Advanced Bible Studies
25. What About Contemporary Social Issues?
What About Contemporary Social Issues?
One of the greatest challenges when it comes to the Bible and faith concerns what we are to do when a Bible doctrine or teaching appears to go against the popular views (i.e., opinions) of men and even the supposed “scientific” positions of “the experts.” What do we do when men contradict the Bible? What do we do when men are convinced that they have “proved” the Bible wrong?
Well, first of all we should realize that the Bible – the Word of God – has been around a very long time. And men have been challenging the Word of God since the beginning. Just consider the Satanically inspired Fall of Man recorded in Genesis 3:1-24. For another interesting story of man’s futile challenge to the Word of God consider Jeremiah 36:1-32. There are those, of course, those who would have you believe that such is only the stuff of myth and legend. There are those who would insist that such stories are just so much nonsense. There are those who would relegate all of the stories of the Bible to antiquated superstition and cultural bias. What do you really think about Scripture? See Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Consider Isaiah 40:8 – “The Word of the Lord stands forever.” (For a study on “What About the Bible?” go here.)
What really motivates all such attempts to prove God wrong is really very simple: Most men really don’t want to believe in God anyway. Why? The answer is rather obvious: If you believe in God then you have to answer to him! If you believe that the Bible is the Word of Truth, then you have to be accountable to what Scripture says! And so, men would rather ignore the Bible and deny the existence of God than admit he exists and accept his Word as being true. We do go to an awful lot of trouble to try and prove that he does not exist and that his Word is not true. It’s all just so much “wishful thinking.” It’s all just a matter of unbelief. In fact, it all comes down to this:
“What if some did not have faith? (What if some do not believe?) Will their lack of faith (belief) nullify God’s faithfulness (i.e., the fact that God is faithful and true – the fact that he is real)? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:3-4)
Please let that sink into your mind and heart. What you believe or don’t believe about God and his Word does not change one single thing. What anyone believes or does not believe about God and his Word does not change one single thing. What men say about anything, when it comes down to it, does not really matter. Why? Because men are depraved and sinful liars and only God is true. Period! Don’t ever forget that!
One other thing that you had best realize is that when men don’t want to believe the Truth, God will not only allow them to believe the lie but he will also send them a strong delusion because they do not have any love for the Truth. What is more, they will be damned because they did not want to believe the Truth but rather took pleasure in unrighteousness. Is this a little much for you to take? Well, you had better carefully read II Thessalonians 2:1-17 and especially note II Thessalonians 2:10-12!
So, what is it for you that stands as “Absolute Truth”? Basically the answer can only be found in yourself, in others, or in the Lord God of All. (Of course you can always do what all too many do in these modern times – deny the reality of any such thing as “absolute truth.” We do live in an era in which “subjective narcissistic relativism” is the order of the day, when men say things like: “Truth is whatever you make it out to be and your “truth” is “truth” for you but it may not be for me. To each his own.” Does anyone really and truly believe such nonsense? There is no hope for those who deny the existence of absolute truth. Consider Isaiah 5:18-20.) Let’s get to it right now. It all comes down to this:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.’” (Jeremiah 17:5-10)
Anyone who trusts in himself has a fool for a god! See Proverbs 28:26 cf. Proverbs 3:5-6. Anyone who trusts in others is only believing in fools for gods! See Jeremiah 17:5,7. When we put our trust in self or in men all we are doing is putting our faith in deceived and deluded fools. (Or worse, we are putting our faith in lying deceivers!) Consider Proverbs 14:12; 16:25. The trouble is, we think that we are so very good. See Matthew 19:16-17; Mark 10:17-18; Luke 18:18. And the trouble is, we think we are so very smart. Haven’t you lived long enough to see that we aren’t good enough and we aren’t smart enough to save us from ourselves and from others? Perhaps one of the best assessments of all of this is found in I Corinthians 1:18-3:23. It is here that the Lord tells us in his Word:
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? […] The world through its wisdom did (does) not know God. […] For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. […] But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’ […] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight …” (I Corinthians 1:20,21,25,27-31; 3:19)
And in the middle of all this …
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit (the unspiritual or natural man) does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (it takes spiritual discernment to understand them). The spiritual man makes judgments (is able to make spiritual judgments) about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind (thoughts) of the Lord that he may instruct (teach) him?' But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:12-16)
Also compare and consider the following …
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:5-17!)
We are thus making a very serious mistake when we put our trust in self or man or science or politics or governments or church or synods or councils or any other man-made powers, secular or religious. These are sorry gods after all! They will not and cannot save us. In fact they are all composed and comprised of sinful, deluded men – just like ourselves. Only God can save us. Only he will tell us the absolute truth. May we “let God be true, and every man a liar”!
With all of this said, let’s now consider just two major issues in the contemporary world that have greatly troubled both our culture and the church. One has to do with a woman’s role in the church. The other has to do with what the Bible says about homosexuality. The way in which we are going to approach these two issues is to simply allow God to be God and to allow the Scripture to speak for itself. We are going to approach these two subjects with the principle of “let God be true, and every man a liar.” Now within the realms of men and religion, within society and even within the church there is a tremendous amount of controversy over both of these matters. To even touch upon these subjects is to spark the fury of men and the very fires of hell! You can find all kinds of men and women from every realm who will set themselves up as “experts” and present all kinds of “social and scientific evidence” on one side of the debate or the other. These two issues have not only affected our culture and its politics, they have also infected our churches.
So, what does the Bible say? First keep in mind that men will basically tell you anything and will attempt to present all kinds of supposed facts and figures regarding these matters. Who are you going to believe? Some will tell you that science or sociology supposedly “proves” this or that. Others will insist that the Bible actually does not really mean what it says – that it is wrongly translated or culturally biased or just plain wrong. Again, whom are you going to believe – God or man? Why not just take the Bible as the Word of God and simply believe what it says? (Of course it has to be properly interpreted. But the most important qualification of Scripture interpretation is a “good and honest heart! See Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15. Apparently, most men and women don’t have that.) Don’t allow the wisdom and foolishness of men (even religious men and women!) to confuse you. What the Bible says about the role of women in the church and the subject of homosexuality is really not that difficult – unless, that is, you have a problem with what God says and you would rather not believe it. Isn’t that really the problem? When we don’t want to believe something don’t we all go into a kind of deluded and delusional self-deceiving denial? Don’t we all look for ways to explain away the difficult things? Why don’t you just read what the Scripture has to say and understand it and believe it for yourself? It’s not that hard – unless you really don’t want to believe God.
The Bible on Homosexuality
In the Old Testament homosexuality is mentioned in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction in Genesis 19:1-29. (And no, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because the men of the cities were guilty of a “breach of hospitality and etiquette.” And no, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because their specific sin and practice was “male temple prostitution.” And yes, what we find in Sodom and Gomorrah was a culture wholly given over to homosexuality and the sin involved homosexual lust, violence and rape. But, there is more! In the New Testament, Jude 1:7 clearly tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their “sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lusts” or “perversion.” The older translations call it “lusting after strange flesh.”) It should be noticed that homosexuality (lust, violence and rape) was not just a problem of Gentile pagans. It was also a problem within Israel. See Judges 19:1-21:25. Now consider the specific legislation in the Law of Moses that deals with the sinful practice of homosexuality:
Leviticus 18:22 – “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable (an abomination).”
Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable (committed an abomination). They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
These two passages lie within the context of the Torah’s (the Law of Moses) teaching on unlawful sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual. See Leviticus 18:1-20:27. Some of these sins (but not all) were a direct response to the immoral and disgusting depravities of pagan idolatry.
Within the New Testament the specific references to the practice of homosexuality are much broader in scope. Consider the following major passage in Romans that deals with homosexual sin:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18-32)
Other New Testament passages on homosexual sin:
I Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
I Timothy 1:8-11 – “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
Jude 1:7 – “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire (perversion), serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
It must be realized that the New Testament is just as explicit about the sinfulness of heterosexually immoral practices as it is of homosexual practices! We sometimes forget that heterosexual promiscuity is just as abominable as homosexual practices. (Study Matthew 5:27-30; Romans 13:11-14; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:17-5:20; Colossians 3:1-17; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; etc.) It must also be realized that while God created marriage as the only legitimate context for the expression of our sexual natures, marriage is only between a man and a woman who become husband and wife. Any sexual activity outside of God ordained marriage is wrong. There is no such thing as “homosexual marriage” in the eyes of God. See Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12 … Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (While we are at it perhaps we should also note how very strict God’s law is on marriage, divorce and remarriage! For even more verses on this, study Malachi 2:13-16 [Proverbs 2:17] and Matthew 5:31-32; 14:3-5; Mark 6:17-20; Luke 3:19-20; 16:18; Romans 7:1-4; I Corinthians 7:10-11; etc.) By the way, does anyone realize that it’s not just the “act of sexual immorality” (whether homosexual or heterosexual) that is wrong; it’s also the “lust of sinful thinking” that is wrong (whether heterosexual or homosexual). See Exodus 20:17 and Matthew 5:28 and II Peter 2:14 … James 1:13-15!
The Bible on the Role of Women in the Church
This one is “easy” – or at least it should be if we are willing to just accept what God has said. The truth is the Scripture everywhere presents the principle of “male spiritual leadership.” In saying this it must be understood that this truth in no way implies that women have no place or value in faith and religion. In saying this we are not saying that women do not possess a “spiritual leadership” in their own “right”, given by God. Quite the contrary! In the beginning “man and woman” were together created in the image and likeness of God. See Genesis 1:27-31. When the Lord God created the woman he said, “I will make a helper suitable for (i.e., a power equal to) him.” See Genesis 2:18. In the New Testament we find the principle that men and women are essentially and basically equals in the spiritual realm. In Christ there is “neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” See Galatians 3:28. But, between Genesis One and the coming of Christ and his New Covenant something terrible happened! What happened was the Fall of Man. And that “fall” changed everything. See Genesis 3:1-24.
While man and woman are basically and essentially equals, the Lord has seen fit to give them differing roles in their personal relationships and in the practice of faith and religion. Such becomes abundantly clear in the Old Testament. And it not enough to just say that all of this is because of patriarchal and parochial views. The principle of “male spiritual leadership” is seen in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. For instance, in the Law of Moses there was no such thing as “women priests” who officiated in the Tabernacle or the Temple. There was no authority for a woman to be an officiating priest in the Law of Moses. In the New Testament we see the same principle of “male spiritual leadership” truth translated into the life of the church. Consider the following passages:
I Corinthians 11:3 – “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
I Corinthians 14:33-35 – “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
I Timothy 2:11-15 – “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent (listen quietly). For Adam was formed first, then Eve…”
It should be noted that there is a difference between the terms for “silence” or “quiet” in I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 1:11-12 which are clearly reflected in the context. In I Corinthians the term “silent” means “absolute silence” because some of the women were interrupting and disrupting the services. (Some of the men were also told to “shut-up” for similar reasons in I Corinthians 14:28,30.) In I Timothy the term for “silence” has reference to the “quietness of a gentle spirit.”
The principle of male headship and leadership also extends into the marriage relationship as realized from Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19; Titus 2:3-5; I Peter 3:1-6; etc. Several things need to be noted. The doctrines and dogmas of men greatly pervert the teachings of all of these passages that deal with the principle of male spiritual leadership. Some would make male leadership harsh, domineering and tyrannical. Others would completely ignore the order that God has ordained. Still others would lead the church into a very worldly feminist revolution that completely reinterprets Scripture in light of its own agenda. Much of the modern church is steeped in the foolishness of secularism and seeks to ultimately create the church in its own corrupt image. What are you going to believe about all of this? Why don’t you simply reject the doctrines of men and take God at his Word? Of course you must interpret all of these verses in light of the context of the Word of God. So, for instance, I Corinthians 14:33-35 must be placed in the context of the use of the miraculous spiritual gifts Paul deals with in I Corinthians 12:1-14:40. And I Corinthians 11:3 must be put in the context of Paul’s dealing with the matter of the head covering dealt with in I Corinthians 11:2-16. You did note, didn’t you, that all these passages ultimately go back to God’s created order and purpose for man and woman in Creation found in Genesis 1:1-3:24? You must do the same contextual interpretation and understanding of each and every passage. But one thing you must not do is what most appear to be doing in the religious world – explaining away the Scriptures that they don’t like by perverting the very Words of God in order to justify themselves and their sinful practices.
Before we go any further in taking the secular and religious world to task over its perverted concepts realized in the feminist movement, let me just say right here that if believers were doing a better job of letting their light shine and making a difference in the world, perhaps the feminist movement would have never gotten started in the world and taken over the church! Perhaps if more believers understood that “male spiritual leadership and headship” is all about “loving servant leadership” that models the very life of Christ (John 13:1-17) then we would never have had to deal with the full-blown foolishness of the Women’s Movement that has corrupted both culture and church.
Women’s Rights issues have become a supercharged issue in the modern world and whatever is a problem in the world sooner or later gets dragged into the church. The problem is, all the baggage of secularism and worldliness all too frequently gets dumped into the church at the same time. We are told to “come out from the world and be separate” (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1) but instead we all too easily compromise with the devil’s lies and rebel against the higher purposes of God. Shame on us! One of the most serious problems with the Women’s Rights (i.e., feminist) movement is that any secular and political ideology that seeks to champion “rights” all too quickly forgets that because we are sinners we have no rights! Rather, we have all – every one of us! – become slaves to sin. See Romans 6:1-23. As slaves to sin we all stand condemned and only grace can save us. In Christ we have not been called to champion our “rights” we have been called to a life of humble, submissive service. In our calling we have also been called to look to the needs of others as we call the world to true justice. This is true for both men and women. This is true for both husbands and wives. Simply put, we have no “rights” we only have “responsibilities.” And this is what is missing from most political and social movements that attempt to create their own sense of liberty and justice in the world apart from the will of God. What most in the world do not at all understand is that leadership in the church and headship in the home is not about “power and control”; rather it is about something which the world just does not understand. See Matthew 18:1-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37; 10:13-16,35-45; Luke 9:46-48; 18:15-17; 22:24-30; John 13:1-17; etc.
Do women have a place in the service of the church? Why of course! Just read the Bible and see the truth for yourself. But, realize that there is absolutely no authority for the “women preachers and pastors” that the modern day religious world advocates. (It appears however that many cannot read the Bible except through the lens of modern day social issues. Instead of allowing the Bible to interpret [i.e., change] the world, we allow the world to interpret [i.e., change] the Bible!) See I Timothy 2:11-13. It’s not that women can’t be teachers or servants in the church. They can! See Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3; Acts 16:14-15; 18:1-28; 21:9; Romans 16:1-2,3-5,6,7 ; I Corinthians 16:19; Philippians 4:2-3; I Timothy 5:3-16; Titus 2:1-5; etc. (Perhaps one of the best places to go in the Old Testament to find “the proper place [i.e., role] of a woman in the home and in the world” is Proverbs 31:10-31!)
In this study we have considered just two modern day issues that trouble the world and the church. To this could be added a hundred more! No matter what contemporary social issue you consider, the principles are basically the same. It’s all about what God says, not what man thinks. So, how do you understand all of this? How do you read and see everything? What do you think? What do you believe? Make up your mind! Take a stand! Be sure and put Scripture in context and harmonize all that it says with all the Truth of God’s Holy Word. But, in everything you do, you had better come to terms with what the Lord actually says, because in the final analysis, God is right and his Word is true and all men are just lying and depraved little sinners. And that’s just the way it is. See Colossians 3:1-17!
“Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4)