Jesus made it very clear that we must not integrate Christianity and secular government. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). That was not only about paying taxes but also a matter of priorities in the life of Christians. In Romans 13, Paul tells us to “submit to the governing authorities,” and he says, “there is no authority except from God.” He then says that government is a stabilizing force to protect those who do good and punish those who do wrong. Christ never advocated rebellion against the corrupt, abusive Roman government. The Bible guides us on priorities, politics, and family.
In addition to civil authority and the Church, God instituted the family. From Genesis through the New Testament letters, the family is the basic unit of society. The Week magazine (March 19, 2021) published an article titled “The Broken Families of QAnon.” It details families torn apart when family members become obsessed with political issues above family relationships. Regardless of your political views, for Christians, the family has to come first.
The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ gave the family a new structure. When society considered women as men’s possessions and having status only when they bore children, Christianity taught that women were equal with men. Much of Paul’s teachings deal with family issues. Only Romans 13 teaches the Christian relationship to the civil law. That does not mean Christians cannot be involved in politics or serve in political ways, but that role must be less important than their responsibility to their mate, parents, and children.
In America today, the importance of family has been diluted by the moral collapse resulting from the rejection of God and the Bible. Couples “hooking up” and living together without getting married show a distorted concept of sex. Marriage has become a political tool to justify relationships that are different from the original creation of family in Genesis 2:24. As America continues to reject God and the Bible, we can expect to see more violence and further disintegration of the family.
Christians need to know why they believe what they believe and share those reasons with their families, neighbors, and communities. The real answer to the chaos, political violence, and abuse we see in today’s world is the teaching of Christ on priorities, politics, and family.
On March 16, 2021, the media was full of articles about Pope Francis stating that “homosexual unions are not similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” The Vatican said, “God can not bless sin” further confusing the media. In a 2019 interview for the documentary Francesco, Pope Francis made a public endorsement of same-sex civil unions and said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.” These statements have led to confusion concerning Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues.
We cannot speak for the Catholic Church or Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues, but we suggest that the problem is very complex and that the Vatican, as one priest at John Carroll University put it, “is trying to thread a needle” on this issue. The Pope stated, “What we have to have is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered.” Later the Pope said they are legally covered but not church-sanctioned.
Several facts make this issue difficult. One is that most gays did not choose to have homosexual tendencies. Why they do is related to a great extent to the acts of others. The breakdown of the family, abuse, chemical difficulties, and peer pressure are just a few of the contributors to same-sex pressures. It is becoming more and more evident that multiple causes are leading to LGBTQ behavior.
Another problem is that for many LGBTQ participants, the things necessary to maintain that lifestyle are very difficult. They may have to take hormone therapy for the rest of their lives, causing side effects and a shortened life expectancy. Some STDs are more readily transmitted in homosexual acts than in heterosexual acts.
In a free society, people can choose their sexual identity, but that creates complications. People born male who choose to be transgender females by surgery and drugs or merely by identifying as females have a huge advantage in sports. Should LGBTQ participants be allowed to adopt children or to have children conceived in a science laboratory? The Pope has said that the Catholic Church can bless people who live in “fidelity,” which apparently includes same-sex unions.
The Bible speaks strongly against same-sex unions, although some religious leaders have danced around those biblical statements. God’s plan for marriage and family remains the same. The Pope’s statement that “homosexual unions are not similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” is consistent with the biblical position.
We suggest that LGBTQ participants have the right to practice their beliefs without abuse, but the Church cannot sanction sexual relationships that the Bible strongly condemns. It seems to us that this is the point of Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues. If that is the case, we would agree with that position. We also recommend reading the book Caring Beyond the Margins by Guy Hammond, a man who has struggled with same-sex attraction. You can read our review of that book HERE.
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.
Television, books, movies, and pop psychology have all tried to offer alternatives to the biblical concept of the family. From Genesis 2:24 on, the Bible gives instructions to build what modern social scientists now call “the nuclear family.” Scientists define a nuclear family as “a unit headed by two loving, married parents.” In today’s society, more nuclear families are needed.
In the first two centuries of America’s existence, people were embedded in a group that included aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and grandparents. That meant there were always people available to care for a child or a senior who needed help. With the movement to the cities and the emphasis on self-fulfillment and individuality, the nuclear family has disintegrated. Parents now pay people to perform child-rearing tasks. Kids find themselves in single-parent homes, which leave them alone a vast percentage of the time. Seniors are often isolated because their children have moved away.
Research shows that the collapse of the nuclear family has produced terrible consequences. In 1960, 77.5% of children lived in nuclear families. Today that figure is 48%. The rise of suicide, depression, and income inequality can be linked to family disintegration. Robert Samuelson writing in the Washington Post said that we can’t go back to the way things used to be because of “geographic mobility, the need and desire of women to work, or high divorce rates.” Despite the challenges, nuclear families are needed to create a healthy society.
I believe that one of the most difficult issues of life is what to do when… …you have been told you are going to die …you are in enormous pain …there seems to be no hope of recovery …your care is using up the inheritance of your children …and quality of life for you is absolutely zero with no hope it will ever get better.
I have seen friends and family in that situation and observed it in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This issue is a growing problem because our population is aging. At my age, I find that when I read the obituaries in the South Bend Tribune, there is someone I know listed nearly every day. We are not talking about “pulling the plug,” where a mechanical device keeps a body technically alive. We are talking about physically doing something to a patient that will result in death.
In 2019, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Hawaii, and New York all passed laws that either allowed medical aid in dying or made it easier to get help to die. Hearings that will lead to medical assistance bills were conducted in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Nevada. An organization called “Compassion and Choices” has spearheaded a national movement to promote physician assisted suicide, and they have enormous support from celebrities and academics.
The fact is that death remains one of the most difficult issues of life. The arguments against physician assisted suicide are especially emotional. By choosing that path, we are trusting human judgment about whether death is close at hand. There are cases where someone who was expected to die made an amazing recovery. Psychological and spiritual healing sometimes results when a person knows that they are about to die. Support as friends and family rally around a dying person can rebuild relationships and restore family unity that is rare in today’s world. Many believe that leaving the time of one’s death in the hands of God is a necessary spiritual responsibility.
The political arm of the GLBTQ lobby has caused the media and much of the American public to confuse sexual behavior and civil rights. They are telling us that presenting biblical views on moral issues is a violation of someone’s civil rights. But Christians cannot be silent on moral issues since the New Testament says more about moral issues than it says about religious ceremony.
Attacks on the Bible’s position on sexual issues are increasing and becoming more widely accepted by the general public. Sexual behavior and civil rights are not the same. It is totally erroneous to suggest that skin color is the same thing as GLBTQ choices for the following reasons:
1-Skin color is a biological condition that is not under the control of the individual. Whether you are black or white was not a choice you made. Any sexual act is a choice made by the individual. If it was not a choice, then it was rape or a criminal act made by someone else. Sexual behavior and civil rights for people of color cannot be compared.
2-Sexual preferences and sexual acts are two different things. Some men are sexually attracted to men, and some women are attracted to women. Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins (Illumination Press) deals with this problem. Hammond is a man with homosexual tendencies who is not acting on that preference. No matter what the cause of GLBTQ desires, just as any other sexual behavior, the individual chooses to act on those desires.
3-Racial prejudice is wrong and is condemned by the Bible because it is destructive. The fact that a person is black or white does not affect their life expectancy or quality of life unless violence or neglect results from the prejudice. The data is clear that most of the GLBTQ choices are destructive to people’s health and shorten their life expectancy. Transgender surgery, for example, condemns the patient to a life of drugs to sustain the hormonal condition and those drugs shorten life expectancy. Most homosexual acts have a negative effect on life expectancy. The life expectancy of GLBTQ participants is significantly lower than the national average.
God has given us instructions on how to use the gift of sex in the best and most productive way. Condemnation of alternatives to God’s instructions is because those alternatives violate the design God built into our bodies. Instructing someone in the best way to use a gift they have been given is not abusive. The individual still has the right to decide whether they will follow the instructions.
More than 110 countries around the world set aside various dates to honor fathers. Today is Father’s Day in the United States. While I make a lot of jokes about how Father’s Day compares to Mother’s Day, I am keenly aware of the significance of being a Father. The Bible puts great emphasis on fatherhood. I’m not talking about the conception of a child, but rather the role of real fathers.
As a teacher, I found the existence of real fathers to be a rarity. At PTA meetings, the parents would follow their child’s schedule, and we teachers had 15 minutes to explain what we taught and how we conducted the class. Most of the time, the group I talked to, especially in my basic classes, was 100% women. In my AP Physics class, there would be a large number of men — real fathers. I am convinced that the fathers were one of the main reasons why the students were in my Advanced Placement class. In this day of single-parent families and blurred images of what a father should be, it is important to ask if the Bible message on fathers is legitimate.
My spiritual father was a man named Ward Sullivan. He was an elder in the congregation that I attended in South Bend, Indiana. Ward was always interested in what I was doing, and I could talk to him about anything. When I began the Does God Exist ministry, Ward was the only member of the congregation who encouraged and supported me. My ministry was alien to the experience of most people who had grown up in the Church. They thought it was crazy to talk about how we know there is a God and that the Bible is His Word because everyone should already know that. Ward kept saying to me, “Your heavenly Father knows what He wants you to do with your life, so do it and don’t worry about what mere humans think about it.”
My 41 years in the classroom convinced me that kids with real fathers who took an interest in their child’s life were at a huge advantage over kids without a father in their lives. God created us, and His instructions on what we need to grow up successfully have been born out over the centuries. Hat’s off to those of you who grew up successfully with no father image in your life. You are special and few in number.
Tomorrow is “Mother’s Day,” and we have some thoughts on women and motherhood.
We are seeing a new aggressiveness on the part of atheists and feminists to vilify Christ and Christianity. Feminists take passages like 1 Timothy 2:9-15 to suggest that Christians make women second class citizens. Atheist speakers like Richard Dawkins attack the Bible saying it is one of the most misogynistic (hating women) books ever written. The truth is that Jesus and the teachings of the Apostles were centuries ahead of the secular world in treating and presenting women as equal to men in every way.
It is essential to look at the example that Jesus set in his interactions with women, such as the Samaritan woman in John 4. There was great animosity between the Jewish culture and the Samaritans. John 4:9 reminds us of this when Jesus speaks to the woman, and she responds, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me a Samaritan woman for a drink of water?” She is both a hated Samaritan and a woman who in that misogynistic culture was indeed a second class citizen. The passage even adds, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” When the disciples of Jesus show up in verse 27 “they marveled that He talked with the woman.” Jesus not only talks with her, but He stays in the Samaritan city for two days.
Jesus treated women as equals, and they worked with Him in His ministry. (See Luke 8:1-4.) The Apostles taught that men and women were equals. Galatians 3:26-29 tells the Christians of their day and ours, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The passage in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 has to do with roles. We need to understand that equality does not mean sameness. As an example, is everyone on a baseball team equal? The answer to that question is undoubtedly “Yes, they are equal.” The catcher has a different role than the pitcher, and the first baseman is different from either of them. They are all essential and equal. They have different roles and even different equipment, but all of them are critical to the success of the team.
Every generation has a technology challenge that causes parental anxiety and threatens their relationship with their kids. For boys today the challenge is the video game Fortnite: Battle Royale.
When I was a kid in the 1950s, the technology challenge was television. I remember seeing my first television. When the wealthy neighbors got a color TV, my parents complained that I was gone all the time to watch their color TV. When shows came on that seemed risqué to my parents, there was a crisis. I wanted to watch rock and roll which my parents felt was a “tool of the devil,” even though they were atheists. There was also the development of games. Every store had a pinball machine, and as kids, we found ways to win free games. I missed one whole afternoon of school because I hit the jackpot during my lunch hour that gave me 50 free games.
Todays’ new technology is computers, and the challenge they present is video games. The game getting the most attention now is Fortnite: Battle Royale which is produced by a North Carolina company called Epic and partially owned by Disney. It’s an attractive mix of game design with a persuasive technology designed to shape the behavior of its users. This is mass-market gaming, and it has been the most watched game on Amazon.com’s Twitch network for the past year. Last November people spent 108.9 million hours watching other people play Fortnite. The company makes money by selling costumes called skins and dances called emotes for their avatars to perform. Embellishments sell from $2 to $20. Players buy them with virtual currency called V-Bucks which are sold in packages priced from $9.99 to $99.99.
Since its launch in July of 2017 Fortnite has made more than $2 billion from the sales of virtual goods. Fortnite: Battle Royale is a killing game that is hair raising but earns a “T” rating (meaning okay for Teens) by not showing visible spilled blood or dismembered body parts. Psychologists have identified some 200 persuasive design tricks to make a game addictive. Fortnite: Battle Royale uses a high percentage of those elements in combinations. We old folks may remember how addictive the games were in the past. Games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, or Frogger did not compare with the far more addictive techniques in the toolbag of Fortnite: Battle Royale.
Scientists are researching whether involvement with video games is connected to substance abuse or compulsive behavior. Gunfights constitute a significant part of Fortnite, and the heavy use of violence concerns many scientists. Parents should be aware of the game and its potential risks. Restricting playing time, and having activities the child likes that pulls him or her away from the game are essential.
Challenges to parenting aren’t new. Parents have always had to be careful about how they react to the difficulties of raising a child. The Bible’s instructions for parents are more needed than ever before. You can’t “train up a child in the way he should go” if the actual chief trainer is a violent video game.
Surrogate motherhood is becoming more common. In a surrogacy contract, a woman agrees to allow someone to rent her body to have their child. The parents do that because of an issue that the mother cannot carry the baby, or because they just don’t want to go through the inconvenience of a pregnancy and birth. We have read of movie actresses who do this to avoid having to be off screen for 9 ½ months. Some fertility specialists are selling surrogacy as a part of their offering.
The January/February 2019 issue of Citizen magazine (page 13-15) reported the case of a surrogacy contract running into difficulty. The surrogate mother had agreed to deliver twins–a boy and a girl. A male embryo and a female embryo were implanted into her body. At that point, complications arose. The female embryo failed to implant, and the male embryo split into male twins. The surrogate mother developed pre-eclampsia, and her organs began to shut down forcing delivery of the baby boys ten weeks early. This caused the boys to battle for their lives in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The couple who had paid to have a boy and a girl became hostile because they weren’t getting what they had paid for. The couple were not interested in the boys, but the surrogate mother bonded with the twins. When they were placed in the neonatal unit, she was left “with a deep sense of emptiness, anxiety, and regret.” She is now advocating for a ban on surrogate motherhood.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear two cases on surrogacy issues. In both cases, the surrogate mothers wanted to keep the children. In one case the woman was carrying triplets for a single man who wished to abort at least one due to financial concerns. The other was a mother who learned that the couple she was working for had strong racial prejudices. In both cases, the surrogates lost. There are no national laws that deal with surrogacy, and every state is different. A documentary last fall titled “Big Fertility: It’s All About the Money” pointed out that the practice of surrogate motherhood exploits low-income women and families. We would suggest that surrogacy is wrong on a moral basis.
Like some other modern issues, the Bible doesn’t address surrogacy. The fact that the Bible does not condemn something doesn’t mean we can’t judge whether it is compatible with God’s will. The connection between mother and child during the pregnancy is unique. As the parent of three adopted children, I can tell you that the love we have as a family is massive. However, the relationship between my wife and my two girls was not the same as their relationship with their children born naturally. Data shows that babies bond with their birth mothers during the pregnancy.
Abortion advocates maintain that a baby is merely an extension of the mother’s body. So she has the right to exterminate the baby because it is just an unwanted part of her body. Surrogate motherhood assumes that the baby is a singular physical entity that can be engaged or terminated at the will of the adults involved, for any reason.