Open Forum: Business as usual?

Posted: April 2, 2013

It seems a small squall has blown up following a letter advocating same-sex love. Those against condemn it on the basis of scripture; supporters say scripture is all about love and acceptance, and, anyway, the Bible merely reflects the cultural norms of the times, many of which, like polygamy and slavery, we have abandoned. So why not abandon the rejection of homosexuality?

By the cultural-norm argument, the Israelites should have adopted homosexuality instead of rejecting it, since it was all around them. But they were following a God who had created mankind male and female, commanding them to multiply and subdue the earth. No room here for homosexuality; for them to have accepted it would have been a rejection of their God.

One commenter spoke for many when she said that since there are so many interpretations of the Bible and so many Christian sects (33,000 by Wikipedia’s count), there is no right or wrong interpretation. We should adhere to the doctrine that best reflects our personal views and which makes us most comfortable. In other words, scripture is not a source of divine truth which, when obeyed, radically changes our lives; it is something we read for its poetic comfort.

But anyone who takes Christ seriously knows truth is the very heart of scripture. Unfortunately, divisions in Christianity have vitiated the full power of the truth given us by Christ. There was a time, when the nation was Christian, that these divisions in Christianity seemed acceptable, but that time is gone. Religion is no longer seen as beneficial to society. It’s now condemned as an obstacle to the godless utopia being prepared for us.

Some cases in point: Author Steven Macedo, in his books, argues that the power of government can be legitimately used against illiberal churches because doing so promotes greater overall freedom for society. He argues that certain religious believers (Catholics in particular) can justly be excluded from public office.

Philosopher Richard Rorty, in “Truth and Progress,” proclaims that the “highest achievements of humanity” are incompatible with traditional religion.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas questioned the right of parents to “impose” their religious values on their children. The state, he thinks, has the obligation to expose children to “the new and amazing world of diversity which we have today,” thus implying an official orthodoxy to which religions must submit.

In “Religious Schools vs. Children’s Rights,” James Dwyer tells us religious education inculcates “reactionary and repressive” values in children. The state is obligated to forbid such schools and to monitor closely how parents educate children at home. These are not isolated cases, but the trend.

It can no longer be business as usual for Christians. We cannot go on with the splintered Christianity we have had for the past 500 years with each group ensconced in its private enclave claiming to speak for Christ.

Christ prayed the night before he died that his followers “. . . may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (Jn. 17: 21).

Did he provide for this necessary unity? For something as important as the transmission of divine truth throughout the ages, he must have, and he did — the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1 Ti. 3:15), founded upon a Rock against which the gates of Hell would not prevail. And to that Rock he gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 16: 18, 19), thus establishing a perpetual office with the authority to teach in his name. (Jn. 14: 18)

The Church, a gathering of sinners, has never been perfect in regard to its members. Over the centuries many members failed in their discipleship (even some popes), but through the promise of Christ and the office given to Peter and his successors, the Church has held fast to his truth.

When the reformers rejected the Church, they rejected the teaching authority given to the Church; their personal opinions were taught as Christ’s truth. Even though the lives of their adherents were no worse than those who professed to be Catholic (because those who seek Christ will find him), the witness to Christ became disordered.

Today we see Christian churches proclaiming that what had been forbidden for almost two millennia is now allowed: divorce, contraception, abortion, homosexual practice. Each one of these new teachings attacks a reality established by God. Given the threat that Christians are now under throughout the West, it has become absolutely necessary to reconsider the fact that we are living in opposition to Christ’s prayer for unity.

D.F. McNeill, formerly of Front Royal but now a resident of Liberty, Mo., is an E-Edition subscriber to The Star.