Friday, December 9, 2016

Apparent Age versus Mature Creation

There is an important difference between a mature creation and apparent age. God is not deceptive and would not create things with a false appearance of age. But he did create things mature. Careful study can show the difference.

For example, while Adam was created as an adult, and adults usually have to go through the childhood stages to reach adulthood, Adam didn't. He was created mature. However, he was not created with false signs of aging. Thus, on first glance, a doctor examining him right after his creation would think he was 20 or 30 years old due to the body size, ability to grow a beard, sexual maturity, etc. But on closer inspection, the doctor would notice something peculiar. There would be no wrinkles, no scars, no callouses, no belly button. Adam wouldn't show signs of actual aging or having lived years on the earth or having been injured in events that never happened or having been born. If he had, that would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Close inspection would be needed to indicate the difference. Whereas a cursory inspection and initial conclusion might point to a man who had lived a couple decades or more, closer and more detailed inspection would give reason to think he hadn't actually started as a baby and grown to adulthood, and thus the appearance of age would disappear.

Much the same thing is true when we study our planet as well. On first glance, there are a number of features that look, superficially, to be signs of great age. On closer inspection, there is evidence that they did not actually take a long time to develop.

One might look at the amount of sedimentary rock on the planet, which would indicate millions of years of slow sediment deposition (which is the way we usually get such sediment deposition), and think the earth is millions of years old. But on closer inspection, we see that there is little or no erosion between most of those layers and there are animal and plant remains in the layers that appear to have been buried very rapidly and are well preserved and in positions that indicate catastrophe. There are fossils that extend between more than one layer. There are soft tissues found in some of these fossils, including in the remains of dinosaurs, in which individual cells and their parts can be distinguished quite clearly. These features and others lead one to believe that the sediment did not actually take millions of years to deposit and that another, more rapid and catastrophic explanation fits the evidence best.

Perhaps the most problematic use of apparent age is to explain away distant starlight by suggesting that it might have been created in transit rather than originating at the actual star. Yet this would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Mature creation is creating an actual star instead of a dust cloud that must condense into a star. Saying that the starlight we see that appears to tell us chemical composition, location, distance, motion, and also events that have happened to that star (such as exploding into a supernova) did not actually come from an actual star or actual events would mean that starlight serves only to deceive through apparent age. What's more, if that were true, then the night sky is all a sparkling facade - a light show with no substance - and we have no ability to know what is actually out there in space or to study it. There are several potential explanations for distant starlight reaching a young earth, but apparent age is not one of them.

The fact that God created Adam as a grown man and trees that never grew from seeds and animals that were never juveniles does not allow us to ignore evidence of age like celestial events or to fail to seek good explanations for things like rock strata that might look superficially old. We can't lump all those things together as if they were all the same kind of thing. That's lazy and ignorant thinking. It's important to distinguish between apparent age and a creation that was simply created mature. We should not attribute deception to God or offer simplistic explanations that fail to account for the facts. Neither of those bring glory to God.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Celebrating Christian Holidays

It has been a growing trend for several years for certain groups of Christians to refuse to celebrate holidays like Christmas or Easter because they believe those days have pagan roots.

I think it's misguided to think the actions of some group of pagans in the past has corrupted a day God made for all eternity such that Christians can never celebrate anything on that day for fear of inadvertently celebrating something pagan. The same thing goes for inherently harmless activities like decorating a tree or having a game to find hidden eggs. The fact that these things might once have had a connection to some sort of pagan activity doesn't mean that people today have any sort of evil in their hearts or are worshiping a false god in doing them.

Most of the claims of pagan origins for holidays are not actually true, but even if they were, that's not a problem. Christians sometimes went into new cultures and used their existing traditions to tell the Christian message instead of a pagan one. They redeemed days of celebration, as they redeemed the people, by converting them to worship the one true God.

Something similar was done by John and Charles Wesley when they took bar songs and used the tunes for hymns. The people were familiar with the tune, but now the song taught them about God and encouraged them to worship Him. Christians changing traditions of a pagan people to instead celebrate and teach about Christ is a good thing. A former pagan association to a day or activity doesn't contaminate the hearts of those who are actually worshiping and celebrating Christ.

Of course, if someone's conscience prevents them from celebrating Christmas or Easter because they believe it is wrong, then they should not violate their conscience. However, they can inform their conscience if they choose to. We are free in Christ and do not have to be bound by ideas of spiritual contamination by association. To the pure, all things are pure.

Christ came to earth as one of us and died in our place so that we can be reconciled to God. That's something worth celebrating. If that's what is in our hearts at Christmas or Easter or other holidays, then that's what we're celebrating, and no other tradition that may or may not have ever occurred on that day can corrupt it for us.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What Does the Bible Have to Say About When Life Begins?

Biologically, every human being starts life at conception. That's just scientific fact. But some Christians who want to support abortion try to pretend they have Biblical reasons for questioning when a baby becomes a person and often refer to "ensoulment," when the soul enters the body, as being the point at which it would be wrong to take a life. Some point to the Bible's mention of the "breath of life" when Adam was created as proof that until a baby takes a breath, he has no soul and can be killed. Others think ensoulment happens at implantation, viability, when the heart begins to beat, or at some other point during embryonic development.

Of course, the idea that there can be a biological human without a soul is complete imagination. Nowhere does the Bible indicate or even hint of this. Nor does it follow that even if there were no soul, that humans would be allowed to kill such a soulless human. We were given dominion over the animals and plants, to use them for our good and even to kill them, but not over other humans - soulless or not. Thus, even if the soul were given at some point after conception, we have no authority to end that life merely because it has no soul yet.

It also makes no sense to argue that not knowing for sure if a human embryo has a soul means killing them would be permitted. It would be wrong to shoot a gun into the bushes or tear down a building if there could be a person inside. The Bible gives penalties for even the accidental killing of another person. It is our responsibility to ensure that we do not kill other humans, and thus if there could be a person there, we must err on the side of caution. If we are unsure of whether or not a woman's womb contains a human person, we must refuse to abort. The doubt does not give justification to proceed with an abortion. It requires just the opposite.

The breath of life argument is similarly flawed. The first man, Adam, being created from dust and then being turned into a living man by the breath of God is how humankind first began.
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
However, the claim that one doesn't have a soul or personhood until the first breath does not follow from this verse. Not even close. For one thing, this isn't how people usually come to exist. This was a one-time act of creation. Adam was never in a mother's womb at all, nor was he a zygote or fetus. But in addition to that, this verse isn't talking about taking a first breath of air. The breath of life refers to the breath of God, not air. And the verse says a man newly created is a living soul. It doesn't say Adam became living, then became a soul. It sure sounds like a living human is a soul, with no point at which he is living, but not a soul. So if there's anything to learn from the creation of Adam, it can't be that abortion is okay until the first breath.

The Bible also has many things to say about the identity of the child in the womb. For example:
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalm 139:13-16  For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 
The Bible indicates in multiple places that humans exist as persons in the womb. God knows them. They're people. It even says that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb and leaped for joy when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, arrived to greet his mother Elizabeth because he recognized the Savior while he was still in the womb.

But that's not all. The Bible also indicates that conception is the defining point at which the existence of a new person begins. For example, Psalm 51:5 says "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Here David says, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that it was him that was conceived, not some biological entity that became him.

This sort of assumption that it is a person that is conceived is all through scripture. But even more direct is what the Bible says about Jesus' conception.
Luke 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus wasn't incarnated by entering a fetus in Mary's womb. He was incarnated by being conceived. That's what it says. God taking on flesh and becoming a man had to start at conception because that's where humans begin. Jesus was a zygote. The Creator of all the universe became a zygote. Let that sink in for a minute. Then try to tell me you can kill a human zygote or embryo because it's not a person. You can't.

Of course, the question of whether abortion should be legal is not solved by referencing the Bible. Not all wrong things should be illegal. To answer the question of abortion's legality we must look at what government's purpose is and the biological facts of human reproduction.

But the Bible does tell us about the morality of abortion. It is immoral to kill innocent people. A child in the womb, from conception onward, is an innocent person. Therefore, abortion is immoral. It's really as simple as that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Learn to Control Your Mind

It's important to develop control over our minds. It's a form of self-discipline. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive to bring it into subjection to Christ (II Cor. 10:5). It also tells us to think on things that are noble, pure, and true (Philippians 4:8). Part of loving God with our minds is learning to think about things that are pleasing to Him and not giving a place in our minds to thoughts that would grieve our Savior.

We can control what we think about. It's something we all have to learn. It doesn't come naturally. We naturally just follow our passions and appetites as children do. But as we mature, we must practice controlling ourselves, and that includes what we allow to occupy our thoughts. We can't always help it when a thought enters our minds, but we can choose not to dwell on it.

The best way to combat intrusive thoughts is to replace them with something else that is good. Replace wrong thoughts with truth. Replace hateful thoughts with kind and compassionate ones. Replace fearful thoughts with remembrance of God's faithfulness and provision. Replace bitterness with forgiveness. Replace temptation with meditating on God's word or thanksgiving for our blessings. Replace self-condemnation with praise to God for His forgiveness.

Learning mental self-control is also very important for developing self-control in other areas as well. After all, every sin starts with a tempting thought. Learning to stop temptation in the mental stage makes it far easier to avoid turning it into sinful action.

Controlling our thoughts is also important for controlling our emotions. Emotions follow our thoughts. We should certainly learn to avoid spewing our emotions through our behavior, especially where it would be wrong or inappropriate to do so. But we can often stop the emotion all together by controlling our thoughts. Emotions don't have to control us.

Self-discipline of the mind is also how we obey the commands of God. God commands us to love Him and praise Him, for example. But we must do these things authentically. God doesn't want just empty words. True praise and love come from the heart. We develop these things in our hearts by controlling what we think about. If we want to love God, we must think about the good things He has done - both for us and for others throughout history - and the virtues of God's character. We must meditate on His justice, His mercy, His provision, His patience, and so on. That takes purposeful thinking and developing a habit of this kind of thinking.

Controlling our thoughts and emotions properly is not something we learn overnight. It's a habit we must form by constantly checking our thoughts and choosing to think of something better when harmful or wrong thoughts intrude. We can't let ourselves be passive bystanders of our own thoughts. It might take pushing a thought away hundreds or even thousands of times and purposely making ourselves think of something else instead before we find victory. It takes identifying thoughts that are good to dwell on and putting them in the place of harmful or false thoughts. It can be mentally exhausting at times. But it grows easier with practice. And it's a habit well worth cultivating.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Learn to Be Attracted to Good Character

The world has it all backwards when it comes to building romantic relationships. The world says, find someone who is fun to be with and that you're attracted to, then build a relationship (often built primarily on sex first) and if you don't break it off and can still stand each other after awhile, maybe start thinking about marriage. Then, once marriage happens, the rest of the world's advice has to do with how to deal with the various issues that inevitably crop up when you've built a relationship on fun and physical attraction and later find out your goals and values are different. The world will also tell you to leave the relationship, even a marriage, as soon as you find attraction waning or problems that aren't easily solved.

Too often, the church tries to do things the way the world does, except without the sex before marriage. Too many Christian young people were never given guidance on what to look for in a spouse and make the decision based on feeling in love after spending time having fun together. But even where guidance is given, it's often still focused on finding someone you're attracted to who happens to have the right qualities rather than learning first to be attracted to the right kind of person. In other words, even Christians usually believe that attraction is fixed and involuntary and try to center relationships around it anyway.

I suggest a better way. My advice is that we learn to be attracted to good character and the types of traits that make a good spouse. Attraction isn't something that just happens to us. Attraction can be controlled to a large extent. We all have preferences for physical characteristics in the opposite sex, but attraction is more than just noticing someone is good looking, even if that does play a part. These other factors that influence attraction are primarily driven by our mindset and can be modified by our patterns of thought.

In order to control our attraction properly, we should actively think about good character qualities and notice them in others around us and think positive thoughts about those who have them in order to develop a mental pattern of appreciating good character. The opposite should be true of bad character qualities - we should practice seeing them as unattractive. In addition to this, it's important to actively work to downplay the role of physical traits in our attraction so that character becomes the main factor, not more superficial characteristics like height, hair color, or facial features.

For example, a single woman should learn to appreciate men with a good work ethic, leadership qualities, self-control, and an interest in studying the things of God. She should control her thoughts so as to make character the main thing she evaluates about others and so that she values good character. Thus, she should find her interest in an available man growing when she observes good character while she should find her interest in him waning if she finds bad character such an inability to keep a job, passiveness, sexual immorality, or an anger problem (to name just a few issues).

If we teach our young people to value the kinds of traits that make a good spouse and to actively work to be attracted by their presence and repelled by their absence, they will make better choices when it comes to marriage.

For married people, I would suggest a modification of this idea. Rather than working to value just good traits in general, I recommend that we learn to appreciate and become attracted to the good traits our spouses have. Rather than focusing on the flaws, of which all people have some, look for and focus on the good traits and learn to let your heart beat faster over those. Install a permanent pair of rose-colored glasses after the wedding and let patterns of appreciation for your spouse become a habit.

In short, don't be a passive observer of your attraction. Take an active role in building the right mentality so that you prepare yourself for a lasting and loving marriage.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Meaty Lasagna

This lasagna recipe is relatively easy, although it takes about 30 minutes of prep time and then an hour to cook. It makes enough for a dozen people, or it makes great leftovers if you don't eat it all at once. It's super cheesy. My family loves it, including my little girls. I like it meaty, but you can leave out the meat and have a vegetarian lasagna as well.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
6-7 cups spaghetti sauce
1 24oz carton cottage cheese
1 egg
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box (12 oz) oven-ready lasagna noodles

Brown the ground beef with the minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Drain off the grease.

Mix the browned beef with the spaghetti sauce. I use Ragu meat-flavored sauce, but you can use whatever is your favorite.

In a separate bowl, mix the cottage cheese with the egg. The egg helps the cottage cheese to congeal during cooking and can be left out if you prefer.

Place a 9x13 baking pan or lasagna pan on the counter and arrange all your ingredients so they’re easy to reach. You should have 4 things to layer:
  • Meat and sauce mixture
  • Cottage cheese and egg mixture
  • Shredded mozarella cheese
  • Lasagna noodles

Start by putting a thin layer of the meat and sauce on the bottom of the pan. You want just enough to coat the bottom. This is mostly to keep the noodles from sticking.

Then, add a layer of lasagna noodles. I use the oven-ready kind because they don't need to be boiled first. It makes this so much easier. If you want, you can use ordinary lasagna and boil them before assembling your lasagna. If you use ordinary lasagna noodles without boiling them, they tend to be very chewy. But it's usually the same price for a box of oven-ready lasagna as the ordinary kind, just fewer noodles (12 oz versus 16 oz). Either one makes one pan of lasagna. If you use oven-ready uncooked noodles, you may have to break them or overlap them slightly to make them fit properly in the pan.

Cover the noodles with more meat and sauce – about 1/3 of what you have left in the bowl. The liquid in the spaghetti sauce is going to be absorbed by the dry noodles as they cook, so you always want the sauce next to the noodles.

Next, you add the cottage cheese mixture – about 1/2 of the total amount.

Next, layer on about 2 cups of the mozarella cheese, or about 1/3 of your total mozarella.

Place a layer of noodles on top of the cheese and repeat the layering, adding meat and sauce (1/2 of the remaining), then cottage cheese (the rest of what you have), then mozarella again (about 2 cups). Top with more noodles and the last of the meat and sauce.

Here are all the layers you will have by the end:

  • Meat and sauce (a thin layer on the bottom)
  • Lasagna noodles 
  • Meat and sauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Meat and sauce
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Meat and sauce
  • Mozarella (on top) 

Notice that you will have 4 layers of meat and sauce, 3 layers of noodles, 3 layers of mozzarella, and 2 layers of cottage cheese all together.

Layer all of these except the top layer of mozarella cheese. This will pretty nearly fill a 9x13x2 pan. You may have a few noodles or noodle pieces left over and you should have about 2 cups of mozarella left for the top, but you should use up all the other ingredients. This is where you stop for now. The top will be covered with the last of the mozarella cheese, but you want to add it after it bakes awhile.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil. Cover the top with the remaining 2 cups of mozarella cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and starting to brown.

You may want to let it cool for 5 minutes or so after taking it out of the oven and before cutting it as this helps it firm up a little. Otherwise, it's very gooey with all that melted cheese and sauce.

Note: If you want to add the cheese during the layering step and just remove the foil for the last 15 minutes, you can do that. But I usually find that the cheese sticks to the foil (because the pan is so full) and taking off the foil thus removes some of the cheese. It’s better to add the last cheese layer after removing the foil, in my opinion.

For a great side, you can make some cheesy garlic Italian bread. Just cut a loaf of French or Italian bread into slices about 1 inch thick and lay them on a cookie sheet. Spread the top with garlic butter and sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning. 

Add a little mozarella cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese melts, then lightly broil for a minute or two until the cheese browns.

The lasagna and cheesy bread can be served with a salad or cooked carrots as a second side. Enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Do Humans Own Themselves?

A recent article by Walter Williams, the well-known conservative economist, provides an important opportunity for illustrating and explaining the basis for inalienable rights. I usually agree with Walter Williams, but not this time. He does have some good reasoning, but his underlying premise is deeply flawed.

Williams argues in his article that humans have self-ownership - that they own themselves. He then makes several arguments that flow from this premise. Unfortunately, so many people have forgotten the true basis for inalienable rights and thus don't even recognize the terrible flaw in this thinking.

The proper viewpoint is that humans are owned by their Creator - God. Thus, murder is definitely a matter of destroying someone else's property, as Williams points out, but it is destroying God's property.

If we own ourselves, then suicide (assisted or otherwise) should be legal. We obviously can't provide criminal penalties to someone who killed himself, but we do stop people from committing suicide, and we do penalize those who help others commit suicide. That makes sense if committing suicide is an act of destroying God's property and thus wrong. It does not make sense to make suicide and euthanasia illegal and try to prevent people from committing suicide if people own themselves.

The idea that a person owns himself is also behind much of the pro-abortion position. The idea seems to be that the woman owns herself and can decide what to do with her body, but the child in the womb can't own himself because he has no concept of ownership - no personhood - and thus is either owned by no one (meaning killing him causes no crime) or is owned by the mother (meaning she can do with him what she pleases). On the other hand, if all human beings are property of God, murder of the unborn - whether committed by the mother or someone else - is a crime against God and violates His right to that child's life.

Williams is correct that if humans own themselves, they should be able to sell their organs. But this idea of selling one's body parts, before or after death, introduces a big can of worms and a lot of ethical problems. The root of the problem, however, is the starting premise. People don't own themselves, and thus have no right to sell their organs. They are God's property, and thus to place a price on their parts and sell them is to usurp God's ownership and sell what does not belong to them. The current ban on buying and selling human body parts is the correct one, though we have apparently forgotten the basis for it.

While animal and plant life does belong to mankind (because God gave them to us), the ownership of humans is retained by God and only He can rightfully transfer or give up those rights. We humans have no ability to give up or transfer certain rights (such as the rights to life or liberty), which is what it means to have inalienable rights. If I own myself, then I can give up that right of ownership to another (slavery), sell my body parts, or kill myself. My rights to life and liberty (along with all other rights which come from these) would be alienable rather than inalienable.

It is because humans belong to God that we have truly inalienable rights, which is really just our perspective of God's ownership of us. We can't give up or transfer those rights because they aren't actually retained by us. The premise that humans own themselves is contradictory to the concept of inalienable rights. Both can't be true. The idea of self-ownership is very popular today and sounds good on the surface, but actually creates a cancerous thinking that destroys the concept of inalienable rights and with it the basis for our entire form of government and many of the protections that we have put in place to guard those inalienable rights.


For more information on inalienable rights, read my 5-part series:

Part 1: What are Inalienable Rights?
Part 2: The Source of Inalienable Rights
Part 3: Liberty in Society and Government
Part 4: Government by Consent of the Governed
Part 5: Some Common Misconceptions

Friday, April 15, 2016

Why Can't God Just Forgive Everyone?

A question that some skeptics ask about Christianity is why God doesn’t just forgive everyone. Why couldn’t He just let it go? Why did Jesus have to come and die? Why require people to ask forgiveness and follow Christ in order to be saved from eternal punishment? Is God just making up arbitrary rules and having us jump through pointless hoops to get forgiveness?

It’s important that we Christians have an answer for this, because it’s a foundational matter. Here is my reasoning on the topic.

A God that simply "forgives" everything that people do has no standards and cannot be said to be good, or even a moral authority. Because God, as the Creator, is indeed a moral authority, it is impossible for Him to have no standards, and thus He must punish evil, not ignore or "forgive" it as standard policy.

Also, forgiving evil without requiring anything is no different from accepting evil. And acceptance of evil is evil itself. God's character does not allow Him to accept evil. God is inherently good and does not change, thus He cannot accept evil. Because God cannot accept evil, sin inherently and unavoidably separates mankind from God.

Full forgiveness includes reconciliation and thus cannot be one way. God forgiving someone's sins without them seeking forgiveness and restoration would not result in reconciliation. They would remain enemies of God. God wants us to be reconciled to Him, and thus requires our actions in seeking forgiveness so that full reconciliation can occur.

Providing forgiveness that does not involve reconciliation would encourage people to remain enemies of God instead of reconciling with Him. Since we were made to be in right relationship with God, a relationship with God is the highest good for us. Providing automatic forgiveness would actually encourage that which is not for our good. It would not be loving of God to encourage us not to seek relationship with Him when that relationship is our highest good.

Because God is both just and loving, He wishes to extend mercy to those He loves and be reconciled to them. But these two attributes – justice and love – are both integral parts of God's character and cannot be satisfied alone. The solution to man’s sin and separation from God had to involve both justice and mercy. The debt had to be paid, not merely ignored, for justice to be satisfied. And yet if the debt were to be paid by the one who owed it, it would result in their separation from God forever, denying God the relationship He desires with them and which is for the person's good. Thus, there had to be a substitute who could pay the debt on behalf of each person.

Not just any substitute will do, however. The sin was against an infinite God, which requires infinite payment. And thus only God Himself could pay the debt. Yet the sinner was human, and being a substitute for a human requires being a human also. The debt had to be paid by one who could actually represent mankind because he was one of them. Also, only someone sinless could pay the debt, because if he had sin of his own, his payment would only cover his own sin. For a substitution to work then, the substitute had to be a sinless man who was also infinite.

Only God in human flesh could pay the infinite debt for mortal man and satisfy both justice and mercy. And yet to partake in the plan of substitution, each person must opt in by willingly choosing to seek forgiveness so that full restoration can occur with God and relationship can be restored between them. There is no other way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Problem with Public Schools

Many Christians are extremely concerned about the worldviews that are being taught to children in public schools. We commonly see headlines about children being taught in schools to say a Muslim prayer, that boys and girls can be whatever gender they feel like, that humans evolved from an apelike ancestor, that sex is for people who “feel ready,” regardless of their age or marital status, and many other false and very upsetting things. These are all very serious problems in which the schools are teaching a false worldview.

But some people claim these are isolated incidents, not the kinds of things that happen in their own local public schools. Nothing like that happens in the schools where their children attend. It’s just academics and they’re very involved as parents, and it’s not a problem.

I suspect that, for many Christian parents, they’re simply not aware of the influence of wrong worldviews because they haven’t studied them and don’t think on a worldview level. A teacher doesn’t have to say “Christianity is false” in class for your children to be absorbing false ideas that will one day undermine their Christian beliefs. The teaching of false worldviews is often subtle, not blatant, but it has a cumulative effect over time as children eventually come to realize that the ideas they are being taught as fact in school (or, in many cases, that they have absorbed without thinking about) are not compatible with the Bible. We’ve seen the damage caused by this as a large percentage of children raised in Christian homes have abandoned the faith in their teen or early adult years due to doubts about the truth of Christianity. This is a widespread problem, not an isolated handful of cases.

It’s certainly true that many local public schools may lack the kinds of blatant indoctrination into false religions that have made the headlines recently, but that doesn’t mean they’re free of false worldviews altogether. If you wait until it’s so blatant that they’re teaching a Muslim prayer or telling your elementary child how to try oral sex to be concerned, you’re missing a whole lot of problematic teaching that is slipping right under your radar.

Thus, I’m extremely skeptical that even the best of local public schools is really free of faulty worldviews. Actually, I don’t believe it at all, and I challenge parents who believe this to learn more about the common false worldviews of our culture and do a careful evaluation of the ideas their children are being taught to see if they line up with scripture. Parents have to think on a worldview level if they want to catch all the false ideas.

However, even if it were the case that a particular school did not teach any false worldviews, there’s still a problem. Even IF a public school is completely and totally "neutral" on religion and worldview – the absolute best we can hope for in any public school – that's actually a very serious defect that no Christian parents should accept.

Here’s why.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Ephesians 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Deuteronomy 4:10
Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

It sounds like teaching our children the ways of the Lord is to be an all day, every day thing. We are commanded – not encouraged or suggested, but commanded – to diligently teach our children the commandments of the Lord all throughout our day and wherever we go. Having our children spend the better part of their waking hours in an environment that does not teach them about God and the Bible leaves a gaping hole in their education far worse than any other.

It's simply impossible to provide the kind of Biblical training the Bible commands that we give our children if they spend 8 hours or more, 5 days a week, in a facility where teaching about Christianity is not allowed. If you wouldn't dream of sending your child to a school that doesn't teach math, how much more should you be appalled at sending your children to a school that doesn't teach them the ways of the Lord. The latter is far more important than the former because it impacts, not just their life here on earth, but their eternity.

This lack of teaching about God is a huge problem with public schools, quite apart from the false teaching they include and the peer pressure to do wicked things. Even if all the teachers were Christians in your local school, and even if they didn't teach gender theory and moral relativism and evolution and promiscuity and so on, they aren't teaching the ways of God.

Of course, as I have pointed out, public schools today are NOT religiously neutral and actually do a lot of indoctrination into false worldviews like humanism, secularism, atheism, moral relativism, hedonism, and scientism that parents may not detect unless they have studied these things. But even if your local public school contains many good Christian teachers and doesn't push false worldviews, it is still a far cry from the consistent, daily immersion in the things of God that we are commanded to provide our children. And that's why it isn’t a proper place for the children of Christian parents.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Genesis is Both History and Theology

A number of Christian theologians and apologists who do not accept a young earth view of creation teach that the first part of Genesis is not actual history. One of their common arguments is that Genesis 1 needn't be an accurate chronology of creation since the purpose of the passage was to show God as Creator and nature as not divine, but created, and that it was also intended to give the children of Israel a sense of history and purpose - a view of their place in God's plans.

I totally agree that those are purposes of Genesis 1. However, the Genesis creation account was also intended to give an accurate chronology of what happened at creation. This is true of pretty much all of the Old Testament. It tells an accurate historical account of what happened and also teaches the character of God and contains foreshadowings of Christ and God's plan for the redemption of mankind. These things go hand in hand throughout the entire Old Testament.

For example, take the story of Jonah. We know that Jonah's three days in the belly of the fish was a foreshadowing of Jesus' three days in the tomb. Jesus Himself alluded to this. We also know that God's change of heart toward Nineveh shows us God's mercy when people repent. The entire story of Jonah was really about redemption. It's a picture of Christ and salvation. But, that doesn't mean that Jonah wasn't a real person who really spent three days inside a real fish. The history is real, even though the story has many other purposes besides simply chronicling the history.

Another example is the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Again, it's amazing to see the parallels to Christ - the sacrifice of an only son, the substitute sacrifice of a ram, even Abraham's statement that God would provide the sacrifice. It's very obviously a picture of Christ's substitutionary atonement. But, Abraham was a real man who really took his actual son to the top of a mountain to sacrifice him and who really found a ram to sacrifice in his son's place. The history is real, even though it means more than just history.

I could give many more examples. But the point is this: Why should Genesis 1 be any different than the rest of the Old Testament? Coming up with another purpose, or even multiple other purposes, for Genesis 1 doesn't mean it wasn't also intended to be real, chronological history. In fact, I would argue that this is an understanding of Genesis that is more straightforward, more in keeping with the genre and language of the Genesis text, and more in keeping with the nature of the rest of the Old Testament. The rest of the Old Testament is dual-purpose - history and theology. It would be quite singular and surprising if Genesis 1 was an exception, meant only to be taken as theology and not as chronology.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Proper Understanding of Biblical Submission

One of the common arguments against Biblical submission in marriage is the idea that submission is dangerous. The claim is that if a woman submits to her husband, he may abuse her or direct her to do wrong or harmful things. People with this view often point to cases of women who stayed in an abusive marriage out of a belief that the Bible commands them to submit to whatever their husband says. Sometimes, the abusive husband even quotes scripture at his wife (out of context) while abusing her, making her believe she is meant by God to submit to that treatment.

This is a faulty understanding of what the Bible teaches on this subject. A proper understanding of Biblical submission is that a woman should submit to her husband only in areas where he has God-given authority.

It's all about authority structure. The wife is under the authority of the husband, the children are under the authority of their parents, and all of them are under the authority of God. However, because God is the ultimate authority, His laws about morality trump any directives by lower authorities. A wife must obey God rather than her husband where they directly conflict just as children must obey God rather than their parents where they directly conflict. The same sort of prioritizing also occurs in the secular realm where we must all obey God rather than government or our employers where their orders conflict. This is nothing new or earth shattering. We all need to understand God's hierarchy of authority and our place in it so that we can make wise choices in keeping with God's will.

No man has the authority to abuse his wife or children or to order them to do anything contrary to the word of God. That authority has not been granted to men, and any order in direct conflict with God's word is an invalid order. So, for example, if a husband were to tell his wife to sleep with another man, to renounce her faith, to steal from someone, or to take a beating from him, she should refuse because her husband does not have authority to tell her that. God's laws trump her husband's authority.

However, within the sphere of her husband's authority, she should submit. The husband has authority from God to make decisions for the family, to discipline and train the children (though not abuse them or deprive them of things they need), to lead the family spiritually, and to set the overall direction and goals for the family. In these areas, a wife should submit to her husband's leadership.

A woman's place in the family authority structure provides her both a unique role and a unique protection. Because the husband is in the place of greater authority, he will bear the greater responsibility. Thus, he will answer to God for the overall direction and mission he chooses (or shirks) for his family and how he carries that out. Much like being the boss in the business world, when someone has more responsibility, they bear the blame when something goes wrong. Wives have the protection of a lesser responsibility. They are responsible for fulfilling their own role, but not for the role of their husbands.

Wives also have the responsibility of their own unique role as helper and encourager to their husbands. A good wife is blessing to her entire family, handling details and logistics and making a happy home so that her husband can concentrate on his overall mission for God and leading the family. As such, she plays a vital role in the success or failure of those endeavors. If she leaves her role and tries to take over the authority role of her husband, not only does that result in a conflict for authority that weakens the family, but it results in her own proper role going unfilled. This is not good for anyone in the family. A wife is needed in her own role and no one else can fill it.

As a final note, this all has nothing to do with women being inferior. That's a common misconception, but completely false. It is a very modern and erroneous notion that those with more authority are more valuable. That is simply not so in God's economy. In fact, the Bible teaches that the greatest is the servant, not the master. God sees the role of servant or helper as a vitally important and valuable role, not one of lesser value. There is simply no reason to believe that having more authority confers more value and we must work to rid ourselves of that unbiblical notion.

Thus, Biblical submission does not mean that women are inferior to men in any way or that they may be mistreated or abused by their husbands. But they do have a different place in the authority structure set up by God for the family. There has to be a single leader for the family because if there is no leader, there is no direction and any disagreement (which is going to happen in any marriage) will lead to struggle, conflict, and chaos. God's authority structure for the family avoids this conflict and leads to a more peaceful and efficient family that can be more effective for God.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Easy Quesadillas

Quesadillas are a very easy food to make and can be made with a variety of ingredients. Here are a few of my favorites and how to make them. I'll start with beef and cheese quesadillas to walk you through the process of how to make them and then mention some other tasty variations.

Beef and Cheese Quesadillas

Ground beef
Taco seasoning mix
Chili powder
Flour tortillas
Shredded fiesta cheese blend

Start by browning the ground beef and breaking it up into small bits as you cook it. Drain the grease and add a small amount of water (2-3 tablespoons for a pound of beef) to moisten it. Add taco seasoning and chili powder. I usually use about 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning and 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder per pound of meat, but you can adjust it to your taste. Stir the meat well until all the seasoning is thoroughly distributed.

Note: I use this same seasoned meat for tacos, tostadas, taco salad, and enchiladas. It's very versatile and stores well in the fridge for 5 days or so to make easy leftovers.

To make the quesadillas, lightly butter a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. You should need about a teaspoon of butter per quesadilla.

Place a flour tortilla in the buttered pan. Sprinkle the tortilla with the fiesta cheese and then the ground beef.

Let the cheese melt slightly, then fold in half. Allow the bottom side of the tortilla to brown, then flip to brown the other side as well. You want the outside to be golden brown and slightly crispy and the cheese inside to be hot and melted.

Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Serve with ranch dressing. You can also use sour cream or eat them plain, but ranch makes them so much better.

Ok, that's the basic way to make a quesadilla. It only takes 2-3 minutes once you have the meat cooked and everything laid out. If you want to make several at a time, just use a large griddle.


But this recipe is just the beginning. There are so many variations. Here are some to try:

Beef, Bean, and Cheese Quesadillas
Just add a spoonful or two of cooked black beans to the beef and cheese. This is actually my favorite variation. It's a little heartier.

Cheese Quesadillas
Leave out the meat and just use fiesta cheese or shredded cheddar or whatever cheese version you prefer. You can also add a little chopped onion if you wish. Making them cheese only is popular with kids.

Chicken Quesadillas

Instead of seasoned beef, use cooked, shredded chicken. Toss the chicken with a little taco seasoning for Mexican flavor. You can keep the fiesta cheese or use cheddar or monterrey jack. I often mix fiesta cheese and monterrey jack or mozarella for a milder taste.

Pizza Quesadillas
Spread the tortilla with a small amount of spaghetti sauce (just 1-2 tablespoons or it will get messy), sprinkle with italian seasoning, then layer on mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. I usually put the pepperoni on just one half so they don't slide out when I fold the tortilla in half.

Chicken Italiana
Use mozarella cheese, a little parmesan, and sprinkle with italian seasoning. Then add some cooked, shredded chicken. Serve plain or dip in marinara sauce or alfredo sauce. For an italian cheese version, leave out the chicken.

Hopefully, that gives you some ideas. There are so many other variations that could be mentioned, but I'll leave that to your creativity. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Why Women Should Not Be in Combat

I know it’s not very politically-correct to say this, but women should never be placed in combat positions in the military. Women, by their very design, are not as well-suited for battle conditions as men. This includes multiple aspects of their physical and mental design.

For example, the forearms of women have a deeper notch in the upper arm bone that makes their forearms more flexible. Because of this, women can move their arms further back than straight at the elbow. Men's arms do not reach 180 degrees, and this is a strength feature. A man will be able to lift more weight than a woman, even if their arm muscles were of the same mass, just because of this alone. But in addition to that, a man's bones are thicker and tougher than a woman's as well.

Of course, the idea of equal muscle mass is an illusion because the biology of men (including much higher levels of testosterone) means they can put on much more muscle mass than women and they lose it more slowly (meaning it's easier to stay in shape). When it comes to sheer strength, women simply cannot compete with men on a general basis. Some women are stronger than some men, of course, but men as a group have a much greater potential for strength than women. Few women have the ability to carry a grown man off the battlefield or to carry the large packs of supplies they need for a mission. They simply don't have the strength.

Women also have hips that are wider to allow for bearing children, but those same pelvic bones are less well designed for running fast, which can be important in evading enemy fire, keeping up with the pace of the group, or charging enemy lines.

Speaking of their pelvic region, women also have a genital area that is much more vulnerable to infection under dirty and primitive conditions often seen on the battlefield. A woman has a large surface area of moist mucous membrane in that region and a much shorter urethra, both of which make her far more vulnerable to infection that can travel easily to internal body regions and become serious or even life-threatening. The design of male genitalia makes men able to handle less sanitary conditions for longer periods without serious health risks.

Of course, women also have a monthly bleeding issue that makes hygiene and privacy more difficult without sanitary bathroom facilities. And not only do women need to keep that area especially clean at that particular time of the month, but even daily tasks like urination are more difficult for women. Having to squat makes women not only require different facilities and better sanitation for their elimination activities, but makes them more vulnerable during a surprise attack. A man surprised mid-stream is still on his feet, ready to run or charge. A woman...not so much.

Even the skin of women is less adapted for battle. Men have fewer blood vessels to the skin than women, which means that men bleed less from superficial wounds. Obviously, anyone can bleed to death if the wound is severe enough, but the lesser blood loss from superficial wounds means men are more likely to survive and keep fighting even after being wounded.

Men have a larger lung capacity than women, even at the same height and body mass. This gives them a greater ability to intake oxygen. Men also have a greater percentage of red blood cells in their blood, allowing them to transport more oxygen to their muscles when needed. These features give men greater endurance.

All of these individual features I have mentioned point out potential liabilities for single-cause injury or death. However, women also have less of an ability to stand up to the long-term physical strain of being in combat and are more likely than men to experience physical breakdown and require medical care for less quantifiable reasons.

In addition to the many physical reasons that women are less adapted to battle conditions, women are also less mentally prepared for the horrors of battle. Not only does the physical strain weigh more heavily on them and cause physical breakdown faster in women, but the same is true mentally. Women are more prone to mental issues like PTSD in the wake of battlefield stresses. The horrors of war will break down many men, but women are even more vulnerable to this side effect.

Women are designed to be nurturers. Men are designed to be warriors. Their physical and mental designs reflect this. Women have strengths that men do not have, but men also have strengths that women do not have. Being an effective soldier on the battlefield is not in keeping with a woman’s design.

Because women are not designed for battle, putting a woman into combat is a risk to both the woman herself and to the rest of her unit. Her physical and mental health will be more threatened by what she encounters than a man in the same situation. Thus, battle is more dangerous to her. But when any member of a unit is compromised in speed, endurance, strength, or mental fortitude or when they are injured or killed, it places a greater risk upon all of them as they try to make up for the lack and protect their fellow soldiers. Having a woman in the unit is a liability that simply wouldn’t exist if that woman were replaced with a man.

I've already identified many reasons from biology that women should not be in combat, but there are many other issues that could be put forth. I haven't even mentioned here the significant challenges involved in men and women sharing close quarters, the instinct of men to protect women even when it would not be advisable in a military context and the threat this poses to male soldiers, the very real risks of rape to women in the military (both from fellow soldiers and from the enemy if they were to be captured), the need for privacy, the sexual tension, the cost of separate sleeping and bathroom facilities, and many other relevant issues.

What it comes down to is that, if the military were just for show and didn't engage on the battlefield, it wouldn’t matter whether we had women in it. But if the military is a serious force designed to engage in battle efficiently and effectively, then for purely practical and ethical reasons alone, women should not be part of its combat forces.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why Sexual Refusal Hurts Marriages

Sexual refusal is a serious problem in many marriages. Even Christian marriages. In most cases, it's the wife doing the refusing. So here's my message to the ladies who are saying no to their husbands and denying him sex or those who are struggling with wondering why they are expected to have sex regularly with their husbands.

Ladies, if you're married, your husband probably doesn't have the gift of celibacy. And he got married, at least partially, in order to fulfill his God-given sex drive. That's one of the legitimate purposes of marriage.

Not only that, but when a man is single, while it's certainly difficult to abstain from sex, at least he doesn't have a beautiful woman sharing his living quarters and tempting him every day.

A married man has both the legitimate expectation of getting sex and a woman he loves and is attracted to right there in his home all the time. To expect him to abstain for long periods when the object of his desire is right there in his bed every night is to ask too much. It's like staring at a box of chocolates all day while on a diet. It's torture.

So how does a man deal with a wife who refuses him all the time? The same way we deal with the chocolates when we are trying to diet. We put them away, don't look at them, and try not to think about them.

This is why refusal hurts marriages. A man will withdraw from his wife if he is being constantly refused. And it will tear them apart. It's too hurtful for a man to engage with a wife, spend time with her, and build up all that desire from being around her only to be constantly frustrated. So he'll protect himself by avoiding her.

Don't do that to your marriages, ladies. Build that connection your marriage and your husband need by engaging in sex frequently. It's God's design that marriages need sex to stay strong. Sex isn't just a physical act. It's an act of connection and love. So when you don't feel like it, remember that sex isn't optional or irrelevant. It's important maintenance for your marriage.

Of course, it's even better if you learn to like it. Sex can be great fun. If it's not fun for you, then perhaps there are some things you can do to boost your libido or learn how to get pleasure from it. But even when you can't imagine sex being fun, don't forget how important it is.