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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

11 July 2008

Pro-Adultery Pastor?

Q: Help me understand the Lutheran position on the sanctity of marriage. My husband is engaged in a long term affair with the daughter of a Lutheran minister. The minister accepts this situation, and, in fact, has been actively involved in thwarting attempts to reconcile the marriage. The minister called my husband, telling him he is the only one who can help his daughter get her life straight. While not a Lutheran, I am a Christian. I pray for the restoration of my marriage, but the “girlfriend” — with the help of her family — seems determined. Does your church condone this sort of behavior?

Marriage CrossA: “Does [our] church condone this sort of behavior?”

No, it doesn’t! No branch of Lutheranism sanctions or encourages adultery. We confess all of Scripture, including the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14 et al.)” As Martin Luther explained, this means, “We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse. (Small Catechism)” Nothing of this situation smacks of being “chaste and decent.”

Unless you’ve omitted some essential information, I cannot see how this pastor can claim to be in the right. It further bothers me that one who should know better posits a married man as the only one able to aid his daughter. Either she truly has unique problems which no one else can address (!) or else this pastor is horribly mistaken about marriage, counseling, and God’s Word.

Broken HeartAs I suggest to others experiencing difficult relationships with ministers, if you cannot achieve consensus and harmony, try to work through the pastor’s theological overseer. Depending upon the church’s governance, this may be a circuit counselor, bishop, district president, or other official. I encourage visiting with him one more time and if he persists in clinging to such unbiblical ideas, tell him that you’re going to do as I’ve recommended, then do just that.

Meaning of the Sixth Commandment quoted from The Small Catechism of Martin Luther, a public domain text.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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