Dr. Gerald Kieschnik, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) denomination, issued a statement Wednesday announcing the LCMS's commitment to support marriage amendments on the ballots in three states Nov. 4.
In Florida, voters will decide on Amendment 2, while in Arizona it's Proposition 102. If these initiatives pass, marriage in those states would be defined as a union between one man and one woman. In the state that's garnering the most attention on this issue, California, the passing of Proposition 8 there would eliminate existing legislation that allows same-sex couples to marry.
At a press conference at LCMS headquarters in St. Louis Wednesday, Kieschnik said the church is "facing a highly significant battle" in regard to the definition of marriage and that the leaders of the LCMS "will do all they can to protect marriage between a man and a woman."
He went on to explain biblical and social reasons for the sanctity of marriage. "Children do best when raised by a loving mother and father," he said, giving one example.
As for the concerns of "libertarian-minded" Christians who say a civil marriage is not the same as a religious one, Kieschnik replied that "marriage is marriage." He went on to say that the definition of marriage for a thousand years has always been between a man and a woman. "If same-sex marriage is recognized as legal, undoubtedly it won't stop there," said Kieschnik. "Schools will teach same-sex marriage as just as valid as what we understand marriage to be."
He also urged Christians to educate and inform themselves on the issues, but made it clear that he was not telling people how to vote. Instead he emphasized that the issue of defining marriage was an important one, and one that would affect generations to come.
Concerning the church's role in such battles, Kierschnik said that "when it's not necessary for the church to speak, it is necessary for the church not to speak," but that he believed that confronting the issue of the definition of marriage was not one of those times. He urged Christians to let their voices be heard on the issue and to "cast [their] vote according to their conscience on Nov. 4."