Of Broadway Plays and Joint Prayer Services

In 1969 there was a Broadway play “in which two male homosexuals make open love onstage…”  The performance beat the charge of obscenity because while the two were thus engaged they talked about Vietnam.  The play met the then litmus test of “’some redeeming social value” (The World Book Year Book 1970, pp. 55-56).

In 2001 a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pastor participated in the Yankee Stadium Prayer service after 9/11 and in December 2012 another pastor participated in a prayer service in connection with the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.  Both times the other clergy participating in the service were from un-Christian religions and erring Christian denominations.  Both times the LCMS pastors were defended because they proclaimed the Gospel and what they said was needed, comforting, and the popular thing to do. You would say their actions had some redeeming theological value.

Yes, I’m sure what the men said on the stage in 1969 about Vietnam was needed, comforting, popular, and had some redeeming social value, but what they said did not alter the fact that they were engaged in a lewd, lascivious act publicly. Yes, what they said about Vietnam might have needed to be said, but what they did was still fornication.

Comparing what two LCMS pastors did in joint prayer services with homosexual intercourse on stage is comparing apples to apples.  The Old Testament frequently uses the language and image of adultery and fornication to describe unfaithfulness to God.  These two LCMS pastors may have said some amazingly poignant, elegant, and passionate Gospel of real theological value, but they were still publicly fornicating even as the two men were on stage in 1969.

The truth is that many LCMS pastors have been adulterating and fornicating for years doing joint weddings, funerals, baccalaureates, and civic services.  Now because of two documents produced by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations they may fornicate as boldly and openly as Absalom did with David’s concubines.

The 2001 CTCR document The Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship: Report on Synodical Discussions which came out prior to the 9/11 said there were some emergency cases too out of the ordinary for anyone to make a decision on in advance.  As open Communion has always been justified under the rubric of emergency or extraordinary circumstances, so now unionism and syncretism is.

The 2004 CTCR report Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events declared that participating in joint prayer was not unionism or syncretism as long as clergymen took turns praying.  Here the rubric being followed is the one President Clinton made up to defend his tawdry relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  He hadn’t lied when he said that he had no sexual relationship with her because what they did wasn’t intimate enough.

The open, unapologetic, uncensored theological fornication now going on in the name of our Synod together with the Synodical president apologizing for getting involved in an attempt to bring the pastor to repentance shows precisely where we are as a fellowship.  We are to the point where we must admit what a person in a long standing adulterous affair does after he is discovered. “My marriage was over a long time ago.”

No matter what the men in the 1969 play said about Vietnam it didn’t disguise, let alone justify, the fact that they were fornicating publicly.  In fact, their public fornication took away from whatever good they did say.  And so it is with those proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ while they are fornicating with error. Ah but such pastors don’t think it is fornicating!  My point precisely. Those defending the participation in join prayer services defend it by invoking the Gospel, lost souls, grieving people, but they really don’t believe truth getting into bed with error is fornicating under any circumstances.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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