The Bible and Voting – Part 4

The Bible and Voting – Part 4
Proverbs 14:34 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 24, 2016 • The Bible and Voting 2016


Andy Woods


July 24, 2016 The Bible and Voting, Part 4

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Genesis, chapter 9, verse 6.  [Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”]  Isn’t that a relief when the preacher says open to the book of Genesis?  It’s easy to find; it’s at the beginning in case you didn’t know.  Genesis 9:6, the title of our message is The Bible and Voting, Part 4.  The last time I was with you I think I was running out that door to catch an airplane, along with my family; where we were up in the Colorado mountains all last week with a  Christian camp called Camp Areté, which is a Greek word, areté, it means excellence.  And I was invited up there to teach some lessons to the average age 14-17.  Now I have a Jr. High School friend that refers to age 14-17 as the pre-human years so I really didn’t know how this was going to work.  And there’s a lot of things going on in  youth ministry where people think kids can’t learn, you have to constantly entertain them. And I’ll tell you, I went up there and this was probably the most Bible focused group, camp, I’ve been at.  These kids not only listened they took notes, asked great questions, and so I just have a renewed vision for  youth and youth ministry.

It wasn’t just Bible study all the time, it was activities, hiking, skits, your typical camp environ­ment. My daughter, who is ten, who hopefully didn’t bring her duck whistle with her to church today, got a duck whistle and she fit right in so it really was a really blessed week.  So if you all prayed for us God must have heard you.  I did get a mile headache though, Colorado is high, now they’ve legalized drugs so that’s another emphasis on Rocky Mountain High I guess.  Of course, we partook of none of that while we were there.  But the altitude did give me… you know, it is a tough altitude but fortunately with a few aspirin I was fine after the second day.

Anyway, we are here today talking about the Bible and Voting, and politics and political parties, these are things really on our minds today as Americans.  Most of us understand that our country is really in a precarious place.  We just finished one major convention last week and another major political convention I think is going to happen this week or next week if I’m not mistaken.  And so there’s just a lot of talk in the air about voting and who should I vote for and those kinds of things.  And I hope you hear my heart in this series which began on Independence Day.  The point of this series is not to tell you who to vote for; in other words, I’m doing the best I can to stay out of the weeds, if I can put it that way, I’m trying not to name political parties, I’m trying not to name political candidates.  I’m really not trying to weigh in on this particular election which is on everybody’s minds.

What I’m trying to do is direct you back to the Bible.  And I’m trying to give you a set of eternal and immutable principles that we find in the Bible.  These principles are not given by man; sometimes they’re ignored by man, but they’re given by God and therefore very important to God. And so when we as Christians vote, not just in this election but in any election, for any office, we ought to be looking at first and foremost a set of principles.  We ought to be getting behind people that hole to certain immutable principles that God is the author of.

I planned on covering all of this in one sermon, I haven’t gone too well with that, have I?  I’ve divide this into economic issues, social issues and foreign affairs issues, having looked at economic issues.  What does the Bible say about economics?  I gave you a set of issues to think about as we vote.  And then from there, last week we moved into what are called social issues, cultural issues, hot button issues.  Now you say why would you get into all of this, this stuff is so controversial.  Well, my answer to that is the same answer John Walvoord gave.  He was asked once why are you focusing on prophecy?  Don’t you know that prophecy is so controversial?  Don’t you know that prophecy is polarizing?  And John Walvoord’s response to that was classic; he says you know what, the whole Bible is controversial, including prophecy.

I feel that any time  you enter the pages of God’s Word it, by nature, polarizes and it causes controversy, and so if a person is afraid of controversy then they probably have missed their calling as a preacher and a teacher of God’s Word because you can’t talk about anything in the Bible without provoking controversy of some kind.  My goal is not to be controversial for the sake of being controversial.  It’s to let the Bible speak to the culture.

And we’ve looked at several issues concerning cultural issues that we should be looking for in candidates.  We talked about legal protection for the unborn because God’s Word says something about that.  We talked about legal protection for the elderly because God’s Word says something about that.  We even talked about the standard of heterosexual monogamous marriage as the standard of society because God’s Word talks about that as early as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

And so what I’ve done is put together a series of questions to ask candidates or to think about before we pledge our support to anybody.

And we come now to the fourth social issue and this one may surprise some of you and the issue is this: Will the candidate support or seek to abolish the institution of capital punishment.  When we use the expression “capital punishment” we are referring to the death penalty given to people who commit murder.  Does the Bible actually address this issue?  I believe it does and that’s why I had you turn to Genesis 9 and verse 6.  And in fact, let’s even go back earlier, let’s go back to Genesis 6:11, which is the context for Genesis 9.  This is just prior to the flood.  Genesis 6:11 says this: “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.”

No extra charge for this but you might be shocked to discover that the Hebrew word for violence here is Hamas, and that should provoke something in your memory because isn’t there a Middle Eastern terrorist group called Hamas.  And I asked my Hebrew teacher, I said does this word have anything to do with that Middle Eastern terrorist group.  And he said yes, they’re naming their group after this Semitic word.  And that’s important to understand because many of us look at these groups in the Middle East as peace brokers, and that has to do with the ignorance of the Western mind regarding Semitic languages.  The very name itself, Hamas, is indicative of terror.

And Genesis 6:11 uses this word Hamas, or a derivative of it, Hamas, to describe the violence and the bloodshed and what I would call sort of a wild, wild west vigilante mentality that had taken over just prior to the flood.  This, of course, is one of the reasons that God brought the deluge, having spared Noah and his family in the ark.

And then as we go from there to Genesis 8:21,  Noah and his three sons are in the ark, eight total, Noah and Mrs. Noah were in the ark, Ham, Shem and Japheth were in the ark with their respective wives, bringing the grand total to eight.   And God began to repopulate the earth through those three sons.  And Genesis does a tremendous job tracing the lineage of those three sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth; the Bible wants us to keep our eyes on Shem because through Shem, who had the blessed line according to Genesis 9:26 would come the Hebrew race.  And through the Hebrew race ultimately would come the Messiah.  In fact, the very name Shem, we get the word Semite from; from these Semitic people groups of the earth the Messiah is going to come forth, Genesis 9:26.  [Genesis 9:26, “He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.”]

But at any rate the earth began to be repopulated through these three lines and what the Bible is very clear on is  yes, the environment had been cleansed because of the flood but man’s nature never changed.  Genesis 8:21 says this as the earth was being repopulated, “The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”  That is a post flood statement.

The nature is now different, the environment is different, but the same sin nature exists in fallen man.  Now if that is true, if war and murder exists within the heart of man, Jesus was very clear on that, it does, Matthew  15:18-19 teaches that, if these are natural emanations of the sin nature how do you prevent the world from returning to the Hamas or the violence that existed in the pre-flood world?  [Matthew 15:18, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  [19] For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”]

As the earth is repopulated and man’s nature is the same how do you prevent a rerun of the violence that swept the world like a tidal wave just prior to the flood?  The answer to that is a covenant that God made with Noah.  The covenant that God made with Noah is the origin or the beginning of, if you will, the institution of human government.  And notice what he said in this covenant, in the book of Genesis, chapter 9 and verse 6, it’s very clear:  “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”  So it’s interesting here that if somebody commits the sin of murder that is actually an attack, if you will, on God Himself because you have just shed the blood of a being that bears God’s very own image.

And when that happens God doesn’t say I’m going to step in and judge.  He says very clearly here “By man,” government in other words, “By man shall his blood be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”  Notice that man in his post fall state, even in the post flood state, still has value to God.  The image of God has not been erased in fallen human beings; it has been effaced to some extent but not erased.  Even in our fallen state we still have value to God.  In fact, that’s one of the reasons we shouldn’t be slanderous in our speech towards each other, because James 3, that great chapter that deals with the taming of the tongue, says we should not slander one another because we are slandering beings made in God’s likeness.  The Bible is very clear that the image-bearing status of God in man has continued not only after the fall but after the flood and it continues on to this very day.

And this is why God set up human government and he set up the institution of capital punishment; there must be justice, in other words.  If a person is going to take the life in a premeditated way of another human being then justice itself demands that his life be taken.  And there is a concept that the sociologists and the legal experts talk about, it is called deterrence.  Deterrence is the idea that if I don’t have the value system of God in my heart, if the Holy Spirit is not within me, then what in the world is going to hold my hand back from looting, theft, violence, and mayhem.  The answer is the threat of punishment, in this case punishment coming from the government.  If I will not be constrained by the Bible then I will at least be constrained by the bayonet, in other words.  I will be so fearful of punishment that I will keep my hand back from evil activities.

Now there are many times in my life that I want to sail on into work at about 80 miles an hour but I don’t do that.  And I can assure you I make a decision not to do it out of the goodness of my own heart because I’m such a wonderful person but I am scared of the officer with the radar gun who is going to clock me at going 80 miles an hour and give me a ticket that I can’t afford and increase my insurance which I have a hard time affording anyway in terms of the premiums.  So we, in essence, are held back from a Hamas, a pre-flood state through the threat of punishment, and this is why God created the institution of human government and He actually vested the government with the sword or the power to execute murderers.

This is not my personal political belief, this is what the Bible clearly teaches; this is what the Bible says.  And many people challenge this idea of deterrence; I mean, does this really work?   In other words, if you execute murderers will other murderers stop from murdering other people.  And they have big debates on this.  In fact the issue to God is not debatable at all; Deuteronomy 13:10-11 in the nation of Israel says this:  “So you shall stone him to death” that’s a reference there to someone that has violated God’s law, “stone him” is not what they do in Colorado; “stone him to death” is actually having literal stones thrown at the individual.  And then it says in Deuteronomy 13:11, “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.”

God understands the wickedness of the human heart and He understands what we would do if that threat of punishment were somehow avoided or [can’t understand word]  and He knows that our hearts would be given to unprecedented evil if no punishment existed.  People ask the question, would you rather have no government or a bad government?  Would you rather have no government or a corrupt government?  And any day of the week I will pick the latter; I will pick a corrupt government over no government because if there is no government what you will have is Hamas again spreading throughout the earth, Genesis 6:11.  [Genesis 6:11, “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence”]

The book of Ecclesiastes chapter 8 and verse 11 says this: “Because the sentence against an evil dead is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to evil.”  What the book of Ecclesiastes is promoting is a rapid punishment for crime, particularly murder.  And that’s what will instill fear in the heart of a sinful human being and keep their hand back from a murderous deed or action.

I haven’t looked into this for a while but the last time I looked into it there is about ten years between a person committing a murder and actual execution of that murderer or average.   Your average murderer on death row had access to about ten appeals.  And so when people challenge this idea of deterrence, does deterrence really work, we have to keep in mind that many times in our country we are not executing rapidly and quickly like the book of Ecclesiastes tells us to do.

Now I’ll tell you something about capital punishment and this is sort of politically incorrect for me to say this, but capital punishment works every time it’s tried.  Every time it’s tried it works.  Now why would I say that?  Because if someone has committed murder and they are executed rightfully by the state after being given full access to the court system, then they will never commit murder again.  How does a dead man commit murder again.  And there are many instances of people who have been in prison and murdered others in prison, or escaped and murdered others.  We actually had a case in California where the [can’t understand word] was fairly still well connected to the outside world and he was actually plotting his next murder from his jail cell.  And you see, capital punishment, if rightly implemented, does away with this and it has a tendency to bring peace and harmony to the world and hold back the evil that is naturally in human beings.

I remember a case in the 1990’s of Karla Faye Tucker, anybody remember that case?  She was an individual on death row, she received Christ, she became born again and it was so interesting to me to watch the whole Christian community rise up, not all of them, but many of them saying she ought to be released from death row because after all she is now a born again Christian. I was of the position that she should not be released from death row and the reason I believe that is because of Genesis chapter 9 and verse 6.  [Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”]  She is still subject to this principle of capital punishment even if she did receive Christ after the fact.  I’m happy she received Christ, I’m happy that she is in heaven today but let me tell you something about God; the blood of Jesus Christ only removes the eternal consequences of our sins, which is hell.  The temporal consequences of our sins we must still pay for to a certain extent.  For example, if I am an alcoholic and I abuse my body and I abuse my liver and then suddenly I get saved and become a Christian, praise the Lord I’m headed to heaven but that doesn’t mean I get a new liver; I am still reaping the consequences of the bad seed that I have sown in my pre-Christian era.

And so this is what we would call the institution of capital punishment.  I believe it is a biblical teaching; if I did not believe it was a biblical teaching I would not embrace it.  And it begins with an understanding of the Noahic Covenant and what God was trying to curb in the post flood world.

Now many people say well, you’re building your case from the Old Testament; I thought we were not under the Old Testament law any longer.  And what we need to start understanding by way of response is the difference between the covenant that God made with Noah and the covenants that God made with the nation of Israel.  The covenants that God made with the nation of Israel were given only to the nation of Israel but the covenant that God made with Noah is different; it is a covenant that God made with the whole world and it’s still binding today.

Let me just show you this, if I could, I have a chart that helps us, perhaps you can read it.  Understand the difference between the Noahic covenant on one end of the stick and the covenants that God made with Israel on the other end of the stick.  We have the Noahic Covenant, the one we just read about in Genesis 9.  Later on God entered into a covenant with Abram, who through Abram would come the Jewish race, called the Abrahamic Covenant, and later on He added some details to His dealings with Israel through the covenant that He made with Moses at Mt. Sinai.

The human agent in the Noahic Covenant is Noah; the human agent in the Abrahamic Covenant is Abraham; the human agent in the Mosaic Covenant is Moses.  Those are the people that God worked with in these different covenants.

The covenant with Noah is given in Genesis 8 and 9.  The covenant that God made with Abraham is given in Genesis 12 through17.  The covenant that God made with Moses is given in Exodus 19 through 40.  Now what you’ll discover in all of these covenants is a very important Hebrew word called berith, in fact, notice, if you will, Genesis 9:9, it’s a very significant word.  It says in Genesis 9:9 regarding the Noahic Covenant, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant” now you might want to underline that because that’s the Hebrew word, berith, “My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;”  When God enters into a covenant God is, in essence, entering into a binding contractual agreement.  And here God is entering into a binding contractual agreement with Noah and the whole human race in what is called the institution of human government.

That same Hebrew word is  used to describe His covenant with Abraham, Genesis 15:18.  [Genesis 15:18, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:’”  That same Hebrew word is used to describe God’s covenant with Moses in Exodus 19:5.  [Exodus 19:5, “’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.”]

The parties in the Noahic Covenant are God and the world, God and humanity.  His covenant with Abraham, on the other hand, is a covenant between God and the nation of Israel.  And same with His covenant with Moses, it’s between God and the Jewish people.  The covenant that He made with Noah is pre-Israel; it’s before God ever called Abram from the Ur of the Chaldeans and began to give him promises and through these promises would come the Jewish nation.  But the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with Moses are post Israel covenants. So the Noahic Covenant, the covenant with Noah is pre-Israel.  The covenant with Abraham and Moses are post-Israel.

Here’s a little bit more on this.  There’s a difference in the Bible between a conditional covenant and an unconditional covenant.  A conditional covenant means God will act if someone does something first.  You fulfill your part then God will do His part.  An unconditional covenant means that God is going to act no matter what the other party does.  So the covenant with Noah is unconditional; it’s simply stating what God is going to do as He has contractually bound Himself.  The covenant with Abraham is unconditional, this is a little bit tricky, but the covenant with Moses is conditional.

Let me explain that a little bit more.  The covenant that God gave to Noah involved three promises: no more flood judgments, the earth is going to endure until God destroys it, you find all of this in Genesis 8 and Genesis 9.  And the institution of human government comes into existence with the power to execute murderers, Genesis 9:6.  Those are unconditional things that God has obligated Himself to do through human government.

The covenant with Abraham, on the other hand, is specifically to the Jewish people and it gives them ownership forever of three things; land, seed and blessing.  The covenant with Moses given at Sinai, on the other hand, is conditional.  The Abrahamic is unconditional; the Mosaic Covenant is conditional.  And what it is simply saying is this: for any generation of Jews to enjoy what they own, to enter into their blessings they must fulfill their obligation under the Mosaic Covenant which is to enthrone Christ on His terms.

This is why the nation of Israel today is the owner of land, seed and blessing, given through the Abrahamic Covenant but they are not yet enjoying in fullness those blessings because they have not enthroned Christ as their Messiah.  They have not fulfilled the condition in the Mosaic Covenant  And even though today the nation of Israel has been regathered to the Middle East what they possess today is quite minor and quite small in comparison to what they will possess one day, once they enthrone Christ.

Now every covenant has a sign.  The Noahic Covenant, what’s the sign?  The rainbow.  The Abrahamic Covenant, what’s the sign?  Circumcision, Genesis 17.  The Mosaic Covenant, what’s the sign?  It’s the Sabbath.  And all of these covenants are designed to accomplish different purposes.  God gave the Noahic Covenant, as we spoke of earlier, to restrain evil and preserve society and the world from the innate sin nature of human beings.  So the Noahic Covenant is what I would call an preservative that God built into the human race to keep it in perpetuating itself and not destroying itself.  But you see, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant are different.  Those are not to restrain and preserve, those are redemptive covenants.  Through that covenant structure would come the Messiah who would pay the price for the sins of the world.

Now what am I trying to say with all of this; what’s the bottom line?  BLT, Bottom Line Time as I like to call it.  Is the Noahic Covenant binding today?  Yes it is.  Is the Abrahamic Covenant binding today directly on us as a church?  No it’s not.  We have received a lot of blessings indirectly from the Abrahamic Covenant but it’s important to understand that we were never parties to that covenant.  We would be what the legal system calls a third party beneficiary where two people enter into a covenant and someone else that’s not even a party is blessed as a result.  It would be like me driving in here and I see  your car is very dirty, it needs a wash, so I enter into a covenant with Eric and I say Eric, that car out there looks so bad, I’m going to pay you money and you’re going to wash their car.  So who are the parties to the covenant?  Eric and myself.  The party with the dirty car, they may not even know we entered into a covenant but they benefit from the covenant.  So the Abrahamic Covenant we benefit from but we were never direct parties to, as members of the church, and that’s the same with the Mosaic Covenant.

So all of this to say that while the Mosaic Covenant and Abrahamic Covenant are not binding directly on us as a church the Noahic Covenant continues on.  And I’m simply trying to explain this to help us understand why and Old Testament principle found in Genesis 9:6 continues on until the present time.

Notice, if you will Romans 13:4, I believe Paul is making a reference to the Noahic Covenant.  It says this, romans 13:4, speaking of government, “for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”  Is it not interesting here in Romans 13:4 that God calls government agents ministers.  Why are they ministers?  Because they are fulfilling a function in society.  What is their function?  It is to restrain evil and prevent the world from reverting back to what it was in the pre-flood world.  Do you look at government that way, as ministries?  Sometimes when we get pulled over by an officer for a speeding ticket we don’t really look at them as ministers; we look at them as irritants.  But the Bible teaches that we ought to have respect for government; we ought to pay our taxes, we ought to pray for the institution of human government.

Let me ask you a question; do you pray for those that are in authority over you?  The Bible tells you to.  And the Bible tells us to do that because they are fulfilling a basic function that God built into the Noahic Covenant.  And you’ll also notice here that the government bears the sword; it’s right there in Romans 13:4.   [Romans 13:4, “for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”]

What do you do with the sword?  You do not spank people with swords; you execute people with swords.  And thus this becomes the foundation for the whole institution of capital punishment.  I’m taking a little time on this because there’s a lot of confusion on it and I want us to understand why this is actually a biblical concept and a biblical idea.  And people say well, do you really think that’s still binding today?  Let me ask you a question: when  you look into the sky, after it rains or while it’s raining what do you see?   You see a rainbow.  In fact in Colorado I saw, probably the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen (this last week) in my entire life, and how the intensity of it grew as it began and it sort of dropped off in intensity but it was still very visible and the intensity grew as it was at its final destination in that ark that a rainbow makes.  Every time you see the rainbow which exists today you’re reminded of the Noahic Covenant because God gives covenants with certain signs.  And part of the Noahic Covenant is the institution of human government and the beginning of something called capital punishment.

Now some of you are probably asking yourself, and by the way, there’s the covenant that God entered into with Israel, the Abrahamic Covenant, land, seed and blessing which is binding upon Israel but this is quite different than the Noahic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant is redemptive; the Noahic Covenant, by contrast, is there to restrain evil and preserve society.

Now some of you are probably asking yourselves, well wait a minute, didn’t  you last week tell us that abortion is wrong?  Didn’t you tell us that we should be pro-life in our viewpoint.  How can you support the sanctity of life for the unborn but at the same time advocate capital punishment which takes away life.  And the answer to that is very simple, it’s just a basic distinction between the two.  In abortion we’re dealing with the unborn; with capital punishment you’re dealing with someone that’s already born.  With abortion you’re dealing with a person in their mother’s womb who has never committed a crime.  With capital punishment, by contrast, you’re dealing with someone who has been convicted of a crime, convicted of murder.  In abortion the unborn child has never been tried by a jury of its peers, but in capital punishment you’re dealing with people that have been tried by a jury of their peers, they’ve been found guilty of murder.  With abortion the innocent unborn child, although that unborn child has a sin nature they have committed no crime, they are innocent in that sense.  But with capital punishment you’re dealing with someone that has already committed a heinous crime.

So all of this to say that one of the questions I always like to figure out when I’m trying to figure out who I’m going to vote for and not vote for is I want to know what that candidate believes about the institution of capital punishment, because there’s an awful lot of people out there that want to abolish capital punishment.  It’s one thing to fix capital punishment, to perfect capital punishment, to make sure that capital punishment is applied equally and fairly and justly.  It’s one thing to fix problems in the system; it’s a totally different matter to come out and say I’m against capital punishment and I’m going to abolish it because the moment someone speaks against capital punishment, the institution of it itself, is the moment they are verbally attacking or criticizing something that God as established, something that God has ordained.  So question number four, does the candidate advocate or do they want to abolish the institution of capital punishment.  Now if you think that is controversial wait till we get to number 5.

Number 5, will the candidate support the legal right of communities to restrict the use of alcohol, pornography and gambling from their neighborhoods, schools, homes, children and churches.  Take a look, if you could, at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 21-22.  Will the candidate support the legal right of communities to restrict the use of alcohol, pornography, and gambling from their neighborhoods, schools, homes, children and churches.

I’m a little bit biased on this subject of alcohol; part of my bias comes from the fact that I had an uncle who started his drinking about 11:00 every morning and literally drank himself right into the grave.  And I understand the argument that social drinking is acceptable at times; I am fully versed in the argument that Jesus turned water into wine in His first public ceremony, I don’t think it was grape juice that He created there, I think it was wine.  I think there is a place for social drinking.  But at the same time the Bible is very clear that we are not to put our self under the influence of a power that’s greater than the Holy Spirit.

The book of Ephesians, chapter 5 and verse 18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be” instead, rather, “but be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And what do I mean here when I talk about gambling?  I’m talking about what I would call games of chance, games that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning.  The Bible doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about these kind of games of chance.  It says in Proverbs 13:11, “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.”  And what do I mean here by “games of chance.”  You know, in California we had what’s called the lottery; the purpose of the lottery, we were told, was to help the schools.  So in other words, let’s institute gambling, a game of chance, to help the public schools.  Quite frankly, as a Biblicist if you want to help the public schools I’d just rather be taxed for that rather than attach it to a game of chance because the last time I checked taxation is biblical.  “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”  Gambling, on the other hand, is not biblical.  [Matthew 22:21, “… Then He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.’”]

And what do I mean by pornography?  Notice Matthew 5:27-28, it says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’;  [28] but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  We can commit sexual sins that are, in God’s mind, akin to physical adultery just by allowing our minds to go down a sexually charged prurient direction.  When someone is looking at pornography and they are married they are violating the oath of marriage to be faithful to their spouse until their dying day.  America, as you probably know, is one of the greatest exporters of pornography all over the world.  Pornography has become, if not a multimillion dollar business, it is a multibillion dollar business.  Pornography has destroyed, I believe, more marriages than any other single thing.

Why would I say that?  Because it forces an individual to create a standard for their wife or their husband, sexually, which is unreasonable.   You look at somebody in pornography, whether it’s a man or a woman and you see a picture of them which is picture perfect.  They have no blemishes, they have no wrinkles, they have no gray hair, there’s no sign of aging.  And let me let you in on a little secret; by the time that model leaves that studio she (or he for that matter) doesn’t even look like that picture either, because what they do is they go in and they airbrush, through modern artistry and graphics, and airbrush and make that body to be something that is picture perfect, in fact, too perfect.  And so then you have the sexual relationship with your spouse within marriage and you expect your spouse to compete to that standard.  And consequently we can become, through observing pornography, sexually dissatisfied with the spouse that God gave us.  You’re asking her, or you’re asking him to compete at a physical level with something that is impossible, with something that is unreasonable and this destroys the marital bed, it destroys the marital relationship, it destroys the sexual satisfaction that God has designed for the marriage bed.

And people, all of the time say this, well, what you look at really doesn’t affect your behavior. Let me ask you a simple question: if that were true why does Madison Avenue, through marketing, spend millions and millions and millions of dollars on marketing and advertisements if it weren’t true that what you watched somehow influenced behavior. They spend all of this money on marketing because they know that you watch, or what we watch and observe is going to influence buying patterns.  And so pornography influences attitudes, it influences behavior.

Some very important studies were done on this years ago, they’ve been updated by other studies, called the Donnerstein studies and they took some individuals and they segregated them into separate groups, I believe it was about three groups, and one group they exposed for about the course of a week, mild pornography; the second group they exposed for about the course of a week a heavier dose of pornography, and the third group they exposed for about the same length of time, what we would call very, very intense pornography, they were watching it all week long.  And they did a survey after the fact and asked each group member some basic worldview questions.  Are women sex objects?  Is divorce and remarriage acceptable, common or normal.  Is it okay to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage?  Is adultery okay?  Is adultery acceptable?   How frequent do individuals commit adultery?  What about rape?  If a woman is raped who’s at fault?  Is the man at fault or was the woman (quote) “asking for it?” (close quote)  What about group sex?  What about bestiality, is that okay and is that common?

And you know how these studies came out; the group that had been exposed to a milder form of pornography basically gave answers that weren’t good but they were less likely to look at women as sex objects; they were less likely to think divorce and remarriage was common and normal; they were less likely to think that sex outside of marriage was okay.  They were less likely to think that adultery is okay.  They were less likely to blame a woman if she got raped.  They were less likely to think that group sex and bestiality was okay.

But the answers got worse with the middle group.  They took a negative turn.  And then with the third group they gave terrible answers to all of those questions that I posed.  Women are sex objects.  Divorce and remarriage is common and normal and okay.  Sex between unmarried couples is normal and common and okay.  Adultery, no big deal with that, it’s okay.  Rape, usually it’s the man’s fault but sometimes they would say it’s the woman’s fault.  Group sex, bestiality, those things are common and okay as well.

And what these studies categorically showed is that pornography alters a person’s worldview.  We, by way of common sense, understand that or else, as I mentioned before why would Madison Avenue spend the money that they spend on commercials if commercials did not somehow influence our buying behavior.

Now you might say to yourself, well wait a minute, Andy, come on, there’s a First Amendment in this country.  Don’t you understand that we live in America and you can export pornography wherever you want to export it?  You can put it on any channel you want to put it on.  And I would say simply that that is not true.  The Supreme Court has ruled that obscenity and pornography is NOT protected under the First Amendment.  In fact, there’s a case called Miller versus California going all the way back to about 1973, and in that court case the jurists developed a definition of pornography.  And they said that pornography is outside the protection of the First Amendment.  It’s pornographic, the Supreme Court said, if it lacks serious artistic literary or political value; it’s pornographic if it appeals wo that they called [can’t understand word] or sexual interest, and it’s pornographic if it violates a common well defined State Statue.

And the reason I bring this up is when you get into the subject of pornography what people ask over and over and over again is can it be stopped.  Can it be regulated?  Can I prevent the people that run the media from pumping filth into my living room.  And the answer is it can be regulated, it’s just a matter of political will to do it.  And we’re living in what I would call the pornification of American culture, where almost everywhere you look there is some sort of image that’s designed to arouse individual sexually.  I mean, you can’t even get through the commercials any more without blushing.  I can’t even sit and watch the Super bowl with my daughter because I know the commercials are coming and I also know that the half time show is always pushing the limit and making things more and more risqué.

And let me tell you where America is headed; we are headed the exact direction of the Canaanites.  The Canaanites were a generation and a society that God destroyed through the hand of Joshua and if you want to understand why God was so upset with the Canaanites, read Leviticus 18; it’s a description of the horrific practices of bestiality, group sex, adultery, fornication, that that society was caught up in for about 400 years.  And I’ll tell you something else; the archeological remains of that society have been unearthed and what has been discovered is these pornographic images all over and the worship of certain deities on the basis of their sex organs, that type of imagery has been found all over.

And I look at the direction of our country, I look at the direction of our nation, I look at the righteous and holy standard of God against sexual perversion and I want to know something if I’m going to vote for a candidate: what do you believe about these things. Do you believe that these things can actually be regulated?  Will you keep this stench and this filth away from my church, my family, my daughter and my house?  A basic question to ask.

And you say well, gee, Andy, you must be some kind of prude to talk like this.  Let me tell you something about sexuality; sexuality is authored by God.  If you don’t believe me read the Song of Solomon.  People say well, sexuality is just there to procreate.  No it’s not, sexuality is there as a beautiful statement of physical intimacy between husband and wife within the context of life-long marriage.  Sexuality is something that God Himself embraced, endorsed, created, and as you study the Song of Solomon you will not see one reference to a child.  I say that because many people say sexuality is just there to procreate, to produce children.  No it’s not!  It’s there as a beautiful level of intimacy between a husband and a wife.  God id the author of it, it is the gift of God, God gave it.

But let me tell you something about God.  God hates it when we invent our own rules, when we develop our own standards, when we take the sexual energy that He has given us and we channel it the wrong way.  That’s what pornography does, that’s what adultery does, that’s what all of these things such as the Canaanites were doing and God is against that.

Would you not say that God who created the rules knows what’s best for us?  Is it not true that God, who created the rules, knows how the sexual experience is going to be optimized within marriage.  He knows what will damage us given the power of sexuality.  He knows what can hurt us. He knows what can destroy us and that’s why the Creator, who gave us sexuality, gives us specific rules to follow as we express ourselves sexually.

I am astonished at some of the discussions that we’re having today.  I’m astonished at the word l-g-b-t-q, I didn’t know what the q stood for.  Do you know what the q stands for?  It stands for questioning… questioning.  Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transsexual and then we have to throw the Q on there because a lot of people are uncertain about their sexuality.  We’re entering a time period which to me is so reminiscent of the Canaanites just prior to judgment.

And I don’t mean to go on and on about this but it’s a subject that we have to understand as Christians.  It’s a very serious matter and I want to know what a candidate thinks about that.  I want to know what his or her standards are.  I want to know what they’re going to do working within the legal system to curb these pernicious influences.

Well, I was going to move on to number six, which I won’t get into because the clock is running out of time, because this one may be a sermon in and of itself; you actually got two sermons today, one on capital punishment, one on pornography, and assuming anybody comes back to church next week we’ll take a look at the subject of parental authority over children.  Who governs children?  The school board?  The school district?  Or the parents. And what does God’s Word have to say about it.

If there’s anybody here that may be unfamiliar with how to have a relationship with God, you may be sitting here under guilt and condemnation because you say I’ve committed all of these sins.  We have very good news for you, Jesus did the hard work, He bridged eternity, He stepped out of eternity into time and absorbed the wrath of a holy God for all of our sins.  And He gives us an offer and a promise.  The offer is believe on Me; believe means to trust, to rely upon, to depend upon.  And the moment  your personal trust is in Christ He gives you a promise.  What is that promise?  That you have the gift of eternal life, your sins are forgiven and should you die today, should you die tonight, should you die next week that your soul would immediately go into the presence of the Lord.  Becoming a Christian is not a ten step program or a twelve step program, it’s a one step program where the Spirit places you under conviction and you place your personal faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s something you can do right now without raising a hand, walking an aisle, joining a church, pledging to give money.  It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Lord places you under conviction and you respond by way of faith in the privacy of your own mind and in the privacy of your own heart, and you receive that gift of eternal life.  It’s something you can do right now as I’m talking.  If it’s something you are doing then on the authority of the wo you have just changed your entire destiny.  If it’s something that you have further questions on I’m availabel after the service to talk  Shall we pray.

Father, I pray that You will be with us during this difficult series in a culture that’s politically confused, sexually confused.  I pray Father that somehow in Your providence You would use this series to give us clarity in our minds concerning not our own standards but Your standards.  And help us, Father, to live out Your standards of sexual purity and help us to bring these blessings of the standard of sexual purity to a lost sinner in a dying world.  Help us, Father, in the midst of the perversion that we live within, help us to stand out as lights as we call for a certain standard and direct others to the right path.  We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name.  And God’s people said…..