Know Your Bible
VOL. 14 February 19, 2017 NO. 49
DOES THE BIBLE ENCOURAGE BIGOTRY?
In the current furor over "gay rights," there seems to be a concerted effort to brand anyone opposed to homosexual behavior as bigots still living in the Dark Ages. We are constantly bombarded with calls to wipe out bigotry and to be more tolerant of people different from us, regardless of the source or nature of that difference. It is becoming ever more politically expedient to cater to the "gay rights" cause. Our new president-elect promises swift action to overturn the ban on homosexuals in the military. This will force all military personnel to consider all the gays to be just one of the guys. To do otherwise will be to condone bigotry.
Efforts are also underway to ban discrimination against homosexuals in housing, jobs, and other areas. The goal is to force the American public to grant to "gays" all the rights and protection that are rightfully granted to racial and ethnic minorities. The propaganda mills and the liberal news media are working overtime to depict the opposition to this move- ment as bigotry. Our educational system, in many instances, is conditioning our children to accept anyone regardless of his “sexual preference."'
Religious groups are being pressured to get in step with modern society by accepting "gays," not only as members, but into their leadership. Any group who makes any kind of gesture in that direction is generally, and often generously, praised by the news media for being enlightened and progressive. Such efforts are considered as just another step away from the bigotry of the past.
All of this has caused me to ask, sometimes out loud, "Does the Bible condone bigotry? Were some of those we read about in the Bible bigots? Is God a bigot?" The answer is “yes" -- if opposition to "gays" and their perverse lifestyle makes one a bigot.
God destroyed Sodom, a city with the dubious distinction of having a sin named for it. The nature of her prevailing sin is learned from reading Genesis 19. On the eve of her destruction, two angels in the form of men were guests in the home of Lot, Abraham's nephew. That night, the Bible says, "The men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, `Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally"' (vv. 4-5). To protect his guests, Lot offered the men what he considered a lesser evil -- his two virgin daughters. This did not appease this "gay" mob. In verse 9, they just told Lot to "stand back!" and accused him of keeping on acting as a judge (v. 9). I guess they thought he was some kind of bigot. But God made good his threat to destroy the city. It went up in smoke. Was God a bigot?
In giving the law of Moses, God included a ban on homosexual conduct. He said, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them" (Lev. 20:13). Was God a bigot in commanding such? Was Moses a bigot for passing it on to Israel?
Paul wrote, "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due....Who, knowing the righteous judgments of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Rom. 1:26, 27, 32).
Again he wrote, "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" (1 Cor. 6:9).
Was Paul a bigot? Paul said, "These things we (Paul and other inspired men -- eob) also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches" (1 Cor. 2:12,13). He also said that the things that he wrote were the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
Are the biblical writers, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be charged with bigotry? Certainly not! Neither should anyone who follows their teaching on the moral issue of homosexuality.
Does God love the "gay" person? Of course, He does. He also loves the drunkard, the thief, the murderer and the heterosexual fornicator. Jesus died for them and all other sinners. If they will meet the Lord's conditions of salvation they can be washed from their sins in the blood of Christ. When they do this, their guilt is removed. They are no longer unrighteous, but made righteous by the mercy of God. They are washed, sanctified and justified "in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11). One of the conditions for all of this is repentance. God does not accept them "just as they are" without any change of heart and behavior. Until people turn from their ungodly conduct, they have no right to expect the same “rights" as those who do not practice such sins against God and society.
—Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
IS THIS AN ACTIVE AND GROWING CHURCH?
There can be no doubt that the Lord expects every congregation of His people to be active and growing. He told all of the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2,3) that He was aware of their activity. He began His assessment of each church with the statement, “I know thy works.” We would be seriously mistaken to imagine that He does not make the same observation of all churches today.
So, we must be active and growing. But, while seeking to be so, there are some errors to avoid:
1) Don’t equate increased numbers with real growth. Yes, growth usually means an increase in the physical size of the congregation, but not always. There are instances where the kind of ‘growing’ that God desires will actually result in lower numbers. The rapidly growing church in Jerusalem actually lost members in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1ff). The church at Corinth was condemned because an immoral brother had not been “taken away from among you” (1 Cor. 5:2). ‘Growing’ sometimes means losing numbers in order to please God.
2) Do not confuse ‘commotion’ with beneficial, God-honoring activity. Seems some brethren think that ‘keeping things stirred up’ is a good thing. And so, they constantly are bringing up controversial subjects or suggesting ill-conceived plans that force an unnecessary tumult. These folks apparently have missed the analogy of the church to a flock of sheep. Just as sheep do best when kept calm, so also the church. We do not need or want unnecessary stress and turmoil in the local church.
3) Never compromise Bible authority in the name of ‘doing good.’ The religious world at large–and sadly, too many of our own brethren–urge us to consider ‘how much good is being done’ when we challenge them about their unscriptural practices. We must remember Samuel’s famous rebuke to King Saul: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Or, to put it another way, you aren’t really ‘doing good’ if you aren’t adhering to Bible authority.
4) Be careful about assuming that ‘special programs’ are essential in achieving growth. Too many disciples apparently think that nothing is being done if there are not specially organized efforts in behalf of this or that artificially designated group within the congregation. This is particularly evident in regards to ‘programs for the young people.’ However, even denominational ‘church growth experts’ are proclaiming that “today's modern concept of youth ministry is a 50-year failed experiment” (Christian Post, 7/28/11). Actually, this institutionalized view of activity hurts the real productivity of a congregation by causing members to sit back and wait for someone to ‘organize’ something, rather than using their own initiative to get God’s work done.
5) Do not imagine that the church is not growing and active simply because you don’t ‘see’ something happening. Often the most positive work done in a local congregation is done by quiet, humble servants who are simply out there caring for the sick, encouraging the weak, sharing the gospel with others, etc. They’re not trying to make a big ‘splash’–they’re just doing their best to accomplish all they can. They are not doing their work “to be seen of men” (Matt. 6:1ff).
Active? Growing? Yes, we must be! But let’s evaluate our progress as the Lord does, and not as man does. Think!
Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.
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