Culture

Does the National Day of Prayer Conflict with Separation of Church and State?

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Did you know the National Day of Prayer was enacted on April 17, 1952 by President Harry S. Truman as a time to “turn to God in prayer and meditation?” This bill was challenged in 2010 by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. She expressed it violated the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Crabb’s decision by arguing the National Day of Prayer does not establish a religion or obligate citizens to participate.

In my opinion, the National Day of Prayer is not establishing a religion. No one is coerced to attend. In fact, the Bible teaches genuine faith cannot be forced. Jesus made it abundantly clear to “give to Caesar—the government, the things that belong to the government, and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:20-21).” This implies the church should not force it’s worldview upon government.

However, this does not mean government should exclude religion either. Remember, congress shall not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” The Bible says government officials are sent to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14). How can government officials effectively serve God if they are not allowed to use moral terms within the justice system?

Currently, the United States is facing a myriad of issues, ranging from family breakdowns to drug epidemics to the abiding racial divide. Christians need to let others know there is a God who cares. There is a God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John. 3:16).” When people realize there is a heavenly Father who cares about the pain and struggles of this world, then these issues will be easier to overcome. Do you believe that?

Transgender, Transethnicity, Transage?

The Indiana State Legislature recently advanced Senate Bill 344, which extended limited civil rights to lesbian and gay people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, the bill did exclude protections for transgender people.

Some Kokomo Common Council members of Indiana were not happy with the state’s decision. One member publicly expressed his desire to codify protections for LGBT residents in Kokomo by introducing an anti-discrimination ordinance, especially for the transgender community.

While I understand this member’s desire to extend compassion and inclusivism to those who define gender according to their self-perception, it’s still a scientific fact that males and females are biologically different, no matter what social policy decrees. People are distinguished by organs, reproductive functions, hormonal profiles, bone-density, and neuropsychiatry. No amount of cross-sex hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery can fully alter one’s personhood. Therefore, self-perception and public policy should not supersede biological fact.

Furthermore, if society defines personhood by self-perception rather than genetic composition, how might this transform the sociological landscape of our city? Not only would a male be able to change his gender to female, but a Hispanic could change their ethnic origin to Asian or American Indian. Perhaps even a 30 year old could argue he is an 80 year old trapped in a middle-aged body. Thus, if gender can be transcended by one’s own psychological assessment, why can’t ethnicity, age, or anything else?

I believe the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 344 because they understood the sociological implications this bill could have on our society. It was not because of discrimination. An LGBT activist even admitted this by saying, “Why do we have to wait until it gets to that point [of discrimination]?” This suggests the state of Indiana hasn’t yet been raised to a level sufficient that it impairs or affects the public good.

In the end, I believe as a Christian we ought to love our transgender neighbors, seek their good, welcome them into our community, and condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them. At the same time, I oppose all efforts to alter one’s bodily identity because God uniquely created each individual from birth as either male or female, and he called it good. We should do the same.

Speak Out For The Civil Rights Of The Unborn

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The videos produced by The Center for Medical Progress has reassured the American people the uncanny fact that Planned Parenthood is making profit off fully intact fetal body parts. Since this is morally reprehensible, I find it necessary to use my freedom of speech to speak out for the civil rights of the unborn.

I use social media as a means to educate people about certain facts concerning abortion procedures, rights and fairness for individuals, the health and safety for both the woman and the child, and post-abortion counseling for healing and forgiveness. In my opinion, most people are not aware of the scientific, ethical, and philosophical underpinnings of this 40+ years debate.

For instance, Bernie Sanders, who is an educated man and political runner for the Democratic Party, said:

“When you tell a woman that she cannot control her own body, that’s extremism.”

This is a fallacious statement for many reasons. Firstly, every cell of the unborn’s body is genetically distinct from every cell in the mother’s. Also, humans are not independently generated from the mother. It takes both the sperm and the egg to create a zygote.

Secondly, the blood type of the baby is different from the blood type of the woman. Since you can’t have two blood types in one body to work effectively, the unborn’s blood does not belong to the mother.

Thirdly, when the embryo implants itself into the lining of the uterus, it emits a chemical substance which prevents the woman’s body from treating it as a foreign entity. If it was the “same” as the mother’s body, there would be no need for this biological mechanism.

Fourthly, the human fetus has it’s own endocrine system. And it’s the baby, not the woman’s body, who makes the final decision to induce labor by secreting the hormone oxytocin.

Therefore, the conclusion that a woman has a right to control her body is self-defeating by the very fact that its not her body. And to end with saying “extremism” as to suggest a primitive way of thinking by those who disagree  is an ad hominem attack which doesn’t help his case.

These are just a few reasons why I feel it’s necessary to inform others about what is empirically true. The argument: “A woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body” can’t be defended from a scientific perspective. Simply put, the baby and the body are uniquely distinct.

In the end, I search for what is most logical and humane. If I am mistaken, I am willing to be challenged. Thankfully we live in a pluralistic society which welcomes debate. Please feel free to write a rebuttal in the comment section. Have a great day!

What Jesus thought about Women in the Bible

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Christianity elevated the status of women more than any other religious or political system during the first century. Jesus’ disciples included several women (Luke 8:1-3), a practice very rare among the rabbis of his day. Not only that, but Christ’s first recorded disclosure of his own identity as the true Messiah was made to a woman (John 4:25-26). This woman, Mary of Magdalene, was an outcast Samaritan. Not even Jewish women would talk to her.

Moreover, Jewish tradition enforced women not to talk to outsiders or teach them their religion. Women themselves were not even allowed to teach. Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.” Jesus overthrew centuries of tradition. He taught Mary, the sister of Martha.

In Mark 5: 25-34, Jesus ignored ritual impurity laws. He cured a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Judean society of the day, it was a major transgression for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children. It was also considered unclean to heal a woman in this way.

Furthermore, the gospels indicate that Jesus cursed a woman from an indwelling Satanic spirit (Lk 13:16). Then he called her a daughter of Abraham, implying that she had equal status with the sons of Abraham. This was an honorable phrase and once again elevated the status of women.

There were many times where Jesus was looked down upon by the Pharisees because he would talk to women. You might be familiar with the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed him with an alabaster of oil. Jesus highly exalted this woman in front of the Pharisees. He said, “this woman has come and repented of her sins before me. She has shown me more hospitality than you ever did. Woe to you hypocrites.” This is an excellent reference to demonstrate God honoring a woman prostitute in front of the  religious elite.

The Scriptures also apprise readers that women were present at Jesus’ execution (Matt. 27:55). Many women who followed Jesus from Galilee were present at his crucifixion and the men had fled the scene according to John 19:25. Some skeptics say that whoever wrote the Bible did so with a bias male dominance. However, why would the Bible admit that men ran from God at the time of Jesus’ greatest trial? This example illustrates that the women had greater faith than even the disciples.

I believe these examples prove that Jesus had high regards for women. What are your thoughts? If you believe he did, why do you think there are so many misconceptions today? If you don’t think Jesus had high regards for women, could you explain why? Thanks!

The Rise in Urbanization

Did you know that by the year 2050, 85% of the population will live in big cities? This clearly demonstrates the rise of modernization, industrialization, and is a sociocultural shift that will forever change the way humans interact.

What causes urbanization? It occurs as individuals, commercial businesses, social and governmental efforts conglomerate to places that are already making an economic impact. Many of these cities grow because they offer diversity and marketplace competition for future entrepreneurs, and are an endless service of goods for the individual consumer. But is the city as great as people say?

Some of the negative aspects of living in a city are stress, daily life costs, and social identity issues. In addition, as people move away from the rural culture, there are less farmers tending crops and livestock to feed the people domestically. What happens then? More food is shipped from farther away, making it difficult to have fresh food that is healthy. Lastly, when the population of the city grows, it has to deal with an increase of pollution. Just read in the news about the crisis happening in China as a result of overpopulated cities.

Do you think urbanization is a positive direction for our sociological upbringing? Do the benefits outweigh the concerns? How do you think urbanization will affect future generations? How will it change our methodology of sharing the good news of Jesus with others? Always glad to hear your thoughts on the matter.

 

 

Jesus the Relational God

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“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).”

Has anyone seen the Emmy-award winning show Undercover Boss? The main point is for CEO Senior Executives to experience and investigate how their business works, to identify the strengths and weaknesses, sympathize with the frustrations of the employees, and reward-hard workers for their efforts. After a couple weeks working undercover, the CEOs invite those whom they interacted with and reveal their true character.

The first episode was conducted by the CEO of Waste Management, Larry O’ Donnell. He interacted with three different employees and built a strong relationship with one of the project managers. The manager told Larry about his battle with diabetes, undergoing dialysis to filter his blood three days a week, and the pressure he receives daily to perform his job well. Larry was heartbroken, caring, and wanted to help him out because he too has a daughter that is physically and mentally challenged. At the end of the show, Larry offers the project manager the opportunity to become his market director, share his personal testimony, and encourage others never to give up.

In the same way, Jesus Christ, the CEO of the universe, is able to understand our struggles and frustrations. As the Scripture teaches, in every respect He became like us, taking on human flesh as the God-Man, and being tempted in every way as us, yet without sin! He is not a God who is far away, but a relational God who sympathizes with us. Just like Larry stepped down from his high and lofty position as CEO of Waste Management to understand his employees, Jesus Christ willingly humbled Himself from his heavenly throne as King of Kings to relate to His creation, breathe the same air as us, walk the same paths as us, and ultimately suffer more than everyone.

Because of Jesus, we are able to have confidence to draw near the throne of grace and receive the mercy in time of need. Are you struggling with depression? anxiety? anger? Go to the Lord in prayer. He cares for your soul and desires to build a relationship. Are you looking for someone to talk to? You can call on the Lord where you are, whether in the car, kitchen, or on top of a mountain. You don’t need to go to a priest, confession booth, or light a candle at church. Simply open the Word of God, ask for forgiveness, repent of your sins, and trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who already suffered for the penalty of your sins.

What are some practical steps to building a relationship with God? 1.) Spend time in the Bible because it is living and active, and is your sword in battle. 2.) Find a local church that believes in the authority of Scripture and trusts in Christ alone for their salvation. 3.) Invite other believers into your life and don’t be afraid to share your past struggles with them. More than likely, they have been through the same temptations as you. God bless!

What is the Cure for Racism?

English: No racism Lietuvių: Ne rasizmui

Racism is defined as a “belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.”

The definition of racism itself is controversial since there is no scientific or biological evidence that there are different races or classes of human beings. It’s important to recognize that there is only one race–the human race. Africans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians all come from the same human family. Rather, they may have different ethnic identities that place them within a particular cultural group’s customs, beliefs, and languages, but there is nothing inherently different among us.

History reveals the evil of one race enforcing their superiority over another. It was the driving force behind the transatlantic slave trade. Europeans would buy African Americans who were captured in endemic warfare. Even the African people made a business of capturing other tribal clans and selling them into the slave trade.

In the 20th century, the Nazi’s considered the Jews, Gypsies, and anyone else who was not part of the Aryan race as sub-human. Heinrich Himmler, the leading military commander of the Nazi army said these disastrous words: “What happens to the Russians, what happens to the Czechs, is a matter of utter indifference to me… Whether the other peoples live in comfort or perish of hunger interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; apart from that it does not interest me.”

Why are human beings so cruel towards each other? What is the cure for intolerance and racism? Is it social reform? Education? Multicultural awareness? I believe these are necessary steps to alleviate the problem, but its much deeper and resides in the heart of man. I believe the only cure is the gospel, the good news that God saves sinners, even the most rebellious and heinous.

The word gospel literally means good news, but to understand how good it is, one must first understand the bad news. When man fell in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6) by their willful disobedience towards God, they were separated and every part of man, including his mind, will, emotions, and flesh were corrupted by sin. Man is now hostile towards God (Rom. 8:7) and their every desire is to love evil rather than good, resulting in man being eternally condemned in Hell. It is in Hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy God. Without any solution to this problem, there would be no hope for humanity. However, God in His mercy and grace, provided a solution, a substitute for our sins, Jesus Christ. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become righteous. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could restore our fellowship back with God.

Because God has made a way for sinners, He calls all of us to repent (turn, have a change of mind), of our sins and trust in the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8).  Those who believe in Christ (Rom. 10:8) are not only saved from hell but also given a new nature, a changed heart, and a new desire and attitude to worship and give glory to Almighty God (2 Cor. 5:17). When we receive this new heart, we not only have a desire to love God, but we also have a desire to love our neighbor. The cure, then, for racism, is the gospel of Jesus Christ.