This article is intended for readers of all backgrounds to understand Christianity, but I make no apologies that it is also an open letter to those who call themselves Christians. We are living in a day in Western culture where arguments are often made, surprisingly even from leaders that have been throughly biblical on other issues, that certain values or viewpoints are not really part of Christianity. The scope of this article is to, in brief, show how key issues debated in western culture and under theological discussion in American churches and even denominations are indeed Gospel-issues and require action as such from Christians. Not secondary issues.
History repeats itself, as Ecclesiastes says, nothing new is under the sun and what has been shall be again (Ecc. 1:9). If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. The issues we are seeing unfold in America have unfolded in Ancient Rome, Sodom and Gomorrah and across Europe since the industrial revolution just to name a few of many.
Some context for how we got to where we are today specifically in the church world as it relates to the culture. In the twentieth century, there was an ongoing battle between liberalism and fundamentalism in Western Christianity. Essentially the battle lines were drawn on the historicity and reliability of the Bible and the veracity of core biblical truths, the “fundamentals” of the faith.
While, the battle in the twentieth century was over the inerrancy of the Bible, over whether it is true in what it teaches and accurate historically. Which it passed both charges with flying colors btw. In the twenty-first century, the battle has undergone a subtle shift of redirection. The attack is over the sufficiency of the Bible today. O how often we hear even from pulpits of the “brightest” that as long as we keep telling people that Jesus is the only Savior, we can have “grace” on other “secondary” issues. Thing is most don’t agree what is in the secondary category. Here are 3 that are hotly debated but are indeed of first-rate importance. While many attempt to skirt them or avoid them, these issues are clearly, historically and biblically “Gospel issues” despite a cacophony of voices claiming they are secondary and not a “Gospel-issue.” And the Bible is not vague on them.
Creation – The Lord alone is the Creator of the universe and each individual life. He is the Author and sustainer (Genesis 2:7). This establishes the basis of God’s authority over His creation, gives personal purpose to our lives, is the foundation of an orderly natural world which can therefore be studied scientifically to discover “God’s thoughts after Him,” and is biblically the bedrock of Christ’s divinity as the Word which sustains all things visible and invisible by His power (Colossians 1:16-20, Hebrews 1:2-3). A belief in the Lord as Creator of heaven and earth (aka the universe) is the beginning point of the most ancient creeds of the Christian faith (Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed). Satan has attacked the Lord’s creative role with the theory of evolution to diminish the value of life, lower man from God’s prime creation with dominion over the earth to rather an animal. Under evolution, therefore, human life has no value. I am a cosmic accident or a test tube experiment. My sexuality is animalistic, I must do what I feel and I cannot control myself. Doing something wrong must be a hormonal imbalance or mental illness for I am an animal and based on evolution, nature has wired me to do what I do. The weak and damaged must be dealt with, only the strong will survive. If a Christian will compromise the first 3 chapters of the Bible, we have no logical foundation for the definition of sin or need of a Savior for salvation. Death, the Bible unequivocally declares, is the express result of Sin (Genesis 2:16-17, Romans 6:23). We mock the Gospel when we relay Genesis unimportant to “core Christianity.”
Gender – Gender roles are under great attack. In no way does the Bible cheapen the personhood and equality of both man and woman, boy and girl, old and young, weak or strong (Galatians 5:28). Every life has value and intrinsic worth because of its Creator (Psalm 139). Gender roles have come from the hand of God and carry implications and responsibilities (Genesis 1:27). Your gender is not a choice, it was predestined by your Creator for a purpose. There are generalities. Fathers in a home as God intends often teach us courage, responsibility, and the consequences for doing what is wrong. Mothers often teach in a home as God intends tenderness, grace, and compassion. We need both. Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ was full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and is calling worshippers to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Here’s the thing gender roles in the family (Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Peter 3:1-7) and the church (1 Corinthians 11:7-12, 1 Timothy 2:8-1 Timothy 3:13) and even society (Judges 4:8-9, Genesis 3:16, Isaiah 3:12) indeed have gospel implications (Ephesians 5:23,32; 1 Corinthians 11:11). As someone has said, woman was not taken from man’s head to be above him, nor his foot to be enslaved by him but from his side, near to his heart to be cherished, loved, and protected. And yet our world cheapens and objectifies women from TV screens to billboards and magazines. God’s design is not momentary lust but lifelong, committed love (Proverbs 5:15-23, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Corinthians 7). Ephesians 5 is not just a passage on marriage but reveals that God has established the institution and mystery of marriage in order to teach us about the Gospel. To communicate through the institution of marriage which we can see, the invisible truth that Christ loves the Church as His Bride! The husband is to picture Christ in his sacrificial love for his bride (Ephesians 5:25). The woman is to submit to his loving leadership and experience his protection just as the Lord loves His church and protects her (Ephesians 5:22-23, 26-29, 31-33) – the gates of Hell shall not prevail (Matthew 16:18)! The husband is called to picture God the Father to his children—a high calling that no man will do perfectly but demands conscious effort nonetheless. If we demolish gender, we demolish the basis of the Gospel. This is not a secondary issue.
Therefore, men are called to lead their homes not because they are better but because they are designed to do so by the Lord. They are wired to protect biologically and, in most cases, physically. Men are called to likewise lead the local church because the local church is just and extended household, a spiritual family. If roles are reversed of men and women in the church it would be contrary to God’s design (1 Timothy 2:11-14). 1 Timothy in the passage just cited also displays a truth in regard to Adam and Eves’ sin respectfully. In respect to Eve, she was deceived. In respect, to Adam he willingly disobeyed what he knew to be right and did not protect his wife and hold fast to God’s Word. Both sinned, Adam bore the brunt of the responsibility though as the leader. Once again, let me state clearly the battle today is over the sufficiency of Scripture, that God’s method, God’s design is enough or whether it is open to our “improvement.” That is what is causing denominations and churches to implode as well as secular nations….neglecting God’s design, outright disregarding it has consequences. I can say from experience when I have attended churches were women are the pastors, for example, there is a matriarchal tolerance of innumerable chances for the unrepentant, but not the discipline that typically comes from male leadership of waywardness. We need both men and women. Men are not to be effeminate and women are not to be masculine. The grace and wisdom (which is personified in the book of Proverbs as a woman) of women is to be alongside in help to the provision and protection of men but not to replace it; the genders complement one another, not replace one another (Genesis 2:18) One of the consequences of sin in the Fall of Adam and Eve is that the genders would selfishly but heads, rather than walking in God’s design…a curse we still see present today (Genesis 3:16).
Life – Based upon the truth and conviction that God is the Creator – life has a purpose and sanctity given by His hand (Genesis 1, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5). Anyone who takes a life of another will give an account before a just God come Judgment Day (Genesis 9:5-7, Galatians 5:19-21). Every life will give an account for how they have lived the life they have received (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Disregard for the preservation of life is the fundamental mark of paganism. Sex as primarily pleasure? That is what evolution will result in – selfish, animalistic lust. Biblically, sexuality is a gift from the Creator given in intimacy between husband and wife with intimate, monogamous responsibility and the means of procreation passed from the Creator through the committed couple (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:24). STD’s are a mark of judgment for breaking God’s design (1 Corinthians 6:18, Romans 1:18-22, 24-27, 32). God’s Laws have been given for our protection, proper pleasure, and good as well as for His Glory. Like a loving parent, the Lord has told us the consequences of touching the hot stove and warned us out of love. He wants the best for us, not to take away pleasure but to deepen it beyond individual self-seeking and selfishness to a servant’s heart toward one’s spouse (1 Corinthians 7:1-4). Marriage is meant for our sanctification, to grow the character of the couple individually and together. It’s a beautifully crafted and mysterious design given to us by the Creator! Studies show that religious couples experience more frequent and better sex than the promiscuous and often lead healthier and longer lives. Children growing up in a home with a father and mother united in true loving commitment to their marriage vows will generally speaking grow up to be more contributing members of society. In contrast, fatherlessness is clearly linked to crime for sons and promiscuity for daughters. Skewed sexuality is even the foundation of Racism which is steeped in darwinism, of the survival of the “fitest” of our human race. Planned Parenthood was begun out of racial hate and a desire to legitimize “sex without consequences.” And how did this liberate women from being objectified by men? How does having multiple sexual encounters with men who are glad for no-responsibility of providing for a resulting family empower women?
A recent read through Hitler’s Mein Kampf displays clearly the resulting genocide and sterilization of “opposing races” on the basis of evolutionary dogma. Hitler certainly did not value humanity, he viewed it as an animalistic existence. Creation, Gender, Life…Ideas have consequences. “Secondary matters” aren’t really so secondary, and history testifies. Life is a fundamental issue. Is sex merely animalistic pleasure? If so, then the desires of the individual are the tyrant of society. Children are considered a liability rather than a gift from the Creator (Psalm 127:3). How many Christian couples practice birth control through chemical or device means because they partially have embraced a view of sexuality that sees children as a liability and sex as about their joint pleasure, on their terms, and without consequence? In regard to contraceptive devices, the Word of God is quite clear on what happened to Onan’s wicked contraceptive act in Genesis 38. Why do some “conservatives” today back abortion in the cases of rape, incest and life of the mother? Because of the “secondary views category” on this matter. Incest is horrific as is rape. Both should be criminal but a child conceived did not ask to be and their life is as valuable as yours or mine. In regard to life of the mother, studies have been done. It is so rare, scientifically, that it is virtually not even an issue that the mother’s life could in fact be saved by terminating her child’s life. Furthermore, sexuality has responsibility. If sexuality is expressed only within marriage, without the use of contraceptives and life comes from the Creator, then sexuality also has potential inherent dangers. Birth is not easy nor pleasant, as a matter of fact pain and sorrow in conception and the birth process are part of the consequences of sin (Genesis 3:16). It is possible that a mother’s life could be endangered. But consider this, marriage vows “endanger” our selfishness – in sickness and health, richer or poorer as long as we both shall live. Furthermore, how many couples struggling with infertility are willing to undergo whatever the risk to hold their child in their arms? This entire “debate” for justifying murder of a soul created by the Almighty is not a matter of health but a matter of personal selfishness, excused by a view of sexuality rooted in self-centered Darwinism and not a biblical, God-given origin of life. Sexuality in a fallen world is not perfect and there is really no such thing as “safe sex” (Genesis 3:16).
These issues are not new and Christians’ responses based upon the Bible are not new. In his helpful book on Keep the Faith, Volume 2: On Family & Sexuality (pp. 66-67, 2014, Generations with Vision) pastor and author Kevin Swanson helpfully compiles a list of statements from early Christians on the matter of Life and contraceptives. I quote just one of many below:
Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 210)
“Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings”
“The marriage is for the procreation of children, but the promiscuous scatting of seed contrary to law and to reason definitely is not. If we should but control our lusts at the start and if we would not kill off the human race born and developing according to the divine plan, then our whole lives would be lived according to nature. But women who resort to some sort of deadly abortion drug kill not only the embryo but, along with it, all human kindness.”
You’ve made it this far in the article, let me say thank you for giving that amount of time. And please allow me just a minute more.
Jesus Christ came to earth because we are sinners. We’ve all mocked Him as Creator, spurned Him as our Lord and disregarded His design for our lives. We’ve all been selfish. We are sinners, we’ve broken His moral Law, breaking it in letter or spirit. The Good News is that there is forgiveness free and available. Through Jesus alone there is New, eternal life. Will you trust Him alone today to receive the forgiveness for the price He paid bearing every single one of your sins on the cross. The Good News is Jesus has paid the price on the behalf of everyone who trusts in Him. All who call upon His name. The issue is do you truly Believe?
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18
“if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
As the battle has been ongoing within different denominations going different directions on these three issues, let us remember that they are indeed Gospel issues, primary doctrinal matters that cannot be moved to the “secondary” category although a growing number of evangelical leaders are saying they are. Gods Word and natural design is not to be trifled with. Personally, I’ve never liked the mantra about primary, secondary and tertiary doctrine. Here’s why: show me in the Bible where the Lord says that anything He has clearly spoken is a of second or third-tier importance if you follow “first-priority” matters. You won’t find that concept in the Bible. What you actually do find is truth and matters of conscience. Just two categories (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8). Another pet peeve is the phrase “everything rises and falls on leadership.” No, everything rises and falls on our obedience to the Lord. The Lord parted the Red Sea, not Moses. The Lord gave Gideon victory, not his leadership skills. The runt David was the one chosen by the Lord to be king, not his he-man specimen of a brother. I could go on but I digress and have made my point.
We must be careful accepting mantras and catch phrases that sound good as “doctrine.” If we do, have we turned away from God’s Word and to the doctrine of men like the Pharisees Jesus opposed?