Category Archives: 2013 – Mar/Apr

“Does 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Teach That Women Should Wear A Covering When Worshiping God In The Church Assembly Or When Praying At Home?” – Doug English

There are two main views of what Paul had reference to in this text. While each view approaches the passage from a different perspective, they both reach the same conclusion in its bearing on Christians today.

Briefly, the first view follows the belief that Paul is pointing out that it was customary in eastern countries for women to wear veils. This was done to show the woman’s submission to the male or husband. Thus, not wearing the veil was a sign of rebellion. For a Christian woman this would be a sin, not being in subjection to her husband. Since the wearing of veils is not a part of our society today, this becomes a matter of expediency, in the same category as greeting with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:15).

Paul tells us about expediency in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, where he states that he became all things to all men. In Acts 16:3, this was put into practice when he circumcised Timothy because of the Jewish disposition against the uncircumcised Gentiles. Yet Paul pointed out that circumcision has no value. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision…” (Gal. 5:6a). Circumcision is a matter of indifference in the salvation of the soul. However, caution should be observed in the usage of expediency, for it must end where doctrine or personal example begin.

The second view has to do with the sinful conditions that existed at that time in Corinth. The apostle warned that these things should not creep into the church. Most particularly, he addressed the women cropping their hair, as did the priestesses (prostitutes) of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. To appear to be one of them would be conduct totally out of character for a Christian woman. It is interesting to note that katakaluptos, sometimes translated “veil,” simply means to be covered. It does not indicate what the covering is or what is to be covered. Only mentioned once in this text peribolion, which would indicate a “veil” and Paul says the woman’s hair is given her for a covering (v. 15).

Paul tells us that the covering God has given us is the hair. Thus, to cut the hair off and appear as these prostitutes would be sinful for a Christian woman. Not only must she live a pure life, but her example must be the same.

In both these positions the conclusion is the same. The wearing of an artificial covering on the head of a woman today neither makes her righteous or unrighteous.

701 N. Duncan By-pass, Union, SC 29379

Editor’s Note:

The late Guy N. Woods also cited the “holy kiss” as comparable to the woman’s covering. “The kiss was a common greeting in the ancient culture and such greetings were to be practiced in holiness. But such were not enjoined upon all congregations for all times…Though Paul enjoined both the covering and the kiss, I do not believe that he intended that either must be practiced in our land and in our day.” (Questions and Answers, Vol. 1, pp. 96f)

When The Water Settles! – Terry Gunnells

Several years ago a resident at one of the apartment complexes in Montgomery, Alabama went to the dumpster to empty her morning coffee grounds and when she did, she thought she heard a baby whimper.  She strained to look over the side of the dumpster and much to her horror, she saw that she had dumped her coffee grounds in the face of a newborn baby.  The mother had given birth somewhere else, brought the baby to the complex, and thrown it in the dumpster.  Before you panic, the baby is now a healthy young girl in the home of a loving adoptive mother and father, loved and nourished and probably not even aware of her horrific birth story.

Are we stirring the baptismal waters and then throwing the new babes to the mercy of the world?  As the parable of the soil and seed teaches (Luke 8), we can’t control the hearts (soil) of converts but we must love and nourish them (the little plants) and give them the best chance of survival.  Even with the best of everything, only about one out of four will become mature Christians and effective leaders in the Lord’s church.

When Jesus gave the Apostles the Great Commission, He made the after baptism education equally as important as the before baptism teaching.  While wondering why those converted on the Day of Pentecost remained in Jerusalem, could it be partly because they were being nursed on the milk until such time as they could be weaned?  When they were persecuted and forced to scatter they could survive on their own.  A wonderful serendipity seemed to be that they went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4; Heb. 5:12).

I do not believe there is one exact way to teach new converts, but they must immediately learn the fundamentals of the faith in order to survive.  These basic doctrines must be repeated over and over again.  The three rules of learning are (don’t miss this):  Repetition!  Repetition!  Repetition!  They should hear it at home if they are from a Christian home.  They must hear it in the Bible classes.  They must hear it from the pulpit.  They must hear it in conversations with their Christian friends.  But let’s face it – none of this will take the place of a loving elder or mature Christian man or woman, sitting down with them in their home and teaching them to read the Scriptures for themselves and learning how to find answers as to how to live the Christian life.  How long this spoon fed nourishment lasts depends on the needs of the convert.

I love David Pharr’s book, The Beginning of Our Confidence.  It’s never too far from my sight.  But to give it to a babe who can’t hold his or her Bible yet is not nearly as effective as a loving Christian brother or sister discussing David’s book with them face to face once or twice a week.

Brother Stewart Schnur uses Christian Development, published by Sunset International Bible Institute, which is a 52-lesson fundamentals of the faith based material.  That, too, is most effective under a Christian tutor.  I am sure there are many other good faith development programs available.

Warning!  This one-on-one relationship of which I am writing has one objective: to make the new convert strong and independent.  If you as a mentor make them dependent on you and you control them, you have the wrong motive.  Control freaks have no place teaching new converts.  Paul did not encourage Timothy to teach men so he could control them, but so they could teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).

Church leaders need to spot this kind of unhealthy relationship and break the pattern as soon as possible.  No “prayer partners,” please!

There are some things that happen to young Christians that are tragic and could be fatal if they are not guided through them with gentle hands: the ugly dismissal of the preacher, withdrawal from an errant member, a church fuss or split.  They will even encounter those who have been in the church for years and who are still juveniles in Christ.  These weak brethren should not be allowed to harm new Christians with their frivolous behavior such as childish public complaints and argumentative spirits.

Church leaders should curtail silly arguments over Christmas trees, bearing arms, voting, etc., and of course, matters of opinion.  When the new convert is exposed to such distasteful, immature antics before they are ready to digest them, they can be led through them with little or no damage by good elders or mature mentors.

There is definitely a biblical and common sense rule that dictates what each new convert needs.  Some have come from mature Christian homes and are way ahead of the game.  Others have been converted from denominationalism and must “unlearn” many bad habits and especially the language of their past religion.  This requires patience.

Unfortunately, our brethren are not always patient with the ones who use the “language of Ashdod” such as “pastor,” “reverend,” and call denominational people “brothers,” etc.  We treat them like a piñata and take a blind swing at them without taking into consideration their spiritual age.  This is where a good, caring tutor can rescue them from well-meaning but insensitive brethren.  One brother said to my wife when her father died, “Well, we know where our daddies are.  They both split Hell wide open.”

New Christians need an abbreviated introduction to the Restoration Plea.  When the first century doctrines are compared to the dogmas of the Catholic and Reformed faith groups, the new convert’s faith formation is well on its way.  If they internalize such slogans as “No Creed But Christ” and “No Book But The Bible,” they will be hard to lead astray.  New converts need to learn who the apostles were and what it means to follow such examples of the early church in Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7.  Add the slogans “Speak Where The Bible Speaks, Be Silent Where The Bible Is Silent,” and “Call Bible Things By Bible Names.”

Have the new convert learn how the Bible teaches:

  1. By statement of fact (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-2)
  2. By command (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 1 Cor. 14:37; Matt. 26:26-29)
  3. By approved example (Acts 20:7)
  4. By necessary inference (Acts 8:35-36 – it is inferred that preaching Jesus included preaching baptism.)

Have them learn the rules of specific and generic commands.  When a command is specific, it cannot be changed or substituted for in any way, shape, or form.  If it is generic, one can accomplish the command by whatever means are available to him or her, such as Noah selecting the tools to build the ark even though the dimensions could not be altered.

The new convert must have a healthy abiding love for Christ and an equally abiding love for His word.  The initial teaching emphasizes the belief in Christ that leads to baptism.  The same care must be given to the teaching that matures the convert into a full-grown Christian (Eph. 4:11-14).  Please, brethren.  Let’s not “duck ’em and turn ’em loose.”

teg8891@aol.com

The Minister’s Tax Return – Paul Kirkpatrick

As a minister of the Gospel and a representative of the church where one labors, it is imperative that one maintains his finances above reproach.  One of the areas that few elderships understand and sadly many preachers lack understanding is in the area of 1040’s, W-2’s and the like.  One who serves among churches of Christ needs to know not only the tax advantages for a minister, but also the rules that govern such advantages.  One’s reputation is certainly at stake and there is also that one does not want to start a prison ministry from the inside!

I would encourage elderships and preachers to obtain a tax guide each year to keep up with changes in the tax code.  Publication 517 from the IRS is a free publication.  I ahve relied on B.J. Worth’s Tax Guide for years.  It is very readable, plain, and “user friendly.”  It contains sample W-2’s, 1040’s, Schedule C’s, Schedule A’s, etc.

I would also encourage church representatives/elders and their minister to have a written contract that outlines the minister’s responsibility to the church and the church representatives/elders’ responsibility to the minister.  Included in this contract would be details concerning the minister’s tax details.

Church of Christ Status

A minister of the church of Christ is a dual-status minister.  That means that he is considered an employee of the church for computing income tax to the Internal Revenue Service, and is considered to be self-employed by the Social Security Administration.  In view of this status the minister can ask the church to withhold appropriate amounts from his check or he can elect to exempt from withholding.  It is to the minister’s advantage to elect to be exempt from withholding because many treasurers do not want to be involved in the complexities of ministers’ taxes.  In either case either the treasurer or the minister himself must make quarterly payments.  Social Security payments must be made whether he expects to owe income tax or not.

Parsonage Allowance

In many church/minister compensation packages there is occasionally a house provided and/or utility allowance.  The IRS and the SSA have guidelines governing what expenses can be deductible.  When a house/utility package is not provided (such as when a preacher purchases his own house), the minister is usually afforded a double tax advantage if he itemizes deductions on Schedule A and also excludes the Parsonage Allowance from Box 1 on the W-2.  This reduces taxable income which provides a great deal of savings in taxes.  The SSA says he must also compute the Fair Market Value (rental value) of the house and pay 15.02% of the FMV to the SSA.  This applies to the preacher who receives a house provided by the church.  The SSA views the housing allowance as income.

For the one purchasing a house, the Parsonage Allowance can include the house payment, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, cost of repairs, yard maintenance, furniture and appliances, household supplies, etc.  Records must be kept.  (All actual housing expenses may be included in a housing allowance provided they are actually paid, whether the minister is purchasing the house or not.)  However, the Parsonage Allowance must be estimated in advance and must be recorded in minutes/records of the church.  The best time to create a Parsonage Allowance agreement is at the time of employment or before January 1 of the next tax year.  Adjustments to the amount of Parsonage Allowance must always be in advance.  The housing allowance can be more than will actually be spent, but any overage must be reported as “other income.”

Income

Ministers who work for congregations (as earlier stated) are considered employees of the church.  Money that they receive from that church is considered as income and must be reported on a W-2.  The IRS determines with clear criteria whether a minister is dual-status or self-employed.  Churches cannot assign a status of “self-employed” unless one meets the criteria established by the IRS.  If the church violates this rule, it can be fined and possibly lose its 501(C) tax exemption.

For many years there has been an understanding that the church gives their minister a 1099 and not a W-2.  The rule was changed, I believe, in 1975.  When I preached in South Carolina, the state began to require a state ID number on the W-2.  When I went to inquire at the State Department of Revenue in Columbia, their taxpayer representative told me that I didn’t need this as I should get a 1099.  I argued with him that I was a dual status minister and required a W-2.  When he went to his supervisor he came back and said that I was right!  He had been at this position for eleven years and did not know the requirement.  Thank you, B.J. Worth!

The rule is different if one receives compensation from another church.  We typically pay ministers to come for various reasons such as gospel meetings, VBS adult class teachers, summer series speakers, etc.  The IRS calls this type of compensation an Honorarium.  Dual-status ministers record the amount of Honorarium and insert the amount on Schedule C.  You might have car expenses, gasoline, airline tickets, etc., that might incur that can offset the amount and lower the Self-Employment tax one might pay.

Miscellaneous Deductions & Business Expenses

Again, let me express to you that a good tax guide that specializes in ministers’ taxes and publications from the IRS are essential for you to take advantage of areas where the IRS and SSA allow.  My philosophy about this is that I want to pay the IRS and SSA all that are due them, but not a penny more!

You may be able to deduct/exclude premiums for health insurance, limited amount of insurance premiums, personal liability policies, and business and professional expenses.  You may be able to deduct actual expenses you incur in traveling to hospitals, home visits, etc., but documentation is essential for making these deductions.  If you are ever audited and you do not have documentation for your deductions and allowances, you may face fines and penalties that may go back three years.  Prosecution is not out of the question either.  It is possible for these expenses to be excluded from income and not reported as income on your W-2.  However, there are rules that apply and both the minister and the treasurer must understand the requirements.  Again, it is essential to have professional guidance, such as the book by B.J. Worth mentioned above.

You only have one reputation and trying to “skirt” the rules may have a devastating effect on you and the church you serve.

I had advised preachers to know the “ins and outs” of the tax code that pertains to them just as much as one might study Scripture.  Your eternal life and your reputation depends on it.

Paul@warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org

Editor’s Page, March/April 2013 Issue – David R. Pharr, Editor

Carl O. Cooper, a member of the Warner’s Chapel congregation in Clemmons, NC, is the author of The Communion Leaders Handbook.  It contains almost 200 pages of biblical teaching and recommendations, including examples of remarks which are appropriate for the man who leads at the Lord’s Supper.  Proper understanding of the meaning of the Communion is essential for the spiritual health of every congregation.  This places responsibility on the one who leads this part of worship that the right impression should be conveyed to the assembly.

Humans have a tendency to take for granted those things that are regularly a part of our worship assemblies.  We may assume the basic truths about the communion are understood by everyone.  In fact, however, there are some basic points which may not always be considered.

Four texts give the account of how Jesus set the pattern for the Supper (Matt. 26:26ff; Mark 14:22ff; Luke 22:19ff; 1 Cor. 11:23ff).

Christians are given a positive command:  “This do in remembrance of me.”  The when and how this is to be obeyed is in apostolic example (Acts 20:7) and teaching (1 Cor. 11:20ff).

The Supper is called “Communion” because by partaking we identify ourselves with the blood and body of Christ and with one another (1 Cor. 10:16f).  The proper order for the communion is prayer of thanksgiving for the bread with the bread then distributed to the congregation.  After the bread is eaten, a separate prayer of thanks is to be given for the fruit of the vine.  It is not the scriptural order to ahve one prayer at the beginning and then serve the items together.

Though it is good for the congregation to pray about many things, the prayer with the bread and the cup has the essential purpose to give thanks.  It is a mistake to pray about various other things while neglecting to give thanks for the bread and to give thanks for the cup.

To “bless” the bread (or the cup) simply means to give thanks for it.  An error sometimes heard is for one to pray that God would “bless this bread.”  That is a different use of the term “bless.”  The prayer is not to ask God to do anything for the bread or cup.  (Sometimes in prayers before common meals one may pray, “Bless this food to our bodies…”  That is not the usage in connection with the Lord’s Supper.)  One of the great errors of Catholicism is that when the priest blesses the bread it changes into the body of Christ.  We should be cautious that the wording of our prayers does not suggest any such thing.  The purpose of the prayers with the bread and the fruit of the vine is to thank God for each element of the Supper.

The Bible never refers to the contents of the cup as “wine.”  Instead it is simply “the fruit of the vine.”

The communion is not a “sacrament,” and should not be so designated.  The term “sacrament” comes from the sacerdotal system of Catholicism, which regards such things as the means by which the priest conveys spiritual blessings.

The bread Jesus used was unleavened bread, which means it contained no yeast.

“The cup” refers to the contents, not to the container.  Whether there is one or a multiplicity of containers, it is still one cup.  Some folks once implied to me that they were a more scriptural congregation because, they said, “We are a church of Christ that believes in ‘one cup.'”  I replied, “That’s all we have – one cup, but several containers.”

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is not for the purpose of having sins forgiven.  Sins are forgiven at baptism and when Christians confess their sins (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9).  The blood of Christ provides for forgiveness, but the Lord’s Supper is only a memorial of Christ’s body and blood, not the means of contacting it for pardon.

The communion is in remembrance of Christ’s death, not his resurrection.  The time for partaking of it is the “first day of the week,” which is when Christ arose, but it is not correct in the remarks at the table to say, “This is in memory of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

The Lord’s Supper is intended for the worship assembly of the church on the Lord’s Day.  It is not for Saturday nights, or so-called holy days, or weddings.  The pattern for the church found in the New Testament is for the church to “come together in one place” (1 Cor. 11:20) on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7).

The Supper is to be an ongoing observance.  “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).  Faithfully partaking is a demonstration of our faith in Christ’s death.  Neglecting the Supper reflects doubt as to the genuineness of one’s faith.

The Communion is for Christians.  If one is not a disciple of Christ it can hardly be eaten in fellowship with the Lord.  On the other hand, the church is not instructed to practice “closed communion.”  This refers to a practice in some denominations in which they specify which persons are allowed to partake.

The contribution is not a part of the Lord’s Supper.  While it may seem a good order to take the collection immediately after the communion, it is not an additional part of the communion ritual.  It is not to be assumed that by having a prayer before the contribution and immediately after having had two prayers in the Supper that the collection is the third part of Communion.

It is right for the church to pray at any time.  However, it is not required that there be a prayer before taking the collection.

Monday Morning Message for the Minister – Steven K. Guy

I love preaching and training men to preach.  The Lord has blessed me with a number of opportunities during my nearly 40 years of ministry.  I want to encourage every brother to preach the word.  It is heartbreaking to see so many leave the ministry.  Ministers are men of God who need encouragement.  I pray that this message will encourage the brethren to hold up the hands of their preacher and get involved in the greatest work on earth.  Monday is traditionally the “down day” for the minister.  Having studied, taught, visited, counseled, and prepared himself for a full day on Sunday, Monday faces him with the never ending reality that it starts all over again.  Many preachers take Mondays off to physically rest.  However, the mind knows no such luxury.  It keeps right on thinking and the thoughts on Monday, especially, can be rather pessimistic.  This message is to help the minister make it through the Monday morning quarterback blues and to uplift him for the rest of the week.

When Monday arrives, the minister already feels behind.  it’s like driving past telephone poles.  As soon as you pass one, another is upon you.  Two more sermons, two more Bible classes, and a host of ministry responsibilities lay ahead for the week.  Unless the title “preacher” is a misnomer, the first responsibility is that of preaching the word.  This is where Paul began and ended with his advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 1 and 2 Timothy 4).

Preaching the word involves not preaching fables (spinning stories, 2 Tim. 4:4; 2:16-18), but preaching the holy and inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 3:15; John 17:17), which are complete to equip and produce men and women of God.  It was this word in which Timothy had been reared (2 Tim. 3:15), which first produces faith (2 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 10:17) and in which Paul had nurtured Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14).  Rome was not built in a day.  Neither are faithful men, women, or churches, but they are built through such preaching of “sound” words (2 Tim. 1:13), “with all long suffering (patience) and doctrine (teaching)” (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2).  Preaching the word will not always be inviting or appreciated, but the man of God is to preach it “in season and out of season” for it will convict, warn, and encourage the brethren and the lost to be right with God (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:24-26; 3:10).

The call to preach began with the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14).  We read Matthew 28:18-20 and feel a sense of “oughtness.”  Ivan Steward said, “Go ye means go me.”  The apostle Paul said, “For necessity is laid upon me.  Yeah, woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).  But who feels sufficient for these things?  (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5)  Paul tells us that God gives us the sufficiency.  But at times, that concept is challenging to remember.

When Jeremiah was called, God said, “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (1:8).  You remember a similar situation with Moses in Exodus 3 and 4.  Moses was about 80 when God called him and his response was also a feeling of inadequacy (Ex. 4:1, 10, 13).  But God’s response to Moses was one of assurance (Ex. 3:12, 14-22; 4:2-9, 11-12, 14-17).

It is that assurance which motivated Jeremiah, Moses, you and me to begin and depend.  However, those Mondays come when we wonder if we are adequate for the task.  I believe Isaiah was of such a mindset when he entered the temple that day and was given the vision of God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  And above it stood the seraphim…and one cried unto another, and said ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory'” (Is. 6:1, 3).  Ironically, this vision at first made Isaiah to feel his inadequacy:  “Then said I, ‘Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:4).  Again, the vision ends with God’s assurance, “and he laid it (a live coal, v. 6) upon my mouth, and said, ‘Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Is. 6:5).  It was the twin understanding of our forgiveness and His assurance of being with us that motivated us to answer God’s call in telling others about Him (1 Thess. 2:14; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We remember that we felt the same fervor Isaiah had when he said, “Here am I, send me” (v. 8).  However, please note that Isaiah was told he would face rejection just like Jeremiah (Is. 6:9-13).

With such an awesome task, the young minister’s feeling of inadequacy can be lessened by the advice of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).  To the older minister called later in life and wondering if he is adequate, remember Jesus’ response to Peter’s feeling of inadequacy, “Simon, fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).

Jeremiah’s call was to preach his word and be rejected by many, but be delivered by God.  The prospect of such a life is challenging enough, but as Jeremiah complains, “Why do the wicked prosper?” (Jer. 12:1).  It is tough to try to preach about forsaking the ways of the world and its folly (Jer. 20:8) when seemingly, the success of the world is flaunted and the righteous forsaken (Jer. 12:1, 4), especially His ministers.  When young men and old alike contemplate ministry for their lives they may hear advice (even from the church) such as, “Oh, you do not want to be a preacher; there is no future in it!”  When brethren have stewed preacher for Sunday lunch and churches have revolving doors to the preacher’s office, servants of the Lord cry out for justice.  Many feel like Jeremiah who accused God of tricking him into the ministry (Jer. 20:7).  Jeremiah felt that God had put him between a rock and a hard place.  If he preached God’s word, he was tortured physically.  If he tried to hold it in, he was tortured emotionally and spiritually.  What a predicament!

The prophet Habakkuk had a problem with God’s justice.  God’s response was for the preacher to wait, that the just shall live by their faithfulness (Hab. 2:1-4).  What is faithfulness?  It is abiding trust.  The wise man Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Jeremiah came to the same conclusion in Jeremiah 17:7:  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, in whose hope the Lord is.”  Jeremiah illustrated this point by contrasting two plants.  One plant is of such a nature that in any environment, it would not be productive (Jer. 17:6).  This is the man who trusts in himself or in the advice of men.  The second plant is as a tree planted by waters which even in a drought, would still be productive (Jer. 17:8).  This is the man who trusts in the Lord, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).  Jeremiah, in a better moment, had realized that nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17).  God confirmed this in Jeremiah 32:27, “Is anything too hard for God?”  Trusting in the Lord will get us through all of our Mondays victoriously.

The truth is none of us are sufficient in and of ourselves.  The sufficiency comes from God “who also hath made us sufficient as ministers of the New Testament” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).  God has told his ministers throughout the ages, “I am with thee…”  Not just on Sundays, but also on Mondays (Heb. 13:5-6).

office@myrtlebeachchurchofchrist.org

First Stop: Homosexuality. Next Stop: Pedophilia – Spencer Strickland

The lengths to which society and government have gone in order to force acceptance of certain sinful behaviors is nothing short of appalling.  As of this year, 9 states in the United States have legalized same-sex marriage (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington).  Additionally, it is legal in the nation’s capital for two members of the same gender to marry.  Those who know what the Bible truly says about homosexuality sigh in disgust at such abandonment of basic moral principles.  Both Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of homosexuality (in spite of the efforts by some to suggest otherwise).  Sodom and Gomorrha’s sin of homosexuality was at the heart of God’s reason for destroying them.  As one recalls the incident at Sodom with Lot and the two angels who appeared as men (Gen. 19:1-3), the men of Sodom asked Lot, “Where are the men which came in to thee this night?  Bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Gen. 19:5).  The Hebrew word for “know” is the same word used in Gen. 4:1:  “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.”  Thus, it is obvious what went on in Sodom and it is clear that God destroyed Sodom because of their wickedness (Gen. 19:24-25).  One might say the divine commentary on this event is found in Jude 7:  “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities around them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire [emphasis mine, SS].”  A few passages in the Old Testament describe homosexuality as an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22; 20:13) which credible and reliable Hebrew lexicons define as “a disgusting thing.”  Finally, Paul’s discussion of women changing “the natural use into that which is against nature” along with “the men, leaving the natural use of the woman” and consequently lusting after one another is a clear condemnation of homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27).

Faithful gospel preachers have striven to inform folks of the sin of homosexuality based upon God’s Word.  In addition to informing folks about this sin, there is a warning preachers sometimes attach to it.  Namely, if homosexuality is viewed as “normal” and same-sex marriage is accepted, then what is to stop society from embracing other perversions of God’s definition of marriage?  Now that homosexuality is being embraced by government and society, efforts are being made to suggest that pedophilia might be viewed as normal and acceptable behavior.  Pedophilia is defined as “sexual desire in an adult for a child” (“pedophilia”).  According to a recent article published in the British newspaper The Guardian, “There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia [alternate spelling of the term, SS] should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality” (Henley).  In this article, Sarah Goode who is both an author of two studies on pedophilia and a university lecturer is quoted as saying, “There are a lot of people […] who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong.  Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia” (ibid).  This article underscores the fact that when sin is tolerated and accepted on any level, it opens the door for any and all toleration of sin.  Returning to the first chapter of Romans, where he wrote of the condemnation of homosexuality, Paul went on to give a laundry list of other sins that Gentiles were openly practicing like fornication, covetousness, maliciousness and murder – just to name a few (Rom. 1:29-31).  The final verse of that chapter says of these Gentiles: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32).  How is it that anyone could “take pleasure” in folks practicing these sins?  How could American society and government take pleasure in championing the cause of same-sex marriage?  How could anyone ever take pleasure in viewing pedophilia as “normal”?  The answer is found in Romans 1:28 – “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”

The legalization of same-sex marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality as normal behavior is a clear step towards an all out rejection of God and His will.  If the entire country legalizes same-sex marriage, it is only a matter of time before such perverted behavior as pedophilia is accepted as indicted by the article cited.  Once this behavior is accepted, what is next?  For instance, what will stop such perversions as bestiality (sexual desire of humans towards animals) from being viewed as normal behavior and just another “sexual orientation”?  Long ago, Isaiah proclaimed, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).  In essence, government and society are “calling evil good and good evil” by accepting and legalizing these ungodly behaviors.  It is important, then, that Christians stand against these behaviors and stand up for the Word of God (Jude 3).  It is important that preachers inform congregations of the wickedness that continues to be promoted in society and government.  It is important that Christians insist that the home be defined as God defines it and to teach others that definition (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5; Eph. 5:31).  Finally, it is important that every child of God beseech the Heavenly Father for help in stemming the tide of gross immorality practiced, endorsed, and legalized in this country.