Human rights advocates frequently demand social changes without understanding the consequences of the choices they promote. An example of that is the current transgender craze among teenagers. It’s relatively easy for teenagers to change their names, but the medical treatment of transgender people has become a significant challenge for all concerned. Unfortunately, politicians have advanced transgender legislation without understanding the implications. There are many areas of gender change problems.
Having surgery and taking hormones is a whole different issue compared to participation in sports or sharing bathrooms. But even beyond the physical gender change problems, the mental and psychological issues are also highly complex. Transgender youth are three to four times as likely as their peers to have depression or anxiety. Among 13,600 transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed in 2020, 52% had considered suicide in the previous year, and 21 % had attempted it.
Puberty blockers are a standard treatment of transgender young people. Those drugs suppress the natural release of estrogen and testosterone. Puberty blockers can limit the development of physical features such as breasts, and they delay bone development which can lead to weaker bones in adulthood. Since 80% of people who identify as transgender in early childhood do not continue to do so when they grow up, puberty blockers can have long-term consequences.
Taking estrogen causes transgender teenagers to have decreased muscle mass and changes in fat redistribution. It also causes the softening of the skin, the growth of breasts, and reduced growth of body hair. At the same time, it can cause a higher risk of breast cancer and seems to increase the risk of blood clots. In addition, transgender people taking testosterone experience suppressed menstruation, body fat redistribution, voice deepening, increased muscle mass, and facial and body hair growth. There also seems to be a greater risk of high cholesterol.
The causes of transgenderism are still being debated, and they seem to be very complex. Gender change problems are an issue that is not going away. We would suggest that the move away from nuclear families and the increased use of drugs are involved. When we discard God’s plan and design, the issues become very complicated. Playing God with human sexuality has always produced unfortunate results.
Unborn babies can hear the world around them. Recently Dianne Neal Matthews wrote in Guidepost’sMornings with Jesus about an experience with the birth of her grandchild. She traveled to the daughter’s home for the birth of her fourth child.
After the little girl was born, each family member got to hold her. As the newborn passed between the parents and each sibling, Mrs. Matthews was amazed at how calm, alert, and content she was. The baby had just left a warm and cozy environment inside her mother, and now she was experiencing a cool world with bright lights and new sensations on her skin. Yet, each time the baby was put into the arms of a family member who talked to the baby, she calmly responded, quietly moving her arms.
When Mrs. Matthews was able to hold her, the baby was not calm and settled. However, when returned to her mother, she became quiet and peaceful. Mrs. Matthews realized that the baby had been hearing familiar voices of the family for months, which made her feel safe. Because Mrs. Matthews lived far away, the baby had no experience with her unfamiliar voice.
Years ago, McCall’s magazine reported a story where a baby was subjected to a physical push from one direction outside the mother’s body each time a specific song was played. After three “pushes,” when the song was played again, the baby moved away from the direction of the push, clearly avoiding it. Issac Stern, the famous violinist, once told the story of playing a certain melody when his mother was present. She stopped him and asked where he got that melody. He was dumbfounded and had no idea. Then she told him, “I wrote that melody and played it a number of times when I was pregnant with you.”
A baby inside its mother’s womb is a baby – not an extension of the mother’s body. Unborn babies can hear the world around them. Unfortunately, our nation has now decided that killing a baby is acceptable if that baby is an inconvenience for the mother. This amounts to infanticide, similar to the ancient Roman practice of throwing unwanted babies into the street. That disregard for life was a part of what destroyed the Roman empire. One has to wonder how long God will tolerate infanticide by our nation.
Some religious people have claimed that taking the COVID vaccine is a response to fear. They have posted that idea online and in publications, saying that you won’t get sick from the virus if you have faith in God. This is a sad commentary on human ignorance of medical facts, the Bible, and how God works. It also shows a lack of understanding that the Church’s task is to help people. We need to follow 1 John 4:1: “…do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they come from God.”
The history of “Christians” and vaccines is not good. They have sometimes been responsible for opposition to vaccines for smallpox, measles, and polio. This ignorance is destructive because vaccines have saved many lives. As Christians, we must do whatever we can to minister to the lost. One way to do that is to make sure we do nothing that harms people. My son died because a man who claimed to be a Christian didn’t care enough about him to get a vaccine or wear a mask so he wouldn’t carry the virus to him.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me all of you who labor … and you shall find rest…” The Church is people, not a building (1 Corinthians 3:16), and the Church’s task is to help people, not harm them. When Jesus was on Earth, He acted when humans could not. In Luke 5:4-9, when Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus told him to let down his net again. When he did, his catch was amazing.
Miracles in both the Old and New Testaments challenged humans to apply what God gave them. When the prophet Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times, he resisted that silly requirement. But when Naaman did it, his leprosy (the COVID of that day) was cured (2 Kings 5). God has given humans the ability to stop the virus, but we must use what He has given us.
The Bible makes it clear that God does not use force to accomplish His will. Even salvation is not forced on humans. In Acts 2:38-40, Peter says, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” The Church’s task is to help people by sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus. Read Colossians 2:13-3:2 and ask yourself if you want to be a part of the world driven by fear and selfishness, even in the name of religion? Christians must care enough about others and about “the temple of the Holy Spirit” to make sure we do no harm to either.
One of the challenges we face in 21st century America is the growing rate of mental illness cases. Every day the media informs us of a tragedy caused by someone who is mentally ill. Closer to home, many of us have had a loved one afflicted with some form of mental illness. Is there a connection between mental health and faith?
Mental illness has many causes. A small percentage of mental illnesses result from a medical condition. For example, my son’s schizophrenia resulted from a congenital condition. Because he was adopted, we don’t know all of the factors leading to his multiple illnesses, but his birth mother had German measles during pregnancy. Brain injuries and drug abuse can also result in mental illness.
A far more common cause of mental problems involves life experiences. Some of us were forced to witness the horror of war, and many others have suffered abuse. Those things have caused a variety of mental issues. We frequently hear atheists claim that religion causes mental illness by heaping guilt on people over something they have done in their lives. Indeed, some preachers have used guilt to motivate people to change behavior or convert to a doctrinal view.
The reality is that there is a connection between mental health and faith. Christianity is a guilt-removing belief system. The Christian message is designed to free people from guilt and promote a healthy and mentally stable lifestyle. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 gives guidelines to a healthy mental attitude. There you will find these keys to mental health: loving others, not exacting revenge or retaliating, caring for others (even your enemies), not being religious for show, and not being obsessed with material things.
We all fail in life, but the Christian system brings forgiveness. When Peter asked Christ how often he had to forgive, Christ’s answer indicated forgiveness should be infinite (Matthew 18:21). Carrying a grudge can cause enormous mental pain, which John compares to walking in darkness, but loving others brings us into the light (1 John 1:7-11). James gives insight into how we can endure hardships and help one another gain a positive perspective on life (James 5:10-16).
As Americans turn away from the teachings of Christ and rely on pop psychology and drugs to achieve sound mental health, the result has been the opposite. Pill popping and drug use have skyrocketed, and so has the number of people in desperate mental stress. Living the Christian life brings stability and fulfillment and the knowledge that there is a place of peace and love when this life is over. Mental health and faith in Christ go together.
Discrimination is a buzzword that has all kinds of implications. Of course, we don’t want to be accused of discriminating against someone based on race or gender. However, the federal government has gone far beyond those categories and has gotten into areas involving morality. So what are the consequences of new anti-discrimination rules?
In February of 2021, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a directive barring discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity. For schools and colleges, this means that dorm rooms, locker rooms, shower spaces, and restrooms must be open to anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation. Schools not following the directive face fines and criminal penalties.
We are already seeing the consequences of new anti-discrimination rules in high schools where boys are demanding to use girls’ locker rooms and participate in girls’ sports. A more complex situation is confronting Christian colleges because of moral concerns. They can be threatened with government action if they have a girls’ dorm or a boys’ dorm.
The College of the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, is involved in a court battle. This school, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, was established in 1906. It has 1426 students and 30 academic majors. The college’s five-fold mission is to encourage academic, Christian, cultural, vocational, and patriotic growth in its students. With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, the school is challenging the new government rules.
The federal government has taken the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as the basis of its directive. That law was written to stop discrimination against African Americans, but they are reinterpreting it to accommodate LGBTQ activists. The consequences of new anti-discrimination rules for Christian colleges will be to open all dorms to everyone. An alternative would be to close the dorms and force students to find off-campus housing, which would be a financial hardship for the schools. Christian colleges across the nation are watching what happens in this court battle.
Every day, the mail brings letters from organizations asking for money for feeding starving people around the world and in the United States. Most of these organizations are directly or indirectly connected to the teachings of Christ. I don’t get letters from atheists who feed hundreds of people who don’t have enough to eat. When Jesus gives a picture of the judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46, the first thing He says is that His followers will provide food and drink to the needy.
As the population of planet Earth grows, the need for food will only increase. God has provided the means to feed our population. More than that, we could double our population and still have enough for everyone to eat. Hunger results from waste, mismanagement, greed, selfishness, and failure to live as God has called us to live.
Science has learned some superfoods are untapped or poorly managed. One example is the lowly chickpea. Chickpeas provide more than twice as much protein as corn and more than four times as much fiber as brown rice. In addition to providing nutrition for people, chickpeas enrich the soil with nitrogen so that farmers can use less fertilizer. Botanists have developed new varieties of chickpeas to grow in harsh conditions and even fight off blights. These new varieties allow farmers in Africa and Asia to double their yields.
John the Baptist ate locusts and honey according to Matthew 3:4. Worldwide, people eat more than a thousand species of insects. Insect farming is in its infancy, but grasshoppers, rhino beetles, and termites are the three most common insect food sources. Not only do insects provide all the nutrition that a human needs, but the cost of raising bugs is microscopic compared to cattle, sheep, chickens, and pigs.
Potatoes are an essential crop for feeding people, and the top potato producer is China, with an annual harvest exceeding 150 million tons. No matter what climate changes we see in the coming years, chickpeas, insects, and potatoes can withstand the extremes. God has provided the resources for feeding starving people to make desperate hunger a thing of the past. Humans just need to learn to get along and use all the resources God has given us.
“Autoimmunity is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own healthy cells, tissues, and other body normal constituents. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an “autoimmune disease.” –Wikipedia As many as 4.5% of the world’s population may be affected by any of about 80 autoimmune diseases. Some such as psoriasis are cosmetic, and others such as multiple sclerosis are life-threatening. So when the human body attacks itself, should we assume that it is because the body’s design is flawed? The exact cause of autoimmune disorders is unknown, but as more and more data becomes available, it is clear that this is not a flaw in the design of the immune system.
First of all, the number of autoimmune disorders that affect large populations is minimal. Psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, Graves disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common, affecting one person out of every 100. Type 1 diabetes, vitiligo, and rheumatic fever can affect one person out of every 1000 or so. Most autoimmune diseases are infrequent, with some affecting fewer than 1 in a million people.
Secondly, we now know that some bacteria or viruses entering the human body from animals may confuse the immune system and lead to disorders. COVID and AIDS have shown us that animals are a source of viruses that can cause disease in humans.
Thirdly, chemicals can trigger changes in cells that the immune system is not designed to handle. Pesticides, herbicides, recreational drugs, industrial waste, and medical waste have caused all kinds of problems for humans. Immune disorders may not be because of bad design of the immune system but the result of human ignorance, carelessness, and greed.
Fourth, a new study has suggested that stress may lead to some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. There is a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases among people who were previously diagnosed with stress-related disorders.
God’s design of the human immune system is amazing. As the Psalmist said. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). The immune system that allows most of us to live for many years with good health is one of the best demonstrations of the truth of that statement.
— John N. Clayton
See the September 2021 issue of Scientific American (pages 26-51) for much more information about autoimmune diseases, their causes, and potential cures. Pages 32 and 33 display a fascinating chart with data on 76 autoimmune disorders.
Deaths due to drug overdoses have skyrocketed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that in 1970 there were fewer than 7,000 deaths in the United States due to drug overdoses. In 2019 there were 72,000, and in 2020 there were 93,000. Whether or not there is a problem is not the issue, but people question why overdose deaths are increasing?
Some suggest that it is because of the availability of painkillers, especially opioids. When I graduated from high school in 1955, many drugs were available, and I knew people who had died from overdoses. Even in those days, we learned how to get whatever drugs we wanted. There were those available on the street and others we could make ourselves. For example, I remember a cough syrup named “Hadacall” that we used to get high because it contained a higher alcohol content than the booze we could get. Harder stuff was available if you looked for it.
We suggest the fundamental reason why overdose deaths are increasing is the removal of Christian values from our culture. If you do not see a purpose for your life and things go wrong, what is the natural response? For the Christian, there is the promise of Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good to those that love God and who are called according to His purpose.” Christians know that whatever happens to them has some kind of purpose or connection to a purpose. There is also the ultimate hope which is beyond this life. When you discard that, what is left? We don’t always understand what good can come from tragedy in our lives. But, as Christians, we know that if we hang on, we may eventually see a purpose or at least some ultimate good in our loss. Opioids and drugs provide an escape for unbelievers from whatever bad things have happened in their lives. Therefore, overdose deaths are increasing because they feel that life without purpose or hope is not worth living.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a global alcohol action plan. The statement that has grabbed the most attention is this: “appropriate attention should be given to … prevention of drinking among pregnant women of childbearing age.” Unfortunately, the media seem to have ignored the rest of the WHO report. The storm of reaction is because of the statement about alcohol and women of childbearing age. Freelance writer Danielle Campoamor gave the immediate response of much of the media when she said on NBC, “the action plan overlooks men, as usual.”
The data on alcohol use is horrible among men and women. WHO has given data for years which the media has totally ignored. In 2016, 2.3 million men died due to alcohol consumption. Alcohol use worldwide caused the loss of 106.5 million DALYs, disability-adjusted life years. There are 283 million people aged 15 years and older living with alcohol use disorders. That is 5.1% of the global adult population.
So why pick on alcohol and women of childbearing age? The answer to that question should be obvious. The effect of a drinking mother on her unborn child causes problems for the child–not the mother. Fetal alcoholism syndrome is something doctors confront regularly. Feminists correctly point out that men who drink substantially and father children also increase the risk of birth defects.
Alcohol is the most destructive drug that has ever existed. The mentality that attempts to justify drinking for any segment of the world’s population is the same as those who promote abortion—the selfish desires of individuals in our culture trump everything else. Babies continue to bear the consequences of selfish adult desires for pleasure. We now see this happening with marijuana, but we are yet to see the long-term health problems of marijuana.
We see people like Peter Singer, moral philosopher and professor at Princeton University, suggesting that we should euthanize people with mental or physical impairments to save money and inconvenience to society. Now is a time for Christians to stand up for life, morality, and the positive results of following the teachings of Christ. We must speak out against alcohol and other drug use, abortion and infanticide, and euthanasia of the mentally ill, elderly, or those with congenital disabilities. Protecting those people is the one hope for humanity to continue to exist with equal opportunity for all.
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.