Marriage and the Altar

Nope this is not about the marriage altar, but marriage and the Communion altar. If Paul can speak of marriage and really be speaking of Christ and His Church, I can speak of marriage and really be speaking about Communion.

First, finally someone other than a poor, probably besieged, parish pastor has spoken the unvarnished truth about those churches practicing open Communion.  In the July/October 2014 Concordia Theological Quarterly in an article entitled “Doctrinal Unity and Church Fellowship” the Rev. Doctor Roland F. Ziegler says, “Likewise a church that does not practice closed communion or a church that communes members of heterodox churches does not administer the Lord’s Supper according to Christ’s institution” (70).  That means this mark of the Church is missing in regard to their Lord’s Supper. St. Paul says such churches are coming together for the worse not the better (1 Corinthians 11:17).

Ca alors! No mealy-mouthing about how churches not practicing closed communion could do “a better job.” None of this tap dancing around the issue to the tune of “extraordinary circumstances” which are really quite ordinary. None of this compulsion to write close(d) communion out of deference to all those weak-kneed pastors who practice open communion in the name of and under the color of the authority of the phrase “close Communion.” Such a practice is all the more deplorable because it is so close to the truth, but being close to the truth means you are still in error.

The following is not my story but illustrates my point; a brother pastor told it to me, and it shows how I can be talking about marriage but really be talking about the Communion .

A husband and wife are out on a date for their anniversary. The waitress gets friendly with the couple and finally works up the nerve to ask, “Do you have an open marriage?” The wife quickly replies, “It’s closed.”  The husband pipes up, “No, it’s close.”

You don’t have to be married or a theologian to understand what the husband hopes to drop by dropping the letter ‘d.’ You do have to be a bold theologian to confess that churches not practicing closed Communion do not have one of the two marks of the holy Christian Church. You have to be married to Someone other than “our beloved Synod” to do something about this sad state of affairs.

Adulterous affairs are what we’re really talking, or more accurately not talking, about. About half of the Lutheran Church Misery Synod is just fine bringing the waitress into the marriage bed. Should the Bride of Christ continue to pretend she doesn’t see what their marriage has become? Who’s in bed with whom is exposed at the at the Altar, and that’s where you see what kind of marriage you really have open/close or closed.


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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