Prepared by the Charis Fellowship Social Concerns Committee
Approved by the Charis Fellowship in 2018
Resolutions are approved by the delegates annually to express the convictions of the Charis Fellowship on certain contemporary social issues. They are non-binding and are intended to be advisory and of teaching value. Churches are encouraged to adopt them as statements of local church conviction. Resolutions are for one year and often address issues of importance but of limited duration. Resolutions do not address doctrinal issues but focus on societal developments that intersect with Christian doctrine.
Human Life—Its Dignity and Duties
WhereasGod is the creator of the heavens and the earth and all it contains (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1); and
WhereasGod created humanity as his highest creation, making humanity alone in his image and after his likeness (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8); and
WhereasGod created man as male and female, both as bearers of his image (Genesis 1:27); and
Whereasthe woman was made from the man, she alone being equal to him yet different from him, to complete the duality of human existence and make marital union possible (Genesis 2:18-23); and
WhereasGod appointed mankind as stewards over creation (Genesis 1:26, 28; Psalm 8:6-8); and
WhereasGod chose Israel, the object of his love and protection, to be his special people and a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:7-8; Amos 3:1-2; Zechariah 2:7; Romans 9:4-5; 11:28-29); and
Whereashuman sinfulness deeply afflicts our relationship to God and to one another (including how men and women, parents and children, rich and poor, strong and weak, and people of differing races relate to each other) and also afflicts our understanding of ourselves (who we are as human beings), tempting us to define ourselves in subjective humanistic ways rather than according to our creator’s design (Genesis 3:16; 6:5; 8:21; Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18);
We therefore affirm several ethical implications of these biblical truths:
1. All human life (including the unborn, those with mental and physical infirmities and those who are terminally ill) is precious and worthy of our protection and care.
2. The loss of any human life by the actions of another is tragic. Nonetheless, taking human life is justifiable in narrow circumstances such as self-defense or defense of others (whether exercised by an individual or by the magistrate). Yet even this is tragic, for God himself takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).
3. Abortion as practiced in the United States and many other countries is abhorrent to God and an assault on human dignity. Its practice is to be opposed legally and morally and ministries of care for the mother and child must be developed and offered. Of special concern is new legislation that allows abortion up to the moment of birth. Adoption is always an honorable alternative to abortion. Men and women must avoid sexual sin and both must take responsibility for its consequences.
4. Assisted suicide is an illegitimate response to human suffering toward the end of life. Instead, ministries of care, support and pain management are to be offered to the dying. Assisted suicide for those suffering a terminal illness will easily be rationalized to justify suicide for other reasons and to justify taking human life without consent.
5. The Word of God justifies capital punishment as a proper judgment against those who commit premeditated murder. Rather than being a violation of our creation in the image of God, capital punishment is actually based on this truth (Genesis 9:6). However, the actual practice of capital punishment must be by legitimate authorities and must rest on equity and sufficient evidence and always be seriously judged by biblical standards.
6. To serve human needs we must declare and practice “the true fast” of Isaiah 58—do not exploit workers, do not engage in quarreling and malicious talk, loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, feed the hungry, shelter the poor, clothe the naked, service the needy, defend the defenseless.
7. We call for opposition to all forms of human trafficking, especially sexual exploitation, and abuse against immigrants. Families should be kept intact as much as possible.
8. Support and justice must be extended toward all who are abused or sexually assaulted, especially in situations of subjugation or fear. Protections and an atmosphere supporting honest disclosures are vital. Sexual assault under the guise of religious or secular positions is especially offensive to God and should be to us.
9. Christians must never forget the historical sufferings of the Jewish people and must express alarm at increases in anti-Semitism in our own day and nation. We must be bold in expressing our love for the Jewish people and our repentance for wrongs in the past. We must stand up and be counted and call for actions against anti-Semitism.
10. Marriage is foremost an establishment by God, not an institution of man. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, sealed in the covenant sign of sexual union. Sexual relationships are appropriate within marriage only. Marriage is God’s plan for birthing and raising children in a loving, supportive home. God intends that marriage be a life-long covenant not “put asunder” by man.
11. People may choose to live honorably before God in singleness, as exemplified by many biblical personalities including Jesus and the Apostle Paul. This choice may lead to greater undistracted service to God. It may also open avenues of temptation that must be resisted.
12. “Gender identity” needs to be understood by fair analysis of data and by listening to those who do not identify themselves by conventional male/female categories. However, our ultimate directives come not from social constructions but from biblical understandings. God created human beings as either male or female. Departures from this understanding, whether due to dysfunction or choice, are not the plan of God. Our society must be careful not to coerce people and institutions (including churches) that do not support current expansion of gender identity rights. Boys and girls (and their parents) have a right to privacy and safety and to fair instruction on this subject that is not agenda driven.
13. Human governments are established by God for promotion of justice and punishment of evil and for the peace and safety of their citizens. Governments exist to further the wellbeing of all, not to accumulate power and wealth into the hands of the rulers and the privileged at the expense of subjects. Governments should enhance human flourishing and liberty, not repress these in any way. Governments must protect freedom of religion. Christians should pray for all who are in authority and be open to participate in government through voting, influence and service as much as is ethically possible.
14. America’s prisons are often places of bureaucracy and neglect that assault the human dignity of prisoners while failing to truly reform them. Prison reform must include fitting punishment that makes victims whole, plus training that enable willing prisoners to return to society and live constructive lives. Those who have paid their debt to society should have a process to accrue citizen rights once again, including the right to vote.
15. Civility in speech and good conduct toward others who are in God’s likeness are our duties. Our communications with one another must be consistent with loving our neighbor as ourselves. Civility must begin at the highest levels of government—the president and the Congress in America—and continue to all other levels. Civility must avoid the ad hominem attacks on opponents that have become so much a part of today’s charged political climate. Civil communication must characterize all “social media” and Christians especially must not communicate with gossipy, malicious, or oppressive words in their use of social media.
16. Humanity must understand “dominion over creation” not as ownership but as stewardship. We must also recognize God is infinite and creation is finite. To consume creation’s resources as if they are infinite is a form of idolatry. We are free to use and enjoy creation, not to misuse it or deny future generations its enjoyment. In our quest to be good stewards of creation, we must always and only worship God the Creator and never deify or worship creation in any way.
17. Since God created the entire human race, his “Common Grace” flows to all people. Common Grace is seen in the benevolence of creation, a basic sense of right and wrong given to all, institutions such as family and good government, wholesome human achievements and enjoyments, and in other positive features of human existence. Christians are able to work with non-believers to expand the benefits of common grace.
Governments must operate with a strong sense of integrity and faithfulness to the laws of the nation. They must honor their commitments to their citizens by fulfilling their basic duties, controlling entitlements and spending, and avoiding immense deficits that will burden future generations.
We warn our government against yielding to the passion for an ever-broader expansion of rights that are popular at the moment but are not wise or good for the long-range health of the nation.
We strongly support religious liberty in America and around the world as we look with alarm at the deterioration of this freedom, especially as it is repressed in countries like China but even incrementally in the United States. We support:
- Genuine freedom of religion for all, not to be reduced to “freedom of worship.”
- The free exercise of religion, not to be reduced to the right to believe as you choose.
- Freedom of religion for all religious organizations, not merely “houses of worship.” This includes the right to employ people who adhere to the doctrines and morals of the church or religious organization.
- Freedom for people to live out their religious convictions in public and in their workplaces and not be harassed and penalized by adverse governmental action.
America has been a land of immigrants since before the nation was founded. Between the extremes of nativism and open borders, most citizens have open arms toward immigrants but also see the rule of law and secure borders as essential for a safe and civil society. Today our nation and our churches are increasingly populated by people from a multitude of cultures and lands, and many of these people are undocumented.
How can our Charis Fellowship respond?
1. We call on our churches to give prayer, thought, discussion, and action toward addressing the problem of the undocumented immigrant in a God-honoring way.
2. We recognize the divisive and controversial nature of this debate, and we encourage dialogue in the churches that is respectful, open-minded, and solution focused.
3. We further call on our churches to be the “reconciling presence of Christ” in the midst of a broken system that creates rancor, resentment, racism, selfishness, fear, exploitation, danger, and disregard for the law.
4. We call on our society and elected leaders to rise above political posturing and rancor to work toward a solution on immigration that is compassionate and realistic—a solution that accomplishes the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens and guests, while at the same time provides relief to the oppressed.
5. We recognize that meaningful solutions to this problem are not easily reached and must come through a determined will to achieve them. We deplore the present situation when our Federal Government is unable to resolve key immigration issues year after year.
6. We also recognize that the United States cannot accommodate everyone who desires to come to this country. Correcting the situations that force many to flee their home countries is one way to reduce the number attempting to gain entry into the United States.
7. We also call on the Federal Government to be wise in its use of Foreign Aid to aid in reforming situations in those foreign countries.
The Social Concerns Committee
Donald Shoemaker, Chairman
Link to this page: http://charisfellowship.us/page/resolutions2019?keyy=resolutions2019