It all depends on the situation...
Thursday, April 18, 2013 1:44 AM
Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it from a neighbor who is a member of the community, because the Lord's remission has been proclaimed Deuteronomy 15:1-2"You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:17.
In the middle 1980s when I was out on interviews for a church, I like many seminary graduates, would worry, shake and shudder at the sort of hard questions we knew we would be asked. Such questions included: "What are your views on divorce, cohabitating couples, homosexuality and abortion?" After over twenty-five years of ministry, I now have a copy of the old Lutheran Church Missouri Synod catechism book. It does not always reflect my denomination's views on some issues, but serves as a useful illustration. I tell folks that if I could actually live out the interpretation of our church doctrines according to this very conservative catechism-life would be much simpler. But I cannot, nor would you want me!
Different families have assorted complex issues that they expect our church to view through the lens of grace, mercy and compassion. Well, let me anticipate one response here, "Wait Pastor, you folks are too liberal. You do not take the Bible seriously as in times past." Well, many years of preaching and teaching out of the Bible have given me the wisdom to reply, "Great do we enforce Deuteronomy 15:1-2, as we do the Leviticus 18:22 text?
Consider this, we tell all of the gay people that they need to repent of their gayness. But then, we also tell folks who have been paying on their car, house and medical debts for seven years- "You are off the hook. Your debt is forgiven." Both Deuteronomy and Leviticus are located in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or Torah. Israel intended for people to remember that being part of a community of faith means that we do not mortgage our future out to others in the community (as the pagan culture often owned people and their land for decades!).
So it all depends on the situation. Every family and situation is different. Each family has a story to share and unique issues they bring to the table. So as a Christian Pastor, I use Romans 1:17, the same text Martin Luther and the Hebrew Prophet Habakkuk used, "The just shall live by faith alone." In this season of Easter we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who brings us new life. In communities such as ours here in Hardin County, I believe that when it comes down to "crunch time," most people in need do not want a set of biblical proof texts-but practice our daily transactions by Christian faith alone. Amen.