Right and Wrong
We live a time during which the concept of right and wrong has blurred. It appears that many people accept the philosophy of moral relativism, denying the existence of moral truths. As a result many base their beliefs on the ever-changing tide of popular opinion and thus have no enduring foundation upon which to build their lives. The Bible, once widely respected and esteemed as the foundation for Christian faith, is now commonly believed to have only symbolic value, more significant as a source of history and culture than moral guidance.
Our beliefs direct our lives and guide our actions. They have consequences with regard to both eternal life and this life. As individuals and as a society we will reap the consequences of our actions. Thus with heartfelt concern we wish to draw attention to the following issues and present our position on them.
The Bible is the Word of God.
We believe that the Bible is God’s Word. While men have written the Scripture, they have not done so as an expression of their own will, but God has moved them by His Spirit to express His own will (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16). God’s Word is not to be treated or regarded in the same manner as man’s word but rather granted our highest esteem and reverence.
God’s Word is Christian faith’s highest authority
We believe that God’s Word is Christian faith’s highest authority and thus Christian faith’s guiding principles and doctrine must be examined and evaluated in the light of God’s Word.
God’s Word is unchanging and eternal
The claim that God’s Word is bound to time and shackled to the culture of its time does not do justice to God’s revelation. According to Jesus, the content and the message of the Word of God does not change along with changes in the world. God’s Word is always timely. We cannot relinquish this principle. Jesus says of the permanence of His Word: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33).
The central message of the Bible is salvation in Jesus Christ
The teaching about Jesus Christ and the salvation that God in His love has prepared in Christ is the central message of the Bible. Man is saved alone by grace, through faith, on the merits of Christ. Only faith in Christ justifies man and makes him acceptable to God (John 20:31, Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:8).
Concept of God
Increasing numbers of people have rejected belief in the Triune God revealed in the Bible. They prefer instead to create a concept of God that conforms to their own notions. We believe that there is no living God beside Him who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ and His Word. God is love. He is also holy, righteous, and unchanging. He hates sin but loves sin-fallen mankind.
Concept of man
Modern man’s self-image has become both more individual-centered and human-centered. Understanding of the fact that man is responsible to both God and his fellowman has dimmed.
The view that man is basically good is also widely held. This view is contrary to God’s Word. While God created man in His image (Gen. 1:26) and has intended that man live in unity with Him, man was corrupted when the first human pair, Adam and Eve, fell into sin. As a result of this original sin, man’s basic nature is no longer good but corrupted by sin and inclined to evil (Gen. 6:12, 8:21; Rom. 3:10–12, 23). It is because of sin that there is so much evil in the world.
Sin is one of the principal concepts of the Bible. Simply stated, sin is the falling away of the heart from God. Every person has a conscience and some kind of understanding of right and wrong. The voice of the conscience, however, is corrupted if it is not joined to God’s Word. Knowledge of and reverence for God’s Word has dimmed in our time and with it people’s concept of right and wrong, of sin, has also dimmed. If teaching about sin ceases, man’s awareness of his need for God’s grace also ceases.
Man’s value is based on creation and redemption
Because every person is created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and has been redeemed by Christ, every individual is of value, unique, and irreplaceable regardless of age, position, occupation, race, gender, or other attributes. God wishes us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
True love for our neighbors is to help them when they are in need and to encourage them to live according to God’s Word and support them in their endeavor to do so. It also includes warning them of the dangers of living contrary to the will of God (Lev. 19:17; Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2).
God is Lord over life and death
As knowledge increases and technology advances, man strives to take decisions of life and death into his own hands. This manifests itself, for example, in the prevention of conception, the termination of pregnancy, some kinds of gene manipulation, efforts to clone humans, and euthanasia. People have forgotten that God is the Creator and upholder of all, Lord over life and death. He alone has the power to create life and take it away (1 Sam. 2:6, Job 10:12, Ps. 139:13–16). He has not authorized man to control life. The duty of medicine is to protect life, alleviate suffering, and promote and maintain health while respecting humanity.
Doctrine and life go together
Doctrine and life are closely joined. God blesses those who live according to His will. The gospel brings man freedom in Christ and gives him the power to serve God and his fellowman. It does not give him permission to live in sin (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16). God has lovingly set limits for man, like loving parents do for their children. The grace of God teaches us to reject sin and to live according to the instruction of His Word (Tit. 2:11,12).
Christianity in Society
God’s Law as a foundation for Society and its laws
Just as God has established the so-called laws of nature, which govern the physical world, He has also established a moral law, sometimes called higher or natural law, which governs the lives of men. This law is universal, eternal, and unchanging. God reveals this law to all men by general revelation, that is, through nature, the fate of men’s lives, and history (Rom. 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15), as well as in His Word. There it is briefly expressed in the Ten Commandments and even more briefly in Jesus’ Two Great Commandments (Matt. 22:37–40).
Previous generations have recognized the existence and immutable nature of this higher law. They have understood that by His law God does not seek to hinder and oppress man but rather to protect life and all that which is sacred and precious in life. As a result, they strove to emulate God’s law in the laws of our land. Recent generations and their elected leaders, legislators, and judges have challenged or denied the existence or validity of a higher law. Deviating from the truths of God’s law and the teaching of His Word shakes the foundations of our society and threatens its survival.
The fear of the Lord grants security
It is a benefit to our society that this and upcoming generations are given wholesome models for life and secure conditions for growth. These rise from the correct fear of God and from personal faith. “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Prov. 14:26).
Sober living is a part of Christian morality
Sober living has always been part of Christian morality. The Scripture warns of the dangers of alcohol and other intoxicants. It teaches that the power of alcohol wars against the will and power of God (Isa. 5:11, 12; 1Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:18).
The use of intoxicants causes immeasurable suffering and hardship in our society, affecting not only the user, but also others around them. Individuals in the public eye, including elected officials, civil servants, and educators, can teach the value of a positive, unimpaired lifestyle by providing an example of sober living in their own lives.
Marriage and Family Issues
God created marriage and family
God has established marriage and family in His creation work and they are thus defined and governed by the natural law of God’s creation (Gen 2:18, 23, 24). Attempts to redefine marriage and family and to alter or resist their intended purpose thus injure families and society.
Marriage—A lifelong covenant between man and woman
A fundamental change of values and concepts marked the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s. Marital fidelity lost its significance. Sexual cohabitation has gained moral acceptance in our society. The fulfillment of nearly all one’s inclinations has become permissible. This is manifested, for example, in legislation legalizing same-sex unions. God, however, instituted marriage as a lifelong covenant between man and woman. God’s will is that sexual life between man and woman takes place only in the estate of marriage. The Bible always calls sexual relations outside of marriage fornication.
Divorce and remarriage
God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Moses allowed divorce, but, as Jesus explained, he did so only because of the hardness of men’s hearts, that is their unbelief, and that it had not been so from the beginning. Jesus taught: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9).
The effects of increasing divorce are evident in our society. Truly divorce, in a person’s innermost being, is always a wounding and pivotal change —not to mention the degree to which children and youth suffer when their parents part ways.
Because God established marriage as a lifelong covenant it ends only when one of the spouses dies. According to the Bible remarriage is acceptable only after a spouse has died (Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:39).
Homosexual behavior is sin
The Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is immoral and as such is sin (Rom. 1:24–27, Lev. 18:22). Appeals to God’s creation work and genetics do not justify homosexual relations, for even if in some cases the individual may not be responsible for the onset of the homosexual tendency, God’s Word nonetheless obligates him or her to abstain from its practice in the same manner that it obligates an individual with normal sexual inclination to abstain from extramarital sexual relations. God does not approve the sexual relations of partners of the same sex and He does not bless such relationships. It is with good reason that the Bible warns against this sin. The increase of homosexuality and its acceptance has always been an expression of moral decline.
God wishes to protect and strengthen marriage and families
God’s Word seeks to protect and strengthen the family (Exod. 20:12; Prov. 1:8; Eph. 6:1–3). The family forms the fundamental unit of society and strong families are crucial to the health and preservation of society. Our society needs to value lifelong marriage and to support parenthood. Governments, policy makers, and public institutions at all levels should strive to support and strengthen marriage and families.
The Bible teaches that true wisdom begins with the fear of God. He and His Word are eternal and unchanging. A life built upon the enduring values of God’s Word brings blessings to both the individual and society: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
God’s Word is a bright and true light. It exposes evil and gives man knowledge of his sin and convicts him of it, but it also tells of the forgiveness and life that God has provided in Jesus Christ and the keys of the kingdom of heaven with which His children forgive penitent sinners on His behalf and thus release them from the bondage of sin.