Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Drawing a Hard Line on Social and Cultural Issues

Drawing a Hard Line On Social and Cultural Issues

This article could have been called ‘decision making skill development’.  Either way, making a good decision requires some very strict boundaries or guidelines.  When you have those firmly in place, a right decision will always be easier to make.

So often a decision is made difficult because of the ‘gray area’.  The gray area doesn’t actually exist in most important issues.  It is just unnecessary information and emotions that cloud the issue.  It is not something that really makes a difference in doing what is right or wrong.  Gray areas are a way of trivializing the truth, or changing the perception of the real problem.

Possibly the most talked about social issue is abortion.  Those who favor abortion as a legitimate means of birth control are either completely confused about the real issue or flatly do not care.  Women’s rights really have nothing to do with the real issue.

The REAL issue when considering abortion as a morally acceptable action is ‘when does life begin?’  At what point does a life come into existence?  THAT is the question that must be answered.  If the unborn have ‘human status’, there is no gray area.  Murdering an innocent child is wrong.  It does not matter how the conception came about.  The only potential reason for an abortion is when the mother’s life is in real danger.  A mother does have the right to self- defense. (Do not think for one minute that I have no compassion for a woman carrying a child conceived in rape.  However, I do not believe it is right to murder a child because of the crime of its father.  There is a fear in today’s society that innocent people are commonly imprisoned.  This is of course against the moral code of most people.  How much more so should the death penalty for an innocent child be unacceptable to rational people?)

So, a very hard line can be drawn regarding when abortion is acceptable.  Murder is wrong.  Self- defense is allowable.

By the way, in regard to ‘women’s rights’, women should have equal rights under the law.  There is absolutely no way that a woman should be discriminated against because of her gender.   A couple of years ago a reliable source told me that a co-workers wife had held a management position for years in a very profitable business franchise owned by her father.  She inherited the business.  The franchise was taken away from her by the corporation because they did not allow women to be the head of one of their business locations!  I am serious!  Naturally a law suit followed.  I don’t think it has been settle yet.  I do think it will eventually be rightly settled in the woman’s favor. 

Here is another hard line that compassion demands be drawn. 
There is one way into heaven through Jesus Christ.  That is what the Bible teaches. Scripture alone is God breathed. The voice of a man or woman who will die and stay dead has no authority to allow someone into heaven or damn them to hell.

 It is clear though the written word of God that a soul is saved by grace through faith alone.  Reconciliation with God the Father is through Jesus Christ the Son.  To all the moral people in the world trying to get into heaven by good works this truth should be told.  No one has the right to soften or blur the line on this one.  Look, God paid a terrible price to make one way into heaven.  Everyone has in invitation.  Those who accept the invitation are adopted into the family of God; they will one day walk into heaven through the front door; they will be greeted by God Himself; they will have eternity to enjoy the good things God has for those that love Him.  No one is going to sneak in the back door and spend eternity as kitchen help.

Here is another hard line that must be drawn.  Adultery is a sin.  It is wrong.  There is no gray area.  It doesn’t matter if one is married to a dreadful person who mistreats them to the extreme.  That does not give anyone the right to go out and commit adultery.  My personal opinion is that separating is sometimes necessary for the health and wellbeing of everyone.  This is not an excuse for adultery.

Here is a simpler way to know where to draw a hard line.  If God has called something a sin, then it is a sin.  Who has the power or might to change God’s law?  There are those who claim authority to change God’s laws, or clarify them, or tweak them a bit.  This is all the tradition of man.  There is no such real authority. 

A hardline that also must drawn is that Christians forgive one another as Christ forgave us.  Now that hurts.  Most people have some serious hurts, and it is virtually impossible to forgive those responsible.  Actually it is impossible unless the hurt is turned over to God.  He will give grace to forgive.  Some hurts are so horrible that even the idea of forgiveness is repulsive. From a worldly perspective people have legitimate reasons for non-forgiveness.  However, from God’s perspective, there is nothing that is too hard to forgive.  God forgive us, and we are to forgive others.  Fortunately God will help us forgive.  With forgiveness, there is sometimes the possibility of restoring fellowship.  Often fellowship will never be restored, but forgiveness is still required.

When a Christian fails to draw a hard line on important issues, these issues are trivialized. 

The easiest way to keep the hard lines that you draw is to make them as few as possible.  The basic hard-lines for Christians are:

1.  The Bible is inerrant.  That makes everything simple.  When the Bible clearly speaks for or against something, God Himself has drawn the line!  No earthly being or power has the authority to change the message.  The Bible is the eternal living word of God.

2.  The Bible is sufficient and complete.  That means there is nothing that can be added to the Bible.  Traditions of men, commentaries, personal experience, and any other thing that proposes to add or subtract something to God’s work is not from God. 

Remember that the Bible is the Book of Life.  Its purpose is to give us the knowledge necessary to know God, how to get heaven, and how to behave here on earth.  The purpose isn’t to answer all our questions or give us a detailed account of the history of the world, or heaven, or creation, or exactly how everything works.  Whenever the Bible speaks on anything the information given will be correct.

3.  The Bible is relevant, pertaining to each and every person in every generation.  It pertains to all people.  It is important!  It can be applied to everyday living anytime and anywhere.
4.  When you build your foundation on the inerrant word of God, there are some fundamentals of the faith that cannot be compromised:
            Jesus is God, pre-existent, virgin born, crucified to death, buried, bodily resurrected, ascended to heaven, returning to Earth when God says it is time.
In drawing these hard lines you are placing yourself within the boundaries clearly drawn by God. You are simply clarifying to yourself the hard lines that God Himself has drawn.

People think of ‘hard-lines’ as intolerance, old fashioned, bigoted, and a host of other repulsive things.  Those who draw hard lines and stick to them are definitely not well thought of in the world today.  Actions that used to be thought of as morally correct living are now considered anti-social to say the least. 

Remember, God did not draw these hard lines to make His children social outcasts.  He drew them to protect those He loves.  They are like immovable concrete walls put in place to protect.  When someone steps outside these walls, they are going into the mouth of the lion like a lamb who has strayed away from its shepherd.  Terrible trouble is sure to follow.  If the errant little lamb survives it will at the very least be scarred for life.  It is the same with Christians.  When we step outside the hard lines drawn by God we will definitely wind up wounded and scarred.

I want to encourage each reader to take the time to consider what hard lines they have drawn regarding personal behavior.  It is so easy to get caught up in the social gospel of the day.  Save the animals, equal rights for a variety of minorities, immigration, global warming/cooling, and many other things.  Each of these issues is best considered through Christian principles like ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’, ‘love one another the way Christ loves us’, and ‘be good stewards of the resources that God has given us’.  The more individuals who have made personal peace with God, the better the entire world will be.

Don’t be drawn from the truths of Scripture into a social gospel.  Social gospels eventually step outside the hard lines drawn by God because they are trying to re-make the world on their own time frame and way.  The actions of social gospels will eventually step into the realm of ‘the ends justify the means’.  In other words, right and wrong and personal liberties are set aside for the so called ‘greater good’.  Beware of such drivel!  Stay within the hard lines drawn by God. (Within the lines drawn by God remember that He said to love one another like He loved us and to treat others the way we want to be treated.)

This is what Christians need to always keep in mind:
Evangelism and Christians living according to God’s word are the things that will change the world for the better.  There can never be world peace until every human being on the planet has personally made peace with God Almighty. 

It is not within the power of any human being to bring about world peace.  That will come in God’s time. However, each Christian can strive to live at peace with our God.  That means drawing a hard line on your personal behavior.  Christians are to do the things the Bible says to do and not to do the things the Bible says not to do.  There is no gray area.  There are only hard lines.  Something is either acceptable to God or it isn’t.

The hard lines drawn for us by the word of God are for our good.  They are for the good of all humanity.  A Christian has no moral authority to step outside the lines drawn by God in order to ‘get along’, ‘bring in more people’, ‘unite the Christian faith, ‘unite the faiths of the world’, or any other reason.  Actually, Christians are not supposed to be bringing unity to the world.  The job of the Christian is to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.  That can only be done with honesty that requires us to present the exact message Jesus has sent us to present.  What sort of messenger is it who takes the message of the King and adjusts the message to be politically or socially correct?  If Christian people are to be united, they must unite within the lines drawn by Christ Himself.  To step outside the lines drawn by Christ is to unite with the world. 

The hard line that Christians must draw regarding the social and cultural issues of the day is a very simple line.  Stay within the lines drawn by God.  Do not trivialize the Gospel of Jesus Christ by reducing it to a social or cultural issue.  Social and cultural issues change with each generation or two.  The Gospel does not change.  Jesus Christ alone is the way to eternal life. 

The hard line we can probably all draw is to be more diligent in our efforts to stay within the boundaries set by God and in doing the things He says to do.

Drawing hard lines and living within those lines is good when the lines have been drawn according to the teaching of God.  In a world that is often chaotic and even vicious there is peace and contentment living your life God’s way.

Barbara Henderson