The Bible and The Implications of Climate Change

FeaturedThe Bible and The Implications of Climate Change

Many scientists, meteorologists, and climate experts are convinced of the catastrophic phenomenon known as climate change. NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) describes climate change in the paragraph below:

Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events.

Callery, S. (Ed.). (2019, February 07). What’s the difference between climate change and global warming? – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/12/whats-the-difference-between-climate-change-and-global-warming/.

NASA in their description of climate change makes a distinction from global warming. They describe global warming as the extended warming of the entire planet due to the increase of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which has increased about two degrees Fahrenheit respectively. NASA stated that this slight increase in temperature is due to the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Although global warming is related to climate change it is not exclusively defined as climate change.

Due to this phenomenon of climate change, there are individuals who are concerned that humanity’s future is at stake if this issue is not addressed. A senator from New York had declared if the United States does not address the issue of climate change the world will end in 12 years. In addition, the senator also added that climate change is as serious as World War II.  Jerry Brown, The former governor of California, in an interview with Meet The Press discussing President Donald Trump’s agenda, said the President should make this the forefront of his presidency and said the following comment below:

I would point to the fact that it took Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis. Well, we have an enemy, though different, but perhaps, very much devastating in a similar way. And we’ve got to fight climate change. And the president’s got to lead on that.

Kamisar, B. (2018, December 30). Jerry Brown: Climate change challenges are as serious as those faced in World War II. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/jerry-brown-climate-change-challenges-serious-those-faced-world-war-n952446.

There are others who believe the overpopulation of the world, the increasing use of fossil fuels, and the consumption of the earth’s resources is intensifying the problem and that the solution may be to reduce the population at some point in the future. Even some believers, arguing from omission, holding to climate change are convinced that human beings have the capability to destroy the earth as author notes below:

As scientists, we know the importance of evidence; whether revealed through God’s written word or through creation. There is nothing in the Bible that says human-induced climate change isn’t possible. And there is plenty in creation that tells us that it is…there is only really one thing we Christians are called to do: to fearlessly express Christ’s love to others. In the case of climate change, how do we express this love? Through acknowledging the reality of the issue; supporting action to help others who are being harmed now, today, and in the future; and taking our responsibility to care for God’s creation seriously.

Hayhoe, K. (2019, June 19). Why All Christians Should Heed Pope Francis’ Call to “Care for Our Common Home”. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/why-all-christians-should-heed-pope-francis-call-to-care-for-our-common-home.

However, should a believer hold to this stance regarding this climate change and the subsequent consequences of this phenomenon? Does the Bible observe the issue of the climate as a threat to the earth itself due to manufacturing, fossil fuel, and overpopulation? 

The answer is highlighted in the book of Ecclesiastes, whose author was Solomon, the king of Israel, who conducted a social experiment about life under the sun. He concluded in his survey that the purpose of man is to honor God and follow his wisdom concerning life (Ecc. 12:13). Solomon is also credited in Scripture as being the wisest man that has ever lived (1 Kings 3:12-13). This was due to Solomon petitioning God for wisdom to guide the Israelite people, and as a result of this prayer, God granted Solomon’s request (1 Kings 3:6-11). This knowledge is important because Solomon was making observations regarding life and nature from the wisdom God had given Him. In the introduction of Ecclesiastes and examining creation he wrote the following:

What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever.  Also, the sun rises and the sun sets, And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses, the wind returns.  All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. (Ecc. 1:3-7 NASB).

Solomon details some of the natural actions of the earth. He observed there is a cyclical nature of the actions of the earth and even though there have been many generations of human beings, the earth will continue to endure.  King David in the Psalms connects the constancy of nature with the consistent nature and glory of God, who has created the heavens and the earth (Ps. 19:1-7). According to a Biblical worldview, the planet’s cyclical pattern as observed by King Solomon is the natural process of the earth and how God has established it. There are climates and regions in the world that experience alterations frequently and yet the earth, and the patterns that are found within the earth, will continue to remain constant. One recent study underscored this reality as climate researchers observed the glaciers in Iceland. The research revealed the rise in the temperature of the earth is not a new phenomenon. The results of the study are shown in the graph below.

Screenshot_2019-02-24-20-57-03
Whitestone G (2019). Inconvenient Facts App (version 1.0.24) [mobile application software] Retrieved from: https://inconvenientfacts.xyz.

This is not to say that Christians are not to be concerned and responsible for the creation and the environment.  Believers understand that the earth itself and everything in the earth, is created by God (Gen. 1:1), and one of the first acts that God had commanded Adam do it when God placed him in the Garden was to work the ground and care for it (Gen. 2:15), which underscores that man was to utilize the resources that God had provided in the earth He made. There are many verses in Scripture that speak of the grandeur and order of creation (Ps. 19:1-7). God is the one who causes the rain to fall providing nourishment for the earth (Ps. 65:9). Christians, as a good work, and to the glory of God care for the environment and nature (2 Cor. 10:31). The Scriptures also emphasize the physical kingdom of God in the future has with it the reality of the saints inheriting the earth (c.f. Matt 5:5; Rev. 20:1-6).  When God speaking with Job giving the reasoning for Job’s affliction points to the constancy of creation as His answer to Job (Chaps. 38-41). From a biblical worldview when it comes to the change of weather patterns and climate these are things that fluctuate irrespective of the usage of fossil fuels. In addition, climate change is not exacerbated by the overpopulation of the world since God commanded mankind to populate the earth (Gen. 1:28; Gen. 9:7). 

Climate change is a natural phenomenon that occurs on earth. However it is not due to the result of the actions of mankind, or the arrival of industry, but because the world and its natural systems are not static, but dynamic. The Scriptures are clear highlighting  God is the creator of heaven and earth, and while generations of human beings have passed away, the earth will continue to endure forever. Mankind, according to God’s word is to reproduce and use the resources on the earth that God has provided (wood, oil, water, land, etc.) for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. 

May we as believers continue to marvel and be amazed at what God has made, as it all reflects His eternality, power, and transcendent nature.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

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Human Growth & Development, & The Biblical Worldview

Human Growth & Development, & The Biblical Worldview

Human growth and development is a significant subject to observe in the discipline of psychology. How a human being changes across the lifespan and how they develop cognitively, physically, biologically, and socially is important. There have been many that have observed the behaviors that occur at certain periods of human development. Such examples include Erik Erickson, who developed what was known as eight stages of psychosocial development. Erik Erickson posited that each developmental stage had two developmental outcomes (a positive outcome and a negative outcome) and a crisis that one needed to overcome. If one did not overcome the crisis at each particular development they would lack positive qualities and outcomes in their life. However if one could overcome the crisis in that particular stage of development they would develop these characteristics as shown below:

McLeod, S (2018). Erik erickson eight stages of psychosocial development. Retrieved from  https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html.

Erik Erickson’s theoretical model has greatly influenced human growth and development and has been significant in writing countless textbooks, articles, and other resources on the subject. In addition, there was Jean Piaget, who observed how human beings, specifically young children and preadolescence, build their perception of the world. His model became known as the cognitive developmental model. He theorized that a human being, from the time they are an infant, makes sense of the world predominantly through the use of their five senses. Over the course of time as they continue to grow they acquire more skills in their development. The stages in Jean Piaget’s theory are shown below:


Life span development: psychologist and their contributions. Retrieved from https://ysglifespanpsychologists.weebly.com/jean-piaget.html.

Jean Piaget’s theory has also had a significant impact on psychology, specifically in the discipline of primary education. Many have developed teaching styles and instructional models based on his theory. However, despite the influence these men had in observing human growth and development there was one area of their observations that was missing, and this was the spiritual quality of mankind. For Erik Erikson, he believed that Christianity was a coping strategy one used to resolve the crisis that they were to face at a particular stage of development:

[Erik Erikson] used [Martin] Luther’s example to discuss in much greater detail than before the fifth stage of his eight-stage psychosocial schema, Ego Identity versus Role Confusion, as it culminates in an identity crisis. Martin Luther resolved his identity crisis, according to Erikson, by advancing a new concept of man’s relationship to God, thus initiating the Protestant Reformation.

“Erikson, Erik Homburger.” Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/erikson-erik-homburger

For Jean Piaget, he did not deny the existence of God and rejected Darwinian evolution. However, Piaget saw God as a creative force or energy and saw knowledge as the highest pursuit. Both theorists missed an important spiritual quality of the human being. How would this specific aspect in the context of the lifespan be observed from a biblical worldview? 

Sacred Scripture reveals that human beings begin in the mind of God. This truth is highlighted in the Book of Jeremiah concerning the prophet Jeremiah when God says:

 Before I formed you in the womb I knew youAnd before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Jer. 1:5 NASB emphasis mine

Before Jeremiah physically existed God had intimate knowledge of who he was as a person. In addition, the sacred Scripture also highlights human beings are not just physical beings, but spiritual beings, as seen in Genesis 2:5-7:

Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:5-7 NASB emphasis mine

The sacred Scripture also underscores that God fashioned (or built) Eve from the rib of Adam (Gen. 2:22-24). David emphasized in the Psalms that it is God, by the means of conception, who had knit (or wove) David in the womb of his mother (Ps. 139:13). In short, man’s origin does not begin with the physical aspect of man, but from the biblical worldview, it begins with God.

The development of human beings across the physical lifespan is nothing short than amazing. In fact, mankind was created during day six of creation week and was marked as the capstone of God’s creation (c.f., Gen. 1:26-31). It is the physical development of mankind to grow and develop from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that reveals, along with the rest of creation, in clear detail God’s invisible attributes, power, and divine nature (c.f., Rom. 1:18-20). Human growth and development also shows the reality of the curse of the Fall of man. Since all of mankind is affected by this curse this is the reason mankind grows old and eventually physically dies (c.f., Gen. 3:1-19; Ecc. 12:1-7; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 6:23). 

Although Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget observe some of the developmental changes in mankind they, due to their worldview cannot account the development after one dies physically. However, the biblical worldview does account for this aspect of mankind. Sacred Scripture revealed that one exists beyond their physical bodies, with complete cognition, intuition, and volition. For the one who believes in what God has said concerning Himself and His Son has eternal life, that is, they know God and His Son whom He has sent (Jn. 3:15-16; 17:1-3). When one physically dies the believer is carried into Paradise (c.f., Lk. 23:29-43), and is in the presence of the Lord (c.f., 2 Cor. 5:6-9). For living saints, the imminent appearing of Christ is in view with the reality of the rapture of the Church-Age saints (1 Thess. 4:12-19). Believers will be given a new body that will match their spiritual identity (1 Cor. 15:20-57). By contrast, a person who does not have eternal life will be ushered into what is known as outer darkness (c.f., Lk. 16:19-31). Prior to the start of the Eternal state, they will be resurrected, pronounced eternally condemned, and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-15). The precise finality of man, from a biblical worldview, is not when one physically expires, but just like the origin of mankind began it will end with God. 

Both Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget contributed much to human growth and development in the discipline of psychology. However, both theories when compared to a biblical worldview are incomplete. They acknowledge mankind has the ability to learn and grow however they fail to observe the origin of why mankind does this: Because mankind comes from a Creator who has made mankind with these qualities. By this development, this underscores the invisible attributes and divine nature of God in creation. Both Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget acknowledge the reality of growing old, however, they fail to know the reason why human beings grow old. This is due to the curse of the Fall that all mankind is subjected to. Finally, both theorists acknowledge the physical expiration of man but they fell short in providing an answer as to what happens after man physically dies. It is the word of God that gives a complete overview of how mankind is to view human growth and development.

Let us as believers in Christ observe the study of the whole man in light of what God’s word has revealed. It is here that mankind is more than just a physical body, but a spiritual being whose purpose is to make much of His Creator. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

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Special Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

Special Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

The Miss Universe Pageant was held this past Sunday evening. The location of the pageant was held in Bankok Thailand and there were a total of 47 contestants that participated in this year’s event from all over the world. One of the pageant runners was a person who goes by name of Angela Ponce, who was a contestant from the country of Spain. Angela Ponce was not the actual winner of the of the 2018 Miss Universe pageant (this honor went to the contestant Catriona Gray from the Philippines). However, Angela Ponce is receiving massive media attention due to the reality Angela was the first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant. Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain in June 2018, mentioned the desire for the world to progress further as it relates to transgender identity when Angela commented to the Associated Press after the contest

“If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,”

Fitzpatrick. H. (2018). Angela Ponce makes history as 1st transgender Miss Universe contestant. Retreived from https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/angela-ponce-makes-history-1st-transgender-miss-universe/story?id=59859591

Angela Ponce’s attention and influence in regarding transgender identity and influence in women’s competitions has not been an isolated case. This year there was an event where a transgender wrestler in the state of Texas won a female wrestling competition. The previous year a transgender male won the girls state wrestling championship (it should be noted that she wanted to compete against the boys, but the competition would not allow her to do so because of her sex), and just last week a person by the name of Patricio Manuel became the first transgender male to win a professional match in boxing

How is transgender identity (or transgenderism) defined?  Transgender identity carries with it the idea that cultural norms and traditions have defined what one is to be when a person is conceived (i.e., a boy or a girl) in society. Transgender identity does not seek to be defined by these cultural and societal traditions as noted in this description below:

[Transgender is] an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Transgender. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions. Retreived from https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions

There may be those who are convinced due to these recent trends that the world is progressing forward. Some believe that this may be a healthy expression of psychological and sociological development. Many believe this trend actually promotes equality. However there is one fact that transgender identity fails to observe: That in attempting to promote equality, it actually undermines it. 

Take for example the Miss America Pageant. The reality is a man, who took hormone treatments that altered him into (somewhat) a woman who participated has now received worldwide attention and accolades in contrast to the winner, who by nature is a woman. Another example is the young woman who took testosterone treatments because she identified as he. As a result of this she was able to overpower the competition and as a result, the woman, who by nature was a female, lost the match. 

What about the woman who identified as a man and won the boxing match? There are two things to note here in this story: This also undermines females because the woman, who believed she identified as a man had to be modified as a man to defeat a man the boxing ring. This underscores the overall physical differences between men and women. In fact, Patricio Manuel’s coach commented after the match below

“This is bigger than boxing,” Gomez said. “It’s for all sports. The story is, I don’t care who you are, what country you come from, what nationality. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re good enough to compete, you’ll be able to compete. All you need is a chance. I’m just happy to be a part of it”

John. A (2018). First transgender male boxer wins in professional debut. Retreived from: https://www.stargazette.com/story/sports/boxing/2018/12/09/first-transgender-male-boxer-pro-debut/2256858002/

This is the irony and the sad reality found in this above statement. It really is not about if a person is “good enough” to compete. Patricio Manuel did not feel that she was good enough to compete unless she modified herself to become a man and compete like a man. She had to deny who she actually was in order to become what she felt she was. No matter the amount of hormones Patricio Manuel, or Angela Ponce injects into them this does not alter the chromosomes, which has determined their sexual orientation. No matter what, in these particular scenarios, and many others, when it comes to transgender identity, equality for women (and men) always loses, because who a person is by nature is eclipsed by how one feels.  

However, the biblical worldview promotes true equality between both sexes. True equality comes from the reality that we are created by God, and are made in His image (Gen. 1:27-28). The Scriptures also mentioned the uniqueness of women as the woman was personally fashioned (or built) by God in creation (Gen. 2:22). According to these truths, there are some points that should be underscored when observing the Biblical worldview concerning the sexual orientation of men and women: That God, not man, by these genetic and biological means determines the sex of an individual (c.f., Job. 10:8-11; Ps. 139:13-16). This is irrespective of how one may feel about their sexual identity. In addition, the physical bodies men and women naturally have magnified and made much of God displaying His power and divine nature because He has given us the physical body (c.f., Rom. 1:18-20). To deny this, or alter the physical body to reflect the sex we were not given does not honor Him, and in essence, denies the truth of God who created man and woman for His glory. 

In the paradigm of transgender identity, there is no room for true equality (in fact, if one was to raise these issues one would be criticized and observed as being intolerant of this position). True equality, from the Biblical worldview, comes from recognizing there is a Creator, who has made us according to His image and likeness. To deny this is to deny the very foundation of what true equality is based on, not “I feel,” but “God says…”

Let us continue to look observe who male and female are from what God has told us from His word. In this, we glorify God, recognizing the origin of true equality. In effect, we will serve one another rightly as we observe who we really are in light of His truth. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S. 

 

 

Did God Really Say? A Challenge To An Observers Analysis of Leviticus 18

Did God Really Say? A Challenge To An Observers Analysis of Leviticus 18

Within Western culture there has been an increase to legitimize and validate what has become known as the LGBTQ movement, which has several objectives: To promote and advocate for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer individuals, to change and nullify what was known as sodomy laws, which prohibited homosexual acts between men and women, and to end discrimination (and stereotypes) in social interactions in various institutions (e.g., business, academia, etc.). In addition, this movement, particularly, desires to challenge what promoters of this movement describe as “archaic and traditional social constructs” that are found in the body of Christ. As as result this has led to a translation of the Bible that alters the passages that discuss homosexuality, promoting the homosexual clergy in the church,  and establishing what is being labeled as “inclusive” churches all over the world.

There are others who have chosen to take their pen and write against what they perceive as prejudices attempting to make their case from the Scriptures that homosexuality was a sanctioned practice in the Old Testament. One such scholar by the name of Dr. Idan Dershowitz, in an opinion piece titled, “The Secret History of Leviticus” asserts that chapter 18 of Leviticus, the chapter that prohibits homosexuality, was not written by the same author, but by several authors of a long period of time:

Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed. An earlier edition of Leviticus, then, may have been silent on the matter of sex between men.

D.I. (2018). The Secret History of Leviticus. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html

He attempts to provide an even stronger argument that earlier editions of a law found in Israel allowed this behavior. He adds there were “editorial interventions” in this chapter due to what he believes is a sudden break in the flow of the chapter involving what he refers to as “incest laws,” as he notes below

Each verse in Leviticus 18’s series of incest laws contains a similar gloss, but the others are merely emphatic, driving home the point. (For example, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”) Only in these two cases — the father and mother, and the father’s brother — do the glosses alter our understanding of what is prohibited. A law prohibiting sex with one’s father fades away, and a law against sex with one’s uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one’s aunt…What we have here is strong evidence of editorial intervention.

D.I. (2018). The Secret History of Leviticus. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html

Based on Biblical evidence, I am convinced there are several counterpoints that make his argument concerning the explanation “editorial intervention” in the Book of Leviticus a risible explanation. They are described below:

  • The divine authorship of Leviticus: All throughout the Old Testament we observe the authoritative speech of God (i.e., “The Lord said” or “the Lord God said”) the term Lord (i.e. YHVH in Hebrew, usually written in all capital letters) is the divine personal Name of God Himself, and this name in particular highlights the supreme authority of God and His word. This personal name for God occurs 273 times in the book of Leviticus, and occurs five times in chapter 18:1-30. In this text, God makes it clear to the nation of Israel that it is Him who is passing down these commands on how the nation of Israel should conduct themselves before Him, not several authors over a period of time.
  • The consequences of the other nations due to these practices: The Lord, in outlining these prohibitions mentioned the overall reason why God does not desire this behavior. It is found in the proceeding verses in this chapter of the Book of Leviticus:

24Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants

Lev. 18:24-15 NASB emphasis mine.

God was removing all of the former inhabitants of the land that was given to the Israelite people because there were nations that were defiling themselves by doing these behaviors. This included all of the actions that were described above passage. In fact, God tells them that they were not to practice these customs and traditions that would defile them, or the land they were to live on,  five times in this chapter (vs. 24, 26, 28, 29, 30). In addition, they were not to do these customs because He is their God, the Lord (YHVH). The reason why the nations that lived in the land were removed prior to the Israelite people because of their acceptable use of these practices, which were against God.

  • The word usage in the Septuagint in Leviticus 18 and the New Testament: The Septuagint is the translation from the Hebrew Old Testament to the Greek language. The word that is used for “one that lies” in Lev. 18 is the word koite (κοίτη) meaning “to bed.” (an idiom used for sexual intercourse). This same word is used of Paul, who was a proficient scholar and teacher of the Old Testament (c.f., Phil. 4:3-6). When addressing the churches of Corinth he writes:

9 Or 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God 

1 Cor. 6:9-11 NASB emphasis mine

The Greek word used here for “homosexuals” is the word arsenokoites (ἀρσενοκοίτης), which means “to bed men.” Paul used the same word found in the Septuagint and uses it to tell them that those who identify with this behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • An omission of historical precedent In his observation: In the context of Leviticus, the Lord was prohibiting behavior from the nation of Israel that was already a common practice in the ancient world. For example, there is history that the ancient Egyptians were involved with same-sex acts. This was not only true of Egypt but all of the other nations as well (as observed in the Leviticus passage above). In short the Lord was prohibiting them from conducting themselves with activites that were considered socially acceptable. This was also true of Corinth in the New Testament. The act of a male engaging in sexual acts with another was permissible during the time of the Roman Empire. Observing the context it does not make any sense that the Book of Leviticus would have an “editorial intervention” in an attempt to hide this behavior when it was acceptable and moral among the known world at that time. 

This argument presented by Dr. Idan Dershowitz is similar to the serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent approached Eve and the first statement to come out of the serpent’s mouth was the question, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” (Gen. 3:1) (before the serpent could undermine what God communicated to Adam and Eve the serpent had to place a lack of assurance in their minds regarding the veracity of God’s word). This narrative Dr. Idan Dershowitz is presenting is not about homosexuality or tearing down traditional social constructs in society. This argument is really about the authority of God’s word and how one can undermine what God has clearly said to affirm or validate what God has not sanctioned. Tragically, it is these arguments within the culture that prevent an unbeliever from hearing and recieving the grace of God in the gospel that Christ has died for the sins listed in Leviticus 18 (and 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Furthermore, it may lead a believer to lack assurance in God’s eternal word concerning where one’s identity comes from, much to their own grief.

Let us as believers be confident in the word that God has revealed. promoting the truth as He has given it to us, knowing that by the promotion of this truth God is truly glorified. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

Creation, Adam & Eve, & The Book of Genesis

Creation, Adam & Eve, & The Book of Genesis

Every so often there is a scientific study that appears attempting to explain the origin of mankind. One such study that has emerged seems to agree with the biblical worldview.  Dr. Michael Guillen, the president of the organization Spectacular Science Productions in an article titled, “Did A Mysterious Extinction Event Precede Adam and Eve?” mentioned two researchers who have theorized that all of mankind had derived from a common mother and father. In addition, they also conclude that all animals in creation also came from common types of creatures.  These researchers, observing big data from genetic databases saw what they called genetic “barcodes” from over 5 million types of species looking at what they call the mitochondria DNA, which is passed down from the mother. According to Dr. Guillen as the animals and human beings reproduced they passed these genetic “errors” in the mitochondrial DNA. These researchers measured the errors in between the animals, and as a result, they were able to suggest a time period. 

 Dr. Guillen article affirmed several points that are highlighted in Scripture. First, the researchers stated that these markers that are found in animals came from common types of creatures. This truth is underscored in chapter one of the Book of Genesis as it details the creation of the animals by God (Gen. 1:20-25). In addition, the Scripture also stated that animals would be brought forth after their kind (this word in Hebrew is miyn (מִין) (pronounced min) and refers to a creature that has the same form and structure. This particular word in Genesis chapter one concerning the animals described is used 7 times in verses 21-25). This is something that Dr. Guillen astutely notes in his article:

…the DNA bar codes reveal that species are quantized. Instead of there being a continuum of animal varieties, as one might expect from millions of years of gradual evolution, creatures fall into very distinct, widely separated populations – what the Bible describes as “kinds,” from the Hebrew word min.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve?https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

The second point Dr. Gullien notes is that humankind comes from one common mother and father. This truth is also highlighted in Scripture as outlined in the Book of Genesis:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 1:26-28 NASB emphasis mine

Furthermore, the way that male and female is created by God is described in Genesis 2:14ff. This is something that the study seems to affirm due to the observations in the mitochondrial DNA made by the researchers. However, although the researchers mentioned man and woman come from a common ancestor the researchers due to their macroevolutionary perspective make assumptions about how long mankind has been on the earth, which is noted below

In one of the most provocative and misunderstood studies of the year, scientists in the U.S. and Switzerland have made an astonishing discovery: All humans alive today are the offspring of a common father and mother – an Adam and Eve – who walked the planet 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, which by evolutionary standards is like yesterday. 

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

This perspective runs against the biblical worldview. The earth itself, according to the Scripture is roughly about 6,000 years old (this age of the earth is determined by taking the ages of the human genealogies, starting with Adam who was the first man mentioned in the Bible and simply adding them together). By contrast, the macroevolutionary perspective instructs that changes in creatures develop gradually over a long period of time (roughly millions of years). Dr. Guillen also notes this is his article

…according to evolutionary biologists, species developed gradually over many millions of years. Stoeckle and Thaler’s discovery is that something happened roughly 100,000 years ago that created entirely new populations from long-existing species.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

The second point that contends against Scripture is the timing of what Dr. Guillen refers to as a cataclysmic event that occurred, which caused all life to “renew” at about the same time, in a short time in history. Due to the researcher’s macroevolutionary perspectives, they mention hypotheses such as greater animal predators, changes in the environment such an ice age, and fighting with other creatures for scarce resources (i.e., survival of the fittest). Dr. Guillen offers some theories of his own such as a giant meteor that crashed onto the planet, or an “a built-in evolutionary process that when the population gets too big, it crashes and must start itself from scratch” (Guillen, 2018). His basic conclusion leads to the following statement in his article:

What caused animal life on Earth to be almost completely renewed such a short time ago? For now, it remains a mystery.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

However, this mystery is solved by observing sacred Scripture. Dr. Guillen and the researchers are correct about one aspect of the historical narrative: there was a cataclysmic event that did occur on the earth, the problem is the timing of the event. The event did not happen before Adam and Eve, as the title of his article suggests, and the event was not due to a huge meteor, nor scarce resources, but due to a global worldwide flood (Gen. 6:13-19, chaps. 7-8:1-14).

The flood took place due to the wickedness of men that was multiplied on the face of the earth, as a result of sin caused by Adam and Eve’s actions in the Garden of Eden (c.f., Gen. 3:1-19; Gen. 6:6). After the waters of the flood subsided, God told Noah to bring out all of the animals that were in the ark so that they could produce throughout the earth (Gen. 8:15-19). At the same time, God had told Noah and his family told them also populate the earth, continuing the line of mankind from Adam and Eve (Gen. 9:1-7).

This account the sacred Scripture gives satisfies two points from the above article: It answers the mystery of the catastrophic event that caused the “reset” of all creation, and it satisfies that reason that most of the animals gave birth at around the same time in history. It was not due to a pre-Adamite destructive event, but the global flood that caused all life (with the exception of Noah, his families, and the animals in the ark) to perish. Again due to the researcher’s (and somewhat of the author of the article above) perspective they promote that creation itself is millions of years old, and this affects how they observe the origin and destruction of creation.  

The discovery of the mitochondrial DNA highlighted the biblical truth that creation bears forth after its kind, and not from gradual changes in the taxonomy of creatures over an extensive period of time. In addition, the research underscores a destructive event that occurred in history, but this event did not happen before Adam and Eve but after Adam and Eve, due to the wickedness of man. God destroyed the creation in a global flood, and when the flood waters receded the animals were released from the ark to breed and populate the earth (along with mankind who was also to populate and fill the earth).

Despite the great study, when examining this from a biblical worldview some of the researchers (and the author’s) conclusions they come to run against what God has revealed regarding the origin and progression of human history. God who has disclosed this to man by His word gives us assurance that God has not subjected mankind to random acts of destruction by mysterious forces mankind is ignorant of, but human beings are all under the sovereign hand of God, and His will, found in His sacred word.

 

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

 

Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

The topic of divorce can be a very sensitive subject in the body of Christ. There are clear Scriptures that describe God’s hatred for divorce (c.f., Mal. 2:16). So how does the believer, specifically a biblical counselor, deal with divorce and remarriage, specifically within the context of domestic violence? Is it permissible for a man or woman to get remarried after a person has been a victim of domestic violence? Let us observe two specific Scriptures for the consideration of this particular topic. The first Scripture for our examination is Matthew 19:3-9:

3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus , testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said* to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He said* to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality , and marries another woman commits adultery.” (NASB). 

In Matthew 19:3-9 the Pharisees approach Jesus to ask Him a question: Is it permissible for a man to divorce her for any reason at all? (vs.1-2). Jesus answers the question of the Pharisees specifically from the Law of Moses discussing that God joining man and woman in marriage (vs. 3-6). The Pharisees then asked why Moses commanded the nation of Israel to give the wife a certificate of divorce (lit. “send away”). This particular command is observed in the Old Testament (c.f., Deut. 24:1-4) (v. 7). Jesus answered the Pharisees saying that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their heart but from the beginning, it was not to be this way (referring back to the creation account before the curse of the Fall of mankind). Then Jesus, speaking authoritatively mentioned that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery (v. 9).

There are four things to note concerning this certain passage above: First, the general audience Jesus is addressing is the Jewish people, specifically the Pharisees, not the body of Christ (i.e., the church). Second, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees with a specific argument found in the Law of Moses. Third, Jesus points to the real issue of the matter with the Pharisees: The action of divorce is just the effect, the cause of divorce is the hardness of heart, which answered the Pharisees initial question. Fourth, Jesus’s answer to the Pharisees addressed, in particular, the man in the marital relationship that has initiated the sending away of his wife, which was also a part of the Pharisees question. Jesus was pointing out the question concerning the men who did this saw their wives as expendable, and not as gifts given by God to them (c.f., Gen 2:14-15). 

The second Scripture that discusses this topic is found in the book of 1 Corinthians 7:10-16:

But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (NASB).

In this context, Paul is writing to the saints who live in an idolatrous society. The inhabitants of Corinth worshipped one of the false deities known as Aphrodite who was the goddess of eros (sexual love) and beauty. Her temple stood at the top of the Acropolis so one would see it when they arrived at the city of Corinth. Paul addressed in his letter Gentiles who have come out of this pagan ritual and practice, and are doing good works within this culture. In addition, Paul also wrote to people who were once unbelievers and are now believers having to deal with the reality of being married to one who engaged in this act of worship at the temple (i.e. unbelievers)(vs. 12-13). If one chooses to leave the marriage, Paul instructed them to remain unmarried, not for justification sake, but for sanctification sake (by contrast to the idolatrous culture they were living in) (vs. 10-12).

There are several things to note in the above passage in contrast with the passage in the Book of Matthew: First, Paul did not specifically mention the Law of Moses when addressing marriage to the Gentiles in the church (in contrast to the subject of marriage in the Gospel of Matthew where the Law of Moses was explicitly mentioned). Paul’s audience in 1 Corinthians were mostly Gentiles who would have no reference to the Law of Moses unlike the Pharisees (Jesus’s audience in Gospel of Matthew’s was particularly Jews). Second, Paul was addressing both the husbands and the wives in Corinth (specifically dealing with willing and unwilling unbelieving spouses), whereas Jesus was handing only the husbands in the passage in Matthew. Third, while Jesus addressed why divorce takes place (i.e., the hardness of the heart) in the Book of Matthew, Paul promoted progressive sanctification by proper sexual conduct amongst Christians living in an idolatrous society. In short, the issue of violence within a marriage was not discussed in either text. 

So how are we to address the issue of remarriage and divorce concerning domestic violence? Before the author answers this question, several points must be underscored:

  • The person who has committed violence in a marriage has failed to serve their spouse: Scripture has laid out the conduct of husbands and wives in a marriage. Wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19). The standard is Christ, in that He is God in human flesh who served mankind by giving His life willingly for the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 5:21). When a husband or wife, engages in domestic violence they are failing in their responsibility to honor and love their spouse as Christ served us.
  • The person who has committed violence should suffer the due consequences for their actions: There are many verses in Scripture that discusses how one who is wrathful is destructive (Prov. 16:32; 19:19; 22:24; 30:33; Eph. 4:31-32). One who chooses to exercise their anger in this manner will bear the consequences of this anger. They will experience a lack of trust from the person who they have violated. This violent interaction that occurs in the marriage is not the fault of the person who has been offended.  This is a natural consequence when one has chosen to violate their spouse in this manner, and this consequence includes the ultimate loss of trust (i.e., divorce), especially for the safety of the victim.

When it comes to domestic violence grace must be extended to the one who was violated by the person who abused them if one chooses to remarry. This is not an issue where one is divorcing their spouse for just any reasonThis is also not the case where both are living in an idolatrous country and to keep them from worshipping false gods with sex there should be sexual intimacy between them. This is about the violation of a person who was made in the image of God. It is because of this one may suffer the consequences and this may include divorce (and rightly so) due to their wrathful and destructive behavior. In the context of domestic violence, the biblical counselor can remind counselee of God’s grace and that the remarriage can be one of true joy, companionship, and service for God’s glory.

When it comes to serving those who are victims of domestic violence let us do so in a manner that is gracious and kind, encouraging the faint-hearted as Paul described (1 Thess. 5:14). For this is our objective as Paul writes to do good to all, and especially those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). 

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

Thanksgiving, Squanto, and the Providence of God

Thanksgiving, Squanto, and the Providence of God

Once again it is the time of year known as Thanksgiving. The time where family and friends gather around food (and football) giving thanks for all of the things that have happened over the course of the year and how God has provided. This activity underscores one attribute of God that is seldom discussed and this is the attribute is known as Providence. This word, when used of God, describes Him as the divine Caretaker who works for the benefit of the creation (c.f., Ps. 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34). The ultimate act of Providence God has shown in the sending of His Son to be the Savior of the world (which is associated with a particular holiday after Thanksgiving) however in the event of Thanksgiving Day there is an example of God’s divine Providence to the pilgrims observed in the life of a man named Squanto.

Squanto (whose name may have formerly been Tisquantum) was a Native American of the Patuxet tribe that was located in what is now known as Plymouth Massachusetts. In the year 1605 Squanto was captured as a young boy and carried off into slavery in Europe, and it was at this time Squanto learned the English language. After about nine years Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a military colonist from England, had sent the Native Americans that were in slavery back to New England. However, in the year 1614, Squanto, along with other Native Americans, was captured by Captain Thomas Hunt, a lieutenant under the authority of John Smith (who founded the first English settlement called Jamestown in North America) and brought them back to Europe to be sold as slaves.

After several years Squanto managed to escape from slavery and returned to his native homeland to find most of his tribe was wiped out due to a plague. Over the course of time, Squanto reunited with Sir Ferdinando Gorges once more, and sent Squanto as an interpreter, along with a man named Captain Thomas Dermer up the Northeastern coast to trade with local Native American tribes. One such tribe was the Wampanoags who were very suspicions of Squanto due to his relationship with Captian Thomas Dermer. As a result of their suspicions, they turned Squanto into their leader named Massasoit, where he remained a prisoner of the Wampanoag tribe. 

Corresponding with these events a tribe member by the name of Samoset, who spoke poor English, became friends of the pilgrims who had learned about the deaths and famine the pilgrims suffered due to a harsh winter. Samoset seeing their plight had introduced the pilgrims to Massasoit. In March of 1621 after Squanto’s imprisonment, the Wampanoags used Squanto’s English skills to communicate with the small colony of pilgrims the Wampanoags were watching that winter. It was then the pilgrims made a pact with the tribe that they would help the pilgrims survive if they did not kill the Wampanoag tribe that assisted them. After this agreement, Squanto was released from being a prisoner and was used as a guide and an interpreter to the pilgrims.

With the assistance of Squanto, the pilgrims were able to grow crops so that they would help them survive the following winter. In the Fall of 1621, the first Thanksgiving feast was given, which Squanto and ninety Massasoit Native Americans were in attendance. This particular feast lasted three full days and it was to celebrate the successful Fall harvest for the pilgrims.

In the brief historical account, there are several things to observe in Squanto’s life: The sinful actions of man, taking him several times as a slave and imprisonment. However, throughout Squanto’s life we also observe the Providence of God in how he was trained in the English language and became a close friend to a neighboring Native American tribe and the Europeans. These events equipped Squanto to assist and serve the pilgrims in their time of need.

William Bradford had this to say about Squanto working with the pilgrims:

After these thing he returned to his place called Sowams, some 40 miles from
this place, but Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.

“Excerpts from William Bradford’s Journal.” Retrieved from https://www.quia.com/files/quia/users/terri%20delebo/ALLHONORS10/William_Bradford-OF_PLYMOUTH_PLANTATIONL.pdf. emphasis mine.

Another example of God’s Providence can be found in the sacred Scriptures with the life of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers (Gen. 37:18-36). Joseph had great success in Egypt, however, he was falsely accused and thrown in prison (Gen. 39:1-23). While Joseph was in jail he had amassed authority in prison yet he was quickly forgotten about by one of the prisoner he assisted in saving his life (Gen. 40:1-21). It was during these series of circumstances the Lord, who was with Joseph the entire time through his sufferings, became the second in command to Pharoah and was in the position to save the entire known world from a devasting famine, which also included the brothers that betrayed him (Gen. chaps 41-45). When recounting his brother’s betrayal to them Joseph said the following:

5 “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance . 8 “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 45:5-8 NASB

Squanto, much like Joseph was sold into slavery and treated harshly. Squanto, similar to Joseph enslaved in a distant land having to learn a completely different culture. Squanto similar to Joseph was enslaved by people who he assisted. Squanto became influential to the tribes and the Europeans much like Joseph. Lastly, Squanto was used of God, like Joseph, to save people from perishing. Both Joseph and Squanto were examples of God’s divine providence and care for His creation. 

As we gather together around the turkey and trimmings this Thanksgiving Day let us be thankful for God’s Providence that provides us with the food that we will all partake on this specific day. In addition, let us as believers be thankful of the attributes God possesses in Himself, which He uses to benefit and care for His creation, for His glory.  Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

To read more articles by Dr. Luther Smith go to his website at www.drluthersmith.com