Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Smoky Mountain Reflections
March 2012
            There are times when I am more proud of my church body than others.  Not to boast or to be condescending, but because of our stand on biblical truth, and that was particularly evident when the president of our church body, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday, February 16.  Our president unapologetically took a strong stand defending the sanctity of human life.  He did this by discussing the recent U. S. Health and Human Services ruling regarding contraceptives. He explained in a very clear and concise manner how it violated citizens’ freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.  He did this alongside Catholic, Baptist, and Jewish leadership as they all strongly protested this violation of conscience and the first amendment, and a ruling which places in peril our right not to participate in the murder of unborn children.

            Our church body is not in the habit of taking positions on political issues, however with this HHS ruling, the line into the realm of moral truth has been crossed, and we cannot sit quietly by while our government makes laws that can and will force us and our churches to take part in the murder of innocent life.  The recent clause grandfathering and exempting religious groups is clearly a temporary step toward an eventual one-payer goal that has no regard for religious freedom or the rights of the unborn.

            The following is an excerpt from the official statement released by President Harrison on February 15th:
            "In response to President Obama’s announcement Friday concerning an ‘accommodation’ to a previous mandate that health plans must cover all forms of birth control (even those that can kill the unborn), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod remains deeply concerned. We strongly object to the use of drugs and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception. Drugs such as Plan B ® and Ella®, which are still included in the mandate, can work post-conception to cause the death of the developing child, so don’t be fooled by statements to the contrary. ......
..... the ‘accommodation’ did not expand the exemption for religious employers, nor did it restrict the mandate in any way. It simply described a temporary enforcement delay and a possible future change—a change that, unfortunately, would not adequately protect religious freedom or unborn lives. We remain opposed to this mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life. ....... Freedom of religion extends beyond the practice of our faith in houses of worship. We must be free to put our faith into action.......
 The government has overstepped its bounds. This controversy is not merely about birth control and the Catholic Church’s views about it. It’s about mandating that we provide medications which kill life in the womb. And moreover, and perhaps even more ominous, it is about an overzealous government forcing coercive provisions that violate the consciences and rights of its citizens."

            To read the whole statement, visit our synod website (www.lcms.org) or our church website (www.SPLCTN.com ).  One of the blessings of being a Christian is freedom to serve and love our neighbor. One of the things I have always loved about being an LCMS Lutheran is the strong apolitical stand our church body has always taken and continues to take on political issues. You can be Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, or whatever your political pleasure, however when our Government crosses into the moral realm, we must as good citizens and as members of the body of Christ take a strong stand for the weak and defenseless.  The infirmed and the unborn deserve strong and unequivocal support from the whole body of Christ on earth.  We must pray for our President and our legislators that God would guide them to protect and preserve the rights of every human being.  LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness begin with LIFE.  We cannot have liberty or the pursuit of happiness if someone else takes our LIFE.  Sadly, one of the most dangerous places to live in America is inside the womb because it is the only place where you have no rights.  Pray for the safety of the unborn as part of your daily prayers. Pray for the health, healing and forgivness of all who suffer because of the abortion industry.  Pray that all of the resources of that industry would one day be used to protect and preserve life instead of snuffing it out.  Pray that our nation would vote wisely in November in favor of the sanctity of human life.

Enjoy your LIFE today—a precious gift from God!  He loves you because He loves all LIFE.
In Christ, Pastor Portier