Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Can People In Heaven See Us?

            ‘Can People In Heaven See Us?’ is a complicated question. There are two possible answers to this question:

            (1) People in heaven can see the occurrences on earth.

            (2) People in heaven cannot see the occurrences on earth.

            Both these answers invoke further complications.

            If occurrences on earth are inaccessible to people in heaven, there may be no significant problems. But we could pose a question based on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. If people in their afterlife, remember the catastrophic state of their loved ones on earth, they could be sad and disappointed.

            If their loved ones on earth are either in horrendous pain or not saved, people in heaven could be sad and disappointed. But sadness and disappointment are not the attributes of heaven.

            How could this predicament be resolved?

            Similarly, if people in heaven can see the mayhem caused by evil on earth, would they not feel sad? If so, how do we explain the presence of sadness in heaven in light of hell, where there will be perpetual sadness? This problem is enhanced when we consider sadness in the presence of God - how can there be sadness in the very presence of God (cf. Psalms 30:5, 126:5; Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17, 21:4)?

            Therefore, this question is indeed very relevant to a curious theological mind or a serious student of the Bible.

            A popular belief among many Christians is that the people in heaven would not know what is happening on earth. They thus justify their belief:

Pastor John Macarthur’s teaching website, Grace to You, says, “Some teach that our deceased Christian loved ones can see us from heaven. They frequently cite from Hebrews 12:1, which says: "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us."
They interpret that to mean our departed loved ones watch us like spectators do in a stadium, seeing our every move and cheering us on. While that may seem comforting, we don't believe the Bible is really teaching that.
The witnesses in that verse are not modern-day loved ones, but the faithful saints in Hebrews 11 who lived victorious lives by trusting God. Those saints are witnesses to us because their lives testify about the value of trusting God no matter what hardships we face. They are active witnesses who speak to us by their example; not passive witnesses who watch us with their eyes.
Consequently, when we understand Hebrews 12:1 in its context, we realize that it doesn't really support the idea that our loved ones are watching us from heaven. Our comfort comes not from knowing they can see us, but that they can see Jesus and one day we will see Him with them as well-never to be separated again.”1
Another popular Christian ministry, Gotquestions.org says, “The Bible doesn’t specifically say that people in heaven cannot look down on us, so we can’t be dogmatic. However, it is unlikely that they can. People in heaven are likely preoccupied with other things such as worshipping God and enjoying the glories of heaven.”2
            Even if people in heaven would not know the happenings of earth, there seems to be a possibility of sadness remaining in their minds, just by virtue of their memory of their loved ones on earth, especially if their loved ones are in pain or in the state of being unsaved.

            How does the Bible resolve this predicament?

            Let us consider the memory of the loved one who’s in horrendous pain.

            Perfect knowledge is a hallmark of the people in heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12).  If the person on earth who suffers horrendous pain is saved (believes in Christ) or will be saved, then his loved one in heaven would be aware of this fact. Ergo, the person in heaven need not necessarily be sad for he knows that his loved one will soon be in heaven with God unto all eternity. The fact that his loved one is secure unto eternity is of invaluable worth, especially when it’s equated with the temporary pain on earth. This knowledge is adequate to replace the possibility of sadness with joy.  

            The other possibility is more complicated. What if the person in heaven knows that his unsaved loved one is destined to hell because he will never believe in Christ? Would this knowledge not usher an immeasurable sadness in the person in heaven?

            When people in heaven possess perfect knowledge, they would also know, for sure, what God has done to save their loved one. Thus they would know that God has done everything possible to bring everyone to HIMSELF – even their loved one. The knowledge that their loved one consciously rejected God in spite of God’s every effort to draw this person to HIMSELF, would ensure an absence of sadness.   

Endnotes:

1https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA108/do-those-in-heaven-know-what-is-happening-on-earth

2https://www.gotquestions.org/heaven-look-down.html


Websites last accessed on 6th November 2018. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What About Christians Who Believe In Ghosts?

            Years ago, I met a person whose home was haunted. He had not slept for many days and asked me if I could help him. He told me that a ghost was not allowing him to sleep even for a moment. I went to his house, which was nothing but a hut with a thatched roof. I prayed, and by the grace and the power of God, whatever was haunting him, left him. A couple of days later, he told me that he was sleeping peacefully.

            Are ghosts for real? A ghost is defined as “the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.”1

            Do spirits of dead people roam the earth? No, they do not.

            How do I know that? Because the Bible says so (Hebrews 9:27)!

            I believe in the Bible because the Bible is trustworthy. (For a more detailed explanation as to why anyone should believe the Bible, please read “Why Believe The Bible?2)

            So ghosts are not real (if the term ‘ghost’ refers to the souls of the dead people roaming the earth). 

            If dead people’s spirits do not roam the earth, then is it true that we cannot see or talk to our loved ones who have passed on? Yes, we cannot speak to them or engage them in any mode whatsoever because the spirits of the dead people cannot visit or roam the earth.

            What about King Saul seeking the spirit of Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28: 3-20)? An article “Do You Believe In Ghosts?” explains this incident well, “…this passage doesn’t suggest that séances work, and it absolutely doesn’t condone witchcraft. Some scholars believe that God sent Samuel on this unique occasion.3 But others believe a demon was impersonating the prophet based on the fact that he made some false claims. For example, commentator John Gill notes that the apparition warned that all of Saul’s sons would die on the next day, but some survived.4 Either way, the emphasis is that Saul had sunk so low that he tried to dabble in the occult, which God condemns. The next day Saul died.”3

            If spirits of dead people do not roam the earth, then what was it that haunted the man who asked for my help? Is haunting even true?

            Yes, haunting is true because evil spirits inhabit the earth. The Bible provides us with many instances of evil spirits coming into contact with mankind (Mark 5:1-20; John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15; 1 John 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:1–3). Evil spirits can haunt vulnerable people.

            What about apparitions (a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost)? Legend has it that the famous reformer, Martin Luther, threw ink at the devil to chase him away, “When the monk, who was totally absorbed by his work, heard a scratching and chafing, he valiantly grasped the ink pot and threw it right at the devil's grimacing face, in order to chase away the perpetrator, who had disturbed his task of translating the Holy Scripture into German. This is how a blue ink stain next to the oven is said to have originated. Today, there is only a hole. But nobody can tell what exactly has happened at that time in the guest room on the Wartburg. Although Luther has reported many events from his life on the castle, he did not say anything about the alleged ink stain.”4

            It is impossible to see &/or communicate with a dead person. But it may be possible to see a fallen angel/demon provided God allows for such an event.  

            Can evil spirits impersonate the dead? The answer is an unambiguous yes:5

No evidence has produced a single fact that should sway a Christian into believing that the spirits of deceased people can loiter on earth. In light of the Bible, the only conclusion is that ghost sightings are either the figments of overactive imaginations, or else they are demons.
In his book The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena, Christian author Ron Rhodes states, “People sometimes genuinely encounter a spirit entity—though not a dead human. Some people encounter demonic spirits who may mimic dead people in order to deceive the living (see 1 John 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:1–3). Many who claim to have encountered such spirit entities have some prior involvement in the occult.”5
But why would demons want to deceive the living by impersonating the dead?
As servants of Satan and enemies of God, they would have every reason to cast doubt on God’s Word and its warnings about future judgment. Getting people to believe in ghosts automatically forces them to reject key Bible verses (see Hebrews 9:27).
Do you believe in ghosts? The question is huge. Coming to a wrong conclusion about the afterlife has eternal consequences, and the wrong choice on this side of the grave can condemn a soul to eternal agony on the other side.
            What about those Christians who believe in ghosts?

            If you, being a Christian, believe that the souls of the dead people roam the earth, then you have not read and understood your Bible properly. If you have had an apparition or a séance, then you would have encountered an evil spirit/demon.

Endnotes:

1https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ghosts

2https://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-believe-bible.html

3https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/do-you-believe-in-ghosts/?fbclid=IwAR2J7yxKFaCl4K5G4u0diwVb57byQSKAV3lyfZcA4uSK1ezWZ4YmgLEIPG0

4https://www.luther2017.de/en/martin-luther/history-stories/the-throwing-of-the-ink-pot/

5https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/do-you-believe-in-ghosts/?fbclid=IwAR2J7yxKFaCl4K5G4u0diwVb57byQSKAV3lyfZcA4uSK1ezWZ4YmgLEIPG0


Websites last accessed on 31 October 2018.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Christianization Of Halloween? (Could Christians Celebrate Halloween?)

            Some Christians criticize the celebration of Christmas and Easter. They argue that these originated as pagan festivals. Hence they claim that Christians are not to celebrate either Christmas or Easter.

            These Christians, who criticize the celebration of Christmas and Easter, should not endorse the celebration of Halloween. The only premise that could motivate them to endorse the celebration of Halloween would be an argument that Halloween had a Christian origin.

            How did Halloween originate? 

            The encyclopedia describes the origin of Halloween, “Halloween, contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, a holiday observed on October 31, the evening before All Saints’ (or All Hallows’) Day… In much of Europe and most of North America, observance of Halloween is largely nonreligious…Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland…During the Samhain festival the souls of those who had died were believed to return to visit their homes, and those who had died during the year were believed to journey to the otherworld. People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires for the winter and to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts thought to be present. It was in those ways that beings such as witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day…” (Emphasis Mine).1

            Halloween’s origin is not Christian. Instead, there is a very good case for a non-christian origin.

            The Bible teaches us that when we die, we either go to heaven or hell. The souls of the dead do not return to visit their homes. As a Christian, the only way to fight the devil is to wear the metaphorical ‘Armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-18). Wearing masks and setting bonfires are an exercise in futility while fighting the devil and his entourage. So there is no connection between Christianity and the celebration of Halloween.

            Therefore, ideally, there is no need to celebrate Halloween.

            Given a choice, neither would I celebrate Halloween, nor would advise you to celebrate it. But Halloween is an alien festival in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East – the territories of my stay hitherto. Hence, rejecting Halloween is certainly an easy task for me.

            But if you have lived in the West and if you have grown up celebrating Halloween or watching your neighbors celebrate Halloween, then rejecting Halloween, however ideal as it may be, could be a difficult task for you. Ergo, Christian ministries advice safe practices to celebrate Halloween.

            Billy Graham Evangelistic Association believes that Christians could celebrate Halloween, albeit safely, “Halloween, the eve of “All Saints’ Day” (November 1), is also associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation. They celebrate the religious freedoms won at that time in history…We encourage each family to develop their own approach to Halloween based on their own convictions and the options for celebration available to them. The responsibility to make this decision rests on the adults in the family, not the children. The peer pressure on children is far too great for them to be objective. Certainly, providing a safe, fun environment must be a priority.”2

            Gotquestions.org holds a similar opinion, “So, should a Christian celebrate Halloween? Is there anything evil about a Christian dressing up as a princess or cowboy and going around the block asking for candy? No, there is not. Are there things about Halloween that are anti-Christian and should be avoided? Absolutely! If parents are going to allow their children to participate in Halloween, they should make sure to keep them from getting involved in the darker aspects of the day. If Christians are going to take part in Halloween, their attitude, dress, and most importantly, their behavior should still reflect a redeemed life (Philippians 1:27). There are many churches that hold "harvest festivals" and incorporate costumes, but in a godly environment. There are many Christians who hand out tracts that share the Gospel along with the Halloween candy. The decision is ultimately ours to make. But as with all things, we are to incorporate the principles of Romans 14. We can’t allow our own convictions about a holiday to cause division in the body of Christ, nor can we use our freedom to cause others to stumble in their faith. We are to do all things as to the Lord.”3

            Finally, an article on the website of ‘Grace to You’ offers the following advice:4

First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God's Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God has forever "disarmed principalities and powers" through the cross of Christ and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]" (Colossians 2:15).
Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior—drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.
Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.
Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn't just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls "a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God's] adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God's wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner—now that is truly terrifying.
Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination—death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry—as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian's ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner…
Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?
Endnotes:      
1https://www.britannica.com/topic/Halloween

2https://billygraham.org/story/billy-grahams-my-answer-should-christians-celebrate-halloween/

3https://www.gotquestions.org/Christians-celebrate-Halloween.html

4https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A123/christians-and-halloween


Websites last accessed on 29th October 2018. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Would Heaven Offset The Horrible Pain We Suffer In This World?

            Our neighborhood consists of people experiencing incredible suffering.

            A child born to a mother who’s a drug addict lives a wretched life. Born out of wedlock, this child remains fatherless. This in itself is to add insult to injury. He suffers immensely because of his mother’s immature and cantankerous life. Abused incessantly by his mother, her boyfriends, and by the society that refuses to give him an opportunity to live a better life, he lives dangerously.

            This child matures into a teenager enduring these horrendous evils. He takes several wrong decisions that are essentially predicated on the countless insults, neglect, cruelty, and the brutal violence he suffers from.

            One such wrong decision kills him.

            Thankfully, he lives no more to experience the horrendous evils of this world. 

            Ergo, we ask two questions:

            (A) Would this teenager go to heaven? (If this teenager goes to hell, then the eternal torment of hell added to the pain he suffered during his life on earth, would lead to a very questionable God, to say the very least.)

            (B) More importantly, would heaven compensate for the untold suffering experienced in this world by this teenager? If so, how?

            First, would this teenager go to heaven?

            If this teenager died as a Christian, he would indeed go to heaven.

            But there are other possibilities too.

            This teenager could have been born into a non-christian household. In this instance, this teenager may not have been a Christian. Then again, this teen may have carried a deep anger against God.

            What happens then?

            An incessantly abused human being, living in utter pain and poverty, has a very remote chance to encounter God. Unless God pursues this person either through a direct or an indirect [divine] intervention, we can assume that he will not seek God.

            (Even if there is a divine intervention, what are the chances that this young man would believe in God? His pain is so horrendous that he would ask God why he’s been forsaken into such a dreadful life, for no fault of his.) 

            If this teen dies as a non-christian and goes to hell to undergo eternal torment, why did God create this person, to begin with? Isn’t it unfair of God to create such a person, who’s born into a painfully dysfunctional [non-christian] household? It is not the fault of the child to have been born into such a painfully horrendous life. It is God, who put him into that very position. So the onus is on God to save this human being.

            The Triune God revealed by the Bible is a loving, merciful, gracious and a just God. Such a God would do everything that HE ought to, to bring this person into HIS eternal presence (cf. Luke 16:22). The onus has to be on God because, in HIS infinite wisdom, HE allowed this child to be born into a painful existential situation.

            Can we then assume that every non-christian suffering horrendous pain will go to heaven? The parable of the rich man and Lazarus seems to suggest that the poor man was taken to heaven merely because of the pain he endured while on earth (cf. Luke 16:25).  But this verse cannot be used to formulate a doctrine of salvation that every suffering person will go to heaven irrespective of their religion or irreligion.

            So what happens to every non-christian who suffers horrendous pain? Will he/she go to heaven merely because they experience brutal suffering while on earth? No! If God does everything HE should, to bring this person to HIS presence, and if this person continues to consciously reject God, then we could posit a future of eternal torment for him/her.

            Having said this, we should remember that God, who places people, whom HE loves, in such hazardous existential lifestyles, would act according to HIS infinite love, grace, and mercy for these suffering souls. HIS decision about the eternal destination of these suffering souls would be a perfectly just decision.

            The second question we ask is this, would heaven compensate for the untold suffering experienced in this world by this teenager? If so, how?

            Memories of our life on earth and the ensuing disappointment are vital factors to be considered. If heaven erases our earthly memories, then our life in heaven could be devoid of any form of disappointment.

            But heaven would not erase our earthly memories. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus suggests this fact:

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores.
 “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father—send Lazarus to my father’s house (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’ Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16: 19-31, NET, Emphasis mine)
            The rich man, who is in Hades, can vividly remember his earthly life. Ergo, we will remember our earthly life and along with it, its sorrows and joy. If we will remember our earthly lives in heaven, it is quite possible that we could carry the disappointment of our earthly life into our heavenly existence.

            The other possibility is that the joy of being with God and enjoying the perfect comforts of heaven will more than adequately compensate for the pain that we endure during our earthly life.

            Let us consider some earthly instances of the latter possibility to aid our understanding. If a blind man regains his sight, would he not celebrate his sight and be joyful (that he can now enjoy God’s creation)? Similarly, if a person confined to bed with illness is healed, would this person continue being bitter about his past illness or would he enjoy his healing and live a normal life?

            A blind man, if he regains his sight, would thank God and will be joyous that he can now enjoy the sight of God’s wonderful creation. Similarly, a person bedridden with illness, upon healing, will be thankful to God and celebrate his healing by enjoying the fullness of life that God has given to him.

            Likewise, when we are in heaven, the sadness or the bitterness of our past, even if we remember them, would be lost or would become insignificant while we are in the glorious presence of the Triune God. Considering the fact that we will be enjoying the abundant comforts of heaven, would we even have time in heaven to rue the sadness and pain of our earthly life?


            I don’t think so. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Prostitution Within Christian Marriages

            Prostitution, often referred to as the world’s oldest profession, is considered a sin by many religions. However, quite a few countries have decriminalized prostitution to provide sex workers with a safer and healthier environment so that they live with less social exclusion and stigma.1

            The Bible teaches that prostitution is an immoral act, hence a sin (Leviticus 19:29; Proverbs 5:3-5, 23:27-28; Romans 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15). But the Bible also teaches that prostitutes can go to heaven if they repent of their sins (Joshua 2:1, 6:17-25; Matthew 21:31; Luke 7:36-50; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

            Prostitution, by definition, is “…the practice of engaging in relatively indiscriminate sexual activity, in general with someone who is not a spouse or a friend, in exchange for immediate payment in money or other valuables. Prostitutes may be female or male or transgender, and prostitution may entail heterosexual or homosexual activity, but historically most prostitutes have been women and most clients men.”2

            The scope of prostitution is often limited to brothels, sex workers, and their clients. But Christian marriages are often plagued by a form of prostitution.

            Here’s an instance of prostitution found in Christian marriages. This is illustrated by Rick Thomas in his podcast, “Case Study: The Christian Prostitute”:3 (Emphasis Mine)

Mrs. Johnson has been married for 27 years, most of which was one series after another of miscommunication. She says her husband seems to have one thing in his mind and the only time he is consistently helpful is when he wants to be intimate. She did admit that she uses sex as a manipulative tool when she wants something from him.
When her husband does not receive the intimacy he wants, he pouts at best and gets angry at worst. Mrs. Johnson said she and the kids walk on egg shells when he comes home, not knowing his mood for the day.
Sometimes she yields to his demands but finds no pleasure being with him intimately. It’s the only way she knows to make him civil. It’s an endless cycle of pouting, anger, sex, pleasantness, pouting, anger, sex, ad nausea.
“I know I’m part of the problem, but it all can’t be my fault. I would love to be intimate with him and enjoy it, but right now I do not see the light at the end of this hopeless tunnel. I feel like a prostitute.” 
            Prostitution involves sexual activity in exchange for money or other valuables. Similarly, sex, if used as a manipulative tool within a Christian marriage, is a form of prostitution. Sex, in this instance, is offered in exchange for something or the other – tangible or intangible, it does not matter.

            If Christian couples recognize this sin in their marriage and work towards restoring their marriage, their home would be a happy Christian home. Significantly, Christ would be glorified in and through their marriage.

            Here’s one way to restore a Christian marriage that’s plagued by prostitution. Christian ministry, Focus on the Family, teaches that Christian wives should realize that sex is the greatest gift they can offer their husbands:4 (Emphasis Mine)

You can spend so much time fretting about and avoiding sex that you miss the obvious. While acknowledging that sex is a huge force in your husband's life, don't neglect the fact that God created that force for your use as well. In fact, you should become jealous and possessive of the power inherent in your husband's sexuality. It was intended for you!
Just as twisted women are able to pull men into sin, virtuous women can use the influence of sex to call men to morality, love, and godliness.
Like many wives, you may be desperate to work on your marriage. You may long for your husband to read relationship books with you or attend marriage seminars (and actually take notes). If you really want his attention, work with the way God designed him. A great sex life won't solve the problems in your marriage; however, it will fortify your husband's desire and commitment to work toward intimacy. Your sexual relationship may be the "on-ramp" to communication, conflict resolution, and building the emotional intimacy you are longing for.
Like any married couple, Mike and I have our disagreements. In fact, we even have a full-out argument every now and then. He retreats to his corner, and I retreat to mine. Each wonders when the other will extend the olive branch with a hug, an apology, or a kind word. During these tense times in our marriage, I pay more attention than ever to how I look. I'm conscious to put on makeup and wear something relatively attractive. Why? Because I desperately need my husband's attention. I want him to desire emotional and physical connection with me. It's a potent force for encouraging reconciliation.
No amount of nagging, pleading, talking, or counseling can grab your husband's attention the way his sexual desire for you can. Just look at advertising. No approach is used more frequently or more successfully than sex appeal. Why aren't you using it in your marriage? As a good friend of mine says, "If you want to improve your marriage, invest in your underwear."
Look at it this way: How is your husband likely to respond to these two statements—"Honey, I really think we need to talk about our marriage. I feel like we are drifting apart." Versus . . . "Babe, I want to work on our sexual relationship. I want to know how to please you and how to make our sex life awesome."
Which book do you think your husband would be more interested in reading: The Seven Keys to a Great Marriage or Red-Hot Monogamy?
Please understand — I am not suggesting that you use sexuality to manipulate your husband! Withholding sex when you don't get your way or lavishing him with it when you do is manipulation. I am suggesting that you embrace this fact: There are many forces in your husband's environment that use sex to garner his attention. They are stealing the power that God intended for you. Instead of sitting passively by, claim it.
Satan consistently twists into evil what God designed for good. By God's good design, a man's sex drive is strong. If it is harnessed and intensified within marriage, it can be an incredible force fastening a man's affections and passions to his wife. I believe that it is right and godly to claim your husband's sexual desire as a potent source of influence in your marriage. This power was intended for you and for no one else. Unfortunately, if you don't claim it, someone or something else will.
"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14). Notice that in this verse, God tells the Israelites that His name is "Jealous." We often think about jealousy as a bad quality, so why would God define Himself as jealous? The obvious answer is that there are some things that we should be jealous about. God's jealousy for the hearts of His people is holy and righteous. They belong to Him and were created for His pleasure.
The same applies to your sexual relationship with your husband. You should be jealous of your husband's sexuality! It was designed for your pleasure and intimacy. The power of his sexuality was also designed for your influence in his life. Through his sexuality, you have a powerful place in your husband's life that should belong to only you. It sets apart your relationship as distinctive from every other person in his life. No one can share with him as you can. Instead of lamenting the compelling sexual appeal of pornography and co-workers in your husband's life, focus your energy on reclaiming the influence that is rightly yours.
It's Your Gift. Unwrap It!
As you digest this information, you may feel defeated by your perceived inability to meet your husband's sexual needs. Perhaps emotional or physical limitations convince you that the gift in this series is impossible for you to unwrap. No, you cannot compete with the raw sensuality dangled at men in our culture. You have neither the energy nor the physical attributes to look like a cover girl or a Playboy centerfold. Yet what you do have to offer your husband is far more profound.
Fulfilling your husband sexually encompasses so much more than the physical act. It means inviting his sexuality into your marriage, embracing all that he is, hopes, and desires. It includes wanting to fully understand him and welcoming the sexual appetite that expresses his masculinity. It involves striving with him through weakness and temptation and covering his fears and failures. No magazine, no coworker, no porn site can be this teammate and confidante for your husband. This is your place; this is your power; this is your gift. Unwrap it.

Endnotes:
1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decriminalizing_sex_work#Decriminalization

2https://www.britannica.com/topic/prostitution

3https://rickthomas.net/the-case-of-the-christian-prostitute/

4https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex-and-intimacy/understanding-your-husbands-sexual-needs/your-husbands-sex-drive-is-gods-gift-to-you


Websites last accessed on 16th October 2018.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Christianity of Abortion

            Chelsea Clinton, in an interview on September 13, 2018, said that as a deeply religious person, banning abortions would be unchristian to her.1

            It is one thing to say that banning abortions would be unchristian, for this could be a belief of a naïve Christian. But it’s entirely different to claim that as a deeply religious Christian, she knows for certain that banning abortions is unchristian. This statement presupposes Christianity’s advocacy for abortion, hence the greater significance.

            Chelsea’s utterance on abortion is not new!

            Christian leaders have, in the past, claimed that abortion is a blessing. In her sermon entitled, “Our Work is Not Done,” Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale, president of Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, MA, said, “When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

            “And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.”2

            The notion that abortion is a blessing or that banning abortions would be unchristian is not a teaching of the Historic Christianity. Those who subscribe to Historic Christianity believe that abortion is a sin against God.

            Evangelist Franklin Graham slammed Chelsea’s claim, “…Legalizing abortion hasn't added anything to our country, it has only taken away. It has cost this nation more than 60 million lives — lives precious to God…Just think of the contribution these people would have made. There will be another high cost. I believe God will judge America for allowing the heinous murder of our own children in the womb…”3

            A young Christian, who observes both sides of the abortion debate, may wonder whether abortion is Christian or unchristian. So it is pertinent to examine the Christianity of the person who subscribes to abortion. What would such Christianity entail?

            But before we head in that direction, let us, for a moment, recollect a concise argument against abortion:

            1. Human beings have intrinsic moral value.

            2. The developing fetus is a human being from conception.

            3. Abortion is a murder of a human being.

            4. The Bible teaches that the murder of human beings is a sin against God.

            5. Hence, Christians should not abort their fetus.

            Christians who endorse abortion are progressive Christians. They do not subscribe to the tenets of Historic Christianity.

            I covered this theme in an earlier blog post of mine entitled, “Why Do Christians Support Abortion?” Here’s an excerpt from that article:4 (Emphasis Mine)

Those who lead the pro-choice group or those who fervently support abortion would subscribe to progressive Christianity. In other words, they would no longer believe the tenets of Historic Christianity. Abandoning the tenets of Historic Christianity allows the individual Christian to do anything that he/she feels is right.
In order to justify their feelings or emotions, these pro-choice leaders would misinterpret the Bible. They assert that the Bible does not condemn abortion, since the word abortion is not present in the Bible as against the 3000 Bible verses that mandate social justice, “…in the New Testament, there is no direct teaching on abortion. Jesus does not address the topic specifically and not one of His parables talks about ending a pregnancy. Neither do any of Paul’s letters mention abortion. Abortion was very prevalent in many of the places Paul visited – we know this from other historical texts, and as he mentions in his letters, these cities were brimming with prostitution and illicit sexual activity. In fact, Paul never had a problem speaking out on any topic he believed followers of Christ should pay attention to! This makes it very interesting that abortion was obviously not a topic of enough priority for Paul to mention…”5
If abortion could be endorsed through this mode of reasoning, then by the same mode of reasoning a whole host of sins could be endorsed. For instance, watching porn or smoking could be endorsed, because pornography and smoking are not explicitly condemned in the Bible.
Rebecca Todd Peters is a Christian who fervently supports abortion. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and professor of religious studies at Elon University. She is also a progressive Christian.6
…Rebecca Todd Peters says, “Progressive Christianity, for me, and for many people, is about focusing on what the social teachings are in the Bible, in the traditions, in the church, that help us think about and address the social problems we see in the world. That’s very different from an evangelical understanding of Christianity, which is about salvation. I actually don’t care that much about salvation. That’s not my primary concern. My primary concern is about the world that we live in, and how we make a more just world. That’s the tradition of the social gospel.” (Emphasis Mine).7
Christians reject Christ if they are not concerned about salvation. The Lord Jesus did not come to preach social justice to the world. HE came to die for our sins so that those who believe in Christ would live forever.
The cross is the central aspect of Christianity.  If Christians claim that they are not concerned about salvation, then they are not really aligned with Christ. If they are not aligned with Christ, then their Christianity could be unequivocally questioned. So would it be accurate and reasonable to conclude that those Christians who support abortion are not Christians, to begin with?
        So Chelsea Clinton may be deeply religious. But she may not be a deeply religious Christian, who subscribes to Historic Christianity.

       If Chelsea endorses abortion, she could also endorse adultery, pornography, prostitution, polyamory etc. She could just about endorse any and every sin because her worldview entitles her to this abominable privilege. This is the entailment of her Christianity.

       Progressive Christians could call themselves Christians – that’s their call. But they are not Christians!

     Matt Walsh, in response to Chelsea’s comments on abortion, termed her as a Satanist:5

I sincerely believe she is a satanist and my only regret is that I didn't also call her a heretic. "Satanic heretic" would have been a more apt description. And she is far from the only satanic heretic in our culture.
Pro-abortion "Christians" are heretics because they claim a God who endorses violence against children. Well, I suppose that's blasphemy as well as heresy. Perhaps "blasphemous satanic heretic" is the technically correct term, but after a while it just gets redundant. The point is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life. He gives life to our children and commands us to care for the precious gift He has bestowed. It is the most twisted kind of heresy to suggest that God may breathe life into your child and then raise no objection if you crush the child's skull and throw his body in a medical waste dumpster. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," says the Book of Jeremiah. "Children are a gift from the Lord," says Psalm 127.
… Let us remember, also, that Jesus Christ was Incarnate as an unborn child. He was a "fetus," to use our modern term. A stage of human development cannot be anything less than sacred after the Lord Himself lived through that stage. Christianity is the only religion in the world that believes God Himself was once unborn. For this reason, no religion on Earth is less compatible with abortion than Christianity. You cannot be a pro-abortion Christian. It's like trying to square a circle. It just doesn't work.
Satanism, on the other hand, is deeply compatible with the pro-abortion view. The two go hand-in-hand, a match made in Hell…
It's not hard to see why satanists not only support abortion but consider it sacramental. Through abortion, a woman places her own comfort and convenience above the life of her child. She declares that her child's very humanity is contingent upon, and subordinate to, her desires. Pro-aborts are quite explicit about this. If you ask them when life begins, they'll tell you it begins whenever the mother wants it to begin. They ascribe Godlike power and authority to the individual. What else can we call this but the deification of the self? It is textbook satanism.
            Abortion is predicated on choice – the choice of the mother and maybe even the father. Such people remain in control of their lives, thereby they choose to abort.

            Being a Christian is also predicated on choice. A person chooses to believe in Christ. But in this instance, when a person chooses to believe in Christ, that person willfully surrenders his/her choice or submits his/her life to the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            When the Lord Jesus rules our life, HIS choice becomes our choice. Our choice gets lost in HIS. From this time onwards, a Christian chooses to obey the Lord Jesus and the commands that are taught in the Bible. 

            Christianity is not about having a strong social outlook. Christianity is all about loving God and being obedient to HIM and HIM alone. When we love God, we cannot ignore the social concerns of our world. However, caring for social concerns cannot supersede our obedience to God. Our allegiance is to God and to the sanctity of human life.

            Therefore, the entailment of the true Christianity is to hold a high view of God, obey HIM and HIS commands. Hence, true Christians oppose abortion. Those Christians who support abortion may not be Christians, so their deep religiosity does not matter to us. 

Endnotes:

1https://www.christianpost.com/news/chelsea-clinton-as-a-deeply-religious-person-banning-abortions-is-unchristian-to-me-227384/

2https://www.str.org/blog/abortion-blessing#.W6ujCnszZhE

3https://www.christianpost.com/news/franklin-graham-blasts-chelsea-clintons-claim-60-million-abortions-added-3-5-trillion-to-economy-226877/

4http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2018/05/why-do-christians-support-abortion.html

5https://www.dailywire.com/news/36056/walsh-people-are-mad-i-called-chelsea-clinton-matt-walsh


Websites last accessed on 28th September 2018.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Christian Persecution In China: A Comprehensive Truth

            Christians in China are being persecuted and the details are gory. The year 2017 recorded more than 240,000 instances of persecution, up from 48,000 in 2016, according to Dr. Michael Brown.1

            Dr. Brown goes on to add that this is not a one-off persecution endeavor by the Chinese government. This is the third phase of a 14-year plan of the Chinese government to persecute Christian churches:2

“…the government has implemented a three-phase, 14-year plan:
“During the first 2-year phase, 2012-2014, it further eased persecution of the underground church, enticing more of them to surface and be identified.”…
“During the second 2-year phase, 2014-2016, it invited and then pressured the identified underground churches to register and become Three-Self government churches.                                                              
“In the current third, 10-year phase, the gloves have come off as both the remaining underground churches and even Three Self churches are being persecuted using Mao-era brute-force, as well as mass surveillance, artificial intelligence, and big data.”
            This persecution follows its innate pattern. More than 2000 crosses have been destroyed. Church buildings have been demolished. Thousands of pastors have been arrested and tortured.

            Dr. Brown reported an instance, “Brothers and sisters are facing difficulties and suffering for their faith. My sister and her husband along with three others were put in jail for their gathering together with about 30 people and their stuff has been taken way with a few big trucks. They were beaten and shocked by the electronic sticks with head bleeding and arms in painful position. David their son saw what happened and cried and fainted there when it happened…my sister almost had a heart attack and her husband had gout which almost killed him. They were suffering physically and mentally…They were released after 10 days and told by local authorities they had to leave their city and district. All this for holding Christian meetings in China.”3

            This is not it. Satan intends to make it worse.

            The persecution will also include a Chinese design against Historic Christianity – ‘Sinicization of Christianity.’ This is the most dangerous element of this persecution.

            Here are some details of “Sinicization of Christianity”:4

"Sinicization" means adapting to Chinese culture a non-Chinese entity. Sinicization of Christianity, however, means bending Christianity to submit to the will of the Chinese Communist Party…
1.  Sinicization of Christianity will be led by the Chinese Communist Party and guided by "socialism"…
2. Sinicization of Christianity will "adapt" Christian theology…
3.  Sinicization of Christianity will be implemented by personnel who will be trained by "pushing" more "patriotism" and "socialism" at China's "colleges on theology"…
4. They and others are to be indoctrinated with "hermeneutics," "books," and Bibles with "annotations" that promote the "core values of socialism"…
            Sinicization of Christianity is nothing but smuggling socialism into Historic Christianity so as to adapt Christianity to the whims and fancies of the Chinese Communist Party. In other words, this version of Christianity would not be the true Christianity.

            The Sinicization of Christianity will be implemented by the ‘Three Self Church.’ Here’s some information about the Three Self Church:5

Three Self churches are the 60,000 churches in China that belong to the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement.
The three ‘Self’s are self-governance, self-support, self-propagation, and reject foreigners' influence on church leadership, foreign financing and foreign missionaries, respectively, while “Patriotic” reflects this church's loyalty to China.
The three rejections have kept the divisive Western denominationalism out of China and thus aren't necessarily bad on their own. What is bad is that the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) tries to restrict, control and twist Christianity to suit the Communist Party. Consider some of the rules governing the Three Self churches:
•  The Communist Party is the head of the church in China (Three Self churches report to the Three Self Patriotic Movement, which in turn reports to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party).
•  The Communist Party decides how many people can be baptized per year.
•  The Communist Party has the final say on who can preach and what can be preached.
•  Preaching should focus on the social rules and the social benefits of Christianity.
•  Preaching about the resurrection of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching about the second coming of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching against religions that deny the deity of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching that atheist Communist heroes went to hell is forbidden.
•  Preaching cannot deny that all good Communists go to heaven.
•  Preaching against abortion is forbidden.
•  Preachers can preach only at the Three Self church to which they are assigned.
•  Worshipping outside Three Self churches and official "meeting points" is forbidden.
•  Importing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
•  Printing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
•  Evangelizing or giving out tracts is forbidden.
•  Government officials cannot be Christian.
•  Police officers cannot be Christian.
•  Soldiers cannot be Christian.
•  Teachers cannot be Christian.
•  Children cannot become Christian.
•  Teenagers cannot become Christian. (Emphasis Mine)
            This persecution in China is unique because of the vicious plan of the Chinese government - ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ - a pogrom against Historic Christianity. This pogrom against Historic Christianity is intended to brainwash Christians to believe in a false Christianity.

            Therefore, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in China to be strengthened spiritually to face this tribulation and be faithful to the Lord Jesus during this persecution. Let us also pray that the ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ - a pogrom of the Chinese government against Historic Christianity, would fail.

            Last but not the least, may the so-called Christians governing the ‘Three Self Churches’ realize their allegiance to Satan, repent of their sins and follow the one and the only, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and no one else. Amen. 

Endnotes:
1https://stream.org/brutal-truth-persecution-christians-china/

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4http://www.billionbibles.com/china/sinicization-of-christianity.html

5http://www.billionbibles.com/china/three-self-church.html

Websites last accessed on 24th September 2018.