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

Moral Implications of Sex Change

Moral Implications of Sex Change

A moral issue facing teenagers in America today is whether to change their birth sex. Some young people claim that their gender is misapplied. In other words, some girls claim they are actually boys, and some boys claim they are girls. In addition to legal and relational issues, there are also moral implications of sex change.

Medical procedures are now available using drugs and surgery to implement the sex change some feel they should have. The cause of these feelings is highly complex and may involve environmental factors, social pressure, identity issues, the breakdown of the nuclear family, or just a social fad.

The trend has become very complicated on many levels. One area affected is sports competition which began with sex-changed Russian athletes who seemed to have an advantage in certain sports. In the legal area, parents of girls have brought court cases claiming they have been denied scholarships and awards because a transgender athlete had the body of a male. There are also cases where the sex of a child was changed without the parents’ permission or knowledge.

The Bible clearly spells out God’s design of male and female. To change the sex of a child with surgery, puberty blockers, and hormones means they will need a constant regimen of drugs for the remainder of their life. While court cases are swirling, many in the medical profession are concerned because the long-term effect is unknown. For that reason, Alabama and Arkansas have passed laws making it a crime to administer or prescribe these procedures and drugs to a child under the age of 19.

We have laws to protect people, such as requiring the use of seat belts, but the question of where human rights begin and end is often not very clear. We sympathize with parents and children who are struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the implications are often not spelled out in advance, and the moral implications of sex change are large.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Wire Reports for May 10, 2022, in the South Bend Tribune on that date (page 8A).

Alcohol Is a More Destructive Drug

Alcohol Is a More Destructive Drug

The media and medical profession pay a great deal of attention to the damaging effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, and opioids, but alcohol is a more destructive drug. In 2019, alcohol directly caused the deaths of almost 79,000 people in the United States from illnesses and car crashes. In 2020, the first full year of the COVID pandemic, more than 99,000 people under age 65 died directly from the use of alcohol. That was a 25.5% increase and more lives than COVID claimed that year for those under 65.

There is a widespread belief among many college students that you can’t have fun unless you drink. At the University of Notre Dame, Ted Mandell teaches a class called “Drunk on Film.” The subtitle of the course is “The Psychology of Storytelling with Alcohol and Its Effects on Alcohol Consumption.” Using film clips from movies and alcohol commercials, he helps students understand the problems with drinking and how advertisers and filmmakers seduce them into thinking that excessive alcohol consumption is normal and desirable.

One film that Mandell uses is a 20-minute clip from a documentary by Sut Jhally titled “Advertising at the Edge of Apocalypse.” It shows how alcohol advertising weds drinking to the sports industry and portrays alcohol as an alluring lifestyle. You would think that bright college students could see the indoctrination by the alcohol industry and its role in destructive sex and health issues. However, that is simply not the case. Stress is a part of the problem students face, but peer pressure is a more powerful motivator to drink.

From a Christian perspective, if you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) and should be cared for both physically and mentally, that should lead you to avoid alcohol. Seeing the results for people who drink alcohol and use other recreational drugs should be a motivator to avoid them. Our culture condemns the use of meth and crack but sanctions the use of alcohol and marijuana. Looking at the evidence should convince thinking people that alcohol is a more destructive drug.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported in The Week, April 8, 2022, and “Under the Influence” in Notre Dame Magazine, spring 2022.

One Daily Drink Can Shrink Your Brain

One Daily Drink Can Shrink Your Brain

A new study in the U.K. shows that even light alcohol consumption harms the human brain. The study involved more than 36,000 participants between 40 and 69. The conclusion was that as little as one daily drink can shrink your brain.

Many studies have shown that drinking alcohol has long-term effects on cardiovascular and brain function. Chronic excessive alcohol consumption contributes to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, accelerated aging, and malnutrition. However, some earlier studies suggested that limited alcohol consumption might benefit your health. The researchers involved in this study wanted to determine the effect of small to moderate alcohol consumption. The results were surprising.

The 36,678 participants reported their alcohol consumption, and the researchers performed an MRI scan on their brains. Researchers grouped the subjects by average daily intake of one, two, or three or more alcohol units–or none. A unit was about eight ounces of beer or three ounces of wine. The researchers adjusted for age, genetic ancestry, and sex.

Those who consumed even one alcohol unit per day showed noticeable differences in the brain structure, especially in the brain stem, putamen, and amygdala. Those areas regulate heart rate, breathing, learning, motor control, and processing of emotions. The regions of white and gray matter in the brain shrank exponentially with increased alcohol consumption. The brain’s gray matter is that area that processes information, and the white matter enables communication between gray matter regions. One daily drink can shrink your brain, leading to decreased cognitive ability.

The more units of alcohol consumed, the more significant were the differences compared to those who drank no alcohol. For example, for people who reported drinking three alcoholic units per day, their brains appeared to be 3.5 years older than those who drank none. For those who drank four units, their brains aged by ten years.

Interestingly, the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that men limit their consumption to two drinks per day. This study shows that one daily drink can shrink your brain. So the bottom line is that if you want your brain to stay young longer, avoid drinking alcohol altogether.

— Roland Earnst © 2022

You can read the complete study with charts on Nature Communications at THIS LINK.

Seniors Using Alcohol – Health Effects

Seniors Using Alcohol

We tend to think that drinking and the effects of alcohol are a problem for young people and middle-aged adults. There is no question that alcohol is the most destructive drug in today’s world. However, the view that young people need to avoid distilled alcoholic drinks but it is okay for seniors is dead wrong. We see much pain and suffering in our world today from different sources, but there is no reason for seniors using alcohol and adding to the problems that come with age.

Starting at about age 50, the average adult loses muscle, gains fat, and carries less water in the bloodstream. That means that seniors using alcohol may be more affected because it is less diluted than in younger people. In addition, the stomach and liver don’t produce as much of the enzyme called ADH, which processes alcohol. As a result, a person may not be aware that the alcohol content in their body is higher than in the past, and they may not realize the damaging effects. Our ability to perceive the effects of alcohol also diminishes after age 50, so we may ignore changes in vision, balance, and hearing caused by alcohol.

For seniors using alcohol, the aging process can be accelerated because it pulls water from your body. It also causes the shrinking of the brain, especially the cortex, which controls our executive function. In addition, Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says that over 200 medical conditions are made worse by the consumption of alcohol. These include but are not limited to cancer, immune system disorders, liver problems, stroke, and diabetes.

There is a lot of literature blaming God for the age-related disabilities inflicting our world. While not drinking at all doesn’t guarantee a person won’t have health issues, a very high percentage of age-related diseases are impacted by the abuse we tend to heap on our bodies. That abuse includes not only alcohol but recreational drugs and nicotine. For Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), and we need to take care of that temple. Learning how to do that is vital for all of us.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: AARP Bulletin for March 2022, pages 18-19.

End-Times Religion, Ukraine, and Jesus

End-Times Religion, Ukraine, and Jesus

Any rational human being has to be horrified by the tragic acts of Vladimir Putin as he orchestrates a military attack on innocent people. As Putin directs the killing of babies, he is also causing incredible loss of resources needed for the peace and well-being of millions of people. This is the act of a madman drunk with power and in total rejection of God. In America, we are disheartened by teachers of end-times religion. Those people are supposed to be Christian leaders, but they are showing incredible ignorance of the teachings of Jesus.

End-times religion is based on the doctrine of dispensationalism. One of the best known of these leaders is Pat Robertson. He claims that Putin “is being compelled by God to invade Ukraine, but that wasn’t his goal. His goal was to move against Israel.” Robertson attempts to base his claim on his interpretation of Old Testament prophesy.

Robertson is just one of several end-times religion preachers who misinterpret prophesy and fail to understand what the Kingdom of Christ is all about. It is “Christian Zionism,” which promotes the idea that Jesus is going to return in something called the “rapture” to take his people away. The doctrine says that He will return to conduct a war against Arab countries, Russia, China, and Iran. Then He will establish Israel as the one world power with Jerusalem as the world’s capital and Jesus as the supreme king. This teaching is destructive, and it opposes the Bible on every turn.

The word “rapture” comes from the Latin “raptus,” which is the translation of the Greek word “harpazo,” meaning to be caught up or caught away. We find “harpazo” used in Acts 8:39, 2 Corinthians 12:2, and Revelation 12:5. Christian Zionists misuse Matthew 24:39-41; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 as references to back up their teaching. There are several versions of this teaching, but they are all in contradiction to the words of Jesus, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

The biblical picture of Christ’s second coming is not political, nationalistic, or geographic. Second Peter 3:10-12 indicates the entire physical universe will be annihilated. Revelation 20:1 and 21:1 tell us that the cosmos and Earth will vanish. This material world will be dissolved, and all the ills that go with it will be gone.

End-times religion conveys a discouraging false promise. None of us wants more war, pain, politics, hate, racism, pollution, or tears. The invasion of Ukraine is the result of atheism, greed, power struggles, and materialism conducted by a madman. It is not endorsed by God, and it opposes all that Jesus taught. Jesus weeps with us at the pain inflicted by Satan’s agents as they show that they are without compassion or empathy.

— John N. Clayton © 2022