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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"A New Front"

There is a new front on which the church must stand opposed to the armies of the sexual revolution.

The battle is still the same: an unholy war against marriage and the God who instituted it.

But there is a new front in that battle. Last year the revolutionaries were marshalled on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriages. This year the battle has been waged on the front of transgenderism. But an assault is now being made on another front: incest.

The title of a recent article posted on The Aquila Report says it all: “Mother, Adult Son Fight for Right to Incestuous Relationship” (here’s the link). About nineteen years ago, a New Mexico woman named Monica Mares (now 36 years old) gave birth to a son whom she then put up for adoption. The son, Caleb Peterson (19), lived apart from his birth mother until last year when they met again. Mother and son are now in a “romantic” relationship which includes “sexual relations.” Living in the house and witnessing this fornication are Mares’ two other children, ages 5 and 6.

Authorities became aware of this relationship in February, and the two appeared in court on March 10 on charges of incest. The trial was supposed to be held at the end of August, but has since been bumped back to October 26. If convicted, the two could face up to three years in prison and a $3,000 fine. Mother and son are not backing down, but claim to be willing to go to jail to fight for their supposed right to be together. And there are plenty of others rushing to support them.

What’s striking are the arguments used to justify this “consanguinamory” (literally, “same-blood love”). They base their defense on the recent approval of homosexual marriage. Cristian Shy, a supporter of incest, says, “It was the same with gay people just a few years ago and now they can get married and they are accepted. Well, why not consanguinamorous people like us?” Travis Weber, an attorney with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C, says, “I think that the framing of this case and the advocacy on their behalf is made much easier by the Supreme Court’s decision and many of the developments we are seeing in law in regards to homosexuality.”

This is telling. It shows that the sexual revolutionaries are building on the advances that they made with same-sex marriage. If marriage can be redefined to include the union of man with man and woman with woman, then what’s to stop it from being redefined in any way a person chooses? What’s to stop marriage from being redefined as a mother with her son or a father with his daughter?

Those fighting for the right to live in an incestuous relationship, in harmony with the advocates for homosexual marriages, argue that there is only one thing that matters in a relationship: consent. The son, Caleb Peterson, said, “Honestly, I never thought we would get into trouble for our relationship. We were both consenting adults—when it comes down to it. She’s an adult; I’m adult. I can make my own decisions.” A group supporting this mother and son claim to be pushing for “full marriage equality for all consenting adults.” This is the one moral scruple that they yet claim to have. You can do whatever you want with whomever you want, but just so long as you are both consenting.

In fact, the sexual revolutionaries have apparently succeeded in shutting the mouths of their opponents who argue on the basis of health risks. Homosexuality brings major health risks, but that argument cannot be used any longer to forbid homosexual unions. Incest also brings major health risks. But since that argument has already been overcome by the revolutionaries in regard to homosexuality, Attorney Weber asks, “What’s to stop us in regard to incest?”

Take note of these two points.

First, what we are seeing is a continual advance in the sexual revolution. Having won the hill on the issue of homosexuality, they press their advantage to bring about approval of incest and other sins. And in the end, the goal with all this is to destroy the institution of marriage altogether. It would not be surprising if in a few years Western society asks itself, “What purpose does marriage even serve anymore? Do away with that outdated institution altogether! Everyone do what’s right in your own eyes! Fornicate left, right, and center! Just be sure the others are consenting!”

Second, what we are witnessing is the spirit of the antichrist. In 2 Thess. 2, the antichrist is referred to literally as “the lawless one.” Daniel 7:25 says that he will “think to change times and laws.” The spirit of the antichrist reigns in the world today, as they overturn the laws of God regarding gender and sexuality and marriage. The way is being paved for the personal antichrist to come.

Watch!

Oppose!

And pray!

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa.

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“Pastoral Guidance or Misguided Advice?”

In the February 2016 issue of The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), there is a preview of an extensive report coming to their Synod this summer. The report addresses the issue of so-called “same-sex marriages” in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Gayla Postma, “Pastoral Guidance for Churches Regarding Same-Sex Marriage,” pp. 14-15).

This report is not a change in the official CRC position on homosexuality. That position, adopted in 1973, states that “same-sex orientation is not sinful, but homosexual activity is.” This position remains yet unchanged.

The study committee reporting to Synod 2016 was mandated to provide “pastoral guidance” to the denomination with regard to certain practical situations that might arise in connection with same-sex marriages. Some of the issues addressed in the report are:

  • Whether or not it is proper to attend a same-sex wedding or provide a commercial service for such a wedding (e.g. making a cake, taking pictures).
  • Whether or not it is proper for a CRC pastor to solemnize a religious same-sex wedding.
  • Whether or not it is proper for a CRC pastor to solemnize a civil same-sex wedding.
  • Whether or not it is proper for a member to play a part in a same-sex wedding (e.g. being an attendant).
  • Whether or not it is proper to allow same-sex couples and their families to take part in the life of the church (e.g. being an usher, teaching Sunday school).
  • Whether or not it is proper to allow same-sex couples to be members of a local congregation.

The report is weak.

For one thing, in many instances it gives no guidance whatsoever. Is it proper to attend a same-sex wedding? Leave it to the discretion of the individual. Is it proper to play a part in such a wedding? Again, that should be left to the discretion of each member. Is it proper to allow same-sex couples to take part in the life of the church? Let each congregation decide for herself. This gives no guidance to the churches.

More disconcerting is the underlying weakness that the report reveals on the issue of same-sex marriage as a whole. The report distinguishes between religious and civil marriages, and then says that although it is wrong for a pastor to perform the former, in some circumstances it is proper to solemnize the latter. This “guidance” seems to grant a certain legitimacy to same-sex marriages.

The committee goes on to recommend that same-sex couples be received as members in good standing, so long as they are not sexually active. “However,” Postma summarizes, “if a person or couple agree to accept the CRC’s teaching on same-sex sexual relationships and bring their lives into conformity, no obstacle prevents their acceptance as members.” The report says, “The current position does not require dissolution of a civil marriage; nor should the church be heard to require or encourage the dissolution of functioning families.”

This means that a homosexual couple can be members in good standing, so long as they assure the church that they are not engaging in homosexual activity (as if that were possible). The church may not require them to dissolve their “marriage” or their “functioning family.” Nor may the church prevent them from having their adopted child baptized and from partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

And what is more, the report indicates that there is growing dissatisfaction with the official position of the denomination. “A number of CRC churches are already navigating the challenges of integrating same-sex couples into the life of the church, and for them the logic of being denied membership is experienced as damaging rather than life-giving.” There is even an expressed desire on the part of the committee to revisit and revise the 1973 position.

This report is worth noticing because it reveals again the fatal weakness in the position of the CRC. If one’s position is that homosexual activity is the only thing that is sinful, then allowances have to be made for same-sex marriage, so long as the couples assure those around them that, though they are attracted to one another and are legally married, they are not engaging in any sexual activity whatsoever. The weakness of the CRC position has been pointed out by others before. This simply shows the bad fruit it is producing.

It will be interesting to see what the Synod of the CRC does with this report.

Stay tuned.

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa.

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