An Ordered Difference
Thursday of Pentecost 17
20 September 2018
Parenthood establishes all authority on earth. When that authority is flouted great damage occurs. I remember walking through our school hall one evening after school and seeing a four-year-old striking his mother and the mother permitting him to do so. Of course, he could do little damage to the adult; however, he was doing damage to himself by rebelling against proper authority and bruising the ordered relationship between himself and his parent as established by God. Did he know that was what he was doing? No, of course not. The parent should. The parent had no right to indulge the child's rebellious behavior.
The office of parent is the office of dictator, albeit a benevolent dictator, but dictator nonetheless. Children obey parents. Any other order creates chaos. We see this chaos especially in families where parents obey children, or in families where parents are themselves still children. We know what happens in human relations when nobody is in charge, or everybody is in charge; people do what is right in their own eyes, often to the hurt of others and society as a whole. This can be exhibited either in promiscuous looting or in promiscuous sexual practice or promiscuous complaining against authority. There are plenty of ways we can dishonor God's patterns of authority.
One of the myths of our culture is that equality in God's sight necessarily gives us absolute freedom over against each other to do as we please. If nothing else, our own experience ought to disabuse us of this notion. It is certainly easy to snipe and gripe from the sidelines about what our leaders are doing, whether they be parents, government authorities or church leaders. But the simple fact is that God has placed parents and other authorities in charge of us and over us. Those who have authority over us are not better than us, or smarter than us, or holier than us; they're just in charge.
This ordered authority does not change our relationship with God. In God's eyes we are all equal in our relationship to Him. However, over against each other and in relation to each other in God's creation we are not all equal. Some are in charge and others are to show to honor and respect to those who are in charge. All external human relations are a matter of inequality and ordered difference. God has so ordained it this way. For the good of our society we need to live and practice this way and impress this principle upon our children.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"We must, therefore, impress this truth upon the young (Deut 6:7) that they should think of their parents is standing in God's place. They should remember that however lowly, poor, frail, and strange their parents may be, nevertheless, they are the father and the mother given to them by God. Parents are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore, we are not to consider who they are or how they may be, but the will of God, who has created and ordained parenthood. In other respects people are, indeed, all equal in God's eyes. But among humans they must necessarily be this inequality and ordered difference. Therefore, God commands this order to be kept, but you obey me as your father (Mt 5:48), and that I have the supremacy."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 1.108
Matthew 5:17-20

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (ESV)
Lord Christ, You placed Yourself under the authorities of the world in Your earthly life and You have told us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Send Your Holy Spirit to us that we might bend our will to Yours and show proper honor and respect to parents and other authorities. Amen.
For Sophia Benton, that she may grow and be strengthened in her body and spirit in the home of her loving family

For the families who are traveling back into communities ravaged by Hurricane Florence, that they would be kept safe in their travels and given strength to recover and help their neighbors
For the President of the United States, the governor of the North Carolina, and all other elected and appointed government officials responding to the devastation of hurricane Florence, that they would be upheld in every good work and respond appropriately to the needs of desperate people
For all who are traveling, that the holy angels would guard them and guide their ways
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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