Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Creation Ordinances

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

Genesis 2:24 is an example of a creation ordinance, one of the principles God made clear to humanity at the beginning of creation. It is a mistake to restrict God’s laws only to Israel in the Old Testament or to the church in the New Testament. It is true that Israel was a particular covenantal community under God, with special laws, and it is also true that the New Testament church has special duties to perform as well. However, the fact is that all humanity stands in covenant with God in Adam, and they are still responsible to the terms of that covenantal arrangement.

Thus, there are moral requirements—creation ordinances—that apply to all men because they are principles that applied in the Garden of Eden. Among these are the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctity of labor. Cain knew not to murder Abel, and when we see God judge Cain, we see that the sanctity of life was a creation ordinance.

The sanctity of marriage is safeguarded in principle by the verse cited above. And the sanctity of work can be seen in two dimensions: first in God’s command that men should dress and till the garden, and second in God’s establishing the Sabbath as a day of rest, guaranteeing that men would not have to work continuously.

Since the creation ordinances transcend the limits of the church, this means that it is proper for Christian people to work to bring secular society in line with them. We should not seek to impose the special laws of the church, such as the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, on all citizens, but it is proper to call civil society back to the general creation ordinances. A cliche we often hear in our society is that “you can’t legislate morality.” Obviously law is always “legislated morality.” The only question is whose ethical standards will it be? Man’s or God’s?

There is a sense in which we cannot legislate morality. However, the church must call all men, including civil magistrates, to obey God’s fundamental principles of life. What is the church in your area doing to restore the sanctity of life, marriage, and labor? What are you doing to help your church?