Life Is Hard, but There Is Hope

Life Is Hard, but There Is Hope

Life is hard. I doubt that anyone would argue with that. Jesus knew about this and spoke of it. In Matthew 24:4-9, Jesus told his disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you … you will hear of wars and rumors of wars… nation will rise against nation … There will be famines and earthquakes … you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me…” He goes on to say that scammers will be present, and the love of many will grow cold. Non-Christians will view those words of Jesus as a reason to reject Christianity.

Many of today’s issues are rooted in the fact that life is hard. Life challenges lead to euthanasia, prostitution, drug use, alcoholism, and a large percentage of mental illnesses. The most fundamental reason for this dilemma is that there is no purpose in living for those who reject the teachings of Christ and the Bible.

Beginning in the book of Genesis, the Bible presents the theme that a war is going on between good and evil. It starts in the Garden of Eden and is portrayed in the Book of Job. The New Testament clearly defines the conflict. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against … the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.” Ephesians 3:9-12 explains the purpose of the Church in this war. Atheism dodges the issue of evil by simply denying that it exists, but reality says otherwise.

Yes, life is hard, but for Christians, life is the worst thing you will ever have to face. Romans 8:28 tells us that God will take the awful things in life and make good things come from them. Sometimes, those good things are spiritual, which is what life is about. Don’t defeat the purpose of your existence by denying the reality of the spiritual warfare in life.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Genetics Dictate Biological Gender

Genetics Dictate Biological Gender

A significant issue in America today is what to do with young people who have decided to change their gender. Without getting into the theological issues, the scientific fact is that a person’s genetics dictate biological gender. Men and women are biologically different.

One of several demonstrations I used in my physics class was to have a boy and a girl stand with their heels against the wall and lean over to pick up something. Another demonstration is to have a man and woman of equal height kneel with their head in their hands and then put their hands behind their backs. Women can do that easily, while a man will fall on his face. This is due to the anatomical makeup of women compared to men. A woman’s pelvis is typically larger than a man’s pelvis. Thus, women tend to have a lower center of gravity. The position of the center of gravity in women is 55% of the total height, while in men it is 57%. Women’s center of gravity is vertically lower than men’s because their bodies are larger in the pelvis, but their shoulders are narrower.

The point of this is that genetics dictate biological gender. Changing your gender does not change the anatomical makeup given to you at birth. In practical terms, what does that mean for young people today?

1) In athletics, the birth gender will dictate the competence in certain sports. You won’t see trans males playing in the NBA. In swimming and track, there will be striking differences in performance with trans females who have a male body.
2) The long-term effect of hormones used to maintain a gender change is unknown, but most medical experts say it will not last for more than a decade, if that. The probability that a trans person will have a shortened life expectancy is very high.
3) Surgical procedures to accommodate trans changes cannot be reversed.
4) Some will use the whole trans agenda to take advantage of others. Allowing a transgender student to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice is going to lead to abuse by typical non-trans teenage students. Boys who want to go into a girl’s restroom and ogle females can do so by simply declaring they are trans.
5) Private colleges will not be able to have dormitories that are only for one sex. This is a massive problem with conservative Christian colleges who, for religious reasons, wish to remain able to offer boys’ dorms and girls’ dorms free of the opposing gender.

A U.S. appeals court rejected the Biden administration’s effort to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that align with their chosen gender. The Biden administration was trying to protect the rights of LGBTQ students, but the question is whether they were violating the rights of non-LGBTQ students.

Genetics dictate biological gender. We suggest that from a Christian apologetics standpoint, the result will be catastrophic whenever humans try to change God’s plan and design for anything. This is just one more example of that.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Biden administration loses bid to revive legal protections for LGBTQ students” by Daniel Wiessner on Reuters news service (June 14, 2024).

Negatives of Marijuana Use

Negatives of Marijuana Use

We live in Buchanan, Michigan, which some have called “The Marijuana Capitol of the Midwest.” Others have dubbed the town “Bucannabis.” I have lost count of how many marijuana outlets there are between Buchanan and Niles, Michigan, but there must be at least a dozen. It has been interesting to see the proponents pushing the supposed benefits while ignoring the negatives of marijuana use.

It is true that the number of drug arrests in our area hasn’t changed much since the legalization was instituted. However, we see a high percentage of out-of-state license plates on cars at these establishments, so our local data may not be meaningful. Commercial sales of marijuana have exceeded 48 million users in the United States, while medical issues are the most disturbing aspect of the negatives of marijuana use.

Medical information is now available in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the British Medical Journal, and from studies done at Columbia University. We know that cannabis has a very negative influence on the outcomes of pregnancy. Recent studies have linked marijuana to bad health outcomes involving the lungs, hearts, brains, and gonads of users. Smoking weed increases the risk of clogged arteries and heart failure. It has also been linked to chronic bronchitis, and cannabis plants bring metal pollutants such as lead into the user’s bloodstream.

The biblical teaching that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:16) tells us the importance of caring for our bodies. That includes not engaging in the use of recreational drugs as we learn the harm they can cause to our bodies. As the negatives of marijuana use become apparent, we see the wisdom of God’s instructions.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Scientific American for March 2024, pages 20-21.

A Time to Honor Fathers

A Time to Honor Fathers

Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and India. In the U.S., Father’s Day began in West Virginia on July 5, 1908, as a one-time commemoration of the death of 360 men which left about 1,000 children fatherless in the worst coal mining accident in U.S. history. Many local communities had their own Father’s Day celebrations, but it did not become a national holiday until 1966. That’s when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as a time to honor fathers. President Richard Nixon followed that in 1972.

The role of being a father is of great importance to Christians. The Old Testament concept of “Father” was simply an “ancestor.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for father is “pater” and was a title of honor. Ephesians 6:2 tells children, “You must honor your father and mother, which is an important commandment with a promise.” Verse 4 tells fathers, “Do not rouse your children to resentment but bring them up with Christian discipline and instruction.” The teachings of Jesus changed society from matriarchal, where women raised the children, to a system in which fathers take an essential role in child training.

In Philippians 2:22, Paul writes, “But you know that Timothy has proven himself to be like a son in fellowship with his father and has shared my servitude to proclaim the gospel.” In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not fret and harass your children lest their spirit should be broken.” As a public school science teacher, I saw the struggle that kids without fathers had to overcome. Their mothers did their best, but a fatherless child has no father image to relate to. Boys had no example set before them, and girls did not have a valid male image to relate to as they grew up.

Too many men do not have the courage or strength to be a father. Often, a man who has fathered children runs away and leaves the job of raising the child to the mother. As the father of three children, I know how difficult it is to be a father. Father’s Day is a time to honor fathers and reflect on our relationship with God, who wants to be a father to each of us. God desires us to reflect His love back to Him. Remember that “God so loved the world (us), that He sent His one and only Son into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world” (John 3:16-17).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

THC Problem with Children

The THC Problem with Children

Discover magazine reported an incident that demonstrates the THC problem with children. A five-year-old Colorado girl ate some gummy bears that contained THC. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and many other states, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol ) is the psychoactive drug from cannabis. Edible THC products include candy and cookies, which are attractive to children. In this case, the parents and doctors could not awaken the girl, and she remained unconscious for 16 hours.

Hospital-reported cases of THC exposure in children under the age of six increased more than 1,000 percent between 2017 and 2021. About a third of the children were treated and released, but 15% required hospital admission, and 8% were sent to intensive care. The THC problem with children is that it is concentrated in candy, cookies, or brownies that appeal to kids. Children overdose on THC, which remains in their body fat for several days, and there is no antidote for THC poisoning and no reversal agent or special treatment. 

In the Colorado case, the family had no forms of marijuana or cannabis in their home, and they did not know she had eaten the THC-laced gummy candy. They had been on a camping trip where other campers had given the gummies to the girl. This is a new concern for parents and a problem that will grow. The marijuana industry has no supervision or control, and cities that have opted to allow unrestricted marijuana distribution are going to see increasing problems as kids find products that give them a drug high.

We live in an area of Michigan where marijuana retail shops are very active and numerous. As we drive around our community, we see many license plates from surrounding states where marijuana is still illegal, and often, children are in the cars. Even families with no forms of marijuana must be cautious about allowing their children to visit other homes where THC edibles might be present. 

Our society has rejected God’s plan for responsible living. Many of our neighbors and friends cannot give a reason or purpose for their existence. When you see no purpose in life, seeking an escape from problems and finding a way to feel good becomes a priority. The THC problem with children is just beginning to rear its ugly head, and we must make parents aware of the dangers. We must also help people realize that God has created them for a purpose and that life and health are gifts worth protecting.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Discover magazine for May/June 2024, pages 20-23.

Medicalized Child Abuse?

Sex-change in children is Medicalized Child Abuse

One of the most inflammatory issues of our day is the question of children who decide they want to change their gender. A team led by Dr. Hilary Cass, a renowned British pediatrician, recently produced a 388-page report based on four years of research into trans care in Britain. The UK’s Sunday Times reported that “Trans activists have bullied politicians and doctors into embracing ‘medicalized child abuse’ and cowed dissenters into silence.” That is a challenge to the same groups in America, but some public school counselors should be added to the group of abusers.

The number of British children referred for transgender drug and surgery treatments rose from 250, mostly boys, in 2012 to 5,000, mostly girls, in 2022. The concerns of medical experts like Dr. Cass are not because they are transphobic but because they are starting to see the consequences of medical sex-change procedures. The treatments for “gender dysphoria” have lifetime effects, including a loss of bone health and fertility, making the subjects lifelong patients for medical treatment. 

The Times newspaper points out that the problem is likely more serious than anyone realizes because 6 out of 7 gender treatment centers refused to give data to researchers. Although this report is from Britain, we suspect the situation is worse in the United States. We have been personally involved in a case where a school counselor led a 14-year-old child to have puberty blockers and surgery. The cases we have had contact with involve children who needed psychological help in dealing with relationships. 

Attempting to change God’s creation and design of the human reproductive system will cause children a great deal of pain and uncertainty. We suggest that medicalized child abuse is not the way to help disturbed children find their identity and live meaningful lives. We will see an increase in evidence for the destructive nature of medical gender-changing treatments for young people. God’s design works, but in today’s world, many reject God’s plan. 

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: cass.independent-review and The Week for May 3, 2024, page 14.

Technology Can Negatively Affect Learning

Technology Can Negatively Affect Learning

As an educator, I’ve observed a concerning trend. People, particularly students, have become reliant on technology such as computers and smartphones for writing and communication. It’s not uncommon to see them struggle to think and compose thoughts without their electronic devices. This reliance on technology is evident even in our discussions about complex topics like God’s existence or the Bible’s inspiration. When asked about a basic fact, many respond by saying they have to check with Google, Alexa, or Siri. Educational psychologists are warning that this over-reliance on technology can negatively affect learning. 

A Scientific American article by Charlotte Hu reports on studies dating back to 2014 showing technology’s negative effect on learning. Hu points out that research has shown that people can type notes with very little brain activity. Many years ago, I worked for David Segal, a leader in the use of learning tests. He once told me, “American education is moving material from a professor’s notes to a student’s test paper with as little interference as possible in between.” We have advanced that one step further by saying it moves from a professor’s laptop to a student’s with no absorption by the human brain in between.

Transcribing in longhand is slower than typing into an electronic device, requiring the writer to pay closer attention. One research study used a head covering with 256 electrodes to detect brain activity when students handwrote and typed words. When students wrote the words, there was widespread brain function, but when the same student typed the words, brain activity was minimal, showing that technology can negatively affect learning.

When I taught physics to high school kids, we would calculate what should happen in a physical situation. Then, the students designed and conducted experiments to test their predictions. I would work through a solution on the blackboard, doing the math in my head. As hand-held calculators became more advanced, students would plug numbers into a program in the calculator to get the same answer. Later, one of the students I had done this with in class was making change for me at a drive-in restaurant. I gave the student a dollar bill to pay for a 67-cent item, but the student couldn’t give me the correct change without using a calculator. 

The human brain is designed to process information and record relevant data. Technology can negatively affect learning when an electronic device takes over some of that process, bypassing the brain. Children need to have their brains stimulated and relevant information stored in their heads, including memorizing Bible verses. Perhaps a factor in the loss of belief in God and the Bible today is that technology is taking over our thinking. Those who created the technology are not as capable as the One who created our brains

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Hands-on” by Charlotte Hu in the May 2024 issue of Scientific American, page 134

If Religious Books Are Not Widely Circulated 

If Religious Books Are Not Widely Circulated wrote Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster in 1825 by Sarah Goodridge

Daniel Webster was an early American lawyer and statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress. He also served as the 14th and 19th U.S. Secretary of State under presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. Here is a prescient quote from Webster.

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.” ― Daniel Webster

Webster’s prediction of what America would be like “if the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land” is indeed coming true. We need political leaders today who recognize that.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Quoted in GoodReads.com

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.