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.”
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.
One of the challenges that college students face in America today is the fact that many of their professors try to force their own personal opinions on them. We have reported on examples of college mind control in previous postings such as HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The Week magazine for August 28, 2020, (page 8) reported on a case at Iowa State University. Professor Chloe Clark announced she would eject any student who engaged in saying anything negative about “Black Lives Matter, gay marriage or legal abortion.” Say goodbye to academic freedom for students being able to express their own opinions.
A free and open discussion leads to understanding and learning. There is no way to advance those things when professors attempt to force their young disciples into college mind control. To make matters worse, they are doing it while being supported by public tax dollars and high-priced tuition paid by the parents.
The Chinese government has started taking religious leaders to “re-education camps.” The State Department of the United States reports that the religious leaders are beaten and tortured in the camps until they are willing to say, “There is no God, there is only the Communist Party.” Since 2016, seventeen-thousand Buddhist monks and nuns have been placed in these camps.
The Chinese government has forced Catholic churches to accept new bishops appointed by the Communist party. Pictures of President Xi have replaced portraits of the Virgin Mary. The government has ordered online bookstores not to sell Bibles. The Communist Party is preparing its own Mandarin Bible, which will say that “the state leads and the church follows.”
Christianity in China dates back to ancient times. Since President Xi Jinping took office, he has instituted religious re-education in China. He has overseen the destruction of most, if not all, church buildings. Bibles have been burned, and any structure with a cross on it has been destroyed. Christians should pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters as the destruction and persecution are only getting worse.
Military chaplains were disciplined for mentioning that the Bible had some messages that would be useful in counseling soldiers. A chaplain was relieved of duty and threatened with a dishonorable discharge for counseling a biblical view of sexuality and marriage. A commander reprimanded another chaplain for giving suicide prevention training that included passages of scripture. Lt. General William Boykin has reported these incidents and others.
General Boykin achieved an outstanding record during his 36 years of service in the United States Army. He was the commander of the Army’s Green Berets and one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force. General Boykin spent four years as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. There is no question of his dedication to America or the enormous service he has given to keep us free.
General Boykin sent a letter to believers around the country, saying that what is happening to Christians in the United States military should shock and alarm every person of faith. The main culprit is a group misnamed The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They succeeded in having the Walter Reed Army Medical Center ban Bible distribution to wounded soldiers in the hospital. Franklin Graham was banned from speaking at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer. A display of the honor oath was removed from the U.S. Air Force Academy because it included “So help me God.”
The Family Research Council reports on incidents when the rights of Christians have been trampled on by atheists and skeptics. Perhaps you have received a copy of the letter from Lt. General William Boykin. Please take the time to read it. You can also find out more about anti-Christian persecution incidents from the Family Research Council at frc.org.
A major issue in America today is COVID-19 and church closings. The problem was highlighted recently when Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered churches to remain closed while shopping malls and bars were opened. Many politicians are trying to get votes by advocating that churches be opened even though they haven’t been in a church of any kind for a very long time.
We have pointed out that the biblical concept of the Church is not a huge building with massive numbers of people meeting together. The Church is people (1 Corinthians 3:16), and we need for worship is two people, “gathering together in the name of Jesus” (Matthew 18:20). Is it valid to compare bars and churches?
In The Week magazine for June 5, 2020 (page 6), mentioned several cases where Churches have spread the Covid-19 virus. In a choir practice, one singer infected 52 of 61 choir members, and two of them died. In Arkansas, an infected singer passed the virus to 35 members of the choir who, in turn, infected 21 in the community, and three died. In Frankfort, Germany, a church service infected 107 people, even though social distancing was in place.
In this time of COVID-19 and church closings, we must find ways of worshiping together without exposing others to the virus. We can do this by meeting outside, by having services on YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, or by meeting in small groups. Endangering our congregations’ vulnerable members to a potentially lethal virus is not a way to worship God.
By definition, we establish a memorial to help us remember certain essential things. Memorials are very much a part of Christianity and of the history of Israel. Members of different denominations have instituted all kinds of special days and given them spiritual significance. In reality, those days are not found in the Bible, and there is no biblical command to observe them. Perhaps God knew that humans would corrupt special days and forget their significance and message. Christmas is an example of that.
In Exodus 3:15, God told Moses that the exodus from Egypt would be a “memorial to all generations.” Jesus spoke in Mathew 26:13 of a memorial for the woman who anointed him for burial. In Luke 22:19-20, Jesus gave His followers the one special memorial to observe. Early Christians met on the first day of every week to remember Christ’s body “which is given for you” as they ate the bread and drank the fruit of the vine–“the new testament in my blood which is shed for you.” Even though Jesus gave us this memorial to help us remember, it was very quickly corrupted. In 1 Corinthians 11:20-34, we read that it had become a drunken feast in the Corinthian church. The memorial’s purpose was lost because they were “not discerning the Lord’s body” (verse 29). Paul goes on in this description to say, “this is why many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (verse 30).
Today in the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day. The last Monday in May was made a national holiday in 1971 to honor the memory of those who died to defend America from those who would try to destroy us. It seems that each year there is more emphasis on this day being the “unofficial first day of summer” with little emphasis on its intended meaning. Like the words of 1 Corinthians 11, this day has become a drunken feast for many, and our population is weak and sickly as a result. Many of us are more concerned with Memorial Day sales and, in 2020, how to celebrate without getting the virus than with pausing to give thanks for America and for those who died to preserve it.
As Christians, we have one special memorial to help us remember the sacrifice Jesus made. Even as we stop every week to remember what Jesus did for us, we must develop an attitude of gratitude. As we thank God who sent His Son to die for our salvation, we should also remember those who died to keep us free to worship in this country.
For the 51 years of this ministry, we have confronted religious anti-science rhetoric. Our critics are those who feel that science is an enemy and that you can’t be a good Christian and embrace science. We are now in a period when the issue of whether people can meet together for worship services has become an issue of science and politics. Some politicians oppose churches resuming worship services saying there is strong scientific evidence that it will expose participants to the COVID-19 virus. Many religious leaders insist that this is an attempt by the government to restrict religion. They say that this scientifically-based objection is destroying the right of people to worship together.
In previous articles, we have pointed out that a great deal of ignorance is involved in rejecting science. According to the dictionary, science is knowledge. Knowledge is always neutral. The critical thing is how we use it. When new scientific knowledge gave us lasers, the question was how we would use lasers. Would they be weapons that cause massive destruction, or would they be medical tools to heal eyes?
We now understand how the COVID-19 virus spreads from one person to another. Will we use this knowledge to stop the progression of the illness, or will we use this virus to destroy whole masses of people? The bubonic plague from 1347-1351 killed 200 million people, which was nearly half of Europe’s population. Religious anti-science rhetoric today has the potential to create a catastrophe.
It isn’t our knowledge about the COVID-19 virus that is a threat to freedom or to worship. The reality is that science will eventually develop a vaccine that will allow everyone to worship together. Smallpox was killing 400,000 people a year in Europe, and it only stopped when scientists developed a vaccine. It is hypocritical for religious people to vilify science while they: 1) enjoy modern technology in their entertainment 2) go to medical facilities for treatment of disease, 3) use scientific advancements to grow and prepare their food, 4) use new scientific discoveries in their businesses, and 5) use science in their homes to improve their standard of living.
Proverbs 8 makes it clear that God has used science (wisdom) in all He has done. Psalms 19 and 139 refer to God’s creation, and Romans 1:19-20 points out that science reveals God’s existence through the things He has made. The following verses, Romans 1:21-32, point out that human moral and political choices cause the pain and destruction we see in our world.
Christianity doesn’t need to violate social distancing to worship and to practice our faith. James 1:27 defines true religion, and Jesus made it clear that He is there when just two people come together in His name (Matthew 18:20). First Timothy 6:20 tells Christians to avoid scams and religious claims called science. Ignore the religious anti-science rhetoric and know that God and science are friends. Don’t listen to politicians and religious hucksters and rely on evidence and the message of proven researchers. Join together in prayer and worship in our homes on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, or whatever method you choose. Rejoice that, through science, God has given us new ways to come together, encourage each other, and glorify Him even in the middle of a pandemic.
While the world is trying to stamp out a contagious virus that originated from China, the Chinese Communist government is battling something else. The Communist Chinese priority is to stamp out Christianity.
In March, the Chinese government went on a campaign to remove crosses from churches in three eastern provinces. They brought in cranes to lift the crosses off the church steeples because, they said, religious symbols cannot be physically higher than the Chinese national flag. Government officials told the church leaders that the crosses “were too eye-catching” and might “attract people into the churches.”
Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, has a Chinese Institute. The director, Jian Zhu, said that China’s persecution of house churches has intensified. Chinese authorities ask people to spy on their neighbors and report churches meeting in homes. They also require teachers and students to sign statements denouncing Christianity.
Zhu said, “Cameras are all over to watch church and Christians go to Sunday services.” What do the Communists do with the data they gather concerning Christians? According to Zhu, they threaten families not to go to church, “or they will be punished or their relatives could be in trouble.”
As those of us in the United States are prevented from meeting together because of a virus, remember the Chinese Christians. The virus will soon be controlled, but the Communist Chinese priority to persecute Christians will probably only get worse.