United Church of God

Update from the President: June 25, 2020

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Update from the President

June 25, 2020

Defending Biblical Beliefs in a Cultural Revolution

Already devastated by dual crises of pandemic and racial unrest, the year 2020 saw another major upheaval detonate in mid-June, this time with potential direct implications for the Church of God community. The outcomes strike at the heart of key fundamental biblical teachings on how gender—male and female—is defined. Experts note that the ruling will likely result in a dramatic adverse effect on religious and other freedoms in the United States.

While championed by some as a victory for individual rights, it is anything but that.

The far-reaching decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically—and inappropriately—expands legal definitions contained in Civil Rights legislation enacted well over half a century ago. The original legislation itself was devoid of any of the language or intent now artificially attached to it.

How did this come about? The Court reviewed an appeal of a controversial case—Bostock v. Clayton County—and its majority binding opinion now unnaturally expands federal law regarding possible "discrimination" against human-defined sexual orientation and gender identity.

One of the Supreme Court justices who voted against the opinion formally objected that the majority opinion entered into the realm of the "preposterous." In his formal dissent the Justice criticized the assumptions of the opinion, noting that it displayed "breathtaking arrogance."

The ruling in effect directly attacks biblical truth regarding both behavior between men and women and the very definitions of the same. The majority opinion reflected what a New York Times headline read: "What does Sex Mean? The Supreme Court Answers." The reporter rightly wondered whether the ruling will further inflame the cultural war engulfing America.

The Bible is plain and clear about this issue. We read in Genesis 1:27: "God created man in His own image . . . male and female He created them." These represent spiritual as well as biological definitions, subsequently characterizing specific roles defined for each gender that God created. Never does the Bible say something like, "God helped make possible genderless bipeds who can subjectively decide which sexual category they prefer based on emotional self-determined criteria."

Make no mistake, a secular cultural revolution is afoot in America, one in which shifting cultural winds are attempting to aggregate public opinion and are declaring war on God and against the absolute truth of the Bible.

As a church, what is our role, our responsibility here? "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, New International Version, emphasis added throughout).

For certain, we are admonished by the Bible to "be subject to the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1, English Standard Version), but mark this—when human laws attempt to contravene the divine laws and truth of the Bible, the apostle Peter gives us our clear direction: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

We must realize that while the U.S. Supreme Court represents an institution sincerely concerned with ordering society in a peaceful manner, the Court is comprised of fallible men and women, supported by law clerks who may not hold to the standards of established biblical truth. Despite their learned status and achievements, they all are but human and capable as humans of egregious error.

Here is a critical point: many expert legal commentators note that the U.S. Supreme Court often reflects changing American culture as opposed to objective principles of law. Manifesting that capacity, terribly wrong decisions were handed down in the Dred Scott and the Plessy v. Ferguson cases in the late 1800s, where the Supreme Court separately and tragically ruled that the Constitution was not written to confer rights of citizens of the United States on black people, and that racial segregation was constitutionally legal, creating the highly flawed and unworkable concept of "separate but equal." These tragic conditions were culturally common at the time, and the Court served to be a cultural enabler instead of an objective bastion of justice.

These opinions have since been changed or overruled, but another landmark Supreme Court opinion, Roe v. Wade, made possible legal abortions, resulting in the deaths of 61 million children since 1973. That ruling directly reflects the loosening of popular beliefs and perceptions about sexual intercourse outside of marriage (or even worse, abortion as a form of birth control). Such acts are unequivocally condemned by the Word of God.

Pew Research outlined the dramatic switch of public opinion regarding homosexual same-sex marriage. In 2004, 60% of Americans were found by Pew Research to oppose legal same-sex marriage. Astonishingly, by 2018 the opposite was true.

But in search of votes, power, and application of personal mores, many politicians and judges (appointed or confirmed by politicians) often embrace moral relativism. Thought processes here sometimes confirm prevailing public opinion and culture, even though—as in the Dred Scott case—the outcome is tragically wrong. Thus, five years ago in June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any laws prohibiting same-sex marriage—even though such a relationship is expressly forbidden by the Bible—and wrongly abrogated matters expressly subject to spiritual standards. We spoke out boldly on this matter at that time and you can see what we said at https://www.ucg.org/united-church-of-god/the-united-church-of-god-stance-on-the-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-ruling.

Much of this is based on changing attitudes and beliefs of younger generations, many of whom not only don't accept biblical definitions, but actively oppose any religious definition of marriage, gender or related concepts. Secular quasi-intellectualism is also cheaply deployed to clumsily undercut biblical standards and justify human desire or emotional fancy.

The assault on biblically defined gender and sexual behavior exists nearly everywhere. Increasingly, we see anti-biblical arguments that assert that merely because humans desire or feel something, that apparently justifies it.

People increasingly fail to realize that the questions concerning sexual expression and lifestyle do not rotate on the fulcrum of human desire. The application of the Ten Commandments and other biblical laws are not concerned with how one might feel. These divine precepts address the right expression of human behavior as defined by Almighty God. The outcome of obeying these laws was designed to produce mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

As 1984 author George Orwell wrote some 70 years ago, "Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind" (emphasis added).

The meaningless empty "wind" described by Orwell leaves in its wake today a godless cultural revolution that increasingly sweeps the earth.

Let us be plain and unwavering in our beliefs, defending truth by biblical standards. Drawing its understanding from the Holy Scriptures, the United Church of God believes and teaches that marriage represents a union between man and woman, whose gender characteristics are defined by God, not by arbitrary human definition bent by the prevailing cultural wind of immoral revolution.

Marriage represents a divine institution governed by laws beyond those instituted by mortal men and women. Those laws are delivered with authority, as the author of Hebrews thunders: "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).

We reject non-biblical principles and despite the shifting cultural mores of humans—regardless of country or region of origin—will teach and uphold biblical truth. We join with the apostle Paul as he says: "we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God" (1 Thessalonians 4:1, New Living Translation).