Freedom of Moral Convictions

Freedom of Moral Convictions and Voting

The political free-for-all that is going on in America now has all kinds of implications for people of faith. The problem is not whether people have the right to adopt any sort of moral stand but whether those people have the right to pass laws that discriminate against others who make different moral choices. Therefore, we must preserve the freedom of moral convictions in our words and actions.

In the past, laws made homosexual activity illegal
, prohibited interracial marriage, and restricted people of Asian descent from owning a business or land. Outdated laws also declared that blacks were humans but not persons and therefore had no rights. Those laws have been removed, but there is a danger of new laws against Christain moral values.

According to the Washington Post, 55 transgender candidates are running for public office this election year. That source also says that 20 gender nonconforming and 18 non-binary candidates are running. They have every right to seek public office. An old cliché says, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Unfortunately, that is no longer true in many cases. Every day we read about public figures who express their opinion and are threatened with a lawsuit or physical harm by someone who feels offended.

We know first-hand about the threat to the freedom of moral convictions. We have pointed out many long-term negative consequences of the LGBTQ lifestyle, especially if drugs and/or surgery are involved. Stating those facts has resulted in threats of lawsuits as well as personal threats against your editor. Christians who openly say that they believe God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman are facing threats of violence or loss of employment in today’s America. If the LGBTQ community succeeds in getting enough representation in our government, will they pass laws outlawing Christian moral beliefs?

Jesus spoke loudly and clearly about the separation of Church and State. Both sides of this issue need to understand the consequences of allowing moral or religious beliefs to determine who makes and enforces the laws. We must not repeat history or expect recompense for past sins.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for 8/14/22, page 16.

Misunderstanding the Concept of Prayer

Misunderstanding the Concept of Prayer

We often find both atheists and believers misunderstanding the concept of prayer. Atheists see prayer as a crutch and an exercise in futility. Madalyn O’Hair, the leading atheist in the late 1900’s, was fond of saying, “No god ever answered any prayer at any time, nor ever will.” Other atheists have said that a god who needs his ego fed by the constant praise of humans isn’t worth having. For many believers, prayer is a crutch to lean on when you are in trouble.

A friend of mine tells the story of being with a family when one of their members was dying. The dying man took his last breath, and then there was silence. One of the family members said, “So what do we do now?” Another said, “I guess we should pray.” To that, the first family member said, “Does anyone here know how to pray?” They were misunderstanding the concept of prayer.

Some religions view prayer as a payment to their concept of god. They see prayer as something their god commands as a price of membership or payment for blessings received. The Christian prayer, as presented in the Bible, is very different. There are multiple admonitions for Christians to pray, but it was never given as a command to all people.

The Christian concept of prayer is not to boost God’s ego or to inform Him about a situation. Instead, Matthew 6:8 tells us, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Jesus followed that statement with a model prayer acknowledging God’s power and glory, recognizing that everything we need comes from Him, and seeking His forgiveness as we forgive others.

Because prayer is integral to spiritual health, it is also a huge contributor to good mental health. Humans need to look to a higher power, which is part of most 12-step recovery programs. Passages like Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10, and John 14:13-14 don’t promise physical comfort but spiritual results. James 4:2-7 makes it abundantly clear that prayer is not a selfish request for physical pleasure.

There are 85 original prayers in the Old Testament, and 60 of the psalms are prayers. When you look at who does the praying, why, and what the ultimate result of the prayer is, you don’t see self-seeking requests to an ego-driven god who needs praise to maintain his self-image. What you see is people realizing their dependence on the Creator and seeking a relationship with Him. Those who don’t see their prayers answered may be misunderstanding the concept of prayer.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Another Virus Is Spreading

Another Virus Is Spreading - Monkeypox

Here we go again! Another virus is spreading and has begun to infect large numbers of people, and the LGBTQ community has borne the brunt of those infections. That data has led to hatred and polarization. This reminds us of the situation with AIDS in 1984 when over 7,700 people became infected with AIDS, and over 3,500 died. There was a great deal of finger pointing and some violence, as vividly displayed in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

On May 7, 2022, British health officials discovered the monkeypox virus and announced it occurred primarily in LGBTQ men. In July of 2022, infections have been found in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. At this time, infections approach 1500, with California and Illinois having more than 100 cases and New York with more than 400. The virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with rash lesions or body fluids. Men having sex with men provide an easy pathway for the virus, so as another virus is spreading, some blame the LGBTQ community.

Those who delight in attacking Christianity have claimed that Christians are fueling hatred against the LGBTQ community, but that claim is simply incorrect. It is true that the Bible teaches us not to engage in sex outside of marriage, but it also tells us not to use alcohol or other substances harmful to the body. Christians are concerned about people doing things that hurt themselves or others. For Christians, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:15-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Therefore, we urge everyone not to engage in destructive lifestyles, including the use of all recreational drugs and the practice of aberrant sexual activity.

We also oppose any violence against others. Anyone who abuses, brings harm to, or verbally condemns others is not following Christ’s teaching. Instead, he told us to love our enemies, go the second mile, and turn the other cheek. (See Matthew 5:38-48.)The teachings of Christ are unambiguous, but not everyone who claims to be a Christian follows them.

Another virus is spreading as people engage in the activities of the LGBTQ community, putting themselves and others at risk. There is no question about the wisdom of the Bible’s teaching about sexual conduct. But unfortunately, every alternative to God’s way has caused injury to the participants and others, and monkeypox is just one more evidence of that truth.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: USA Today by Boris Q’va for July 18, 2022. SouthBendTribune.com

Emotional Debate on Abortion

Emotional Debate on Abortion - Adoption Alternative

With all the emotional debate on abortion, people are giving very little attention to finding a positive solution. Those who are pro-life give minimal attention to solutions other than expecting a woman to raise a child she doesn’t want. Those who are pro-choice loudly proclaim that a woman has a right to determine what happens to her body, even though the baby is not her body.

The data shows that for many women who choose abortion, the emotional and mental consequences of killing a child last a lifetime. Removing a fetus is not like removing tonsils or an appendix. Attempts to say that a fetus is an extension of the mother’s body are so at odds with all the scientific evidence that a thinking woman will know that the child she put to death was not a vestigial structure.

No one says this situation is easy, no matter what choice a woman makes. Both abortion and adoption tug at the heartstrings of a woman and are emotionally challenging. Adoption requires the strength to carry the child for nine months and then give it up to another family. However, that is an act of love because it involves self-sacrifice. By contrast, taking away a child’s life is entirely different from giving it a better life.

The debate between pro-life and pro-choice often ignores adoption. The latest numbers show that 36 families are waiting to adopt a child for every child available for adoption. Those of us who have adopted a child (and I have adopted three) have had to wait years for the child while wading through the adoption process. The Center for Disease Control reports that 57% of couples with fertility issues are willing to adopt, but the children are simply not available.

The Bible gives a picture of our relationship to God as an adoption. Galatians 4:1-8 and Romans 8:14-17 point out that we are the adopted children of God, and Ephesians 1:4-5 repeats that concept. Instead of the selfish and emotional debate on abortion, we need a solution, and adoption is a neglected alternative.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: AmericanAdoptions.com

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

The Gay Lifestyle and Monkeypox

Skeptics often say that the Bible is loaded with racial, homophobic, and judgmental condemnations, but these assertions are invalid. Jesus and the apostles were totally opposed to racial prejudice. Jesus demonstrated that in John 4 when he spoke with the Samaritan woman. Paul makes it clear in Galatians 3:26-29 that Christianity has no room for racial prejudice. The gay lifestyle is another issue.

You can’t read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 -7 and not see that He taught against any violence or malice toward those who reject God and the biblical admonitions on how we should live. By the same token, you can’t read Romans 1:18-32 and not see a rejection of the destructive, immoral behaviors that people practiced. It is true that LGBTQ and gay lifestyle choices are harmful, and one of the consequences of those lifestyles is a vast number of diseases.

In the past, we have seen HIV transmitted from animals to humans
by animal/human sexual relationships and then spread by gay lifestyle sexual practices. Now we are witnessing monkeypox cases on the rise. This is a DNA virus related to smallpox discovered in monkeys in 1958, with the first known human case in 1970. Medical researchers are now seeing cases in the western world, including the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control, on May 23, 2022, revealed that most of the cases in the U.S. have been in men who identified themselves as gay or bisexual. In Spain, the cases have been linked to a Pride celebration and in Belgium to a fetish celebration.

The virus does not spread easily but can be spread by skin-to-skin sexual contact. People with the virus may only have lesions in their mouth and throat, which transmit the virus from person to person during sexual relationships. Although not actually an STD, monkeypox is connected to sexual relationships. This shows again that God’s plan for marriage and sexual relationships is the best way to avoid the virus.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Science News, June 18, 2022, pages 6 – 7.

Christian Teaching Honors Fathers

Christian Teaching Honors Fathers

In the United States, the third Sunday in June is Father’s Day. Catholic countries of Europe have long celebrated fathers on March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Mother’s Day in 1914, but it wasn’t until 58 years later that President Richard Nixon set aside Father’s Day in 1972. Today, and from the beginning of the Church, Christian teaching honors fathers.

In the Christian concept, fathers are leaders, educators, and providers. Both Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 define the father’s role as a loving mentor to his children. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul emphasized that it is essential for fathers to provide for their families: “If any will not provide for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” Ephesians 5:25-33 tells husbands to love their wives as their own bodies and partner with them, so they act as one. Husbands are told to address the sexual needs of their wives in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 and to be islands of love beyond sexual relationships in Titus 2:2 and 1 John 3:11-24.

Being a father is challenging because it takes a special man to begin to live up to what God has called men to be. Unfortunately, our secular world has blurred the role of fathers to the point that even in the Church, it is difficult to find men for leadership who meet the description of 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Christian teaching honors fathers as they seek a higher calling than what the secular world understands. Let us join in celebrating this Father’s Day with prayer, thanksgiving, and renewed desire to live as God has called us to live.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

By Their Fruits, You Will Know Them

By Their Fruits, You Will Know Them

Jesus Christ warned that false religious teachers could be identified by the results of following them. “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The June 17, 2022 issue of The Week magazine contained several articles about problems in the world that are the fruit of false teachings.

One article addresses the application of the atheist “survival of the fittest” mentality to hospitality in Sweden. We have found that Christianity is not accepted very well in Sweden. That society prefers secular explanations of creation and a secular code of ethics. The article by Meryem Yebio on page 14 of The Week is titled, “Yes, Swedes Really Are So Unhospitable.” Yebio explains that by Swedish custom, when a family sits down for a meal, they will refuse to feed their guests. The defense of this behavior is that including guests would threaten their food supply.

Another article on page 15 has to do with a three-way conflict in India between secularists, Muslims, and Hindus relying on the teachings of their faiths. The dispute involves insults to Islam’s Prophet, the religious position of the Hindu ruling party Bharatiya Janata, and the Indian constitution. Finally, an article on the same page tells about water problems in Mexico, where the local wine production facility, with the backing of the area’s dominant religion, controls the water supply, leaving the poor without water.

Know them by their fruits as we see similar fruit problems in American denominations where materialism and racism have oppressed the poor and enhanced the rich. Some wealthy television preachers have flaunted a lifestyle few others can afford, including their contributors. No human-made religion has ever produced positive fruit, even though some claim to be “Christian.”

The fruit of Christ’s teaching includes sharing. Acts 2:41-47 describes the Church of the first century sharing what they had and even selling things their possessions to meet the needs of the less fortunate. Read chapters 5-7 of Matthew and see the difference between the teachings of Christ and what is happening in every other belief system on Earth. You can know them by their fruits.

Humans don’t have all the answers to a fruitful life. However, God does, and He has revealed those answers in His Word. So follow the teachings of Christ, and the fruit will be positive. But, on the other hand, following any human religion will only lead to negative results. You can see this in the current world situation and the struggles within America.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

Transgender Explosion and Gender Definitions

A Japanese man has decided he no longer wants to be a human and has chosen to be a dog named Toko. He had a professional dog costume designed for 2-million Japanese yen (more than $15,000). You can see him walking on four legs and rolling on the floor in YouTube videos. When inquirers asked why he wanted to be a dog, he said the question was difficult to answer. His case is an extreme example of people wanting to change who they are that has caused a transgender explosion and confusion of gender definitions.

The transgender explosion in the United States has now become a target for Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, and other comedians who refer to it as “trans extremism.” Gervais says, “The worst thing you can say today is ‘Women don’t have penises.’” The comedians point out that the root of the issue is the belief that gender is purely an internal feeling often stimulated by peer pressure. The point of no return occurs when doctors perform surgery and prescribe hormones. Making irreversible decisions at age 14 opens the door to terrible problems when you become an adult.

What are the motivations for a gender change? Each case is different, and none of them is simple. For a male, the ability to dominate in female sports competition may be attractive. Others may have feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or distrust. That is especially true if they have experienced abuse. The breakdown of the family unit, the complete abandonment of morals, and the impact of the entertainment industry all contribute to the transgender explosion in America.

However, the transgender explosion is just another symptom of what happens when a culture discards God and His Word. Every past culture on this planet has gone through a similar path. After a period of growth and strength, humans start to rely on immorality, materialism, naturalism, and racism, and the culture eventually collapses. Will America learn from history or repeat it? Only Christianity offers any hope that we will not follow the civilizations that have lived and died in the past.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Week for June 10, 2022, page 12.

Aliens Are Controlling Planet Earth?

Aliens Are Controlling Planet Earth

Seeing the design and wisdom in the natural world leads many people to realize it cannot be merely a product of chance. But, at the same time, they don’t want to attribute it to God because that would obligate them to live for God as Christ told us. So, they adopt the idea that aliens are controlling planet Earth as an alternative.

Enterprising hucksters have seized upon this thinking by offering a variety of claims about aliens from space. Nearly every day, someone claims evidence of alien visitation. Looking up at night, we can see much to fuel this thinking. There are roughly 3000 active satellites in orbit today, ranging from communication devices to military observation platforms and scientific research projects.

When you add to all of the active satellites, others that no longer function and all of the debris from various launches, the area around planet Earth is full of material to cause sightings. The term “Unidentified Flying Object” (UFO) has now become “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon” (UAP). That seems more correct because many of them are reflections, ball lightning, auroras, and drones.

Nothing in the Bible says this planet is the only place where God has created life. However, the size of the cosmos and the distances to places where aliens could exist is so massive that alien visitation is highly unlikely. For an alien to travel from even the closest star system to planet Earth would require over four years if they could travel at the speed of light, which is impossible. Any alien affecting things on Earth would have to know how to manipulate time and space. If they are that advanced, it would be simple for them to avoid detection.

The bottom line is that we should not expect aliens to solve our problems. Humans need to find a way to get along and manage our relationships. The one system that has proven itself when followed is the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every human effort to find a successful alternative to Matthew 5 – 7 has failed. “Survival of the fittest” thinking has led to slavery, war, and the likes of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Putin. Instead of suggesting that aliens are controlling planet Earth, we need to turn control over to God.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Critical Race Theory Won’t Solve the Problem

Critical Race Theory Won’t Solve the Problem

Critical Race Theory has become a hot issue today because one of the significant failings of America has been the way racial issues have been handled. My father had his first college teaching job at Talladega State Teacher’s College, an all-black college in Talladega, Alabama. I was the only white kid in the neighborhood and also in my first and second-grade classes at school. I never had a problem in Talladega, but when we moved to McComb, Illinois and people found out where I had gone to school, I experienced persecution because I was “a nigger lover.” I didn’t know what that word meant, but it began my education about race issues in America.

Today, we are being told about the “Tulsa Massacre,” something I had never heard of until recently. “Black lives matter” has made it impossible to avoid exposure to the entrenched problems facing all Americans, especially those of dark brown skin. Unfortunately, politicians have waded into this struggle and have made “race” the lens through which we view everything. They seem to think they have the power to legislate a solution to this issue. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an ideology that says people are either “oppressors” or the “oppressed,” “good” or “bad,” based entirely on their race. The conflict over CRT has resulted from its inclusion in the school curriculum at a very early age. That has produced a strong reaction, both pro, and con, in every corner of our country.

Atheists and skeptics have jumped into the promotion of CRT, pointing to the poor history of race relations in religious groups. I remember the Klan burning a cross in our front yard in Talladega because of where my father was teaching. I remember a terrible experience when I had a tonsillectomy. The surgeon pushed me, a blood-soaked kid, on a gurney out to my mother and told her, “Here, nigger lover, you clean him up.” My family’s closest friends have been people of color, and I have seen what they endure. However, teaching Critical Race Theory to first graders is not a solution to racial prejudice in America.

The Bible makes it clear that Christians must treat all people as equals and that we are all one. Therefore, the Church must take the lead in educating its members about race while reaching out to the oppressed. Galatians 3:27-28 says: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Changing the hearts of non-Christians is an uphill battle that can be won, but Critical Race Theory won’t do it.

— John N. Clayton © 2022