“The instant we resign is the time we move into the bleacher seats of our culture and we simply watch the world unfold before us. We watch the Christian concepts of marriage and morality be vandalized at every turn,” Dr. Beverly Yahnke, executive director for Christian Counsel for DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care Counsel and professor of Psychology /Chair of Social Sciences, Concordia University Wisconsin.
Speaking at this week’s conference, “Speaking the Truth in Love: A Compassionate Response to Same Sex Attraction and Same Sex Marriage,” Yahnke told the gathering of some 160 attendees, “Every single Christian family, every single Christian marriage constituents a counter-cultural movement. Every time the man sitting next to you wearing a wedding ring smiles at you: that is a fabulous counter-cultural statement. . . . Sometime it’s easy to be anti-something: anti-gay, anti-homosexual. I’d encourage us to be who we are proudly and boldly. We are pro-marriage, pro-family, pro-mom, pro-dad until death do us part.”
Recalling the early beginning of the right-to-life movement, Yahnke explained, “Those people who stood up to protect pre-born lives were called ‘anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-justice.’ Christians spoke and they wrote and they prayed and they convened think tanks and they demonstrated. . . . and they were willing to be at the forefront of a very unpopular movement: right to life. Pastors preached, teachers taught, and Christians held fast to life. They would not surrender. They would not be silent. But in the interval of the last 10 years, more state laws have been passed protecting pre-born children than in the previous thirty years combined. People matter. We have the capacity to speak our truth clearly and without apology.”
“Fewer people are bothering to marry,” she noted. “The proportion of Americans marrying has been decreasing for a decade. . . . Marriage is no longer a societal expectation for young people, young adults.” In fact, “Only 16 percent of single Americans say that they’re looking for a lifelong partner. We need to be pro-mother married to pro-father to create pro-child environments.”
Speaking to how to encourage the Church’s young people in the importance of marriage, Yahnke said, “Average marriages last 7-10 years. Go home and kiss your spouse and thank God for him or her! But cohabitation is now proceeding or following divorce. It’s routine. 40-50 percent of couples are step-couples. One out of three marriages today forms a brand-new step couple. We need to teach out families, ensuring that gatherings like Higher Things or our LCMS youth gatherings or the new LCMS U are rich and full with a biblical understanding of God’s plan for marriage, for sexuality. There is much for us to do!”
Beyond these issues, Yahnke spoke about the impact of a two-mother or two-father home in which children are raised. “What is the effect of gay marriage on the nurture of a child?” Yahnke ultimately queried. “As Christians we know that children raised in a homosexual marriage will have very little understanding of what Christian marriage is all about. A godly perspective of sexuality will be missing, and their ability to make lifelong relationships will be limiting. ”
Ultimately, she said, Christians can and must continue to speak the truth in love regarding homosexual behavior. “We aren’t anti-gay,” she reminded the crowd. “We are pro-children, pro-family. The church is not anti-homosexual; it is anti-homosexual behavior. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the people in our churches who are living celibate homosexual lives, we want to wrap the Gospel of Jesus Christ around them.”