The Bible in a Changing World
Good News Magazine
June 1976
Volume: Vol XXV, No. 6
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The Bible in a Changing World


   A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 29, 1976) decried the sexual harassment many career women suffer at the hands of bosses and clients. These women charge that no matter how circumspect their behavior, they are forced to put up with unwanted sexual advances on the job. If they refuse to play along with these offers, they risk dismissal or ruin their chances for promotion or advancement.
   Men, too, can suffer such harassment, but usually it is the other way around — men are the ones who normally hold the power to coerce underlings into unwanted relationships.
   The Bible records one such on-the-job incident in Genesis 391-20. Joseph, son of Jacob, had been sold into slavery by his brothers. In Egypt, he advanced to the position of trusted ruler of Potiphar's household. But Potiphar's wife demanded that he also perform certain after-hours services on her behalf. Not wanting to betray his master's trust, he refused — but was framed with a rape charge, dismissed from his job and thrown into prison.
   The Bible is explicit in its instruction in this area. If employers and employees followed the plain teachings of Scripture there would be no such problem. First of all, Exodus 20:14, one of the Ten Commandments, is an injunction against adultery. And I Corinthians 6:18 contains an admonition against fornication (RSV: "immorality"). Christ Himself taught that to even look at a woman to "lust after" her mentally was as bad as actually carrying out an act of adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). Christ had many women followers and disciples whom He taught. He interacted with them on a daily basis, but He always treated them with respect and dignity (see Luke 10:38-42; 8:1-3; John 4:1-39; 8:3- 11; 12:1-8). If all men and women were to treat their associates on the job as Christian brothers and sisters in accordance with God's laws, then the problem of sex on the job would immediately disappear.


   In a world teeming with four billion people — a world which is expected to add a minimum of two billion more by the end of this century — more and more leaders and planners are coming to the conclusion that worldwide birth control of some sort is a moral and physical imperative. With the earth's resources and food-producing capability already feeling the strain, it's obvious that drastic steps will soon have to be taken to stem this growing tide of humanity. Either birth rates will be reduced by timely introduction of family planning methods, or death rates will inevitably rise as famine, malnutrition, disease and war take their toll on the human race.
   But family planning efforts face almost overwhelming ideological and religious hurdles in many areas of the world. Both Islam and Roman Catholicism ban the use of artificial birth control methods. Although debate among Roman Catholic clerics rages on in the U.S., the Pope still reflects the traditional Catholic position.
   Those who argue against birth control often cite the case of Onan recorded in Genesis 38. God destroyed Onan for refusing to "raise up seed" by his brother's wife. But his sin was his refusal to obey his father, not the fact that he practiced a form of birth control (see Gen. 38:8-9).
   Others reason that sex is acceptable only for procreation. However, this argument is destroyed by Paul's instructions to the Corinthians in verses 3 to 5 of I Corinthians 7: "The husband must give the wife her conjugal dues, and the wife in the same way must give the husband his..." (Moffatt). The word "conjugal" here means "sexual" or "marital."
   Paul continues: "Do not withhold sexual intercourse from one another, unless you agree to do so for a time, in order to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again. You must not let Satan tempt you through incontinence" (Moffatt). So withholding sexual intercourse except for procreation is a direct violation of these instructions.
   And the idea that the Roman Catholic-approved "rhythm method" of birth control (abstinence from sex during fertile days of a woman's monthly cycle) is "natural" while other methods are "artificial" is not logical either — especially when one considers that most methods of birth control attempt to accomplish the same end result. That is, they prevent the union of the male sperm with the female ovum. Rhythm or abstinence simply removes this process one step further backward in the sequence of sexual events. While some might argue that rhythm is natural, one could wonder how "natural" this approach is in the light of the apostle Paul's enjoinder not to withhold sexual relations.
   Also pertinent to the question of birth control is Paul's admonition in I Timothy 5:8: "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. "How does one adequately provide for his own if he has no way of controlling the number of bodies he has to feed, house and clothe? Nowhere in the Bible does God command us to "step out on faith" and have more children than we can properly support or educate.
   In the light of such scriptures, it would seem almost unChristian for the average couple in today's society not to use some-viable method of family planning. (For more information on the purposes of sex, read our free booklet Is Sex Sin?)

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Good News MagazineJune 1976Vol XXV, No. 6