Bible

The account of the man born blind in John 9 is indicative of attitudes toward people with disabilities in Jesus’ day.

Which of the following are being immodest?

  1. Zach is loud and demanding. He acts up in class and loves being the center of attention. Every story he tells is about him, and he’ll interrupt your story to try to top it with one of his own.
  2. Samantha is always concerned about how she looks, and usually dresses better than everyone else. She spends a lot of time on her hair, and money on her clothes, and is always asking her friends, “Do you like my new outfit?” and “Does it look good on me?”
  3. Brett doesn’t care how he looks and expects others to “accept him as is.” He’s known for dressing like a slob no matter what the occasion is. It doesn’t look like he brushes his teeth very often, and sometimes his body odor is offensive.
  4. Aaliyah studies fashion magazines so she can copy the styles of her favorite celebrities and she likes dressing older than her age. Now that her body is starting to mature, she wears clothes that show it off – short skirts and tight-fitting, low-cut tops.

If you answered "all of the above," you'd be able to proceed to the next activity on our Powered by God website for children. It reflects the idea that modesty is about more than how you dress. It's a virtue for all Christians—not just women and girls.

I bring it up because there's a controversy brewing in the world of modesty programs. A Facebook posting of a Dannah Gresh's Secret Keeper Girls blog post—Does Teaching Modesty Harm My Daughter's Body Image?—ed me to other entries in the conversation. 

First, way back in December 2011, Sharon Hodde Miller raised the issue in How 'Modest is the Hottest' is Hurting Christian Women (Her.Meneutics blog, Christianity Today). Then came Jonathan Merritt's question, Is the Modesty Movement Harmful to Women? (3/11/13), with a response from Dannah Gresh in A Modest Proposal to My Critics. Emily Timbol's Modesty Culture's Hidden Victims appeared in the Huffington Post August 6, 2013. 

The main concern is that modesty programs not further objectify women and girls by making them ashamed of their bodies. Dannah Gresh, to her credit, yields to that criticism.

This controversy differs from another raging over whether Christian women should wear yoga pants. To get a sampling of that debate, go here and here. Some of the arguments sound like the ones Muslim men use for enwrapping their women head to toe. Frankly, I'm more concerned about Christians attending yoga classes than what they're wearing to class.

I'm glad Powered by God—both website and curriculum—has its focus on the attitude of modesty and not on feminine body parts. The Bible uses the word only once (in 1 Timothy 2:9-10) and, according to Strong's Concordance, the Greek term indicates "a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect." The passage warns against drawing attention to oneself through displays of wealth— not necessarily sexual provocation—urges propriety and moderation, and advocates the adornments of godliness and good works instead.

While our clothing choices should not accentuate body parts, we'll be truly modest when we consider other questions as well: 

  • Does my clothes-sense overshadow the good works I'm doing? 
  • By copying the clothing, hair, and makeup styles of ungodly celebrities am I sending a mixed message? 
  • Is more time and money spent on how I look rather than on helping others? 
  • Do I assume that looking good is more important than being good? (Or that a person who looks good is good?) 
  • Do I care more about "expressing a personal style" than about the feelings of others?
  • Must I always be the center of attention?
  • How much gratification do I receive when someone says I look nice?
  • Do I have to make every occasion about me and what I'm wearing?
  • Do I show respect for the needs of others with my grooming habits and clothing selections?

Perhaps all modesty programs could benefit from that emphasis. 

Helpful addenda to the discussion:
Is Feminine Modesty about Sex? on Desiring God
The Gospel on our Sleeves: Where I went wrong teaching about modesty on The Gospel Coalition

  • Suicide or assisted suicide?

  • Experiments with animals or embryos?

  • Having sex outside the bonds of marriage or having a baby out of wedlock?

Since about 2001, the Gallup News Service has been tracking American beliefs about various moral issues. They ask people whether an issue is morally acceptable, morally wrong, or not a moral issue at all. Not only is it interesting to see how viewpoints have changed, but how responses can be ranked in relation to one another.

For instance, the latest results reveal that only 19% of Americans think suicide is acceptable, but 52% agree assisted suicide is okay. Essentially this says if a young, healthy person wants to kill himself we should try to prevent it, but if someone old or sick is suicidal we should help him die. Do you see what’s wrong with that picture? 

It's fairly obvious that Americans have become tolerant of what was formerly unthinkable. Would it surprise you to learn that people are more comfortable with medical research that destroys human embryos than they are with experiments on animals (65% to 57%)? 

According to recent results, having a baby outside marriage is less acceptable than the act between unmarried partners that leads to such a pregnancy (58% to 66%). The implication is that you can have sex outside marriage, just don't bring any resulting babies into the world. 

Something is out of whack. Our nation’s moral compass is clearly “off.” We do not value human life the way we once did.

Jesus looked at a crowd of people one day and likened them to “sheep without a shepherd.” Our society fits that description, doesn't it? And, while we might be tempted to shake our heads and mutter "tsk, tsk," we don't have that luxury. We must do as Jesus did -- feel compassion for the lost and carry on teaching them.  

Support for Life Matters Worldwide enables us to produce teaching materials addressing matters of life and purity. I invite you to browse store.lifemattersww.org for resources such as Powered by God curriculum for children and LIFT (Living in Faith Together) for end-of-life caregiving. And if we can help you another way, please let us know.


Source material -- Gallup Poll Social Series: Values and Beliefs, Gallup News Service, May 8-11, 2014, http://www.gallup.com/file/poll/170798/Moral_Acceptability_140530.pdf, http://www.gallup.com/poll/170789/new-record-highs-moral-acceptability.aspx; accessed 7/7/2014.

The good news: being pro-life is no longer the number-one reason Christians are disliked. The bad news: that ranking has been replaced by another of our dearly held beliefs -- the sanctity of marriage. Throw in our "anti-science" viewpoints -- doubt over evolution and man-made climate change -- and it certainly looks as though we're going to continue to be "on the wrong side of history" (according to opinion shapers) and unlikely to win future popularity contests.

That isn't such a bad thing.

Consider how the ancient Egyptians felt about God's chosen people. Twice in Genesis (a major source for our troublesome worldview) Hebrews were said to be "loathsome" to the dominant culture (NASV). Even though they were linked by blood to a national hero, Gen. 43:32 basically says Egyptians detested the thought of eating with Hebrews. 

Their occupation was another strike against them. Gen. 46:34 says, "every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians" (NKJV). Note that every shepherd was repulsive, no matter the nationality and no matter how agreeable or well-connected the individual might be. Too bad shepherding happened to be the Hebrews' main livelihood.

The third strike against the Hebrews is found in Exodus 8:26, where Moses acknowledged to Pharaoh that their worship practices would also be abhorrent to Egyptians.

How did it feel knowing your very existence was an offense to polite society? That you were considered lowest of the low, disgusting, and even revolting? We may be about to find out.

That could be a good thing. In the case of Israel, prejudice kept them separate and distinct from the surrounding culture. Jacob's family was already predisposed against intermarriage, but even if they'd chosen to assimilate, the Egyptians' disdain would have kept it from happening. 

The result? Somehow, the Hebrews found a way to thrive amid the contempt. Allowed to live apart in their own little corner of the country, they were able to increase in number and grow strong -- so much so that an eventual ruler would become severely alarmed. 

Success brought its own persecution. Oh that this would be the reason American Christians are ill-treated. 

May what was said of them be true of us: "The more [the Egyptians] afflicted them, the more [the people of God] multiplied and spread out." (Exodus 1:12)

Darren Arnofsky’s film Noah is turning out to be one of those cultural touchstones that divide viewers according to worldview. It not only calls the authority of Scripture into question, but also explains other crucial themes -- the sanctity of human life, man’s relation to the environment, the nature of sin and salvation, God’s purpose in creation, and God Himself -- in a way quite different from how they are rendered in Genesis and the rest of God's word. 

Here are a few insightful critiques from those who've seen the movie:

  • In Sympathy for the Devil, Dr. Brian Mattson points out its disturbing Gnostic/Kabbalistic/mystic underpinnings.


Apparently, the movie even gets the meaning of the rainbow wrong.

We "happened" to write about Noah in our latest Life Matters copy-ready bulletin insert -- Noah: Violent or Righteous? The Bible teaches that Noah stood out as someone who was "other than" the status quo, while the movie depicts him as a killer. Movie Noah believed his mission was to destroy all the people on the ark after they had saved the animals!

Another resource that you can use in your church, Sunday school, youth group, etc., to teach biblical truths is Noah and the Last Days, from the makers of 180 and Evolution vs. God. View it online and download a free ebook.

Click to read more.In "Respecting the Moral Agency of Women, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott says she can find no scripture to settle the question of "competing rights between mother and fetus," and thus settle the abortion issue. 

This mindset reveals itself in statements by "pro-choice" advocates such as:

"An abortion when needed is a blessing. It is a gift, a grace, a mercy, a cause for gratitude, a new lease on life." --Valerie Tarico, Planned Parenthood Board of Advocates

“I feel like God wants me to do this job” --Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion facility in Mississippi

Choosing abortion is "what religious liberty is about." --Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America

[Added May 30, 2014 --

Why I perform abortions: A Christian obstetrician explains his choice
The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker]

Aside from multiple references to the existence and personal characteristics of babies still in the womb (among them Genesis 16:11-12, 25:23; Luke 1:15,44), there is ample scriptural help for when we have to for decide between the competing rights of individuals. Look at what God says to slaves and masters, husbands and wives, Israelis and foreigners, rich and poor, etc. In short, the Bible is full of instructions concerning civil disputes in which one rival party is the "person" and the other generally considered "non-person."

God's word makes a strong case against treating anyone as a "non-person human being." Slaves are persons. Women are persons. Gentiles are persons. Poor people are persons. Scripture demands we treat all impartially, as persons made in God's image. 

There are plenty of candidates for what is being called "non-person status" recorded in Scripture, but no allowance is granted for their mistreatment. The unborn child is, therefore, a worthy candidate for protection.

Related reading: In addition to scripture, I have found the article "Medical Ethics and What it Means to Be Human" by Donel O'Mathuna very helpful.

See also Scott Klusendorf's "Dead Silence: Must the Bible Say Abortion is Wrong Before We Can Know It's Wrong?"

Tributes for Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday, use words like "humility," "grace," and "forgiveness." One accolade -- that he treated people as he would want to be treated -- made me think of the sermon by Pastor John Hayden that we are using as our Pastor's Handbook update this year.

As Pastor Hayden points out, the "Golden Rule" is a uniquely Christian idea. Many ancient cultures recognized that the evil a person does often comes back to plague him or her. Instead of promoting kindness, however, the effect of this thinking is to grant permission for "doing unto others what they have done to you."

This is how many thought Mandela would behave upon his release from prison and ascension to the presidency, but he resisted that impulse and called for reconciliation and forgiveness. It is told that he invited his former jailers to sit in the front row at his inauguration as a sign of peace-making.

I cannot say whether he was a Christian, but this "fruit" is telling. A few articles I read this morning, however, raise doubt:

South African bishops wrong to laud Mandela
South African missionary cautions against new film praising life of Nelson Mandela

Sadly, this almost universally heralded leader supported abortion on demand and other sinful practices. Did he do to the unborn what he wished done to him? As much good as he may have accomplished, his was not a completely golden life.

Read The Golden Life by downloading it through our online store. Access is free of charge.

"Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Proverbs 22:6

Tonight, as I listen to the neighborhood children playing ball on the street, I am reminded that the Bible commands us to teach them...

Teach them to love the Lord. 

Teach them to fear the Lord.

With fear and love comes obedience and service.

We must share our knowledge, so that they can know HIM. 

Powered by God is a tool that our community can use to share this knowledge with those very children. Visit this website to see this program in action! 

http://www.poweredbygod.org/

Know someone we should talk to that fits one of the following descriptions? 

  • Parent of a 4th-6th grader
  • Grandparent of a middle schooler
  • Teacher
  • Principal
  • Curriculum Director
  • Mentor to young children
  • Media Specialist- Involved in Radio, TV or Web Content
  • Pastor/Youth Minister
  • Counselor
  • Sunday School Volunteer
  • Home School Activist
  • Church Elder or Deacon

Contact Life Matters Worldwide at staff@lifemattersww.org to share the details of who we should be talking to. 

Do Your Kids Like Video Games?

Announcing the amazing, the magnificent, the incredible...Powered by God! 

Are you teaching your children the biblical worldview regarding the sanctity of human life and sexual purity? Do you need tools to help? 

Life Matters Worldwide is pleased to announce Powered by God, a new "tutorial and online game" designed just for you!

Come along and meet 4 characters, who together travel through 13 powerful lessons. Enjoy fun and interactive experiences. Compete with other players. Learn Bible verses and more! 

It is our hope that the Biblical message shared through will be burned into your child's heart and mind.  

The website is free for anyone to use, but several options are available for purchasing downloadable lessons:

$14.95- Per family, in a home-school setting, daily personal devotions, or individuals engaged in discipling a small group of up to five (5) children.

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$74.95- Per single church or school with multiple classrooms and unlimited students.

Click here to learn more

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Mari Bowers of Compassion Pregnancy Centers of NE Indiana tells about a recent phone call from a client. Months ago, she'd been turned from abortion by a caring volunteer's counsel and the center's practical support. She'd given birth, but nonetheless struggles with guilt. Whenever she looks at her baby, she feels sad about having seriously considered abortion. Now she wanted to know if the center had a program to help her with this problem.

Does a request like this pose a challenge for PCCs? Should they create new ministries to meet this need, or invite women to join post-abortion support groups already in place? Is this a common feeling among other women who've considered abortion, or something unique to this woman? 

I can only speculate about what's going on in her mind. Apparently the temptation had been more than fleeting. Mari said this client had returned repeatedly to the center over the course of five or six weeks. The idea of abortion had taken root and was difficult to dislodge, yet something prevented her from that irrevocable mistake. Was it God? And is the source of her current discomfort also God at work?

What would you say to her? My advice might focus on discerning true from false guilt. And on the freedom we have to air any emotion with God. 

As a convicter of sin, the Holy Spirit is reliable and accurate. The believer can ask God to show definitively whether there is actual guilt attached to guilty feelings, and what the nature of any sin is. Sin must be identifiable, otherwise how can it be confessed and rooted out? 

This presupposes that the inquirer belongs to God, has the Holy Spirit resident in her. Religion won't help. The gospel must be declared as the only remedy for sin. If a person wants to be delivered from sin and declared righteous before God, she must "confess with [her] mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in [her] heart that God has raised Him from the dead." (Romans 10:9)

Further, if she confesses her sins, "He is faithful and just to forgive [her] sins and to cleanse [her] from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) God is reliable and faithful; no one loves the sinner more. It is safe to go to Him with any sin. I would introduce her to Psalm 103.

But is it wrong to consider abortion? I've known deeply pro-life married women who regret abortion is legal because the thought crossed their minds regarding an untimely pregnancy. Yes, abortion is a blot on all our consciences as Americans, but one might as well ask, "Is it wrong to be tempted?" 

I don't believe the Bible teaches that being tempted is sinful, but it does tell us our thoughts are significant. Perhaps what this woman needs to confess is a thought-life, belief-system, or world-view that runs counter to God's ways. She might need to figure out which patterns must change in order for her thoughts to be aligned with His.

Then there are behaviors and attitudes related to thoughts of abortion that could require confession: sexual sins, idolization of a lover, lying or hypocrisy, covetousness or greed, pride, denial of God, other acts of carelessness with life. 

Most people don't set out to kill, but their choices put them in the way of doing it. They might drink and drive, associate with criminals, participate in petty crimes that get out of hand . . . or engage in promiscuous sex leading to the possibility of abortion. Without a doubt, sexual sin puts people in danger of abortion.

God is clearly at work in this woman's heart. A person does not convict herself of sin (John 16:8). The average person excuses and justifies her own sin. But the Tempter is also our accuser. His lies can only be overcome by the application of God's truth (Matt. 4:1-11).

We don't know this woman's name, but we can pray for her tender soul. We hope she learns to rejoice that God helped her escape a sin that would have bound her in a dungeon of shame, darkness, and despair. He has already been gracious to her:

  • He led her to the center and blinded her eyes to the abortion provider. 
  • He led a group of people to establish pregnancy care centers in Angola and LaGrange, Indiana, and enabled others to support them. 
  • He called people like Mari and the volunteers so they could be in place when she needed them. 
  • He equipped them with training, and with materials to share.

It takes quite a lot to spare a person from sin. Her story is a reminder we all need prayer to avoid temptation (Luke 22:40, Matt. 6:13). 

Related -- A close encounter with abortion: One life that wasn’t snipped short

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