Faith in God Brings Healing

Faith in God Brings Healing

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that nearly 50,000 people died by suicide in the U.S. in 2022. That is a 3% increase over 2021 and the highest recorded number. In a CNN Opinion article, Carrie Sheffield reported that, along with other data, “scientific evidence suggests faith in God brings healing.”

For example, the Harvard University School of Public Health released data showing that 68% of women and 33% of men attending weekly religious services are less likely to die “deaths of despair,” which would include suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol poisoning. Also, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that states with decreased religious participation had increased deaths of despair.

Furthermore, the “Psychiatric Times” reported that two-thirds of 93 observational studies showed lower rates of depressive disorder symptoms in religious people. Boston University researcher Brian Grim reported that 84% of scientific studies show faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery.

Those of us who have worked with young people from rough family situations have seen that those who survive are usually the ones who find a faith connection, offering a positive alternative to the drug and sex culture. You can’t discount the fact that faith in God brings healing in overcoming dysfunctional family experiences.

Carrie Sheffield wrote a book on her faith journey titled “Motorhome Prophecies: A Journey of Healing and Forgiveness.” Ms. Sheffield grew up in a highly dysfunctional home and became a “bitter agnostic.” She received a scholarship that allowed her to earn a master’s degree from Harvard. After many experiences in business, she became what she calls a “Protestant Christian” in 2017. In telling her story, Ms. Sheffield says that the biggest hurdle she had to overcome was “comprehending the difference between human religious abuse and healthy faith in God.”

We believe Ms. Sheffied is correct that scientific evidence suggests faith in God brings healing from life’s bad experiences. A biblical connection to God and understanding the teachings of Christ will help people cope with life and the collateral damage of their past.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “I survived a nightmare childhood. God and science gave me a better life” by Carrie Sheffield in CNN Opinion’s Newsletter for March 13, 2024.

Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Alcohol is the most destructive drug that has ever existed on planet Earth, and we see that in the increase in alcohol deaths. The Centers for Disease Control reported that from 2016 to 2021, deaths from alcohol use in the United States increased 29.3% from 137,927 to 178,307. Deaths among males increased 26.8%, and among females, the increase was 34.7%. The CDC makes a point that their data is only for deaths that are 100% attributable to alcohol use.

In ancient times, the term used for a substance (not grapes) used as a drug was “strong drink.” The Bible distinguishes between “wine” and “strong drink.” We find wine mentioned 141 times in the Old Testament and 32 times in the New Testament – always referring to the juice from grapes. The difference between “old wine” and “new wine” was the aging and fermentation of the juice. The juice was mixed with water because the water was not fit to drink without it, so the alcohol content was at a maximum between 10 and 15%. The term “strong drink” is mentioned 23 times in the Old Testament and one time in the New Testament (Luke 1:15). Scholars tell us that this refers to any drink derived from sources other than grapes, and the alcohol content could be as high as 20%.

The wine at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-11) was better than all other wines available, but it was not “strong drink.” Modern distillation did not happen until 1500 A.D., and that is when alcohol became a “recreational drug.” Death due to alcohol consumption was virtually unknown until several years later, but it is epidemic today.

Should we be concerned about the increase in alcohol deaths? Suppose death from some other product claimed 178,307 lives in a year. What would we do about it? Christians view our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:15) and stand against all things that would damage them. A collateral benefit of that belief is freedom from the damage that alcohol causes.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: CDC.gov

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Richard Hoyt for researching the meaning of new wine, old wine, and strong drink.

A Conflict that Should Not Exist

A Conflict that Should Not Exist
Dr. John C. Lennox

We have said many times that science and the Bible are friends. We need both for an enjoyable life. Unfortunately, many believers reject science because they think it conflicts with faith, and many scientists reject faith because they believe it is contrary to science. Both of those are false ideas of a conflict that should not exist. The truth is that both science and the Bible testify to God’s existence.

Science helps us understand the physical world. Physics and chemistry give us new and better ways to do things. Medical science helps us live healthier and longer lives. We need science because it benefits us. Likewise, the Bible benefits us in many ways. It tells us how to live fulfilled lives in peace and harmony with each other and with the natural world. Most importantly, the Bible also tells us about Jesus Christ and how we can live beyond this physical existence.

Dr. John C. Lennox is emeritus fellow of mathematics and philosophy of science at Oxford University. In a debate with leading atheist scientist Richard Dawkins, Lennox illustrated the difference between science and biblical faith very simply. He said, “Science can tell you what will happen when you put arsenic in your Aunt Tilley’s tea, but it cannot tell whether or not you should.” That simple statement suggests why this is a conflict that should not exist.

Atheists insist that a person does not have to believe to live a moral life. It is true that sometimes atheists live lives that appear to be more morally upright than some who claim to be believers. However, without faith in God and His Word, what is the objective basis for deciding what is right or wrong? We can’t make valid moral choices without a moral compass to tell us which direction to go.

Science gives us many things that make our lives in this world better. The Bible and faith also improve our lives and the lives of those around us. But faith also gives us some things that science cannot. Our faith in God and the Bible gives us a purpose and reason to live and enjoy this life. Beyond that, it gives us hope for a better existence without the pain and suffering we face now. In science, we find solutions to make life more enjoyable. In the Bible, we discover a reason for our existence and hope for a better future. The animosity between science and faith is a conflict that should not exist.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Should Only the Fit and Wanted Be Allowed to Survive?

Should Only the Fit and Wanted Be Allowed to Survive?

People in the abortion debate avoid the question of when a baby in the mother’s womb should be called a human. The scientific facts do not support attempts by abortion supporters to say that the baby is just an extension of the mother’s body and, like hair or fingernails, can be removed at the discretion of the mother. Should only the fit and wanted be allowed to survive?

One of the many evidences that the baby is a human and not an extension of the mother’s body is the issue of morning sickness. A new study reveals that the nausea may be caused by a protein called GDF15 produced by the fetus. The mother’s body rejects the protein as coming from a foreign object. Claims that morning sickness is psychological have been disproven and are “widely refuted.”

It is not hard to understand why a woman with an unwanted pregnancy would choose abortion. However, from a scientific standpoint, the fetus is a human. We need to emphasize the alternatives to killing an inconvenient child. Our culture must understand the value of human life. If we accept the idea of destroying anyone who places a burden on others, then killing Alzheimer patients, cancer patients, elderly people with limited life expectancy, and people with severe mental illness will be acceptable.

The Bible makes it clear that we are created in God’s image. All human life is precious, and each person has a purpose for existing. On the other hand, should only the fit and wanted be allowed to survive? Evolution says “yes.” While that may work for raising chickens, it is not what we want for the future of our children and grandchildren.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Fetuses make a protein that causes morning sickness in pregnancy” in Science News magazine’s January 27, 2024 issue.

The IVF War is Not Nearing a Solution

The IVF War is Not Nearing a Solution

In-vitro fertilization has become the latest issue in the political battle. In IVF, multiple eggs are harvested from a woman and then are fertilized and implanted to create a pregnancy. The usual method is to freeze the embryo produced for later implantation. The National Embryo Donation Center says that the number of frozen embryos nationwide is around a million, and nearly 100,000 babies are born annually by IVF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The IVF war has become a problematic political issue.

After Roe v Wade was made law in 1973, frozen embryos were treated by the courts as private property, and donors could implant them, give them away, or have them destroyed. In February 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created during the IVF process are “extrauterine children” and have the same rights as any other child.

This issue has produced massive legal hassles. Two couples have sued the company that accidentally destroyed their frozen embryos. Vice President Kamala Harris has been giving speeches that she calls “The Reproductive Rights Tour.” The Democratic party has brought back the overturning of Roe v Wade to make this issue a major one for their 2014 campaign. Various Republicans have taken the view that embryos are babies, but the leaders are in favor of IVF. The IVF war is not nearing a solution.

In the IVF procedure, multiple eggs are taken from the woman, fertilized, and then implanted in the woman’s uterus. The medical experts pick the one or two that look the most promising to implant in the womb and often discard the others. If there are ten eggs and eight are discarded, have eight people been murdered? Advancements in IVF technology have reduced the number of errors in this process, but there are still mistakes.

Any time humans try to take over what God has created, the result is complicated. IVF is one of many issues that resulted from advancements in medical technology. Christians need to be aware of the IVF war and try to help find solutions, not just engage in a battle of words with unbelievers.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: National Embryo Donation Center, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and USA Today for 2/23/24 and 2/21/24.

Social Isolation Affects the Heart

Social Isolation Affects the Heart

We have mentioned before the role the Church has in fighting loneliness, including anxiety, depression, dementia, and thoughts of suicide. Now, heart specialists and the United States Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, have expanded the negative role of loneliness. Murthy says that “feeling disconnected from friends and family has the same impact as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, the physical effects of loneliness include a 29% higher risk of heart disease, a 32% higher risk of stroke, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia, and a 60% increase in premature death. The bottom line is that social isolation affects the heart.

The importance of being actively involved with people, such as in a church congregation, cannot be over-emphasized. “Going to church” for an hour once a week does not help much in dealing with this issue. The Church described in Acts 2:41-47 was a group of believers who met together daily. Not only were they together sharing meals and times of worship, but they addressed each other’s needs. Church leaders today must understand that being active in a church cannot happen if the church is not active. I had a brother who was an atheist and retreated from family and all social contact. Alcoholics Anonymous was his only tool to fight social isolation, and his participation in that program was very sporadic. He died prematurely of heart failure.

Hebrews 10:24-25 gives a formula for avoiding social isolation. “Let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another with a view to arousing one another to brotherly love and right conduct; not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together as some do, but encouraging one another…” Church attendance is declining worldwide, and much of that is because people see no value in what the Church is doing. Saving souls is important, but contributing to each other’s well-being must not be neglected because social isolation affects the heart.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Loneliness and Social Isolation Are Hidden Threats to the Heart” in the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor for February 2024 (Volume 24B).

The Transgender Issue in Women’s Sports

The Transgender Issue in Women’s Sports

The transgender issue in women’s sports grows nearly every day. As we have mentioned previously, biological males have an advantage when they claim to be females and participate in women’s sports. Here are some examples of this issue in women’s sports:

Lia Thomas is a six-foot-four-inch biological male who ranked in the 400s in the men’s swimming division but is now a top-ranked swimmer in the women’s division.

Valentina Petrillo is a biological male who identifies as transgender and won the women’s 400-meter bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris in July of 2023.

Austin Kippips is a biological male who finished five minutes ahead of all female competitors to win the Belgian Waffle Ride, a 131-mile cycling event in North Carolina, in June of 2023.

Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood ranked first and second in Connecticut in the girls’ 55-meter dash. Previously, they had ranked 120th and 195th in the male category.

In addition to the locker room and restroom problems, coed dormitory issues in private colleges, and now women’s sports issues, the pressure on legislators to do something is growing. However, this issue continues without any action for fear of the political consequences.

We need to keep in mind the growing transgender issue in women’s sports when we vote for politicians. God designed our bodies, and when we make changes to what God created, we invite pain and suffering for everyone.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Family Research Council

Extending Life Without Quality of Life

Extending Life Without Quality of Life

One of the challenges produced by the progress in medicine is the question of the role of doctors when a patient nears the time of death. In the old days, doctors had a code that said they would “do no harm,” which resulted in extending life without quality of life.

I had a personal experience with this issue when my disabled son Timothy was in the hospital after contracting COVID from a care worker. Doctors told me that Tim would never recover, but they had to give him a standard COVID treatment. Tim did survive but was not allowed to have any contact with family. He could not talk, was blind, could not stand or sit up, and could not feed himself. Eventually he was placed in a nursing home where I was allowed to visit him, and I did weekly. Although he could hear me, he was unable to respond. I read to him, tried to feed him, and ensured his stuffed animals were around him. After more than a year in the nursing home, he died.

The question in a case like Timothy’s becomes whether a doctor should be allowed to assist in dying when the apparent result was extending life without quality of life. Laws in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada allow doctors to administer euthanasia. The next step in these countries is to allow physicians to provide medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill. Canada has delayed the implementation of that option for physicians until 2027 to allow doctors and facilities time to adjust to this new law. Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has advocated for euthanasia for virtually any cause.

For Christians, the issue is especially relevant. The New Testament in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that God’s Spirit lives in our bodies and that the body is sacred for that reason. I Corinthians 6:15-17 uses that view to explain why prostitution is a sin. As modern medical science has advanced to the point of extending human life, it has also found ways to eliminate pain, but my son never showed evidence of suffering from pain. The problem remains of extending life without quality of life.

Euthanasia involves the same issues as abortion. Singer would empty prisons, nursing homes, and mental facilities by applying euthanasia to the people there. The fact is that much of the money spent on medical treatment is spent during the last year of life. Think of the savings if we were to eliminate everyone deemed to be within a year of dying. Do we really want to live in a culture that uses death as a means of removing a person who is inconvenient or difficult to sustain? But isn’t that what abortion is all about?

— John N. Clayton 2024

Reference: “Canada again delays assisted dying for the mentally ill” on BBC News for February 1, 2024.

Warnings from the Past by George Washington

Warnings from the Past by George Washington

Today is President’s Day in the United States, and it seems appropriate to think about some warnings from the past by our first president. On September 19, 1796, George Washington spoke to the young United States about the dangers the future could bring. It was his farewell address as president, and he said many prescient things as if he could see into the country’s future. He was not a prophet who could see the future, but he was a student of the past and knew the history of other nations.

Washington warned against minor factions bending the laws to put their needs above the needs of others. He warned about the dangers of excessive partisanship, making dangerous foreign alliances, going into debt, and engaging in unnecessary wars. He said the country must follow the Constitution, which creates checks and balances between the government’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. He saw the dangers of allowing a consolidation of power into one branch or person because of selfish human nature. He did not want to be a king, and he did not want the nation to be under a human king.

Of George Washington’s many warnings from the past, there is none more important than his warning about the need for religion and morality to preserve the country. Here is a portion of what Washington had to say about that:

“Of all the dispostions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports. … Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Thus, Washington said that morality is essential for preserving the nation and that morality cannot be maintained without religion. He also noted that “institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge” are of primary importance. The message of the Does God Exist? ministry is that scientific knowledge is compatible with faith in God. More than that, knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ and a faith commitment to follow Him leads to morality. Washington’s warnings from the past call for the strengthening of knowledge and religious faith. Today, the United States needs more leaders who share Washington’s wisdom.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Reference: Wikipedia.org – We have also quoted other founders of the United States on religious faith HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Ministering to the Needy and Homeless

Across the United States, church officials are threatened with prison time for helping homeless people. Churches in Bryan, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Tempe, Arizona; Houston, Texas; Santa Ana, California; Brookings, Oregon; and Pottstown, Pennsylvania, have been threatened with legal action by city authorities for ministering to the needy and homeless.

The problem in these cities is that zoning laws and codes prohibit churches from serving food or providing shelter for people who are in need. When churches violate those rules, the police are required to shut down the services. In the cases cited, the cities offer no alternatives for churches ministering to the needy and homeless.

Jesus made it clear that His followers should meet the needs of those without life’s essentials. He said in Matthew 25:31-40 that His followers should provide people in need with food, water, clothing, medical help, and shelter for the homeless. He expects His followers to provide counseling and support for those in prison.

Eric Tars, the legal director at the National Homelessness Law Center, said, “You’re very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.… Officials would have thrown the innkeeper in jail for offering his manger to Joseph and Mary because it wasn’t zoned for residency and didn’t meet the fire code.”

This situation is only going to get worse as migrants are bused into cities and left to fend for themselves. The secular world is not going to help them, and, as is always the case, it will be up to churches to find a way to address their needs. There are creative ways to address the problem, but any help will involve cost. The bottom line is whether churches want to do what Jesus taught His followers by ministering to the needy and homeless.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Could helping the homeless get you criminal charges? More churches getting in trouble” by Claire Thronton on USA Today