. Where is the glory?

But it, too, is forgivable because Jesus says, "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) And to the sinful woman who fell down at his feet he says, “Your sins be forgiven you, your faith has saved you, go in peace.” (Luke 7:47 ff)

By these words we are reminded that the only unforgivable sin is the one that we justify rather than confess. The one for which we do not earnestly seek the blood-bought pardon gained for us by Jesus on the cross, and freely granted by the church in Word and Sacrament – especially the sacrament of Holy Absolution.

Now in closing hear the words of King David regarding his own sins. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:3-5  

What God did for David Jesus, the Son of David, will do for you. He will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all iniquity.

God grant it to all.

Amen.

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