God has given all earthly governments the duty to: "...punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good" (1 Peter 2:14). God has given all Christians the duty to: "be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Romans 13:1). The only time we can disobey governments is what they try to force us to do evil. As Peter said when he and John were told not to teach in the name of Jesus: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Christians are called to many different vocations besides the vocation of disciple and believer. We are also called to be spouses, parents, employers, employees and neighbors. One of our important vocations is that of citizen. On this page we will provide information that will help you carry out the vocation of citizen. We encourage all our members to be informed about our world, nation and state; to pray for leaders and citizens; and, as much as possible, to influence the world, nation and state toward that which is good and just that we might "... lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:2-4).
Whenever we vote we have the opportunity to choose leaders for our local, state and federal governments. Voting is an important responsiblity for Christians. Some issues do not directly affect our Christian faith and are matters of reason and not of Scripture. There are issues however that Christians should support and about which they should be concerned because they are taught in the Bible. Before you vote you should find out where the candidates you are being asked to elect stand on important issues. Here are some questions that you should ask:
1. Do they support the life of the unborn and oppose the practice of abortion? This is a matter of life and of the Fifth Commandment: "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:16).
2. Do they support the Biblical marriage: A lifelong union of one man and one woman. This is a matter of the Sixth Commandment: "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14; Genesis 1:27; 2:23-25; Mark 10:6).
3. Do they support laws that recognize the natural differences between men and women and the natural relationships between men and women? This is a matter of creation (Romans 1:18-32).
4. Do they support the free exercise of religion including the right of artists, bakers, florists, and pastors to not to be involved in or support ceremonies they find morally objectionable such as gay marriages? (Matthew 22:21; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29)
5. Do they support laws that punish and oppose racial discrimination? Do they oppose laws that promote racism such as the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools and other government institutions?
Last of all: Before you vote, pray for God to work through our electoral process to give us leaders who fear God and respect His laws and for citizens who will do the same. Pray that all Christians would not only keep all God-pleasing laws but even surpass them in their desire to love God and their neighbors as themselves!
These questions were prepared by Pastor Walther. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On January 6, 2021 the United States Congress met to certify the election of President Joe Biden. This is normally a ceremonial procedure. President Trump led a very large rally on the same day in Washington claiming that the election was unlawful because of voter fraud. Some of these protestors then went to the capitol building to protest the certification. Some of these protestors unlawfully entered the capitol building either to protest or to interrupt the certification. Whether or not any election is lawful or unlawful is a serious matter and must be treated with thorough investigation and just determination. To what extent this was done or not done will remain a matter of debate for many years. There is no doubt that the 2020 election was one of the most unusual elections in American history because of all the Covid exceptions and considerations. To protest lawfully is the right of every citizen. To try to overthrow an election by breaking the law is as wrong as voter fraud. Christians can not support either. We must oppose these actions just as we opposed the unlawful activities of some of the summer anti-police protesters of 2021. (Pastor Michael P. Walther, 11/4/22. Note: The final report of The United States House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will probably not be released until the end of 2022.)
Pastor Michael P. Walther, April 10, 2021
March 18, 2021
The Equality Act seeks to overcome discrimination of people who live by the LGBTQ lifestyle. The bill calls marriage between a man and a woman (Biblical marriage) a "sex stereotype." Yet any lifestyle can become a matter of discrimination when people are forced to accept it. The bill also redefines "public accommodations" very broadly, and provides no freedom for church and church-based ministries to uphold Biblical marriage.
For more information on this legislation, including links to the text and other commentaries, see LCMS President Matthew Harrison's response.
February 5, 2021
Dr. Carmen I. Ayala said in a February 1, 2021 press release that some of the standards proposed in the original draft were perceived at "political." But the revised version is still vague and open to different interpretations. We should be glad that public schools are trying to teach ethics, but whose ethics will they teach?
January 12, 2021
This past year we have seen numerous riots in cities such as Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Portland, Kenosha, and Washington D.C., etc. The freedom of speech is one of the most important freedoms. It is especially important to Christians since we know that words have the power to transform. The Gospel has the power to bring faith and salvation. Citizens should exercise the right to protest injustice, but they should not abuse that freedom by striking out in anger to murder and destroy. In sermon from July 19, 2020 I quoted Psalm 86.14 “O God, the proud have risen against me. And a mob of violent men has sought my life, and have not set You before them.” Mobs have not "set God before them." In my Epiphany sermon this year I said, "No one fixes injustice with more injustice." Riots are not about getting rid of injustice, they are about revenge, and Christians can have no part of that. We need to pray for our country that it will preserve the freedom of speech, and that it will find good ways to discuss, debate, draft, and enforce laws that will bring about better justice. (Pastor Walther, 1/12/21)
October 27, 2020
On October 18, 2020 Pastor Walther preached a sermon titled "Rendering to Caesar and to God."God is in control of both both the church and the state, and we must rely on God's word to guide us in both realms. In Matthew 22, the Pharisees were demanding that Jesus had to choose loyalty to one or the other. Sometimes people today try to do the same thing by telling us that our faith can have nothing to do with our politics. In this sermon Pastor Walther four ways that our faith affects our politics.
1. We pray for our leaders.
“I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority...” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Notice that Paul says prayer is of "first" importance. More effort should be given to pray for our politicians than complaining about them or working to get them elected or unelected.
2. We do good works for our neighbors.
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). When Jesus, Peter, and Paul talked about Christians living in the world, they always emphasized the importance of good works. Our good works are a blessing to our neighbors, and they are one of the most influential things that we can do for our state and country.
3. We cast "sanctified" votes.
By "sanctified," I mean a vote that is guided by God's word. Some people vote only for their own "belly." They vote for whatever will make them a little richer. Christians should vote for a country that will not hinder the preaching of the Gospel and help in the keeping of the Ten Commandments. No other voter guide is really necessary for Christians. For all leaders and political issues, we should just ask, "How does this affect the preaching the Gospel and the keeping of the Ten Commandments?" Here are a few examples:
Respect for Faith: Will this or that leader respect the freedom of religion, or will they support efforts to coerce Christians to accept some other form of morality or faith?
Respect for Life: How does this or that leader look at life? Do they see it the same way God does... That life and soul begin at conception and remain together until death? That no human being should be killed for the sake of convenience either before they are born or because they have become a burden?
Respect for Marriage: God created marriage when He created Adam and Eve. Marriage is the livelong union of a man and woman. We should never choose a leader who goes against this most fundamental truth of God's word.
Respect for the Poor: Jesus said that we will always have the poor. But He didn't say this as an excuse for not helping them. We need to elect leaders who will keep the poor from being cheated, help those who can't help themselves, but not help those who can help themselves.
Respect Private Property: The Seventh Commandment says, "You shall not steal." That means God allows people to be managers or stewards of their life and work. But some politicians want the state to have control over what is produced and how that is distributed to everyone.
4. We honor our leaders.
Peter said, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). Although we have the privilege of casting ballots for our leaders in this country, we still believe that God ultimately gives us our leaders. Peter said we should honor the king, even a king as wicked as Emperor Nero. We submit to them as long as they do not try to force us to sin.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Planned Parenthood “mega-clinic’ which opened this October in Fairview Heights, ready to perform same-day abortions through the 24th week of pregnancy & planning to see up to 11,000 women each year. This new facility, just 7 miles from the doors of our church & school, is part of Planned Parenthood’s effort to make Illinois the abortion capital of the Midwest, bringing women in from all across the region & surrounding states. The CEO of PP in St. Louis stated “...we look forward …to ensure every person can control their reproductive destiny.” Unfortunately, nearly 11,000 unborn babies will have no control over their destiny.
Good Shepherd has a long-standing & ongoing relationship with Mosaic Pregnancy Health Center, which has served tens of thousands of women, men & teenagers in the Metro-East with pregnancy-related health services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting classes, & emotional & spiritual support for both mothers & babies. Mosaic is sharing the truth about life & the hope that comes only from Jesus. In direct response the opening of the PP mega-clinic in Fairview Heights, Mosaic is relocating their Belleville office to a great new location in Fairview Heights, opening early 2020, just two miles from the new mega-clinic. They chose to buy this building instead of renting as it is more cost-effective, but they need our help. They have already secured $50,000, but need $50,000 more to make it a reality. The Life Team of Good Shepherd would like to join other like-minded local churches to help make that a reality, & we need your help! Envelopes that can be used for a special offering for Mosaic to assist with the purchase of this building are available on the table in the Narthex. Please join us in this effort by placing this envelope with your contribution in the offering plate by December 8. There will still be a baby bottle offering in January to assist Mosaic with their ongoing needs as they continue to serve the women of our area. Thank you for your prayerful consideration! Good Shepherd Life Team (November 2019)
There are two very troubling bills currently in committee at the IL House of Representatives. One of them (HB2495) would liberalize the state's abortion laws to include not only partial-birth abortion, but also the possibility of killing surviving babies. It would further require every health insurance policy to cover abortion costs, and allow non-physicians to perform abortions. The other bill (HB2467) would allow teenagers to undergo abortion procedures without any parental notification.
If you would like to contact your state representative, that information may be found at this website: https://www.elections.il.gov/districtlocator/addressfinder.aspx
(If your representative is Katie Stuart, her email is: email@example.com)
You may also fill out a witness slip at this location: https://www.gsslcms.org/opposehb2495
As always, we encourage you to pray for the leaders of both our state and country, that they would act in accordance with God's will to praise the good and punish evil.
In addition, there will be a Prayer Service held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 220 South 2nd St, Springfield (just across the street from the capitol to the north and east), 11:30-noon on Wednesday, March 20th. Central Illinois District President Mark Miller will be preaching at the Prayer Service. The church will also be open during the day for prayer. (Pastor Adle, March 15, 2019)
I was visiting with a church member the other day, and he asked me what the church's stand on Trump was. My reply was along these lines: The LCMS has no official (or non-official) stance on Trump (nor does Good Shepherd).
In line with the scriptures, we are to pray for our rulers, and honor them according to the 4th commandment. But that does not require us to vote for a specific candidate. I did tell him that, in my observation, several people vote according to which candidate they think will appoint Supreme Court justices who they feel may overturn Roe v. Wade, and that this concern may lead them to vote the way they do.
But I also said that others may decline to vote for a candidate if they do not feel he will be able to do the job of president adequately, or if they do not trust that the candidate is telling the truth. Some may think that a candidate is arrogant and full of hot air -- fine, there is no need to support him. Others may judge the man differently, or think these characteristics may be outweighed by other factors, and vote for him.
I added that Christians are free to disagree about certain matters debated in public. Abortion breaks the 5th Commandment, so that is not one of these areas. But take, for instance, immigration reform, or building a wall. There is no command in the scriptures that says countries must have a wall, or says they must not have one. Israel did not have a wall around it (that we know of), although the book of Nehemiah does talk about re-building a wall around Jerusalem. Christians may have honest discussion and disagreement about whether or not this is a good idea for the US.
As is the case with many people in public office (or life generally), we will probably find that we like some of what an official does, and dislike other things he does. Here is a prayer that we have used before in the service (and is similar to others we pray): "Almighty God, Your power is greater than all the might of man. Give to us faithful leaders in every place who will love what You command and hate what You forbid. Bless those who make, administer and judge our laws, and create in us both the desire and will to be good citizens, obeying all just laws and serving our neighbor in love. Amen." (Pastor Adle, March 15, 2019)
HR 6157 Gives Support for Planned Parenthood
HR 6157 has passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin. This Bill is an appropriations bill which is labeled as an extension of funding for Defense Department measures, but like so many other bills it has dozens of other measures within. Included is upwards of $500 million in funds for Planned Parenthood. If you are led to do so, you may contact the White House and urge President Trump to veto this or any Bill which contains taxpayer funding for abortion providers.
The LCMS Files an Amicus Brief for New California Law
In response to a California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide information and contacts to abortion providers, the Synod has filed an amicus brief in a law suit that will be going before the US Supreme Court. "No one should be forced to provide free advertising for the abortion industry -- least of all pro-life pregnancy centers," said Michael Farris, the President and General Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who is representing the pregnancy centers in the case.
This is yet another case the Synod has participated in during recent years. Although this law suit does not feature an LCMS entity, it is a matter which will affect pregnancy centers supported by Lutherans all over the US.
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