Please continue to send in the Bible-based questions that you may have to Pastor Luke or Pastor Josh.
Q: “How are persons devoted to Christ to view, or not to view, Super Bowl half-time performances?”
Answered by Pastor Josh.
A: This is an important question in light of the fact that modern Super Bowl half-time shows are almost guaranteed to include some kind of adult themes and sexually appealing dances. To be sure, I think the conversation is different if the halftime show includes a different kind of performance. There might be some concerns about a performance put on by The Who or Aerosmith or some other classic rock band on their eleventh reunion tour, but those performances are of a different nature than what was presented in February 2020 (We are quite a few years removed from “We Are the World”). Sensuality is not often censored on prime-time television, so it’s no surprise that this year’s half-time show featured two scantily clad celebrity women exhibiting dance moves that if seen up close in person would make the Christian blush. What makes television so different? What should Christians think?
Two things come to mind. First, if men are guaranteed to see sexually enticing dancing, then they rush head-first into a scenario to which the Bible screams, “Run away!” After all, 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us, “Flee from sexual immorality” (ESV), and Jesus strongly warns against lust (Matthew 5:28). The fact that it’s seen on television can provide a kind of wall, a distance that makes the distastefulness less evident. But the picture and the exposure of the body is all the same in God’s eyes, whether it’s in Miami or in your living room.
Second, if both father and mother watch seductive dancing as if it’s not a problem, what kind of example is that setting for their children? Scripture shows us that we should teach our young men to consider the precious nature of a woman’s heart far above what pleasure her body can provide (cf. Proverbs 31:29-31) and that we should teach young ladies to prize purity and hospitality (1 Timothy 5:10; Titus 2:5). These virtues reflect God’s desire for ladies to give love and attention to others rather than expose their bodies to get a false kind of love and attention. This is God’s plan to protect ladies from objectification and to call men to a higher standard of humility and service. It is selflessness versus selfishness, and no amount of feminist language could keep those two celebrities from being treated as objects by millions of men across the world.
It’s been proclaimed that the two celebrity performers were chosen for the example they set for their ethnic community and women everywhere. Tragically, they set the bar pretty low last month on Superbowl Sunday, and the believer would do well to exalt a higher calling. The dignity of women is made whole through gospel faith and a redeemed life (cf. 1 Timothy 2:15). Let’s hold up these divine virtues in our thinking and entertainment choices.
Q: Is there any biblical support for the importance of church membership? Other than being able to serve in a leadership role and voting on issues at church meetings, why should a person become a church member and not just an attendee? Answered by Pastor Luke.
A: Church membership has fallen on hard times in our culture. It’s not that people are against membership in general. Many people have no problem joining a gym or paying for the privilege of shopping at Costco. But when it comes to committing to a local church through becoming a member, some people are not convinced that it is something that they should act upon.
But in the New Testament, people in churches are recognized as being in some sort of community. In fact, in 1 Corinthians Paul doesn’t say the church is like a body. He says the church is a body. The phrase he uses to describe the individual connectedness is we are “members of the body.” (I’d encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
The word “member” in the Bible is more closely related to the medical word “member” than it is to the idea of joining a particular club. As an example, some of you who are reading may have lost a finger or toe in an accident. On that unfortunate day, you were dismembered. That’s the actual technical terminology. A member of your body was separated from the body. That is a tragic thing.
Yet today in Western culture, being separated from the body of believers is not tragic. It’s almost normal. It is almost understood that Christians and churches should be separated. Lone Ranger Christians are common.
So why then does Cornerstone highly encourage membership? Because regardless of how the culture sees it or Christians misunderstand it, membership is not simply an opportunity to say, I’m a part of a club, but rather a scriptural expression of covenant connectedness to a church.
There are three things that help us understand why church membership is biblical and important.
Membership Reflects What the Church Is.
First, membership is a reflection of the organic community already existing in the body. Paul says we are a body. Can one part say to the other, “I’m not part of you”? No, it is already a part. But too often we live as if we are separated.
As a matter of fact, too many churches or Christian gatherings look like piles of dismembered body parts, not a body knit together as God’s agent, his body, his kingdom, at work in the world. To reject the value of membership is to deny what God has already established in fact.
The Bible Teaches Covenant Community.
We find in Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth that they were putting people out of the body. So, Scripture teaches that we can be a part of the body, and we can be apart from the body. It is difficult to get around Scripture when it talks about being brought into the body and also being put out of it.
And yet for most churches there’s no way to put somebody out because they’re not even in. While there seems to be flexibility according to various bodies, there is no such thing in the New Testament as a church without some recognition of belonging—of membership in community.
People Need Church Membership.
Finally, we recognize biblical membership matters because people need it. People need membership commitment because they need to be connected to a Christian community. This is not just for the sake of the faith community, but also for the sake of the individual.
Individualist Christianity is a myth and a damaging pursuit. At the end of the day we’re redeemed. We’re placed in the body. The Bible specifically says he has redeemed us. He has transferred us, Colossians 1 says, from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son he loves. A kingdom has a king. The king has subjects and his kingdom has a community together where we function as God’s people.
God makes us a part of his larger family when we are born again. But then we should covenant in a local body and live in community with them, agreeing to live by certain established godly principles and standards.
Membership doesn’t save us. But it enables us to grow and become spiritually mature in Christ. Not only should we be members of the body, each of us should also be able to express the value of membership and passionately embrace the biblical nature of church membership.
For further reading on this subject check out www.9marks.org