Tag Archives: homosexuality

What The Bible Says About Homosexuality — Travis Main

In any discussion of opposing groups regarding the topic of homosexuality, there are a litany of “facts” provided.  Whether the issue is the number of practicing homosexuals, the health risks, the prevalence of violence in homosexual relationships, the number of faithful or promiscuous partners, the conversion to heterosexuality, or the genetic factors suggested to influence homosexuality, there is debate.  An examination of human studies, polls of acceptance, or agendas of various homosexual proponents is not the focus of this article.  What does the Bible say regarding the practice of homosexuality?  This is the central thrust.  Christians as a priesthood of God (1 Pet. 2:9) have a responsibility to teach the truth of God’s Word (Matt. 28:19-20) and protect it (1 Pet. 3:15).

1 John 4:21 declares:  “And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.”  This is the obligation of a Christian.  The command of loving mankind applies to everyone.  It applies to those in all manner of goodness or sin.  Jesus came to save those in sin (1 Tim. 1:15).  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  However, the times of ignorance are over and man is called upon by God to repent (Acts 17:30).  Thus, it should be the loving motivation of Christians to share the truth of God’s Word to all mankind with no partiality (James 2:1).

Christ declared he would establish his church (Matt. 16:16-18).  After Jesus’ resurrection, he declared, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).  He promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would reveal to them “all truth” and “bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26; 16:13).  This leads us to the following statement by the apostle Peter:  “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

The great importance of this verse is the fact that the apostles did not write by conjecture, cultural teachings, or personal opinion.  The words they wrote were directly from God and are the teachings of Jesus.

The gospel which Jesus preached was heralded with the coming of John the Baptizer (Mark 1:1).  Under that gospel Jesus declared the only people who would enter the eternal kingdom of heaven would be “he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  This was the one gospel of the kingdom (Eph. 4:5; Gal. 1:6-9; Jude 3).  With the crucifixion of Jesus, the Law of Moses (given only to the nation of Israel) which was old and ready to disappear became obsolete (Heb. 8:13).  On the day of Pentecost when the first Christians were added to the church (Acts 2:47), the new covenant of the teachings of Christ came into effect.  The Holy Spirit was poured out and the apostles were given the promised truth.  The keys of the gospel were used as commanded by the apostles.  The teachings Jesus taught during his life were being taught to the world.  The entire world became subject to the law of Christ.

As the teachings of Jesus Christ from his apostles are examined, it is of interest to note that there is no same-sex couple ever mentioned in the New Testament (nor is there in the Old Testament).  When Jesus discusses marriage, he talks of man and woman (Matt. 19:1-9; Mark 10:6-9; Matt. 15:1-12; 5:31-32; cf. Deut. 24:1-2; et al).  The apostles who shared Christ’s teachings through the Holy Spirit also spoke of marriage between a man and a woman (Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7; 1 Tim. 5:9-14; Matt. 22:25; Mark 6:17; Luke 14:20; Eph. 5:22-33; et al).  The mention of any marriage by the same sex is completely absent from scripture.  The question of whether or not man is authorized to marry a woman or a woman a man is clearly answered in scripture and its guidelines are also clearly taught.  God has authorized the marriage of a man and a woman (Matt. 19:5) and Jesus establishes that as a teaching from the beginning of mankind.

Matthew 22:23-32 discusses the resurrection of mankind and mentions the subject of marriage while doing so.  Jesus demonstrated from the Old Testament scriptures that there is an afterlife.  He was encouraging the Sadducees who were questioning him to use the words of God to infer a given truth.  There must be an afterlife if physical beings who had died were spoken of as alive.  He then mentioned that marriage does not exist in the afterlife, speaking again only of marriage between a man and a woman.  Following the example and authority of Jesus, if scripture only speaks of a man and a woman being married then marriage applies to only them.  It does not authorize the marriage of a man and an animal.  It does not authorize the marriage of two non-human beings.  It does not authorize the marriage of two people of the same sex.  It authorizes only the marriage of a man and a woman.  By this alone, this discussion could finish.  However, we will continue.

The New Testament is not silent about the sexual habits of same-sex individuals.  Romans 1:18-2:8 establishes that those who engage in activity which is ungodly and unrighteous will face God’s judgment.  If they do not repent, their stubborn disobedience will cause them to experience God’s wrath.  Is the activity of homosexuals ungodly and unrighteous?  This passage says yes.  The women desired women, something God calls unnatural (v. 26).  The men desire men, also abandoning their natural function.  What is natural?  God established man and woman to come together to create offspring.  They were to share their desires together in marriage, not in unauthorized, unnatural, sexual sin.  God declares such people who do not repent to be worthy of death (v. 32).  That judgment is in the hand of God.  Understand clearly, God does not wish that upon them (2:4; cf. John 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:9).  However, death is what they choose if they reject God and continued in an unauthorized lifestyle.

The covenant of Christ in the New Testament says:  “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed god, which was committed to my trust” (1 Tim. 1:8-11, emp. added).

The phrase “for them that defile themselves with mankind” is the Greek word arsenokoitēs.  Thayer defines it as “someone who lies with a male as a female.”  In other words, a homosexual.  This passage speaks of such behavior as “contrary to sound doctrine.”  It is lumped in with other sinful behaviors and appropriately assigned with that which is called “lawless and disobedient.”  Those who are disobedient will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:6-10).

Paul discussed the sinful behavior of the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.  He declared they had repented from a number of sins which would have kept them from the kingdom of God.  Among those sins from which they had repented was homosexuality, translated from the same Greek word previously discussed.  While the ultimate penalty of punishment is the same as previously mentioned, the concept of repentance is still very alive in the text.  One practicing homosexuality does indeed have the option of stopping his or her behavior and thus is able to please God.

There are those who declare they were born with desires for the same sex.  As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I will not argue genetic factors.  An examination of scripture finds an answer for the proposition that at birth there was such a desire.  Paul stated, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that year are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Furthermore, James also said, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

Temptation is part of our life upon the earth.  Yet, giving into it is not something from which we cannot escape.  There are all manners of sins which entrap mankind every day.  Through Christ we can triumph in this swiftly fleeting stay on earth.  We can overcome our trials with love for God and one another by authorized behavior in Christ (John 14:15). 

Travis has been a minister in the Lord’s church for over 15 years.  He is the creator of www.churchofchristarticles.com.

 

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The Gay “Marriage” Bandwagon – Ben Giselbach

Not long ago in our nation’s history, homosexuality was taboo. People commonly looked at homosexual behavior with disgust. Laws were enacted to outlaw various actions attributed to same-sex attraction. But now culture has very rapidly performed a 180-degree shift. A majority of Americans – particularly younger Americans – now approve of homosexual practice.

What happened? Those who support the acceptance of LGBT behavior adopted arguments that became particularly compelling to young people.

This should not come as a surprise to us. The Bible teaches us that homosexuality is a subject by which it is easy to be fooled. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither […] adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, […] will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Here are some arguments that have proven to be very effective at duping people today:

Gay “marriage” has been packaged like a civil rights issue. I think Millennials grew up reading in their history books about the 1965 civil rights marches in Alabama and thought, “I would have liked to have been a part of that.” Today, homosexuality has become the moral equivalent of being black. This is very interesting, as the social conversation about homosexuality is no longer about what you do, but about who you are. If I were a black man, I would be deeply offended by equating 2015 with 1965. Christians understand that in reality, the issue is not about identity, but about choice. You cannot choose to be black, but you can choose to practice homosexuality (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11). Your temptation does not define you, but your decision to act on your temptation does. Jesus was tempted, yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Gay “marriage” has redefined love. The words of John Mayer’s song, “You love, who you love, who you love,” resonate with people today. Most now think, “There’s enough hate in the world, and here are two men who love each other; what’s wrong with that?”

Our secular world has cheapened “love” to mean “sexual attraction,” and the marriage bed has become the pinnacle of romance. Society’s idea of marriage, which has devolved to merely signify a time-period of commitment, is only a shabby duck-tape attempt to replicate true biblical marriage.

Knowing the new definition of “love,” are you ready for the ramifications of this argument? If society supports a relationship simply because of “love,” what else must society eventually support? Surely a man can “love” his dog. Surely pedophilia can be committed within a “loving” relationship. Surely it is wrong to continue prosecuting teachers for “loving” some of their pupils. Surely a woman can marry several men with whom she is in love.

For Christians, it isn’t about consensual sexual intercourse, but about truly loving God and His Word. It isn’t real love if I allow someone to enter into a relationship with me that God calls “sin.” Eternity, after all, awaits us. A truly loving relationship is founded on the bedrock goal of helping one another get to heaven. It more closely resembles hatred if I am willing to place myself between someone else and heaven.

Gay “marriage” is now seen as progress. Homosexuals have long been able to support one another and enter into covenants with one another. The Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 gave very few freedoms that were not already enjoyed by practicing homosexuals. But it isn’t about rights (they already had those rights); it is about gaining society’s approval.

When Lot had the audacity to deny the men of Sodom their demand to gang-rape his male guests, they replied, “Now he has become the judge!” (Gen. 19:9). Does this sound familiar to the argument used today? “Stop judging us.” “Who are you to say we are wrong?” It isn’t about rights; it is about finding affirmation after God has called certain behavior wrong. People don’t want to be seen as being on the “wrong side of history,” so they go along with this so-called “progress.”

Gay “marriage” has redefined tolerance. If you refuse to endorse homosexual behavior, society will quickly label you as “intolerant.” That is because “tolerance” no longer means peaceful coexistence with contrary views and belief systems. Today, “tolerance” means full support. Either you embrace homosexuality or you are a rotten, bigoted person full of hate. (That escalated quickly, didn’t it?) In the eyes of society, it is impossible to be both compassionate to homosexuals while disapproving of their actions.

With this word game, no wonder young people are supporting gay “marriage” in droves. After all, who wants to be seen as a bigot? They don’t want their peers to think they are “closed-minded” – or worse – “intolerant” (gasp, the thought!).

Now that the courts, the media, and public opinion favor gay “marriage,” what can we do?

  1. Prepare for these arguments. Sometimes we fail to keep ourselves up-to-speed with culture. We are often more aware of the problems of the past and easily have answers to those problems. But times have changed, and Satan has found new ways to package sin that will appeal to a new generation of thinking. Cultural Christianity has already bowed to the pressure to approve of gay marriage. Now, more than ever before, it is important to think like God thinks and live on every drop of God’s Word. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
  2. Prepare our children for these arguments. This goes without saying. But so many of my peers have left the Lord’s Church because their parents did not prepare them how to handle these arguments. I know many children of preachers who have left the church because their fathers failed to equip them with ways to respond to postmodern and emergent arguments in favor of homosexuality (and a host of other issues). From the very beginning, our children need to know what is natural and what is unnatural and unpleasing to God.
  3. Start with the basics when talking to people who support gay “marriage.” When talking to my friends and neighbors who practice or approve of homosexuality, I rarely talk about the sinfulness of homosexuality. Why?They don’t know what sin is. Before you can establish that practicing homosexuality is wrong, there is a host of other issues one must first understand. First, one must believe in the God of the Bible. Second, one must believe in the Bible and the extent of its authority over our lives. One must understand the concept of sola scriptura, that the Bible is not a fluid document, and that God’s Word never takes a back seat to culture. Third, one must grasp the concept of sin, know Who Jesus is, and understand the nature of salvation.If someone does not understand these things, they will never understand the truth about homosexuality (and they will look at you like a close-minded, intolerant bigot).
  4. Think about our words. Because culture now supports gay “marriage,” it is important to choose our words carefully. There are more people who want to demonize your biblical convictions than there are people who tolerate (the old meaning of the word) them. Before you write or say anything, just assume your words could easily appear on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. In other words, don’t say stupid things. If you consider how your words could be interpreted from all sides, the truth will become even brighter.
  5. Model biblical sexuality. The darker our world becomes, the brighter Christianity should shine. Sin brings guilt, confusion, sadness, and doubt. Christians should model what a happy marriage looks like! A truly happy and fulfilling life can only be found in living God’s Way – following His law rather than our own reasoning (Prov. 14:12; Ecc. 12:13; Eph. 2:10).
  6. Rejoice when we feel the pressure. One of the greatest honors is suffering for Christ’s sake. Secular America is particularly hostile toward New Testament Christians. When we face name-calling, loss of opportunity, fines, or lawsuits – we should rejoice! Knowing how unworthy I am of God’s grace – it is an honor to be shamed because of the Name I wear. Glory in these verses:

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29)

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:10)

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Vexed by Gay Bullying – David R. Pharr

For all his failures otherwise, Abraham’s nephew Lot could not countenance the sordid ungodly deeds of the inhabitants of Sodom.  The Bible says he was “vexed with the filthy conversation [sensual conduct] of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)” (2 Pet. 2:7-8).

From antiquity the name Sodom has been identified with homosexual perversion.  This was not their only sin.  Ezekiel adds the charges of “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness…neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (16:49).  But it was “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh” that has especially perpetuated their disgrace and infamy (Jude 7).  (The term “fornication” covers all forms of elicit sexual activity, which includes homosexuality.)

Sodom and her sister cities were removed from the earth when the “Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Gen. 19:24).  As The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible observes, “Sodom never occurs again in the Bible as a living city, but the memory of its sin and consequent destruction was kept alive by Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the authors of the New Testament.  Sodom and Gomorrah have become bywords and tokens of God’s wrath on sin.”

Lot’s error of selfishness has been the subject of numerous sermons because he “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” a place where “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:12ff).  He moved his family into Sodom, and before long the influence of Sodom moved into his family!  Still, Lot’s fundamental sense of morality was shocked by the open and vile depravity he witnessed around him every day.

To be “vexed” (KJV) means to be severely “distressed” (NIV), to be “tormented” (McCord).  All sin should be troubling to God-fearing people.  Righteous souls grieve that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19, NASB).  However, some sins are especially egregious and homosexuality ranks among the most detestable of moral abominations, being classified alongside such things as bestiality and incest (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; cf. Rom. 1:26; 1 Cor. 6:9).

How did the society of Sodom and Gomorrah become so vile that there could not be found even ten righteous people among them?  The lessons of history suggest that it was degeneration which occurred over time.  What is at first repulsive comes to be tolerated.  Tolerated, it becomes commonplace, and the more commonplace and accepted, the wider its appeal.  Lines from the poet Alexander Pope describe the process:

Vice is a monster of such deadly mien [conduct],

That to be hated, needs but to be seen;

But seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

One can hardly fail to see that there is a devilish agenda in America to convince the majority of society that homosexuality is so commonplace that it ought to be accepted and approved.  The evil expectation is that when people are sufficiently exposed to favorable portrayals of gay lifestyles, they will no longer find it repulsive.  So, more and more sitcoms and movies must have at least token gay couples.  Gays are depicted with upstanding and tasteful personalities.  How could anyone not admire them?  Newspapers and magazines include features about gays in almost every issue.  When there is some hate crime against homosexuals the papers give it full coverage, but when gays commit hate crimes it is hardly noticed in the media.  A major denomination elected a homosexual.  Denominations consider ceremonies for uniting homosexual couples.  When a Baptist church in North Carolina baptized a gay couple with no expectation of their repenting from that lifestyle, the media reported the event as if it were a milestone.

Various cities celebrate a “Gay Pride Week” with a “Gay Pride Parade.”  Some of the parades involve such vulgar antics that TV news will not show it, perhaps because it would violate broadcast standards and perhaps because it would show the public how deviant the gay movement really is.  The mayor of San Francisco granted marriage licenses to hundreds of gay couples.  He knew this was against the law in his state, but doubtless expected liberal courts to back him.  The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a state’s right to have laws against sodomy.  Same-sex marriage is now legal in several states.  in some places it is unlawful to distribute material which is opposed to homosexuality.  Even quotations from the Bible are not allowed.  What teacher would dare read such texts in class?  Indeed, how many preachers will read them from the pulpit?  Homosexual advocates claim that what the Bible says about it should be labeled “hate speech.”

Letters in newspapers reveal abysmal ignorance of the Scriptures as writers assert that Jesus never condemned homosexuality and lovingly accepted everyone regardless of lifestyle.  (Jesus defined what marriage IS and thereby precluded what it is NOT – Matt. 19:4-5.)  Other theologians (sometimes more ignorant than ordinary people) suggest that maybe Sodom’s sin actually was not in their perverted sexuality, or that maybe Jonathan and David were homosexual, or that Paul was gay, or that passages which condemn the sin really don’t mean what they say.

We are told that people are homosexual because they are “born that way” in spite of no evidence to prove it, and some blaspheme by saying “God made me gay.”  Polls are regularly published to suggest that the trend is toward accepting gay practices and gay marriage.  The gay agenda expects that moral sensibilities will become weary of objecting and that the majority will approve.  Satan’s expectations is that the more we are exposed to it, the less shocked we will feel.

In all of this there is an underlying hatred of Christianity.  People who hate God’s rules are haters of God.  But gays and their fellow travelers have appropriated the word “hate” to apply it against Christians.  Christians do not hate homosexuals.  We love their souls and want to see them repent and turn to God.  We do in fact hate their sinful lifestyle.  (By comparison, we can speak of hating cancer while not hating the cancer patient.  Homosexual conduct is a “malignancy” of character.)

Thus, we have sometimes expressed it:  “We love the sinner, but hate the sin.”  A pro-homosexual and anti-Christian newspaper columnist ridiculed this as hate speech.  The more Christians express their love and concern for souls, the more they will be despised by the ungodly.  There was a time when most all churches were bold in their denunciation of sin, even specific sins.  Now many are intimidated out of fear they will be accused of being intolerant and unloving.  But while churches are hiding behind a curtain of timidity, the anti-Christian world marches with bold belligerence to trample underfoot moral decency and reverence for God.

The homosexual agenda is determined to bully people and churches into acceptance.  Now, back to Lot.  He was a righteous man and was vexed by the sin around him.  But it was a society ruled by bullies.  The Sodomites pounded at his door demanding submission to their ungodly lusts.  That was an actual door, but it reminds us that the bullies of moral corruption are beating at the doors of our families and churches.

Culture and Bible Commands – Carl O. Cooper

There are some commands in the Bible that, to quote the late Howard Winters, “that are easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  One such scripture is the statement by Jesus in Matthew 19:9 where he says:  “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (NKJV).

In our modern culture where divorce is considered a commonly acceptable practice by the majority of the population, even members of the church have a hard time applying this verse to people and situations they encounter.  There is a natural tendency to soften this verse or explain it away to sidestep and avoid the consequences of this command.

The two most common ways that men use to try to nullify these words are to either claim that this is regulated by the culture and the laws of the land, or to try to spin a different meaning from the words by claiming, “They have a new meaning because of the tenses of the Greek words.”  They say the phrase, “commits adultery,” is said to be punctiliar rather than linear action, a onetime action and not continuing.  With that explanation it is said to be a sin, but once you repent of it, it is not necessary to do anything else because you have been forgiven for the action and you do not have to separate.  That explanation solves a lot of hard, difficult “messes” that people have created for themselves by their divorces.  The only problem with this explanation is that there is a very simple way to show that claiming this explanation is not valid.  Suppose we slightly change the words in the sentence to say, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries a man commits adultery.”  Doesn’t this clearly tell you what this phrase means?  There are no questions to be asked about tenses of the words, and no questions about this action and what needs to be done.  Don’t look for this explanation to be respected permanently.  With our culture changing and the acceptance of homosexual activity as normal, soon the example I just gave will no longer be enough to satisfy this explanation.  Culture makes a difference in how the Bible is interpreted, even in the church.

Another scripture that is more and more diluted by the culture of our time is Genesis 3:16.  To the woman He said:  “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  Once again, the culture of our times has influenced women to demand equality in all things with the men.  This includes equality in authority in the family and even within the church in some locations.  Even though the scriptures teach different roles for men and women in the home and in the church and even in life in general, these concepts and laws are “easy to understand, but hard to apply.”

1 Timothy 2:11-14 is an explanation of a difference in the roles of women and men.  “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”  Is there any clearer way to tell us why a woman is to “learn in silence (quietness) with all submission,” and why she is “not to teach or have authority over men” but to be in silence?  It is because “Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman fell into transgression.”  But, here again, the culture of our day is making men and women everywhere want to explain this verse out of the Bible.

First, there is a tendency to restrict this instruction to only within a church assembly.  But this passage is much broader than that.  The context is not just restricted to an assembly of the church.  Look at the context starting with verse 8:  “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere…”  Now, it is obvious that this is talking about anywhere men and women are gathered together and a public prayer is given.  The word “everywhere” is pretty broad and there is nothing in the context that restricts this to “an assembly of the church.”  In fact, it is just the opposite.

The very next verse says this:  “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel.”  Now, my question is this.  If the context is restricted to a church assembly, can a woman dress in immodest apparel everywhere else?  I think the answer to that is clear, don’t you?  The word “everywhere” is broad and inclusive, as it should be.  Just like the role of women as defined in Genesis 3:16 is broad and all-inclusive, so is the application of it in life.  This prohibition on women does not depend on the culture of our times to define it and it is broad and inclusive enough to flow continuously from woman to woman, from generation to generation, and from culture to culture, forever.  I like what Barnes has to say in his commentary on these verses:

The direction in 1 Timothy 2:9-12, therefore, is to be understood particularly of the proper deportment of females in the duties of public worship.  At the same time, the principles laid down are doubtless such as were intended to apply to them in the other situations in life, for if modest apparel is appropriate in the sanctuary, it is appropriate everywhere.  If what is here prohibited in dress is wrong there, it would be difficult to show that it is right elsewhere.  (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament)

And while we are looking at these verses, how does the culture of our day define “modest apparel”?  Even the young women in the church are “driven” to become like the images they constantly see portrayed on TV and in magazines and the movies.  This advertising is provocative and tempting and the culture of the world around us promotes and endorses it.  The way women dress absolutely catches the eyes of men.  This is the obvious and simple reasoning behind the clothes some women wear, and yet it is usually denied to give respectability to any immodest dress that culture promotes.  Is this “easy to understand?”  Yes, but “hard to apply.”

The last thing I want to mention is the list of sins mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”  The culture of our day is driving sin.  Here is a list of sins that will prevent a person from being saved if they are engaging in these activities.  There is not a shadow of doubt that this behavior described here is sin.

By now, most have heard of the NC Amendment One that was voted on May 8, 2012.  This amendment is not make our laws in NC clear that “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”  The culture of today has been carefully manipulated for a long time now to bring us to the point where we are today.  All of the children within our public schools have been fed a diet of “tolerance” for homosexual behavior for many years now.  This amounts to a public “brain washing” of the general population.  The only relief that any children have had for this is where a church or a parent has taken the time to give them the proper explanation at home or at church.

For many people, the Bible verses condemning homosexual behavior are “easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  Already laws are on the books to make it a criminal act to discriminate against this behavior in the work place.  Laws are also in place to allow full disclosure of this behavior within the military services and civil service jobs.  The media of all types glorify this behavior and make it “politically incorrect” to speak out against it.  Even this amendment won’t change much of this cultural acceptance of homosexual lifestyles by the general population.  There is likely to soon come a day when laws will appear making it unlawful for a church to discriminate against it and to speak publicly about it as a sin.

“Easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  Many things are.  But there is only one answer:  don’t give up!  It would be easy to hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich in fear of conflict and confrontation with the evils of sin.  But I am reminded of what the Bible says in Revelation 21:8:  “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Not only do we have an obligation to those caught up in these sins to tell them and teach them that this behavior will lead to eternal punishment and condemnation, but to cowardly avoid this responsibility is not respected by God either.  Sometimes it would do us good to remember the story of King David’s men.  In 2 Samuel 23:15-16 the Bible tells us:  “And David said with longing, ‘Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!’  So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David.  Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord.”  God so respected what these men did and the bravery they demonstrated in the army of the Lord that he recorded these events in the Bible as an example for us to honor as well.  Can we cowardly avoid telling the world about the consequences of sin?  And let us be very careful that we do not allow our own thoughts to be contaminated by the culture of our day.

The Bible also says in Romans 1:32:  “…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  To approve of sin is also a sin.  We must not allow ourselves to be influenced by the pressures of the culture of the day.

ccooperapp@aol.com

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.

Editor’s Page, May/June 2013 Issue – David R. Pharr

Since death comes to all men, regardless of nationality, color, education or rank, every thoughtful person knows that, even at best, he cannot stay here very long…With the exceptions of Enoch and Elijah, the mortality rate has been the same the world over – one death per person.

Gus Nichols, 1973

 

What stand does your congregation take in regard to various moral issues that are at the forefront of American society?  Yes, I am confident that those who read this – preachers, elders, strong members – know and believe what the Bible teaches relative to abortion, homosexual conduct, gay marriage, drugs and alcohol, racism, divorce, living together outside of marriage, etc.  But the question is how firmly and how specifically is the truth being taught on such matters?  And, how confident are we that attendees and the community around us know we hold an unwavering position?

The world (and maybe some in the church) does not consider it “politically correct” to be dogmatically against things that have become acceptable to society.  The pernicious bullying tactics of the gay rights movement, for an example, seek to label any who oppose their perversions as being backward, bigoted, and hateful.  The front cover of the April 8 issue of Time magazine says:  “Gay Marriage Already Won.  The Supreme Court hasn’t made up its mind – but America has.”  Though we are persuaded that the majority of Americans do not favor gay marriage, it appears media and political bullies are being successful in suppressing opposition.  Schools teach toleration in respect to the feelings of gays, but are intolerant toward those who want to uphold their Christian convictions.  Some religious leaders have openly endorsed sodomy (though they would be offended by the frank use of the term).  The AARP website features a link favorable to gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders (LGBT).  Situation comedies on TV portray everything turning out well for those who pursue the homosexual lifestyle.  Major retail corporations give financial support to so-called gay rights organizations.

We expect that older and mature Christians have their minds settled on this and other moral issues.  We have to be concerned, however, with what philosophies have been impressed into the minds of rising generations.  Public schools will not uphold righteousness.  It seems obvious that movies, TV, music, and the internet are the dominant forces for shaping American concepts of right and wrong.  In a culture of ever loosening standards we cannot expect children and youth to learn godly conviction by associations with their peers.  It must begin with parents.  And the church as a God-given mandate to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering [great patience] and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

As the above text continues, some “will not endure sound doctrine.”  When the church takes a bold stand there will be people offended.  Some visitors will not come back.  There might be members who decide to leave.  The church may get a reputation of backwardness and bigotry.  There may be charges of “hate speech” and lawsuits.  We can even imagine protesters marching in front of our buildings.  Eventually the tax free status of churches may be taken away from those who insist on biblical morality.

Certainly our opposition should not be hateful, but it must be frank.  It is one thing to say in general that we agree with Bible teaching.  It is more to the point to present actual texts, to give the sense of what they say, and to declare that is wherein we stand.

Will God Always Bless America? – David R. Pharr

When the representatives of thirteen original American colonies met together in the Continental Congress trying to devise a plan for a strong union of the states, Benjamin Franklin addressed George Washington, who was presiding: “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God rules in the affairs of men.  If a sparrow cannot fall without his notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without his aid?”  The founders of this country sought to establish a “nation under God.”  It used to be popular to sing:  God bless America, land that I love; Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night, with the light from above.  (John Gipson)

That God has blessed America can hardly be questioned.  But will God always bless America?

Three Irrefutable Truths

God does indeed rule in the affairs of men.  “Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord…The Lord looketh from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of men” and Jeremiah reminds of God’s power to “speak concerning a nation…to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it…” and of his speaking “concerning a nation…to build and to plant it” (Psa. 33:12f; Jere. 18:7ff).

Men are of limited capabilities.  The best diplomacy of statesmen and the keenest judgment of rulers cannot themselves guarantee the survival of nations.  The further men try to go without God the more helpless they are.  “It is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jere. 10:23).

Righteousness is a nation’s hope for survival.  “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

Destructive Trends

The trend in America is away from belief in a Supreme Being.

State and secular colleges and universities teach atheistic infidelity in many departments.  Amazingly, this is also the case of many religious institutions.  The wide spread teaching of evolution as if it were scientific fact is undermining trust in the Scriptures among an entire generation.

The United States Constitution mentions the “Supreme Being” four times.  No doubt, however, if it were being written now such references would be omitted.  As a public document, if it were not itself the Constitution, the courts would declare such references as “unconstitutional.”

Patrick Henry, the American patriot who is famous for saying, “Give me liberty or give me death,” also said: “It is impossible that a nation of infidels should be a nation of free men; it is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.”  Those Communist governments, which have a national policy against religion, make slaves of their people.

The trend away from belief in God fuels the growing emphasis on materialism to the exclusion of spiritual values.  Worldly wisdom assumes that if there is no God, no judgment, no heaven or hell, all that matters are the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life.”  Is it not a great irony that a nation that stamps “In God we trust” on its money in reality stamps “in money we trust” on its heart.  Theodore Roosevelt warned:  “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”

Another writer has observed that, by and large, the objectives of America today are success, status, and security, followed closely by self-indulgence, pleasure, and comfort.

This is to the neglect of spiritual values.  Paul wrote of those who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4), and of those who “seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s” (Phi. 1:21).  Will God always bless a people who covet more of His goodness while ignoring moral and spiritual responsibility?

Freedom and Duty

The freedom of the citizenry is a precious heritage and ought to be used as the freedom to do what is right.  Today freedom is widely interpreted to mean license to almost anything without regard for what is right, leading to excesses of sensuality.  The liberty our forefathers intended was not a casting away of moral restraint, but that is how it has come to be interpreted.

“Choice” has become the rallying cry for hateful abominations.  Millions of infants are slaughtered on the altar of “a woman’s right to choose.”  The blood of innocents drips from the hands of abortionists, while courts and congress and society are complicate in the crime.  A “right” granted by courts and Congress does not make wrong right!

We do hear voices of national concern over such things as alcohol, illicit sex, and drug abuse, but the emphasis seems more for health concerns.  Moral implications are largely ignored.  It is right, certainly, to be alarmed about harm to the mind and body, but should it not also be urgent to guard the soul?

Arnold Toynbee, the famous historian, said, “Of the twenty-one civilizations fallen, eighteen of them have fallen by the time their moral standards had reached those of America today.”

Nation’s Strength

Where is a nation’s strength?  It is not in the size of its armies.  Joab reminded David of this when the king decided to number (measure the strength) of his people (2 Sam. 24:2f).  It is not in the strength of its weapons.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

It is not in its prosperity and resources.  “The Lord maketh poor, maketh rich: he bringeth low and lifteth up” (1 Sam. 2:7).

It is not in scientific achievement.  Someone said recently that unless the United States gives greater prestige to science we might as well “write this country off the books.”  But if science is all we have to trust in, this country is already “off the books.”

It is not alone in our freedom.  Our free choices can either save us or destroy us.  Only when freedom chooses to do right is there strength in freedom.

What, then, is a nation’s strength?  The right kind of people is the greatest strength a nation can have.  “Righteousness exalteth a nation…”  The Frenchman de Toqueville is reported to have said, “America is great because she is good; when America is no longer good she will no longer be great.”  Another writer said, “A nation’s greatness is found in the quotient of its goodness.”  Historians have noted that most civilizations have decayed from within and that the outward manifestations of their decay were drunkenness, idleness, and immorality.  Virile civilizations have been characterized by sobriety, industry, and clean moral living.

We do not understand God’s specific purpose and plans for our nation, or any other.  We do not pretend to know, for example, why God allows some extremely evil powers to continue as long as they do.  But we do understand that men and nations are blessed who seek the favor of their Creator.

(No originality is claimed for these observations.  They are from notes from various sources that I had collected for a sermon. – David Pharr)