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Temples of Glory

Temples of Glory
Ruth Rieder

Moral decay is rampant, and the spirit of sensuality holds sway in our society. Nudity has become commonplace as the fashion industry systematically churns out provocative apparel that seduces and appeals to the lust of the flesh. What would have been deemed scandalous attire a few, short years ago is now run-of-the-mill. How did this come about?

The process of desensitization did not happen in one days’ time. It has taken over two centuries to demolish the walls of conservatism in clothing. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, apparel remained modest for both men and women. Styles changed from time to time, but skirts stayed ankle or floor length for women. A woman who showed her ankles was considered a loose woman.

Men’s and women’s clothing continued to show marked distinction in their characteristics. Women always wore dresses while men wore trousers. It was unthinkable to even conceive of a woman’s wearing men’s attire. Nevertheless, in 1850 the first assault was made on the conventional dress code as feminists dared to wear trousers beneath short dresses. These garments were dubbed “bloomers” after feminist editor Amelia Bloomer. America was not quite ready for such a radical departure from traditional values, and a public outcry ensued. For the time being, Turkish trousers on women remained unacceptable; however, the idea had been broached. Next time, people would not be so violently opposed.

In 1890 Charles Dana Gibson, a cartoonist, created the likeness of a beautiful woman that epitomized the Victorian feminine ideal. An all-American icon, the “Gibson Girl” would retain popularity for over twenty years. During the same decade, another attempt was made to introduce more masculine clothing for women. The new fashion designed for female bicyclists was called the “divided skirt”. Public outrage was not as great over this tangent, and eventually the style was generally accepted.

Skirts remained long and hats large though makeup was virtually nonexistent at the onset of the twentieth century. Fashions were relatively unchanged until the revolution and rebellion of the Roaring Twenties. Several factors contributed to the fanatical deviation from previous feminine behavior and attire.

First, “actresses and professional beauties were no longer seen as women of questionable morality, but rather as celebrities and stars.”‘ Women began to emulate their makeup, hairstyles, and fashions. They imitated women such as “Vampire” Theda Bara, the original sex goddess, who seduced and ruined men. She was famous for her seductive clothing, hypnotic kohl-rimmed eyes, and heavy barbaric looking jewelry. Actors and actresses heavily influenced behavior and fashions. This trend would persist with the onset of Hollywood and larger than life movie stars.

The passage of women’s suffrage also had a terrific bearing on the female mind-set. Suddenly liberated from all former political restraints, women began casting their votes. Unfortunately, they cast aside their morals and virtues as well. The “flapper” openly necked in parked cars, smoked cigarettes, and danced the night away in roadhouses.

Another agent of change was the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Women painted their faces and cut their hair as they copied the fashions of Egypt. They wore Egyptian style tunics, slave bracelets, and serpent headbands. Ironically, in their quest for freedom, they actually adopted clothing that symbolized bondage.

Finally, the fourth major factor that contributed to moral demise was the First World War. “During the war years, fashions remained conservative, though skirts rose slowly from floor level to just above the ankle, easing the life of the many women now working outside the home or serving as nurses or members of the auxiliary corps. After peace broke out hems continued to rise rapidly”(2). Women seemed driven to break away completely from all former traditions as they bobbed their hair, wore short dresses, and openly painted their faces. Along with these revolutionary changes came the wearing of pants and shorts. The seeds that had been sown seventy years earlier with the introduction of “bloomers” finally blossomed into maturity.

The 1930s brought back longer skirts; however, another style was introduced at this time that would have a great bearing on future fashions. It was called the “cut up” skirt. Actresses such as blonde bombshell Jean Harlow, a famous sex symbol during the ’30s, wore these cuts or “slits” to underscore her sex appeal. Clothing would never return to former levels of modesty as the ’40s and ’50s followed the fashion trends that were started in the ’20s-short skirts, heavy makeup, and cut hair. During World War II, trousers became totally acceptable as a form of feminine attire while women progressed further in their quest for liberation and equality with men. Subsequent decades would reap a harvest of moral destruction from the seeds sown many years earlier.

The fashions of the ’20s came full circle in the ’60s, but this time the desensitizing process allowed for greater excess in nudity and sensuality. The ’20s flapper with her mannish figure bobbed her hair, had kohl-rimmed eyes, and wore knee grazing dresses. The ’60s ideal, embodied in Twiggy’s boyish looks and stick thin figure, also had bobbed hair and kohl-rimmed eyes. However, she took clothing to a new level of immodesty with the inception of the miniskirt. While the flappers openly necked in parked cars, smoked cigarettes, and danced the night away in roadhouses, the children of the ’60s and ’70s would become involved with psychedelic drugs, marijuana, love-ins, and nudist colonies. The sexual revolution that began forty years earlier bore bitter fruit, resulting in the complete destruction of moral values.

Avant fashion designers such as Rudi Gernreich “continued to design articles of clothing intended to chisel away at the national prudery”(3). He generated styles such as the topless bathing suit in 1964, see-through blouses, and mini dresses inset with clear vinyl strips. The “cut up” skirt of the 1930s resurfaced as skin revealing slits in the midi skirt. Popular new fashions such as bikinis, hot pants, and halter tops swept the marketplace as modesty exited out the door, and the country perpetuated its downward spiral. As inhibitions were consistently lowered, people grew accustomed to exposing their flesh.

THE MORAL DESTRUCTION OF A NATION WAS REVEALED IN THE CLOTHING WORN BY ITS CITIZENS!! “As James Laver has remarked, modes are but the reflection of the manners of the time.” Likewise, the moral condition of the Church will be manifested by the styles that are adopted and embraced by its constituents. Clothing is merely an outward indication of an inward condition. “Clothing is inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.”‘

For thousands of years, human beings have been communicating with one another in the language of dress. Long before I am near enough to talk to you on the street, in a meeting, or at a party, you announce your sex, age, and class through what you are wearing. Important information (or misinformation) as to your occupation, origin, personality, opinions, tastes, sexual desires, and current mood is conveyed by your attire. I may not be able to put into words what I observe, yet the information is registered
subconsciously. By the time we meet and converse, we have already spoken to one another in an older and more universal tongue-the language of clothes.

God understood the communication of clothing from the beginning. This concept is illustrated perfectly in the story of Adam and Eve. God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, placed him in the Garden of Eden, and created Eve to be a helpmeet for him. When God brought the first man and woman together, the Scripture says, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed”(6).

In their state of innocence, shame was nonexistent between the first couple. Seduced by the serpents, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, and sin intruded paradise. Purity of heart was shattered. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”‘

The first repercussion of the fall of man was the awareness of nakedness. In the wake of disobedience, Adam and Eve constructed the first clothing of fig leaves. Nevertheless, their manmade aprons were insufficient, so God replaced the fig leaves sewn by Adam and Eve with a proper covering. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them”(8). The Hebrew word for “coats” is kuttoneth (pronounced koot-to’-neth), meaning a coat, garment, or robe to cover. God made coats that covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve, thereby setting forth a divine precept of modesty for mankind. Lust had gained admittance into the world, so humanity could no longer walk about unclothed because the destruction of innocence necessitated the covering of nakedness.

The erroneous argument that God is not concerned about the kinds of clothes people wear has absolutely no foundational support in Scripture. He cared enough to provide proper attire for the first man and woman! This account clearly demonstrates God’s criteria for clothing; He ordained that mankind should be properly covered.

Modesty cannot be defined by the current societal ideals. As the preceding historical commentary demonstrates, society has diminished and even eliminated former clothing restraints. God’s Church must be governed by the guidelines outlined in His Word. These precepts never change as the psalmist declared in Psalm 119:89 and 142, “For ever, 0 LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Desensitization by the current culture has allowed carnal clothing to creep into the Church. It is commonplace today to attend the House of God and see openly exposed thighs and vulgar, skin tight apparel that is sexually provocative. The young and old freely wear clothing that reveals their flesh as the spirit of sensuality invades the Church.

A look at history confirms that knee grazing skirts and long slits, popular styles freely worn among God’s people, have their roots in rebellion and sexual enticement. When slits first invaded the Church, there was an uproar as we were told to sew them or pin them closed. However, over the process of time, people grew tired of addressing the issue, and slits crept higher and higher. At the same time, skirts have become shorter and shorter with the addition of indecent “cuts”. These styles have frequently been defended as many declare that such clothing was acceptable in days gone by. Again, it is imperative that we understand that our standard of righteousness cannot be predicated upon the standard of the world. The Word of God is our only legitimate measuring rod.

His Word commands in Exodus 20:26, “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” God is adamant
about modesty. He instructed His people not to make steps leading up to His altar because it was forbidden for their flesh to be exposed in the place of worship.

Isaiah 47:1-4 also clarifies how God views the uncovering of a woman’s legs and thighs. “Come down, and sit in the dust, 0 virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, 0 daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg. uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea. thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man. As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.”

In this passage of Scripture, the Lord is declaring vengeance on Babylon and Chaldea. God’s judgment brought humiliation to the royal princesses, who were cast from their thrones. No longer women of refinement and dignity, they became slaves, exposing their flesh in the sight of common men.

Royal women of that day never exposed themselves in this manner. They wore veils and peered out of latticed windows.’ The humiliation of nakedness was one of the greatest punishments that could be inflicted upon these delicate women. History verifies that nakedness was associated with slavery while proper clothing was a sign of royalty. In ancient Egypt, for instance, slaves and servants often wore nothing or, at most, a brief loincloth, but aristocrats put on clothes to indicate rank. Even in colder climates and more Puritanical societies, it has generally been true that the more clothes someone wears, the higher his or her status or position. This principle can be viewed in Medieval and Renaissance art. Peasants wore relatively few garments while kings and queens were burdened with layers of gowns, robes, and mantles even in indoor scenes(10).

Indeed, the secular world recognizes the correlation between bondage and nudity. Furthermore, nakedness is a shame, as well as a sign of slavery, in God’s sight. We are no longer enslaved by sin but have been made kings and priests unto God. The Church is spiritual royalty, a royal priesthood. Heaven’s royal family should never expose their flesh in view of common man!

We have taught on the essentiality of women not wearing things that pertain to a man. However, a woman can wear a dress and be indecent or even vulgar. One fashion commentator noted, “Clothes that simultaneously conceal and reveal, and-like a half-opened gift- invite us to imagine what lies beneath, are traditionally erotic in their effect”(11). The peek-a-boo effect produced by the slit skirt is very seductive. Slits worn open to or above the knee expose the thighs when the wearer walks and climbs steps. Here is some food for thought. If you cut off your skirt where the slit ends, would you still be able to wear it?

Should a saint of God be seen in an outfit that is low cut, form fitting, and so revealing nothing is left to the imagination? Here is the message communicated by seductive apparel: “The garment that is partially unfastened not only reveals more flesh but implies that total nakedness will be easily achieved”(12). Is that what you want your clothes to imply? Does this sort of attire glorify God or entice the flesh? What kind of effect will it have upon men who are attracted by what they see?

Jesus addressed this situation in Matthew 5:27-29. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

Under the Mosaic Law, the act of adultery was a sin punishable by death. However, New Testament grace is more demanding; looking and lusting constitute the sin of adultery. It would be easy to pass this off as being totally incumbent upon the men. Would that be fair?

Specific laws concerning adultery and rape are found in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-29. A woman violated against her will was innocent. On the other hand, a woman who willingly participated in the adulterous act was held accountable and was put to death along with the man. If a woman wears clothing that incites a man to lust and commit adultery in his heart, she is also held accountable in the sight of God. If her pretty legs or attractive body outshine the light of the Holy Ghost, she has ceased to glorify God, and the Word asserts, “That no flesh should glory in his presence”(13).

Our brethren should not have to pluck out their eyes or take off their glasses because of the clothing that is being worn to the House of God. This world has become a flesh parade. The Church must be a sanctuary of holiness where we are not assailed by nakedness and fleshly lusts!

The issue of immodesty was not unfamiliar to the New Testament Church. They were surrounded by the Greek culture where nakedness was ordinary. “In ancient
Egypt, Crete and Greece the naked body was not considered immodest; slaves and athletes habitually went without clothing, while people of high rank wore garments that were cut and draped so as to show a good deal when in motion.”‘ Paul alluded to the Olympian games and Grecian athletes in his writings. Clearly he was familiar with the heathen temples, rampant prostitution, nudity, and resulting moral decay in the Gentile society.

From this vantage point Apostle Paul addressed the issue of women’s attire. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. s15 The word “modest” in the Greek is the word kosmios (pronounced kos’-mee-os). It means “orderly, decorous, of good behavior, modest.” Decorous means “proper, seemly, correct.” Women are being instructed to properly adorn themselves with appropriate attire in keeping with good behavior. Indecent clothing does not belong in the wardrobe of a godly woman.

Another key word in this Scripture is translated “shamefacedness”. The Greek word is aidos (pronounced ahec doce’). Its definition is “to have downcast eyes; bashfulness towards men, modesty, awe towards God, reverence.” There should be no brazenness in the actions of a godly woman. She is to be bashful or inclined to shrink from undue male attention. Modesty coupled with profound awe towards God govern a consecrated woman’s conduct and clothing choices. She reverences her high calling as a holy woman, and this is displayed in her outward appearance.

One more word that describes the attire of a holy woman is “sobriety”. That Greek word is sophrosune (pronounced so-fros-oo’–nay), meaning “soundness of mind, sanity, self control, soberness.” In the fear of God, women should seriously evaluate the clothes they wear. What language is being spoken-the language of lust or the language of holiness? Self-control and clear thinking will enable a saint of God to choose garments that speak of godliness rather than worldliness.

It is interesting to note that the word “adorn” is used in this particular portion of Scripture. To adorn means “to beautify”. God understands the woman’s desire to be beautiful. He created them in this manner. Nevertheless, the secret to true and lasting beauty is found in adornment that is in keeping with the Word of God.

“What? know ye not that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”(16). Paul likened the body of a believer to a temple. A temple is a building or place dedicated to the worship or the presence of a deity. The Greek word that was used for “temple” is vaos. This particular word refers to the Holiest of Holies where the shekinah glory of God dwelt. Our bodies have become God’s dwelling place, a sacred inner sanctum filled with His glory. Since we belong to God, we cannot allow anything to defile this place of worship.

The High Priest approached the Holy of Holies very cautiously. Careful attention was given to every aspect of his appearance. He had to wear holy garments made of pure linen as he ministered before the Lord. This was a matter of life and death. Unholy attire was never permissible in the holy place because his vesture symbolized God’s purity and the righteousness of the saints.

Likewise, our clothing should always exemplify holiness unto the Lord. Revelation 3:18 admonishes us to buy “white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear…” We cannot mix the sensual fabric of the world with the pure linen of righteousness. It could be a matter of spiritual life or death. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”(17).

As temples of glory dedicated to the worship of God, we cannot become desensitized by the licentious lifestyles that surround us. It is imperative that we keep our garments unspotted from the world. Non-believers are free to dress according to their own desires, but the children of God have been bought with a price. We are God’s property, and He determines the manner in which we dress. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body”!!

Footnotes:
1. Hope in a Jar/The Making of America’s Beauty Culture, Kathy Peiss (Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1998) page 48
2. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 73
3. New York Fashion, The Evolution of American Style, Caroline Rennolds Milbank (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York) page 223
4. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 11
5. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 3
6. Genesis 2:25
7. Genesis 3:7
8. Genesis 3:21
9. Genesis 24:65, Ruth 3:15, Song of Solomon 5:7, Judges 5:28
10. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 120
11. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 212
12. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 231
13. I Corinthians 1:29
14. The Language of Clothing, Alison Lurie (Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York) page 212
15. I Timothy 2:9-10
16. I Corinthians 6:19-20
17. I Corinthians 3:16-17

The above article, “Temples of Glory” was written by Ruth Rieder. The article was excerpted from Rieder’s book, Reflecting the Glory.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering
Scott Phillips

There is a great move today in the world of agriculture and science within the field of genetic manipulation. They use this technology to produce redder tomatoes, juicer oranges, and more productive crops. They even went so far as to produce a brand of cotton that has a special gene added. You can spray “Round Up,” a plant killer, on it and it won’t be killed.

I heard a story the other day on public radio where they are producing seed, special seed that gives these “great” results. But the catch is that the plant it produces does not produce seed. If my memory serves me correctly it is a type of wheat seed. This is done to ensure the farmers always must buy seed, instead of saying seed.

Science has created “ornamental trees,” such as the Bradford Pear. It is a beautiful tree. The blossoms are stunning. But don’t look for any fruit. It is a pear tree without pears.

Men breed different levels of species to create hybrids, such as a donkey and a horse, which creates a mule.

Genetic engineering is the process of manipulating the genetic structure of a species to change or modify to bring about a desired result. The goal is improvement. There is nothing new under the sun. And the concept and idea of this is not new either. Men have been doing this for centuries.

Is this happening in the Christian world? And why would I suggest this is happening?

Why does it seem that we find fruitless trees in the orchards of organizational structure? Stubborn mules graze in fields of labor. Millions of seed are sown with a very small return. The nature of seed is multiplication, not division.

The purpose is not to be critical but to examine my own life and ask the million dollar question, “What kind of SEED am I sowing?”

I must realize that I and others can see the origination of the seed I sow by the lasting results I have. Results are not found in the first generation. Results are found in the spiritual grandchildren. Can we find any?

By my physical efforts, charisma, talent, and ability I can make some things happen. Everyone can show some visible effects. If I wanted to start a Boy Scout troop, I could do that by persistence and having a good reputation.

Results that are built in this realm are not eternal. They are what the Bible calls wood, hay and stubble. These results will not make a difference.

Eternal results cannot be assessed now. They will be assessed in the process of time. Some results will not be seen until the resurrection. They are seed sown to the wind. For example, if the effort I expend on writing is being sent to the wind. I will never know all the fruit that is harvested for His kingdom. He will be the Judge. My works will be tried in the fire just like yours will be.

I have heard the difference between wheat and tares is hard to distinguish while they are growing. But at harvest time the wheat bends under the burden of the fruit and the tares stand tall because there is no fruit on its stem.

The Gospel works. The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We fulfill the gospel by dying in Repentance, by being buried with Him in baptism, and by being filled with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

This is the seed that works.

If we have experienced this Gospel, we must be sure that we “examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith.”

How can we tell? What is growing? Where is the fruit? If I have no fruit, it is safe to say I am not connected to the Vine.

Fruit is more than the fruit of the Spirit. Thirty, sixty, and hundred-fold does not mean that we will display 30, 60 and 100% of the nine qualities of the fruit of the Spirit. If you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit you will not have any lasting fruit.

The fruit of an apple tree is not ultimately an apple, but apple trees. Apples contain the seeds of reproduction. If Gospel faith is in you, you will have all nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. If you have them, they will cause people to respect you, listen to you, pray with you, and believe in you and ultimately believe what you have is real and receive it.

If you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit you are not in the faith. I don’t care if you quote the whole book of Acts. I don’t care if you can preach good, sing good, and shout good.

You can do these things without the Gospel. The world is full of people doing it.
Too many religious folks get so high and mighty because they don’t drink, cuss, smoke and dance.

But they allow open festering infectious sores of attitudes and concepts to grow in their life. I don’t think saved people should drink alcohol, cuss, smoke, chew, dance, listen to secular music, be entertained with sin and abomination, run around showing their nakedness, or dressing in a way that can be sensual or sexual. However, abstaining from the above is not proof of salvation. Proof of salvation is found in the fruit of the Spirit.

So many are sowing seeds that give people the sense of security in the things they don’t do.

I believe, preach and practice abstaining from these things. However, my salvation is found in the grace of God empowering me to have a right attitude, perspective and conduct around other believers and those that are not believers.

The Spirit of Christ was shown when He was betrayed, beaten, and crucified. He opened not His mouth in defense or retaliation, and when He did open His mouth, He was praying for their forgiveness. The evidence of salvation is how we act when the pressure is on, when the enemy is taunting us. We don’t cuss, strike out, get revenge or carry a grudge. We keep our mouths shut and pray for the mercy of God in their life.

God could be using these people to work on your stinking attitude. Pray through. You can be an honest person without the Holy Ghost. You can be faithful to your wife without the Holy Ghost. You can be a hard worker without the Holy Ghost. You can be a good provider without the Holy Ghost.

You can be a good person in the view of the world without the Holy Ghost.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)

To have the fruit of the Spirit, you must have the Holy Ghost. When you get the Gospel, you walk right, talk right, and spit white. If we will allow the Spirit of Christ to grow in us we will be fruitful.

This means not only do we live a holy life, but we also have holy conversation, relations, and interactions with the church and the world.

The seed of the Gospel works.

If we will cultivate the Spirit of God in our life, we will be found fruitful and faithful.

Beating my body under subjection,
Seasoning my conversations with grace,
Walking in the Spirit,
Dying daily,
Making my calling and election sure,
Stirring up the gift of God that is within me,
Praying in the Holy Ghost –
For fruit that will remain.
In Him, By Him, Through Him,

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:17-19)

The above article, “Genetic Engineering” was written by Scott Phillips. The article was excerpted from chapter nineteen in Phillip’s book, In Him By Him Through Him.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in AIS File Library, IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAM - America, ISMS - Miscellaneous Topics0 Comments

The Sanctity of Human Life

The Sanctity of Human Life
David K. Bernard

“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17).

“Abstain…from blood” (Acts 15:29).

Biblical Foundation

The Bible affirms the sanctity of human life in strong terms. When one person kills another he violates God’s law and destroys God’s image-creature (Genesis 9:5-6). Furthermore, the killer destroys the victim’s future potential, including the possibility of future salvation in the case of an unsaved person.

The Law prohibited all murder (Exodus 20:13), and the New Testament affirms this teaching (Matthew 15:18-20; Galatians 5:19-21; James 2:11; I Peter 4:15). By extension this forbids violence and aggression. John the Baptist told repentant soldiers, ‘Do violence to no man (Luke 3:14). He who hates is a murderer and does not have eternal life (I John 3:14-15).

Jesus went beyond the Law in teaching nonviolence and no retaliation. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also… Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44). (See also Romans 12:19; I Peter 3:9.)

The Jerusalem Council admonished Gentile Christians to abstain from blood (Acts 15:29). If Acts 15 teaches us not to eat blood because it symbolizes life (Leviticus 17:10-11), surely it also teaches us to abstain from actual bloodshed (taking of human life).

The New Testament thus leads us to reject the killing of human beings under all circumstances, even in war fare, self-defense, and suicide. In addition, the Bible indicates that God considers the child in the womb to be a human life; therefore we reject abortion since it is a form of murder.

Killing in Warfare and Self Defense

Many biblical examples specifically indicate that God does not will for a Christian to take the life of another person, even in warfare or self-defense. When Peter began to use his sword in an attempt to defend the Lord from capture, Jesus said to him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). (See also Revelation 13:10.) In calling the rich to repentance, James noted, “Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you’ (James 5:6).

The New Testament admonishes us to pay taxes, to submit to governmental authority, and to pray for civil leaders (Romans 13:1-7; I Timothy 2:1-3; Titus 3:1; I Peter 2:13-17), but it does not tell us to bear arms to support the government. Although the Roman Empire was a pagan government and a foreign dictatorship, Jesus did not endorse Jewish rebellion against it, but taught submission to civil government (Matthew 5:40-41; 17:24-27: 22:17-21). When slaves converted to Christianity, Paul and Peter did not condone rebellion against their masters but taught them to serve their masters, even harsh masters, as they would the Lord (Ephesians 6:5; I Peter 2:18-21).

When Christians were persecuted, they did not respond violently. Stephen did not throw stones back at his murderers, but prayed, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). The Christians did not storm the prison where Peter was, hut prayed for God to deliver him. Paul endured numerous imprisonments, five scourgings, three beatings, and a stoning without retaliating violently.

The New Testament teaches that each individual is of infinite value, that God is no respecter of persons, and that society should conform to the will of God. These principles certainly exclude any form of dictatorship, tyranny, persecution, or slavery. However, when Christians actually faced such situations, God never willed for them to respond with physical violence, rebellion, or bloodshed

It is difficult to justify any killing in view of Christ admonitions not to be violent, not to retaliate, not to see revenge, to love enemies, and to pray for persecutors. Some say His teaching relates only to personal not social situations, but how can a person separate personal morality from social responsibility? At the minimum, one cannot morally justify all wars simply because the government prosecutes them. How can a Christian participate in the massacre of innocent people, a war of conquest: an unprovoked nuclear attack, a war of revenge, or a War to maintain an oppressive dictatorship?

If we affirm that some wars are just, how can a Christian know when a war is justifiable, especially in light of governmental deception and the individual’s limited information? In World War II, most Nazi soldiers though: they were defending their homeland, race, and culture against enemies that would destroy them if they were no: destroyed first. They usually did not know of the atrocities committed by their own government. If we justify an individual’s participation in killing simply because it seems justifiable based on his limited knowledge, then almost every soldier in every war is blameless. Even most Nazi and Communist soldiers have sincerely believed the cause was right. The only way for an individual to know with certainty that a war is just is if he fights for theocracy, a government with God as the Commander-in-Chief. No such government exists today or will exist until Christ returns to earth, and at that time God Himself will do all the fighting necessary.

If it is right for a Christian to kill for country, then is it right for a Christian to lie, steal, become a prostitute, worship idols or commit any other violation of God’s moral law for country? Are we adrift on a sea of moral relativism and situation ethics, in which we base moral decisions on an individual’s subjective utilitarian analysis or an unchristian government’s proclamations?
When we make the decision to take a human life, we are making an exception to God’s Word because we do not think it will work in our particular situation. However, God’s moral law always brings the best results when viewed from an eternal perspective.

We deplore the militaristic spirit often associated with conservative religious movements today. We must not equate Christianity with carnal warfare, or patriotism with bloodshed. Even if we think some wars are justifiable or even if we appreciate the positive benefits of some wars, we must emphasize that war is essentially evil. It is a scourge of mankind. We must never glorify war. If our world were Christian, there would be no war, and if our nation were Christian, God could protect us without war.

Israel’s Wars

Why did God allow and even command the Israelites to destroy their enemies in the Old Testament? First, the Old Testament Israelites did not have the Holy Ghost baptism with its overcoming power, nor did they have a complete understanding of God’s perfect will in this area. God worked with them on the level they had attained.

Even in the Old Testament it seems that God preferred to do all the fighting. When the Egyptians pursued the Israelites, Moses proclaimed, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14). God miraculously delivered Elisha from the Syrian army (II Kings 6:13-23) and miraculously delivered Samaria from the Syrian army (II Kings 7:6-7). Likewise, God sent an angel to defeat the Assyrian army singlehandedly (II Kings 19:35). When Jehoshaphat appointed singers to praise the Lord and the beauty of holiness before the army, God miraculously ambushed the enemy, apparently using angelic hosts (II Chronicles 20:20-25). Perhaps God would have done this more had Israel trusted Him fully and understood His perfect will. God refused to let David build the temple because he was a man of war and had shed blood (I Chronicles 28:3).

In the New Testament, Christ specifically went beyond the Old Testament revelation on this subject, calling us to a higher personal morality. Just after implementing this higher teaching, Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This parallels God’s progressively stricter dealings from Old to New Testament in other areas such as incest, polygamy, and divorce.

Second, God used Israel as a unique theocratic instrument for several reasons which do not apply today: to bring judgment upon ungodly nations, to teach that the penalty for sin is death, and to protect His chosen nation so that His plan of salvation would survive. “The Canaanites against whom Israel waged war were under judicial sentence of death by God. They were spiritually and morally degenerate… Thus, God ordered all the Canaanites to be killed…both because they were under God’s death sentence, and to avoid the contamination of Israel”(1).

Today, God no longer deals primarily with nations but with individuals. He reserves judgment and tells His people not to judge others. We call this the age of grace, because God has revealed grace, mercy, and longsuffering in a greater measure than ever before and because He does not execute judgment speedily as usually occurred under the Law.

God’s chosen people are not a physically unique nation which He must protect against enemy nations. God’s salvation plan no longer depends upon a physical nation. Our weapons are not physical, but spiritual. The Israelites were physically separated from the world by diet, farming practices, and keeping of the Sabbath, but we are spiritually separated from the world. The Israelites fought the world physically, but we fight the world spiritually. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” (II Corinthians 10:3-4). “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Defense of Country

If everyone believed that all wars are wrong. How would his country defend itself from attack? This objection ignores Christ’s teaching that the true church would be a relatively small, persecuted minority in this world, composed of the few who follow the narrow way rather than the many who follow the broad path. Jesus said that His church would not be part of the world system. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14, 16). “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36). We are aliens and strangers in this world, with our first allegiance to a heavenly country (Hebrews 11:13-16).

If patriotism justifies killing, then two Spirit-filled members of the same “holy nation” (I Peter 2:9) could justifiably kill each other in a war between their respective earthly nations!

If the world did convert to apostolic Christianity there would be no war. In the unlikely event that one nation so converted while its enemies did not, that nation would have greater protection by prayer and faith in God than by faith in its own carnal weapons. If God allowed an aggressor to attack a genuinely Christian nation, it would be better to submit to dictatorship or to resist nonviolently than to cause the destruction of thousands of people. This is effectively what Jesus and Paul taught by saying it was better to live under a dictatorial or enslaving condition’ instead of rebelling. Even advocates of just war agree that this is true in some cases. “Allowing evil aggression would be better than total annihilation”(2).

God can use the non-Christian society to further His will and to protect His people. Thus, God may allow a nation to go to war and win so that His purpose will be accomplished. However, this does not mean He desires for–His church to take part in the killing. In the Old Testament God allowed the Assyrians to chastise Israel, but then punished them for their own aggression (Isaiah 8:1-7; 10:12-27). God can channel ungodly actions into furthering His plans, but if the nation turns to Him He can achieve the same results in a better way.

There are many ways to serve one’s country well without participating in killing. The Bible teaches us to pay taxes and to pray for governmental leaders. Our prayers can be very effective weapons for justice and righteousness. We can also contribute to the strength of our country by working diligently and by helping those less fortunate than we are. In fact, the Bible commands both (Ephesians 6:5-7; I Thessalonians 4:11; James 1:27; 2:15-17). Finally, even in the armed forces there are many legitimate, noncombatant jobs such as medical assistant, quartermaster, chaplain’s assistant, and clerk. Even in combat, the medic can be just as courageous in saving life as others are in destroying life.

Defense of Self and Family

How should we defend ourselves or our families against murderous attacks? John Yoder’s hook, What Would You Do? lists the options available to the Christian who is committed to pacifism: martyrdom, divine intervention, ruse, nonlethal violence, or moral disarming. This last category includes such things as showing respect, showing love, or asserting moral authority, which often so affect the attacker that he changes his mind. Yoder gave six actual case studies, ranging from wartime to a prison riot to a mugging, in which nonviolent methods stopped a lethal attack.

We do not interpret Christ’s teaching to mean we must passively, idly watch while an attacker seriously injures or kills someone. Under some circumstances, it would be appropriate to use the minimum force necessary’ to halt, ward off, or incapacitate the attacker. The motivation in such a case must not be hatred, retaliation, revenge, desire to harm, or desire to fight, but simply protection against harm. Under no circumstances, however, should we deliberately seek to kill the attacker. We can seek to prevent evil, but not at the expense of performing an equal or greater evil. It is essentially wrong to use physical force except in cases of extreme necessity, an then not to the point of taking a life.

From a spiritual perspective, the Christian should not fear death. It would be better for the Christian to die and be with the Lord than for his attacker to die and be forever lost. Jesus and Stephen set the example by praying for their murderers. Through their courageous deaths onlookers such as the Roman centurion and (as some scholars propose) Saul of Tarsus came to a knowledge of the truth.

In the vast majority of self-defense situations, we would not face the choice of killing or being killed. We must trust God to keep us from or to protect us in the extremely rare cases of this nature. Moreover, we must-use prudence and not place ourselves in situations where we might be forced to make this decision.

Bearing Arms

If we reject deadly force as an option, then the bearing of arms becomes problematic. It could reflect a fundamental lack of faith in God’s protective power (Job 1:9-12: 2:6) and the protective ministry of angels (Psalm 34:7: 91:11). If God prohibits killing, what is the purpose of carrying a deadly weapon? In a time of crisis, can we trust ourselves not to use it lethally? If a potential victim produces a weapon, he forces the attacker to act violently and often places himself in greater danger. Furthermore, these weapons kill many more people in accidents and arguments than in self-defense situations.

Why did Jesus tell His disciples on one occasion to carry swords? (Luke 22:35-38). After the Last Supper, Jesus gave new instructions to His disciples relative to the preaching of the gospel. Earlier in His ministry, He had sent them out without purse (money) or bag (supply of food), telling them to depend upon the hospitality of the people. Now, however, He told them to take purse, bag, and sword. Possibly, He meant for them to take swords for protection against wild beasts and robbers (to frighten off or ward off the latter, not to kill them).

More probably, His allusion to the sword was metaphoric. In other words, He was warning that they would no longer enjoy a hearty welcome in every place, but would face bitter opposition. Therefore, they should learn to provide for themselves and to brace themselves spiritually against attack and persecution.

Upon hearing this, the disciples found two swords and brought them to Christ. He told them, “It is enough.” Two swords are not adequate for twelve men. Apparently the disciples failed to understand Christ’s real meaning at that time. When He saw them bringing two literal swords, He decided to drop the subject. This view receives support from Christ’s admonition to Peter a short time later. When Peter actually tried to use one of these swords in Christ’s defense, He forbade him with words that denounce all killing. Furthermore, never again do we hear of the disciples resisting violence with violence, although they were subjected to violence many times.

Capital Punishment

Does not the Bible teach capital punishment? The Old Testament did establish capital punishment for many sins. One key passage says, “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:23-24).

Jesus specifically superseded this passage, however. If we use Old Testament precedent to justify our participation in capital punishment, we must support capital punishment for crimes such as adultery, breaking the Sabbath, false prophecy, rebellion against parents, gluttony, drunkenness, and negligent manslaughter (Exodus 21:28-29; Numbers 15:32-36; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 21:18-21; 22:22). Likewise, the church would have to pass judgment, and individual members would have to cast stones at the criminal. However, Jesus specifically superseded this practice by refusing to condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).

Like just war, capital punishment could only work perfectly in a theocracy. God’s purpose under the law was to demonstrate that the penalty for sin is death. Now that He has established this principle, He grants a greater measure of mercy and time to repent. Christians cannot participate in capital punishment today, for then they would pass judgment before God has done so and cut off mercy before God desires to do so. How ironic it would be to promote capital punishment and prison ministry at the same time!

The civil government bears the sword as a servant of God in maintaining order, exacting vengeance and causing the evildoer to fear (Romans 13:4). This implies capital punishment, although it may simply mean the use of physical force or restraint to maintain order. Apparently, the civil government can impose capital punishment for some offenses. God uses the ungodly society as an instrument to bring judgment upon ungodly lawbreakers. However, this does not mean He desires for His people to perform executions, for Christians are warned not to take vengeance (Romans 12:19).

A Christian should refuse to condemn a person to death as juror, judge, or executioner. To be logically consistent, if one will participate in the sentencing process, he should be willing to perform the execution. However, in light of Christ’s teachings, this is not a proper role for a Christian.

Abortion and the Scriptures

One can view abortion in one of three ways: (1) The unborn child is a human being with a right to life. (2) The unborn child is a potential human life; we must protect it unless more significant harm will be done to an actual human life. (3) The unborn child is not a human life, so deliberate abortion is morally acceptable.

It appears that God Himself views the unborn child as a human being. Psalm 139:13-16 plainly teaches that God creates, cares for, and makes plans for the child in the womb. “For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (NKJV).

God fashions and forms the unborn child (Job 10:8-12; 31:15). God made plans for both Isaiah and Jeremiah while they were yet in the womb (Isaiah 49:1-5; Jeremiah 1:5). The Holy Ghost moved upon John the Baptist while he was in the womb (Luke 1:41, 44).

The law imposed a penalty for those who hurt the unborn child: “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no lasting harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any lasting harm follows, then you shall give life for life” (Exodus 21:22-23, NKJV).

According to Genesis 9:6, God forbids the killing of man because He made man in His image. Doctors have no difficulty in identifying the unborn child as human; it shares the image of God with the rest of humanity. Consequently, killing this child violates God’s law.

When does the child become human? When does it become a soul? Many alternatives have been proposed: conception, implantation (when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the womb), forty days, quickening (when the mother first feels movement), viability (when it becomes capable of surviving outside the womb), birth, or ten days after birth.

Since God treats the unborn child as human, we can eliminate birth as the time when life begins. Adam became a living soul when he breathed the breath of life, hut God uniquely created Adam and Eve as adults while creating everyone else in the womb. Moreover, the unborn child does “breathe” amniotic fluid.

Conception is the most clearly defined point for the unborn child to receive its spiritual identity. Scripture indicates that the child inherits its sinful human nature at conception. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). The Spirit of God caused the conception of Jesus in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, 20). Specifically because of this miraculous conception, the child was God with us, the Son of God, and the only begotten of the Father (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35; John 1:14). The Son of Mary received the nature of deity at conception; the Incarnation took place at that time.

All alternatives other than conception are highly arbitrary, incapable of clear determination, and without biblical support. Modern technology has pushed the point of detection of movement and the point of viability to earlier times than ever before. In view of the extreme uncertainty and lack of biblical evidence associated with the other alternatives, we cannot afford to act upon them. This means we should avoid abortion at every stage, including birth control methods that do not prevent conception but only prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. This would include some types of birth control pills (the mini-pill) and the intrauterine device (IUD).

We conclude from Scripture that the unborn child is a human being with a right to life as great as our own.

Medical Evidence on the Unborn Child

The scientific evidence supports our conclusion. (See Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life before Birth.3) Here are some key facts relative to the development of the unborn baby, taken from When You Were Formed in Secret by Gary Bergel with remarks by C. Everett Koop M.D.4 (Koop has since served as Surgeon General of the U.S.) It is significant to note how much development takes place in the first few weeks, before the mother even knows she is pregnant.

Week 1: The fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the womb.

Week 2: The tiny organism begins to send hormonal signals to the mother.

Week 3: The heart begins beating. The brain begins to form and soon sends impulses throughout the body. If it were outside the womb, it would be legally alive.

Week 4: Legs and arms form.

Month 2: The inner ear forms. Feeble body movements can be recorded. The fetus swims and responds to touch. All this indicates that the nervous system has developed to the point that the baby can experience pain.

Month 3: The baby sleeps and wakes. He “breathes,” drinks, and excretes amniotic fluid. He can distinguish tastes. The vocal cords are complete; he could cry if he had air. The fingerprints are complete, giving a unique legal identity.

Month 4: Facial features are distinct. The baby usually begins to suck his thumb.

Months 5-6: The baby hiccups, kicks, punches, and recognizes his mother’s voice. He has a favorite position in which to settle.

Months 7-9: By this time, the baby has full use of sight, hearing, taste, and touch. He has experienced his own motions, waking and sleeping, and secretions. He relates to the moods and emotions of his mother. Before he ever leaves the womb he has already experienced a wide range of human activities and stored them in his brain for assistance in facing the future.

Abortion Methods

Five methods of abortion are currently in use in America. The first two account for over 95% of all abortions.

(1) Dilatation and Curettage (D & C). The abortionist uses a curette, a tiny hoe-like instrument, to scrape the wall of the womb. This cuts the baby’s body into pieces. Nurses reassemble the body parts to make certain that nothing remains in the womb.

(2) Suction. The abortionist uses a suction tube to suck the baby into a jar, again tearing the body into pieces. At a recent Right to Life Convention, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist, showed a movie of this method. The film used new sonographic techniques and showed “the outline of the child in the womb thrashing
to resist the suction device before it tears off the head”(6).

(3) Salt Poisoning. The abortionist uses a long needle to inject a strong salt solution directly into the amniotic fluid. The baby swallows and “breathes” the salt, which poisons and burns him. About a day later the dead, shriveled baby is expelled from the womb. Occasionally, babies survive this process and are born alive with a grotesque physical appearance.

(4) Hysterotomy or Caesarean Section. This method is most used in the last three months. The abortionist removes the baby surgically, just as in a Caesarean birth, except that the baby dies.

(5) Prostaglandin Chemicals. The abortionist applies hormone-like compounds to the muscle of the womb, which cause intense contractions that push out the baby prematurely.

When these last two methods are used, the baby will occasionally be born alive, to the dismay of all concerned. It thereby obtains a legal right to life, although it usually receives minimal medical help and soon dies. In some such cases, abortionists have killed the baby by total neglect or by a direct act, even though this is legally manslaughter or murder. The doctor can legally kill the baby while holding it in the womb; it is illegal for him to kill it once it is outside the womb.

Are Some Abortions Justifiable?

Reasons often given for justifying abortion include preserving the mother’s life, the expectation of a defective child, rape, and incest. However, these account for only 3% of all abortions; the other 97% occur for matters of convenience and economy. Pro-abortionists justify the 97% by arguing: (1) a woman should have absolute control over her body and (2) everyone will suffer if a child comes into a family that is emotionally and financially unprepared for it. However, the time to consider these things is when deciding to marry and to engage in sexual activity. The solution is birth control, not abortion. The mother voluntarily subordinates certain of her rights to those of her child when she allows herself to become pregnant. Adoption is always available for those who do not want the child. The real issue is convenience; the mother does not want to undergo the remaining months of her pregnancy. Surely, matters of convenience cannot take precedence over human life. If this reason justifies abortion, what prevents it from justifying infanticide as well?

What if the child will probably be physically or mentally handicapped? We must affirm that all human life is worth living. Handicapped persons can enjoy life as much as anyone else. Otherwise, this reasoning would justify killing of handicapped adults. Once conception occurs, the decision is not ours but God’s. Many times, doctors significantly overestimate the health problems of the unborn child. Can we afford to abort this life with its unknown potential when nature has not chosen to do so by miscarriage?

What about cases of rape and incest? These are very difficult situations, but if the unborn child is actually a human being, can we kill it because of its father’s sin? If the rape victim reports immediately to a doctor she can almost certainly prevent pregnancy. Can we kill the unborn baby because its mother was ignorant and failed to take proper action? The child is a result of sin, but can we kill children conceived out of wedlock on the same basis? The rape victim does not deserve what has happened to her, but can we ease her situation by killing an innocent third party? Suppose a married woman is raped by a man of a different race and conceives as a result. Suppose she thinks the child is a product of her marriage, but at birth discovers it is not. If we can justify abortion for rape, can we justify infanticide in this situation? In view of all these moral difficulties, it seems advisable for a victim of rape or incest to have her child and give up for adoption rather than to have an abortion.

Finally, can we allow abortion to save the mother’s life? First, we should rely on the general will of God to heal and to help the holy woman in childbirth (I Timothy 2:15). If the mother’s life is actually at stake, however, the doctor should perhaps take the baby early. In this case, the intent is not to kill either mother or child but to save the life of both if possible. Even if the child dies, this is no more than what would happen to the mother otherwise. The choice is not between killing and not killing, but between letting one person die and letting two people die.

This situation is unique to pregnancy, because in no other case are the physical lives of two people inextricably intertwined in this manner. In our day, many prominent doctors maintain that, given the advances of modern medicine, it is never necessary to perform an abortion because of complications of pregnancy (8).

Teaching in Church History: War

Roland Bainton remarked that “no Christian writer prior to the time of Constantine approved of Christian participation in warfare. . . .The primary reason for the objection to participation in warfare was the aversion to bloodshed. . . .Bloodshed was abhorred by the Church. Therefore, of course, gladiatorial combats were condemned and the Christians could not witness them. Christians could assume no magisterial post that carried with it the possibility of passing a sentence of death.” 9 Kenneth Latourette affirmed that no Christian writing of the first three centuries condoned participation in war (10).

Tertullian said that God “puts His interdict on every sort of man-killing by that one summary precept, ‘Thou shalt not kill'”(11). Specifically, he concluded that warfare was not proper at all for Christians. He asked, “Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?”(12)

The Canons of Hippolytus stated, “It is not meet for Christians to bear arms”(13). Hippolytus claimed apostolic tradition in opposition to all killing. For converts he said, “A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath; if he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. A military commander or civic magistrate that wears the purple must resign or be rejected”(14).

The pagan Celsus charged Christians with undermining the state because they abstained from war. Origen did not deny this charge of pacifism, but argued that if everyone became Christians war would become unnecessary. “If all the Romans…embrace the Christian faith, they will, when they pray, overcome their enemies; or rather, they will not war at all, being guarded by that divine power which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons… When God gives to the tempter permission to persecute us, then we suffer persecution; and when God wishes us to be free from suffering, even in the midst of a world that hates us, we enjoy a wonderful peace, trusting in the protection of Him who said, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'”(15).

Celsus urged Christians to help the king by going to war. Origen replied that Christians fight spiritually for the king through prayer. “And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way art much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them… We do not indeed fight under him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army-an army of piety-by offering our prayers to God”(16).

Lactantius wrote, “For when God forbids us to kilt, He not only prohibits us from open violence, which is n even allowed by the public laws, but He warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men. Thus [it is not] lawful for a just man to engage in warfare… Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all; but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man”(17).

In the Middle Ages, the Waldensians opposed all taking of human life. During the Reformation, the Anabaptists even rejected military service on the ground that all taking of human life is sinful. Thus the Mennonites and the Hutterites today are pacifists. The Quakers likewise are pacifists. The early Pentecostals were pacifists, with many rejecting all military service. The Assemblies of God originally discouraged military service, but now leaves the decision to the individual. The United Pentecostal Church does not oppose noncombatant military service, but does oppose all killing.

The Articles of Faith of the UPC state, “We believe and interpret [the Bible] to mean Christians shall not shed blood nor take human life. Therefore we propose to fulfill all the obligations of loyal citizens, but are constrained to declare against participating in combatant service in war, armed insurrection, property destruction, aiding or abetting in or the actual destruction of human life… We believe that we can be consistent in serving our Government in certain noncombatant capacities, hut not in the bearing of arms.” 18

Teaching in Church History: Abortion

Latourette noted that the early church fathers universally condemned abortion (19).

Athenagorus wrote, “Those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion…[We] regard the very foetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care”(20).

Pagans accused Christians of killing and eating children in secret rites. Tertullian countered, “Murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus in the womb… To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth… Blush for your vile ways before the Christians, who have not even the blood of animals at their meals of simple and natural food; who abstain from things strangled… You tempt Christians with sausages of blood, just because you are perfectly aware that the thing by which you thus try to get them to transgress they hold unlawful. And how unreasonable it is to believe that those, of whom you are convinced that they regard with horror the idea of tasting the blood of oxen, are eager after the blood of men”(21).

Minucius Felix wrote, “There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels, and thus commit a parricide [murder of a relative] before they bring forth… To us it is not lawful either to see or to hear of homicide; and so much do we shrink from human blood, that we do not use the blood even of eatable animals in our food”(22).
The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles say, “Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten”(23).

The Roman Catholic Church today strongly opposes abortion, even in cases of rape, danger to the mother’s life, and malformation of the unborn. Most liberal Protestant churches allow it, while conservative Protestants still oppose the practice.

Abortion was illegal throughout most of the history of the United States. In 1967 Colorado became the first state to make abortion on demand legal in cases of grave danger to the mother’s physical or mental health, rape, incest, or likelihood of severe deformity (24). In 1973 the Supreme Court struck down all laws that severely restricted abortion. In 1974, the first full year of legalized abortion, almost 900,000 abortions took place in the U.S. (25). According to U.S. News & World Report, over 1,500,000 legal abortions were performed in 1980. Literally millions of unborn children die from abortions. Statistically, the most dangerous place for a child is its mother’s womb.

Conclusion

In many ways our society is losing its sense of the sanctity of human life. Abortion is now commonplace. People have smothered or starved aborted babies who continued to live outside the womb. Warfare is endemic to our planet. Violence is a favorite topic for television and movies, and audiences love it. The news media routinely portray brutal scenes of war, terrorism, crime, and accidents. Many theologians advocate violent rebellion and terrorism as valid methods of achieving greater social justice and democracy. Most countries use murder to quell political dissent and accept aggressive war as part of international politics. In general, our world accepts violence and bloodshed as legitimate means to publicize issues, resolve differences of opinion, and assert rights.

Recently there have been many specific indications of the decreasing value society places on human life. In Bloomington, Indiana, “a baby with Down’s syndrome was starved to death in a hospital after doctors, parents, and a state court agreed that no treatment should be given”(26). A victim of cerebral palsy sued to force health care workers to let her commit suicide by starvation; fortunately, the court refused her. A U.S. governor discussed the duty of the elderly to die and relieve the next generation of the costly burden of care. The World Council of Churches has provided financial support for “liberation” armies committed to violence. A Nobel Prize winner advocates that infants not be declared human until several days after birth so that those with defects can be legally killed. The Humanist Manifesto recognizes the right to commit suicide.

We wonder how the Nazis could have murdered six million Jews and how a nation of civilized, “Christian” people could have allowed such crimes to occur. Yet by desensitizing ourselves to violence and killing, we are conditioning ourselves to the point where our society could accept such crimes on a similar scale. Already we have accepted the killing of more than one million unborn babies per year. Will this philosophy spread to justify infanticide, euthanasia (“mercy killing”), killing of the handicapped, killing of the aged, or assisting someone who wishes to commit suicide? Where will it end?

What would the man Jesus do? Would Christ perform an abortion? Would Christ cut up an unborn child and throw it in a trash can? Would Christ shoot to kill a mugger? Would Christ be a sniper in the army? Would Christ plant a minefield? Would Christ flip the switch on an electric chair? Would Christ be a member of a firing squad? If He would not, than neither can we. The Christian solution is to affirm the sanctity of the individual human life to such an extent that we will not deliberately take a human life for any reason.

FOOTNOTES
1. Rushdoony, p. 279.
2. Norman Geisler, Ethics: Issues and Alternatives (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), p. 176.
3. Landrum Shettles, M.D. and Daniel Rorvick, Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life before Birth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983).
4. Gary Bergel with C. Everett Koop, Abortion in America and When You Were Formed in Secret (Elyria, Ohio: Intercessors for America, 1980).
5. lbid., p. 11-4.
6. Joseph Sobran, “Burden of proof is now on abortionists,” Jackson Daily News, June 22, 1984, p. 10A.
7. Bergel, p. 11-7.
8. William Nolen, M.D., The Baby in the Bottle (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1978), pp. 35, 57.
9. Bainton, pp. 50-54.
10. Latourette, I, 242-243.
11. Tertullian, The Shows, 2, ANF, III, 80.
12. Tertullian, The Chaplet [On the Crown], 11, ANF, III, 99.
13. “Heads of the Canons of Abulides or Hippolytus,” ANF, V, 256.
14. Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition, in Bainton, p. 152.
15. Origen, Against Celsus, 70, ANF, IV, 666.
16. Ibid., 75, ANF, IV, 668.
17. Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, 6.22, ANF, VII, 187.
18. Manual, United Pentecostal Church International (1984), p. 24.
19. Latourette, I, 248.
20. Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 35, ANF, II, 147.
21. Tertullian, Apology, 9, ANF, III, 25.
22. Minucius Felix, The Octavius, 30, ANF, IV, 192.
23. Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 7.3, ANF, VII, 466.
24. “The Sexual Revolution of the Twentieth Century,” Christianity Today, November 11, 1983, p. 29.
25. Donald Shoemaker, Abortion, The Bible, and the Christian (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 9.
26. “Koop’s Compromise: A Step Toward Protecting the Baby Does of the Future,” Christianity Today, February 1984, p. 44.

The above article, “The Sanctity of Human Life” was written by David K. Bernard. The article was excerpted from chapter twelve in Bernard’s book, Practical Holiness A Second Look.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Twisted Values

Twisted Values
Ralph V. Reynolds

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (II Timothy 3:2, 3).

Some thirty years ago while I was ministering in Portland, Oregon, a shocking story was printed in the paper regarding a poor woman who had destroyed her two children.
Apparently, she had been living in Eugene, Oregon, and was having a lesbian relationship with a younger woman. She had two children and these she wanted to destroy. She drove all the way from Eugene to Madras, Oregon. East of Madras, she threw these two living children over a high cliff to their death upon the rocks below. It is very difficult for anyone that is normal to understand the thinking of such a deranged woman.

Paul described these days by calling them perilous. He said that in these perilous days, men would be lovers of their own selves, covetous, and without natural affections. Surely, these perilous days are here. Everywhere we see men and women who are motivated only by selfishness and egoism. They do not want their lifestyle disturbed, and they will not accept anything that will inconvenience them in the least.

While pastoring in New Westminster, British Columbia, I was called upon to officiate at a certain funeral. Irode to the cemetery with the undertaker in the hearse. On our return from the burial grounds, the undertaker invited me to go into the coffee shop for coffee. Here he began to talk about some things which were most astonishing. He told me that recently they had had a shipment of cardboard coffins. Soon funerals as we have known them will be a thing of the past. Frequently they receive telephone calls saying that Aunt Maggie or Uncle Joe has passed away. The body is at the morgue. Just pick it up, cremate it and send us the bill. I would think more of my pet dog than to give it a burial of that kind. One thing, though, you can be assured of. These same people will be there in the Lawyer’s office when the estate is read and the will is probated.

I remember only too well the funeral which I conducted while pastoring the same church in New Westminster. The deceased had been a beautiful Christian brother, active in the church. His family had deserted him, and he died a lonely man. At the funeral, his widow and children sat there with big sneers on their faces. They wanted the funeral service over with in the quickest manner. The body was cremated, and months afterwards, the funeral director contacted me because no one had given him any instructions as to what to do with the ashes. However, that family was very diligent to be sure they got their share of this brother’s estate. Unnatural affections, twisted and perverted values, no sense of responsibility to others and little commitment, if any, to the responsibilities of life.

Yes, everyone wants to enjoy a relationship. They even talk today about meaningful relationships. But, how can a party enjoy a meaningful relationship without a commitment? There must be a commitment to the responsibilities of life if there is going to be true joy, peace and happiness.

Many times the unborn is destroyed simply because it is a matter of inconvenience. A young woman six months pregnant went to her Doctor and requested an abortion. She said that her vacation was coming soon and that she did not want it to interfere with her holidays. Thank God, this particular Doctor refused her request. True justice demands that a life can only be balanced by life, not a lifestyle.

It is true that every baby has a God given right to be wanted and loved. But if a baby is not wanted, there is still not excuse for an abortion. A Harvard Medical School study found that one-third of all pregnancies are unwanted in the early months. But, by the time of delivery, there is only one percent that are unwanted. By the time the baby is born, the mother is wanting that child and with the birth of it springs forth a God given love.

Slaughter of innocent, unborn babies is only the tip of the iceberg, the thin edge of the wedge. Abortions open up the way for euthanasia or mercy killing. Just the other day, I read a story of a girl of seventeen who sat in the doctor’s office with her mother. The mother with the doctor persuaded her to submit to an abortion. At that particular time, the girl did not want to have one. She wanted to carry her baby and give birth, but the mother told her that as a young single girl of seventeen this would be inconvenient, so the girl submitted.

A short time afterwards, she married a fine young man and, in the-course-of time, became pregnant. When she gave birth to this baby, she heard her husband and the doctor talking about the condition of the newborn baby. The child was crippled and would always be a matter of great care. The husband listened to the doctor’s advice. They agreed to leave the baby unattended, and it would die in just a few days. This again shocked the young girl. This was her final pregnancy. From this time on she was childless.

Years later when her mother was in her seventies, the mother suffered a stroke. The daughter and her husband consulted the Doctor. The mother would be unable to help herself, and it would mean a great inconvenience and much time in caring of her, possibly for years to come. With the past two experiences in her life, it was not difficult now for this girl to give consent for her mother to be given a needle and pass away in her sleep.

When a mother consents to the death of her unborn child, she is not only destroying the baby, but she is destroying her own conscience. So actually there are two deaths, the baby’s and the conscience of the mother.

Anyone who has any Christian values at all knows that abortion is murder. Condemnation and guilt follow women throughout the rest of their lives. The mother who consents to abortion will never be able to completely forget it. All of her life she will wonder about the life of the one she had destroyed.

In the church that I pastored in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, there was a kind sister, filled with the Holy Ghost, loved the Lord and lived for Him with all of her heart. She was a woman of prayer, dedicated to the will of God in her life, a fine wife and mother, and a faithful saint in the church.

In one particular service, I was wholly surprised when I saw this woman running to the altar, crying and weeping and requesting prayer. I could not understand why this precious saint of God could be so overcome with such feelings of guilt. I prayed for her and, for the moment, she received help. But this same thing happened on several occasions. I still could not understand until one day she confided in me her pitiful story. When she was a teenage girl, she became pregnant and destroyed the unborn baby. Now, over thirty years later, she was struggling with a sense of guilt and the results of her wrong doing. True, there is forgiveness for murder. Along with all the other horrible sins an individual can commit, murder may be forgiven. Forgiven, but never completely forgotten. This poor sister could not go back and retrace her steps as a teenager, but if anyone could talk to her, they would find out that abortion is a terrible evil.

The above article, “Twisted Values” was written by Ralph V. Reynolds. The article was excerpted from chapter seven in Reynold’s book, Cry of the Unborn.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Worldly Amusements

Worldly Amusements
David K. Bernard

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15).

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3).

Scriptural Concepts

There is nothing wrong with pleasure in itself. God desires for us to enjoy life, and He is not displeased with an activity simply because it brings physical, mental, and emotional pleasure. After all, He designed our capacity for pleasure, and He Himself takes pleasure in His creation. Christ came that we might have abundant life, in the present and throughout eternity (John 10:10).

The Bible stands firmly, however, against pleasures and amusements associated with worldly lusts and attitudes. According to Christ’s parable of the sower, many who initially accept the Word eventually have their spiritual life choked out by thorns, which are the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). The Bible warns against all forms of worldliness (Romans 12:2; James 4:4; I John 2:15-16). Moses chose not to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” but rather to identify with the people of God and to inherit eternal riches (Hebrews 11:24-26). Paul remarked that before our conversion we were foolish, disobedient, and deceived, serving worldly lusts and pleasures (Titus 3:3). He compared the Christian life to that of a disciplined soldier who refuses to become involved in civilian (worldly) affairs. “Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life” (II Timothy 2:3-4). From these passages, it is evident that some pleasures are not conducive to Christian living and can in fact be sinful.

As Titus 3:3 suggests, any amusement that would become our master or that would interfere with our relationship to God is wrong. In general, we must not submit our minds or bodies to anything that will be addictive or will bring us under its power (Romans 6:16; I Corinthians 6:12). All too often the spirit of pleasure so captivates people that they neglect their relationship with God, prayer, church attendance, Bible reading, witnessing, and working for God. We must never let enticing pleasures distort our spiritual priorities or rob us of all our available time. We must always place God first in our lives, followed by family and church. We should redeem the time-make the most of every opportunity-because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5).

Paul warned that in the last days men would be “lovers of their own selves” and “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:2, 4). In Noah’s day, people were so busy eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage that they were oblivious to the message of judgment, and the same is true prior to the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24:37-39). At some point, even participation in permissible activities becomes excessive and displeasing to God.

Worldly Appearance

For convenience of analysis, we will discuss worldliness in three categories. First, some things should be avoided because of their worldly appearance or association. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22). There may be nothing inherently wrong with a certain activity, but because of its worldly appearance, connotation, or impression it should be avoided. The world says, “I will do what I want regardless of what anyone else thinks.” Even Christians are prone to think, “As long as I know I am not sinning I do not care what anyone else thinks?’ However, we must not only be right but also appear right in the sight of everyone. “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (Romans 12:17, NIV). “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men” (II Corinthians 8:21, NIV). We are stewards of our fellow Christian and our fellow man; it is important that we do nothing to offend them needlessly or to cause them to stumble (See Chapter 4.)

Worldly Atmosphere

Second, some things are detrimental to Christian living because an excessively worldly atmosphere or environment surrounds them, even though the activities themselves are acceptable. A basic principle of Christian liberty is to avoid activities that become detrimental or get the mastery over us, even if they are morally neutral in themselves (I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). Harmless activities become harmful when conducted in an openly sinful atmosphere. The biblical injunctions to avoid worldliness certainly direct us not to congregate habitually in such an environment. Perhaps Psalm 1:1 has a literal application here: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (See Psalm 26:4-5.)

A worldly atmosphere might include things such as gambling, cursing, smoking, drinking, extreme rivalry, violence, gossip, immodest dress, “petting or necking,” lewd language, lewd activities, and immoral music. Of course, the Christian will face these things to some degree simply by living in this world. It is impossible to avoid all worldly influences. At some point, however, a place becomes so saturated with some or all of these evils that the only Christian response is to avoid it totally. In making this decision, the Christian must evaluate specific activities in light of the particular local situation.

Inherently Worldly Amusements

Finally, certain activities are excessively worldly in themselves, and must always be shunned. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). For example, among other things, we must shun revellings (or rioting) and banquetings (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21; I Peter 4:3). The NKJV calls them revelries and drinking parties, while the NIV calls them orgies and carousing. In many cases, even though there may be no explicit scriptural prohibition against an activity as we know it, an application of scriptural principles shows it to be inimical to Christian values.

Practical Application

The proper role of the church is not merely to forbid leisure activities indiscriminately, but to establish wholesome alternatives compatible with Christianity. We are not bound by externally imposed regulations, but we choose to exercise our Christian liberty to enjoy activities edifying to the whole man rather than those detrimental to the spiritual man. We believe in enjoying Christianity and enjoying life-and we do! We starve the lusts and desires of the sinful nature, but we are able to enjoy life as a whole person. The man bound by sin does things that his inner, moral self hates (Romans 7:15), but with God’s Spirit in control, we can do everything we want to do and lead happy, fulfilled, successful lives.

The places and events that are excessively worldly may vary depending upon time, culture, and locale. We cannot resolve these issues by a universal, legalistic list of do’s and don’ts, but at some point we must judge whether certain activities sponsored by the world are corrupted by the spirit of the world. We must let the Spirit, the Word, conscience, and godly leadership warn us of situations that are incompatible with a separated, holy lifestyle because of their worldliness.

Innocent activities become detrimental when taken to excess. They become wrong for us when we allow them to dominate our thinking and time, taking us totally away from spiritual things. In recent years, video games have shown their potential to become addictive. Some people become so preoccupied with sports and follow sports events so closely that they are caught up in the spirit of them. It is possible to participate so much in any recreational activity-such as hunting, fishing, sports, and hobbies-that there is no time left for God. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things in their proper place.

As a modern example of worldly appearance, we do not use regular playing cards, not because there is anything wrong with the cards themselves but because of their strong association with gambling. As another example, sometimes one office worker will volunteer to buy snacks for everyone. Occasionally, someone will give him money to buy a pack of cigarettes. If a Christian accepts the money and purchases cigarettes, he will give the wrong impression to a casual observer; in this manner he will devalue his witness in the office.

As examples of worldly atmosphere, we have personally avoided certain of the following events and places: musical concerts, office parties, large sports activities organized by the world, fairs, pool halls, bowling alleys, and skating rinks. We have even avoided some eating establishments characterized by extreme worldliness in music, dress, language, clientele, and total atmosphere. This is not to say that, regardless of circumstances, we would always shun the above activities or all places where such activities are conducted. We recognize that these activities can be perfectly wholesome if conducted in the proper atmosphere and place.

As examples of modern amusements inherently worldly under all circumstances, we can cite gambling, modern dancing, listening to hard rock music, attending movies, and participating in the occult.

Chapters 14 and 15 of In Search of Holiness specifically discussed the problems with worldly music, dancing, worldly sports, worldly games, and occult practices.

Gambling

Christians have historically opposed gambling because it violates many scriptural principles. First, it manifests covetousness or greed. It is motivated by a desire to get something for nothing. Covetousness or greed is a form of idolatry, with materialism as its god (Colossians 3:5). The Christian should not seek or expect something for nothing, but should earn what he gets (if he is capable of working). “If any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (II Thessalonians 3:10-12). (See Ephesians 4:28.)

Gambling violates the principle of love towards others, because the gambler seeks to gain at the expense of others without providing anything in return. Often gambling hurts those who can least afford it. However, Christian love seeks not its own (I Corinthians 13:5). “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (I Corinthians 10:24, NKJV).

Gambling is poor stewardship. God has given us everything we possess; we are only stewards of His wealth (Luke 16:10-12; I Peter 4:10). He will require an accounting from us for how we use what He has entrusted to our care. Gambling takes these resources and puts them at an unnecessary, artificial risk for the sake of momentary pleasure. Furthermore, in organized gambling the odds are always against the individual gambler, making it that much worse of an investment.

Gambling causes many other violations of scriptural principles, such as falling under the control of an addictive drive (Romans 6:16; I Corinthians 6:12), failure to pay debts (Romans 13:8), and failure to provide adequately for one’s household (I Timothy 5:8). Furthermore, gambling is inevitably associated with cheating, violence, and organized crime. It is evil by association if nothing else.

For these reasons, we personally avoid all forms of gambling, including betting, lotteries, and raffles.

In 1952, The Methodist Church passed this resolution concerning gambling: “Gambling is a menace to business integrity; it breeds crime and is destructive of the interests of good government… We strongly urge all of our churches to abstain from the use of raffles, lotteries, and other forms of games of chance in the raising of money for the purposes of the church.”‘ We concur. If a church wishes to raise money, let it ask for gifts or let it organize fundraisers to sell goods and services. We should not appeal to greed in order to raise money for God. We should not use a form of gambling, thereby lending legitimacy to an evil practice.

Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine, recently editorialized against gambling as a means of government fundraising. It stated, “The fundamental Christian objection to gambling is that it represents a denial of the God of providence. It replaces him with the universe of pure chance and a dependence on blind luck. Of course, Christians have to take risks. Every businessman does this daily as a necessary part of his business. Insurance is a risk, but it is not a gambling because at its basis it is a sharing of burdens. Gambling is an artificially contrived risk, taken for selfish gain at another’s expense, with no constructive product or social good as its goal”(2).
Rice’s “Amusements for Christians”

It is instructive to see how fundamentalist John R. Rice discussed modern amusements in a practical way. Below are conclusions found in his 1955 booklet, Amusements for Christians.

* Christians should not dance because dancing arouses lust and passion. This does not apply to noncontact folk dancing or to an individual spontaneous dance for joy as described in the Bible.
* Hollywood movies are wrong because of their content, but there is nothing wrong with the technological device itself.
* Any game regularly used for gambling, such as bridge or regular playing cards, should be avoided because of the appearance of evil and the offense it could cause.
* Sports can be either good or bad, depending upon the atmosphere and type of crowd. Some things that would make a sports event excessively worldly are drinking, foul language, immodest dress, gambling, and unchristian attitudes.
* Secular music can be either wholesome or unwholesome depending upon the content of the -songs.
* Indoor games such as checkers and chess are good.
* This is good if players wear modest dress and if women do not wear slacks or shorts.
* Skating and bowling are good in themselves, but the environment can be detrimental. Here are some problems often associated with skating rinks and bowling alleys: indecent dress, bad language, drinking, “necking;’ and poor reputation in the community.
* Swimming is wholesome, but there should be no mixed swimming because of immodest exposure of the body.
* The modern circus and the opera are usually not objectionable, but Christians should be sensitive to the dictates of conscience.
* Plays and novels must be evaluated individually, depending on their content.

Teaching in Church History

Many today would regard our self-disciplined approach to amusements as too narrow and restrictive. In this regard, it is very instructive to see how Christian groups of ages past handled these and similar amusements.

Early Christians avoided pagan festivals and public amusements because of the pagan beliefs, pagan practices, and immorality associated with them.’ The editors of The Ante-Nicene Fathers remarked, “Let us note that the whole spirit of antiquity is opposed to worldliness. It reflects the precept, ‘Be not conformed to this world, and in nothing more emphatically than in hostility to theatrical amusements”(4).

In particular, Tertullian wrote in The Shows that Christians should not attend the circus, theater, combats, racecourse, or amphitheater (public games)(5). These included gladiatorial combats, wild beast combats, chariot racing, boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics. Here are the reasons he gave: these events were filled with idolatry, blasphemy of God’s name, lust of pleasure, rivalry, rage, bitterness, wrath, grief, passionate excitement, passionate desire, betting, cursing, immodest exposure of the body, violence, and bloodshed. He said there could be a lust of pleasure just as there is a lust of money, food, power, or glory. Instead of participating in these worldly pleasures, Tertullian recommended that Christians look forward to the New Jerusalem, where there would be eternal, joyous celebrations worthy of participation.

Clement of Alexandria opposed public spectacles, the racecourse, and the theater(6). He disapproved of these public entertainments because of the confusion, lust, gossip, base actions, riots, and cruelty associated with them.

Hippolytus stated that according to apostolic tradition the following professions were off limits to Christians: actor, pantomimist, charioteer, frequenter of races, gladiator, trainer of gladiators, huntsman (in wild beast shows), anyone else connected with these shows, and official in charge of gladiatorial exhibitions'(7).

The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles banned these occupations: anyone associated with the theater, charioteer, dueller, racer, player for prizes, Olympic gamester, musician at the games, ticket seller for the theater, and dancingmaster(8).

Minucius Felix wrote, “We therefore, who are estimated by our character and our modesty, reasonably abstain from evil pleasures, and from. . pomps and ex-hibitions”(9).

Under the heading, “That Worldly Things are Absolutely to be Avoided;’ we find these comments of Corn-modianus: “If certain teachers, while looking for your gifts or fearing your persons, relax individual things to you, not only do I. . .grieve, but I am compelled to speak the truth. Thou art going to vain shows with the crowd of the evil one, where Satan is at work in the circus with din. Thou persuadest thyself that everything that shall please thee is lawful. . . .Dost thou wish to see the former things which thou has renounced? . . .Love not the world, nor its con-tents”(10).

Lactantius wrote, “All shows are to be avoided, that we may be able to maintain a tranquil state of mind. We must renounce hurtful pleasures, lest, charmed by pestilential sweetness, we fall into the snares of death.””

Other early Christian writings that oppose the public games include Tatian’s Address to the Greeks (specifically gladiator fights and boxing), On the Public Shows attributed to Cyprian, and the writings of Chrysostom (specifically horse racing).”

The Puritans shut down the theater, horse races, cockfights, wrestling matches, and bear or bull baiting when they came to power in England. We should note that although we share some holiness teachings with the Puritans, we reject two concepts often associated with them. First, we do not consider an amusement to be wrong simply because it is entertaining, pleasurable, or light. Second, we do not seek to legislate holiness or impose our lifestyle upon secular society (except to regulate or ban practices that victimize others).

John Wesley thought fairs were sinful.

Justin Martyr wrote against music that provoked lustful movements.” Clement of Alexandria said, “Let amatory songs be banished far away. . . .For temperate harmonies are to be admitted; but we are to banish as far as possible from our robust mind those liquid harmonies, which, through pernicious arts in the modulations of tones, train to effeminacy and scurrility. . . .Chromatic harmonies are therefore to be abandoned to immodest revels, and to florid and meretricious music.”14 We have also found references to worldly music in the writings of Corn-modianus and in a work attributed to Hippolytus(15).

With respect to gambling Clement of Alexandria wrote, “The game of dice is to be prohibited, and the pursuit of gain, especially by dicing, which many keenly follow.”16 In our brief research, we have also found specific teachings against gambling by Tertullian, the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Savonarola, Hussites, Calvin, Puritans, Pietists, Quakers, Methodists, Holiness groups, Baptists, other conservative evangelicals, and Pentecostals.” In the early 20th century gambling was illegal in most states of the U.S.

We have found specific teachings against dancing by Clement of Alexandria, Commodianus, a work attributed to Hippolytus, the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Waldensians, Hussites, Anabaptists, Calvin, Puritans, Wesley and Methodists, Holiness groups, many Baptists, and Pentecostals'(8).

Conclusion

In sum, many people throughout history who were concerned with holiness of life rejected various forms of worldly amusements, including worldly spectator sports, some other public entertainments, immoral music, gambling, and dancing. This should encourage us today to discriminate carefully between amusements that are wholesome and those that are detrimental to our spiritual lives.

Pulpit Helps (March, 1984, page 1) gave this summarization by an unknown author: “I should refrain from a pastime (1) if it violates another’s conscience, (2) if it does harm to my own well-being, (3) if it has the appearance of evil, (4) if it offends others whose opinions I value, (5) if it leads in the direction of sin, (6) if it reflects unfavorably upon my Christian profession, (7) if it lessens respect for parents, school, or church, (8) if it hazards my health, (9) if it encourages habits which tend to hamper my efficiency.

“I may indulge in a pastime (1) if it invigorates the mind, rests and restores the body, (2) if it gives pleasure and profit and no regret, (3) if it meets the approval of the best people, (4) if it cultivates the better emotions, (5)
if it brings me into pleasant contact with good people, (6) if it stimulates wholesome attitudes, (7) if it tends to make other people happier.”

We can summarize this chapter and indeed this book in one thought: the essence of true holiness is to be Christ-like, to live as He lived and, in any given situation, to act as He would act. In fact, holiness means allowing the Holy Spirit of Christ to live in us and rule our lives.

FOOTNOTES

1 Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Church 1952, sec. 2025, p. 642.
2.Kenneth Kantzer, “Gambling: Everyone’s a Loser,” Christianity Today, November 25, 1983, p. 1
3. ‘Durant, III, 598; Latourette, I, 81-82, 239, 244-245; Schaff, II, 153-155.
4. ANF, V, 595.
5. Thrtullian, The Shows, ANF, III, 79-91.
6. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, XI, ANF, 284-290.
7. ‘Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition, quoted in Bainton, p. 152.
8. Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 8.4.32, ANF, VII, 495.
9. Minucius Felix, The Octavius, 37, ANF, IV, 196.
10. Commodianus, The Instructions, 57, ANF, IV, 214.
11. Lactantius, The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 64, ANF, VII, 249.
12. See ANF, II, 75 and V, 576.
13. “Justin Martyr, The Discourse to the Greeks, 4, ANF, I, 272.
14. “Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 2.4, ANF, II, 249.
15. See ANF, IV, 215 and V, 254.
16. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 3.11, ANF, II, 289.
17. See ANF, III, 86 and VII, 502.
18. See ANF, II, 290; IV, 215; V, 254; VII, 495.

The above article, “Worldly Amusements” was written by David K. Bernard. The article was excerpted from chapter fourteen in Bernard’s book Practical Holiness A Second Look (Vol 4).

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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What the Future Holds

What the Future Holds
Steven L. Johnson

Tomorrow means different things to different people, especially when the return of Christ is in view. The anticipation of tomorrow is different for the man on death row than it is for a bridegroom. There have no doubt been nights when you were awake in bed dreading the rising of the sun. Perhaps it was to be your duty to lay off employees, or to have a court appearing. In such cases “tomorrow” was not something you looked forward to, for it represented an event which was about to occur in your life that was unpleasant. At other times you were awake in bed, and couldn’t wait for the sun to appear over the horizon, for “tomorrow” was bringing with it a much longed for moment in the history of your life. Family vacations, fishing trips, holiday celebrations, and the arrival of anticipated company have all stirred many of us to anticipate “tomorrow.”

Generally speaking, when we use the term “tomorrow” we refer to an anticipated time during which certain events will happen. Some of these events are today just an idea, but linked with “tomorrow,” in our minds they are as good as reality. Paul gave us hope for the future with these words, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

“Tomorrow” also holds events of which we have no concept happening in our lives. They are not on our schedule, and are totally unanticipated. This is why Proverbs 27:1 states, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Jesus told the story of a rich man who thought he knew what tomorrow would be like. In fact, in his mind, he knew what years of tomorrows would be like. This rich man said, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (Luke 12:19, 20).

We need to prepare for tomorrow. If God is left out of our plans for the future, then our tomorrow will not be a pleasant experience. This is why Jesus said the rich man was called a fool. He laid up treasure for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The Christian must never allow himself to be forgetful of the future, or the fact that today is linked to tomorrow. This is what Paul referred to when he said, “knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14). To enter into tomorrow in a right manner, we must sever ourselves from what is not of God. Basically Paul was encouraging us to get rid of all sinful motives and actions, and surround ourselves with the Lord as our armour. Notice Paul links casting off the works of darkness with putting on the armour of “light.” The Bible tells us that God is light (I John 1:5). This is why Paul tells us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and not make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. We will either enter into tomorrow clothed with the works of darkness, or with the Lord himself as our armour. Our clothing will determine our identity and destination upon death. When a soldier dies on the battlefield, his uniform identifies which group he will be forever associated with. It also determines his destination, for if it is possible, he will be sent to his home for his final resting-place.

Don’t play the part of a fool, leaving God out of your life. God will hear your plea for victory over sin. In fact, He is calling to you today. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). Today you can be prepared for tomorrow. To do this you must believe the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16), and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ (II Thessalonians 1:7, 8). The proper way of obeying the gospel message is found in Acts 2:38.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:38-39 (KJV)

“Tomorrow” (in the sense of the future), Jesus is coming back to the earth. I Thess. 5:1-5 says, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It’s almost tomorrow, but until the day dawns there is still time for conversion and consecration.

The above article, “What the Future Holds” was written by Steven L. Johnson. The article was excerpted from Apostolic Accent. June 2009.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Alcoholism Is No Game It Is a Chain

Alcoholism Is No Game It Is a Chain
Author Unknown

Alcoholism’s “CHAIN” of Command

1 – TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

A new study by the College of American Pathologist states that 9 OUT OF 10 traffic accidents may involve drunken drivers. Alcohol in the blood slows reaction time, reduces muscle coordination, and impairs eyesight. Two beers, two four-ounce glasses of wine, or two mixed drinks can impair driving ability by 25% – enough to turn a near-miss into a fatal accident.

A person does not have to be really drunk to be dangerous: half-drunk drivers are dangerous, too.

2 – FATAL OVERDOSE

Everyone knows that an overdose of sleeping pills can be deadly. However many do not realize that alcohol works in much the same way. Persons who have consumed a large amount of alcoholic beverage or have passed out after drinking may be in grave danger. Someone who drinks too much can actually stop breathing and die.

3 – BIRTH DEFECTS

Babies born to women alcoholics are often deformed and retarded. This is called the “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.” Since alcohol reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the unborn child, drinking any amount of alcohol may be risky, even in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Women who consume two normal-size drinks a day are likely to give birth to babies weighing, on the average, six ounces less than babies of mothers who do not drink. Relatively small amounts of alcohol – as little as two drinks a day, twice a week – can greatly increase the risk of miscarriage.

The Surgeon General of the United States has said: “Pregnant women should avoid alcoholic beverages.” Always remember: A pregnant woman never drinks alone!

4 – DAMAGE TO THE BODY

Alcohol goes directly into the blood stream. It damages the liver, kidneys, heart and brain. Some doctors believe that every drink a person consumes kills some brain cells. Chronic alcoholics often suffer structural brain damage.

Drinking is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer, though it may actually contribute to both these diseases as well. Heavy drinking can lead to congestive heart failure. It increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, rectum and lungs.

The use of alcohol can also cause hyperthermia – a life-threatening condition in which blood temperature drops far below normal. Alcohol widens the blood vessels and draws heat away from the center of the body.

5 – ADDICTION

Alcohol is an addictive drug. A person may have a strong will power and still be unable to stop drinking. A compulsion to drink, inability to limit the number of drinks, or memory loss after drinking are symptoms. Normally speaking, it can be predicted that alcohol addiction shortens the life expectancy by 12 to 15 years.

The above article, “Alcoholism Is No Game It Is a Chain” was written by Author Unknown. The article was excerpted from First Pentecostal Church in New Orleans, LA.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

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Worldly Pleasures

Worldly Pleasures
David K. Bernard

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15).
Abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22).

Guidelines. In the twenty-first century, we encounter many circumstances that first-century believers did not face. While no biblical statement specifically addresses these situations, we should identify basic principles of Scripture and learn to apply them to our day. As a body of believers and as individual Christians, we must learn to follow the leading of the Spirit in these cases.
As explained in chapter 8, we have Christian liberty in areas that the Word of God does not specifically cover, but we are to exercise that liberty in a responsible manner.(See Romans 14:1-23; I Corinthians 8:1-13; 10:23-33.)

First, we must follow the convictions God has given us. (See chapter 1 for the need of personal convictions.) At the same time, we should not do anything to cause someone else to misunderstand, stumble, or fall. We should not judge one another or belittle the convictions of others. From the discussion of eating food offered to idols, we discover that some things may be harmless in themselves but are nevertheless unwise because of their effect on someone else. Appearances and associations are important in this regard.

Some things are clearly right, other things are clearly wrong, and some things are questionable. In questionable cases, one guideline to consider is, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). This leads us to conclude that if something is doubtful, we should not participate in it.

We can also ask, “What would Jesus do in this case?” “What would we do if Jesus were physically accompanying us or visiting us?” Our objective is not to see how close we can get to the world and still be saved, or how many worldly things we can do and still not be considered a backslider. Rather, we want to do God’s will at all times and to be identified with God in the eyes of others. Where there is temptation and a possibility of sin, “it is better to be safe than sorry.” Moreover, as we draw closer to God in prayer and dedication, we will not want to do anything to grieve Him or to identify us with the world instead of with Him.

The Bible tells us, “Love not the world” (I John 2:15). Here, “world” means the world system, the value system of unregenerated humans; the attitudes, desires, loves, cares, and priorities of sinful flesh. Let us examine this concept in terms of worldly amusement, worldly atmosphere, and worldly appearance.

Amusement. There is nothing wrong with pleasure and enjoyment as such. We do not advocate the idea that something is wrong or suspect because it gives pleasure. God created our minds and bodies with the capacity to have pleasure, both alone and with each other. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), which connotes an exuberant, zestful, enjoyable life.

On the other hand, humanity has often placed too much emphasis on pleasure to the exclusion of God. Anything that prevents us from doing God’s will is wrong. Anything that interferes with regular church attendance, prayer, and Bible reading is not the will of God.

Some pleasures are sinful. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Moses chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).

The Bible warns us that in the last days people will be so caught up in pleasure that they will ignore and neglect God. As in Noah’s day, people will be preoccupied with eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, and therefore will not be prepared when the Lord comes (Matthew 24:37-39). These activities are good in themselves but not when done to the exclusion of God and not when perverted by the world. A key sign of the end times is that “men shall be lovers of their own selves” and “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:2, 4).

From these passages, we see that some pleasures are acceptable but can become wrong when taken to excess. We also see that some worldly pleasures are off limits to Christians.

Atmosphere. Sometimes the world corrupts wholesome and enjoyable activities by a worldly atmosphere. A spirit of lust, pleasure madness, or mob violence has permeated them to such a degree that Spirit-filled Christians are uncomfortable participating in them. Some parties, shows, concerts, spectator sports, and places of amusement are characterized by lewdness, drinking, drug use, violence, obscenity, or gambling. For instance, while there is nothing wrong with eating at a restaurant, Christians avoid some restaurants because they advertise immodestly dressed waitresses as a major part of their appeal.

Attending one such event may not result in the immediate commission of sin, but the atmosphere is not conducive to Christian living. When Christians let their conscience guide them, they feel out of place. If they continue to participate, eventually they will lose spiritual sensitivity. They will not be able to discern the holy from the unholy or right from wrong in these areas.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to avoid a worldly atmosphere. What was once isolated to certain places of amusement has now permeated our entire society. Simply going to a public park, shopping mall, high school, or college campus may expose us to a degree of lewdness, immodesty, and profanity that we previously did not encounter. In cultures, times, and locales where we can identify a certain type of place or activity that harbors a worldly atmosphere distinctly worse than the community experience at large, then we should abstain from such a place or activity. But when the atmosphere is essentially the same as the typical places we need to frequent into order to live in this world, then a simple prohibition does not have the same effect or value.

In this situation, we must take greater care to follow principles of holiness, to make wise decisions based on individual circumstances, and to trust the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. (See Romans 5:20.) God’s grace is sufficient for every circumstance. (See II Corinthians 12:9.) When we do our best to follow godly principles and make godly choices in areas under our control, then we can trust God to protect and preserve us from the evil influence of the world around us.

In sum, God does not expect Christians to remove themselves completely from the world. His plan is to preserve us in holiness while we are still in the world and to send us into the world as witnesses for Him. Thus Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).

Appearance. In some situations, neither the amusement itself nor the atmosphere is excessively worldly, but participation may still appear worldly in the eyes of others. In these situations, we should take care not to damage our testimony or to cause a stumbling block for others. For example, if we appear to be gambling or drinking an alcoholic beverage, even when we are not, we may project a worldly appearance that is harmful to others. Similarly, if our boss at work asks us to buy cigarettes for her, will onlookers think we participate in or condone smoking?

No list of rules would be sufficient to cover all such situations. Rather, each person must be sensitive to the voice of conscience in this area, being motivated by genuine love for God and for others.

Gambling. Scripture does not speak directly on the subject, but gambling is a combination of worldly amusement, atmosphere, and appearance. It is closely allied with cheating, violence, organized crime, financial ruin, and suffering by innocent families. It can be addictive, as demonstrated by the existence of Gamblers Anonymous.

In essence, gambling is an appeal to greed an attempt to get something for nothing. It callously disregards that the winner’s gain comes from everyone else’s loss-often severe loss by individuals and families who cannot afford it.

The Bible teaches us not to come under the power of addictive habits. (See Romans 6:16; I Corinthians 6:12). it teaches to work for what we need, to trust God to supply our needs, to be good stewards of our finances, not to incur debts that we cannot or will not repay, above all to provide for our own families, to treat others as we wish to be treated, and to show compassion for the needy. (See Proverbs 3:9-10; 6:6-8; Matthew 5:42; 6:33; 7:12; Romans 13:8; II Thessalonians 3:10-12; I Timothy 5:8.) It warns us against greed, which it equates with idolatry (Luke 12:15; Colossians 3:5). It warns us that the love of money is the root, of all types of evil and admonishes us to be content with our possessions (I Timothy 6:6-10). If we have a desire to improve our lives, we should be willing to work for that goal.

To avoid violation of these scriptural teachings, we avoid gambling. To be consistent and to abstain from all appearance of evil, we avoid all forms of gambling, including betting and lotteries.

Dancing. The primary motivation behind most forms of social dancing in modern Western culture is sexuality, conscious or unconscious. Such dancing frequently arouses lusts between people who are not married to each other, often leading to temptation and sin. For instance, the close physical contact of ballroom dancing can sexually arouse the dancers. In contemporary forms of dancing, the bodily movements can cause sexual excitement. Moreover, modern dancing is often an expression of egotism and exhibitionism, and as such it is not in harmony with the Spirit of God.

Sports. In general, sports can be wholesome activities that promote physical health, fellowship, enjoyment, and character development. When played in a casual, friendly atmosphere, sports such as football, basketball, softball, and soccer are fine. When sports become highly organized in a secular environment, however, several problems can result. We typically see these problems in secular American high schools, colleges, and professional leagues.

* Competitive sports often demand excessive time and dedication that take precedence over the players’ relationship with God as well as their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Playing sports at this level can interfere with church attendance, prayer, and fellowship with God’s people. Often it, means close fellowship with sinners whose lifestyle and pursuit of pleasure are contrary to Christian principles. One high school student wanted to play football but asked what accommodations could be made when practices conflicted with important church functions. The coach responded, “If you are going to be on this team, then football must be more important than church.” Another example of the intense commitment to the detriment of the players is the frequent use of steroids and other substances that are harmful to the body.
* Participants may have to wear immodest or unisex clothing that is contrary to biblical teaching. (See chapter 6.) Suggestive clothing may be part of the appeal, as in the case of cheerleaders and some women’s sports such as beach volleyball.
* Sometimes sports are conducted in a worldly atmosphere that is detrimental to both spectator and player. In the larger games, there can be a spirit of mob violence in which people fight, throw objects, curse, bet, and get drunk. The rivalry can become so intense that it cultivates hatred, evil speech, and malice. Coaches, players, and fans become noted for poor sportsmanship, arrogance, vicious speech, and uncontrolled tempers.
* All too often, the result is to glorify violence. In some games, the goal is to injure opponents, and some sports derive much of their popularity from the high degree of violence or the high risk of bodily harm. Boxing exalts violence, as does professional wrestling. Fighting is part of the appeal of hockey, crashes are part of the thrill of racing, and bone-crushing tackles are an important factor in football. Consequently, some sports cause a large number of injuries and even permanent damage all in order to satisfy pleasure, much as in the days of the Roman gladiators. On an international level, soccer games are notorious for resulting in riots.
* Modern organized sports tend to glorify the athletes, to their own detriment as well as the detriment of society. Some of them flaunt greedy, ostentatious, and immoral lifestyles and become negative role models for youth.
* For many people, sports become an obsession, an addiction, an idol-even the equivalent of a religion. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who inspired recreation of the Olympic Games in 1896, stated, “For me, sport is a religion with church, dogma, ritual.”‘ This obsession is manifested in many ways. Fans will sacrifice prayer time, church attendance, and family relationships in order to watch sports programs. Many youth and men may not be able to name the books of the Bible or explain the fundamentals of the faith with Scripture references, but they can recite players, teams, scores, and statistics. In children’s leagues, some parents and coaches place great pressure on young children to practice and compete intensely. In too many cases, the result is to take most of the fun out of the sport and to cause physical and emotional damage to developing children.

The attitudes we have described are contrary to Christian values, and Christians feel uncomfortable in such an atmosphere. Experience has shown that, for the reasons we have discussed, a large number of Christians who participate seriously in secular, organized, competitive sports, especially at the higher levels, eventually compromise or abandon their beliefs.

In sum, sports can be wholesome, but they can also be polluted by a sinful world. If sports can be conducted in a wholesome atmosphere, then there is nothing wrong in doing so. By this we mean minimizing the problems stated above, so that crowds and tempers are under control, opponents maintain friendly relations, and everyone displays good sportsmanship. Let us avoid becoming too preoccupied with sports, so that we are not caught up in a worldly spirit.

In all pursuit of sports, games, and other amusements, we desire a Christian atmosphere or at least a family atmosphere in which sin is not blatant. We do not want to create a stumbling block for ourselves or others, and we do not want to bring a reproach upon our church or our Lord. Therefore, we avoid activities that have a sinful atmosphere or an appearance of evil. We should follow both the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our conscience and the advice of Spirit-filled, God-called pastors.

Witchcraft refers to attempts to forecast, influence, or control events or forces by supernatural means. It includes the use of charms, spells, rituals, and invocation of spirits. Of course, we pray to the one true God to ask for His influence and intervention in our lives according to His will, but we should not invoke any other spirits or seek to exercise our own will by supernatural means.
The Bible strongly condemns all forms of witchcraft. The law sentenced witches to death (Exodus 22:18).

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 lists nine forbidden activities that are abominations to God. While there is some overlap in meaning, this list covers all witchcraft or sorcery. It tells us that God hates (detests) the activities of the following people:
* Anyone who practices human sacrifice.
* Anyone who practices “divination” (mystical insight or fortunetelling).
* “Observer of times”: someone who is superstitious, observing lucky and unlucky days, signs, and practices. The NIV uses “sorcery,” referring to someone who seeks supernatural power by the assistance of spirits.
* “Enchanter.” The NKJV and NIV translate the Hebrew term as someone who “interprets omens” (prophetic signs). “Witch”: someone who seeks to exercise supernatural powers by magic or assistance of spirits.
* “Charmer”: someone who attempts to cast spells.
* “Consulter with familiar spirits”: medium, some-one who attempts to contact evil spirits (demons).
* “Wizard”: sorcerer. The NKJV and NIV translate the Hebrew word as “spiritist,” referring to someone who attempts to contact spirits.
* “Necromancer”: someone who attempts to consult the dead.

All abominable, sorcerers, and idolaters will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Witchcraft is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Paul discerned that a certain girl who was a soothsayer was possessed by “a spirit of divination.” He took authority over the spirit and cast it out in the name of Jesus (Acts 16:16-18). He also organized a public burning in Ephesus in which occult books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were destroyed (Acts 19:18-20).

In modern times, many people have assumed that the practice of witchcraft would diminish, but the opposite is true. There has been a resurgence of all forms of witchcraft in America and around the world, and it is sometimes mixed with Christianity. We are experiencing an increase of interest in satanism, paganism, mysticism, fortunetelling, occult books, horoscopes, and astrological signs. These things are nothing less than a revival of witchcraft inspired by satanic forces.

The practice of astrology falls under the condemnation of witchcraft. Astrologers, stargazers, and monthly prognosticators cannot help us; they cannot even deliver themselves from ultimately burning with fire (Isaiah 47:12-15). We are not to be dismayed at the signs of heaven as the heathen are (Jeremiah 10:2). Thus, we should not use horoscopes and zodiac signs to seek advice or predict the future. Astrologers, magicians, and soothsayers failed to reveal God’s will to Nebuchadnezzar and to Belshazzar. It took a man of God to give them the true message of God (Daniel 2:27; 5:15).

Since God hates all these practices, and since they are associated with evil spirits, Christians must not participate in anything associated with witchcraft. It is against the will of God to believe in astrology, to consult a horoscope, or to visit a fortuneteller or palm reader. Christians should not use tarot cards, Ouija boards, zodiac signs or the like, even in fun. They open up the mind to the devil and allow him to operate more freely.

For the same reason, Christians should not participate in a seance, even in jest. If seance is “successful,” it involves contact with an evil spirit.
Those who participate in an Oriental martial art should be careful, since these sports are often associated with mysticism, Eastern philosophy, and spirit, worship. They must make sure not to participate in anything associated with paganism or witchcraft.

Yoga and transcendental meditation can be dangerous spiritually. They are based on Hinduism and Buddhism and can open the mind to the world of evil spirits. Many of the words used in such disciplines are actually prayers to pagan gods, and demons receive this worship.

Christians should be cautious about opening the mind to the spirit world. Evil spirits are waiting to influence us and take advantage of us. Many people open themselves to this influence through mind-altering experiences such as using drugs, listening to certain types of worldly music, and meditating in mystical ways. When we pray or speak in tongues, we should always do so by the name and blood of Jesus, focus our minds on God, and maintain some awareness and self-control. The Spirit of God may overwhelm us at times, but He will never violate our human will. The spirit of prophecy is and should be under the control of the prophet (I Corinthians 14:32). Moreover, when we pray in Jesus’ name, having faith in His blood, we have assurance the devil cannot intervene in response to that prayer.

Superstition is a related evil that has no place in the mind of a Christian. There are no lucky or unlucky days, numbers, or rituals. A Christian has no reason to regard omens or wear lucky charms. God is in control of our lives, He protects His own, and He works all things together for our good. (See Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 91:9-12; Romans 8:28.) Satan could not touch Job’s possessions or his health until God lifted the hedge around Job. Even then, Satan did not have the power to take Job’s life (Job 1:9-12). Curses, charms, unlucky portents, or deaths of people in certain places have no power over God, His church, or His children.

Satan’s power. Satan is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent, but he does have power. Some witches, magicians, and fortunetellers can perform wonders by his power. The magicians of Egypt did miracles, but Moses was able to overpower them. There came a point where they were rendered powerless in the face of God’s power (Exodus 7:10-12, 22; 8:7, 18-19). Jesus predicted that false prophets would come with great signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24). The “man of sin,” or Antichrist, will display power, signs, and lying wonders after the working of Satan (II Thessalonians 2:9). The false prophet of the beast (Antichrist) will call fire from heaven and will cause an image of the beast to speak (Revelation 13:11-15). Demonic spirits will work miracles (Revelation 16:13-14).

These things should not surprise us. Under the law, the test of false prophets was not whether they could perform miracles but whether they worshiped the one true God. If they had a dream, sign, or wonder but turned the people away from God, then they were to be executed (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
In short, it may be possible for some people to do supernatural works by the power of the devil. God’s power is greater, however, and Satan can have no power over a Spirit-filled child of God who is living according to His will (John 10:29; James 4:7; I John 4:4). Demons cannot be cast out by holy water, signs, crosses, incantations, or rituals, but only by the name of Jesus called in faith (Mark 16:17; Acts 19:13-17).

Many fortunetellers, magicians, mediums, and the like are mere tricksters and imposters, with no supernatural power. They can still fit into the devil’s scheme by hoodwinking the credulous, diverting worship from God, and opening people’s minds to the occult and demonic.

The word magic can refer to witchcraft and sorcery, but it can also refer to innocent tricks based on sleight of hand, optical illusions, mathematical facts, or secret communication between participants. We oppose the former but not the latter. There is nothing wrong with parlor games and stage tricks unless the performers seek a connection with satanic power or seriously present themselves as miracle workers.

Let us avoid all forms of witchcraft, sorcery, and superstition. Since “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (I Samuel 15:23), let us also make sure we do not harbor a rebellious spirit.
Summary. The point of this chapter is not to develop a list of do’s and don’ts but to scrutinize every area of our lives. We should guard against worldliness in whatever guise it may appear. We are well equipped to overcome this spirit and to avoid all appearance of evil. The Bible, the indwelling Holy Spirit, godly pastors and teachers, and a tender conscience will work together to guide us in the paths of righteousness if we will yield our lives to their influence, teaching, and leadership.

The above article “Worldly Pleasures” is written by David K. Bernard. This article was excerpted from chapter fifteen in Bernard’s book In Search Of Holiness.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.

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Shattered Dreams: What Parents and Teens Should Know About Drugs and Drinking

Shattered Dreams: What Parents and Teens Should Know About Drugs and Drinking
Jay Strack

Of all the problems in America today, few are more disturbing to most adults than the problem of drug abuse among the young.

Millions of youth are hiding behind a chemical curtain of drugs, and millions more are drowning in a sea of alcohol. Let’s face it: If you are a parent with a child between the ages of 5 and 20, your child will be exposed to drug abuse through the medicine chest, the school, the hangout, the radio and the television. Drug abuse is spreading at epidemic proportions in middle schools, senior high schools and colleges. It involves not just our teenagers and young adults but even those under 12 years of age.

This booklet is a timely response to our nation’s tragic drug problem. It is written for people who desire to understand, help and rescue those whose dreams have been shattered by substance abuse.

Why Young People Turn To Drugs

There is no single cause nor set of conditions that clearly leads to drug abuse. Those who use drugs often will not admit to doing so. However, the reasons usually given for drug-taking are: to feel in with the group; to feel good; to win the admiration of friends; to escape boredom; to have fun; to escape pressures; and to satisfy curiosity. Although we know much today about the dangerous and damnable effects of drugs and their abuses, the drug user himself still remains a mystery.

In general, drug abusers can be classified in three main groups. The first group consists of the occasional users. This includes the housewife who takes diet pills for extra energy to do household chores; the college student who uses amphetamines to stay up all night and study for exams; the executive who uses sleeping pills or tranquilizers to soothe the pressures of the day; the smoker who says he can-but can’t-quit.

The second group is the thrill seekers. These are usually junior and senior high school and college people who use drugs just for the experience or so-called thrill of it. Because of this sporadic use, there is usually no physical addiction. Some thrill seekers may take drugs only once or twice and decide that drugs are a dead-end street or that there is more to life. The thrill seekers could be called “weekend users” because almost all of their drug use is on weekends in groups or at parties. These recreational users include a large segment of the entire student population. In dealing with this group it is wise to remember that they consider themselves open-minded, critical, sensitive, aware and hip.

The third group is the addicts or junkies. The addict’s entire life rotates around the drug scene and drug experience. He exhibits strong psycho. logical dependence (habituation) and physical dependence (addiction). Usually, the junkie began to use drugs for the thrill, but now he is hopelessly dependent and does not believe he can function apart from the drug scene. His main objective in life is getting a constant supply, and this obsession frequently prevents him from continuing his education or job. He is often in trouble with his family, friends and the law. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that drugs will cost the addict a loss of 15 to 20 years of his life.

The great “turn-on” among millions of teenagers can be attributed to several factors. I will focus on the most frequent reasons for drug-taking given by teens across the country. They are pressure, escape, availability, curiosity and emptiness.

Pressure

Psychologists tell us that many youths turn to drugs for the sole purpose of belonging to the group. It has been said that teens desire peer-group approval more than parent or adult approval. They are preoccupied with being accepted by the gang, particularly since this is the age when family relationships may be strained. It is evident that today’s youth has substituted role conformation for goal attainment.

One of the teenager’s greatest needs is to be accepted, not different or left out. The importance of popularity increases with the decline and fall of the family and home. It seems that every part of society is at war with the family. For example, the United States government and big corporations move fathers to new jobs across the country, uprooting entire families. This makes the “new kid on the block” easy prey for sexual advances and drug involvement because of the tremendous pressure to be accepted in the new place. With over one million divorces yearly and with 12 to 15 million teenagers living in broken homes, the drive to be accepted by peers is increased.

My own life is a good example of how peer pressure can lead to drug abuse. I come from a broken home, thanks to alcohol. Alcohol cost me my dad through divorce, my brother (because my mother could not provide financially for both of us), and my mother because she was forced to work two or three jobs. Needless to say, I hated alcohol and swore I would never drink it.

But in the seventh grade, on the way to my first dance, I was offered beer, along with the rest of the gang. Yes, I made my stand and said, “No way!” but after being called “chicken,” “square,” and “sissy,” I gave in. Feeling as though I had lost my family, I was willing to try anything to be a part of the “in crowd.” Any weak-willed teenager will follow the crowd, whether it leads to smoking, drinking, drugs or immorality. The gang became my god; it determined my hairstyle, my mode of dress, my friends and my attitudes toward school, church and sex.

Fourth graders across the United States report that they are perceiving peer pressure to start using drugs, according to a January 1983 survey published in the widely distributed Weekly Reader classroom magazine. Even more alarming is the fact that 50 percent of the fourth graders believe their peers have experimented with drugs, and the 25 percent report “some” to “a lot” of peer pressure to try drugs or alcohol.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a 1983 survey of 16,000 seniors at 130 high schools. The results showed 5.5 percent as daily drug users; 63 percent had experimented with illegal drugs; 16 percent had experience with cocaine; and 12 percent had tried heroin. The strong indication is that students are introduced to drugs by friends. The herd instinct is as unconscious and automatic as a reflex action.

Studies indicate that the urge or drive for affiliation is especially intense when an individual is undergoing an anxiety-producing experience caused by problems at home or by physiological changes. This drive, also called the “gregariousness instinct,” serves as a defense mechanism that operates on the principle of strength in numbers.

I challenge every teen: Be different! Wear a white hat. Dare to be great! Any dead fish can float with the current, but only a live, fighting fish can swim against the current. Anyone can be dirty and guilty and rebellious; it takes no real effort or determination. I have noticed that great and honorable men don’t travel in groups they usually fly alone. Geese fly in gaggles and ducks fly in flocks, but an eagle soars high in the heavens-alone. How do you want to go through life? Honking and quacking? Or will you mount up with wings of strength and courage like eagles?

There is another type of pressure on youth to try drugs. We have already examined peer pressure, but now let us look at “pusher pressure.” Most adults don’t realize that teenagers can obtain virtually any type of booze, drug or sexual thrill at their favorite youth hangout. Almost every drug imaginable is available in the restrooms of our public schools and in many private schools. These are startling statements, and I make them only after personally visiting many hangouts and schools across the country and learning the truth firsthand. I have been approached many times by sellers of illegal drugs.

The first time I ever used marijuana was when my friends and I went to the corner market to buy a bottle of booze, and the man said he wanted us to try something better. He had been our usual supplier for all kinds of liquor, selling it to underaged teens for a few dollars above retail. That is how it has started for millions of teens.

Although the sale of illegal drugs is a multimillion-dollar business that often involves the underworld, it is important to destroy the myth that pushers are shabby, beady-eyed men in big overcoats who hang around the schools slipping drugs to our innocent little children. Most pushers are friends and contemporaries of teenage users. I began pushing by accident. I bought grass for myself, but soon discovered I could be popular with the crowd and make a few fast bucks by selling marijuana.

Escape

Many teens take drugs in order to escape the hassles of home, school, dating and even the pressure that comes from physiological changes within them. The stresses on the adolescent who is coping with anger, sexuality and an emerging identity can lead to drugs, which offer an alternative.

In order to understand why teens need to escape, it will be helpful to review basic psychology. Adolescence is the transitional stage in human development from the beginning of puberty to the attainment of the physical, emotional and social maturity of adulthood. Most psychologists view it as the most stressful period of development in life. The adolescent must adjust to vast changes occurring rapidly within him after a long, peaceful period of relatively slow growth.

Many physiological changes cause confusion inside the teen. The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, controls growth and stimulates the hormonal activities of the sex glands. Both sexes begin to develop primary and secondary features of femininity and masculinity. Growth comes in spurts, and different parts of the body develop at different rates. These physical changes, including such problems as acne, have great psychological impact on the teenager. The self-image begins to change, and if the teen feels awkward or ugly (because of acne, overweight, underweight, under- or over-development), he tends to develop a poor self-image. Sexual feelings may also be overwhelming at this time. Since most parents fail to properly explain such feelings to their teens, it is understandable that the young people want to escape.

Some teens have never learned to accept themselves, and they feel lonely, unloved, depressed and guilty. The drug scene offers an apparent escape that actually leads into a vicious cycle. Drug abuse only makes the problem worse. People get high to escape the guilt of past actions, but behavior while high may compound that guilt. Teens will commit acts while high that they would never have committed straight. So, in effect, the very problems teens want to escape-guilt, failure, family and school problems, frustration-are increased due to the drug dependence. This is the boomerang effect of drugs.

Availability

The easy access to every kind of drug at youth hangouts and in most school restrooms is another reason why so many are turning on. Teens are faced with the temptation almost every day and at almost every party. As we have already discussed, most kids know where to go and how to find the drugs they want. As I have shown, most kids are turned on to drugs by their own friends, and many first used drugs at school.

Not only do teens have easy access to all sorts of highs, but our affluent society helps them to be able to afford the drugs. An example of the availability of drugs is the magazine High Times. This is a slick publication aimed at promoting drugs and sex to the teen masses. It contains such articles as “All You Need to Know About Marijuana Botany,” “Trans-High Market Analysis” (What type of drug to buy for the best high and the expected prices), “Trans-High Quotation Market” (a chart of prices on various drugs in the United States and nine other countries), and more. The High Times Bookstore offers Cooking with Cannabis, How to Grow Marijuana Indoors and How to Identify and Grow Psilocybin Mushrooms, to name just a few. In addition, High Times prints a monthly schedule of smoke-ins, protests, pot conferences, etc. All this from the magazine which calls itself “The Magazine for ‘High’ Society.”

Curiosity

Many teens want to try drugs for a new experience. According to the Arizona-based drug education program “Do It Now,” 70 percent of teenagers nationally and 90 percent of Arizona teens listed curiosity as the reason why they started taking drugs. I remember a young girl who came to our home to crash while on a bad trip. The next day, I asked her why she had taken the drug (LSD) since I knew it was her first time. Her answer was, “I wanted to see a TV melt before my eyes.”

Many teens get curious after listening to music that incorporates drug experiences and terms into songs created essentially for drug users. This is the reason most adults and non-drug users have a difficult time understanding much of today’s rock music. Teenagers hear this music all the time on the radio and even in movies. A bragging teen who is trying to act cool, while describing the excitement of a high can cause his teenage friends to think, “Maybe I can have that, too.”

Emptiness

The first four reasons give us some insight as to why teens try drugs, but this last one is the reason millions stay on drugs. An emptiness seems to plague mankind. The Bible calls it being bankrupt in soul. Although we are conquering our solar system, we have a void in our own inner space.

I believe the actions of youth and adults today reveal this emptiness. The epidemic of drugs, the flood of immorality, the rash of suicide attempts (about 2 million last year, with the suicide rate tripling since 1955), the increase of divorce (50 percent of all children will live in a broken home at some time during their formative years), and the rising number of adherents to Eastern religions are all evidence of emptiness.

A 1983 survey cited by the Observer News from the Johnson Institute found a high proportion of teenagers who use alcohol or other drugs said they are trying to alleviate depression, loneliness or anger. The burden is great on those who want to respond to this cry for help.

America is in a great spiritual famine. It is this aimless desperation and emptiness that has caused millions to hide behind a chemical curtain, drown in a sea of alcohol, or dive headfirst into the cesspool of fornication, adultery and homosexuality. That same emptiness drove me to try anything to fill that void in my life, including alcohol, drugs, cheap thrills and even Eastern religion. An empty man is like a man writhing in pain, unable to find relief. An empty man doesn’t know who he is, why he is here, or where he is headed. With no direction or goals, a teen resembles a ship adrift without a destination. He develops the “I-don’t-care” attitude and a poor self-image. It is no great mystery that teens don’t care or that they are so empty in this age of affluence. Even the institutions we hold dearest-the home, the church and the school-are crumbling in their failure to meet natural and legitimate needs.

Human history began with a family. It was the first institution God created. When the earth was flooded in judgment, the new world began with the family of Noah. When God chose the nation of Israel as His own, He started it as a family. The family structure is so significant that the incarnation of Christ was set within the love of a family. The family structure is the foundation of our nation, and those who, for whatever reason, revolt against the family are revolting against the nation and against God.

It is little wonder that teens feel they are just existing instead of living. This emptiness also brings about spiritual and moral blindness. The Bible teaches that Satan, the god of this age, has blinded the spiritual eyes of those who don’t know Jesus. Some teens turn on out of ignorance; they just don’t know what they are getting into. (This seems incredible considering all the effort toward drug education.) Most, however, are blinded by the glitter. Outside, the scene looks so good-the pounding music, the sensuous lyrics, the seductive dress of performers and participants; it promises escape from problems and rebellion without responsibility.

All the glitter covers up the fact that lives are ruined and destroyed. The undisciplined, empty life can lead to the neglect of studies and of physical well-being, to promiscuity and abortions, to accidents that cripple and bury friends. If you are going to follow the crowd, you had better find out where the crowd is headed. My emptiness led me to adopt the philosophy of “I’ll try anything once.” Mark it down: This attitude is a desperate cry for help.

Recognizing Symptoms Of Drug Abuse

The old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” is apropos of drug abuse. Addicts aren’t made in a day. They don’t just arrive; rather, they travel down a long, well-marked road. They are out of step, and they can be identified by alert and concerned adults.

It is imperative to remember that the effect of the drug on the user involves physical and psychological factors. The physical factors include the type of alcohol or the potency of the drug, how much and how fast the alcohol has been drunk, or the dosage of the drug. Whether the user has a full or empty stomach at the time of taking the drug determines the rate of absorption into the bloodstream and, thus, the drug’s effect.

The psychological factors that vary the effects include the personality, mood and attitude of the user. If the user is extremely upset (angry or sad), his high will be different than if he is in a pleasant mood. The expectations of the user and his previous drug experience also will determine the effects of the drug.

LSD. The most obvious physical reaction is a dilation of the pupils, causing the user’s eyes to become very sensitive to light. A trip lasts anywhere from eight to 16 hours, during which time the user is restless and unable to sleep. There is an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and temperature. Many times the user will experience “goose bumps,” profuse perspiration and even nausea. LSD may also cause hyperventilation (excessive and rapid breathing in deep, gulping breaths) and induce tremors (uncontrollable shaking and quivering of the whole body or limbs). If an unusually large quantity is taken, LSD may cause convulsions.

While high, the user experiences extreme changes of mood and loses control of normal thought processes. His moods may range from hilarity to uncontrollable exhilaration to withdrawal from reality; he may experience delusions or hallucinations. He may believe he cannot be harmed, or become paranoid and panic, depending on his emotional state at the time of taking the drug. If a teen is an experienced user, he will be able to handle these reactions, whereas many a novice will believe he is going insane.

Mescaline. This high involves a dreamlike trance and an exaggerated sense of joy and well-being. As with LSD, perception is affected, a condition that can last up to 18 hours. Mescaline has been known to cause vomiting and headaches, and it lowers the blood pressure and heart rate.

Psilocybin. The effects are very similar to LSD’s but last a shorter time. There is an inability to concentrate and the user may feel relaxed and detached. Bad side-effects include a flu-like nausea, dizziness and tremors, accompanied by anxiety. A trip lasts six hours at the most.

STP. Dilation of the pupils, nausea, confusion, and sweating are the results of STP use-effects similar to those caused by LSD. A trip lasts eight to 10 hours.

PCP (angel dust). This drug causes a high degree of agitation, anxiety and mental confusion, and can produce a zombie-like, drunken state. This is a tranquilizer, so it has a downer effect. Large amounts of PCP have caused comas, convulsions and deaths. The PCP user may feel as though his arms or legs are shrinking, may be unable to control bowel or bladder use and may be unable to walk.

Marijuana. The physical and mental effects can last from two to four hours and include loss of coordination in various degrees, insatiable hunger, inflammation of the mucous membranes and bronchial tubes, and dilation of the pupils. The effects are similar to those caused by mild alcohol intoxication.

Often there is uncontrollable hilarity and a feeling of being beyond reality. However, large doses have been known to cause hallucination and paranoia. (Remember, grass is often cut with chemicals.) Marijuana allows the user to be more open and talkative. Marijuana intoxication is probably the most difficult drug state to detect, because an experienced user can function normally while high. Brown stains on fingertips, small burn holes in shirts or dresses, and the presence of paraphernalia (pipe, water pipes, roach chips, rolling papers, etc.) all indicate excessive use. Adults should become familiar with the marijuana symbol painted on shirts and street signs and plastered on walls. A very important sign of drug abuse is the development of tremendous apathy in the user.

Alcohol. An experienced drinker can compensate for impaired behavior due to this drug. In small doses alcohol has a tranquilizing effect; the user feels relaxed and free from tension, and inhibitions are loosened. In larger amounts, muscle coordination, memory and judgment are affected. Alcohol may cause drowsiness in one person and act as a stimulant to another. Of course, all the usual manifestations of drunkenness are obvious: staggering, bloodshot eyes, alcohol breath, blurred vision, and often, vomiting. A hangover the next day, indicated by nausea, fatigue, severe headache and anxiety, is a symptom of drinking abuse.

Amphetamines. Amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the central nervous system activities. They produce a sense of well-being, alertness and boundless energy for a short time. Pupils become dilated, appetite diminishes and the blood pressure and respiration rate increase.
While under the influence of an average dose, the user becomes overactive, irritable, suspicious to the point of paranoia and sometimes violent. As the effect begins to diminish, the user experiences headaches, nausea, nervousness, restlessness, cotton mouth, heavy perspiration, confusion, blurred vision and shaky hands. After the high is over, the body pace slows dramatically from its tempestuous race, causing extreme fatigue.

Many who abuse amphetamines neglect their bodies in various ways, suffering drastic weight loss, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency and dental decay. The days without sleep cause vital organs, especially the kidneys, to suffer. Whenever a needle is involved, there is always the chance of infection and hepatitis.

Cocaine. The typical cocaine user has many cocaine-related health problems. Loss of energy, insomnia, sore throat, nosebleeds, headaches, sinus problems and a runny nose are a few. Trembling, seizures or convulsions, nausea or vomiting, constant licking of lips or grinding of teeth are others. One of the early symptoms is a constant sniffing or rubbing of the nose. In regular users, loss of consciousness, trouble with breathing or swallowing, heart palpitations and lack of interest in personal health and hygiene may occur.

From a psychiatric perspective, anxiety and irritability, depression, panic, delusions and paranoia, lack of concentration, hearing voices, loss of interest in friends and non-drug related activities, memory problems, thoughts of suicide, blackouts and compulsive behavior are key indicators of cocaine dependence.

Barbiturates and Tranquilizers. These are sedatives, which means they slow down the central nervous system activities such as breathing and coordination. These drugs are readily absorbed into the bloodstream, and the effects can occur within 20 minutes. Small doses of barbiturates produce effects similar to alcohol’s. Users become relaxed, drowsy, and have a false sense of well-being. The reason these drugs are so popular to slip to dates is because they cause girls to become more jovial and social, and as a result they may lower their inhibition and impair moral judgments. Teens on barbiturates may more readily follow others’ suggestions. Often, even small doses can induce sleep, but if the user remains awake he appears drunk because of his slurred speech, awkward movement and coordination, and impaired perception. Under a heavy dose, the user can lapse into a coma and even die.

Opiates, Heroin. A junkie can usually be detected by the dilation of his pupils and his tendency to nod off and on; his lethargy and apathy give him away. If the user is a novice or one who uses heroin only intermittently, withdrawal is very severe, as you may have seen on a TV. show. The sickness begins four to six hours after the last injection, but becomes very severe after 12 to 16 hours.

The presence of an outfit (drug injection kit) or of a cap or bag of white powder are evidence of heroin use, of course. Other telltale signs are neglected health, blood poisoning, hepatitis, tetanus, skin infection, track marks (scarred veins), ulcers and abscesses (collections of pus in body tissue).

Solvents. These are the most difficult drug habits to detect because the effects only last from five minutes to one hour. Sometimes chronic users have ulcers around the mouth and nose that will not heal. They often experience a marked weight loss. Sniffing solvents produces a zombie-like effect. Be suspicious of partly used glue or paint containers unless your child is putting them to a legitimate use, such as model-building.

In summary, there is a deterioration of moral, social, familial and religious values, as well as a neglect of personal hygiene and appearance when drug abuse is concerned. A user is characterized by a restless, bored attitude which is exhibited not only in the dress but in the language and in the choice of friends. The individual shows a change in personality and in school-related areas such as grades, sports, involvement and attendance. There are emotional flare-ups, outbreaks of temper, and withdrawal from the family. The young drug abuser may need more money, and money may disappear. A change in behavior is the major symptom of all drug abuse.

Stages of Drug Use

The following checklist, developed by Dennis D. Nelson for use with groups of high school students, can be helpful to anyone who wants to know more about the stages of drug abuse.

1. Experimental Use

Junior-high-age students, especially boys, are great experimenters with various types of mood-altering substances. Some may never go beyond the experimental stage. They may decide that chemical use is not for them. But a majority of them will continue to experiment and become regular users. They will use beer and pot in this stage and will learn to seek and enjoy mood swings that these substances provide. A child who exhibits abuse at this stage may be establishing a lifelong pattern. Or the chemical use may level off and stay at the “social recreational” level, causing no intrapersonal conflict or externally harmful consequences. It is difficult to assess chemical dependency at this stage. The normal turmoil of adolescence is baffling to both teenagers and their parents, and caution is advised in any evaluation procedure. Many students have been inappropriately labeled as dependent when in fact they are not. They may be using drugs, but that fact alone does not make them dependent.

2. More Regular Use

Simply using more does not, by itself, indicate dependency. But a pattern of regular use, coupled with some adverse behavioral changes, can show a definite move towards possible dependency. The point here is not how much is being used, or how often, but why it is being used and what behavioral changes occur as a result of the use. If teenagers have to lie to their parents about their savings accounts, about why they have dropped out of school sports or other activities, or about who their companions are, and have to maintain these fictions in order to continue using drugs, they will begin to experience real guilt. Unfortunately, this guilt produces feelings of intense self-hate, which results in increased drug use. A cycle of use-guilt-remorse-increased-use begins.

3. Daily Preoccupation

Preoccupation with drugs is one of the major indicators of a chemical problem. More and more of the student’s time, energy and money are spent on thinking about being high and insuring that a steady supply of drugs is available. Questioning a user at this stage will reveal that very few of his or her daily activities do not include drug use. The user accepts this as normal. Problems with parents or police may cause the abuser to decide that it would be smart to cut down or to quit using drugs all together. And they may succeed for a few weeks. Generally, though, these periods of abstinence will not last. They do serve, however, to strengthen the abuser’s sincere delusion that because he or she “quit,” there is no problem. It can be pointed out to the abuser that, even though he or she feels that there is still a choice as to whether or not to use, the “choice” is always the same: to keep using.

4. Dependency

By the time the user has reached a state of dependency, negative personal feelings have been building steadily until they require daily, even hourly, medication with drugs. Abusers in this state are unable to distinguish between normal and intoxicated behavior. To them, being high is normal, and no rationale or moral argument can break through their chemically maintained delusion. This delusion persists even in the face of overwhelming evidence that his or her abuse is out of control and is physically, mentally and emotionally strangling him or her. The abuser will continue to insist that there is no problem, that it is not out of control, and that he or she can quit at any time.

The Response Of The Home: Prevention At The Grassroots

In describing a solution to the drug dilemma, the message of John the Baptist is appropriate:
“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees”(Matthew 3:10). This “grassroots” prevention must take place where drug abuse and alcoholism most often begin in the home. Here are some things you can do.

Provide Wisdom and Guidance

A basic tenet of behavioral psychology is that all behavior is caused, and it is unanimous that the number one cause of deviant behavior is the breakdown of the home. A fractured family fails to provide children with an opportunity to develop healthy attitudes and self-images. Increasing numbers of parents each year are reaching the ends of their ropes. What can we do about the problems our children are having? It is obvious that many desperately need wisdom and guidance.

As a parent, I am grateful that there is a Book of wisdom and guidance to help give direction to my children so they will not choose to experiment with drugs. This book that is filled with wisdom literature is the Holy Bible.

Be a Living Example

You must be a good example in word, conduct and attitude. Children deserve and must have a living example.

If you want your children to handle their emotions, then don’t overreact and fly off the handle about every little thing. Well-behaved children are imitating well-behaved parents. If you desire your children to have clean mouths, then you must keep yours clean of all profanity.

Set a good example by respecting drugs yourselves. You can expect your children to model their drug-taking attitudes after yours. The Johnson Institute feels its studies show a strong correlation between use and misuse rates in adolescents and the standards of their parents.

It is wise to remember that the family medicine chest is often the source of a child’s initial drug experience. Most medicine chests are stockpiles of drugs no longer needed; easy access to diet pills, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and pain pills is a key factor to the “great turn-on.” The drinking parent who forbids his child to take drugs is a hypocrite in his child’s eyes. The drug lecture I got on the evils of marijuana was not very effective when delivered by my drunken stepfather.

Understand Your Child’s World

Parents can prepare themselves by keeping in touch with the world around them and with the world of their children. Most young people view their parents as old-fashioned and “out of it” because the parents don’t know what is happening in life. There are scores of helpful books available. It is tragic that television documentaries, magazines and newspaper articles on drug abuse or moral problems are ignored by most parents. Many teens are screaming on the inside, “Help me, Daddy. Help me, Mother. Help me to understand drugs. Help me to understand sex. Help me to understand me.”

Establish Unity in Your Home

Unity is the key to a harmonious home. It would be wise to remember the words of Jesus, later quoted by Abraham Lincoln: “Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). A house without unity will never be home. Since the definition of the word “unity” is “oneness” (from the Latin word uniat), our reference to unity is that loving oneness that meets the most basic needs of man: the need to belong and the need for security.

Most homes take on one of two appearances. One is the appearance of prison, in which everyone lives in his own little cell or microcosm (his own world), having little or no communication with others. In this day of amazing communication, many families don’t really communicate and relate to each other.

The other appearance given by many homes is that of a battlefield, where members of the family are constantly wounding each other.

Unity in the home attracts like a magnet. The light and warmth from two parents in love and united in life draws the children to their parents. Lack of this unity drives children away, depriving them of security and instilling in them a sense of inadequacy. As a result, children develop a loser’s philosophy that causes them to have poor relationships with others. They do not learn how to give and take. Instead they learn: “It’s either my way, or no way at all.”

The vast majority of troubled teens I counsel cannot remember their families ever doing much together. Members of a fractured and fragmented family often feel they have nothing in common. In an effort to spend time with my child, I give my little girl at least one hour a day of my undivided attention. It is her hour; we do whatever she wants to do. Most homes need to call a cease-fire, or truce, on backbiting, clawing and chewing on one another with cruel remarks. Lack of unity wounds the spirit, and a wounded spirit causes rebellion.

The family needs to be united in direction, duty, discipline and dedication. Parents can overcome division by calling a family conference to determine goals for every member of the family.

United in Directions

Unity of direction will prevent children from playing divide-and-conquer with parents by pitting one against the other. It doesn’t accomplish much for Mom to encourage the child to practice the piano if Dad insists music is sissy stuff and complains about the racket. I know a couple who are divided on the educational goal for their child. The mother wants her son to read many of the outstanding books available, but the father considers such reading silly and a waste of time. I have seen teens greatly confused by parents who cannot agree. There is a need for a clear and well-defined direction that the family will travel together.

United in Duty

The family also must share duties around the house. Most husbands have no idea how much work the average wife does in one day. There must be a delegation of the chores. For years, mothers have had to face diapers, dishes, and cleaning alone, while preschool children constantly demand their full attention. My college psychology professor taught that men and women can tolerate stress and pressure much better if they know someone else realizes what they are enduring. Not only should the father be grateful for a job well done, he should be helpful.

United in Discipline

The family also should be united in discipline. The Bible teaches that children are to be disciplined, because there is no way a child can teach himself to be good. However, no one has to teach a child to disobey, to rebel or to be just plain bad. As a Christian parent, I desire my children to revere God and to respect authority. The reason teens seem to have little respect for parents, school, church and the law is because they have no respect for authority-period. There are certain words many “child experts” are trying to remove from our vocabulary; one is the word “discipline” and another is “chastise.” This has resulted in an epidemic of permissiveness that is on the verge of being a national disaster.

The word “discipline” comes from the same Greek word that translates “disciple,” meaning “to be a learner.” When I discipline my child with love and consistency, I am helping her learn self-control, responsibility and respect for authority. A rebellious and disobedient 3-year-old grows up into a rebellious and disobedient teenager. Discipline should begin at an early age. The parent should always make clear, before, during and after each discipline session how much he loves the child. A young couple I know teaches their children, “I love you too much to let you act like this.” Explain to the child that all of us are held accountable by God and by society for our actions.

Self-discipline (on the endangered species list in America) is the natural result of external discipline. As a child learns discipline, he learns to say no to various temptations. Children who are disciplined in love develop a strong desire to please their parents; as they learn about the love of God, they will desire to please their heavenly Father. I desire the very best for my children, and I want them to achieve great things. But if I don’t teach them how to control themselves, I have failed. Proverbs teaches, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). The one who can control, restrain, and discipline himself will be a champion.

United in Dedication

Members of the family must be united in their dedication to each other. Dr. Kenneth Kenniston, author of The Uncommitted, calls this “the age of the uncommitted.” One reason a teenager is so committed to the gang or to the peer group is because he has never experienced commitment to the family. Parents should let their children know of their dedication to each other. My children should know there will never be a day when I will go off and leave them or their mother. Little good to hear daddy say, “I would protect you even if it meant death for me,” if daily they see daddy refusing to live for them. Spouses should be dedicated to each other. Use your energies to make your marriage and your family a success.

Quality Communication Is a Must

Most parents fail to realize the tremendous opportunities they have when their children are young. In the early stages of a child’s life, parents are able to build bridges between themselves and their child that will allow passage in the years to come. Yet most parents fail to realize this great opportunity. This bridge of communication is the greatest asset a child can have in the perilous teenage years to come.

I believe the Lord intended for the home to be a small sharing group and a place of fellowship. Fellowship means two fellows in the same ship, both paddling toward the same port. It is so important for the family to be united in direction. A lack of fellowship, or communication, is one reason why so many ships are sinking and why teenagers are abandoning the sinking ships.

Parents, don’t forfeit the great opportunity to communicate when your children are young, because the older they get, the more difficult it is to influence them. They become wise with worldly wisdom and less receptive to your ideas. Besides, if you wait too long to put in the lines of communications, they won’t be sturdy enough to withstand the storms of adolescence.

But remember: A basic psychological tenet is that normal rebellion leads to maturity and opens up communication. It is through conflict that family members learn to solve problems, learn to respect the rights of others and learn to understand each other. Normal rebellion leads the teen to try his own wings to see if he can make it on his own; it encourages him to leave the nest when he is completely prepared to leave. Abnormal rebellion, the result of careless indifference, is destructive. It shuts the door of communication and isolates family members from one another. It is imperative that the door always be open.

Recreate with Your Kids

A basic childhood need psychologist remind us of is the need for adventure. Adventure, of course, means a thrill, a stirring experience, a risky or exciting event. It would be wise for us to remember that those who are most attracted to drugs are those who are bored or discontented with life. Life should be exciting and fulfilling. Helen Keller was blind and deaf from infancy but became a great writer and lecturer. She said, “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”

By example, parents show life as a matter of existing or enduring or living vibrantly, constantly learning and loving. Many parents show by the emptiness in their lives that life for them is like an incurable disease. Someone said, “Life protracted is protracted woe.” Life is one long process of getting tired, according to many parents’ attitudes. Of course, you can, by your life, show your children that life is exciting, exhilarating, and worth living.

Every parent should sit down with his children who are in or near the drug-abuse age for an “I care” session. Start with, “Son, it is natural to want adventure, but don’t miss the boat and drown. Don’t look for thrills and adventure in the wrong place.” Aesop’s fable, The Dog and the Shadow, warns, “Beware lest you lose substance by grasping at the shadow.” This is good advice for young people today.

Don’t Be Overprotective

One of the cardinal sins a parent can commit is to be overprotective. I counseled a young man who had just been busted, and we talked about the restlessness of teens and the need for adventure and excitement. He told me of his domineering mother, who smothered him with baby treatment. All his life she had forbidden him to ride a horse, to play football, to go water or snow skiing, or to go camping because these activities were too dangerous. So he sought an artificial thrill in the drug scene, and it almost cost his life.

Personally, I would rather my son or daughter run the risk of breaking a leg playing football or skiing than ruin his or her mind and body in the drug scene. I now realize that scuba diving, learning to fly a plane, karate, sports, learning to play an instrument, traveling or just plain learning all provide far greater thrills for teens and their parents than do artificial, destructive chemicals. All these activities develop sound bodies and sound minds and teach responsibility. Parents, don’t prohibit without providing adequate substitutes. After my “born-again” experience I didn’t just quit the drug scene; I filled that gap with positive alternatives. Now that cheap and plastic scene has no attraction for me.

How To Counsel

If you are going to counsel a youth who is taking drugs, you must be prepared. Scare tactics don’t work anymore. Youth today are much better informed. You will need to stay informed and be aware of which drugs are popular in your community. Stay familiar with the symptoms of drug usage. You need to recognize whether the one you are counseling is in any condition to be counseled or not. Many counseling sessions or late-night confrontations between parent and teen have been wasted because the adult did not realize he was talking to a pill instead of to a person. The teen’s mind must be clear before he is approached. If a person is drowning, it is not a good time to teach him to swim. Wait for a good opportunity. If you really are concerned about helping your teens or someone your concern will show.

Be approachable and available. Teens must have access to you, or they will never come for help. A good opening for a talk is to ask your teen’s opinions about drug-related features in the paper or on television, or to ‘discuss a recent drug bust or a drug-related accident. Teens want and need to talk about how they feel. An opportunity may come at any time, usually after weeks and months of observation of the adult by the young person.

Counselors should also be careful of second-or third-hand information. Always consider the source, but treat information like smoke-maybe there is some fire. Let me remind you that there are three types of drug users: the occasional user, the thrill seeker, and the junkie. A teenager trying booze or pot at a weekend party is not a junkie, but his experiment is a symptom of restlessness or confusion.

The Actual Session

This might take place in your child’s bedroom, in the living room, in a classroom after school, or in a pastor’s study. The more privacy, the better.

1) Encourage the young person to face his problem squarely and honestly. Encourage him to talk about his feelings. This ventilation of pent-up feelings is a great beginning. As he shares, just listen. Don’t condemn, but don’t give false assurances such as, “Oh, you’re really not that bad.” Give sympathy: “I am here to help; I am on your side.” Offer the hope or condolence of “You’re not the first one to do this nor will you be the last.” In talking with you, this may be the first time the teen has actually faced his problem. Understand that the teen is not as sure of himself as he pretends. Many teens are good at sizing up other people and manipulating them, yet they are naive about themselves.

2) He must accept his own responsibilities in this problem. Maybe he has been sinned against, or has been the victim, or has been burned, but maturity means responsibility for your own condition. This is a biblical law as well as a social law. A fundamental assumption underlying the laws in a free society is that man is a responsible agent, that he can understand and follow rules, and therefore that he can be held accountable for his own actions.

Many teens with problems will be like Adam in the Garden of Eden. They will try to cover up their shame and guilt by sewing fig leaves of excuses together. Others will avoid their parents or avoid the church, just as Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God. Even after they were caught, Adam blamed the woman, and Eve blamed the serpent.

3) Ask the teen the question Jesus asked, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). (“Do you really want to be healed?”) To a lame man who had been a cripple for 38 years, it sounded like a foolish question. But people don’t always want to be healed. They sometimes choose not to accept responsibility. Some you counsel may just want to talk about their problems or seek your sympathy. I have run across young people who, on our first meeting, have told me every minute detail of their sins. Rest assured, these are talkers who want sympathy, and they will tell anyone who will listen to their problems. Others love their sins and refuse to give them up. The Bible describes them as “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). By questioning them, you will be able to determine if they really want help.

4) As the teen shares, his story will probably be in bits and pieces, so be a patient listener. (Maybe that is why the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth; we need to listen twice as much as we talk!) Never push the teen too hard to reveal facts he isn’t ready to reveal. Give him time to answer or to ask what he feels comfortable with. Be sensitive to signals of nervousness, irritability or boredom. Every person wants to feel important and wanted.

Many times as I hear problems, the young person comments, “You are the first person who has ever listened to me to find out what I have to say.” Most teens will take you through a tunnel of trivia, but continue to listen because they will give you clues as to what the problems actually are. If we don’t have time to listen to small problems, we cannot expect the teens to listen to our counsel and guidance. Remember, the single greatest compliment you can pay another human being is to listen to him.

5) One of the biggest mistakes a counselor can make is to react with shock or disgust. Facial gestures and other body language can give away disappointment or shock. The adolescent is asking for help, not a reprimand. Be sensitive, and try to understand the real problem.

6) Parents, when talking to your kids, sit down in a calm, rational way. Get on their level. Listen for as long as they want to talk. Remember that you represent their greatest hope. Most parents blow up if they find their child has smoked or taken a drink or taken dope or committed an immoral act. They attack the person instead of the problem. Let your child know you are upset because you love him and are concerned about his direction in life. Concern is never out of place.

Think carefully on this: Many times parents are actually upset that they have failed in raising the child. In reality, they are more embarrassed about their failure than they are concerned for the condition of the child. Never turn your back on your child. You are his hope.

7) The unpardonable sin is to betray confidences. All it takes to ruin your reputation as a counselor is to reveal what was told you in confidence. A parent may do this by bringing up the past when he is upset with his child. Too many preachers are careless in using confidential material as sermon illustrations. As usual, the Scriptures say it best, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

8) Be positive. A parent, pastor, teacher or teen who wants to be confided in must be in control of life. If you are always down, always complaining, and if your life is out of control, rest assured no one will seek your help or advice.

9) A good counselor should remind teens that in real life there are no fast solutions. Many teens want instant solutions. This may be the result of seeing every problem, no matter how severe, solved in 30 minutes on television. Most teens I counsel have problems that go back into their past. The three root problems affecting most teens are: moral impurity, which is the result of a poor self-image; bitterness over experiences or treatment they have received in the past; and a temporal value system. They will sacrifice the future for 30 minutes of pleasure or acceptance today.

10) Encourage goal setting. Using John 10:10, explain that God does offer an abundant, exciting life. Help the youth to write out short-term and long-term goals. Point him in the direction to achieve those goals by introducing him to opportunities and resource materials. Set a follow-up time for the next week in which you receive a report.

11) If a counselor is a Christian, he can rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, help and strength, and he can use the Bible, the road map to life.

12) Find out what programs are available to help teens-coffee houses, storefronts, hot lines or successful youth programs at school or church. I use publications and tapes in my counseling. If there is a question you cannot answer, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” It is no sin to be unable to solve every problem, but it is wrong to talk as an authority about something you know nothing about.

13) Most importantly, a counselor must count the cost of counseling before he begins. Counseling involves continuity. You may receive phone call after phone call, discouragement after discouragement. Counseling is not a one-time shot, by any means. It may take months for the teen to learn to trust you. In both my wife’s case and mine, we did not respond to counseling immediately. There were many trial-and-error mistakes along the way.

My objectives in counseling are three: First, I try to lead the person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As God, He can forgive sins and failure and take away guilt; as Lord, he cares and understands. The phrase “Jesus is the answer” is more than a cliche.

Second, I try to challenge the person to be a victor over life rather than a victim of it, to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I try to motivate him to be real, instead of being part of the crowd or an artificial person.

Last, but not least, I try to build bridges between teens and their parents. No young person will ever be happy or fulfilled unless he learns to communicate with his parents. I try to help teens realize that parents have problems and pressures that children have no way of understanding. If I can help a young person learn to talk and listen to his parents and the heavenly Father, then much of my mission has been accomplished. I truly have been a friend.

The above article, “Shattered Dreams: What Parents And Teens Should Know About Drugs and Drinking” is written by Jay Strack. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family in 1989.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in AIS File Library, IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAM - America, ISMS - Miscellaneous Topics0 Comments

Just A Little Drink – Why Not?

Just A Little Drink – Why Not?
Gospel Tract and Bible Society

So drinking is your own business? Indeed it is! At least up to a point.

You’re right, man has used alcohol for thousands of years to brace up the faint, to cheer up festivities, to drown out his problems. So you say moderate drinking is all right.

Moderate drinking? When does moderate drinking develop into intemperance? You can go to any rescue mission and hear the same story over and over. The person had money, prestige, a good job, a fine family, but then all at once, or so it seemed, he was on the skids. It all started with a little drink that “won’t hurt.” The very thing that had made him friends had turned on him and had caused his ruination. The biblical warning, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1), had now been proven in his own life. And the drink demon had not been satisfied until the victim hit bottom.

Many traffic accidents are caused by those whose judgment has been impaired by alcohol. Rosita W. hadn’t drunk much; she could still drive her car. She did, and forced another car into the path of an oncoming truck. The result: four cars piled up, six people dead, a whole family wiped out. Rosita went free, walked away from the carnage unhurt-except for the responsibility.

Kenneth, a minister on his way to a mission, was driving his car on the right side of the freeway. Then, without warning, a car came hurtling through the snow flurry, head-on, killing him, his wife, and a passenger, and injuring their little son for life.

So it’s your own business if you drink? Well, that’s what thousands of drinking drivers say. The victims of such drivers think differently-at least those who are still able to think.

It’s your own business if you drink? What about a wife, a husband, children? How much abuse, neglect, shame, and insecurity do they suffer when you drink? Many a promising marriage has been wrecked as a result of alcohol.

The young man and woman, pure, well-intentioned, after a few drinks lost their inhibitions, and the blight of sin set in to haunt them the rest of their lives.

But you say you can quit anytime you want to. You are sure you will quit before you plunge too deeply. But wait! Two young women, out to see the magnificent Grand Canyon, stepped past the guard rail to the very edge. A little gust of wind came, and one of them plunged to her death on the rocks below. Avoidable? Yes-if they had followed the safety rules.

He who drinks is breaking the rules, is leaving the guard rail behind, and is on his own. It’s the first step into sin. The plunge to the point of no return is now possible anytime.

It is sin. The Bible warns against drinking. It says:

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:29-32).

The Bible, however, offers hope to those enslaved by alcohol. Joe is an example of the person who took advantage of the promises in the Bible. Joe had brought shame to himself and to his family. He was on his way to becoming a slave to drink. Then one day he remembered the words of Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He prayed, committing his life to God. With forgiveness came peace in his heart. His burden of sin disappeared. His desire for drink left him, and he was on his way to a new life.

So you can drink if you want to! That’s your responsibility, your sin, and in the end, your remorse.

Instead, do like Joe did. The Lord has called you to holy living. Your life is not altogether your own. You have to give an account of what you do with your body, and what you do to your spirit. Again, this verse from the Bible: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Alcohol destroys; God’s Holy Spirit builds. Living for God helps develop the best in you; alcohol has a tendency to bring out the worst in you.

Call upon the Lord. Ask His forgiveness. Get busy, working with His people. He will fulfill the deepest desires of your heart.

The above article, “Just A Little Drink – Why Not?” is written by Gospel Tract and Bible Society. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAM - America, ISMS - Miscellaneous Topics0 Comments

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