The Bible, Sex Ed, and STDs

THE BIBLE, SEX ED, AND STDS

By Wayne S. Walker

     Recently, I came across a sheet of paper from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), a U. S. government agency, entitled “Information for Teens: Staying Healthy and Preventing STDs.”  I assume that it was intended for use in high school sex education and/or health classes for students to learn more about “sexually transmitted diseases.”  After presenting some factual information about what STDs are, how they are spread, and why they are so common especially among young people, with which I have no objection, the paper then explains some things that teens can do to protect themselves.

The first suggestion is as follows:   “The surest way to protect yourself against STDs is to not have sex. That means not having any vaginal, anal, or oral sex (‘abstinence’). There are many things to consider before having sex, and it’s okay to say ‘no’ if you don’t want to have sex.”  This advice is in perfect harmony with God’s word.  “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

“There,” someone says, “they taught abstinence.”  But wait a minute.  The very next suggestion goes on to say, “If you do decide to have sex, you and your partner should get tested beforehand and make sure that you and your partner use a condom—every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex, from start to finish.”  One either teaches abstinence, or one doesn’t.  It’s not an “either-or” situation.  “If you do decide to have sex,” then you’re not practicing abstinence, and if the teacher allows for that possibility, then he or she isn’t really teaching abstinence.

The paper also offers this advice.  “It is not safe to stop using condoms unless you’ve both been tested, know your status, and are in a mutually monogamous relationship.  Mutual monogamy means that you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other. This can help protect against STDs, as long as you’ve both been tested and know you’re STD-free.”  Not quite.  Monogamy literally means “one marriage” and is defined “the condition or practice of having only one wife or husband at a time.”  This, too, is in perfect harmony with God’s word.  “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).  In other words, sex is to be limited to marriage.

So in truth, monogamy does NOT mean “that you and your partner both agree to only have sexual contact with each other.”  That’s just committing fornication with only one partner.  Monogamy really means a husband and a wife having sexual relations only with each other.  By the way, using condoms may reduce the risk of STDs, but condoms can leak, break, or slip off, so they are not a 100% foolproof way of avoiding STDs (or unwanted pregnancies either).  The only absolute way of doing that is to refrain from sex prior to marriage and then to have sex only with your spouse after marriage.  It appears, after all, that God must have known what He was talking about all along.

—in “Search for Truth;” February 5, 2017; Vol. VIII, No. 7

Two Arguments for “Homosexual Marriage” Answered

TWO ARGUMENTS FOR “HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE” ANSWERED

By Wayne S. Walker

  Although the United States Supreme Court has supposedly spoken on the concept of “homosexual marriage,” it is an issue that has not gone away.  One of the arguments made by supporters of homosexuality and proponents of the oxymoronic idea of homosexual marriage is that “Jesus never said anything against ‘gays.’”  The implication of this assertion is that if Jesus Himself never said anything specific against homosexuals, then He must approve of them or at least accept them as they are.  Of course, even if the assertion were true, it is quite obvious that the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow.  Jesus never said anything against rapists.  You will search the Gospels in vain to find any statement made by Jesus which specifically condemns rapists.  Does this mean that He approves of them and accepts them as they are?  Uh, no.  Rape is always wrong, and those who commit it are in sin.  Period!

But is it true that Jesus never said anything against “gays”?  While Jesus may have never used the word “gay” or “homosexual,” He did make at least one statement which directly relates to the subject.  In answering a question, He said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5).   I know that in this politically correct day it is considered bigoted and homophobic to say this, but the fact is that Jesus plainly believed that marriage, along with all the sexual privileges which God intended only for marriage, is between a man and a woman, not man with man or woman with woman.  Now, that’s what Jesus Himself said!

Furthermore, the Bible, which is the revelation to mankind of God through Jesus Christ, says, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:26-27).  But wait, someone says, that’s what Paul wrote, not what Jesus said.  Well, consider this.  “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).   It may not be in “red letters,” but if it’s something written by an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ in Scripture, it is the commandment of the Lord Himself.  So whatever Paul says about homosexuality is what Jesus says.  And Paul said that it is “against nature,” “shameful,” and an “error.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Do these people really believe the Bible in the first place?  The clear answer is no.  So why do they even use the Bible to try and prove their point to begin with?  If they believed it, they wouldn’t be arguing FOR what the Bible teaches AGAINST.  And the Bible definitely teaches against homosexuality.  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, emphasis mine, WSW).  According to Paul, practicing homosexuals are numbered among the unrighteous and in that state will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.  They can be forgiven and saved (v. 11), but they must quit engaging in the sinful behavior.

Now, you may have heard about the new “version” (actually a perversion) of the Bible which simply removes all negative statements about homosexuality.  It’s called “The Queen James Bible” (I’m not making this up, folks).  But this just goes to illustrate Peter’s observation about “untaught and unstable people [who] twist [the Scriptures] to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).  We can rest assured based on Bible teaching that Jesus condemns homosexuality, just as He condemns fornication and adultery.  So, “What Would Jesus Do?”  As a result of what Jesus actually did, I think that we can reasonably conclude that Jesus would tell the homosexuals, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), and “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).  That’s what Jesus said about homosexuality.

Another of the arguments often made by those who promote moral and social change away from God’s standards in the matter of so-called “homosexual marriage,” is that “you conservative traditionalists are in the minority.”  It is claimed that more and more people are “coming around” to support “homosexual marriage” rights, according to polls.  I am not so sure that this is really true since polls can be skewed to obtain desired results.  But it is true that people do change positions.  Recently, a prominent “conservative” U. S. Senator who had always opposed “homosexual marriage” before found out that his son is “gay” and now supports it.  How convenient!  And whatever gains are made in support of “homosexual marriage” simply show how effective the radical homosexual rights proponents have been in using public schools, entertainment, and the mass media to pound their message into young skulls full of mush and brainwash our youth.

However, even if it could be proven that those of us who believe that true marriage can be defined as involving only a man and a woman are in the minority, that would not bother me one bit, because of what Jesus said.   “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  God’s moral standards are not dependent on majority opinion and are not subject to popular vote, executive orders, Congressional action, or Supreme Court decisions.  Men may change the laws to suit their own whims and fancies, but Jesus also said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  In fact, He reminded us, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

I think about the days of Noah.  He, his wife, his sons, and their wives were certainly in a minority.  He had 120 years to build the ark (Genesis 6:3, 13-14, 22).  During that time, he was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).  I can just imagine the kind of response that he received.  “Noah, this God who you claim is going to flood the earth is so old-fashioned.  Yes, people used to believe in Him, but not any longer.  We’ve progressed beyond all that myth and superstition nowadays.”  But Noah just kept on building and preaching while the people kept on mocking and scoffing, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:38-39).  They couldn’t say that they weren’t warned (Hebrews 11:7).  The majority, “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:6).  But the minority, “a few, that is eight souls, were saved” (1 Peter 3:20).  No wonder modernists deny the flood—it stands in stark judgment against them.

I also think of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage.  The kingdom of Egypt was the largest and most powerful world empire of its time, and while the Hebrew people grew so that the Egyptians were afraid of them, Israel was still in the definite minority.  Think of the kind of power that the Pharaoh had over the Israelites.  Although the effort wasn’t successful, he passed laws that commanded the Hebrews to kill (abort?) their male babies, and he was able to reduce them to a state of slavery in making bricks to build his cities.  And we know his response when God sent Moses to tell him to let the people go.  “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).   However, the very Lord at whom Pharaoh sneered and jeered used the Ten Plagues to show how powerless the Egyptian idols really were and to bring the greatest nation at that day to its knees so that it did end up letting Israel go.  Then when Pharaoh changed his mind and chased after the Hebrews, He brought the Israelites to safety and destroyed the Egyptian armies (Exodus 14:5-31).  The minority overcame and became a great nation.

And then I think of the Christians in the ancient Roman Empire.  We read the book of Acts and marvel at the rapid and widespread growth of the early church, but the saints were still a vast minority in the Roman Empire and subject to intense persecution as Satan tried to use the full forces of Rome to stamp out the church.  We see the beginnings of this persecution in Acts and references to it in the epistles, but we find its fullblown power described figuratively in the book of Revelation.  I can just hear the unbelievers of that day.  “Oh, you Christians are just a small, weak minority.  You’ll never amount to much of anything but eventually just wither away.”  Well, we know what happened.  In spite of the rabid persecution, Christianity continued to grow until it became first a legal and then finally the official religion of Rome.   And to make matters even more interesting, it was this formerly-despised church, admittedly apostate by then, which kept alive the learning and advancements of Graeco-Roman culture during the Dark Ages following the fall of Rome until they could be rediscovered during the Renaissance and Reformation.  For the benefit of Western Civilization, the minority became the majority.

No, being in the minority does not bother me at all, so long as I know that I am right with God.  I stand in pretty good company, along with Noah, Moses, and Paul.  It has been said that God and one man make a majority.  The world may laugh, jeer, mock, and scorn at God’s people and God’s ways as it, through its wisdom, does not know God (1 Corinthians 1:21).  The evidence that God’s word is truth is clear, and as long as I stick with it, I can be assured that what I believe is true.  And with that knowledge, and the hope that it gives me, I can say with Isaac Watts, “Should earth against my soul engage, And fiery darts be hurled, Then I can smile at Satan’s rage And face a frowning world.”

—taken from Faith and Facts; January, 2016; Volume 43, Number 1; pp. 77-83

“Flee Sexual Immorality”

FLEE SEXUAL IMMORALITY

By Wayne S. Walker

     Well, it has happened in our little, rural community too.  According to local news reports based on an May 13, 2015, item from WJBD, the radio station here in Salem, IL, where we live, a former Odin Junior-Senior High School teacher accused of having sex with two seventeen year old male students has turned herself in after she was charged with criminal sexual assault.  Marion County State’s Attorney Matt Wilzbach says that Lisa Tate, 35, is being charged with the Class 1 felony for her alleged involvement with one teenager at this point based on the evidence that was corroborated so far.  Wilzbach says a student took a picture of Tate’s vehicle and the student’s vehicle in a church parking lot in Odin and pictures were then loaded to Instagram.   Wilzbach says he elected to charge Tate with having sex with only one of the two boys because there would be no increase in the Class of felony with more than one count.   The charge filed involved the student who was allegedly photographed having consensual sex with Tate last month.   Wilzbach notes while the age of consent to have sex is seventeen in most cases, it becomes eighteen when a person is in an authoritative position, such as a teacher.  He also says the other boy stated their inappropriate relationship took place sometime last fall.

What this teacher did is absolutely reprehensible.   If she is found guilty, and all the evidence so far points in that direction, then she should be punished to the fullest extent allowed by law, and even that will probably not be enough to undo the damage that she has done.  Still, what concerns me even more is the fact that two seventeen year old boys apparently agreed to have consensual sex with her.  Yet, is that really a surprise nowadays?  We live in a sex-saturated society.  For many people, sex has become their god, and it is rapidly becoming the new civil-rights “cause célèbre” as people demand their right to have sex with anyone they choose, at any time, in any place, under any circumstances, with no strings attached.

There are certain Bible subjects which, because of their delicate and sensitive nature, are not pleasant to discuss publicly.  When I was a teenager, I heard some lessons against “fornication,” but they were usually quite general with very little specific instruction other than “don’t do it.”  As a result, when I was a young preacher, I was always somewhat hesitant to address the subject in sermons.  However, it may be that our failure to deal with this problem head-on in the past has played a part in the development of the current situation.   Today, our youth learns all about nearly every aspect of sex in their “comprehensive” school sex education classes from Kindergarten  to graduation, almost always from a “values-neutral” perspective.  Sex is openly portrayed and glorified in movies, television shows, and popular music.  What is the consequence?

My friend Wilson Adams, a gospel preacher in Murfreesboro, TN, recently cited these statistics.  “Our culture is in a sexual free fall. The average age for first time sexual intercourse for boys is 15.9 (girls 16.2). The vast majority of students are sexual by the time they are high school seniors. By the way, the percentage of ‘Christian’ kids is no different.”  I do not know where Wilson obtained these numbers, but I suspect that they are fairly accurate.  I would like to think that perhaps the percentage among young people associated with churches of Christ is better, but I am afraid that even if it is, it is probably not as much better as many of us would want to believe.  My first response when I read these figures was, “That’s disgusting.”  However, the reaction of disgust very quickly gave way to the feeling, “No, really that’s sad!” because so many of these young people will never know the sublime beauty and joy that God planned for sex in marriage.

What does the Bible have to say about this?  “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).  The familiar King James Version reads “flee fornication.”  Fleeing carries with it the idea of running as far and as fast away from something as possible.  Why should we strive to flee sexual immorality?  Paul gives three reasons.

First, it is a sin against the body.  Someone might think that God is so interested in the salvation of our souls that He really does not care about our bodies, since “the outward man is perishing” anyway (2 Corinthians 4:16).  However, the body important because it is creation of God who “formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7).  It is the physical body that was formed from the dust of the ground.   Therefore God is concerned not only with soul but with body too, because it is in the body that we carry out the thoughts and intents of the heart.  It is possible for people to “dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Romans 1:24).  This is why God wants us to present our bodies a living sacrifice by not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).  Hence, must remember that our judgment will be based on the deeds done in body, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Second, the Christian’s body is temple of Holy Spirit.  Every person should flee sexual immorality because his or her physical body is the creation of God, but Christians have this special reason to abstain from fornication.   A temple is a dwelling place for Deity.  When Solomon dedicated the physical temple, he said, “I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever” (I Kings 8:10-13).  Yet, even Solomon understood the figurative nature of God’s dwelling in a temple, for he went on in verse 27 to say, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”   The church is pictured as spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Ephesians 2:19-22).  How does Spirit dwell in this temple?  It is by dwelling in the lives of the materials which make it up.  “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  Again, this is a metaphor for being influenced by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, as we allow it to dwell in us (Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 3:16).  If this is true, we will flee sexual immorality.

Third, we are to glorify God in the body.  Again, God wants everyone to glorify Him in their bodies, but Christians have a special motivation for doing so, and this is that we are bought at a price, which is the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7).  So, how do we glorify God in our bodies?  We must keep ourselves pure, clean, chaste, virtuous.  People of any age can be impure, but impurity is a special danger for inexperienced and immature young people.  This is why Paul told Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).   Also, we need to live righteously, that is, doing that which is right with God.  “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).  And we ought to be holy, separated from sin and dedicated to God.  “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:1t-16).  Committing ourselves to purity, righteous living, and holiness will help to give us the strength to flee sexual immorality.

To accomplish this goal, let me tell you what our young people need to be hearing—from their parents at home, from Bible classes in church, from sermons in the pulpit—over and over and over again, because they will not be hearing it from their friends, from school, from television, from movies, from their music.  From those sources, they will hear only, “Sex is just a part of growing up and being a teenager.  Everybody does it.  And if you’re still a virgin at eighteen, there’s something wrong with you.  You’re weird!”  So this is what they need to hear.  The following is from a scene in a fictional story where a father is explaining to his twelve year old son about “the facts of life.”  Though the story is actually fiction, the advice is very much the truth.

The boy, who is telling the story, reports, “He said that sex, as God intended it, isn’t something that’s dirty and shameful unless it’s abused.  Rather, it’s designed as the unique, loving expression of the wonderful and beautiful relationship of a husband and wife and therefore is a blessed gift from God in a committed marriage that’s definitely worth saving yourself for.  But as such, it’s very private, to be experienced only in marriage, and not intended for casual recreation, or something to be joked about, laughed at, or made fun of.”  Parents, it may be uncomfortable and even a little embarrassing, but please do not be afraid to talk to your children about God’s plan for sex and the vital importance of fleeing sexual immorality.

While Paul’s instruction is simple, “Flee sexual immorality” or fornication, the application of this passage may not always be easy.  I may be an aging, white-headed, gray-bearded, sixty-something old man, but believe it or not, I can still remember what it was like being a teenage boy and young adult male.  Yes, I can still remember the hormones, the desires, the temptations.  And I know that fleeing sexual immorality has not become any easier in the last forty to fifty years but in many respects is much harder in today’s world than it was in the days of my youth.  Yet, I also know something else, and that is that it can be done because it has been done.

“And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’  But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’  So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.  But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’  But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside” (Genesis 39:7-12).

Joseph, in a rather literal sense, fled sexual immorality.  Now, we have this tendency to romanticize the Bible heroes.  The medieval artists painted them with halos above their heads.  It is as if we think of them as not having their feet actually touching the earth but floating on clouds just above the ground.  But the Bible says that they lived “with a nature like ours” or were “subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17).  Joseph had the same red blood flowing through his veins and the same hormones coursing through his body as all other young people in every generation.   What enabled him to flee this temptation, as he “he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside”?

Of course, he was concerned how it would affect his master, who as captain of Pharaoh’s guard held Joseph’s life in his hands.  However, even more importantly, he asked, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”  If we put our trust in God and commit ourselves to doing His will in our lives, we can lean upon His promise, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He will help us to flee sexual immorality.

—in Faith and Facts Quarterly; July, 2015; Vol. 42, No. 3; pp. 2-8

Smoking Is a Curse

SMOKING IS A CURSE

By Wayne S. Walker 

      Back in 1987, several newspaper articles revealed a number of interesting facts about smoking.  Then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop predicted that the smoker of 1995 would probably be segregated from society, forced to practice his habit alone or out of doors, as the United States moved towards a smoke-free society by 2000.  And he said that it will not be a government ban on smoking which would accomplish this but pressure from a grass-roots movement of militant non-smokers.  [Note:  The segregation of smokers has to a large degree taken place as many states have banned indoor smoking in public buildings, though it took both government bans and pressure from non-smokers to accomplish it, but we obviously did not achieve a smoke-free society by 2000.]  Furthermore, the American Medical Association called for a total ban on all cigarette and tobacco advertising, and the United States House of Representatives passed a bill calling for health warnings on “smokeless tobacco” as well.

     Why have we had all this effort to change the tobacco use habits of America?  Dr. William Pollin, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reports that tobacco is the deadliest of all addictive drugs.  It is eight times deadlier and six to nine times more addictive than alcohol.  It causes diseases that kill 350,000 Americans a year, six times the number of American deaths in the whole Vietnam War.  Furthermore, addiction to it is harder to treat and fatal more often than addiction to heroin.  Yet, it is freely open and sold for profit all over the country, even children used to be able to buy it from vending machines, and the federal government subsidizes its production on 182,000 farms in six southern states.

     Smoking is deadly not only to the smoker but also to others as well.  The Environmental Protection Agency tells us that tobacco smoke has become one of the most deadly indoor pollutants and can be expected to kill between 500 and 5000 non-smokers a year.  Officials believe that the number will be closer to 5000 because “passive” or second-hand tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is the major cause of death due to cancer caused by airborne carcinogens.  This is especially a problem in the home.  The British Medical Journal published a study showing that parents who smoke can expose their children to enough nicotine to equal the effects of smoking about eighty cigarettes a year, and this much “passive smoking” in children aged eleven to sixteen may be enough to have serious and negative effects on health, including chronic coughs and related respiratory problems.

     And even worse, Dr. Janet Sax, a Kaiser Foundation pediatrician, declared that smoking when pregnant is like holding a baby to the exhaust pipe of a car.  Heavy smoking by a mother can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of a fetus by 25%.  The results are much increased risks of defective babies, spontaneous abortions, premature births, small newborn children, sudden infant death syndrome (crib death), and the greater possibility of cancer later on in the offspring.  Therefore, Dr. Sax was chairwoman of a task force including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Fund, the American Lung Association, and the Mothers March of Dimes Against Birth Defects that is trying to get pregnant women to stop smoking.

     It is abundantly clear, then, that smoking is injurious to health.  One who smokes is knowingly and willingly harming his own body, which is to be presented as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1) because it “is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own: (1 Corinthians 6:19).  We are to glorify God with our bodies, not destroy them senselessly.  Moreover, tobacco smoke is something that is obnoxious, offensive, and even dangerous to others, especially unborn infants and small children.  Remember that the Lord commands us, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12).  Would you want someone else to harm your health?

     The purpose of this article is not to say that smoking is, beyond the shade of a shadow of a doubt, a sin, like fornication (though evidence seems to be mounting in that direction—how can we say that other forms of drug abuse are sin, aside from being illegal, and not affirm the same of smoking?), and that everyone who does it is necessarily out of fellowship with God and will definitely be lost.  Each one will have to make that decision for himself.  It is to say, however, that there is sufficient evidence to affirm that Christians, who are to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16), should not be found engaged in such activity.

     Thus, if you are a smoker, we would encourage you, for your own sake and for the sake of your influence on others, including your family, to quit.  And to those who do not yet smoke, especially young people, we would strongly urge you not to start.

     —taken from Torch; July, 1987; Vol. XXII, No. 7; pp. 16-16; slightly updated

Neither Black Nor White

NEITHER BLACK NOR WHITE

By Wayne S. Walker

In a 1970 newspaper cartoon, someone is peering out the door of the “Lily White Gospel Church” at a black man who desires entrance, and says, “No.  But if you’ll go back to Africa, we’ll be glad to send you a missionary.”  The following story is taken from an article by Al Diestelkamp in Pillar and Support, a bulletin published by the Paris Ave. church of Christ in Peoria, IL (Vol. 1, No. 4; Nov., ’74).

A young man of high school age, with his hand gripped firmly to the small hand of his five-year-old sister, stepped up to the door of the church building.  He paused nervously, but after glancing down at the eager eyes of his little sister, who was listening to the melodious verses of “More and More Like Jesus,” he bravely opened the door and stepped in.  He was encouraged by the sign which read, “A Cordial Welcome to All.”  Besides that, he played ball with a boy who attends there, and he’s a really nice fellow.  But instead of receiving a welcoming smile and a handshake from the man who was attending the door, he was greeted with a cold, curious stare.  Disappointed and dejected, the young man left the building never to try again.

The young man and the little girl grew up.  He was always considered a “good man” by those who knew him, but he never heard the pure gospel, so he was lost!  The little girl became a wife and mother.  One of her sons became a denominational preacher.  But for the price of one sincere smile—several years before—perhaps these people would have been taught the truth, and today we would still be reaping souls for Christ because of the inquisitive young man and his little sister.

But they were black!  The sign on the building applied to all—if they were white.

This is a very sad state of affairs.  Not only is this kind of attitude true of some denominations, but it is also found among some so-called New Testament Christians, in whose hands the gospel has suffered much because of their bigotry.  Our nation has been plagued by racial prejudice in politics, industry, education, and, no less, religion.  It ought not so to be, especially in the Lord’s church.

Brother Diestelkamp went on to say, “The story is fictitious, but the attitude is not.  For years brethren have been sending black people to the other side of town to hear the gospel.  And even today, if a faithful black family moves to an unfamiliar city, they are faced with the dilemma of where to worship.

“Thankfully much progress has been made in recent years, and there are many, many congregations of the Lord’s church which welcome all, without regard to race or color, or any other God-given characteristic.  In reality, any church which would discourage attendance of anyone who is seeking the truth could not be considered a ‘sound’ church of Christ.”

In Jeremiah 13:23, we read, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?  Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to doing evil.” Jeremiah is saying that Judah was so far in sin that it was now as impossible for her to repent as for an Ethiopian to change his skin or a leopard to change its spots.  The reference to an Ethiopian changing his skin obviously indicates a difference between the Jews who were Caucasian and the Ethiopian who was Negroid.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “Critically Ethiopia may refer only to the Nile valley above the First Cataract, but in ancient as in modern times the term was often used not only to include what is now known as Nubia and the Sudan (Soudan), but all the unknown country further West and South, and also at times Northern, if not Southern, Abyssinia….Prehistoric population of Northern Nubia was probably Egyptian, but this was displaced in early historic time by a black race, and the thick lips and wooly hair of the typical African are as well marked in the oldest Egyptian paintings as in the latest….The Negroes, though brave and frugal, were slow in thought, and although controlled for centuries by cultivated neighbors, under whom they attained at time high official prominence, yet the body of the people remained uninfluenced by this civilization….There are many communities of mixed races in Ethiopia, but the ancient basis is invariably Negro, Semitic or Egyptian” (Vol. 2, p. 1031; article “Ethiopia”).

Thus, the term “Ethiopian” was commonly used in ancient times to denote a black person.  J. M. Fuller in his Bible Commentary on Jeremiah noted at this place, “This verse answers the question, May not Judah avert this calamity by repentance?  No: because her sins are too inveterate.  By the Ethiopian (Heb. Cushite) is meant not the Cushite of Arabia, but of Africa, i.e., the negro.”

Can the Ethiopian change his skin?  No, and no one should expect him to.  Why?  Because in the sight of our God, there is neither black nor white so far as one’s spiritual status is concerned.  We’ll be citing some passages later from which this conclusion may be drawn.  But in general, we want to look at the sin of racial prejudice.

1. Jesus was not subject to the racial prejudice of His day.  A great enmity existed between the Hebrews and the “half-breed” people of Samaria, so much so that the apostle John wrote, “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9).  Yet this did not stop Jesus from speaking to a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob near Sychar and offering her, as well as other Samaritans, salvation (John 4:6-42).  In fact, Jesus used the good deeds of a compassionate Samaritan to illustrate what it means to love one’s neighbor (Luke 10:25-37).   And when ten lepers came to Jesus to be healed, He did not turn them away because one of them was a Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19).  Interestingly enough, only the Samaritan was grateful enough to return and express his thanks.  Furthermore, Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them in Acts 8:4-5.

Beyond the Samaritans, one of the worst cases of racial bigotry in history was between the Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews considered the Gentiles as dogs, though such was not Jesus’s attitude (see Mark 7:24-30).  Notice the Jews’ reaction when Paul mentioned his mission to preach among the Gentiles (Acts 2:21-22).  Yet the book of Romans tells us that “there is no difference” (Romans 3:22).  Certainly it is true that the Gentiles had forsaken God and were rejected by Him (Romans 1:18-32).  But the Jews were just as displeasing to Jehovah because of their hypocrisy and formality (Romans 2:17-29).

Therefore, it was God’s desire to reconcile both to Himself and to each other.  This process began in Acts 10 (note vs. 28, 44-48).  We need to have the same attitudes towards people of other races that Peter here expressed towards the Gentiles.  The reason that Gentiles can be saved as well as Jews is found in Ephesians 2:11-19.  Jesus “came and preached peace to you which were far off, and to them that were nigh” (cf. Acts 2:39).    In dying upon the cross He “abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”  Because He did this, “He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us,” and “through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  Now, if Jesus could do this for Jew and Gentile, why cannot it be true for black and white?

2.  There is no spiritual difference between black and white. There are a couple of passages in the New Testament which might refer to racial characteristics.  In Acts 8:27 we read of the Ethiopian eunuch.  There is disagreement over whether he was black or not.  The ISBE, quoting W. Max Muller, says the eunuch was probably “no black proselyte but a Jew who had placed the business ability of his race at the service of the Nubian woman” (p. 1033).  However, others disagree with this conclusion because of the way the term Ethiopian was understood in the ancient world.  R. H. C. Lenski wrote in his commentary, “He was an Ethiopian, a black man!  AITHIOPS, from AITHO, ‘to burn,’ and OPS, ‘countenance,’ points to race and nationality and not merely to residence.  Thus the idea of his being a Jew who had risen to great power in Ethiopia is at once excluded.  In fact, the entire narrative points to the fact that this man was a Gentile,” although still others suggest his being a proselyte of the gate.  Thus, it is highly probably that he was a black man.

Also, in Acts 13:1 we read of Simeon that was called Niger.  Again, there is disagreement as to what this implies.  Albert Barnes said, “Niger is a Latin name meaning black.  Why the name was given is not known.” J. W. McGarvey wrote, “Symeon, as his name proves, was a full-blooded Jew; and though his surname Niger (black) can scarcely justify the conclusion that he was an African Jew [a footnote here refers to a quotation from Alford, ‘From his appellation, Niger, he may have been an African proselyte’], it could scarcely have been given to him without complexion.” So it is at least possible that Simeon here may also have been a black man.  Anyway, we can all agree that there are differences of a physiological, sociological, and historical nature between races.

But there are no differences of a spiritual nature.  Why?  Because Galatians 3:26-29 tell us that God does not view people as they come to Him for salvation in terms of nation or race, class, or even sex.  As the Lord told Samuel, “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  We must remember that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35, Romans 2:11).  An application of this principle is made in James 2:1-9.  Verse 9 is the reason we can speak of the SIN of racial (or any other kind of) prejudice.  If God is perfect in His love for all men, we also must be perfect in our love for all men (Matthew 5:43-48).

3. The gospel is for all mankind and is not limited to one nation or race. The gospel is to be preached to everyone (read Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23).  Why?  Because all men are sinners and need the gospel to be saved (Romans 3:23).  That includes both black and white.

Some people try to excuse their prejudice by claiming that Negroes are the result of the cohabitation of white men with baboons (which is ridiculous), or by saying that they don’t need preaching because they don’t have souls.  Much of this foolishness is prompted by the supposed “curse of Ham” in Genesis 8:22-25.  It is true that the black race is the descendants of Ham (cf. Genesis 10:6).  However, the curse was not actually given to Ham but to his son Canaan.  Noah was not referring to all Hamitic peoples, but prophesying about the Canaanites.  In any event, the Negro race deserves a chance to hear and obey the gospel just like anyone else.

As we think about the gospel call, everyone is included.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  Jesus pleas for all who are heavy-laden to come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30).  God loved the WHOLE WORLD (John 3:16).  “WHOSOEVER will may come” (Revelation 22:17; emphasis mine, WSW).  Both white and black, as well as all others, are invited.

Conclusion. We sometimes sing the hymn “The Gospel Is for All,” but do we really mean it?  What are some practical implications of these principles?  Suppose a faithful family of black Christians moved into the community.  Would we invite them to worship with us and accept them into the assembly?  Many would rather buy a run-down old hovel in a poor section of town and proclaim to the brotherhood, “We have started a ‘colored’ congregation.’  I am always glad to hear of black and white brethren who can meet together in peace and harmony.  Or what would you do if a local church, predominantly white, brought in a black preacher to work in a gospel meeting?  I am afraid that even many of the members might be bigoted enough not to support it!  Some churches are now beginning to have black preachers for meetings to reach into the black community, and this is good.

Brother Al Diestelkamp, in the afore-mentioned article, concluded: “Racial discrimination has found its way into almost every area of life.  Christians (?) are sometimes heard to say, ‘I have to work with them (referring to people of other races) but I don’t have to worship with them!’   But they have completely reversed the matter.  If one doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to work at a job next to, or with those he doesn’t want to (he can quit), but in order to please God, he must be willing to worship and work with other faithful Christians without regard to their God-given ancestry.  Division simply for the separation of races is as sinful as dividing into ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ congregations, or ‘educated’ and ‘uneducated’ churches.  Until we remove prejudice from our lives, which has caused this unscriptural split in the church, there will continue to be an unsightly blemish on the Bride of Christ.”

Brethren, let us remember that Christianity is not a white, Anglo-Saxon, middle-class suburban American commodity.  There should be no national, economic, sexual—or racial—in short, no class distinctions whatever between Christians, or among those to whom we preach.  Since God loves every human being on the face of this earth, let us emulate His good will and show our love for all mankind by preaching the gospel to whomever we can and by accepting those who obey, whether Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor, native or immigrant (and that includes Polish, Mexican, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.), old or young, urban or suburban, white-collar or blue-collar, and anyone else.  There must be unity in the body of Christ.  “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of all them that observe thy precepts” (Psalm 119:63).

—taken from Torch; January, 1983; Vol. XVII, No. 1; pp. 7-15

[Editor’s note:  I wrote this article back in 1983.  The congregation where I was working at the time had a young black couple from a faithful church in a nearby city move into our community and visit with us.  However, they didn’t come back.  But they had filled out a visitors card and we had their address, so a couple of us visited with them.  They informed us that they had decided to worship at another area congregation.  It was not until several months later that I found out why.  Some of our members were friends with some members of the church from which the young couple had come.  When our members were talking with them about the black couple, their friends told them that the couple had told several in the other congregation that when they had visited with us, someone—I was never told who it was, though I had a sneaking suspicion that I knew—came up to them and said something like, “Your kind really aren’t welcome around here.”  When I heard that, I was simply flabbergasted, so, after waiting a little while longer for things to settle down, I gathered this material together for a sermon and then worked it into this article which I later sent off for publication.  WSW.]

 

The Equal Rights Amendment

THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

By Wayne S. Walker 

     [Editor’s note:  This article was originally written in 1981.  The so-called Equal Rights Amendment never achieved the 38 states needed to ratify it by June 30, 1982, and in fact several states which ratified it rescinded their ratification, so it died.  However, in every session of Congress since, some pro-feminist Congressperson has reintroduced the E. R. A. in Congress, so the spiritual issues that it raises are still important.  I have inserted a few comments in brackets to update the information in the article.  WSW.]

     The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (E. R. A.) to the United States Constitution, passed by Congress on March 22, 1972, and ratified thus far by 35 states (38 needed by June 30, 1982), five of which have rescinded their approval, reads as follows:

     “1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.  2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.  3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

     Many states have already enacted their own E. R. A. laws.  The language is deceptively simple.  No one opposes equal rights under the law for both men and women such as equal pay for equal work.  But there is more to this than meets the eye.

     Feminist organizations are working for “values clarification” in society’s attitudes towards women, and they seem to be having fair success.  Work is now being done to eliminate all “sexist” language from the Bible (e.g., “Our Loving Parent who is in heaven…”).  Girls are forcing their way onto boys’ athletic teams.  Some are calling for women to be included in Selective Service registration.  A few years ago, a bureaucrat tried to ban father-son and mother-daughter school functions as discriminatory [and some still are trying to do so.]

     All-male schools and clubs are being pressured to admit women.  It seems strange that the YMCA (Young MEN’S Christian Association) must accept women but the YWCA (Young WOMEN’S Christian Association) is not required to accept men.  There is a report out of California, which has a state E. R. A. statute, that public restrooms are becoming co-ed—all in one room with separate booths for men and women [like co-ed dorms in colleges].  And it may be that if the E. R. A. is ratified, some judge might rule that it demands homosexual marriages be legalized.

     [Added note:  I do not claim to be a prophet or the son of a prophet, but thirty years ago some of us saw the signs of the times and were warning even then about the possible coming danger of homosexual marriage.  And a lot of people responded, “Oh, no, that will never happen.”  No, we did not get the E. R. A., but the same kind of liberal, leftist thinking that was behind it has gradually infected and influenced our society since then, especially the younger generation, largely through the entertainment and educational establishments, until we are now dealing with the very issue of homosexual marriage.]

     If all these things are being done, tried, or suggested before the E. R. A. is the law, imagine what might take place afterward!  Now it should be pointed out that the possible results of the E. R. A. which are currently being debated will not happen automatically or immediately.  As a result many of the more “moderate” supporters of the E. R. A. claim that such things will never really come about because there are already laws on the books to avoid them.  However, what so many fail to see is that if the E. R. A. is ratified, all other laws will have to be reinterpreted to conform with it or else be abolished.  And many of the radical women’s groups supporting the E. R. A. say that they will push for such changes in the courts.

     Who are some of the most zealous promoters of the E. R. A., and what are their ideals?  Let me quote from the Humanist Manifesto which was signed by Betty Friedan, an ardent E. R. A. activist.  “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural.  It is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfillment of the human race.  As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.”  There you have it.  The leaders of women’s lib and the E. R. A. movement base their ideas on secular atheistic humanism.  Paul describes the consequences of such in Romans chapter 1.

     Certainly the church should not get involved in politics.  Such does not fall into the scope of its Bible-revealed mission.  Furthermore, God never intended that politics be the means for the moral persuasion of mankind.  His method is preaching and teaching the gospel.  No preacher or other Christian should get so involved in political movements that he fails to see the real needs of men.  Yet, many so-called political issues are actually moral questions.  And our traditional separation of church and state does not mean that religious people cannot seek to influence the government for good.  Christians do have the right as individuals to make know their views to those in power to oppose such godless nonsense as the E. R. A. and to support legislation that is in harmony with the principles of morality in God’s word.

     Another possible result of the E. R. A. would be to make both the husband and the wife equally responsible for the financial support of the family.  Contrast that with what Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:8 and 14.  The problem is not what some uninformed or prejudiced person says may or may not happen because of the E. R. A., but what legal experts say can happen if it becomes law.  This is why Christians must oppose it.

     —Taken from Torch; Mar., 1981; Vol. XVI, No. 3; pp. 13-14

Capital Punishment

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

By Wayne S. Walker 

     On Monday, Jan. 17, 1977, at approximately 7:50 A.M. (C. S. T.), an official of the state of Utah announced, “Gary Mark Gilmore is dead.”  Thus ended one of the strangest struggles in American history.  It was strange because Gilmore, convicted of one murder and having confessed to another, was fighting for his right to be executed as a murderer.  This fight was carried on against such “libertarian” organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union which continually sought stays of execution against Gilmore’s will.  Since then, several other convicted murderers have been put to death in some states, while other states, like Illinois, have completely outlawed capital punishment.

     The last previous execution in the United States had occurred in 1967, nearly ten years before, in Colorado.  In 1965, the U. S. Supreme Court ordered a moratorium on further sentencing criminals to death, and in 1972 declared the death penalty as it then existed to be unconstitutional because, they said, it was being arbitrarily imposed and thus was considered cruel and unusual.  In response, several states rewrote their statutes concerning the death penalty so that they were mandatory instead of arbitrary.  However, early in 1977 the Court ruled the death penalty itself is constitutional but said mandatory death sentences were wrong and each case must be examined on its own merits within certain guidelines.  [No one would ever be able to accuse our nation’s Supreme Court of being consistent!]  Several states began rewriting their death penalty laws again.

     The purpose of this article is not political or social.  It is not the author’s intent to tell anyone what he or she must believe about capital punishment.  Nor is it my aim to tell people how to vote should the question ever appear on the ballot (although I doubt that it probably ever will).  My soul desire is simply to inform the reader of what the Bible, and thus what God, has to say about the putting to death of murderers by civil authorities.  We shall examine the topic by noting objections that many have often raised against it.

     I. “It is against the nature of God.”  Then why did God Himself command it in Genesis 9:5-6?  Notice the reason for it in this passage—man is in the image of God.  If all men are still in the image of God, then it should still be right to put to death those who murder one made in God’s image.  And in the New Testament, read Acts 25:11.  The inspired apostle Paul recognized that there are some crimes which are worthy of death.  So capital punishment is not necessarily against the nature of God.

     II. “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Exodus 20:11).”  First of all, the Old Testament law, including the Ten Commandments, was done away and we are no longer under its precepts.  But this principle is also found in the New Testament.  However, when God said not to kill, what did He mean?  Is it wrong to kill a dying horse or a beef cow?  Is it sinful to be involved in a purely accidental killing?  What about abortion—killing unborn babies?  It is amazing that the majority of those opposed to capital punishment are also pro-abortion! 

     And are we to suppose that the command would apply only to the firing squad but not to the murderer?  The Ten Commandments applied only to the individual and not the government.  The same law which forbade killing by an individual also commanded the Jewish civil authorities to put to death those convicted of certain crimes (Exo. 21:12-14, Num. 35:30-34, Heb. 10:28).  And, as we shall see, God still authorizes civil government to wield the sword.  Furthermore, we have Jesus’s own interpretation of the command in Matthew 19:18: “Thou shalt do no murder.”  It is a gross misapplication to apply Exodus 20:13 to capital punishment. 

     III.  “Jesus did away with ‘an eye for an eye’ concept.”  It is true that the Old Testament taught “an eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:23-24), and that Jesus abolished that principle so far as His disciples were concerned (Matthew 5:38-39).  But again, we must understand that this idea did not refer just to retaliation by individuals but to judicial pronouncements.  Jesus’ statements were to correct its misuse by individuals, and they inhere only to the individual and not to the government.  What the teaching of Jesus actually forbids is personal revenge and not capital punishment.  There are several other passages which teach against revenge (Matthew 7:12, Romans 12:17-21, 1 Peter 2:21-23), but none exclude punishment by the proper authority, including death for capital crimes.

     IV.  “The state has no right to take life.”  Why says?  Not the Bible!  God says that the state has the right to punish evildoers, those who commit crimes.  See Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 1:8-9, 1 Peter 2:13-17.  And if someone has done something worthy of death, the civil government, as God’s minister of punishment, must mete out the just desserts.  “…For he does not bear the sword in vain…” (Rom. 13:4).  Remember that personal vengeance by the individual is wrong.  The state is God’s appointed agent for this, and the wronged ones should seek justice through God’s authorized messenger.  This may include capital punishment.

     V.  The foregoing ought to be enough to establish a Biblical basis for the scripturalness of capital punishment.  But another objection is that it does not deter crime; therefore, it is useless and should be abolished.   However, in Ecclesiastes 8:11, the inspired writer said that when punishment is not executed firmly and swiftly, men will be more inclined to do evil.  Regardless of what some sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other bleeding-heart liberals may say, the Bible teaches that punishment deters crime!  There are also statistical studies which back this up (e.g., Yunkers, Southern Illinois University, 1976), and the testimony of experts such as Robert L. Shevin, attorney-general of Florida, to corroborate it.

     VI.  There are many other arguments which people make against capital punishment.  “Innocent people have been executed because of it.”  Certainly there must be safeguards to avoid this, but the abuse of a practice does not necessitate its abolishment.  “It is contrary to ‘love thy neighbor.’”  Again, the very law which taught love to one’s neighbor (Lev. 19:18) also commanded capital punishment, so the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.  “It takes away one’s sacred right to life.”  This begs the question.  According to God, those who have committed murder have forfeited their right to life by the nature of their crime.  “It cheapens life.”  No, what cheapens life is to let those who take it willfully get off free or with a light sentence.

     “Life imprisonment is better.”  Those who have been there say that this can be more cruel and inhumane than execution.  Finally, “It is cruel, inhumane, and barbaric.  Once extracted, it is beyond retraction.”  But what about the murders committed?  Were they not cruel, inhumane, and barbaric?  And were they not beyond retraction?  Actually, many end up feeling sorrier for the ones who are guilty of these heinous crimes than for the victims of their horrible crimes.  No, two wrongs do not make a right.  But this article has attempted to show that capital punishment is right, so those who disagree must now prove from the Scriptures that it is wrong.

     The reader should be able to see why many are honestly and sincerely convinced of the scripturalness of capital punishment based on Biblical teaching.  Again, no one is trying to force his opinion on anyone.  The article is written only to present evidence from the Bible for capital punishment.  Someone might ask, “Then what does the ‘Church of Christ’ believe about capital punishment?”  If he means what does “our” creed book teach or what is the “official” position of our “governing leaders,” the reply is that there is no such thing.  The Lord’s “church” is simply people.  If he is referring to what the people believe, it does not really matter what their beliefs are.  We should rather be concerned with what God’s word says.  Each individual must study the issue and make up his own mind for himself.  But this writer firmly believes that the facts, both scriptural and otherwise, indicate not only the validity but the need for capital punishment.

     —taken from Torch; Jan., 1980; Vol. XV, No. 1; pp 10-13 (slightly revised and updated)