Hitting Close to Home

 

Many readers of the RFPA blog live in West Michigan. What follows is a news item from the Grand Rapids area that illustrates the growing anti-Christian spirit of the world in which we live and how believing a basic biblical truth can quickly get one in trouble with the federal government of the United States. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald and Ellen Vander Boon own West Michigan Beef Company Co., LLC , a meatpacking plant in Hudsonville, Michigan. They employ forty-five people. As their website states, "West Michigan Beef seeks to glorify and honor God in all that we do." It is the religious convictions of the Vander Boons that has them in trouble with the United States Department of Agriculture. Yes, you read it right, the USDA.

The story begins in 2015 when Don placed an article defending marriage as between one man and one woman on the break room table of his facility. The article was set on a table that was already cluttered with mainstream media news stories reporting on the recent Supreme Court decision allowing "gay marriage." A USDA public health veterinarian and inspector in charge on-site at the facility noticed the article, read it, and had it removed. Further, he reported the incident to a USDA Frontline Supervisor. This resulted in a meeting with Mr. Vander Boon, the supervisor and the on-site inspector. Mr. Vander Boon was threatened that unless he refrained from putting literature on the break room table supporting marriage between one man and one woman, USDA inspectors would be removed from his plant, effectively putting him out of business and leaving his forty-five employees without work.

The natural question is: "What do USDA inspectors inspect?" Reading material on the break room table would not be the first thing that comes to my mind. I would hope that a USDA inspector would be concerned with the health and safety of the meat the facility is processing. But in the world in which we now live, this is no longer the case. Notice, Mr. Vander Boon did not distribute the article to all or some of his employees. He did not ask them to read it, much less ask if they agreed with it. He merely added it to the stack of reading material already on the table.

USDA managers and supervisors have, per a recent "Anti-Harassment Policy Statement", been instructed to monitor for "intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment[s]". "Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, bullying, slurs, negative stereotyping, threats, intimidation, written or verbal disrespectful comments, and graphic material that insults an individual or protected group." Yes, USDA inspectors now have the authority to inspect far more than meat. They are on the lookout for "hostile work environments", likely those of the Christian variety. The full policy statement can be read here.

Mr. Vander Boon has acquiesced to the request of the USDA to remove the "offensive" article from the break room table. Refusal could result in the closing down of his business and the loss of jobs for his forty-five employees. He has, however, filed a complaint with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Since filing his complaint he has heard nothing from the USDA other than that his complaint has been received and forwarded to the USDA Civil Rights Division. Lawyers for Mr. Vander Boon have written a letter to newly elected President Trump asking the he "direct the Department of Agriculture to rescind its unlawful harassment policy and lift the restriction on Don's speech."

While the Trump administration may rescind some Obama era anti-harassment policies, we know very well that the days are increasingly evil and the place of the Christian becomes smaller and smaller in this world. What about the Protestant Reformed professional or business owner who has copies of the Standard Bearer lying on the table in his waiting room or lobby? Or what if a RFPA book makes its way on to the break room table of a Protestant Reformed shop owner? Can a government inspector responsible for the oversight of his business demand the removal of that "offensive" religious literature, or risk being shut down, because its presence creates a "hostile environment" for employees and customers? The possibility is not far-fetched.

That events like this are taking place should not surprise us. Our Lord, in his Word, tells us that we should expect these things. "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" (I John 3:13). "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18). "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).

Knowing that the world will hate us and that our place in this world becomes smaller, we more eagerly look for the return of Christ our King, who will say to us at his return, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).

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This post was written by Aaron Cleveland, a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Aaron, please do so in the comment section.

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The Standard Bearer: Special Issue on Reformed Marriage

The April 15, 2016 issue of The Standard Bearer is a special issue devoted to the topic of Reformed Marriage.

Some of the articles you will read in this issue are:

  • Marriage for Life: A Blessing
  • The Reformed Wedding Ceremony
  • Still Using the Reformed Marriage Form?
  • Wedding Receptions: Sanctified Celebrations
  • Children: Calling and Blessing

....and much more!

Subscribe to The Standard Bearer magazine mailing list today! 

 

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Male and Female: What’s the Difference?

On June 26 the US Supreme Court (SC) effectively legalized homosexual marriage for the entire nation.  But this was not the first time that the SC redefined marriage (as far as US law is concerned).  In this article in the Wall Street Journal James Taranto explains that in 1981 the SC decided that male headship in marriage is a form of sexual discrimination that is unconstitutional.  Thus, in 1981 the SC did away with the traditional (and biblical) view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in which the husband is the head of his wife. 

In place of the traditional view of marriage the SC adopted the view that in marriage the man and his wife are equal.  This view is commonly referred to as the egalitarian view of marriage.  Taranto’s argument is that having adopted the egalitarian view of marriage the SC, following the rules of good logic, must approve of homosexual marriage.  He explains that when marriage is redefined in such a way to view the sexes as equal then in marriage “husbands and wives are . . . already interchangeable.”  The logic is sound.  If a man = a woman, then it stands to reason that a man could just as well marry another man instead of a woman.  

It has become increasingly clear that homosexuality is not merely an attack on what the Bible teaches about marriage.  The homosexual movement is part of society’s full frontal assault on everything that the Bible teaches about sex and gender.  This has become increasingly clear with transgenderism (and essential part of the LGBT movement) coming to the foreground because of Bruce Jenner.  The homosexual movement denies God’s creation of the sexes and their differences.  The movement denies the need for people to identify themselves or behave according to the gender God gave them at birth.  Gender identity and behavior is a matter of an individual’s preference to be male and/or female.  For the LGBT movement there is no real difference between the sexes. 

All of this is to say that it won’t do simply for the church today to affirm what God’s word teaches about the sin of homosexuality.  But the church must also affirm what God’s word says about what it means to be male and female.  The church must know, confess, and put into practice what the Bible teaches about the roles of husbands and wives in marriage and in the family.  While we are testifying that it is wrong for men to marry men or women to marry women, are we ready also to testify that it is sinful for a man to refuse to rule over his wife?  Are we ready to testify that it is sinful for a woman to rule her husband?  Are we ready to say something about the place of mothers in the home?   

We condemn homosexuality.  But do we really know the difference between men and women? 

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New edition of Better to Marry

Better to Marry, 2nd edition is now available for purchase!

Order your copy today!

$12.95 Retail

$8.42 Book Club

This small paperback book provides straightforward, practical instruction for     single and married believers alike, taken directly from the classic Bible passages on sex and marriage. Two appendices treat the remarriage and prohibition of the remarriage of the "innocent party".

 

 * The 2nd edition ebook version will be available soon in .mobi format (for   Kindle users) and .epub (all other devices).

 

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