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Why Same-Sex Marriage Perverts the Relationship Between Christ and His Church

May 11th, 2012
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We are hearing, reading and talking a lot about same-sex marriage these days, particularly in light of the fact that the President of the United States of America has made it known that he personally supports extending to homosexual persons the right to enter into legally binding and legally recognized marriages. I’m  pretty much convinced that same-sex marriage is inevitable, and it is just a matter of time before it becomes legal, or “civil unions” that are akin to marriage. The question appears not to be “if” this will happen, but only “when.” I have heard some Christians, even those who oppose same-sex marriage, personally. give a verbal shrug about the issue, resigning themselves to the invetibaility of it. But, even if it is something that will become part of our culture and society, the Church must continue, vigorously, to oppose it. There are many reasons, of course and there are many and various opinions being expressed.

I do not however often hear observations that take into account how, and why, same-sex marriage represents a fundamental perversion of the relationship between Christ and His Church. To me, this is the most significant reason to oppose same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage does more simply than corrupt the divinely instituted state of marriage as the life long union of one man and one woman. Nowhere in Scripture are sexual relationships, of any kind, condoned outside this “one flesh” union, as Christ Himself refers to it (see Mt 19:3-9; Mk 10:2-12).

But why? Further revelation through the Apostle Paul clarifies this question, quite precisely: because marriage, ultimately, is intended to be a one-flesh union between man and woman that typifies, or pictures to the world, the relationship between Christ and His church. It is through the fruit of marriage, children, that God blesses the whole world and provides for Himself more people for the kingdom of Christ and His Church. It may truly be said that marriage is sacramental, of a sort: through physical and tangible relationships between men and women, in marriage, God is pouring out His gifts and blessings on the whole world.

Same-sex marriage represents a profoundly corrupt and evil distortion of the relationship between Christ and His Church. For it is precisely that relationship that Christian marriages are instituted and called upon to reflect: both within the marriage itself and as a witness to others around the Christian married couple. St. Paul speaks of this unique and special aspect of Christian marriage in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter five. Consider with me, very carefully, how Paul discusses the nature of human sexuality, and human sexual relationships, in these words:

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things yhe wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water jwith the word, o that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, ecause we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Do you notice how St. Paul frames his words? “Be imitators of God” and concluded with the comment it is precisely in Christian marriage that we see this “imitation of God.” How so? Wives are to submit to their husbands, as the Church submits to Christ, and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.

When a man and a man enter into a sexual relationship it represents both a perversion of God’s original Creation and the New Creation that is made ours through Christ as we are drawn into relationship with Him through the Church. The nature of homosexual acts themselves reflect the deep self-centered perversion of human sexuality that St. Paul condemns here in this text as “impure.” It represents a complete falling away from what was both created “in the beginning” as Christ asserts and what has been recreated by Christ Himself through the washing of water with the Word.

And so, as we consider same-sex marriage, let’s also consider the unique meaning of marriage for Christian people and how God intends marriage to be the public witness to the world of the relationship between Christ and His Church. Such a witness is both physically and spiritually impossible when homosexuals indulge in those things that “must not even be named, as is proper among the saints.”

 

 

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  1. Joe Das
    May 11th, 2012 at 10:22 | #1

    I have also heard similar reasoning applied to the situation of Woman leading the Divine Service. But how many people will even consider the roles that St. Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit assigns to husbands and wives? We didn’t get to where we are out fo the blue. Individualism run amok has been with us for decades, if not since the “enlightenment”. This has been long coming…

  2. May 11th, 2012 at 10:57 | #2

    Let us be on the wrong side of history.

  3. May 11th, 2012 at 14:32 | #3

    This is a very enlightening article. If you believe that marriage is defined by the church, and don’t completely understand why the LGBT community is fighting for marriage equality.

    Any church denomination would be hard-pressed to redefine their definition of marriage because there is so much biblical backing for the “one man-one woman” definition of marriage, as evidenced by the citing of Scripture in this article. Everyone in the LGBT community understands this.

    What we’re fighting for is LEGAL marriage equality, as defined by the government. Legal marriage gives couples over 1000 rights as married couples, such as being able to visit your significant other in the emergency room, government assistance benefits, and tax breaks, among other things.

    The problem with this fight is that same-sex marriage opponents often conflate the two, thinking that what the LGBT community is fighting is some kind of “war” on traditional marriage. That’s not even close to the truth. Individual churches may choose whether or not couples can be married in the church, but even when same-sex couples are denied, they should still be able to go to the court house and find a Justice of the Peace, just like any other couple who doesn’t want a church wedding can do.

    Having a “Christian” definition of marriage, to me, raises up a bunch of other questions. Like, if marriage is a Christian institution, why are people not as angry when straight Muslim, Jewish, or atheist couples get married? What is it about same-sex couples, some of whom have been together for upwards of 30 years, destroying the “sanctity” of an institution that has a 60% divorce rate?

    As far as I’m aware, two people getting married has little to no effect on a massive organization like Christianity. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

  4. Dustin
    May 11th, 2012 at 23:25 | #4

    Great post, however, as the Bride of Christ, we, the Church must not give up the fight and resign ourselves to believing that same-sex marriage is inevitable, but continue to share God’s Word of Truth with those who have been swayed by the lies of the gay rights movement and continue to share God’s judgement against sin and the gospel of his forgiveness he so freely offers to all repentant sinners.

  5. Bryson Syliboy
    May 12th, 2012 at 01:58 | #5

    As a gay male, I totally disagree with your point you are making. It is just hateful and wrong. I hope you are ashamed of yourself. Marriage is about love, not about what is said in a fable written 2000 years ago. Hell, if we took that bible seriously, then women will still be property, if your brother died, then you’d have to marry his wife. You could keep slaves. Etc, etc. I can go on and on. Get over yourself, adapt to a constantly changing world, and admit that you are wrong on this issue.

  6. Matt
    May 12th, 2012 at 11:11 | #6

    As a homosexual man who believes that God created male and female for a reason and that my sexual desires do not, in fact, reflect the best blessings that God desires to shower on us, I wholeheartedly concur with your post.

    However, we need to keep in mind that the fight is not won with the Law. Neither the voting booth nor the greatest arguments of natural Law will win this battle. At best these things can only make non-Christians act like Christians without changing the heart and this is only temporary.

    I was very disappointed in the list of resources on same sex marriage earlier in the blog. Few of them actually discussed the place of the Gospel or the means of Grace in relationship to the same-sex marriage and homosexuality. The ones that did mention the Gospel included it only briefly. And the only one that mentioned the means of grace was the article by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan – and even then it was in a Law oriented manner. (I did not have time to watch the video resources however so this might not apply to them)

    I realize that the use of a false gospel by the ELCA has made us afraid of offering forgiveness without repentance. But, rather than putting down the sword of the Gospel, we should instead, have done a more complete and thorough job of presenting the true Gospel and the true means of grace.

    The Law when proclaimed without the Gospel does one of two things to me. It makes me believe that God is a cruel and unfair God who allows me to face sexual attractions I can not help and then withholds from me a blessing of family available to all other people. Or it convinces me that I am such a sinner that I can not be saved and so might as well find as much fun and companionship in this world as I can by seeking another man like myself with whom to share my life.

    It is the Gospel which says that Christ died in my place, the waters of baptism which tell me I am a child of God, and the table of the Lord’s Supper where I have a place in His family that tell me God loves me and that if He withholds from me through the Law a benefit others have then it is not because of hate or anger but out of Love, that in doing so He has a greater gift of some kind for me. When I feel I am standing alone because gay activists label people like me hypocrites and traitors who are deceiving ourselves and others speak with venom about “queers” and “fags” it is the Gospel which lets me know I am not alone.

    That being said, however, I think we need to be prepared to lose this battle temporarily. For many decades the evangelical branch of Christianity has taken an essentially Calvinistic approach to social issues, seeing the work of the Church as informing and guiding the state. This is a primarily Law approach. It is also the approach used by Focus on the Family and AFA the Ruth Institute. The Lutheran approach would be to proclaim the Law and the Gospel in regards to all issues, social, cultural, political and religious so that people may receive faith in Christ and as they live out their daily vocations as citizens and lawmakers they would apply their faith to their actions. Because of the last 40 years or so we are now at a point where only 20% of the population believe that their faith should influence their actions. Even if we were to adopt the correct approach today, it is unlikely we could stem the tide of cultural pressure. I think i can safely predict that same sex marriage will be a legal reality throughout the US in less than 10 years, probably in less than 5.

    As such, we may need to start discussing what we will do when this is a reality. Bryson makes the typical mistake of assuming that because the Bible regulates certain behavior God approved of that behavior. It would be the same as assuming that because the government regulates air pollution, legislators believe pollution is beneficial. It is precisely because it is harmful that it is regulated. We have to live with some in order to drive our cars and heat our homes. But the presence of regulations proclaims it is a bad thing. So also with the vast majority of laws in the OT. They are there not to approve of behavior but to regulate bad behavior within livable limits.

    We need to be thinking about what we will do when the government allows and regulates a sinful behavior. Will we simply moan about the horribleness of it? Or will we learn, as we have with abortion, to maintain a moral stand while proclaiming both Law and Gospel and offering alternatives in love? Given the differences in the way we have treated homosexuality and abortion, it is not surprising, perhaps, that support for abortion among our young people is waning while support for homosexuality is growing. So how can we take what we have learned in the fight against abortion and apply it to homosexuality?

    Your post is spot on but we need to take the next step and ask what will we do when we have lost this particular skirmish?

  7. May 12th, 2012 at 12:18 | #7

    As you can see in the post by Bryson Syliboy, the devil has placed a terrible deception upon the homosexuals. They have been blinded to the truth. For many years I have believed that homosexuality is not a psychological illness but is a spiritual disease. As it states in the Bible, they have believed in a lie and the truth is not in them. We, as christians, would not
    be helping them or loving them if we support their deception. We would be helping them damn themselves. We must lovingly assist them in turning their lives around and pray unceasingly for their conversion. We can hate the sin but love the sinners.

  8. Matt
    May 12th, 2012 at 13:15 | #8

    @Tim Strang
    Not helpful, Tim.

    Homosexuality may be called a spiritual disease only to the degree than any persistent temptation may be called such. The word homosexual simply means a person who faces one particular temptation rather than another. It is only within a small portion of the Church that it has come to mean a person who actually engages in sexual contact between two people of the same sex.

    There are nearly as many Christian homosexuals who believe that sex is to be reserved only for lifelong marriage between one man and one woman as there are homosexuals who believe that marriage between two people of the same sex is permissible. The only reason you don’t see those who hold to the biblical standard is because they tend to get attacked by both sides of the debate and so they keep quietly to themselves.

    Would you say that these men and women who acknowledge that their desire is not god-pleasing, who trust in Christ and who strive either to live celibately or to maintain a faithful marriage with someone of the opposite sex in spite of their desires is deceived or diseased?

    Would you say that Christ was deceived or diseased because he felt frequent and strong desires to forgo the cross?

    Would you say that Paul was diseased or deceived when he found himself filled with all kinds of lusts yet mourned this condition and longed for freedom? (Romans 7:8 – the word translated covetousness is the same Greek word often translated as lust)

    For that matter, would we not have to say that a boy who experiences sexual desire for women about once every 30 minutes (the median for a college male), eventually marries a woman and then has to spend the rest of his life fighting off unwanted sexual desires for women who are not his wife and believes this is healthy is deceived? Do we really believe this is the way God intended for sexual desire to work?

    Unfortunately it is statements such as the one you made that keep faithful repentant and believing men and women who face homosexual desires from being able to do the task they could do in witnessing to Christ’s mercy and power. Such statements as yours tell these people that the Body of Christ will neither support them nor stand behind them when the devil attacks and devours them.

  9. Stacy
    May 12th, 2012 at 14:19 | #9

    This is why I don’t go to church anymore… moral superiority by cherry picking biblical phrases to uphold and look down on others and deny them legal rights. I myself am heterosexual, yet I am deeply offended by this line of thinking. How many christians out there have ever been drunk? That was mentioned in the above passage too. And how exactly are homosexual relationships a “self-centered perversion of human sexuality”? Because the act is for pleasure and not procreation? Heterosexual couples only have sex for procreation?! Why don’t we just follow some of the other biblical passages like “love one another” and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. As has been pointed out in the above posts, homosexual couples are not asking to come into the church and enter a religious marriage. You can continue to deny them that right as long as you want, but let them have what they should be legally entitled to!

    • May 12th, 2012 at 17:50 | #10

      Stacy, I’m sorry to hear you don’t go to church anymore, and I hope that you will reconsider. We are all sinners supporting one another. Homosexual behaviors are sins that are rejected and condemned, as is drunkenness and being unloving.

      There’s always room for one more sinner, so I hope you come back!

  10. Matt
    May 13th, 2012 at 07:46 | #11

    @Stacy
    Sorry for posting yet again but I wanted to answer this one.

    Stacy, as I mentioned a couple posts back, I am homosexual….. and I do go to church – the LCMS, in fact. Why?

    1: Because it is not about what other Christians do or how they behave. It is about what Christ has done for me in dying on the cross and offering me his forgiveness and strength of faith freely in baptism and communion. If Christ desires to be among Christians in His Body and Blood then that is where I desire to be too.

    2: They are right. OK, sometimes they put it very badly and sometimes they condemn my sin more than their own. But I am still a sinner and in feeling sexual desire for someone of my own sex, I am, in fact, desiring something that God says “don’t do.” Sometimes those verses do get “cherry picked” but that doesn’t make them any less true or less the Word of God. I’d rather be with people who tell me the truth, even if they tell me badly, than among people who lie to me no matter how nicely they put it. Especially when after tell me the truth, they offer me the absolution of Christ and the Sacrament of the Altar.

    3: Being Christian is not only about receiving forgiveness but about sharing it as well, and that means forgiving my brothers and sisters in Christ too.

    4: Most Christians don’t mean to be unkind or unfair. They are really pretty nice people when you get to know them. Christians have accomplished some amazing things in this world and benefited this world in ways no other group of individuals have ever done. Yeah, sometimes they say stupid or thoughtless things – but that is a condition of being human. I say stupid and hurtful things sometimes too. Thankfully they forgive me and I have the opportunity to forgive them.

    5: I just plain don’t like living in the kind of anger and moral superiority I would have to hold on to in order to hate my fellow Christians enough to separate myself from them and from Christ’s sacraments.

  11. Jevon
    May 15th, 2012 at 22:51 | #12

    “I do not however often hear observations that take into account how, and why, same-sex marriage represents a fundamental perversion of the relationship between Christ and His Church.”ptmcain

    Why is this the case? Partly because pastors would rather appeal to natural law and first amendment freedoms rather than God’s Word. (See Marriage and Religious Freedom- An Open Letter from Religious Leaders, Cyberbrethren blog post dated 1/12/12.

    As I was told, we cannot quote the bible because “believing in the bible is a gift of the Holy Spirit about which natural man knows nothing.” On the basis of such a statement the relationship between Christ and the Church which Rev. McCain has so beautifully articulated is not a valid observation to make to our culture and society being that it has only been revealed to us through God’s Word.

    @Matt (post number 11)
    Thank you for your words. In my opinion it was one of the best comments ever written on this blog.

  12. Michael L. Anderson
    May 16th, 2012 at 21:55 | #13

    >>The Law when proclaimed without the Gospel does one of two things to me. It makes me believe that God is a cruel and unfair God who allows me to face sexual attractions I can not help and then withholds from me a blessing of family available to all other people. Or it convinces me that I am such a sinner that I can not be saved and so might as well find as much fun and companionship in this world as I can by seeking another man like myself with whom to share my life.<<

    The Law seems to be doing its job, then. I am heterosexual, but frankly, it is entirely natural for the children of Adam to think that God the Holy … He who perceivess all OUR "righteousness" as filthy rags … as impossibly tyrannical, cruel and (of course) "unfair." He the Potter is not playing by the pots' rules. If the Incarnate Word (which embodies both Law and Gospel) though we pots were helpless, alone and incapacitated in dealing with our urges and drives … why would He have us seriously pray to our Father, to deliver us from evil … which evil includes our personal demons? The blessing of family is NOT available to "all other people," whaterver one's focus of sexual attraction. In my practice, there are many people who find themselves shout out from society's support and nurtance, because of cognitive, psychological, financial or physical disability. Our dear Lord Himself was at one time rejected by members of His family, who apparently were driven to put Him away. Did St. Paul complain bitterly and publicly, because God's will entailed the absence of a nuclear family or a sexual partner?

    The Law certainly condemns us all as sinners … the homosexual is NOT unique in this respect … and further suggests that we arer doomed. left to ourselves. The conclusion that one can heal oneself, through seeking the arms of another sinner so as to eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die is a lie. Yes, we need a savior. No, another mortal is not the savior. The magnificent mystery of Christianity is the Jesus who's demands for holiness are ratcheted far beyond the demands of the Torah, or even the fabricated Christ of our fallen, libido-worshiping brains. The dear Lord called it adultery if the heterosexual merely looks at a woman, with lust in his heart. How tough, intolerant, inhuman … goodness, unhuman … cruel and unfair is that? The heterosexual male, with a hidden behavior dynamically interpreted as robustly "healthy" by this world, is condemned to hell without a proper and completely honest remorse, and a committment to the saving God to change the way he thinks and act. This crucified Lord of ours will be our judge, one day. He did not die to save us, to give a ticket to sin with a blithe spirit. He did not come to destroy the Law, he said, but to fulfill it. God the Potter's grace is infinite … thank God for that Gospel, but it is not left to the pot, to sin heedlessly to establish how infinite it can be. That is the pot, mugging the Potter. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is very much a sin, selfish, and self-centered. But we're all looking after our best interests, in truth, in our fevered pursuit of an easy Christianity free of personal suffering.

  13. Michael L. Anderson
    May 16th, 2012 at 22:21 | #14

    >>The Law when proclaimed without the Gospel does one of two things to me. It makes me believe that God is a cruel and unfair God who allows me to face sexual attractions I cannot help and then withholds from me a blessing of family available to all other people. Or it convinces me that I am such a sinner that I cannot be saved and so might as well find as much fun and companionship in this world as I can by seeking another man like myself with whom to share my life.<<

    The Law seems to be doing its job as planned, then. I am heterosexual as to sexual attraction, but frankly, it is entirely natural for all the children of Adam to think that God the Holy … He who perceives all OUR "righteousness" as filthy rags … as impossibly tyrannical, cruel and (of course) "unfair." See, the bossy and distant Potter is not playing by the pots' rules. But if the Incarnate Word (Who embodies both Gospel and Law, therefore) thought we pots were fully helpless, incapacitated and yes, ALONE in dealing with our straying urges and drives … why would He urge us to pray to our Father, to deliver us from evil … which evil includes our personal demons? It needs to be stressed that the blessing of family is NOT available to "all other people," whatever one's focus of sexual attraction. In my practice, there are many people who find themselves shut out from society's support and nurturance, because of severe cognitive, psychological, financial or physical disability. Our dear Lord Himself was at one time rejected by members of His family, members of which apparently were driven to put Him away in the first century equivalent of restraints. Did St. Paul the Apostle complain bitterly and publicly, because God's will entailed the absence of a nuclear family or a sexual partner? He may have had thoughts along these lines, but apparently not while under the direct tutelage of the Holy Ghost, while at his desk.

    The Law certainly condemns us all as sinners … the homosexual is NOT unique in this respect … and further suggests that we are doomed, if left to ourselves and our sin drenched strategies to build Towers of Babel and our compensatory versions of the one-flesh family. The conclusion that one can heal (or intoxicate) oneself, through seeking the arms of another sinner so as to “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is a lie. Yes, we need a savior. No, yet another mortal in bed is not the savior. The magnificent mystery of Christianity is the real Jesus whose demands for holiness are ratcheted up far beyond the demands of the Torah, and certainly the fabricated Christ of our fallen, libido-worshiping brains. The dear Lord called it adultery if the heterosexual merely LOOKS at a woman, with lust in his heart. How tough, intolerant, inhuman … goodness, UNhuman … cruel and unfair is that? The heterosexual male, with a hidden behavior dynamically interpreted as robustly "healthy" by this world, is condemned to hell without a proper and completely honest remorse, and a commitment to the saving God to change the way he thinks and act. This crucified Lord of ours will be our judge, one day. He will return. And He did not die to save us, simply to give a ticket to sin with a blithe spirit. He did not come to destroy the Law, He said, but to fulfill it. God the Potter's grace is infinite … thank God for that Gospel but it is not left to the poor deluded pot, to sin heedlessly so as to establish just how infinite it can be. That is the pot, mugging the Potter for advantage. And that act, ladies and gentlemen, is very much a sin, selfish, and the essence of being self-centered. But we're all looking after our best interests, in truth, in our fevered pursuit of an easy Christianity free of personal suffering.

  14. Matt
    May 17th, 2012 at 11:13 | #15

    @Michael L. Anderson
    I find it interesting that when I mentioned what the Law without the Gospel does you then preceded to present Law without Gospel.

    Your post can be taken in two different ways:

    1: you were agreeing with me about what the law does and were illustrating my point, if so, then thank you.

    or

    2: you believed I was trying to say something I did not say, that the Gospel invalidates the Law. I did not say will never say that. The Law remains the Law both before and after conversion. The difference is that the old man hates the law and seeks to circumvent it while the new man loves the law and seeks to both celebrate and keep it.

    If the second option is the correct one then there are some troubling things in your post.

    Foremost, in the Gospel as you presented it, the burden of salvation is placed upon our own work, first in “proper and completely honest remorse” and secondly in “a commitment to the saving God to change the way (the individual) thinks and act.”

    You included the 2nd use of the Law (which brings us to remorse) and the 3rd use of the Law (to guide the action of the believer) but completely skipped over the Gospel of the full forgiveness of sins which provides the fulfillment to the 2nd use and the motivation for the 3rd use.

    Altogether you post is an excellent example of the point I was trying to make that the liberal churches attempt to preach Gospel without Law while many conservative christians proclaim law without Gospel. Both approaches are a “preaching to itching ears” and both approaches leave the sinner to die in his sin.

    The correct approach is to preach both Law and Gospel. Not either/or but both – always.

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