Where Is Religion Leading on Morals?
IN RECENT years, a “revolution” in morality has been taking place in world religion. And by this we mean attitudes toward fornication, adultery and homosexuality.
The United Presbyterian Church has proposed a new “sex code.” Parade magazine says it is “so liberal that it practically eliminates sin as a major factor in sexual relations.” Among the changes advocated is the “removal of all restrictions against unmarried adults who wish to live together [in fornication].”78
Time magazine adds: “The report finds ‘exceptional circumstances’ in which adultery might be justified: . . . It also says the church should explore the possibility of communal and other sex styles for the unmarried.”79
The United Methodist Church’s Committee on Family Life has issued a resolution condoning sexual intercourse for single persons.80 The Lutheran Church has on hand an 85-page booklet written by twenty-one churchmen stating that premarital intercourse is wrong only if engaged in for selfish reasons.81
A clergyman in Denmark wrote in his parish magazine Vedbæk-Gl. Holte Kirkehilsen:
“Nothing is gained by limiting all sex to marriage. . . . It can be correct from an ethical and Christian viewpoint for young people to have sex relations before marriage, and it can be just as correct for married persons . . . to have sexual relations outside of marriage.”82
Then there was W. L. Gustin, as minister of the Morton Methodist Church in Illinois, who said in a sermon before hundreds of people: “I say loudly and I say clearly, there are advantages of adultery.”83
Is there a trend toward permissiveness in sexual morals within the Roman Catholic Church? Time magazine reports:
“A modest liberalization is going on at two levels. First, increasing numbers of pastors are softening their application of the traditional morality, often on the grounds that people who engage in illicit sex may be so immature that their guilt is not always a serious matter.
“Second, some theologians are challenging the ‘natural law’ doctrine that lies behind the church’s moral standards. According to natural law, an act is wrong if it is ‘against nature,’ but the new moralists are skeptical that the church can be certain about what ‘nature’ actually is.”84
Does all of this surprise you? It may, if you have not been keeping up with what is going on in world religion. And do not think that these reports are isolated cases. They are not. Such reports are so many and so persistent that it is obviously a trend, especially among younger clergymen.
What About Homosexuality?
Homosexuality? Surely, you may think, the churches could not be condoning that sort of thing, could they? Examine the evidence.
A group of Quakers issued an essay entitled “Towards a Quaker View of Sex.” It had this to say: “One should no more deplore ‘homosexuality’ than left-handedness. . . . An act which expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful.”85
Roman Catholic clergymen of the Dominican order publish a quarterly review of theology called “The Thomist.” A recent issue said: “At times one may reluctantly accept homosexual unions as the only way in which some people can find a satisfying degree of humanity in their lives.”86
The Living Church, a weekly magazine of the Episcopal Church, carried an article by San Francisco minister R. W. Cromey, who said: “There is no sex act which in itself is sinful. . . . I also believe that two people of the same sex can express love and deepen that love by sexual intercourse.”87
Time reported that the United Methodist Church’s Committee on Family Life favored “implicitly condoning sex for single persons, homosexuals, and those living in unspecified ‘other styles of interpersonal relationship.’”88 The United Presbyterian Church’s proposed new sex code recommended, as Parade noted, the “removal of any stigma that makes homosexuals feel they are in irresolvable conflict with the Christian fellowship.”89
There are now churches that cater almost exclusively to homosexuals. The assistant minister of one said: “We are a Christian church first, and homosexual second.” Christianity Today related: “The denomination’s mother church in Los Angeles has a United Presbyterian-ordained youth director, and holds monthly dances for 13 to 20-year-old homosexuals.” The year’s “social high” for the church “was a May Festival that crowned a king and queen. A lesbian in formal male attire was chosen king; the queen was a boy” who resembled a girl.90
In several countries, such as the Netherlands and the United States, homosexuals have been “married” by clergymen. In France, over national television, a Dutch priest admitted to being a homosexual. When French Cardinal Daniélou was asked about this, he said: “It is quite clear that a homosexual has a perfect right to belong to the Church.”91
How extensive is acceptance of homosexuals in the churches? The Christian Century printed this comment from prominent theologian Norman Pittenger: “An ever larger number of Christian thinkers would say that homosexuality is not in itself sinful.”92
How Do They Explain It?
How do these clergymen explain their permission of fornication, adultery and homosexuality? They say that God does not condemn such. For instance, concerning premarital sex relations as being a sin clergyman R. E. Taylor says: “To this question the Bible gives no definite, clear-cut answer.”93
Theologian Joseph Fletcher states: “Any claim that the Bible requires that sex be expressed solely within marriage is only an inference. There is nothing explicitly forbidding premarital acts. . . . Sex is not always wrong outside marriage, even for Christians.”94
The essay submitted by the Quaker group declares: “It is to him [the apostle Paul], principally, that those wishing to attack homosexuals turn, for there can be no doubt as to his recorded views (I Cor. 6:9, v. 9). His opinions may have been personal ones, however, . . . so that St. Paul’s views are not, in themselves, final.”95
From such statements, people would conclude that God’s Word has nothing final to say about these things. So that is an open invitation to practice them. True, not all clergymen take this permissive view. But increasing numbers of them do. And they remain ministers or priests in good standing with their churches.
Of course, you personally may feel that your church does not approve these things. But have you asked your clergyman how he views these matters? Do you really know what other clergymen of your religion teach elsewhere? Also, when was the last time disciplinary action was taken in your religion against members who practiced fornication, adultery or homosexuality?
What Is the Truth?
An interesting test can help you to determine in which direction the truth is. Ask yourself: If you are a husband, would you want your wife to have sexual relations with another man? If you are a wife, would you approve your husband’s having sexual relations with another woman?
If you are a parent, would you welcome your son’s becoming a fornicator, or a homosexual? Would you be pleased to have your daughter become a fornicatrix, or a lesbian? If you are a young person, would you want your father and mother to have sexual relations with other persons, rather than being faithful to each other?
If you answer “No” to such questions, then your thinking on this matter is not far from God’s thinking. His Word has much to say about this subject. And it is all crystal clear, leaving no room at all for doubt. Also, since “all Scripture is inspired of God,” when any Bible writer comments on sexual morals, it is God speaking the truth to us.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
What does God’s Word say about fornication, adultery and homosexuality? Just a few of many Bible statements are: “Flee from fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18); “God will judge fornicators and adulterers” (Heb. 13:4); “Neither fornicators, . . . nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Catholic Bibles call homosexuality “filthy,” a “perversion,” “monstrous behavior,” and “depravity.” (Douay, Jerusalem Bible) Further, God’s specific warning is: “Those practicing such things are deserving of death.”—Rom. 1:26-32.
Is there anything unclear about that? How could clergymen not know what the truth is? Only if they do not care. But the Bible cautions: “Do not be misled.” (1 Cor. 6:9) So do not let hypocritical religious leaders who condone, excuse or encourage immorality serve as a guide for you.96
Know for a certainty that the lying words of such religious leaders do not originate with God. With whom, then? Jesus Christ said that Satan is “the father of the lie.” And he said to the lying religious leaders in his day: “You are from your father the Devil.” (John 8:44) It is no different today.
Thus, when we examine the facts, we can see that God’s Word is certainly correct in saying that in world religion “was found the blood of . . . all those who have been slaughtered on the earth,” and that her hand “was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication,” and that “those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication”!—Rev. 18:24; 17:2, 4.