Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Sticky Side

Now here’s the sticky side of the bumper sticker,

“Why should God bless us when we’ve kicked HIM out of our schools?”

Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann wrote, “Just as Christianity can– and must–be considered the end of religion, so the Christian liturgy in general, and the Eucharist in particular are indeed the end of a cult, of the ‘sacred’ religious act isolated from, and opposed to, the ‘profane’ life of the community.” (Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1982), 25, 26.)

We Lutherans may not agree with our Orthodox friends at all points, but on this Schmemann is correct. When Jesus says He is the door, He did not mean He was a plank of wood. He means He is the only way to the Father; the only entrance to heaven. Thus, the religion that bears His name and rests only in Him is the “end of all religion.” It is in the Eucharist, the blessed Meal of Christ’s Body and Blood in the bread and wine where Christ is Incarnationally present for His people. The liturgy leads forward to that event, setting the congregation apart from what is common and secular in the community, to  where heaven and earth meet.

Such ritual and soul-feeding prepares God’s people for their vocations in their lives. It is door-to-door vocational education. We enter the church door hungry and depleted, starved from our week long struggles in our vocation; we leave the church door fed and prepared to face our week long vocation once more.

The struggle is tougher and tougher, whether in school or the workplace. The entertainment industry inundates us with its messages that constantly pull us away from Christ’s Gospel.

I attended a workshop on the liturgy several years ago. We were reveling in how the liturgy is constructed to draw the heart, mind, and soul to the pivotal event, Christ’s giving of Himself in His Supper. The question of Contemporary Worship was ever on the mind. What of it? What was CW doing to this structure since it has none? And what would happen to this treasure of the liturgy we have now if we so callously misuse it? “Well,” said one pastor, “it’ll go out in the dust heap, where some one else will pick it up, and by God’s grace, and make use of it.” In other words, what is not used or what is not used properly is eventually taken away.

We have found that very situation happen to us in the use of Individual Confession and Absolution. For whatever history behind it, that practice fell out of use. Now it is difficult to re-instate—and for some people its use will never be acceptable.

So God has been kicked out of the schools? The marketplace? The arena of ideas? So why should God bless us if we don’t bless Him?

On the one hand, God blessing us has nothing to do with whether we bless Him or not. On the other hand, God will “bless” us in a manner we do not expect when we do not pay heed to the Giver of all Good Things.

When my children were rude and surly to me, their father blessed them with discipline. They were his children, and he loved them. He wasn’t about to set hellions loose on the world, and hasn’t. Even more to the point, I am his wife whom he swore to honor and love. That’s a promise he hasn’t broken, even with his own children.
So it is with God and His people, Christ and His Bride. When the Children of Israel, God’s wife as He called them, behaved badly, He sent them into Babylon as captives. Now there is some heavy-duty timeout! We are not beyond God’s reach as a church body or as a nation.

When Katrina hit a good many pundits claimed it was God’s way of exacting repentance on a sin-filled city. Those with clearer vision rightly pointed out that if it was so, then why is it the center of all the action, the French Quarter, was left standing? We need to be careful of pointing fingers, saying “Here is God’s retribution, there it is again.” Rather, we have enough of our own repentance for which to be concerned.

 And we can also rejoice in God’s calls to repentance. God disciplines those whom He loves, His sons (who are made so by Baptism in His Son!), to be called back to the Absolution of the Gospel in Christ.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Catechetical Bumper Stickers

The new front door arrived and was hung Friday, so I spent Saturday painting it. That meant the kitchen was closed for that evening’s meal. John found that appealing. He enjoys pizza. Picking up pizza would an exercise in receiving daily bread two ways that evening.

The car in the lane in front of me had a very interesting bumper sticker.
“Why should God bless us when we’ve kicked HIM out of our schools?”

What a curious thought. Why indeed? I had to ask myself.

In the classroom every now and again when we’d pray the Fourth Petition, “”God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people,” I’d stop and ask my students, “Who are these evil people?” They’d grin and look around at each other, and then one-by-one raise their hands, knowing I would, too. Definitely! None of us fears, loves, or trusts in God above all things. That means we must confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We, in a word, hate God, since we surely cannot demonstrate that we love Him. Yet, God would have it that we realize that He, as our heavenly Father, overlooks this in us, feeds us graciously, so that we learn to “receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” Yes, even the evil ones such as we.

God’s gifts come in spite of who we are or what we do. That is what the Third Petition teaches: The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer. The kicker is that in praying to the one who gives us all things as a heavenly Father would to His dear children, “we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”

Prayer has not been denied any child in any school, and God’s graciousness has not been kicked out of anywhere. God has not been hindered in showering His blessings upon his people. God’s people, if anything, squander the precious gifts of the church they ought to be using in their homes as a primary resource.

I tried to teach my students to think catechetically. That is, run all things through the catechism. It wasn’t hard to do. We began the day reciting portions the catechism, the Ten Commandments plus one of the remaining Chief Parts. Whatever book we were reading was filtered through the catechism. They soon learned to do this on their own in their private readings. The catechism isn’t just for picking up one year during adolescence and then shelving away. It’s for reading, learning, and inwardly digesting. That happens by using it in the home and through application beginning when the children are very young.

The primary place of Godly education for any child should be his/her own home, not the school. Let it begin there, as Luther says in the Fourth Commandment, Large Catechism:

If that were done, God would also richly bless us and give us grace to train men by whom land and people might be improved. He would also bless us with well-educated citizens, chaste and domestic wives, who, afterward, would raise godly children and servants. Here consider now what deadly harm you are doing if you are negligent and fail on your part to bring up your children to usefulness and piety. Consider how you bring upon yourself all sin and wrath, earning hell by your own children, even though you are otherwise pious and holy. Because this matter is disregarded, God so fearfully punishes the world that there is no discipline, government, or peace. We all complain about this but do not see that it is our fault. The way we train children and subjects spoils them and makes them disobedient. Let this be enough encouragement. To draw this out further belongs to another time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dr. G and Catechetical Lessons Learned

Lately I'm enjoying Discovery Health Channel's show Dr. G, Medical Examiner. "Dr. G" is Jan C. Garavalia, M.D., chief examiner for the District Nine Medical Examiner's Office in Florida This covers Orange and Osceola Counties. I'm not a fan of the slasher movie genre, so that's not what attracts me to the show. What holds my attention is the numerous ways bodies die. While it is appointed to each of us to die (though not all may see death this side of heaven depending on Christ's return), we each die in a different way. No two bodies break down towards death the same way. The show is an exposition of original sin and its effects on humanity.

It's also an exposition of the enmity between us and God. Enmity doesn't merely mean conflict or hostility. It also means hatred. That is the word God used in Ge 3:15 when He was speaking to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." It's the same word Paul later used in Ro 8:7, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." We could say that such a mind hates God. The First Commandment requires that we"fear, love, and trust in God above all things." This we have not kept. The opposite of love is. . . hate. The Third Petition even speaks to this when it allows that our sinful nature, which includes even our body, does not want to hallow God's name. This is a hard and bitter pill to swallow, but one that is the beginning of repentance.

Autopsies demonstrate just how deeply we cannot love God. Our own bodies are incapable of sustaining that which He found most precious to give us, life itself, which means of course, eternal life. The entrance to the Garden of Eden was barred from sin-filled Man so that he would not eat of the Tree of Life and remain eternally in his sin-filled state. This happened after God had given the promise of His Seed, the one who would bring eternal life to Man. So instead o Man being condemned to living in sin eternally, the Son of God was raised upon a tree as a sinner, and the fruit of that tree is given to us poor beggars to eat as His Body and Blood in bread and wine. It is from that Tree of Life that we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation.

According to the Revelation of John, the Tree of Life appears in again in paradise, where God gives access to its fruit to those who conquer in the restored Garden of Eden (Rv 2:7). The promise of eternal life is given to those whose sins have put in Christ ( Ro 6:3-4; 1Jn 1:8-9). Our life in Baptism "which indicates that the Old Adam should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all evil desires, and that a new man might arise should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and putity forever," rushes us forward to that life in the Eden restored. Baptism places us in that now not yet. We are now in this sin-filled life; we are not yet in Eden restored. Yet it is ours nonetheless. "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (1Jn 3:2).

Christ's own resurrection sustains us with that same blessed paradox. He is now as we will one day become (1 Cor 15). The resurrection teaches us that our bodies weren't meant to stay locked in tombs. God didn't create us that way. It isn't normal. Death is the consequence of hatred toward God (Ro 6:23). But Christ's resurrection not only explodes death, it shatters that hatred. Jesus' own flesh was not a new creation for Him to inhabit only for the sake of His work of saving Mankind. His flesh was that of a woman's, and that under the law (Ga 4:4). It could experience death, and did. His flesh is our flesh. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. He was made sin in order that righteousness might reign in us (2Cor 5:21). His righteousness in exchange for our sin will result in our resurrection of the dead. It can be no other way.

No matter how many different ways human bodies find to die, no matter how many times Dr. G is surprised by what she discovers in her autopsies, no matter how many time sin exacts its wages on us pitiful humans held captive to this body of death, ultimately for those in Christ death is not the end of the story. We are baptized. We eat Bread of Life come down from heaven, and in Him alone is Life (Jo 6:33; 1Jn 5:11).

How is God's will done?
God's will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God's name or let His kingdom come;
and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.
This is His good and gracious will

How can water do such great things? 
Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God's word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus chapter three:

"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying." (Titus 3:5-8)

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?

These words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Questions and Catechesis

“If churches do not aim to help children, youth and adults become sensitive, compassionate persons who possess the knowledge, attitudes and capacity to act responsibly alone and institutionally in relation to the changing needs of society, we will have failed our children, ourselves - and God . . . To facilitate the development of this kind of persons, the community of faith needs to meet at least three conditions: first, shared meaningful celebrations . . . second, reflected-upon experiences . . . third, opportunities for political and social action.”
- John Westerhoff

This is the Quote of the Month for the October 2010 LCMS Youth Bulletin. I had some difficulty parsing it out, so I went to the source. Westerhoff was ordained UCC, but currently serves in the Episcopalian Church. He has an article online that is quite revealing, and explains much of what this quote is about: Church Education for Tomorrow. It’s well worth the read as an exposition of the quote above. While the quote itself is not found in the article, all the notes are present.

What does this mean for us? It simply begs the question: Whatever happened to “As the head of the household should teach them in a simple way to his household”?

Luther was frustrated with his people: "[M]any see the catechism as a poor, common teaching, which they can read through once and immediately understand. They can throw the book into a corner and be ashamed to read it again" (LC, Preface:2, Kolb-Wengert). We relate to that in our own way. “How do you get rid of bats in the belfry? Answer: Catechize and confirm them and you’ll never see them again.”

The problem isn’t that the material itself, or that rote memorization is antithetical to faith-building. Quite the opposite in fact. One could just as easily say that memorizing basic Math facts is useless—until that faculty is needed in daily life. Technology aside, the ability to compute mathematically will not absent itself from our various vocations. Every time, in every place, 2+2=4, and 5X5=25. When that fails, whole systems will fall apart. We learned those basic facts through rote memorization, and then we learned to apply them. We believe in them. They are, if you will permit me, the lex orandi, lex credendi of arithmetic. The same is true of the catechism. Luther explains:

Besides, catechism study is a most effective help against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts. It helps to be occupied with God’s Word, to speak it, and meditate on it, just as the first Psalm declares people blessed who meditate on God’s Law day and night (Psalm 1:2). Certainly you will not release a stronger incense or other repellant against the devil than to be engaged by God’s commandments and words, and speak, sing, or think them [Colossians 3:16]. For this is indeed the true “holy water” and “holy sign” from which the devil runs and by which he may be driven away [James 4:7]. (LC, Preface: 10, Kolb-Wengert)

Furthermore, Luther saw no such thing as delaying catechetical study until a child was in puberty. For him, the catechism was for “children and for simple folk” (LC, Short Preface: 1, Kolb-Wengert). “It teaches what every Christian must know. . . Therefore, we must have the young learn well and fluently the parts of the catechism or instruction for children, diligently exercise themselves in them, and keep them busy in them.” (LC, Short Preface: 2-3, Kolb-Wengert). This is faith bearing fruit through catechized vocation.

It begins first in the Divine Service, for Luther’s admonitions regarding the catechism and its use starts there.

We have no small reasons for constantly preaching the catechism and for both desiring and begging others to teach it. For sadly we see that many pastors and preachers are very negligent in this matter and slight both their office and this teaching. Some neglect the catechism because of great and high art ‹giving their mind, as they imagine, to much “higher” matters›. But others neglect it from sheer laziness and care for their bellies. They take no other stand in this business than to act as pastors and preachers for their bellies’ sake. (LC, Preface, 1, Kolb-Wengert)

And again:

O bishops! What answer will you ever give to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment fulfilled your office [James 3:1]? May all misfortune run from you! 5 ‹I do not wish at this place to call down evil on your heads.› You . . . insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care at all whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of God’s Word. Woe, woe to you forever! [See Matthew 23.] (SC, Preface: 4, Kolb-Wengert)
According to Luther, pastors and preachers who do not know their catechism should “have nothing given [them]to eat, but [they] should also be driven, baited with dogs, and pelted with dung” (LC, Preface: 13, Kolb-Wengert). That’ll get your dander up! Yet he backs his words by God’s own command, Deu 6:6-8,

that we should always meditate on His precepts, sitting, walking, standing, lying down, and rising. We should have them before our eyes and in our hands as a constant mark and sign. Clearly He did not solemnly require and command this without a purpose. For He knows our danger and need, as well as the constant and furious assaults and temptations of the devils (LC, Preface: 14, Kolb-Wengert).

This is an example for the family, as pastors are to be in their parishes. So Luther commends this responsibility to the head of the household: “Therefore, it is the duty of every father of a family to question and examine his children and servants at least once a week and see what they are learning from the catechism” (LC, Short Preface: 4, Kolb-Wengert).

Yet in the above-mentioned article, Westerhoff, critical of the catechetical method, writes:

Characteristically, Christian faith was understood in terms of nurture, which functionally corresponded to a gradual process of schooling. Church educators proceeded to develop a program of education that moved from baptism through instruction to confirmation—or, more accurately, to institutional initiation. At the same time evangelical Protestant churches, also enamored of the “schooling-instructional” paradigm, described personal conversion as their purpose and designed educational programs that used instruction to move persons to an early faith commitment. Neither side could affirm the other’s purpose though both depended upon the same paradigm. Both, I contend, have made a serious error.

The error he contends is that this is merely “institutionalized incorporation” into religion. It is not mature faith. And here is the key: “The Christian faith by its very nature demands conversion. We do not gradually educate persons to be Christian. Of course, conversion can and indeed often has been misunderstood and overemphasized, but that does not justify our disregarding it as one necessary purpose of Christian education.”

What Westerhoff misses is that faith is Sacramentally given in Baptism and nurtured in catechesis (as well as the Word preached, Absolution, and the Holy Supper). This is according to Christ’s command that the church is to be baptizing and teaching (Mt 28:19-20) to keep all that He commanded. This is not imparted as if a history lesson, but according to the work of the Holy Spirit through human agents. Catechesis is teaching. Luther writes, “So a person who does not know this catechism could not be counted as a Christian or be admitted to any Sacrament, just as a mechanic who does not understand the rules and customs of his trade is expelled and considered incapable” (LC, Short Preface: 1, Kolb-Wengert). Conversion is not a learned experience; it is a given. It is given by the work of the Holy Spirit. We do not struggle in order to say “I believe.” The opposite is true, as the Third Article confesses.

Westerhoff’s answer to Luther’s form of catechesis is

Persons need to be nurtured into a community’s faith and life. There is a basic need for religious experience. But persons also need, if they are to grow in faith, to be aided and encouraged to judge, question and even doubt that faith, to be given the opportunity to experiment with and reflect upon alternative understandings and to learn what it means to commit their lives to causes and persons. We must never depreciate the important intellectual aspect of Christian faith. Only after a long adolescent struggle with doubt and an honest consideration of alternatives can a person truly say, “I believe.” And only then is a person enabled to live the radical political, economic and social life of the Christian in the world.

In other words, it is not enough that the devil has his “darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you.” (LC, Lord’s Supper: 82, Kolb-Wengert), Westerhoff encourages a dance with the devil in order to arrive at a hearty, heartfelt “I believe.” So much for lex cedendi, lex orandi! Let’s not forget something here. Lutherans don’t run from the struggles of doubt; rather, we embrace them as life under the cross. The Lord disciplines His sons, and struggles and doubt are a part of that. But to be “encouraged to judge, question and even doubt that faith” is not what makes Christian growth. When a Christian faces the doubts that come as they may, he places them in the wounds of Christ where they belong and simply says, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief (Mk 9:24). He doesn’t go seeking them intentionally.

It is through the struggles (tentatio), being constantly driven to the cross, and ever living out the life of Baptism that the faith matures. This is sanctification, is it not, and it is not an outgrowth of intentional head-butts with the devil. Sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s own working out of faith in Christ in and through us. Even our feeble confession “I believe” is wrought within us by what the Holy Spirit has given, not through what we have done by what we have come through. One who is baptized is never alone, but is a member of the Body of Christ, His Church. Of this growth in faith our confessions say

So, until the Last Day, the Holy Spirit abides with the holy congregation or Christendom [John 14:17]. Through this congregation He brings us to Christ and He teaches and preaches to us the Word [John 14:26]. By the Word He works and promotes sanctification, causing this congregation daily to grow and to become strong in the faith and its fruit, which He produces [Galatians 5]. (LC, II, art. 3: 52 Kolb-Wengert)

I’m not as smart as Dr. Luther. Never will be. So I take his advice to heart. He used his catechism daily, thinking himself as a child in need of it that often.

I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I do it gladly. These dainty, fastidious fellows would like quickly, with one reading, to become doctors above all doctors, to know all there is to be known. Well, this, too, is a sure sign that they despise both their office and the people’s souls, yes, even God and his Word. They need not fear a fall, for they have already fallen all too horribly. What they need is to become children and begin learning their ABC’s, which they think they have outgrown long ago. (LC, Preface: 7, Tappert)

He gives this advice to us all:

Look at these bored, presumptuous saints who will not or cannot read and study the Catechism daily. They evidently consider themselves much wiser than God himself, and wiser than all his holy angels, prophets, apostles, and all Christians! God himself is not ashamed to teach it daily, for he knows of nothing better to teach, and he always keeps on teaching this one thing without varying it with anything new or different. All the saints know of nothing better or different to learn, though they cannot learn it to perfection. Are we not most marvelous fellows, therefore, if we imagine, after reading or hearing it once, that we know it all and need not read or study it any more? Most marvelous fellows, to think we can finish learning in one hour what God himself cannot finish teaching! Actually, he is busy teaching it from the beginning of the world to the end, and all prophets and saints have been busy learning it and have always remained pupils, and must continue to do so. (LC, Preface: par. 15, Kolb-Wengert)

If God has so much to teach us in the catechism that we have not yet learned, then what I am wondering now is: Instead promoting a man who encourages youth to doubt what He has given, shouldn't we instead make better use of our own precious resources, which begin in and retain the things of God?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Grades and Shades of Feminism

Two items of note recently circulated through Facebook. The first was the video testimony of a saline abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen. The second was a newspaper article by Rebecca Walker, the daughter of Alice Walker the author of The Color Purple. Both bore witness to the backlash effects of feminism. It would have been easy to pass of either woman as the victim of radical-feminism.

Let’s be honest for once. We can sugar-coat feminism with any number of labels and degrees—moderate-, conservative-, Christian-, radical-, —but we’ll still find ourselves with the same fundamental error: feminism. Granted, these labels serve some purpose. They help to identify authors and time periods within the Feminist Movement itself. However, let's not use them as sort of "scale for acceptability;" e.g., radical-feminism goes too far, while Christian-feminism is comfortably OK.

Not all feminists will pursue abortion or abandon their children, this is true. Still, feminism is the ideology that pursues the social and political equal rights for women. That is its premise. However, “In the beginning. . .,” before the deception of the first woman, these things were “a given.” They were total gift and a grace from God, the Father Creator. She was, after all, created in the same image and likeness of God as was her mate, the man. That she was called his helpmeet is no reflection on her status of equality, but is a reference to her vocation. “[T]he Lord God is pleased to be called a ‘helper.’ Ezer is the Hebrew word, and the name ‘Eliezer’ means ‘God is my helper’ (Numbers 3:32).” (A Little Book of Joy, Matthew C. Harrison, 58) God is our helper, for He is our salvation. The woman would be the source of salvation for the man, for Jesus would be born of Mary (Ge 3:15;1Cor 11:13).

Moreover, when speaking of God’s creative acts, Man is a binary that includes the male and female (Ge 1:27). This does not mean “humanity” as a general classification of all peoples whether males or females or combinations thereof. Feminism presents women with a false dichotomy: “they can either be women or they can be humans” (Why is Feminism So Hard to Resist? Paul R. Harris, 149.) This leaves women—and men, who can also be feminist—perpetually searching to be human above being what they are created to be, women and men, through striving for the things they for which they were not created. It’s about vocation, and vocation is always what is God-created and God-given.

Man, male and female, were created in God’s image. Genesis 5:1-3 reiterates that fact, but then switches, stating that Adam’s sons were born in his image. Adam lost the image of God when he fell into sin. At the end of Genesis 3, the gates to the Garden of Eden were closed by God’s angels holding flaming swords, “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Ge 3:22). Jesus called Satan “that murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44). Throughout Genesis 5 the refrain “and he died” is repeated. Paul exposits the truth of this when he states, “The wages of sin is death,” (Ro 6:23).

Satan’s deception of the first woman and Adam’s lack of protection for his wife resulted in the first sin. Adam failed her when he listened to her instead of paying heed to God's word. In Adam’s sin all men fell, but that does not mean women are any less culpable. Thanks be to God for that, for Jesus only came for sinners (Mt 9:13). Satan murdered not with a knife or gun or any other such weapon. Satan’s weapon was God’s own words twisted to his desires and intentions. But Satan’s victim was not merely Man, Adam and his wife. Satan’s target was the Son of the Father, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). Satan’s deception of the woman was an attack on God the Father. She overthrew her head, and he in turn, overthrew his (1Co 11:3). This set in motion the Father’s plan of salvation wherein His own Son would die for the sins of Man (Ro 5:8; 12-20; Eph 1:4; Jn 3:16). Feminism, because it reconditions and reinvents God’s word for its own purposes, is a return to original sin and its slavery (Jn 8:31-35; Ro 6:6; Ga 5:1.) It is Rachel stealing her father’s household gods in order to take them into her husband’s home (Ge 31:19). She would not completely let go of her old ways and let her husband be her head, thus having the one true God be her Head. It is paganism.

And here is where we must begin to get truly honest with feminism. Feminism began with the first deception, and has grown from that. If feminism is anything it is paganism socially legitimized through Supreme Court rulings, Hollywood, the media, and Madison Avenue. It is nothing new (Ecc 1:9). Feminism demands human rights for women at the expense of their own unborn children: my body, my rights. Feminism demands human rights for same-sex relationships at the expense of the family and society. Lutheran CORE recently posted this entry. It demonstrates the same pattern from the ancient deceiver: A twist and a turn from God’s word is all it takes to turn mankind away from the worship of the one true God to worship of something and someone other.

Feminism with a gradient label attached to it is akin to someone claiming he is only mildly addicted to cocaine (“But I can kick it anytime I want to.”) The addiction “sticks” for a lifetime, whether one wants to admit it or not. So it is with feminism. Feminism and original sin are so closely aligned they are a part of the human condition. To be feminist is to overthrow one’s headship for the sake of another’s vocation. This was the woman’s deception, and males fall victim to it was well as females. One cannot claim to be mildly feminist and be proud of it any more than to retain pride in being a sinner. It would be the same as pride in breaking the First Commandment. For, in overthrowing headship, one becomes his or her own god; and, taking up a vocation that does not belong to oneself breaks the Second Table of the Law.

There are those who will object, pointing out all the “good” the Feminist Movement has brought to women: equality in society, better pay in the work place, more jobs. Shall we praise sin because there happens to be a good outcome? The fundamental premise of the movement is still feminism and it not only is contrary to God’s word, it also moves to separate women from God's salvific acts in Christ to her own work. Better yet we confess the fact that we are feminist and rejoice in the Gospel to come from that confession of sin; for, Jesus only came for sinners, and there is more than enough forgiveness in Him for feminists.

The truth is that there is nothing in the Scriptures that prevents women from entering the marketplace and doing business. The Good Wife of Proverbs 31 is one example, as is Lydia (Ac 16:14). Luther writes

Thus the church is the pupil of Christ. It sits at His feet and listens to His Word, that it may know how to judge everything—how to serve in one’s vocation and to fill civil offices, yes, how to eat, drink, and sleep—so that there is no doubt about any area of life, but that we, surrounded on all sides by the rays of the Word, may continually walk in joy and in the most beautiful light. (LW: 2:353-354)

Guided by God’s word with Christ as their Head, men are to care for and love their wives and families. Guided by God’s word with Christ as their Head, women submit to such love and protection. Still, Luther continues,

But alas, we are not aware of our gifts. Only those who are spiritual rejoice and give thanks to God. Because the rest are carnal, ungrateful, greedy, and proud, they will be deprived even of what they have; and the punishment will befall them that they will listen to Satan instead of Christ and to heretics instead of the apostles, namely, to men who seek in the Word their own wisdom and glory and everything else except the joy and the heavenly blessings the Word brings us. (LW: 2:353-354)

And so we have the division in which we live. There is the feminism which belongs to all that is common or profane in this temporal life, and there is the way of Godly vocation which belongs to the sacred and holy. Godly vocation is still known by nature and written as Law upon man’s heart (Ro 1:20-25; 2:14-15). We struggle midst the two planes, the profane and the sacred. There should be no surprise in this. We are at once sinner and saint, are we not? But let us not fall prey to justifying sin based on a perceived good outcome. An error at the beginning is still fundamentally an error at the end—one to be confessed so that Christ’s forgiveness may be received.