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Contemporary Issues from a Biblical Perspective
October 4, 2023 - January 17, 2024


This Bible Study was prepared by Bishop Vincent P. Oliver in his capacity as Senior Pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church. This lesson is an honest expression of the author’s opinion and understanding of the subject matter from a biblical perspective.  As such, it is not intended to defame or make an unjust, or prejudicial distinction of any person, or group of people on the grounds of religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, age, or disability.

Introduction - Lesson 1 - October 4, 2023 

There is no such thing as a perfect society.  We live in a world that is filled with problems and issues that affect  how we live, as well as our future.  Many issues, because of their nature affect how we think, our choices, and even the quality of our lives. These can be called Contemporary Issues.  This is our definition of Contemporary Issues: “Present day subjects that generate concern, controversy or challenge our morality.”   They become issues because of the many converging and conflicting interpretations, beliefs and mindsets.  Issues such as abortion, the environment, equal rights, gun control, gay rights, criminal justice, to name a few, are interpretated differently and for varying reasons.  This Bible study seeks to discuss these and other similar topics from a biblical perspective for the purpose of presenting a good understanding of the issues and how we should respond as Christians.  

Abortion - Lesson 2 - Part 1 - October 11, 2023


What is Abortion?  At its most basic level, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus.  Abortions can be elective, induced, to terminate the pregnancy, or therapeutic.  A therapeutic abortion seeks to end the pregnancy because the mother’s life is endangered or the fetus has been determined to have serious mental or physical abnormalities, poor chances of survival. 

The issue of abortion is perhaps the most volatile and controversial issue in American society today. The questions of when life begins, the woman’s right, the fetus’ rights and it legalization have been debated for years.  Additionally, this topic has divided the nation, families and even the body of Christ.  Many organizations that spend millions of dollars  promoting and defending the woman’s freedom of choice (pro-choice), and there are just as many organizations opposing abortion and the fetus’ right to life (pro-life).  This debate, which has become a proverbial “political football” continues to rage on.

But what does a correct interpretation of the Scriptures have to say about abortion? The purpose of this discussion is simply to offer what the Bible has to say about abortion.  It will then be up to each believer to make an informed decision on the matter. 

The Bible has a lot to say about abortion and the preborn.   It consistently proclaims the utmost importance of protecting life in the womb.  This portrayal is found in the Old Testament. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:13-14). “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). “The Lord called Me before I was born. From the body of My mother He said My name” (Isaiah 49:1b)

The Bible also speaks of the importance and sanctity (sacredness) of life in the New Testament, particularly in the life of Jesus while yet in Mary’s womb.  “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 5:42). 

Abortion - Lesson 2 - Part 2 - October 18, 2023


There are three basic positions on abortion, and they all center around the question of the human status of the unborn. 

  1. Those who believe the unborn are not yet human (subhuman), favor abortion by choice; formally called “Abortion on Demand”  

  2. There are those who argue that the unborn is a potential human, and therefore favor abortion in specified circumstances. 

  3. Then there those who believe that the unborn are fully human are against all forms of abortion. 

Last week’s study dealt with position number one, which favors abortion by choice, believing the fetus to not yet human. 

Abortion - Lesson 2 - Part 3 - October 25, 2023


There are three basic positions on abortion, and they all center around the question of the human status of the unborn. 

  1. Those who believe the unborn are not yet human (subhuman), favor abortion by choice; formally called “Abortion on Demand”  

  2. There are those who argue that the unborn is a potential human, and therefore favor abortion in specified circumstances. 

  3. Then there those who believe that the unborn are fully human, and therefore are against all forms of abortion. 

 LGBTQ Rights Movement - Lesson 3 - November 1, 2023


William Wilberforce, the 18th-century abolitionist (opponent of slavery) wrote these words: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Just as these words challenged the world to face the injustices of slavery and the slave trade over 200 years ago, they aptly apply to our need to understand and take a stance on the LGBTQ Rights Movement today.  Like those who are a part of this movement have made a choice to openly and honestly express who they are, the Christian community has a responsibility to attempt to understand them, and more importantly what the Scriptures have to say about this important issue.  The LGBTQ movement is a reality of the 21st century that requires prayerful and enlightened consideration by every Christian. The days of verbal “gay bashing” as our only response to the LGBTQ Movement are over.  The Word of God was never intended to be used to attack those whom we believe to be in conflict with the teachings of the Bible. 

The purpose of this study is to understand this movement and what the Bible has to say about those who have chosen this lifestyle.

Marriage and Divorce - Lesson 4 - Part 1 - November 8, 2023


Marriage is the most basic and important component of society.  It is the foundation of the family structure.  It is difficult to overestimate the importance of marriage, yet each year in the United States there are about half as many divorces as marriages.  This fact alone, demands that we consider the basis of marriage as God intended it.  Likewise, since divorce has become commonplace both inside and outside the church, we also need to examine what the Bible has to say about when, if ever, divorce is justifiable.

Marriage and Divorce - Lesson 4 - Part 2 - November 15, 2023


Divorce is the act of legally dissolving or ending a marriage.  As has been stated, divorce has become commonplace both inside and outside the church, so we need to examine what the Bible has to say about when, if ever, divorce is justifiable.  Based on our discussion about God’s design for marriage between a man and a woman, it is easy to see that God never intended for divorce to be a part of His plan.  Because God never breaks a covenant that He has established, Christians are cautioned against ending or breaking a covenant.  There is general disagreement among Christians on the issue of divorce.  We want to look at three points of view.

Justice - Lesson 5 - Part 1 - November 29, 2023


Justice is a core theme at the heart of the Bible.  How God deals with sin and evil is revealed throughout the Scriptures.  The news headlines routinely give harrowing reports of murder, rape, robbery, child abuse, kidnappings, home invasions, identity and cyber theft, genocide, wars, and the list goes on.  Unprovoked violence has become commonplace. Yet most of us long for justice.  We expect the killers and perpetrators of crimes to face trial and justice to be rendered.  We want vindication for the victims, justice, and comfort for the families.

So what does the Bible say about criminal justice - for both perpetrators and victims?  How should we, as Christians, approach the topic of criminal justice?  

Justice - Lesson 5 - Part 2 - December 6, 2023


The world’s system of justice, whether it be criminal, legal, or penal, has proven throughout history to be uneven and often flawed.  When addressing the conflict of sin, society does its best to apply justice, measure for measure.  In that sense, conventional justice is mainly retributive, while rarely offering restoration for the offender and even less often for the victim.  Rather than justice as “punishment,” restorative justice views justice as “repair to the harm caused by crime and conflict.”  Along with the retributive justice that we observed in Part 1 of this lesson, restorative justice is also an aspect of God’s divine justice.  The goal of restorative justice is not only to maintain some balance of right and wrong, but to put right what went wrong, to protect the community, and to restore the integrity of lives and relationships.  Justice is satisfied by the restoration of peace to relationships, not simply by the pain of punishment by itself.  Restorative justice reflects the righteousness of God’s character.  Listen to the words of Isaiah 32:17: “The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever.”  Psalm 85:10 vividly captures the theme of God’s restorative justice: “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.”    Adam Clark’s commentary explains this verse: “Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace. They meet together on the way; one going to make an inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation.  Having met… their mutual claims are blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy.  Where did these meet?  In Christ Jesus.  When were they reconciled?  When He poured out His life on Calvary.”

Racism - Lesson 6 - December 13, 2023


What does the Bible have to say about racism?  Next to sex and gender issues, racism is the most discussed topic in our culture today.  With a former U. S. President continuing to divide this country along political, racial, and economic lines, the continuing rise of domestic white supremacy, antisemitism, wars in Ukraine and Israel based primarily on racial hatred or genocide, the scourge of racial hatred and intolerance continues to plague our world. 

Violence - Of The Heart & In War - Lesson 7 - Part 1- January 3, 2024


The unprecedented spike in violence across our nation this past year, the lawlessness that has taken over many of our cities – with devastating, demoralizing death tolls, and political violence that reached its boiling point with a planned violent attack on our nation’s Capital, branded our nation as one of the most violent. Violence is a subject that cannot be escaped or ignored in the 21st century.  It dominates the newspaper headlines, TV news, as well as our thoughts and concerns for personal safety. Our moral senses have almost become anesthetized – numbed to all of the death and harm caused by so much violence around us.  Sadly, it has become a part of our everyday life.  It has been woven into the fabric of the world system, both domestically and internationally.  Violence has become the staple of movies, television, entertainment, video games, music, literature, and the list goes on. 

This proliferation of violence requires every Christian to both understand and live out the biblical response to what we see and often experience.  Violence of any kind must always be challenged by the truth of the Word of God.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines violence as “the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.”  The Cambridge English Dictionary says violence is “actions or words that are intended to harm or destroy.”  So, what does the Bible say about violence?  There is no denying that violence, in most instances, goes against God’s will for those to whom He has given life.  But we also find that the Bible presents its own story of violence.  Ancient society was inherently violent, and because we are being given a truthful account of society, that violence is recounted to us throughout the Bible.  Biblical accounts of murder, rape, wars, assassinations, prayers, and petitions for God’s violence for enemies have all been recorded in the scriptures. So-called “holy wars” have been fought throughout history on the basis of divine directives and justice.  Babies are the victims of violence in both the Old and New Testaments.  In the Book of Exodus, Pharoah ordered all Jewish infants killed to control the growing Hebrew population in Egypt.  The New Testament begins with the murder of innocent infants up to two years and ends with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All of this violence in the Bible does more than simply record what occurred. Rather than suggesting divine approval, divine approval, it ultimately serves to demonstrate God’s divine alternatives, primarily justice, love, and peace.

This study cannot convey all that the Bible says about violence.  Let us, therefore, condense it to these four aspects of violence: 

  1. Violence of the Heart 

  2. Violence in War

  3. Violence Against Women /Sexual Violence

  4. Racial Violence

Violence - Against Women/Sexual Violence Lesson 7 - Part 2- January 12, 2024


The Bible has much to say that speaks to the world’s proliferation of violence. Violence in the Mind or Heart is just as hurtful as violence by the hands. “Let there be no hate in your heart for your brother...”  (Leviticus 19:17). Hatred of the heart often conceals deeper issues of racism, prejudice, resentment, pessimism, and distrust.  All of these have the potential to evolve into outward violence.  This world continues to be immersed in war.  When it comes to the violence that is a part of war, where there is always the loss of life among the military combatants, war always claims the lives of scores of innocent victims.  

War is a reality of the world we live in.  Some wars are more “just” than others, but we are reminded that war is always the result of sin.  Christians should not desire or pursue war, but neither are Christians to oppose the government God has placed in authority over them (Romans 13:1).

Now, we turn to the contemporary issue in our study of Violence Against Women/ Sexual Violence. 

Violence - Racial Violence - Lesson 7 - Part 3 - January 17, 2024


Thus far, this study has taught us that violence is “the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy; actions or words that are intended to harm or destroy. ”  Having briefly looked at violence of the heart, violence associated with war, and violence against women, we now turn our attention to the issue of Racial Violence.  Racism, in varying forms and degrees, has been a plague on humanity for thousands of years.   But when violence becomes a part of racism, the consequences are always harmful and often deadly.  It is important to note that there is no scriptural support for a hierarchy of races or the superiority of one race.  We are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), and we all come from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20). 

While the Bible offers scriptural instances where God commanded the destruction of the Canaanites (a collection of seven different nations), this was not for the purpose of genocide or racial cleansing.  Such commands from God to “destroy” these people were not about racial violence but instead for the purpose of defeating and subduing sinful people, who stubbornly continued to practice incest, infant sacrifice, and other abominations.  It was also for the moral preservation of Israel. The fact that the Canaanites continued to show up in the Scriptures indicates that they were not completely destroyed as certain texts may seem to suggest.  (I bring up this subject simply because many critics wrongly use these passages to accuse God of being hateful or endorsing genocide.)

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