Personal From the President
January 13, 2022
Recognizing and Praying about the Assault on Biblical Authority
Writing shortly before his execution, the apostle Paul provided us this solemn warning: “In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people . . . will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God . . . They will consider nothing sacred” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).
We are not yet in those final “last days.” But we do emphatically see the groundwork being laid—even advanced—in the form of insidious attacks, both on the authority of the Bible and the sanctity of the God-ordained family! It is critical for all those in the Church of God community to know and appreciate the depth of this continued societal crumbling away from the Word of God.
Please read this carefully. This week we read troubling news from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced in celebration: “It’s official: Our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of [LGBTQ] conversion therapy . . . is now law.”
The now-official C-4 bill (parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/C-4/royal-assent) amending Canada’s criminal code activates unusually dangerous language. It states by implication that what we authoritatively understand concerning the biblical family model and family roles is nothing but a “myth.” It further prohibits any attempts to formally “force” a person with gay feelings and focus to “convert” to that of a biblical heterosexual orientation (through so-called “conversion therapy”), criminalizing such acts and adding potential jail sentencing up to five years.
Here is a summation of the Canadian Act from our legal counsel:
Under the Act itself “conversion therapy means a practice, treatment or service designed to
(a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual;
(b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender;
(c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;
(d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior;
(e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or
(f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
Of course, we as a church do not possess or endorse any formal “conversion” practices as detailed in the Canadian law. But it doesn’t take a legal expert to recognize how that new statute might be applied in the future to someone teaching biblical truth about same-sex acts from Leviticus 18 and 20, Romans 1, or 1 Corinthians 6.
Blithely ignoring biological facts, the new Canadian law erroneously states: “Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths . . . including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred” (emphasis added).
As the Church has previously proclaimed, the United States Congress continues to advance its own tragic version of this in the so-called “Equality Act.” Now passed by the House, the Senate will consider it later this year. If passed, it currently contains no religious exemption (simmsshowerslaw.com/what-you-need-know-h-r-5-equality-act).
Consider how completely upside down this is! As I prepare this, the medical condition of gender dysphoria—the pathological feeling or state that one has been born in the wrong body, is presently formally listed as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
Despite this formal listing, professors in medical schools are presently creating all kinds of confusion among medical students. In its current coverage of United States events, the British Economist magazine reported this week that U.S. medical schools now disconcertingly teach medical students that “gender dysphoria is not a mental illness.” The magazine asks: “How has trans ideology made its way into medical schools?” In answer, the Economist magazine points out that while so-called “trans medicine” is not yet part of medical school core curriculums, most medical students “understand” that as future doctors, they are to “uncritically and unquestioningly” support requests for “gender change” for “children as young as nine”! The Economist alarmingly notes that this “care” has “done irreversible harm to some young people’s bodies” (emphasis added).
We need to recognize this for what it is—a perverse undermining and corruption of biblical teaching!
Tragically, it’s getting worse. France is in the final stages of enacting similar “conversion therapy” and gender legislation, and the British Parliament began the process to enact similar bans in December. The Economist notes that this trend is not universally welcomed among medical professionals: “Much of what passes for gender medicine has been pursued recklessly, with little care for the long-term well-being of patients. Yet even within the field, doubts are spreading. Hospitals in Finland and Sweden have backed off from prescribing puberty blocking drugs to the under-18s . . . In America, where any deviation from gender affirmation risks provoking attacks on social media, prominent gender doctors are beginning to worry that puberty blocking drugs and surgery have been handed out too readily.”
Let me speak plainly. The Bible is authoritatively clear. A state of godly marriage is between a man and woman, as biologically defined. Physical sexual activity is only permitted or encouraged inside of a biblically-defined marriage. Sexual acts between men and men or women and women are not permitted and are condemned by the living Word of God. These are core, inviolable teachings.
We, as a church, recognize that there exist constant attacks on biblical teachings about same-sex activity. Ironically, even as our in-depth Beyond Today coverage of the archaeological discovery of the biblical site of Sodom—a city destroyed by God in part for sexual depravity—was distributed, the Washington Times ran a front-page story this week about “accusations of ‘gaywashing’” over a Greek word traditionally translated “sodomites” (arsenokoitai) in 1 Corinthians 6:9, which was revised by one new edition to read “men who engage in illicit sex.” This blurs the intended meaning.
The Greek word “arsenokoitai” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is correctly translated as “men who have sex with men” by the New International Version or “men who practice homosexuality” by the English Standard Version.
Referencing same sex prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and 20, scholar Kevin DeYoung explains: “Paul is explicitly drawing this teaching [from Leviticus] into the New Testament . . . given the context in Leviticus and how it’s used elsewhere after the New Testament, means men having sex with other men. And there is no real other interpretation that makes the best sense of the evidence both in the early Christian literature and especially in the Old Testament” (crossway.org/articles/what-does-arsenokoitai-mean).
What does this mean going forward in the Church of God? While we are instructed to “cry aloud, spare not” (Isaiah 58:1), we are also warned by Jesus: “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, ESV).
People may falsely try to brand us with the meaningless political labels “homophobic” or “transphobic,” but the truth is, we are neither and we should make that clear. We recognize that all are sinners, that much of human life is a struggle. We are not to hate or condemn the sinner, but we are to hate the sin. We are to be empathetic with each other, striving to be a light to the world by our examples (Matthew 5:14), but in no way ever endorsing biblically fraudulent concepts.
We must recognize the times we live in, and fully and positively ground ourselves in the biblical truth of God. We should pray for protection, especially for our young people. As reported earlier this month, many members of Generation Z (people born in the years 1997-2012) openly call on religious groups to fully embrace LGBTQ beliefs, putting intense pressure on our teens and young adults (religionnews.com/2022/01/03/refusal-to-engage-gen-z-sees-gap-in-support-of-lgbtq-rights-among-faith-groups).
This has been a long time coming. Many prominent scholars, business leaders, writers and more have tried to wield a secular axe against biblical authority. As I wrote three years ago in Beyond Today (ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/the-race-for-immortality), the popular Israeli-born scholar Yuval Noah Harari has written and lectured extensively about how he believes that all religions and sacred writings—including his native ancestral Torah—are false and completely fabricated by humans. I quoted then from his best-selling book Homo Deus (Latin for man god), in which he states: “We don’t need to pray to any god or saint to rescue us . . . We will now aim to upgrade humans into gods and turn Homo sapiens into Homo deus.” The secular “death of God,” he alleges, is chief among humanity’s “positive developments.”
God will deliver us in the Church of God from our fears (Psalm 34:4), but we must wisely, earnestly and prayerfully consider the “perilous times” in which we are entering. As I instruct our Ambassador Bible College students, I challenge all of us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and, further, as Peter proclaimed: “save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40, NIV).
Thy Kingdom come!