Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Living out God’s good gift of life

The Rev. Arnold Lemke is the director of education for Christian Life Ministries (CLM), a local organization associated with the national Christian Life Resources, a ministry of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) that addresses what are generally called “life issues.” The local group was formerly called Lutherans For Life, but that caused confusion because a larger pan-Lutheran group with the same name is often more visible.

The Rev. Arnold Lemke

According to an informational brochure, CLM’s mission is “to save the least of Christ’s brothers (unborn, pregnant mothers, elderly, infirm, mentally handicapped, etc.) for time and eternity by:

* proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in a personal way,

* teaching the truth of God’s Word to all people regarding the sanctity of human life,

* developing and supporting programs that protect and maintain human life.”

CLM is more involved in education and program development and puts less emphasis on advocacy than the pan-Lutheran Lutherans For Life. Instead, Lemke sees his role as teaching Biblical values so people can make good decisions for themselves concerning how to respond. Lemke is more likely to offer adult forums or Bible studies for congregations in the WELS Minnesota District, or to preach at WELS or ELS congregations, than to address a demonstration.

“Religious folks do have a role of influence on life issues,” Lemke explained, “but not to ‘baptize’ our own ideas, … [and] forget the word of forgiveness for those who have repented and already been forgiven by God.”

CLM provides crisis pregnancy counseling and support for unmarried mothers, as well as teen pregnancy prevention programming.

Lemke leads a Bible study on issues regarding life at Redeeming Grace Lutheran Church (ELS), in Rogers, Minnesota. Metro Lutheran photos: Bob Hulteen

“Life issues are so polarizing that we push them off to the side and don’t want to deal with them,” Lemke told a Bible study class at Redeeming Grace Lutheran Church (ELS), in Rogers, Minnesota, early in the fall. “But life is a gift to us [from God], and therefore it is sacred.”

Lemke relies heavily on Biblical passages when addressing issues around life, but refrains from proof-texting. He is more comfortable drawing on themes than in finding saints and villains in the stories. That doesn’t mean he is a relativist though. “Study will bring one to the right decisions,” he believes.

Lemke used three examples of circumstances within his family — an ectopic pregnancy, in vitro fertilization, and an end-of-life situation — to illustrate the difficulty of decision-making in life and death situations. At the beginning of his presentation, he offered the basic stories, challenging his listeners to think about how they would respond. He then closed his talk with the resolutions to each situation. In each case, there was a slight twist, often demonstrating how difficult, and important, these decisions are.

For more information on Christian Life Ministries and its programs, visit the Web site: www.clmonline.com.

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