OK church! Tell me why we dont have slaves anymore and ill listen to your views on homosexuality.

Another blog by neil hart on gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

In a conversation with one or our regular commentators, i was reminded that CFW Walther is not recognised as an authority in the Lutheran Church (see previous blog). Fair enough.  But i wasnt quoting him as an authority. I was quoting him as a recognised leader, a prominent and world wide resspected Lutheran at the time of the american civil war.

But, if its Lutheran authorities you want… its Lutheran authorities you will get.

Martin Chemnitz is described as the “second Martin” of the Lutheran Church had the following to say about slavery

“St. Paul describes the obedience of slaves by first explaining that they are not in slavery as the result of chance or human oppression, but that God Himself has established these differences of occupation. Therefore they are to be obedient to their masters for thus they are doing God’s will, for God has in this manner given their (the slaves’) labors to their masters. Consequently they need not doubt that God regards these labors as if having been done for Him.” (Loc. Th.II,64.)

Then there is Melanchthon. Luthers co-worker in the reformation.

“Aristotle rightfully denounces those who, based on their unlawful and excessive desire for freedom, indict the type of slavery accepted by international law. However, we would be greatly more justified to indict the ‘Schwaermers’ of our times, who under the guise of the Gospel are calling people to freedom, insisting that slavery is against the Gospel. Since we have already discussed this matter quite often, let it suffice for now to remind the reader that just as the Gospel does not negate the command: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ neither does it disapprove of masters or slavery, but rather confirms them by its witness and teaches that for the taming of the godless, human masters and slaves are necessary.

And then, of course, there is Luther himself.

Though the experts of the law contend that slavery is against natural law, for according to natural law all men are at first born free. However, because of sin, slavery is one of the bonds with which those who are mentally weak are held to their duties; and those who are reckless and irresponsible are controlled… The Holy Spirit Himself expressed that God does not abhor slavery among men, and that the wicked and wild must be held in check and punished with the yoke of slavery when He cursed Canaan: ‘Cursed be Canaan, slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers’ (Ex.9:25), and to Esau He said: ‘. . . the older shall be servant to the younger.

[The above selections were from issues of Lehre und Wehre (Doctrine and Defense), CFW Walther.  published in 1863.]

No matter which way you look at it, Our Church Fathers understood  New testament scripture to be in support of slavery. scripture describes it  as a part of a good and godly ordered society. It is linked to the fourth commandment and is enshrined in Old testament Law.

 Now, remember what we are talking about here…this is no trifling matter like wearing hats in church or length of hair or beards. We are talking about  owning another human being. controlling their movements. controlling what they can and cannot do,  controlling who they can marry, and owning and selling the children of such marriages. even for the kindest most loving slave owner…this is, by today’s standards, a great evil. if one today were to be discovered as a slave owner they would be prosecuted and reviled. It is, quite simply, a bad thing. We consider it evil because it IS evil. We consider it sin because it IS sin.

pause for thought…

We considered it sin! Slavery is sin!

That which Walther, Chemnitz, Melanchthon, Luther and The apostle Paul himself (ie…the Bible!) considered a good and gody ordering of society, we would now consider evil and sinful.

Sorry to labour the point here but just consider those differences…

Today we would describe the practise of slavery as working against God’s purposes.

Walther Chemnitz Melanchthon and Luther considered that those who were working to abolish slavery were working against gods purposes.

We abhore the practice of slavery today.

Walther and the others describe it as if it were a gift from God to humanity.

We would describe it as sin

They describe it as good.

See what has happened? as history has moved on, as the world has changed, so has our interepretation of scripture.  even  what we might call  godly and what we might call sin has radically and fundamentally changed .

…pause for thought….

As the world has changed…so has our interepretation of scripture even to the extent of what we call godly and what we call sin. 

What the bible describes as good and godly is now considered sinful and evil and (dare i say) against the will of God. history has and does and will always change the way we interpret scripture.

All that i am asking for, dear reader,  is an honest acknowledgement of this fact. and with that acknowledgement the freedom to question the traditional understanding of and judgement against homosexuality.

The Holy Spirit continues to be active in society. God continues to bring justice and freedom to the enslaved and the oppressed. A loving , compassionate and just God was active in the 19th century bringing about changes in social attitudes to slavery. This happened even though it seemed to go against the clear direction of scripture. Sadly,  God had to work that change in the face of enormous opposition from his church.

That same God has been active in the 19th and early 20 centuries brining freedom and equal rights to women in society even though it seemed to go against the clear teachings of the Bible. Once again, God did this in the face of enormous opposition from his church.

Today, i believe that God is bringing social change, justice, acceptance and equality under the law to Gay and Lesbian people. This is happening even though it seems to go against what many consider to be the clear word of God in the Bible.  So, sadly, God is once again working this change in the face of enormous opposition from his church.

This time…I’m siding with the love, compassion and justice of God.