by Larry Beane
God's Word and the avowed confession of our synod and its members notwithstanding, I believe we will see the next generation of LCMS pastors and laypeople overwhelmingly support the world's evolving definition of marriage and the mainstream Protestant church's requirements for admission to the pastoral office.
I think it is absolutely inevitable (and these two issues are intertwined, actually the same issue).
I believe that when this occurs, at most, 20% of the pastors and congregations of the LCMS will leave the synod and form one or more new synodical associations. Some conservatives who remain in the LCMS will grouse about it, but they will try to fight within the synod rather than leave. They may try some form of "a state of confession" - but the tide of time and culture will wash over them fairly quickly, and the leadership of the synod will eventually deal harshly with them.
I believe within the lifetime of my son, there will be openly gay pastors and district presidents. There will be a lady president of one of our seminaries. I firmly believe this. She may well defend the Genesis account of creation and reject the higher critical method of biblical hermeneutics, and will thus be considered a "conservative" and may even see opposition from the more liberal element within the LCMS.
This path (like the one that has now seen the Boy Scouts accept homosexuality within their ranks) is the result of a "normalization" that comes with something that was once unthinkable simply becoming commonplace through the passage of time and by routine exposure. This process of normalization is undeniable and over time drives what is acceptable in our secular and ecclesiastical cultures. A simple comparison of television programming over the past few decades illustrates this point. You may like it or not like it, but that is the trajectory we are on.
I also believe we will eventually see churches that "discriminate" based on "gender" (whether in ordination, employment, or marriage rites) will lose their tax exempt status from the IRS - especially if the Roman Catholic Church were to capitulate on these issues. Right now, the sheer size and power of the Roman Catholic Church would make such a move difficult - and even now, we see the Roman Catholic Church beginning to be challenged by the state and pressured to conform to secular standards.
And in accordance with Luther's explanation to the 8th commandment, I believe this to be the unintended consequence of very well-meaning people.