Family Resources for Discussing God's Plan for Sexuality | Michigan District, LCMS

Family Resources for Discussing God's Plan for Sexuality

In an effort to aid those who work with children, youth, and families in the congregation and in response to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on marriage, a special task force was assembled to compile resources to aid families and congregations in ministry, the Michigan District assembled a task force of two teachers, two Directors of Christian Education/Family Life, and two pastors to identify resources to help children, youth, and families understand God’s will concerning marriage and same-sex attraction and live faithfully in today’s society – in the world but not of the world. It is our prayer that these resources assist your clear teaching and proclamation of the truths of God’s Word. May God richly bless your sharing and living the Gospel message of God’s love in Christ. - Rev. Galan D. Walther

Sections of Resources

Teaching Your Family About Biblical Truth:

Barry, A.L. What about... Christian Families? A 2-page document (PDF) written by former LCMS President, Dr. A.L. Barry, highlighting what God intends for families and how they can best respond to the many challenges that confront them.

Foley, Avery. “KidsAnswers: Who Sets the Rules?” Answers in Genesis. May 25, 2015. See the accompanying download of “Truth Verses.”

“KidsAnswers: The Bible is Reliable.” Answers in Genesis. August 19, 2009. Many reasons exist for why we believe the Bible and all that it contains.

Lee, Cameron. Beyond Family Values. Downers Grove, IL, Intervarsity Press, 1998. For most of the 1990s, “family values” was a matter of national debate. In this book, Lee challenges this “value language” as modernist and subjective, believing that Christian families should focus instead on cultivating virtue, and specifically “Christian” virtue.

Mason, Mike. The Mystery of Children: What Our Kids Teach Us about Childlike Faith. Colorado Springs, CO, WaterBrook Press, 2007. The Mystery of Children illuminates key spiritual truths modeled in the complex parent-child relationship. More than a manual on parenting, this book is for everyone who wishes to become childlike in heart or to be closer to children—two desires that are intimately and wondrously entwined. 

Sengele, Mark. Pulse 057: The B-I-B-L-E. St. Louis, MO, Concordia Publishing House, 2010. 2-page PDF. Young people often want to know if the Bible is reliable: Does it really do what it says? Students begin by viewing a portion of an interview on The Cobert Report with author Bart Ehrman. Through this study, participants will explore the reliability of Scripture and understand that “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).

Teaching Your Family About God’s Plan for Marriage

Allender, Dan & Longman, Tremper. Intimate Allies: Rediscovering God’s Design for Marriage and Becoming Soul Mates for Life. American Association of Christian Counselors, 1999. In Intimate Allies, counselor Dan Allender and theologian Tremper Longman III merge their minds and skills to strip away cultural expectations and take a fresh look at God’s design for the marriage relationship. The authors focus on five foundations taken from Genesis 1-3 and include an extensive review of other biblical passages on marriage. Rev. Dr. Bryan Salminen says, “The very best book I have read, integrating sound psychological principles within a Christ-centered biblical framework. Each chapter has study questions for people to consider.”

Balswick, Jack & Balswick, Judy. The Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Publishing Group, 2014. The fourth edition of this proven resource discusses current family-related issues. It brings a well-written Christian perspective on the home and family.

Dawn, Marva J. Is it a Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. Consumer review: “This book provides a greater biblical understanding of children and how they fit in God’s kingdom. [It] does a great job of parsing out the obstacles and worldliness that confront children and those seeking to raise them in the Lord, i.e. technology, consumerism, sexual immorality, and violence. It has as one of its main themes ‘Being the Church’—by which Dawn means creating an alternative parallel society as compared to the world ruled by the ‘principalities and powers’ in various idolatries.”

Gresch, Dannah. What are you waiting for? The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex. Colorado Springs, CO, WaterBrook Press, 2011. This book tackles issues of lesbianism and what people don’t usually talk about concerning sex. Author Dannah Gresch also has a website ( where she blogs openly and honestly about the truth of God’s Word regarding sexual purity from a young age—from how one dresses and acts to how to respond to alternative sexual lifestyles. Her books are great guides for parents and young adults that may struggle with how to respond to recent societal boundaries.

LCMS Life Library - Marriage is a collection of articles in PDF format, covering a variety of topics on marriage.

Waite, Linda & Gallagher, Maggie. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially. Broadway Books, 2001. A groundbreaking look at marriage, one of the most basic and universal of all human institutions, which reveals the emotional, physical, economic, and sexual benefits that marriage brings to individuals and society as a whole.

Talking With Your Family About Sexuality

On Marriage

Rev. Dr. Todd A. Biermann

On Relationships

Rev. Dr. Todd A. Biermann

On Love

Rev. Dr. Todd A. Biermann


Dawn, Marva J. Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy. Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993. Short but powerfully written book about the biblical truth and understanding of sexuality.

Family Life series on purity for teens: FamilyLife has developed Passport2Purity® (P2P) to assist you in building heart-to-heart communication with your preteen while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the turbulent years ahead. Through the shared listening experience, object lessons and guided conversations of a P2P weekend getaway, you can set your son or daughter on a journey of moral integrity—and strengthen the bond between you.

Hall, Laurie. An Affair of the Mind. Focus on the Family Publishing, 1996. Laurie Hall’s story reveals pornography’s subversive side and offers comfort, encouragement, insight, and a plan of action to women whose husbands are addicted.

McMinn, Lisa G. Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World. San Francisco, CA, Jossey Bass, 2004. Conservative psychologist and theologian McMinn constructs the case for a holy longing.

Roberts, Ted. Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free From Sexual Temptation. Bloomington, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 2008. Here is hope for breaking free from sexual bondage. Learn how to establish healthy personal boundaries with proven, practical applications to claim Christ’s healing power and presence. Discover how you can start walking in victory today!

Schnarch, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. New York, NY, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2009. Written from a secular perspective, some readers may struggle with his language and ideas. However, this is some of the best work done on what it means to be well-defined in a marriage.  Outstanding read, just be mindful of his orientation—a secular writer.

Schnarch, David & Maddock, James. Resurrecting Sex: Solving Sexual Problems and Revolutionizing Your Relationship. New York, NY, Harper Collins, 2003. Again, outstanding work as long as you can set aside the authors’ secular perspective.

Talley, Jim & Reed, Bobby. Too Close Too Soon: Avoiding the Heartache of Premature Intimacy. Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1990.

Thomas, Gary. Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2015. A Roman Catholic theologian, Thomas does an outstanding job of elevating the position of marriage.

Tissot, Bob. Purity & Holiness: A Biblical Perspective on Sexuality and Relationships. Counselor, former high school and college basketball coach, now director of Bair Lake Bible camp, Tissot, in a creative way, addresses teenagers’ sexual desires and how to channel those passions in godly ways. He is available for speaking at churches and he is better in person than in his writing.

West, Christopher. Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution, Revised Edition. West Chester, PA, Ascension Press, 2009. Rev. Dr. Bryan Salminen says, “The very best book I have read on this topic. It is a basic primer of former Pope John Paul II’s writing on the body.”


Eyer, Dr. Richard C. Our Gay Neighbors. The Lutheran Witness, August 2009.

Johnson, Jesse. Homosexuality: Six Ways to Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin. The Cripplegate, May 2013. Blog article with practical tips.

How to Talk to Your Children About Homosexuality. Article from Focus on the Family giving practical advice and pointing to additional resources.

Yarhouse, Mark A. and resources and blogs concerning sexuality and the church’s responses. Some of the articles include: Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends; Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture; and Understanding Sexual Identity: A resource for Youth Ministry— honest, accurate answers to questions about homosexuality including recent research.

Yarhouse, Mark A. Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 2015. Few topics are more contested today than gender identity. In the fog of the culture war, complex issues like gender dysphoria are reduced to slogans and sound bites. And while the war rages over language, institutions, and political allegiances, transgender individuals are the ones who end up being the casualties.


Johnston, Jeff. Talking to your children about ransgender Issues. Focus on the Family, 2015.

McHugh, Paul. The Mind Has Mountains: Reflections on Society and Psychiatry. Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Dr. McHugh, former head of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, makes the case that transgendered people need to be treated psychologically, not biologically. Because of his work, Johns Hopkins no longer provides transsexual surgery. Outstanding read and research.

Parenting through social issues:

Santinover, Jeffrey. Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 2011 (Kindle Edition). Somewhat outdated but outstanding read by a Christian conservative Yale medical doctor. 


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Important Policy for LCMS Congregations

Marriage Policies for Member Congregations

Sanctity of Marriage Resources

Crabb, Larry. The Marriage Builder: Creating True Oneness to Transform Your Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2013. Bestselling author Larry Crabb cuts to the heart of the biblical view of marriage: the “one-flesh” relationship.

Mason, Mike. The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle. Colorado Springs, CO, Multnomah Books, 2005 (20th ed). In highly readable, first-person style, Mason’s writing stimulates readers’ thoughts and prayers and propels couples to deeper intimacy. “A marriage is not a joining of two worlds,” says the author, “but an abandoning of two worlds in order that one new one might be formed.”

Pauls, Rev. Timothy. Why Marriage Matters: A Bible Study. Free to be Faithful - LCMS. July 11, 2013 (PDF download). In March 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States of America heard arguments in two cases regarding same-sex marriage. Decisions in these cases came out in June, 2015, sparking oft-heated debates about marriage and homosexuality. This Bible study is designed to assist Christians with clearly proclaiming what Scripture says on these matters. 

Scaer, Dr. Peter J. The Sanctity of Marriage. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne IN, 2015. Discussion points concerning the sanctity of marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision; see particularly #1, #5, #6, and #17.

Sheridan, James E. A Blessing for the Heart – God’s Beautiful Plan for Marriage Intimacy. Marriage Done Right, 2004. A Lutheran judge in Michigan, Sheridan uses the Song of Solomon to speak to couples.

Smedes, Lewis B. Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People. Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1999. Is there a morality that shows us how to survive as a human community? Can we know what God expects of the human family? Is there a morality for ordinary people? In this book, the author of Sex for Christians and Love within Limits explores the way to moral sanity amid the confusions and crises of contemporary life. We do not, says Smedes, have a “moral map” to mark out the details of our route in advance, but neither are we left to grope and improvise at every step.

Social Issues: Marriage -- List of several resources that provide a Biblical understanding of God’s gift of marriage between a man and woman. Learn more about the value and joy of marriage, why it is special, and how Christ serves others through it.

Yarhouse, Mark A. Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2013. Today’s youth struggle with difficult questions of sexual identity. How can a youth worker offer wise care and counsel on such a controversial and confusing subject? Mark Yarhouse, director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity, equips youth ministers so they can faithfully navigate the topic of sexual identity in a way that is honest, compassionate, and accessible. – a Christ-centered premarital/marital counseling instrument now used by approximately 10,000 counselors and pastors. The authors have integrated the latest research on marriage and the family within a biblical framework.  All training is online and registration is free for the pastor/counselor. The instrument provides Bible studies, recommended reading lists, homework assignments, and icebreakers to help the pastor delve into difficult topics with the couples. Developed by Dr. Salminen, Pastor Jeff Meyers, Kris Hansen, Casey Salminen, and others.

Resource for Teaching: What about... Living Together Without Marriage?

Divorce Resources

Talley, Jim A. Reconcilable Differences. T. Nelson, 1985. Outstanding read for severely troubled marriages.

Wallerstein, Judith & Blakeslee, Sandra. Second Chances. Ticknor & Fields, 1999. Every pastor should read this and have it available for couples. It addresses the devastating effects of divorce on children.

Weiner-Davis, Michelle. The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage. Simon & Schuster, 2002. The author offers an empowering and encouraging guide for revitalizing marriage and building stronger, more loving bonds.

Weiner-Davis, Michelle. Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again. Fireside, 1993. These are some of the most helpful resources for pastors/counselors based on solution-oriented brief therapy. She is an engaging writer.

Ministering to Homosexuals

A Plan for Ministering to Homosexuals and their Families . LCMS, 1999.

Barry, Rev. Dr. A.L. What about... Homosexuality?

Biermann, Rev. Dr. Todd. “The Supreme Court vs. God’s Way.” Life in God’s Way. Blog. June 27, 2015. “... While the five-justice majority may have their opinion on this matter, they cannot and will never change the immutable will of God. God’s Word remains the same.” 

Homosexuality: A Christian Response. LCMS, 1997.

Social Issues: Sexuality - wide array of resources

Resources for Teaching

Book and Articles from Focus on the Family (PDF document listing a variety of resources)

How Do We Help People Caught In Sin?

LCMS God’s Gift of Sexuality Task Force Recommended Resources

Serve, Don’t Shout. Ministering to LGBT Families with Love and Compassion

When Gay Pride Meets Christian Humility


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A New Creation Ministry

Hope for Wholeness Network

Leaving a Homosexual Lifestyle

Living Hope Ministry

Additional Resources:

Here are some books that cover everything, from the roots of same-sex attraction and emotional dependency to fighting temptations, healthy relationships, etc:

Dallas, Joe. Desires in Conflict: Answering the Struggle for Sexual Identity. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 1991.

Davies, Bob. Portraits of Freedom: 14 People who came out of Homosexuality. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2001.

Davies, Bob & Rentzel, Lori. Coming Out of Homosexuality: New Freedom for Men and Women. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Haley, Mike. 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2004.

Hallman, Janelle. The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Paulk, Anne. Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women who Struggle with Same-sex Attraction. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2003.


The following books are not specifically about homosexuality, but they are very helpful toward learning to develop healthy same-sex relationships:

Clinton, Tim & Sibcy, Gary. Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships. Integrity Publishers, 2006.

Groom, Nancy. From Bondage to Bonding: Escaping Codependency, Embracing Biblical Love. Colorado Springs, CO, Nav Press, 1991.


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For further reading*

Suggestions from Dr. Menuge

George, Robert P. 2013. Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.

Jastram, Nathan. 2004. “Man as Male and Female: Created in the Image of God,” Concordia Theological Quarterly Volume 68 (1): 5–96.

Menuge, Angus. 2012. “The Christian and Culture: Marriage and the Two Kingdoms,” Concordia Theological Journal, online version.

_____. (ed.). 2013. Legitimizing Human Rights: Secular and Religious Perspectives. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing.

_____. 2016. “Human Flourishing and the Myth of Religious Neutrality,” Christian Research Journal 39 (2): 26–33.

_____.  2017. Religious Liberty and the Law: Theistic and Non-Theistic Perspectives. Milton Park: Routledge.

Montgomery, John Warwick. 1986. Human Rights and Human Dignity. Dallas, TX: Probe Books.

_____.  2015. The Law Above the Law. Irvine, CA: New Reformation Press.

Moreland, J.P. 2009. The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism. London: SCM Press.

Obergefell v. Hodges 576 U. S. ____ (2015).  Available here. This contains a summary syllabus, the court’s 5-4 decision, and the dissents by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.

Richardson, Valerie. 2011. “Same-sex Marriages Give Polygamy a Legal Boost.” Washington Times, March 20. Available here.

Sowell, Thomas. 2007. Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. Rev. Ed. New York: Basic Books, 2007.

Stanton, Glenn and Bill Maier. 2004. Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

Veith, Gene Edward Jr. and Mary Moerbe. 2012. Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Suggestions from Rev. Dr. Pless

Bayer, Oswald. “The Protestant Understanding of Marriage and Family” (pp. 156–168), “Luther’s View of Marriage” (pp. 169–182), “Freedom and Law in Marriage” (pp. 183–205) in Freedom in Response-Lutheran Ethics: Sources and Controversies, trans. J.F. Cayzer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Benne, Robert. 2005. “Sexual Ethics” (pp. 259–279) in Reasonable Ethics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

Dunnam, Maxie and Malony, H. Newton (editors). Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

Gagnon, Robert. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Contexts. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001.

Mollerup, Victor. “The Challenge to Faithful Ministry in a Sexually Permissive Society” (pp. 39–53) in The Jasper Commission. New Delhi, New York: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2009.

Nestingen, James. “Luther on Marriage, Vocation and the Cross.” Word & World (Winter 2003), 31–39.

Nestingen, James. “Ministry to the Sexually Conflicted” in The Jasper Report. New Delhi, New York: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2009.

Peters, Albrecht. Ten Commandments: Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms, transl. Holger Sonntag. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009.

Pless, John T. A Small Catechism on Human Life.  Saint Louis: The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 2006.

Pless, John T. “The Use and Misuse of Luther in Contemporary Debates on Homosexuality” Lutheran Forum (Summer 2005), 50–57.

Rueger, Matthew. Sexual Morality in a Christless World. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2016.

Slenczka, Reinhard. “When the Church Ceases to be the Church” (pp. 37–50) in The Banff Commission. Delhi, New York: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2008.

Strommen, Merton P. The Church & Homosexuality: Searching for a Middle Ground. Minneapolis: Kirk House Publishers, 2001.


Suggestions from Dr. Seifrid

Gagnon, Robert A. J. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2001.

Hill, Wesley. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

Sprinkle, Preston (ed.). Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016.

Yarhouse, Mark A. Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010.


Suggestions from Rev. Dr. Biermann

Biermann, Todd A. Handing Out Life. San Antonio, TX: Halo Publishing, 2016.

Hays, Richard. "Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies." (Duke Divinity School). A valuable article on the Christian approach to homosexuality as contained in Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate Edited by Jeffrey S. Siker.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.


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