The persecution of Christians inChina continues to be severe. It is estimated that there are 60 million Christians in China, but half of them are in unregistered churches. Our Chinese materials are mostly in the hands of unregistered Christians, and a vast percentage of those are in university settings. A new tactic against the gospel is a Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government.
American missionaries were able to take large numbers of Chinese Bibles into the country before the government’s crackdown. The Chinese government has answered that by producing a state version of the Bible. A high school textbook published by the Chinese government quotes their version of John 8:3-11. This passage is the account of a woman taken in adultery and brought before Jesus by the religious leaders. The leaders cite the Old Testament law saying that she should be stoned. In verse 7, Jesus says, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The Chinese government quote of this passage is quite different. In the Communist version, Jesus says that the law has to be enforced, and he stones the woman to death.
This has been called “the Communist Christ,” and it is a very different Christ from the one we read about in the Bible. It is also a vivid demonstration of what happens when Christianity gets mixed up with politics. The atheistic Communist government twists the biblical teaching to fit their agenda.
We emphasize Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5-7 (the Sermon on the Mount) and Matthew 22:21 (about rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s). We do that keep biblical teaching pure and not tainted by the political agenda of the day. Bible revision by the Communist Chinese Government is nothing new. People who claimed to be Christians distorted Christ’s teaching to justify slavery in America. Others today use the Bible to justify abortion and immorality.
In the Dark Ages, nuns of the Roman Catholic Church would put a “baby box” near the door of the convent where they lived. They did this because people were leaving babies on the doorstep, frequently in unsanitary conditions. The baby boxes contained swaddling clothes and were kept clean. In America today, an organization called Safe Haven Baby Boxes has revived the baby box idea with some 21st-century technology.
The Safe Haven Baby Box is installed in an exterior wall of a fire station or hospital. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon the placement of a newborn inside. There is an interior door that allows a worker to reach the baby from the inside. When someone places a baby in the box, it triggers an alarm, so workers know to pick up the baby. The boxes are temperature controlled to prevent risk to the baby, although the average wait time to pick up the infant is three minutes.
The baby box idea has had strong support from Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. It’s an obvious response to the abortion problem in America. It allows a woman who has a baby a “red tape free” way of making sure the child has a legal adoption while keeping the birth mother anonymous. Since the program began in April of 2016, there have been 52 baby boxes installed in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Eight babies have been surrendered in Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and three were surrendered to firefighters at baby box locations. Also, Safe Haven has referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers.
This year, one issue not getting media attention is whether college officials can censor public speeches that promote religious issues on campus. In many cases, students promoting Christian values or Christianity as a life choice have been punished or expelled for doing so. Most of the cases have been settled out of court, but the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case.
Uzuegbunam is a young man who was talking about his faith in Christ at Gwinnett College in Georgia. College officials stopped him and disciplined him for his words. The college maintains that the constitution does not protect speech sharing religious beliefs, and Chike Uzuegbunam filed a lawsuit against the school.
Uzuegbunam’s case will bring before the Supreme Court the question of whether universities can ignore the First Amendment and shut down religious speech on campus. This subject has enormous implications for the whole country. Does the government or universities have the power to stop religious proclamations in public?
In her 1903 book The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall described Voltaire’s attitude toward a book he disliked in this way: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That has become a mantra of freedom of speech, but that viewpoint is being challenged today. For Christians trying to follow the example and command to preach the gospel, this discussion is critical.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chike Uzuegbunam’s case, and you can learn more about it HERE.
It’s an avoidable “pandemic.” I put the word “pandemic” in quotes because using a drug is not a virus or bacteria. It is also not self-replicating and does not afflict innocent people. The pandemic we are talking about is cannabis hyperemesis syndrome.
As I write this article, eleven states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 30 states have decriminalized it. One rarely publicized consequence of repeated marijuana use is recurring attacks of painful and protracted vomiting. It can continue until the esophagus rips, and the person bleeds to death. Since medical experts first identified this condition in 2004, the number of U. S. cases of hyperemesis has grown to over two million per year.
Your body stores cannabinoids in fat tissue, so weight loss, fasting, or alcohol consumption can trigger their release, resulting in hyperemesis. Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2009. Since then, visits to emergency rooms for hyperemesis have doubled. The cannabis plant contains 100 different cannabinoids, but selective breeding has contributed to the hyperemesis surge. The THC content in marijuana tripled from 1995 to 2014, but the CBD content has been cut in half. CBD is supposed to decrease pain and anxiety.
Our society has turned away from God and the joy, fulfillment, love, and security He gives us. We will not find spiritual contentment in any chemical or alternative lifestyle. The acceptance of marijuana in our culture is one more tool of Satan to bring pain and destruction. As Christians, we must oppose it and this avoidable pandemic.
November started with a debate about religion, LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. It began with Pope Francis saying that “gay people are children of God and have the right to be in a family.” In the past, the Pope has said that a “family” is a man, a woman, and their children. In 2016, the Pope said, “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” The issue becomes critical for Catholic social service organizations that refuse to place foster children with same-sex couples.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been serving abused, neglected, and orphaned children for more than 200 years. Because of a court ruling that the Archdiocese was discriminating against gays by refusing to place children with them, they no longer are allowed to care for children in need. The Archdiocese is suing on the grounds that the government should not force them to violate their sincerely held beliefs. The suit has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This issue will impact all religious groups that are involved in caring for children. Like many court cases, the decision is going to be based on secular research information. Do children need a mother and father image to have a stable and productive life? Those of us who work with children have seen the struggles that single-parent children have. Some do very well, but they struggle. Many secular psychologists and sociologists maintain that it makes no difference, and the courts have listened to their testimony. Those of us in the “trenches” would disagree.
There are no easy solutions to this dilemma. The constitution tells us that everyone has rights that are protected by the government. The problem comes when those rights collide with someone else’s rights, such as in the conflict between LGBTQ rights, children, and the courts. The real solution to this issue is to eliminate the need for agencies to provide child-care and protection. While that is not possible, every step to educate people and lead them to God’s plan will reduce the pain for all concerned.
The 2020 voting is finally over, and we can learn many lessons from the elections, the candidates, the party platforms, and the conduct of politicians in general. It would be nice to have someone running for president that a Christian could vote for instead of having to choose between the lesser of evils.
We have seen false statements to such an extent that there are “fact finders” who do nothing but point out lies, misrepresentations, and exaggerations of the candidates. “Survival of the fittest” seems to be the moral code of our time, or more accurately, the non-moral platform. Someone asked one political speaker who supported abortion, “When does a baby become a human, at conception, at birth, or at what stage of the pregnancy?” The response was, “I don’t know. I haven’t considered that issue.” The question that should be clear is, “How do you take a position on that issue if you’ haven’t considered that issue’?”
Lessons from the elections show us the difference between Christ’s spiritual teachings and the political speeches and party platforms based on the physical beliefs of today’s culture. When Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,” He was speaking of a political system very similar to America today. The Roman government provided some physical stability, which Paul refers to in Romans 13. Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship on numerous occasions, but he certainly did not endorse the morality of the Roman rulers. They allowed prostitution and allowed unwanted babies to be thrown into the streets to die.
The message for Christians in the 21st century is that we can enjoy the blessings of American citizenship but not endorse our culture’s morality, which is sanctioned by the politicians. The use of recreational drugs, the endorsement of prostitution and abortion, and the destruction of the environment are all at odds with what the Bible teaches. When Jesus and the apostles talked about rejecting the world, they were referring to similar destructive practices.
The one bright spot in the lessons from the elections is that we can be shining lights in a world that is getting darker and darker. We remember Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:14-16: “It is you who are the light of the world. A town cannot be hidden if it is built on a hilltop. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl but rather on a lampstand so it gives light to everyone who is in the house. In a like manner, let your light shine before the eyes of your fellow-men that they may see the good that you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.”
The Week Magazine (October 23, 2020, page 11) had some interesting data on abortions in the United States. Here are the abortion rates per 1000 women ages 15-44 in some of the states:
Arkansas 6.2 Oklahoma 6.2 Alabama 8.3 Mississippi 8.6 California 17.3 New York 27.4 New Jersey 28.2
Middlebury College in Vermont conducted the study of abortions in the United States. If the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, the national reduction in abortions would be 12.8%, and 90% of the American abortion industry would remain intact.
The main point of all this is that laws and court rulings cannot control people’s moral choices. If we are to stop infanticide in America, it will have to be done by changing the thinking of our population. The question remains as to whether a woman’s personal rights supersede the personal rights of a child.
This reminds me of the story of a man who came to the United States of America. He came because he heard that it was the land of the free, and you could do anything you wanted because all human rights were guaranteed. On his first day in America, he saw a man he didn’t like the looks of, so he punched him in the nose. He was arrested and brought before a judge. “I don’t understand,” the man said, “I thought America was the land of the free!” The judge said, “That it is, but your freedom ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
By the end of 2020, the annual total of Bibles printed will be 95-million. That is nearly double the number printed 20 years earlier. Most of us living in North America take Bible availability for granted. Almost every day, I get a catalog offering a variety of Bibles in all kinds and sizes, and with a growing variety of translations.
In 1900, five-million Bibles were printed, and you could find them in motel rooms everywhere. As an atheist, I stole my first Bible from a hotel room. In high school in 1955, Bibles were distributed to every student at the start of the school year. In 60 years, we have moved to the point where schools are sued for allowing Bible distribution, and schools take disciplinary actions against a child or teacher for bringing a Bible to school.
More to the point is the fact that in many countries, Bibles are hard to find. In 1900 there were 2300 people for every one Bible printed. Now that figure is 82 people per Bible. What that tells us is that even today, God’s Word is not available to a vast number of people. There are ministries attempting to change that. It is easy to understand why morals are very different in various parts of the world when people don’t have access to God’s instructions for conduct.
As secularism, atheism, and paganism continue to attack the Bible, we can expect to see more conflict and power struggles. Conflict is rising in America and continues in much of Africa and Asia. The situation highlights the mission of this ministry. The total of Bibles printed means little if people don’t bother to read them because they don’t believe in God. A presentation of the evidence for God, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus, along with the living example of real Christians, can change the world.
The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is a publication that provides articles on faith written by scientists who believe in God. In the September 2020 issue, editor James Peterson tells a story about standing in line at a home improvement store. While waiting, he had a discussion with a young couple about wearing a face mask. The two people’s response tells a lot about the condition of our society, thanks to the rejection of God and the Bible as a guide to life. Here is the discussion:
Peterson to Girl: “Are you aware that people wear surgical masks like the one I am wearing to protect other people, not themselves? I know for myself that I don’t like wearing a mask, and it does not protect me. It is to protect you.” Girl to Peterson: “Masks don’t make any difference. You are either going to get the virus or not.” Peterson: “So it is all fate? Nothing you can do?” She nods with resignation. Peterson to her friend: “You see it that way too?” Friend to Peterson: “You don’t want to know what I think.” Peterson to friend: “You sound like you may be angry.” Friend to Peterson in a loud voice: “I am. I don’t give a **** about anybody but me. If it doesn’t help me, I’m not doing it, and you and nobody else is going to make me!!”
Peterson wrote, “So in 30 seconds flat, I had a reminder that we have our work cut out for us, and it matters.” As a Christian and a scientist, Peterson knows that wearing a face mask is only one small indicator of the state of our society. Later in Peterson’s article, he says, “Stuff 300 chimpanzees in a plane and they will tear the plane apart. Most humans just think about it.” His point is that evolutionists suggest that altruism and cooperation result in an evolutionary advantage for passing on our genes.
The American public’s response to the pandemic has been revealing and shows how the rejection of God has already influenced our society. Young adults will attend a party or go to a beach, knowing that they are exposing themselves to a contagious disease. The desire for pleasure while believing they are fit and will survive the virus drives them onward. Thinking of anything but their own immediate comfort causes a vast percentage of our population to refuse social distancing and wearing a face mask.
Some religious people who might care about others have accepted the political propaganda that the whole thing is fake until they see older family members die from the virus. Indeed, our work is cut out for us. We need to get back to basics. There is a God, and He has told us how to live. Taking care of the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and showing love for others (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:18) should affect how we deal with the people around us.
One of the issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised is the use of animals for food. People in many Asian countries eat animals that Americans would not think of using for food. An example is eating dogs for dinner.
Many years ago, while lecturing in London, a Chinese friend took me to an oriental restaurant for dinner. Since the menu was in Chinese, my host suggested that I let him order the meal. He said that he would get a variety of food so I could experience the diet of people who live in the area where he was born. I agreed but wrote down each item that was brought to me to sample.
When I got back to Indiana, I asked one of my students who spoke Chinese what I had eaten. He didn’t want to tell me. The first item was horse, the second was dog, and the third was cat. It was actually very good, but if he had told me that I was eating dog before it came to me on a plate, I am sure I would have balked at eating it.
The Week magazine (August 28, 2020, page 11) reported on eating dogs for dinner. The report says that the North Korean government is confiscating all pet dogs for use as food. Hungry North Koreans regard feeding a pet as wasteful, and the Communist government labels keeping a pet as a “bourgeois extravagance.” Authorities in North Korea are forcing households with pet dogs to surrender the animals for dog-meat distribution to restaurants and meat markets.
The COVID-19 issue originating in Chinese wet markets reminds us that what we eat can be an essential factor in human diseases. Knowing what dogs eat, where they go, and what their hygiene is like raises some serious concerns about what diseases they might carry. The Bible tells us to take care of our bodies as they are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Being careful about what we eat and how our food is handled and prepared should be part of caring for our bodies.