40 harmful effects of Christianity – #14

“..do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:8-10

This post is theoiourteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

The author(s) of this list didn’t do its readers the kindness of citing a source for this statistical claim. Thus, I cannot quickly determine whether or not it is veridical.  It’s just as well, since, from a biblical worldview, such statistics just aren’t relevant. What is relevant is what the bible teaches about sexual morality.  Its teaching is clear:

It’s not morally permissible to have sex with someone unless one is married to that person. 

I can remember a particular occasion when I was a teenager upon which an individual came to speak, about sex education, to the youth of the church which my family attended.  During the course of his talk, this individual claimed that condoms were not always effective.  He spoke about the size of sperm in relation to the integrity of the latex membrane of condoms in support of this claim.  I was perplexed and a little outraged.  I can remember thinking, “What does it matter if condoms work well or not?  The Bible says not to have sex outside of marriage.  Why isn’t this man just teaching everyone what the Bible says?”  This speaker was trading on statistics and a utilitarian ethic.  Such an ethic hasn’t much place inside the church of Jesus Christ.  This man was doing the youth of the church and their parents a disservice by putting stock in statistics instead of the sufficiency of God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It should be noted that this speaker was teaching the youth about the usage of condoms.  It was clear from his presentation (not that many in his audience didn’t already know) that condoms are useful in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  However, unlike abstinence, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  Any responsible non-Christian sex education program teaches this as well.  Considering this, let’s analyze what “harmful effect #14” really says more closely:

“Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness result in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies than do non- “Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness.

What an absurd claim.   Further scrutiny should only make the claim appear more ridiculous.

We’ve not explored the implied assertion that formal “abstinence-only” sex education programs are biblically-prescribed endeavors.  We’ve not explored the assertion any marriages which result from teenage pregnancies are either “ill-fated” or prescribed by the bible.  Having proven the claim absurd, it’s not necessary to chase these rabbits.

In closing, I would like to challenge non-Christians to consider what society would look like if everyone faithfully followed a Christian sexual ethic.  This would be a society without STD epidemics, unwanted pregnancies, or the emotional turmoil caused by adultery and divorce.  Such a society may not be achievable before the return of Christ, but it would nonetheless be prudent to strive for one.  We are not, as Richard Dawkins claims, “machines for propagating DNA” (by the way, if Dr. Dawkins is correct, trying to prevent pregnancy seems counterintuitive and futile) but rather moral beings made in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying Him.

(Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #15: Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Sin: The Ultimate Mental Illness

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Author’s Note: Please do not read too much into the title of this article. I am not arguing that sin should be considered a psychological disorder, nor am I declaring that anyone with a diagnosed psychological disorder is in sin merely by the nature of being so diagnosed. 

In the current environment of pervasively popular Osteen-style life-coach Christianity, it’s all too easy for Christians to confuse the aims of therapy with the effects of regeneration. It’s all too easy for Christians to forget that sin isn’t a problem, it’s the problem. This is a scriptural truth that many in the world, especially those in the secular mental health community, seem to ignore. The fall has alienated people from God and from each other. For any mental health counseling endeavor to be successful, this must be realized. A patient’s sin problem should not be ignored and the power of the Holy Spirit should not be discounted. Unfortunately, many secular mental health professionals do just that. Furthermore, the secular mental health profession is openly hostile to the Christian worldview. As such, Christians should think twice before endorsing or appealing to the authority of a non-Christian mental health professional. Like any other lost person, such blind guides suppress the truth about the horrible effects of sin in unrighteousness

The secular mental health profession’s prejudice against a biblical worldview is exemplified well by a statement released by the American Psychological Association in 1998 which states that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder, or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.” This statement led credence to initiatives in both California and New Jersey that have outlawed reparative therapy. In California it is illegal for a mental health professional to “engage in sexual orientation change efforts with minors”. Imagine a pastor who needed to refer a young paritioner who struggles with homosexual attraction to a mental health counselor. It California, it is illegal to do so. It’s not just that the secular mental health profession disagrees with a Christian worldview; it’s openly hostile to it.

Unfortunately, this can lead Christians to stigmatize those who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. This can create an environment where those who struggle with mental illness are hesitant to approach their church’s elders for help and prayer. This should not be the case. Rather, Christians who struggle with mental illness should feel be encouraged to bring their needs before God and before His church for prayer. They should then, where necessary, be referred to by their shepherds to professional Christian counselors who recognize the role that the noetic effect of sin plays in the outbreak of mental illness. In no case, should Christians be referred to counselors who reject a Christian worldview…for what business does light have with darkness? The answer to that question is: “no business at all”. Nonbelievers are in no position to counsel Christians. It is they who need the counsel of believers. That counsel is simple: repent and believe the gospel. Until they do, such counselors can only implement the impotent solutions of fallen man.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.  Furthermore, I am not licensed in any state to diagnose or dispense mental health advice or treatment.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #13

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10

This post is the thirteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.

I have friends who are not Christians. I would never think to exclude someone from my friendships only because he was not a Christian. Nowhere in scripture it such action prescribed. Where platonic friendships are concerned, this “harmful effect” is an objection to a commandment that the Bible doesn’t make.

Where romantic relationships are concerned, the bible very clearly forbids Christian believers to enter into marriages with nonbelievers. However, the authors of this list fail to make the case that this biblical proscription in harmful. They claim there is harm in the non-existence of relationships that never start. What’s the harm of something that never happened? The answer to this question doesn’t seem like anything anyone, except perhaps God, can know. Consider the following counter-factual:

If John had entered into a relationship with Suzy, they both would have had a happier life. However, John did not enter into a relationship with Suzy because he was a Christian and she was not.

It’s one thing to state a counter-factual such as this. It’s another thing to know that it’s true. Such a conclusion simply can’t be made given the limits of human knowledge. Atheists often demand proof of God’s existence. I’d like to see atheists try and prove such a counter-factual. When I analyze it, such a counter-factual seems unreasonable. People who disagree on something as fundamental as religious worldview are bound to clash over other important issues. It doesn’t seem wise that such persons should enter into a romantic entanglement. Romantic relationships that don’t work out often cause harm to the participants. Break-ups can be traumatic and depressing. Perhaps then, Christianity, prevents harmful romantic entanglements.

There is a counter-factual that can be proven true quite easily. Consider the following:

If there were no religions, religion would not be a hindrance to the formation of romantic relationships.

It’s made clear once again, this list item is not a polemic against Christianity, but against religion in general. Like other list items, it fails to demonstrate a harmful effect specific to Christianity. Like other items on this list, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, this item is so nebulous, it is difficult refute.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Remembering That My Reedemer Lives: Reflections on Job 1:1-12

Reflections on Job 1:1-12

“Have you considered My servant Seth?”

I wonder if God will ever ask Satan this question about me. On the one hand, it would be an indicator that I was living a blameless and upright life before the Lord. On the other hand, it would be an indicator that Satan was about to be put me through the wringer.

Long ago, God asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job.” Job, a very wealthy man, lost all his worldly possessions when God removed the hedge of protection He had placed around Job and allowed Satan to affect Job’s life. Job even lost his wife and children to the devices of the devil. Satan took everything from Job but his very life.

The Bible says, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”

People have a tendency, when calamity befalls them, to blame God and even act out in a sinful manner. They also have a tendency to wonder if God is punishing them for some heinous sin they have committed. (John 9:2). But who among us ever affixes the blame for our misfortune to Satan?

As in the days of Job, Satan is roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is on a clear mission to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) Maybe he has already destroyed something in your life. But one thing he cannot destroy or devour, if you have placed your faith in God through his son Jesus Christ, is your life itself.

It is your life that Jesus came to save, not your possessions or positions. Find your value in serving God and not in the things that Satan can take away. Praise be to the name of the Lord

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Islam Comes to the Cartersville School System

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

It has come to my attention that a representative from the Atlanta Islamic Center is scheduled to speak at Cartersville Middle School this week.  I’m not exactly clear on the purpose of his visit, but I gather that he was invited as part of an educational initiative to teach students about different world religions.  There are a lot of local residents, I understand, who are not very happy about this Muslim leader’s coming.  Should they be upset with our school board?

No.

This Islamic man isn’t coming to indoctrinate our children nor is he coming to lop off our heads.  This man is coming to give a lecture on his religion.   This man is coming to educate.  I, for one, am glad he is coming.  He’ll be speaking about an important topic.

I learned about Islam in my 7th grade social studies class. My social studies teacher taught a unit on Islam every year.  She taught her students what the five pillars of Islam are, presented a short biography of Muhammad, and presented a history of his religion.  We learned that he was a strict monotheist and that he expanded his influence by the threat of violence.  We learned that there were millions and millions of Muslims out in the world and that Islam was an Abrahamic offshoot.  Because my teacher also taught about the United States and our country’s history, we learned that an Islamic worldview and an American worldview conflicted.

One year, a disgruntled parent came to my school and complained that my teacher was “teaching kids how to be Muslims.”  The principal laughed off this accusation.  He knew the teacher to be a Christian woman.  So did I.  That teacher was my own mother, a devout Christian who has never been shy about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am a better citizen of the world and a better apologist for Christ because I learned what Islam was at a young age.  I’m glad to have learned about this influential world religion in school.  My mom did her job as a social studies teacher and taught me and the rest of her students about the world.  She also did her job as a parent and taught me about Jesus.

If you’ve taught your children about Jesus, you don’t have to worry about Islamic leaders coming to Cartersville Middle School.  You can look forward to you children witnessing to that lost Muslim leader.  The fact is that Islam already has a presence in Cartersville.  There is an Islamic center near Wal-mart (You may have read in the newspaper about it being vandalized). Several Islamic families live here.  I imagine many of them came to this country for freedom and opportunity.

Don’t be like that ignorant man who complained about my mother.  I hope the citizens of this town won’t act like Islamic extremists and seek to suppress the voice of those of different religions in the public square.  Our government has done the Christians of this town a favor.  It is bringing in a lost person, a leader from the Islamic community that our children can interact with and to whom they can witness.

Parents, admonish them to do so.  Don’t admonish the school board for trying to educate your kids.  Let’s all pray for Jesus to be glorified and shared at Cartersville Middle School tomorrow.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

It Just Keeps Getting Worse: The Braxton Caner Memorial Fund for the Prevention of Suicide and Cyber-bullying

“Statisticians have long warned that correlation is not causation, but they have apparently warned in vain.” Thomas Sowell

AUTHOR’S NOTE: THIS IS A SENSITIVE COMMENTARY ON A SENSITIVE TOPIC.  IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE A COMMENTARY ON THIS SUBJECT CAN BE EDIFYING, YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ IT.

Every time I think that the Ergun Caner debacle can’t get any worse, it does.  Last week, Brewton-Parker trustee chairman and pastor of Vidalia First Baptist Church, Bucky Kennedy, announced the creation of the The Braxton Caner Memorial Fund for the Prevention of Suicide and Cyber-bullying.  This fund has been established in the wake of the tragic suicide of Ergun Caner’s 15-year old son, Braxton.   Although the departed Braxton left no suicide note, some have theorized that a short Twitter interaction between Braxton and one his father’s many critics (which they consider to be a case of “cyber-bullying”) caused the boy to take his own life.  According to a Brewton-Parker Press release, “While doubtful anyone can ‘prove’ cyber-bullying was the cause of the young Caner’s death, the impression nonetheless exists strongly enough to establish a memorial fund to raise awareness and prevent both teen suicide and internet crimes like cyber-harassment and cyber-bullying.”

I don’t know what caused Braxton to take his own life.  I never met him.  I did not know him.  It would be irresponsible for me to conclude on his particular motivation(s) for taking his own life.  Like others, I can only form impressions (Braxton’s short interaction with his father’s critic is not one of them). Here are some of them:

1. Braxton was a preacher’s kid.

Being a preacher’s kid or a preacher’s wife is difficult.  Such a person always feels like he or she is being watched and judged.  Lots of times, they are.

2. Braxton’s family moved a lot.

Moving around a lot isn’t easy. According to his own claims, Ergun Caner pastored churches in North Carolina and Colorado.  During Braxton’s lifetime, Ergun Caner began career in academia at the Criswell College in Texas.  From there he moved to Liberty University in Virginia.  After being dismissed from Liberty, he moved back to Texas for a short time to work at Arlington Baptist College.  From Arlington Baptist, Caner moved on to Brewton-Parker in Georgia.  This last job move was during Braxton’s teenage years.  When I was Braxton’s age, my family moved.  It was hard.  The prospect of moving from Texas to Georgia may have been hard on Braxton.

3. Braxton’s father traveled a lot.

Ergun Caner speaks at churches and youth camps all around the country.  For security reasons, Caner does not post his speaking schedule.   However, it’s safe to say that Ergun Caner is gone from home on a lot of weekends.  It’s hard for kids when their father isn’t around.  To my knowledge, Ergun Caner’s family was still living in Texas as he worked at Brewton-Parker in Georgia.

4. Braxton’s father spoke negatively about Islam and was threatened for so doing.

Ergun Caner once told the congregation of Decatur Baptist Church that he has moved three times and has changed his phone number eight times due to threats from Muslim extremists.  Emir Caner, Braxton’s uncle, has spoken to Roswell Street Baptist Church about the need to carry a gun for protection.  Threats to his family over the years, could have stressed the young Braxton over his lifetime.

5. Baxton’s father is a charlatan and it’s hard to be a charlatan’s son.

After becoming famous while claiming to be a trained jihadist turned Christian evangelist, it was discovered that many of Dr. Ergun Caner’s claims contradicted one another.  He subsequently lost his job at one of the country’s most respected Baptist colleges.   Ergun Caner has been less than contrite about his deception and continues to be the target of widespread criticism.  Being a kid is hard enough.   Being a kid whose dad is a charlatan is probably harder.  I don’t know if Braxton believed that his own father was a fraud, but many others (perhaps even some of Braxton’s peers) thought so.  Maybe those peers bullied him, in person and in cyberspace.  I don’t know, but I do know this.  I look up to my own father immensely.  If I ever found out that he was a fraud, I’d be absolutely crushed, even as an adult.

6. Braxton may have been mentally ill.

I speak with all the expertise of someone with six hours of undergraduate psychology credit and one course in pastoral counseling who didn’t know the deceased.  Bear that in mind.  I theorize, given what I perceive to a pattern of pervasive, bald-faced lies told by Braxton’s father, that Ergun Caner may be Bi-Polar. Perhaps Braxton was.  Who knows?  I don’t.  It’s just a theory.  I’m not psychology expert and have no personal interaction with Braxton Caner and very little such interaction with his father.

7. The harmful impact of spiritual forces

I’ll offer no commentary on this particular impression

In the case of Braxton Caner, we have a young man who grew up a preacher’s kid, moved around a lot, was a member of a family that was threatened by Muslim extremists, was often away from his father at a vulnerable age, was possibly afflicted with mental illness, and was son to one of the most reviled men in evangelical culture.  No fund has been established to recognize that…

One shouldn’t be.

We do not know what led young Braxton to do the unthinkable” Todd Starnes

The only human who knew why Braxton Caner did what he did was Braxton Caner.   Now, no one knows. It is irresponsible and unproductive to definitively claim otherwise.  Putting a fund together and naming it The Braxton Caner Memorial Fund for the Prevention of Suicide and Cyber-bullying does just that.  Correlation does not equal causation.

All the living can know about this suicide is that the situation is awful.  It’s sad.  It’s tragic.  The death of a child or a sibling is the worst earthly thing that could happen to a family member.  I feel sorry for Ergun Caner, his wife, and his remaining son.   I can’t imagine the weight of the loss which they bear.

I’m left remembering that the actions we take affect our families.  Our actions can affect our spouses even before we meet them.  Our actions can affect our children even before they are born.  What we say and do matters.  Furthermore, what we say and do to others affects them.  We never know what someone else could be going through when we talk to them.   When we interact with someone, we need to remember that he is someone’s child and a human person created in the image of God.  We shouldn’t pick on people, lie to them, or blame them unjustly.

In the wake of this horrible tragedy, we should follow the example of the penitent.  We should not politicize tragedy but rather mourn it.  We should throw ourselves upon the mercy and grace of God and show mercy and grace ourselves.  We should let the dead rest in peace and let the living live in peace.

Death and judgment will one day come for us all.  We need to be ready to give an account for how we treated God and our neighbor.  We should be honest with both.  Where we are ignorant, we should rely upon the perfect knowledge of God.  Where we are not ignorant, we should rely upon the perfect knowledge of God.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #12

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Jesus as recorded Matthew 10:37


This post is the twelfth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #12: People disowning family members for leaving their religion

This particular “harmful effect” leaves me quite perplexed. If Christianity is exceedingly harmful, as the author of this list claims, wouldn’t it be to someone’s benefit to be disowned by a Christian family for leaving the (harmful) religion? It would seem that the disowned person would be better off to be out of such a toxic environment. So, even if this “harmful effect” were actually an actual observation of Christianity, it wouldn’t make sense to call it harmful. However, this “harmful” effect is not actually an observation of Christianity.

I was raised in a Christian family and became a Christian myself over a quarter-century ago. In all my life, I have never known anyone who has been disowned by his family from leaving the Christian religion. There is no biblical mandate to disown family members for leaving the Christian religion. Such a mandate doesn’t make sense. How could the person be won to faith if he were disowned?

Perhaps the author if this list is confused about the meaning of 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 in which Paul states:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”

In this particular situation, Paul is ordering what could reasonably be described as a shunning. However, the individual is not being shunned for leaving the faith but rather engaging in unrepentant sin while still claiming to remain in the faith. Christians should not tolerate any fellow Christian who engages in open sin and refuses calls to repentance from the body of Christ. I doubt, given the apparent biblical ignorance of the list’s author, that he even has the level of biblical awareness required to even misapply 1 Corinthians 5:1-2. The author of the list is perhaps lumping Christianity in with those religions (such as Islam) that do call for disowning (or worse) of those who leave the faith. It is not atypical of atheists to lump all religions together for condemnation.

Christians, when considering family rifts caused by religion, should consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:37 and Luke 12:53. One’s commitment to Christ can cause disowning, the disowning of a Christian by his family. It happened in New Testament times and it still today happens. Christians are called to value Christ above all else and everyone else; than includes the members of their own families.

Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in he age to come, eternal life.’” Mark 10:29-30

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.