Rev. Mark H. Creech
It’s been said that “silence is golden.” Is this always true? – especially when something desperately needs to be said – especially when we need a word from God – especially when we need to hear from heaven about how to navigate a complex world of social issues?
For instance, in a recent effort to make sports gambling legal in the Tar Heel state, a lobbyist for the PGA Tour, NBA, Charlotte Hornets, Churchill Downs, and Major League Baseball told the North State Journal:
“I often hear from people that gambling is immoral. As the son of two ordained ministers, I disagree. The Bible is silent on the morality of gambling. What’s immoral is recklessly spending resources one doesn’t have to the detriment of their family and community and allowing anything to take over one’s life.”
Is that all we can glean from the Bible’s pages about gambling?
Indeed, there isn’t an explicit command in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not gamble.” Nevertheless, the Bible is full of principles that loudly condemn the practice. To name only a few, the Bible addresses it in its teachings about covetousness, work, stewardship, love of one’s neighbor, exploitation of the poor, and the proper use of one’s influence to rule out gambling.
Those who object to a particular doctrinal teaching often say the title that speaks of it or the absence of a specific command means the Scriptures are silent about it. This is a grievous error.
The word “Trinity” is nowhere found in the Bible, but every sound scholar of its content admits to the doctrine of three separate persons in one God. The word “Substitution” isn’t found in the Good Book. Yet it teaches us that Christ died on the Cross for the world’s sins. Neither are there terms such as “Deity,” the “Fall of Man,” “Human Depravity,” the “Incarnation,” and others.
Furthermore, one might conclude the Bible is silent on slavery because there isn’t a particular passage that condemns it. One might say there is no overt command which says not to watch a pornographic movie. Progressive clergy say the Bible is silent on same-sex marriage. Others say nothing within its covers speaks to abortion or when life begins.
In an article titled “Why the Bible is Silent on Social Issues,” best-selling author and speaker Pierce Brantley argues the Bible has always been silent on social issues. He writes:
“Assault Weapons, Women’s Rights, Genocide and Illegal Immigration. Take your pick. They were all social issues during the late A.D., just like they are today. If not more. And the Bible, oddly, was just as silent then on ways to approach the world’s political problems. If it is so enlightened, why did it never speak to the moment? Could it not have a chapter or two devoted to the abolition of slavery? Or sexual equality? Perhaps it could simply start with no state-appointed murder. Seems like a reasonable place to begin…The Word didn’t leave us any verses on Walls, Taxes or Marriage. So we are left to squirm…. The jury is out on the details a lot of time.”
Again, the mere omission of a doctrinal title or a direct command from God’s Word cannot be extrapolated to mean the Bible doesn’t address a particular issue nor proves there is no doctrine for it. Quite the contrary, the Bible does provide considerable light on such matters.
Brantley contends that the Bible doesn’t “have a goal towards government.” In other words, it isn’t meant to address the tremendous questions of social significance pertinent to how we govern. Its primary purpose, he says, is to point us to Christ.
Certainly, Christ and the redemption He brings is the Bible’s central message. Agreed!
However, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). The redemption of Christ is broad – broad enough to transform individuals, families, neighborhoods, education, business practices, society, and even government. Are we to believe that God left us with no word about how to tackle the challenges of the here and now? The Gospel is not simply “pie in the sky.”
Someone might object by saying, “Yes, but who can decide what is the proper interpretation?” Such a question begs another question, “Are we to say it is impossible to understand the Bible accurately?”
The answer is obvious. Of course, it’s possible to get the correct interpretation. There has been more widespread agreement throughout history than disagreement among interpreters who believe the Bible is inspired by God and infallible, and among those who recognize proper methods for interpretation (Hermeneutics).
Just as God provided ample word through the prophets on societal questions affecting his chosen people and other nations of Old Testament times, there is abundant biblical light in New Testament times to know and speak to our own.
The absence of a doctrinal title or direct command from God’s Word doesn’t imply that God hasn’t spoken. God will hold every person and every nation accountable to His moral standards.
God expects more than a cursory look into the Scriptures and making hasty conclusions. He expects us to dig out His treasures with all the spiritual tools at our command. We must read, study, meditate, and pray over it. And to the extent that we are willing to obey it, we shall be full of the riches of his grace.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.