LCMS president Matthew Harrison has issued a response to the Supreme Court marriage ruling. It’s a strong statement, but what’s most striking and surprising, coming from a Lutheran with a Two Kingdoms theology, is his quotation of the anti-Nazi theologian Hermann Sasse on signs that the state has lost its Romans 13 legitimacy. President Harrison concludes that “Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state.”
Is he saying that the United States government is no longer legitimate? Wouldn’t that mean we don’t have to follow any of the laws it passes? The Lutheran theology of culture, the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, has sometimes been interpreted to mean that God rules through the state, so that we need to submit to the secular authorities no matter what. But I think the Two Kingdoms offers a mechanism for critiquing the state. If God is the King, hidden in secular institutions and vocations but working through them with His moral law, then states and rulers who repudiate that moral law are in rebellion against His kingship. Right? But presumably He would still be working through them, despite themselves, in other ways, so that Christians would still be obliged to submit to their authority where it doesn’t conflict with God’s Word.
How else might a Two Kingdoms approach to the gay marriage decision help us navigate these controversies? Read President Harrison’s statement, after the jump. What do you think about it? What else might be said?