Grace Thoughts

Thoughts on God's Word, His Church, and His World

  • Open Letter to The City COuncil and Mayor of Jersey City

    Rev. Samuel Perez
    Grace Reformed Church
    240 Fairmount Ave.
    Jersey City, NJ 07306

    June 5, 2018

    To the Honorable Mayor of Jersey City and the City Council of Jersey City:

    As the pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Jersey City (a multi-ethnic Christian and Protestant church), I write to express to you my grave concerns about the proposed repeal of Jersey City’s public obscenity law that bans women from appearing topless in public.
        The Christian Church respectfully asks for the basis upon which such a repeal is founded. Mayor Fulop, on April 2, 2018, you tweeted your support for this repeal, and seemed to show us the standard that guides your thinking:
    I found the person who put in place Jersey City obscenity law - it was put in place in 1981 by @JerryNJ3 - he explained the background on how this came to be. in any event this will be amended/rescinded to fit the times. There are lots of laws on the books that are just outdated

    In this statement, Mayor Fulop, you have told us two things. First, the ethical standard of what is right and wrong is relative and must “fit the times.” Second, the good of a society is that which is not “outdated” but borne of the immediate cultural moment. Everything else, it seems, can be summarily dismissed as antiquated, irrelevant, and perhaps even harmful to society.
        Mayor Fulop and city council, you may believe in the standard of the relative and novel good. Such a standard, however, has been shown by history to be purely arbitrary and subject to the whims of political power. It is a variation of “might makes right.” One thinks of many despotic political states, past and present, that have used this standard to advance destructive policies.
        Against this shifting human standard stands an abiding guide of right and wrong: God’s Word, which has been borne out in all cultures and times, especially with respect to public nudity.
        When Adam and Eve rejected God at the dawn of human history, God mercifully clothed their naked bodies although they had squandered the blessing of being clothed with God’s perfect glory. Since then, men and women have sought to take their clothes off and rebel against the God-given societal norms meant to protect them and create a more just society.
        When men and women choose to physically expose themselves, they also expose themselves, unwittingly or not, to great danger and harm. Women, especially, have been degraded in places where their bodies are objectified and treated as an accessory for men. It is a lamentable and horrible fact that sexual confusion about the body of women is accompanied by sexual violence against the body of women. One thinks of the hook-up culture of college campuses. Administrators regularly permit a sexually “liberated” ethos while failing to protect the female students in their midst. Women are not more liberated when they are encouraged to expose their bodies. They become violently objectified by men, media, and culture. It is highly ironic that this repeal (which is anti-woman) is under consideration all the while the #MeToo movement (which purports to be pro-woman) continues to generate much support among the political class.
        More broadly, repeal of the obscenity law is dishonorable to the human body because it fails to adequately ask, answer, and understand the nature of the question, “What is the human body for?” Will the Jersey City council give us their answer? Will you, Mayor Fulop? Is the human body for self-pleasure? Is it meant to be flaunted? To be used for whatever purpose each person wants?
        The Bible teaches us that the human body is to be used to worship God and, in self-sacrifice, for the good of our neighbor. When the human body is used the right way, human society will flourish. A father uses his body protect and provide for his wife and children. A mother uses her body to nurture and care for her family. Firefighters sacrifice their bodies to extinguish raging fires and protect innocent lives. Police officers put their bodies on the line to uphold peace and stop acts of evil. Citizens use their embodied skill to clean parks, open and maintain businesses, and help their neighbors. Examples can be multiplied. This salutary pattern is deeply ingrained in every culture: where the human body is used for what it was created, people will truly flourish. Conversely, no good can come from living apart from the principles of God’s Word which have been vindicated in every human culture.
        In terms of economic flourishing, the repeal is not good for business nor is it family-friendly across a broad spectrum of Jersey City (including Muslim, Coptic, Hindu, Catholic, and Protestant families). Families who seek to teach their children what is right in this regard (and not what is merely “legal’ and “permissible”) would be dissuaded from visiting parks and moving into neighborhoods where public denuding would be prevalent. They would choose to not spend money near area businesses where public denuding would be common. A repeal would put Jersey City on the same footing as the economically stagnant New York city of the 1980s, where I was raised by immigrant parents and where red-light districts abounded. Why would we want to expose ourselves and our children to what the better angels of any society have known to be morally bankrupt? Why must the general welfare of a society be made to suffer because of the interests of a few? This is a textbook example of elitism.
        In short, it would be an unmitigated mistake of civilizational proportions to allow this repeal to pass and I urge you, Mayor Fulop and the city council, in the strongest possible terms, to refuse its passage.


    Rev. Samuel Perez