The problem of human suffering has been at the center of debates over the existence of God for hundreds of years. However, in recent years, increasing evidence has come to light that, to a large extent, dangerous chemicals cause human suffering.
In April 2021, a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos from food. Mounting evidence indicates that it and other organophosphate pesticides are related to a host of human ills, especially in children.
The federal agency regulating nuclear waste recently proposed putting “very low level” nuclear waste into unlicensed landfills. We know that nuclear radiation increases the risk of cancer, birth defects, immune disorders, and a host of other health issues.
The state of Washington decided to get rid of toxic firefighting foam by shipping it to an out-of-state incinerator. Burning the foam releases poly-fluoroalkyl substances, which can stay in the human body for decades and are related to cancer.
The federal government plans to reopen the Homestead Detention Center in Homestead, Florida, to detain migrant children. That center is near a military superfund site saturated with contaminants linked to cancer, kidney failure, blood disorders, and developmental damage. Dangerous chemicals cause human suffering.
The list goes on and on of decisions that can ultimately bring pain and suffering to humans. We can’t blame God for what we do to ourselves by selfishness, bad judgment, greed, and abuse of God’s gifts.
One of the most famous authors on the world literary scene was Leo Tolstoy. He is probably best known for War and Peace but is well respected for his other novels. In 1890 Tolstoy wrote an essay titled, “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” For Tolstoy, “stupefacients” were anything that interfered with the rigorous application of a person’s conscience, and he believed they caused most human problems. Tolstoy’s list of stupefacients included wine, beer, spirits, narcotics, and tobacco.
The Bible agrees with Tolstoy. Numerous Old Testament passages tell of trouble coming from the use of alcohol. (For example, see Genesis 9:20-24, Leviticus 10:9, Deuteronomy 29:6, and Judges 13:4-7.) The condemnation of alcohol use in passages like Proverbs 20:1 and 23:21 make it clear this is not God’s will for us to stupefy ourselves with alcohol. There is no product of humanity that has caused more misery, ill health, disruption, and violence than alcohol.
So here we are in 2021, legalizing another stupefacient. We already see the ill effects of the use of marijuana, and yet 70% of all Americans support the legalization of recreational pot. Nearly 80% of people in the 18-29 age category support it. Celebrities like Willie Nelson, Cheech and Chong, Woody Harrelson, and Bill Maher have promoted marijuana as a way to find peace in a confusing world.
People made similar claims about alcohol when prohibition was the law. The promoters of alcohol won, and the result of the legalization of alcohol brought in tax dollars. At the same time, it has cost far more in alcohol-related accidents, broken homes, and broken lives. The legalization of marijuana is also riding on the claim of increased tax dollars.
Tolstoy was a Russian writing in the late 19th century, and he was unsuccessful in turning Russia away from the use of stupefacients. The Russian Republic was destroyed and replaced with Communism with dictators like Lenin and Stalin. The question is, “Will America survive our 21st-century involvement with stupefacients?”
One of the challenges of medical science is how to test a new drug or procedure on humans. If people are nothing more than animals, science can justify experimenting on human subjects for the common good. For example, German and Japanese scientists conducted experiments on World War II prisoners against their will. After the war, international courts prosecuted German doctors and scientists for war crimes related to human experimentation. Japanese researchers did not face trial because the U.S. agreed not to prosecute in exchange for access to their data.
Out of the prosecution of German researchers came what is called “The Nuremberg Code.” It involves ten statements describing the ethical standards for experimenting on human subjects in research. In simple terms, the ten statements are:
Participants must give consent without stress or force.
The research must be able to show benefits for the good of society.
Findings should justify the experiment.
Research should avoid mental suffering and physical harm.
No one should be killed or injured.
Risks should not outweigh the benefits.
The research should protect participants from injury or death.
The researcher must be qualified to do the research.
Participants should be able to stop participating at any time.
The researcher must be prepared to stop the study at any time.
A classic example of how far things can go in today’s world, even in the United States, is the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Male Negro.” That study continued from 1932 to 1972. The United States Public Health Service recruited 600 African American men with syphilis offering them free meals and burial stipends for the right to their bodies after they died. Unfortunately, no medical treatment was made available to those men, and they were subjected to painful spinal taps. You can imagine what they went through with 40 years of untreated syphilis raging in their bodies.
Looking at what happened in this terrible event brings to mind the struggles in America today. In the past, society considered blacks to be less human than whites. For that reason, causing them pain and premature death to benefit the scientific establishment was deemed to be acceptable. The “black lives matter” movement of today is rooted in this kind of history.
More to the point is that science ignored the teachings of the Bible. The Bible tells us that humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and the body is the temple of God’s Spirit, and defiling the temple invites God’s wrath (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). That means not caring for every person is a rebellion against God. Experimenting on human subjects in the Tuskegee experiment can only be justified if you view blacks as less than human. It also requires embracing the notion that survival of the fittest means it is acceptable to sacrifice the less fit to benefit the fit. Many people today do not accept the Christian view that all humans are special because we are created in the image of God. We can see the result of that in the chaos tearing at the fabric of society.
One of the challenging situations in America today is what to do about the rights of Christian colleges and universities and LGBTQ people. On June 8. 2021, the U.S. Justice Department filed a court statement to defend the LGBTQ exemption for religious colleges from the federal civil rights law. This means that the Justice Department intends to continue allowing Christian colleges who believe that homosexuality is wrong to exclude LGBTQ students from their schools.
Involved in all of this is the fact that the Education Department provides billions of dollars of federal money for scholarships and grants to students attending Christian colleges and universities. The two opposing organizations involved are the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP). CCCU says they are afraid the Biden administration “may be openly hostile” to their cause. They say they have a First Amendment right to promote traditional religious beliefs about sexuality and gender. REAP maintains that this is anti-LGBTQ hate and causes severe harm to LGBTQ students.
Presently 40 LGBTQ students at conservative religious colleges and universities are suing the Department of Education for its role in the LGBTQ exemption for religious colleges. The case is Hunter versus the U.S. Department of Education, and the outcome will have substantial implications for Christian schools and colleges in the United States. While this dispute is between the LGBTQ community and Christian colleges, the issues will affect other Christian organizations.
This is another case of rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). When a college or other institution accepts money from the government for anything, directly or indirectly, they are obligated to accept government control and restrictions.
Many years ago, Ohio Valley Christian College used grant money to construct an auditorium. However, when it was completed, they were not allowed to have chapel services in the facility because of the use of federal funds. The school eventually bought out the grants so that they could pray in the building.
One of the most challenging issues facing churches, businesses, and the court system is how to resolve situations where a business owner refuses to do something that would violate their religious beliefs. For example, recent cases have involved a flower store owner who was asked to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding and a cake artist who was asked to create a cake for a same-sex wedding and then a sex transition celebration. Both of these cases involve discrimination against religious beliefs. A florist named Barronelle Stutzman in the state of Washington refused to prepare a floral display for a same-sex wedding because she believes, as her church teaches, that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. At the end of June, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear Stutzman’s appeal. That allowed the ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court to stand fining her for violating an anti-discrimination law.
We reported earlier about a case involving Jack Phillips, a cake artist who refused to design a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court decided in favor of Phillips in 2018 because the suit against him was motivated by anti-religious bias. Since then, another lawsuit was filed against Phillips because he would not design a cake to celebrate a sex transition. Discrimination against religious beliefs continues to challenge Christians.
An even more consequential challenge existed in Philadelphia. The city of Philadelphia refused to place foster-care children with a Catholic agency because it would not allow same-sex couples to apply to be foster parents. This case is more serious only because it involves children. The question here is whether children can live in a family without both sexes being represented and not have mental issues related to that environment.
As a public school teacher, I saw the challenges faced by kids with single parents. Many of them did well in spite of that situation, but it was an issue. Kids needing foster care are especially vulnerable, and same-sex couples would add another layer of stress to the stability of those kids.
The question of discrimination against religious beliefs is vast. That is one more reason to keep a separation between church and state. Since our political system has embraced everything from prostitution to marijuana, the days ahead look difficult for people trying to live as Christ taught us to live. Remember that Christians in the first century faced the same kind of problems, but Rome never claimed to guarantee religious freedom as the United States Constitution does.
On this Fourth of July, I want to share a quote from Ulysses S. Grant. He led the United States Army in bringing a successful end to the Civil War before becoming President of the United States. Grant said:
“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.”
As our society rejects God and the Bible, people desperately search out unproven and usually false claims from human leaders. In addition to destroying faith and stopping people from living as Christ would have them live, it also eats away at the very fabric of democracy. Superstition, ambition, and ignorance combine to destroy the faith that has sustained America for over 200 years.
The growth in those accessing this website is encouraging, but it is a small response to the violence and chaos threatening us, both personally and as a nation. So, on this Fourth of July, we say “thank you” to those who are helping others become aware of this ministry by sharing our posts.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified on June 23, 2021, to the House Armed Services Committee. He said that the suicide rate among military personnel is so high that it affects the training and deployment of troops. In 2018, 326 active-duty troops died by suicide. Last year that number had risen to 377. All indications are that the suicides in 2021 will be well over 400. Representative Jackie Speier, who chairs the committee’s panel on personnel issues, called military suicides “a heart-wrenching problem.”
The military has placed increasing restrictions on chaplains and significant pressure on them to support Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, and LGBTQ belief systems. It has become increasingly difficult for them to hold Christian services. When I was in the army during the Korean conflict, there were regular Christian services. Additionally, chaplains were available 24/7 to help soldiers who struggled with war and our role in the conflict. As our society and the military become more and more secular, there is little support for the struggles that combat places on soldiers. Chaplains are not allowed to frame patriotism in Christian values. Is it any wonder that military suicides are increasing?
If you are convinced that there is no God and no life beyond this life, what is the motivation to participate in a war for America? “Survival of the fittest” does not suggest that a person should die for a political system that will never benefit them. In our lectureship program, we presented many seminars on military bases. We tried to help young military men and women see that there is a God and that the Christian way of life is worth fighting for. These sessions were voluntary, but many people of other faiths came to them.
Now we are not allowed to conduct a program on a military base or do anything on government property that smacks of Christian values. When my brother Bill wanted to be baptized into Christ at the Air Force base in Rantoul, Illinois, we decided to baptize him in the base swimming pool. When the military people in charge of the pool learned we were doing a Christian activity, they forbade us from using the pool. I had to baptize my brother in a motel swimming pool because the military would not allow any Christian activity on the base. That experience had a dramatic effect on the military enlisted men who were with us.
There is an old, false saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I know it isn’t true because I was an atheist in the army, and I was in foxholes and maintained my atheism. Many young men around me depended on their faith and the chaplain to get them through the military experience. I have to admit that they were better soldiers than I was. Christian values have always been the foundation of this country. Trying to turn America into a secular state opposed to Christianity has a great deal of collateral damage, including an increase in military suicides.
We saw the Planned Parenthood data for 2020, and it disturbs us. The organization performed 354,871 abortions, which is 9,199 more than the previous year. The government gave $618.1 million of federal tax money to Planned Parenthood in 2020. That does not include $80 million from the Cares Act, which was to help small businesses because of the pandemic. Other services which Planned Parenthood provides, including adoption, prenatal care, and help with miscarriages, declined by 40%.
As a Christian who works with various child-care organizations, I know of many couples in our area who want to adopt a child. As has always been true, there is a long wait time to get a child. Adopting requires laborious home studies and interviews. As the parent of three adopted children, I know the joy of having a child when you are biologically unable to conceive.
The Planned Parenthood data for 2020 is disturbing. It’s easy to oversimplify this issue, but the notion that abortion is a solution to birth control is medical nonsense. The psychological problems resulting from abortion are huge because aborting a child is infanticide. Americans are critical of other cultures that don’t protect children or even discard unwanted children, and yet our culture is doing the same thing. If you ever watch a video of an abortion, you will see that it is indeed the killing of an infant and not the removal of a blob of flesh that is simply part of the mother.
When I was a young man, Memorial Day was a big deal. There were parades, speeches, special services at many churches, and a town memorial. We were constantly reminded of the men and women who died to make it possible for us to live in freedom in the United States. In those days, in Bloomington, Indiana, where I grew up, many military veteran’s groups marched in the parade, and all the high school bands participated. After serving in the military, I found that Memorial Day had changed. It had become “the first weekend of summer.” There were no parades, and only a few veteran groups paid attention to the original purpose. What will Memorial Day 2021 be like? Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in 1868, three years after the civil war ended. At Arlington National Cemetery. Flowers were put on all graves, and 5,000 people attended the ceremony. General Logan, who directed the ceremony, said, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
Since that time, over 1.2 million Americans have died in our nation’s wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a National Holiday by Congress. In 2000, Congress enacted The National Moment of Remembrance Act (P.L.106-579). Its charter says, “To encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country … by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.”
The National Moment of Remembrance Act suggests that at 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day, “Everyone is to pause for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation … It is a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.” We are in no way minimalizing the struggles for freedom and racial equity in America today, but even with our problems, how can we look at other nations and not be thankful for what we have?
On Memorial Day 2021, not understanding the sacrifices of the past has made us a selfish and self-serving people. Our ecological problems are because we want what is ours without thinking about the future. Our moral problems are because we have forgotten the teachings of Jesus Christ, which call us to live to serve others with integrity. In Luke 22:19-20, we read about Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper as a way of helping us remember Him, what He taught, and the example He set. First Corinthians 11:28-30 warns Christians not to participate in communion without thought and understanding since “for this cause many are weak and sickly among you.”
What is true of the Church is true of America. We need a memorial to remind us of the important things. On Memorial Day 2021, let us not be so focused on our own agendas that we forget the past and what our predecessors have done to allow us to have what we enjoy today.
Apparently, the media are running out of things to talk about, so they have resurrected the claims of alien visitation to Earth. In June, U.S. intelligence agencies are supposed to release a report detailing what the government knows about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Former CIA director John Brennan has stated that there have been scores of credible sightings of UAPs or UFOs that “may be piloted by a different form of life.” We have repeatedly pointed out that this is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not say that Earth is the only place where God created life.
Once when I was working in Canada, a group of people claimed that a ghost was haunting a woods nearby. One night, several of us camped out in that woods. At about 2 a.m., we saw a ghost, complete with an open mouth and two eyes. It glowed a greenish-yellow color and then vanished. One of the native Canadians in the group laughed because he knew what we were seeing. The aurora borealis (northern lights) were flickering wildly in a solar maximum, and the ultraviolet radiation caused bioluminescence in a dead tree. In broad daylight, we could see that, but at night, with our imaginations running wild, it looked totally different.
Atmospheric refraction or reflection off high clouds can make city lights visible many miles from the city. Earthquakes generate radiation, and some of it is in the visible spectrum. Weather balloons, flares, test aircraft, cloud reflections, satellites, planes, or drones can all become Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. With this new report, we will see a barrage of headlines from conspiracy advocates, tabloid writers, and psychics. In truth, it is more likely that the number of actual mystery objects will be very small. Jesus Christ has answers to the real struggles in life, but E.T. does not.