Tag Archives: secularism

When in Doubt, What do you Do?

pediatrician with baby edited

A generally accepted principle of Christian living is that when people feel confused about the right thing to do, they should prayerfully look for an answer in the Bible. Christians are taught that the Bible is clear enough for a child to understand important teachings, and there is plenty of evidence of this truth. Christians also discover, as they mature in the faith, that there is depth and complexity in the Bible that baffles people with astronomical IQs. There is plenty of evidence of this truth as well. For this reason, Christians learn to look for mentors to help them prayerfully study the Bible and listen for God’s guidance. It all boils down to a problem: people of faith may or may not agree on the right thing to do in every situation.

Recently a pediatrician, Dr. Vesni Roi, in Michigan was faced with a situation in which she was uncertain what to do. Two lesbian women who live together in a union they call a marriage selected her for the care of a child yet to be born. The article that reports the story does not make it quite clear who would give birth to the baby. The articles do report that after reviewing the credentials of numerous pediatricians, the two women decided to ask Dr. Rio to care for the child.

When the time came for the child’s first visit, six days after birth, the women were told that Dr. Roi had decided not to accept the baby as her patient. She referred them to another pediatrician in the same practice. She explained in a handwritten note to the women that her decision was made after considerable prayer. Her expressed reason for the decision was stated in her note: “I feel that I would not be able to develop the normal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.” While the note never mentions the issue of homosexual union, the two women consider the decision to be a rejection of homosexuality, even though as one of them pointed out, it could not be about the sexual orientation of the baby, since the baby was too young to have expressed any sexual orientation. Since all conversation about the care of a newborn would necessarily take place with the adult (or adults) charged with the care of the child, it makes sense to conclude that, when the doctor referred to the “patient doctor relationship” in her note, she was saying that she did not feel she could have the same relationship with the two women that she would normally have with the parents or guardians of a child in her care.

Why would she feel this way?

Dr. Roi’s bio includes earning an undergraduate degree from Livonia’s Madonna College, a private Catholic school, in 1987. While graduation from a Catholic institution does not necessarily mean that she is Catholic, her behavior suggests strong Christian background. Secular thinkers do not pray through moral and ethical decisions. If it is proper to conclude that her concern about the patient doctor relationship is rooted in the homosexual lifestyle of the two women, it seems highly likely that Catholic teaching of Christian principles for life figured in her choice. No reports consulted as background for this post ventured to say one way or the other.

The central issue appears to be whether a person of faith who engages in the normal Christian practice of praying about a decision is justified in acting on the guidance received that way. Can the culture permit people of faith to act on the guidance they receive through prayer? Or, must the culture suppress the free exercise of religion if it hurts someone’s feelings? The uproar surrounding this story makes it clear that some people believe that nobody has the right to do what Dr. Roi did. Some even appear to believe that there should be a law forbidding Dr. Roi to make such a choice.

While secular thinkers leap from Dr. Roi’s action to allegations of discrimination, that is a very simplistic reaction to the story. Dr. Roi is a person of faith who did what people of faith do. Christianity is not the only faith that turns to prayer for guidance in making decisions, but in the US, it is probably the most visible religion that considers prayer vital to faith. Dr. Roi prayed about her decision.

Since secular thinkers reject the existence of God, they have no use for decisions based on communion with God, but among Christians, this practice is, nevertheless, central to the faith. Sermons, books, seminars, devotional guides and discipleship mentors all teach Christians to pray when they do not know what to do in any situation. Dr. Roi demonstrated that she not only believes in prayer, but she also acts on prayer. Many is the Christian who has, on one occasion or another, expressed regret that, having prayed about a matter, he did not act according to the guidance received. Dr. Roi engaged in prayer according to the full definition of prayer; she asked for guidance, and she listened until she received it.

Dr. Roi is living her faith. That is exactly what the First Amendment to the Constitution is written to protect. The Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” To pray and to act on the guidance received is the free exercise of religion. American citizens all should applaud the fact that the Constitution is working exactly as it should in Dr. Roi’s case.

One more point. The two women who wanted Dr. Roi to care for a baby felt hurt by Dr. Roi’s decision. There is no question that such a thing would hurt anyone’s feelings. However, part of being an adult is learning to deal with hurt feelings. Hurt feelings do not justify tyrannizing a nation. In this case, not only are the hurt feelings not justification for tyranny, but there is also a completely satisfactory solution for the problem. Even though the two women do not get exactly what they wanted, they will get what they need. They were referred to a competent doctor, and their disappointment in not getting their first choice does not justify an attempt to deny free exercise of the faith of a citizen.

The important issue in this story is that citizens of the United States of America have the right to live their faith. If Dr. Roi had alleged that God told her to beat the women or kill the child they care for, nobody would believe that she was exercising her faith. It would be an exercise in madness. However, Dr. Roi simply listened to God in prayer and acted responsibly, not leaving the women without care for the baby but actually making a professional referral to a well-qualified colleague, something she is entitled to do for any reason whatsoever.

May God protect and sustain the freedom he has given each citizen in the USA. May it long remain the land of the free.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Pediatrician with baby
Source:http://pediatriciansareawesome.wikispaces.com/What+does+a+pediatrician+do%3F
License: Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
Photographer not named

World Watch List #1 North Korea

This post is the first in a weekly series highlighting the fifty most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.

Flag_of_North_Korea_(WFB_2004)

The constitution of North Korea guarantees religious liberty with these words:

Citizens have freedom of religious beliefs. This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies. Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State and social order.” These words are found in Article 68 of the constitution of North Korea.

When you read the words of the North Korean constitution that ostensibly protect religion, your first impression would naturally be to assume that all religions are treated well. Yet like all legal language in any country, the words are simply a cover for the ideas embodied in them.

When an American reads the words, “This right is granted by approving the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies,” an American mind believes that there must be church buildings and worship services within. If a tourist visits Pyongyang, he might actually see a few church buildings where there are occasional “worship” events. None of them have anything to do with Christianity despite their names. Christians in North Korea must worship in secret and hope government spies do not penetrate their secret churches.

The American mind must be advised to read the statement again. “This right is granted.” Governments do not grant human rights. The role of government is to protect rights granted to humans by God.

North Korea is the most dangerous nation on earth for a Christian.

If the US government ever attempts to instigate registration of church groups or church buildings, wise citizens will defeat such initiatives on sight, because that is a sure sign that government intends to suppress Christianity.

Christians in North Korea are persecuted because Christianity is considered a pretext for bringing in foreign ideas, and Christians are accused of being spies for foreign governments. It is not known how many Christians are imprisoned in North Korea, but the estimate is between 50,000 and 70,000. The population as a whole suffers from inadequate food and shelter. The little information available for the prisons indicates that conditions are deplorable and inhumane. Torture and starvation are common.

The guiding philosophy of North Korea is Juche. From the website of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, these words describe this philosophy:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il Sung. The Juche idea means, in a nutshell, that the masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction.

The Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which elucidates the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.

The Government of the DPRK steadfastly maintains Juche in all realms of the revolution and construction. 

The North Korean man-centered outlook is the most extreme development of secularism on the planet. This worldview is the reason that the government asserts its power to “grant” or withhold rights that derive from the Creator himself. North Korea’s government acknowledges nothing higher than itself. Its worldview is man-centered, and the man at the center of this worldview is Kim Jong-un. The “masses” may be the motive force behind revolution and construction, but the power in North Korea lies in one man: Kim Jong-un.

We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer in North Korea. We pray to be alert to developments in our own nation that move in the same direction as the philosophy that dominates North Korea.

Please Pray:

  • For the 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in labor camps; ask God to sustain them
  • For the many Christians who don’t have enough food to survive and are forced to flee to China
  • That Christians may stay strong in their faith under unrelenting pressure from government spies

 

For more information visit http://www.opendoors.org

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: By US CIA (The World Factbook) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Stop and Think About the Bible

Torah ScrollHow precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18a ESV

  • These words fall near the end of a long psalm praising God for who he is and what he does. Secular thinkers deny God’s very existence, yet the psalmist claimed a relationship with God that was vivid and intimate. How do you express yourself when people around you reject the existence of God and scorn the ideas of faith and worship?
  • The word here translated as precious can also be translated as weighty or costly or highly esteemed. If this is the way you view God’s thoughts, how do you view his guidance and instruction?
  • The psalmist testifies in the first words of the psalm, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” When you consider all the things God sees if he searches and knows you, how do you feel?
  • The psalmist says that there is no escaping God—God is in the highest place, the lowest place, the most hidden place. Why is it good to know that God is everywhere?
  • The psalmist asserts that distance cannot separate you from God nor can darkness hide you from God. Even if you live in a fog of secular obfuscation of truth, God can still find you. How would you explain your confidence to someone who accuses you of praying to an imaginary friend?
  • The psalmist felt that people who rejected God did so from malicious intent. He called them enemies. How do you feel about secular thinkers among your acquaintances? What does Jesus teach us to do about our enemies?
  • When Jesus was dying on the cross, for whom did he pray “Father, forgive them?”

Secular Thinkers Have Discovered Sinful Human Nature

reconciliation

A recent article described a phenomenon called “microaggressions” which is the latest threat to good order in US culture. Microaggressions are bad acts by unthinking people against people sensitized to aggression by their marginalized positions in the culture. In other words, in plainer language, microaggessions are things people do and say that hurt other people without knowing that they have offended anyone.

Everybody is guilty. Anybody can commit aggression on a micro scale simply by using the pronoun he generically, or by saying something simple like, “I believe there are more Asian students in the chemistry department this year.” Microaggression can be microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation, or even microrape. There are lots of ways to hurt lots of people, and anybody can do it.

Secular thinkers appear to have discovered that human beings are born flawed and must live with eternal guilt, because there is no way they can ever be sure of doing the right thing. (Actually, it only feels like eternity, because secular thinkers are limited to time and space.) Human beings inherently hurt other people in a thousand different ways, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

This concept sounds just like sinful human nature. The apostle Paul wrote about it when he said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV) In response to that problem, Christians teach that sinful human beings “are justified by [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24 ESV). This same Christ Jesus lives to save people from the enslavement to Satan that was their fate due to sinful human nature, as manifested by microaggressions and other sins.

Secular thinking does not offer any help for the problem of microaggression, or sinful human nature. The offender is simply doomed. The offender has no defense against the person who alleges that offense was given, because by definition, the offender did not know about the offense. Yet the offender in secular thinking must always pay for the offense. There must be a fine or a jail sentence or re-education, or all these things. This is exactly what goes on in starkly secular countries such as VietNam or Kazakhstan or North Korea. Those governments deal with people who disobey the secular government’s moral guidelines with heavy judgments administered by courts. This sort of outcome is the natural result of progressively more assertive secular government.

Christian teaching offers what people really need if they want to recover from the blight of sinful human nature, or microaggressions. Christ himself. Even though people can sin with or without giving it a lot of prior thought and planning, they can be forgiven because Christ died for everyone. Even those who are guilty of microaggressions. Secularists pretend that punishments can be tailored to fit the crimes, but the truth is that the punishment of an offender provides no healing for the offended The beautiful truth is that Christ died for the person who was offended by microaggression also. Christ himself forgives the sins and heals the wounds. Christ leads people to forgive each other. Instead of the offender on one side of thick walls and the offended on the other, both suffering, Christ breaks down those walls and leads both parties to forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

Secularists have discovered sinful human nature, but they don’t know what to do with it. Christians must demonstrate what Christ has done to cleanse, forgive and heal human beings trapped by their sinful human nature and doomed both to offend and to be offended at the drop of a microaggression. It is very hard to be a Christian in a secular world, but Christians have good news to share with secular thinkers, now that they understand what sinful human nature can do to people.

Jesus taught us how to deal with the problems caused by microaggressions and all sorts of other manifestations of sinful human nature. When he taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In other words, Jesus knew all about aggressions, macro and micro, and he taught the right way to handle them. He also sent the Holy Spirit to live within humans and empower people to do what was hardest of all–to forgive.

Christians must live the gospel so brightly that the Light of the World shines on offenders and offended alike. Christians must carry the good news on their sleeves and in their hearts to all the people suffering from the fear and the destruction of aggressions both macro and micro. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son to bring healing and reconciliation to all who suffer because of microaggresssion—sinful human nature. Even though all people are born that way, God’s good news is that all can be cleansed of the motivations for microaggression and all can be healed of the wounds inflicted by microaggressions.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. —Romans 5:8-10 ESV

by Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com

image source: http://eph.tuckdb.org/  licensed under cc by-sa

Stop and Think About a Hymn

hymnalAm I a Soldier of the Cross?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
shall conquer though they die;
they see the triumph from afar,
by faith they bring it nigh.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
and all thy armies shine
in robes of victory through the skies,
the glory shall be thine.

Text: Isaac Watts
License: Public Domain
Source: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh511.sht

Isaac Watts lived in the 17th century in England, yet the words of this hymn strike a resonant chord with any Christian in the 21st century in the USA. The very first verse, for example, asks if I am willing to pay the price of standing firm in my faith and speaking or writing or singing the name of Jesus in the face of cultural pressure to be silent. Think of three instances in the past week when one or more Christians in the USA were asked to stop acting like Christians or ridiculed for refusing to stop.

Secular thinkers scorn the whole idea of heaven, because they scorn anything that is not part of the time/space continuum. They accuse Christians of doing worthless things in order to earn a heavenly reward. What two things are wrong with that accusation? Why do secular thinkers accuse Christians of things that are not part of Christian faith? Where do they get those ideas?

“Blending in” or “fitting in” are important principles of behavior for secular thinkers. On the one hand, each person is to find his own truth, but on the other hand, no person should, by his difference from others, appear to be judging the truth chosen by others. What does the hymn writer ask that expresses the dilemma of the Christian in a secular world?

How does the hymn writer expect to become strong enough and wise enough to stand firm?

What does he expect will be the outcome of his determination?