Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Does the Bible speak to social issues?

Does the Bible speak to social issues? The question is a little tricky to answer. The obvious answer is "Yes." And yet, the Bible was never meant to be used in our times as a political manifesto, a personnel policy manual, or a social activist handbook.

However, as I was studying for the Bible study on Wednesday nights that I am leading here at OBC (we are going through the book of Ruth), I realized that Ruth 2 speaks a great deal to some social issues. For instance...
  • anti-sexual harassment policies - Boaz made sure that the men who worked in his fields treated Ruth in a proper way.

  • welfare - Deuteronomy clearly took into account that people in society were disadvantaged and needed help. This teaching is applied by Boaz in the book of Ruth.

  • equal opportunity employment - In the book of Ruth, a Moabitess woman (the dregs of society from the perspective of Jews) was given the same right to glean in the fields of Boaz.
So, what does that mean for Christians today? I think there are several things we should consider.
  1. These types of passages really demonstrate God's grace in action. Boaz is such a visible representation of what God's grace is for a business owner. His 'employees' (i.e. servants) recognize that he acts in a way that is gracious.
  2. These social justice issues seem to be warranted by God's grace rather than an entitlement. There is a huge difference. In these passages whether Ruth deserves these things is not stressed. The fact that God is a gracious God is warrant enough to look out for "the least of these."
  3. Prejudice and discrimination clearly have no place in a God-follower's life.
  4. Whether a government in a fallen world is required to create welfare programs, pass discrimination laws, and provide equal opportunities is worthy of lengthy study and discussion. However, a follower of God who has been changed by the life, death, and teachings of Christ has no option but to care about these things. It is wrapped up in the command "Love your neighbor as yourself."
God's Word never fails to stir my interest. I don't read the Bible for information's sake, but I do feel informed as to the mind and heart of God when I read such things as Ruth 2.

Here's the commercial (couldn't resist!)...Come tonight to OBC at 6:30 pm in our fellowship hall and we will look at the chapter in some detail!