State of Theology: Christian Societal Responsibility
23. Christians should be silent on issues of politics.
This question deals with the Christian’s responsibility regarding society, which is clearly implied in Scripture. While Scripture does not direct or imply any particular level or nature of political involvement, it is clear that Christians should be deeply concerned about the society in which they live, seeking to improve it in ways that glorify God (Jeremiah 29:7). Israelites were commanded to care for widows, orphans, and sojourners (Deuteronomy 14:29 and 24:17) as well as to relentlessly pursue justice and mercy (Exodus 23:6, Zechariah 7:9). While these commands could be considered part of the civil law, they are undergirded by the moral law that is still just as binding today as it was then. They are part of loving your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:8) and not neglecting the weighty matters of justice (Matthew 23:23) as clearly taught by Jesus. Many political issues are issues of justice, so to be silent about them is to disobey these commands. Scripture is equally clear that silence in the face of injustice and oppression are just as sinful as the injustice and oppression themselves (Job 31:16-23, Isaiah 1:16, Ezekiel 22:6-12). This means it is incompatible with Scripture to say that Christians should be silent on political issues in general. Over half of respondents across all categories affirmed that silence about politics is not commanded in Scripture, ranging from 56% of regularly attending Northeasterners to 76% of Midwest evangelicals. These results are mixed, but generally positive. While there is certainly room for debate as to how much political involvement is prudent and appropriate, it would be improper to say that silence is required. However, it is equally important to stress that while individual Christians can be involved in the political process, it is not the place of churches to be officially involved in politics. We do not wage war using the weapons of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4), including politics. The Gospel is what truly transforms society, and history teaches that such transformations are often slow. Churches must focus on the Gospel, which then compels individual believers to act in ways that advance the Kingdom of God much as it compelled people like William Wilberforce to fight against slavery over two centuries ago.
State of Theology: Extramarital Sex
25. Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.
This question is explicitly addressed in Scripture by the Seventh Commandment as interpreted by Jesus (Matthew 7:27-32). Scripture therefore defines “traditional marriage” as the covenantal union between one man and one woman as established by God to reflect the diversity and unity of the Trinity as well as the union between Christ and the Church (Genesis 1:28, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 1:7). Throughout Scripture, sex outside of this union is prohibited (Leviticus 15 and 20, Proverbs 5-7, Mark 10:1-12, 1 Corinthians 5-6). This is further echoed by Paul with his use of the generic term “sexual immorality” as any sexual activity outside of God’s definition of marriage (Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 4:3). Thus, Scripture is clear that sex outside of traditional marriage (as defined by God) is sinful. While over half of respondents across all categories except the Northeast (at 39%) affirmed this, it is concerning that results both overall (53%) and for the Midwest (54%) were also relatively low for something so clearly taught by Scripture. Only with regularly attending evangelicals nationwide and in the Midwest were results better than 80%, showing that in certain regions and denominations the sin of extramarital sex has either been denied or neglected. This is especially concerning when we consider that this question only deals with the act of sex and not with lust, which Jesus equates with adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). Had the question included lustful thoughts, pornography, and other forms of sexual immorality outside of sex itself, I fear the results would have been much more negative. Still, it is slightly encouraging to see that in our hypersexualized society, the majority in most categories did affirm the sinfulness of extramarital sex, even if it was only a slight majority.
State of Theology: Abortion
26. Abortion is a sin.
The question of abortion is not clearly addressed in any passage of Scripture but is clearly implied by Scripture overall. Since the term “abortion” does not appear in Scripture, it must be defined first. For our purposes, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the willful killing of the baby in the womb. Thus abortion is a premediated act and not the death of the child during an act of medical necessity to save the mother’s life. Being the killing of a baby, abortion is sinful if it falls outside of the limitations for killing in Scripture. The command against killing in Scripture rooted in the Sixth Commandment forbidding murder, which is reiterated by Jesus, proving that it is part of the moral law and thus still applicable today (Matthew 5:21, 15:19, and 19:18, Mark 7:21 and 10:19, Luke 18:20). While speaking His covenant to Noah, God says “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). This comes just before God reiterates the cultural mandate to be fruitful and multiply (verse 7), so it refers to all mankind (men and women of all ages). This establishes that since people are made in the image of God, killing them is a grave sin apart from specific circumstances explicitly set out by God. The first of these caveats is seen in this passage: punishment for murder or other serious crimes, which must only come after a just conviction (Numbers 35:30, see also Exodus 21:12-14. Leviticus 24:17-18, Numbers 35:31). The second is the killing of enemy combatants in battle (which is allowed in certain circumstances throughout Scripture) and when the death of a perpetrator happens due to self-defense that was not premeditated (Exodus 22:2-3). Scripturally, the killing of a person outside of these caveats is murder and thus sinful.
Scripture is equally clear that a baby in the womb is a person with equal worth to any other person.