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Controversial Issues
 
This page contains excerpts from our 3rd issue of Feeding Flock magazine. To read the complete article you will need to go to  http://www.feedingflock.com/  or our purchase options page  http://feedingflock.com/Purchase-Options.php  and follow the instructions to obtain your copy of our magazine.
 
There is no particular order to these articles and not all of the magazine's articles are placed here.
 
#1.  Tattoos

There are many people in the church today who think that many of the laws God gave to Moses for the Israelite people do not apply to today’s New Testament World and church. They consider themselves under a new covenant which releases them from many of the laws recorded in the Old Testament.

This attitude allows them to pursue different sinful activities and not feel like they have sinned or in need of repentance. One of these activities is the act of getting a tattoo to mark a special occasion, person or to simply adorn some sort of ‘art’ on their bodies. They think that since the word tattoo is not mentioned in the NT and only in the Old that the law governing tattoos is now null and void.

But these people error in their assessment of scripture as they fail to grasp the fact that while God does not use the same word more than once in scriptures he still talks about the topic and has not changed his mind about it.

For example in Leviticus 19:28 we read the following:

28 You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD. (The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Le 19:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

I placed the bold and underlining to emphasize the words being examined and which are very clear about the issue of having tattoos on your body. God’s words are very clear there and there is no mistaking what is meant by them.

The people of Israel were not to place any tattoos on themselves and the reason given is simple—God is the Lord. He said it thus it needs to be obeyed. Does this mean that the tattoos placed upon the Jewish people by the Nazis made them sinners or disobedient of this law? No. The Jews were not the ones seeking the tattoos nor were wanting them placed upon their bodies.

They did not sin in receiving those marks. But if they willingly got those marks then they would have sinned and been disobedient. Now many people today would look at that verse and conclude that since the law was found in the Torah it no longer applies to them and they are free to get as many tattoos as they desire.
 
#2Owning Weapons

This is another issue that can bring out the emotions in people as many are for owning weapons and just as many people are against gun ownership.  For some in the latter category owning guns leads to mass shootings like the many school massacres that have taken place across America in recent years.

They blame guns when in reality they should be blaming the sin nature found in every person and the ability to choose freely what one wants to do. This issue is also vulnerable to the distortion of scripture as each side wishes to make their viewpoint the biblical one. They misuse scriptures in hopes of convincing others of the legitimacy of their position.

A look at these different scriptures is warranted so that we get a clear view of what the Bible is actually saying on this issue.

1. Many people, Christians included, assume that Christ taught pacifism. They cite Matthew 5:38-39 for their proof. In this verse Christ said: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." ( All the scripture references will be taken from the article “What Does The Bible Say about Gun Control” by Larry Pratt, http://www.gunowners.org/fs9902.htm)

While Jesus was teaching a non-violent response in support of ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’ this passage does not indicate that a believer cannot own weapons. It is telling us to not use our weapons or fists to respond to certain actions carried out by other people.

2. The reference to "an eye for an eye" was taken from Exodus 21:24-25 which deals with how the magistrate must deal with a crime. Namely, the punishment must fit the crime (Ibid) This passage reads: 23But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (NKJV)

Again we see a list of punishments corresponding to a list of crimes but this passage does not support gun ownership or gun collecting nor does it mean that pacifism is to be practiced or denied. Mercy doesn’t mean that we exact a pound of flesh for every crime committed but that we have leniency when it is warranted.

3. Exodus 22:2-3 tells us "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." (Ibid)

Again we see nothing about supporting owning any type of weapons here nor does this passage indicate that we should let people harm our loved ones when they force their way into our homes.

4. King David wrote in Psalm 46:1 that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This did not conflict with praising the God "Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle" (Psalm 144:1). (Ibid)

Training for war and to learn how to fight just simply means one gets to defend their own country from invaders and to do that a person needs to know the art of war and how to combat the strategies used by their enemies.

This passage, like the rest, makes no implications on owning weapons nor is it saying that it is or it is not okay to own weapons. The weapons for war can be stored by the government in a central or strategic location ready for use when the time comes.

5. This has been delegated to the civil magistrate, who, as we read in Romans 13:4, "is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." (Ibid)

The word ‘sword’ here most likely does not imply a weapon but the authority to punish lawbreakers. I would have to double-check that but in any case, the fact that the government is allowed to punish and wield weapons does not grant anyone permission to collect or own weapons.

The permission for a country’s citizen’s to own and collect guns, or other types of weapons, is up to the discretion of the government of that nation.  They have been granted authority to govern by God and that authority extends to all areas of life. Governments get to say of their citizens get to own and collect weapons or not.

Such ownership is not a right unless the government makes it a right.
 
#

#3. Against Homosexuality

It is hard to know exactly where to start when talking about this issue as there is so much ground to cover. This article will not discuss the definition of homosexuality for everyone already knows what the word means and how it is practiced. Nor will it discuss whether homosexuality is right or wrong, it is a given that we all know that it is wrong and sin and that is the position of this magazine.

What will be discussed here will be key points made by Matthew Vine in a discussion on the legitimacy of homosexual relations made in a series of discussions on Rachel Held Evans website (rachelheldevans.com). There is no particular order to the points and we will start with what is probably the main point of Matthew Vine’s argument

1. Our question is not whether the Bible addresses the modern concepts of sexual orientation and same-sex marriage,” he writes. “We know it doesn’t. Instead, our question is: can we translate basic biblical principles about marriage to this new situation without losing something essential in the process?” (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/god-and-the-gay-christian-discussion-week-6-conclusion )

This is a very good question and all we have to do is take a close look at the passage of scripture in question to find the answer. The verse most often quoted in this issue is found in Leviticus and it is the one verse which provides us with a definitive description of homosexuality.

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death (20;13 NASB)

The key words are in bold and if we examine those words we will see how a man lies with a woman. First, men lie with a woman in one night stands, casual sex, affairs, and other pre-marital and adulteress instances.

Second, men lie with woman in long term relationships, common law situations and they lie with a woman in a monogamous committed relationships, which include being married to the woman.

So yes, the Bible does address all forms of homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage in those few words. The homosexual preference is prohibited in all circumstances and there is no leeway or escape clause making any exceptions

2. In marriage,” writes Matthew, “we are called to reflect God’s love for us through our self-giving love for our spouse.” This is something same-sex couples can do just as well as heterosexual couples, he says (Ibid)

Same-sex couples may express a ‘love’ for their partner but they are not expressing God’s love because God has called us to repent and give up our sinful practices. Same-sex couples are not expressing God’s love because they are participating in sin and accepting sin as normal, healthy and wonderful. God hates sin

The main problem with same-sex unions is that they ignore what the Bible says about this love--30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Eph. 5 NASB)

It is impossible for same-sex couples to become one flesh and even though one of the members of those couples calls themselves ‘a wife’ they are not truly a wife in any definition of the word. The only way for a homosexual couple to meet the standard laid out by this verse is if they give up their same-sex partner and marry an opposite sex mate.

3. Matthew points out that the two terms consider here are malakoi [sometimes translated “effeminate”] and arsenokoitai [sometimes translated “abusers of themselves with mankind” or, more recently, “homosexuals” or “men who practice homosexuality”]…New Testament scholar David Frederickson has argued that, given the context, malakoi in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is best translated, “those who lack self-control.” (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/god-and-the-gay-christian-discussion-part-5-i-corinthians-6 )

This point illustrates the extent that homosexuals and alternative believers go to  in order to get their non-biblical ideas and practices accepted by the church and to be considered normal. It doesn’t matter if the topic is same-sex marriage, women in ministry or church leadership or some other alternative the action of those alternative supporters is always the same—they seek to change the Bible in order to legitimize their false teaching and preferences.

They cannot produce alternative ancient texts with a legitimate textual record to support their point so they try to retranslate key words in order to make the Bible say something it has never said. Their work never succeeds because they have no historical foundation to build upon, only their modern sinful desires.

4. But here’s the key point to remember,” writes Matthew. “Even if Paul had intended his words to be a condemnation of all forms of same sex relations, the context in which he would have been making that statement would still differ significantly from our context today.” (Ibid)

We know this is not true because as Solomon wrote in Ecc. ‘nothing is new under the sun’ ancient homosexual preferences were the same as they are today. Yes some ancient authors wrote about experimentation, sexual excess and other forms of homosexuality that did not include same-sex unions or orientation but those writers did not write about all of the ancient world or its practices.

They simply documented only one part of the same-sex activities that was occurring at the time. To take a minute amount of written record and extrapolate that to the whole of the ancient civilization that those authors wrote about is dishonest and making an argument from silence.

Paul’s context came from God, who, as we saw earlier, addressed all forms of homosexual activity not just bits and pieces of that unnatural desire. We may not have ancient writings about all forms of homosexual practice in Paul’s time because, unfortunately for us, they did not survive the ravages of time.

Needless to say, even if experimentation and sexual excess alone were practiced in Paul’s time, it is still homosexual activity, it is still prohibited by God and it does not mean that Matthew Vine’s idea of committed, monogamous same-sex relations is permitted. Silence on the issue does not mean a prior prohibition has been lifted.

5. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about a threatened gang rape, not an intimate companionship. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 were grounded in cultural concerns about patriarchal gender roles and religious ritual purity. Romans 1:26-27 refers to excessive sexual desire and lust and uses “natural” and “unnatural” to refer to customary gender roles, just as those words are used to describe men with long hair and women who cover their heads (Ibid)

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was not about one single, solitary episode of gang rape and we know this because that action of the citizens of Sodom came after God had come with his angels to destroy the cities.

The citizens of S & G, and the other cities included in the destruction, had long practiced homosexuality and other sins. They had worn out the patience of God by this time and one act of gang rape would not have done this.  There was a long history of homosexuality taking place in these cities and most likely a multitude of gang rapes had taken place.

We know from modern examples that homosexuality breeds the practice of other sins, not godly behavior thus other passages of scripture do not need to specifically mention homosexuality, although Ezekiel does say ‘other abominations’ which would include that preference.

As for Mr. Vine’s reference to culture and patriarchal influences, those are weak excuses to justify modern practice of what God says is an abomination to him.


#4. Divorce: It Is NOT the Unforgiveable Sin

When you mention the word divorce, certain bias and attitudes invade the conversation. Believers tend to look upon divorce and divorcees with a certain degree of hatred, dislike, or look upon the people who are suffering through a divorce proceeding or have endured one as abnormal or that they are carrying some sort of disease like leprosy.

Divorced people are often deprived of Christian fellowship because they have broken their marriage vows for whatever reason they may have had. This prejudice against divorce and divorced people often comes from read Malachi 2:16 where God states he hates divorce.

Or it comes from reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:3ff where he says whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Or these attitudes about divorce simply come from the personal perspectives taught by the pastors or church leaders of the church.

The source doesn’t really matter here as the problem lies in not trying to be biblical about a difficult subject and in trying to obey and honor the wishes of God but in the failure to read these passages correctly and apply their whole meaning to the divorced person and their situation.

If you read the passages in Malachi or Matthew you will see both God’s and Jesus’ attitude concerning divorce but if you stop at the printed words then you will miss out on the complete picture being painted by them.

Yes God hates divorce and yes Jesus made getting one very strict and difficult but there are things they did not say that believers add into their views and words. When people stop the words ‘ God hates divorce’ or Jesus’ words in Matthew they are missing out on the whole divine point of view.

At no time do either God or Jesus state that divorce is the unforgiveable sin, that divorcees should be excluded from Christian fellowship that divorce is a sin in perpetuality or that the  verses talking about loving thy neighbor as thyself, or treat others better than yourself, (and similar passages), exclude divorced people.

Neither God nor Jesus say to make divorced people second class citizens, inferior to others, or lepers where they are to be separated from church fellowship and need to walk around stating that they are unclean. Divorce may be hated and banned in all but one instance but that does not make divorcees unbelievers or people trying to import sin into the church and get the members to adopt and accept sin.

Divorce happens for a number of reasons and we need to be discerning of those reasons in order to know how we are to act towards those who have to go through this painful procedure Bob Mayo in his book Divorce: A Challenge to the Church asks,

“The question I am asking is how the church might best be able to provide a consistent, well-informed, and pastorally sensitive response to those of us who have been divorced (pg. 17)

and

Is it possible for the church to be accepting of those who are dealing with the consequences while still being clear about the inherent wrongness of divorce? (pg. 17)

The answer to the second question is a simple yes and we can answer both questions with the following words. It is possible to be accepting of those going through divorce or have been divorced and the church can provide a sensitive response because we look at the reasons surrounding the divorce, the response of the parties involved, their perspective of divorce and so on.

If the people are using divorce in order to pursue sinful desires then we know that we need to respond with the message of repenting of their sinful actions and try to turn people away from committing sin. If the divorce has one innocent party then we know from biblical instruction how to provide compassion, comfort and so on.

Divorced people are not excluded from those passages which tell believers how to treat each other. For example, the Bible states that we ‘do unto others as we want to be treated’, it does not say ‘do unto others as you want to be treated except in the case of divorced people.’

or ‘treat others better than yourselves except in the case of divorced people.’  God does say he hates divorce but he does not say exclude divorced people from love, forgiveness, wise counsel, understanding and so on. As Jesus said:

12When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ £ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, £to repentance.”

The church is full of people who are spiritually sick and in need of a physician and divorced people fall into that category.  If we look at how Jesus treated the woman at the well, a person who have been married 5 times and living in sin with a 6th man then we get an idea of how we should be treating a divorced person.
 
 

#5. Abortion: It Is Not Just the Woman’s Body

Just the mention of the word abortion can spark the most extreme emotions from normally kind and peaceful people. It drives them to acts of protest ranging from walking picket lines to lying to people to actual murder. It is also one of the most distorted issues we face today.

The anti-abortion groups would have everyone believe that they are defending the innocent and while they are defending innocent babies, the term innocent is not restricted to just the unborn child. There are many other innocent people involved in this issue.

For example, many of the fathers of those aborted children do not want the procedure done yet are given no say in what happens to their child. Yet we see none of these groups defending the rights of these men.

Then there are many women who are forced to have an abortion, not only by the fathers of the unborn baby but also by their parents. These women want no part of abortion yet their wills are over-ruled by others more powerful than they. Yet again we see no defending of these women, just a blanket hatred by these groups towards all who are led to the abortion clinic.

Then the pro-abortion groups would have people believe that the decision to have an abortion is solely up to the woman because it is her body and hers alone. That is very unbiblical teaching as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that the bodies of the man and women belong to their mates once they have been joined together.

No Christian, man or woman, should be accepting the secular argument that it is the woman’s body thus it is her choice. The unborn baby is not the sole product of the woman but also the man’s and since her body now belongs to her mate’s it is his choice as well and not just the expectant mother’s.

Yet in all of this debate there is one forgotten fact that no one dwells upon nor mentions which upends the pro-abortion groups’ argument that abortion is up to the mother because it is her body that is affected.

What people do not realize or they simply ignore is that the unborn baby’s body does not belong to the mother and the mother has no authority to harm it. It is not hers to dispose of as she sees fit. That body belongs to the baby and not one scripture gives ownership of that body to anyone else.

There is no permission granted in the Bible to any parent to harm that unborn child thus the mother, or others, cannot decide to end that baby’s life. God has not granted them that right. While secular governments have made the decision to allow that choice to be made, secular governments do not trump God and his rules.

If you need another scripture to help you decide which side of the abortion issue you should be on, then we turn to the commandment, ‘thou shalt not kill’. No matter how you describe the unborn child, whether it is called a fetus, a virus, germ or whatever hate-filled term you want to or is used, one is violating that commandment because abortion is killing another human being.

We can label the unborn baby a human because humans do not produce any other type of baby and the unborn child is not magically transformed from a blob into a child seconds before birth. The born child is a human being from conception to birth and till it dies. No matter how the secular world addresses this issue, abortion is still a violation of God’s word.

The woman’s body is not the only body that is affected by this act. A part of the father dies along with the baby when the decision to abort is fulfilled. The woman does not have permission or the right to destroy part of the man either.

One of the biggest problems in solving this issue, on the church’s part, is the fact that people let their emotions distort their implementation of biblical verses. Many seem to stop at those passages which tell believers to protect the innocent and fail to include other passages of scripture which guide the believer to a better course of action.

We read in Matthew 5 the following:

44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (NKJV)

or

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be 2courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (The New King James Version. (1982). (1 Pe 3:8–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

Many anti-abortion groups, those that claim to be Christian, do much damage to the cause of Christ by ignoring these passages of scripture and only letting their emotions restrict their biblical adherence to those passages which direct one to protect the innocent. They also only apply those verses to the abortion issue and not the rest of life, which is included in each verse charging us to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.


#6. Racism

In my work I use a little book called Where To Find It In The Bible by Ken Anderson and for the most part it is a handy little tool to use as it speeds up the process of finding specific verses for each topic. But when it came to this topic, not one of the verses listed actually dealt with racism.

One label said ‘racial marriage forbidden’ but when one got to Genesis 28 all it talked about was Isaac giving instructions to Jacob on where he needs to go to find a wife. Another label reads ‘request to marry heathen’ but the passage in 1 Kings is only talking about Solomon’s half-brother making a request to marry a certain woman and we do not even know if she was a heathen or not. She was just of a different nationality.

These little errors and a host of articles reporting how Pastors talk about race tells me that the church really doesn’t know much about the Bible and how it speaks about race or how race applies. They tend to use modern secular ideas like ‘anti-semitic’ when such ideas were not present in the ancient or biblical world.

The Bible does not really talk about race as the idea of different races was a human invention due to the difference of color of skin and the difference in the features of many humans. Darwin opined that there were about 4-5 different human races yet he made this observation without any scientific aid or historical foundation.

Though science now demonstrates that there is no such thing as race

"Race is a social concept, not a scientific one," said Dr. J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corp. in Rockville, Md.” {http://www.augsburg.edu/education/edc210/race-myth.html}

“It's an old-fashioned, even Victorian, sentiment. Who speaks of "racial stocks" anymore? After all, to do so would be to speak of something that many scientists and scholars say does not exist.”  {http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/Leroi/}

and

“The billions of pieces of human genetic code sequenced thus far are most notable for what they do not appear to contain—a genetic test to tell one race of people from another. All scientific finds point to the conclusion that race doesn’t exist” {http://www.africanbynature.com/newsletters/raceissocial.html}

this fact doesn’t stop evolutionists from saying that Darwin was correct or keep scientists from claiming that there were different human species in previous eras:

Earlier this month, scientists working in South Africa made an exciting announcement: They had discovered a new species of human ancestor. The species, which they named Homo naledi, may be among the first of the genus Homo, what the project’s lead scientist, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, described as a “bridge” between more primitive species and humans. National Geographic called it “one of the greatest fossil discoveries of the past half century.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/do-neanderthals-have-souls/406246/?utm_source=yahoo&ref=yfp )

In spite of the secular world’s best efforts to ignore the truth and the facts about race, the church cannot. It must speak the truth and declare to the world that there is only one race of humans, and that there has only been one race of humans in all of time.

When the Bible speaks about race it only talks about there being one race of people and that the human race descended only from Adam and Eve.
 
 
#7Criminals & Their Records

When I first went to Korea to teach all that was required of the applicants was a university degree, a valid passport and a pulse. It was great as the situation gave people a chance to see if they were cut out to be teachers or not.

Then a few years later, due to the antics of many of those who came to teach, more regulations were added, one of which was the criminal record check. You now had to have a clean criminal record if you wanted to be in the Korean classroom.

I fought against the implementation of that regulation because I thought it was unfair and unjust as the criminal record only gave evidence of past deeds that could not be changed. The criminal record spoke nothing of the person’s desire or changed attitude in the present and for the future.

It also could not provide any guarantee that the person with the clean criminal record would not offend sometime in the future (which did take place many times in subsequent years after the implementation of the regulation).

Many people lose out on good opportunities to rehabilitate their lives and live as good citizens after learning the lessons that come from making criminal mistakes. This is because of the current attitude concerning those who offend and break the law. It is not fair, it is not just, it is not right to categorize people because of one or a few errors in judgment nor is it fair, just or right to remove opportunities or their rights simply because they committed a crime.

I am old enough to remember the days when the prevailing attitude was that once the person had did their time, they had paid their debt to society and were free to pursue a good life free from prejudice and discrimination. That attitude has mostly disappeared now as it is considered to be the right thing to hold a person’s unchangeable actions over their heads for the rest of their lives and deprive them of the chance to change and live like a good citizen.

This means that this magazine even considers the sexual offenders’ lists that governments employ these days are unjust and unfair as they make the person pay for their crime long after their sentence is over and their debt paid.

Forgiveness is no longer part of the equation nor is a second chance and for the believer we need to ask ourselves, ‘Where would we be if God did not give us second, or third or even fourth or more chances?’ or, ‘How would we feel if God held our sins over our heads throughout our lives?’

I am going to leave you with those questions to answer for yourselves and let you ask God to help you apply the answers to those who have committed crimes. The Bible tells us, as you have freely received, freely give’ and that verse (Mt. 10:8) does not exclude those with criminal pasts.

We are guilty of many crimes yet God says that when we repent, he will not remember our sins thus we cannot make ourselves greater than God by holding the sins of others over their heads when they repent of their crimes.

We need to emulate God’s attitude and make a better impact for God in this area of life by bestowing upon our repentant criminal element dignity, rights and another chance or three to get it right.