Mister Rogers and the Hunger for God

“You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” —Mister Rogers, to every person as we watched his show.

With the news that a documentary about Fred Rogers (Public Television’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”) will be released this summer, and a movie about him starring Tom Hanks will be in production soon, there has been a good bit of buzz in social media recently. I keep coming across articles about him and links to videos that often move me to grateful tears for this amazing man.

“Mister Rogers” had a heart for children that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. His TV program ran for 33 years, from 1968 to 2001. My children grew up watching Mister Rogers, and I often sat with them, equally enthralled by his gentleness, his predictable routines (such as changing out of his jacket into a cardigan sweater and a different pair of shoes every single show), and his ability to speak straight to the heart of the audience. Except it wasn’t that we were part of his audience; Mister Rogers communicated in such a powerfully personal way, with such soothing, calm tranquility, that we knew he was speaking to US. Individually.

Even before I learned he was an ordained Presbyterian minister, I sensed there was something deeply spiritual about his message and the way he communicated respect, genuine caring, and encouragement to his “neighbors.” As Jonathan Merritt wrote in The Atlantic,

“Fred’s faith surfaced in subtle, indirect ways that most viewers might miss, but it infused all he did. He believed ‘the space between the television set and the viewer is holy ground,’ but he trusted God to do the heavy lifting. The wall of his office featured a framed picture of the Greek word for ‘grace,’ a constant reminder of his belief that he could use television ‘for the broadcasting of grace through the land.’ Before entering that office each day, Rogers would pray, “Dear God, let some word that is heard be yours.”{{1}

I once heard a wise man say that since we are made in the image of God, everything we do and say either tells the truth about God, or it tells a lie about God. It seems to me that Fred Rogers showed millions of children what Father God is like. I am especially reminded of God’s own statement about Himself in Exodus 34:6:

The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth . . .

For decades, Mister Rogers demonstrated compassion: for people with different skin than his, for people with disabilities, for people going through hard times, and especially by showing unrelenting respect for children—their fears (such as haircuts and being sucked down the bathtub drain) and their pains (like divorce), and their celebrations.

Grace was a huge part of Mister Rogers’ worldview. He bestowed dignity and value on everyone because of his belief that all people deserve dignity and appreciation as God’s creations, made in His image. Who know how many little hearts God healed through the song “It’s You I Like”? In fact, when Joan Rivers had him as a guest on the Tonight Show, you can see grace wash over her like the warm blessing that it was:

God is slow to anger, and His servant Mister Rogers showed an amazing degree of patience and self-control in his shows. He always moved and spoke slowly and deliberately, as an antidote to the barrage of “Hurry up, hurry up!” children often hear from their frazzled, impatient caregivers.

God abounds in lovingkindness and truth, and apparently so did Mister Rogers. One of his quotes:

“There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.”

This is a great quote, but countless people report that Fred Rogers lived it. He was the epitome of kindness—to everyone. One journalist reported a typical scene when he walked on the streets of New York:

“. . .but every time [the show’s producer Margy Whitmer] turned around, there was Mister Rogers putting his arms around someone, or wiping the tears off someone’s cheek, or passing around the picture of someone’s child, or getting on his knees to talk to a child. Margy couldn’t stop them, and she couldn’t stop him. “Oh, Mister Rogers, thank you for my childhood.” “Oh, Mister Rogers, you’re the father I never had.” “Oh, Mister Rogers, would you please just hug me?” {{2}

In the wake of the #metoo movement, ugly truths are emerging about certain celebrities. It’s good to be able to highlight one of the good guys, who shone his light to the glory of God as he nourished the souls of millions of children and anyone else who watched his TV show.

I think we are all hungry to know that we are loved, especially by God. I look forward to meeting him in heaven one day. I will close with this story I found on Facebook that powerfully expresses Mister Rogers’ legacy:

“A good portion of my pro-bono work is defending abused children. It’s a cause close to my heart. In the course of my work I met a man who was an adult survivor. You wouldn’t have known it looking at him. He was this gigantic Polynesian guy. Wild curly hair. I think of him every time I see Khal Drogo on GoT. He was counseling some of the little kids, and doing a fantastic job of it.

“I visited his home to get his opinion on something and I noticed a little toy on his desk. It was Trolley. Naturally curious, I asked him about it. This is what he told me:

“‘The most dangerous time for me was in the afternoon when my mother got tired and irritable. Like clockwork. Now, she liked to beat me in discreet places so my father wouldn’t see the bruises. That particular day she went for the legs. Not uncommon for her. I was knocked down and couldn’t get back up. Also not uncommon. She gave me one last kick, the one I had come to learn meant ‘I’m done now’. Then she left me there upstairs, face in the carpet, alone. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. So I dragged myself, arm over arm, to the television, climbed up the tv cabinet and turned on the TV.

“‘And there was Mr. Rogers. It was the end of the show and he was having a quiet, calm conversation with those hundreds of kids. In that moment, he seemed to look me in the eye when he said ‘And I like you just for being you’. In that moment, it was like he was reaching across time and space to say these words to me when I needed them most.

“‘It was like the hand of God, if you’re into that kind of thing. It hit me in the soul. I was a miserable little kid. I was sure I was a horrible person. I was sure I deserved every last moment of abuse, every blow, every bad name. I was sure I earned it, sure I didn’t deserve better. I *knew* all of these things … until that moment. If this man, who I hadn’t even met, liked me just for being me, then I couldn’t be all bad. Then maybe someone could love me, even if it wasn’t my mom.

“‘It gave me hope. If that nice man liked me, then I wasn’t a monster. I was worth fighting for. From that day on, his words were like a secret fortress in my heart. No matter how broken I was, no matter how much it hurt or what was done to me, I could remember his words, get back on my feet, and go on for another day.

“‘That’s why I keep Trolley there. To remind me that, no matter how terrible things look, someone who had never met me liked me just for being me, and that makes even the worst day worth it to me. I know how stupid it sounds, but Mr. Rogers saved my life.’

“The next time I saw him, he was talking to one of my little clients. When they were done with their session, he helped her out of her chair, took both of her hands, looked her in the eyes and said: ‘And remember, I like you just for being you.’

“That, to me, is Mr. Rogers’ most powerful legacy. All of the little lives he changed and made better with simple and sincere words of love and kindness.”

1. www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/mister-rogers-saint/416838/
2. www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/


This blog post originally appeared at
on May 1, 2018.

Ways to Minister to a NICU Family

My sweet friend Kayla Grey has been dear to me since she met her husband-to-be at Probe Ministries’ Mind Games camp several years ago, where I get to teach. It has been a joy to walk with this wise, smart, loving, godly young woman as she married and had her (first) two sons, the second of whom had a difficult delivery and spent nine hard, hard days in NICU. I loved this post on her blog Renown and Crowned so much I asked if I could share it here.

Baby in NICU

The overwhelming nature of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can paralyze even the most organized families. Suddenly you are living a life you never planned, and since you didn’t plan to live this way, figuring out what you need becomes a daunting task in and of itself.

Friends and family may say this simple phrase: “Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.” (or the variation “Let us know how we can help.”)

In our experience, we wanted to be able to say, “This is how you can help!” — but we didn’t even know where to start. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the hospital until about day 4, and we didn’t really have an idea of how quickly Trooper would come home until then. It was hard to know what to ask for at the beginning.

As the week progressed, we became more aware of what would help us in our situation. If you’re looking for ways to help a NICU family, here are some ideas to consider. Note: Because each family has different dynamics, these will not all apply to everyone. If you aren’t sure whether one of these ideas would truly help the family you’re ministering to, be sure to ask them.

  • Journal and pen — I found out quickly how the days blended together in my memory, and I wanted to record the journey for recollection later. My sister also suggested using a journal to write down what doctors and nurses reported when, so you would have a written record if you were getting 2 or 3 differing opinions.
  • Gift cards — Sometimes you just need to get out of the hospital. Sometimes you need a bite to eat that isn’t cafeteria food. And sometimes you need “food” that will get you through the transition-to-home stage. Gift cards for grocery stores can also be helpful.
  • Gas cards — Particularly if the family has a decent commute to the hospital, gas cards can ease any budgetary concerns that might play into the frequency of their visits.
  • Bags of snacks — One family gifted us with 3 large sacks of snacks and breakfast foods. This was so helpful for us, especially on the days we forgot to eat a “real” meal because of logistics or meetings. Note: Be sure to check with the family to see about any food allergies.
  • In-home meals — It amazed me how one meal being brought in could free up so much mental power. Plus, if the meal was large enough, there could be leftovers for another meal or two!
  • Activity bags — Hospital waiting rooms can be rather difficult for older siblings. A new coloring book, play-dough, or a puzzle could be a welcome diversion from the mundane.
  • Visiting with, listening to, praying with them — We all have a story to tell . . . and sometimes, telling someone who’s “outside” of the emotion and doctors’ orders begins the process of renewal and recounting God’s goodness, even in the NICU world. Even if you can’t fully relate to where the family is experiencing, listening is a huge help.
  • Older child care — Is there an older sibling who’s stuck in the midst of back-and-forth? Spending an hour reading books or coloring can allow Mom and Dad to sit with the littlest child . . . . together.
  • Fill their freezer — Figuring out what to cook after arriving home can be an unnecessary source of stress. Prepare (or buy) some casseroles to be frozen. This way, the family can use them as slowly or quickly as needed.

Are you long distance from the family in need? You can help, too!

  • Snacks from Amazon or Walmart.com — Let the technology of the Internet do some of the work for you! If there is a Walmart near the hospital, you can select snacks (or even microwaveable meals!), purchase them online, and have them “shipped” Site to Store. The family could then send someone to pick up those items, without paying a penny. Amazon, on the other hand, can be a bit more pricey, but you can have more obscure snacks or groceries sent straight to their home.
  • Practical needs — By the same token, paper goods can come in handy when the transition-to-home takes place. Paper plates, paper towels, toilet paper, and the list goes on. . . . . You can help keep the family well stocked so they don’t have to make a midnight run for toilet paper.

Send Scripture verses as encouragement and reminders of Truth. Pray. Tell them you’re praying. Ask how you can pray more specifically — especially for Mom and Dad individually as they pour themselves out for their little one. Ministry doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all for NICU families, and it probably shouldn’t be. Look at the gifts God has given you, the things you enjoy doing to help others, and start there. You may be just what that family needs “for such a time as this.”

Your turn: If you have experienced the NICU world, what was the best help you received? What would you suggest NICU families ask for when the “How can I help” question arises?

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/ways_to_minister_to_a_nicu_family on Nov. 3, 2015.

Capital Punishment: A Christian View and Biblical Perspective

Kerby Anderson provides a biblical worldview perspective on capital punishment. He explores the biblical teaching to help us understand how to consider this controversial topic apply Christian love and biblical principles.

Should Christians support the death penalty? The answer to that question is controversial. Many Christians feel that the Bible has spoken to the issue, but others believe that the New Testament ethic of love replaces the Old Testament law.

Old Testament Examples

Throughout the Old Testament we find many cases in which God commands the use of capital punishment. We see this first with the acts of God Himself. God was involved, either directly or indirectly, in the taking of life as a punishment for the nation of Israel or for those who threatened or harmed Israel.

One example is the flood of Noah in Genesis 6-8. God destroyed all human and animal life except that which was on the ark. Another example is Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19), where God destroyed the two cities because of the heinous sin of the inhabitants. In the time of Moses, God took the lives of the Egyptians’ first-born sons (Exod. 11) and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod. 14). There were also punishments such as the punishment at Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 13-14) or the rebellion of Korah (Num. 16) against the Jews wandering in the wilderness.

The Old Testament is replete with references and examples of God taking life. In a sense, God used capital punishment to deal with Israel’s sins and the sins of the nations surrounding Israel.

The Old Testament also teaches that God instituted capital punishment in the Jewish law code. In fact, the principle of capital punishment even precedes the Old Testament law code. According to Genesis 9:6, capital punishment is based upon a belief in the sanctity of life. It says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God, He made man.”

The Mosaic Law set forth numerous offenses that were punishable by death. The first was murder. In Exodus 21, God commanded capital punishment for murderers. Premeditated murder (or what the Old Testament described as “lying in wait”) was punishable by death. A second offense punishable by death was involvement in the occult (Exod. 22; Lev. 20; Deut 18-19). This included sorcery, divination, acting as a medium, and sacrificing to false gods. Third, capital punishment was to be used against perpetrators of sexual sins such as rape, incest, or homosexual practice.

Within this Old Testament theocracy, capital punishment was extended beyond murder to cover various offenses. While the death penalty for these offenses was limited to this particular dispensation of revelation, notice that the principle in Genesis 9:6 is not tied to the theocracy. Instead, the principle of Lex Talionis (a life for a life) is tied to the creation order. Capital punishment is warranted due to the sanctity of life. Even before we turn to the New Testament, we find this universally binding principle that precedes the Old Testament law code.

New Testament Principles

Some Christians believe that capital punishment does not apply to the New Testament and church age.

First we must acknowledge that God gave the principle of capital punishment even before the institution of the Old Testament law code. In Genesis 9:6 we read that “Whoever sheds man’s blood by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God, He made man.” Capital punishment was instituted by God because humans are created in the image of God. The principle is not rooted in the Old Testament theocracy, but rather in the creation order. It is a much broader biblical principle that carries into the New Testament.

Even so, some Christians argue that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus seems to be arguing against capital punishment. But is He?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not arguing against the principle of a life for a life. Rather He is speaking to the issue of our personal desire for vengeance. He is not denying the power and responsibility of the government. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking to individual Christians. He is telling Christians that they should not try to replace the power of the government. Jesus does not deny the power and authority of government, but rather He calls individual Christians to love their enemies and turn the other cheek.

Some have said that Jesus set aside capital punishment in John 8 when He did not call for the woman caught in adultery to be stoned. But remember the context. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus between the Roman law and the Mosaic law. If He said that they should stone her, He would break the Roman law. If He refused to allow them to stone her, He would break the Mosaic law (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). Jesus’ answer avoided the conflict: He said that he who was without sin should cast the first stone. Since He did teach that a stone be thrown (John 8:7), this is not an abolition of the death penalty.

In other places in the New Testament we see the principle of capital punishment being reinforced. Romans 13:1-7, for example, teaches that human government is ordained by God and that the civil magistrate is a minister of God. We are to obey government for we are taught that government does not bear the sword in vain. The fact that the Apostle Paul used the image of the sword further supports the idea that capital punishment was to be used by government in the New Testament age as well. Rather than abolish the idea of the death penalty, Paul uses the emblem of the Roman sword to reinforce the idea of capital punishment. The New Testament did not abolish the death penalty; it reinforced the principle of capital punishment.

Capital Punishment and Deterrence

Is capital punishment a deterrent to crime? At the outset, we should acknowledge that the answer to this question should not change our perspective on this issue. Although it is an important question, it should not be the basis for our belief. A Christian’s belief in capital punishment should be based upon what the Bible teaches not on a pragmatic assessment of whether or not capital punishment deters crime.

That being said, however, we should try to assess the effectiveness of capital punishment. Opponents of capital punishment argue that it is not a deterrent, because in some states where capital punishment is allowed the crime rate goes up. Should we therefore conclude that capital punishment is not a deterrent?

First, we should recognize that crime rates have been increasing for some time. The United States is becoming a violent society as its social and moral fabric breaks down. So the increase in the crime rate is most likely due to many other factors and cannot be correlated with a death penalty that has been implemented sparingly and sporadically.

Second, there is some evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent. And even if we are not absolutely sure of its deterrent effect, the death penalty should be implemented. If it is a deterrent, then implementing capital punishment certainly will save lives. If it is not, then we still will have followed biblical injunctions and put convicted murderers to death.

In a sense, opponents of capital punishment who argue that it is not a deterrent are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal rather than to the victim. The poet Hyman Barshay put it this way:

The death penalty is a warning, just like a lighthouse throwing its beams out to sea. We hear about shipwrecks, but we do not hear about the ships the lighthouse guides safely on their way. We do not have proof of the number of ships it saves, but we do not tear the lighthouse down.”(1)

If capital punishment is even a potential deterrent, that is a significant enough social reason to implement it.

Statistical analysis by Dr. Isaac Ehrlich at the University of Chicago suggests that capital punishment is a deterrent.(2) Although his conclusions were vigorously challenged, further cross- sectional analysis has confirmed his conclusions.(3) His research has shown that if the death penalty is used in a consistent way, it may deter as many as eight murders for every execution carried out. If these numbers are indeed accurate, it demonstrates that capital punishment could be a significant deterrent to crime in our society.

Certainly capital punishment will not deter all crime. Psychotic and deranged killers, members of organized crime, and street gangs will no doubt kill whether capital punishment is implemented or not. A person who is irrational or wants to commit a murder will do so whether capital punishment exists or not. But social statistics as well as logic suggest that rational people will be deterred from murder because capital punishment is part of the criminal code.

Capital Punishment and Discrimination

Many people oppose capital punishment because they feel it is discriminatory. The charge is somewhat curious since most of the criminals that have been executed in the last decade are white rather than black. Nevertheless, a higher percentage of ethnic minorities (African-American, Hispanic-American) are on death row. So is this a significant argument against capital punishment?

First, we should note that much of the evidence for discrimination is circumstantial. Just because there is a higher percentage of a particular ethnic group does not, in and of itself, constitute discrimination. A high percentage of whites playing professional ice hockey or a high percentage of blacks playing professional basketball does not necessarily mean that discrimination has taken place. We need to look beneath the allegation and see if true discrimination is taking place.

Second, we can and should acknowledge that some discrimination does take place in the criminal justice system. Discrimination takes place not only on the basis of race, but on the basis of wealth. Wealthy defendants can hire a battery of legal experts to defend themselves, while poor defendants must relay on a court- appointed public attorney.

Even if we acknowledge that there is some evidence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, does it likewise hold that there is discrimination with regard to capital punishment? The U.S. Solicitor General, in his amicus brief for the case Gregg vs. Georgia, argued that sophisticated sociological studies demonstrated that capital punishment showed no evidence of racial discrimination.(4) These studies compared the number of crimes committed with the number that went to trial and the number of guilty verdicts rendered and found that guilty verdicts were consistent across racial boundaries.

But even if we find evidence for discrimination in the criminal justice system, notice that this is not really an argument against capital punishment. It is a compelling argument for reform of the criminal justice system. It is an argument for implementing capital punishment carefully.

We may conclude that we will only use the death penalty in cases where certainty exists (e.g., eyewitness accounts, videotape evidence). But discrimination in the criminal justice system is not truly an argument against capital punishment. At its best, it is an argument for its careful implementation.

In fact, most of the social and philosophical arguments against capital punishment are really not arguments against it at all. These arguments are really arguments for improving the criminal justice system. If discrimination is taking place and guilty people are escaping penalty, then that is an argument for extending the penalty, not doing away with it. Furthermore, opponents of capital punishment candidly admit that they would oppose the death penalty even if it were an effective deterrent.(5) So while these are important social and political issues to consider, they are not sufficient justification for the abolition of the death penalty.

Objections to Capital Punishment

One objection to capital punishment is that the government is itself committing murder. Put in theological terms, doesn’t the death penalty violate the sixth commandment, which teaches “Thou shalt not kill?”

First, we must understand the context of this verse. The verb used in Exodus 20:13 is best translated “to murder.” It is used 49 times in the Old Testament, and it is always used to describe premeditated murder. It is never used of animals, God, angels, or enemies in battle. So the commandment is not teaching that all killing is wrong; it is teaching that murder is wrong.

Second, the penalty for breaking the commandment was death (Ex.21:12; Num. 35:16-21). We can conclude therefore that when the government took the life of a murderer, the government was not itself guilty of murder. Opponents of capital punishment who accuse the government of committing murder by implementing the death penalty fail to see the irony of using Exodus 20 to define murder but ignoring Exodus 21, which specifically teaches that government is to punish the murderer.

A second objection to capital punishment questions the validity of applying the Old Testament law code to today’s society. After all, wasn’t the Mosaic Law only for the Old Testament theocracy? There are a number of ways to answer this objection.

First, we must question the premise. There is and should be a relationship between Old Testament laws and modern laws. We may no longer be subject to Old Testament ceremonial law, but that does not invalidate God’s moral principles set down in the Old Testament. Murder is still wrong. Thus, since murder is wrong, the penalty for murder must still be implemented.

Second, even if we accept the premise that the Old Testament law code was specifically and uniquely for the Old Testament theocracy, this still does not abolish the death penalty. Genesis 9:6 precedes the Old Testament theocracy, and its principle is tied to the creation order. Capital punishment is to be implemented because of the sanctity of human life. We are created in God’s image. When a murder occurs, the murderer must be put to death. This is a universally binding principle not confined merely to the Old Testament theocracy.

Third, it is not just the Old Testament that teaches capital punishment. Romans 13:1-7 specifically teaches that human government is ordained by God and that we are to obey government because government does not bear the sword in vain. Human governments are given the responsibility to punish wrongdoers, and this includes murderers who are to be given the death penalty.

Finally, capital punishment is never specifically removed or replaced in the Bible. While some would argue that the New Testament ethic replaces the Old Testament ethic, there is no instance in which a replacement ethic is introduced. As we have already seen, Jesus and the disciples never disturb the Old Testament standard of capital punishment. The Apostle Paul teaches that we are to live by grace with one another, but also teaches that we are to obey human government that bears the sword. Capital punishment is taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.


1. Hyman Barshay, quoted in “On Deterrence and the Death Penalty” by Ernest van den Haag, Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science no. 2 (1969).

2. Isaac Ehrlich, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death,” American Economic Review, June 1975.

3. Journal of Legal Studies, January 1977; Journal of Political Economy, June 1977; American Economic Review, June 1977.

4. Frank Carrington, Neither Cruel nor Unusual: The Case for Capital Punishment (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington, 1978), 118.

5. Further discussion of these points can be found in an essay by Ernest van den Haag, “The Collapse of the Case Against Capital Punishment,” National Review, 31 March 1978, 395-407.

A more complete discussion of capital punishment can be found in chapter 10 of Living Ethically in the 90s (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1990), available from Probe Ministries.

©1992 Probe Ministries.

Responding To President Obama’s Same-Sex Approval

President Obama recently gave public support to gay marriage. How do we respond from within a biblical worldview?

Some Christians have used this news event to highlight the way the church is blowing it on the opportunity to be “Jesus with skin on” to the GLBT (gay | lesbian | bi-sexual | transgender) community. This sentiment is especially prominent among people under forty who often have good friends who identify as gay.

There are two different issues that need to be kept separate: how the church treats gay-identifying people, and the church’s position on the culture-affecting issue of gay identity and so-called gay marriage. The first provides an opportunity to display a welcoming attitude of grace, which says, “We’re glad you’re here like the rest of us messed-up sinners who desperately need Jesus. He loves you and accepts you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. Come embrace holiness with us as we learn it together.” (And this message is just as true for drug and porn addicts, as well as Pharisaical holier-than-thou folks addicted to judgmental moralism.)

The other is about refusing to budge on what God has said about sexual sin, which does not change. Homosexuality is no more right, holy or acceptable today than it ever was in Bible times. Neither is heterosexual fornication, adultery, or pornography-driven lust. It’s not just that sex outside of God’s plan for marriage (which is limited to one man and one woman, per the created intent in Genesis 1 and 2) breaks His law-His rules are given as a gift to keep us from breaking our hearts.

Jesus said He came to bring a sword (Matt. 10:34), and this issue is one of the areas of conflict He was bound to cause because His standard of holiness, and His call to live in it, is at odds with the human desire to do what we want regardless of what God thinks. Is homosexuality a sin? This is a simple question, but it needs a complex answer. Same-sex attraction (SSA) is usually not a choice; it’s something people discover, usually with pain and horror. (Females, naturally more relational, can cultivate it and be emotionally seduced toward lesbianism, though, even with no previous leanings that way.)

But does it “fall short of the glory of God,” one way Scripture defines sin (Rom 3:23)?


Same-sex attractions are a corruption of God’s intention for healthy personal and sexual development, the result of the Fall and of living in a fallen world. I get this. I have lived with polio ever since I was six months old. I didn’t choose this disability, but is it a sin? It certainly falls short of the glory of God, and polio is part of living in a fallen world. It’s one of the ways I experience the infection of sin. I did not choose the fallen-creation consequence of polio, yet I have to deal with it. My responses to it can be sinful, just as those who experience unwanted SSA have to deal with the fallen-creation consequence of homosexuality, but their responses to it can be sinful.

(By the way, there is no evidence of a genetic cause for homosexuality. The “born that way” myth cannot be supported biologically. But there are good reasons that many people end up with same-sex feelings; for more information, please read my articles in the homosexuality section of the Probe website, as well as articles on the Living Hope Ministries website at www.livehope.org.)

When people give in to the temptations of SSA and engage sexually with other men or other women, God’s word has a very serious word for it: abomination (Lev. 18:22). But it’s important to understand that the abomination is the act, not the people.

President Obama referred to the golden rule (treat others as you want them to treat you) as his rationale for supporting gay marriage:

[Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.{1}

In 2008, in defending his current position against same-sex marriage but for civil unions, he said concerning people who might find his position controversial, “I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.” {2}

Two things strike me about this. First, he’s not consistent about his application of the golden rule; he’s pro-abortion-but of course he doesn’t want to be hacked to pieces without anesthesia, which is precisely what certain abortion procedures entail.

Second, choosing the golden rule over “an obscure passage in Romans” shows he doesn’t understand that “the entirety of [God’s] word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). Both the Golden Rule and the Romans 1 passage are true; it’s not a choice between the two. Since he used to give lectures on Constitutional law at the University of Chicago, I doubt that he would ever use the term “an obscure phrase in the Constitution,” because obscurity is about one’s perception of importance, not the actual importance of a matter. To a Constitutional lawyer who respects the document, every phrase of the document is important. To a serious [true] Christ-follower, every word of His scriptures is important.

The issue of same-sex marriage isn’t about people’s right to live in committed relationships, to do life together. It’s about demanding society’s approval for “the façade of normalcy.” It’s about demanding approval for what God has called an abomination (the sexual act, not the people engaged in it).

Ryan Anderson wrote in the National Review Online,

“What’s at issue is whether the government will recognize such unions as marriages – and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. This isn’t the legalization of something, this is the coercion and compulsion of others to recognize and affirm same-sex unions as marriages.”{3}

American culture is definitely moving toward normalizing homosexuality, but from God’s perspective it will never be normal or natural (Rom. 1:26-27). And it’s God’s perspective that matters.


1. www.dennyburk.com/president-obamas-scriptural-defense-of-gay-marriage/
2. www.wnd.com/2008/03/57975/
3. bit.ly/LGZ1z1

© 2012 Probe Ministries

“Should the Church Give Showers to Unwed Mothers?”

Our church is wonderful and loving. Christ centered with a Godly pastor. Within the past two years we have had several baby showers for unwed mothers. All of their parents are actively involved in our church but not all of the girls. Are we right in honoring these unwed mothers with baby showers within the church setting? I want to help them but what message is this sending to the young people in our church?

I fully understand your conundrum. This question became intensely personal in our family when a beloved niece became an unwed mother. Her Christ-following mother, distraught over her daughter’s sexual sin and ashamed by what she perceived to be the implications of her own mothering, had a very memorable conversation with God soon after her daughter confessed she was pregnant.

“What am I supposed to do with this, Lord?” she complained. “I suppose you want me to give her a shower??!!!??

Then, in her spirit, she heard words of unexpected compassion: “Every child should be welcomed and valued.

Whoa. Suddenly, she realized that the Lord’s heart was to celebrate the baby, the circumstances of whose conception were not her fault. She and some dear friends from church held a baby shower, and this young unwed mother experienced her first up-close-and-personal taste of God’s grace. Jesus’ church provided everything the baby needed, despite how the baby came to be in the first place.

The welcomed, celebrated, and well-loved baby has grown into a little girl who has never once wondered if she is loved. She swims in an ocean of family love. And her grandmother pours truth into her through song and story about Jesus’ love for her.

This young woman became a great mother, married a wonderful young man, has had two more childen, and guess what? In part because of her experience of church as a source of grace and compassion, the family is starting to attend one nearby.

I’m so glad you asked, so I can tell you this great story with such a happy ending.

Sue Bohlin

© 2009 Probe Ministries

Frasier Worldview Check

I got hoodwinked tonight.

I was watching re-runs of the old NBC television show Frasier—based on the minor character from Cheers, Frasier Crane—when I found myself agreeing with Frasier’s words describing Judaism. It wasn’t until later that night, as I passed those words through my worldview filter, that I came to realize something was wrong about Frasier’s comments. Frasier (at least the writers) was not giving Judaism a fair shake.

In the episode, Frasier’s son Freddy is celebrating his thirteenth birthday. Freddy’s mother is Jewish, which makes Freddy Jewish as well. The thirteenth birthday is a special one for Jewish children; it is the point in their lives when they become adults. To commemorate their passage into adulthood, a celebration is in order: a bar–mitzvah.

Frasier’s friend Roz knows that he is not Jewish, and asks him what that’s like for him. His response is what hoodwinked me:

Roz: Is it weird to have a son brought up in a different religion from yours?

Frasier: Not at all, Roz. It’s a faith that espouses love, compassion, duty, education, and art. All values which I cherish.

What tricked me was not what Frasier said but what he didn’t say. Jewish culture definitely espouses love, compassion, duty, education, and art. I completely agree. Several friends who have helped me through dark times in my life have been Jewish. I feel a special affinity for the Jews as a Christian because I read the Hebrew Bible as a part of my own Christian Bible— essentially the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).

But Frasier made no mention of the Hebrew God, who is the central figure of their faith. He is their Creator, Sustainer, Protector, and Savior. The Hebrew Bible is the story of this God and his special, chosen people. How then could Frasier have completely ignored Him?

To be fair, Frasier was merely speaking about the points of Judaism with which he agrees. We all understand that intuitively as soon as we read the dialogue. However, if these aspects of love, compassion, duty, education, and art are the only elements of Judaism that resonate with him, then I suspect he does not truly identify with the heart of the Hebrew faith because he has not mentioned anything about their God.

Granted, this represents one comment in one episode. However, there may be something else going on beneath Frasier’s words. When asked about the apparent conflict between Frasier’s religious beliefs and his son’s, in some sense he responds by saying that they are not so different. But he only says they are not so different in those five specific aspects: love, compassion, duty, education, and art. If he’s saying that’s all there is to Judaism, then I would have to disagree.

Philosophers have a fancy name for what Frasier did: reductionism. He has reduced Judaism down to smaller constituent parts which, when reassembled, do not recreate the whole. It seems unfair to equate Judaism solely with these five aspects because many other causes, beliefs, or even organizations can be characterized as espousing precisely the same principles, but not be Jewish in the least.

For example, Ancient Greece had a culture that espoused all such principles, yet it had no particular religious affiliation at all. Culturally we could also consider Italy during the Renaissance, or even the Chinese under the Tang dynasty.

Yet, cultures like these that valued love, compassion, duty, education, and art are in other ways very dissimilar to Judaism. Similarities do not equate to identity. That is, just because a religion or culture shares certain attributes does not mean that they are the same in essence. However, reductionism falsely makes them seem equivalent just because they share some traits.

So there must be more to Judaism than just these five aspects mentioned by Frasier.

Frasier’s religious synopsis may not seem like a very big deal because it is, after all, only one statement. But this one sentence is not what bothers me. I run across people making claims like these all the time in conversation, in magazines, news, practically everywhere. It’s sloppy thinking, really. I just want to encourage us not to slip into reductionism ourselves—and further, to be even more careful about what we take in, keeping that worldview filter on at all times.

© 2009 Probe Ministries

Charity and Compassion: Christianity Is Good for Culture

Byron Barlowe looks at the impact of Christianity on the world.  He concludes that applying a Christian, biblical worldview to the issues that we face in our world has resulted in a great amount of good. Apart from the eternal aspect of Christianity, people applying Christian principles to worldly issues have benefited all mankind.

Christian Religion: Good or Bad for Mankind?

Standing on the jetway boarding a flight out of Cuzco, Peru, I overheard an American college student say to his companion, “See that older guy up there? He’s a professor. Came here to give lectures on Christianity. Can you believe that?” In an apparent reference to abuses perpetrated on local Indians by the conquistadors centuries earlier, he added, “Haven’t Christians done enough to these people?”

He didn’t know that I was the professor’s companion. Turning around, I said, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear. I’m with the professor and, yes, we were giving lectures at the university from a Christian worldview. But did you know that all these people in between us were helping with humanitarian aid in the poorest villages around here all week?”

He sheepishly mumbled something about every story having two sides. But his meaning was clear: what good could possibly come from Christians imposing their beliefs on these indigenous people? Their culture was ruined by their kind and should be left alone. Popular sentiments, but are they fair and accurate?

The church—and those acting in its name—has had its moments of injustice, intrigue, even murder. Unbiblical excesses during the Inquisitions, the Crusades, and other episodes are undeniable. Yet these deviations from the teachings of Christ and the Bible are overwhelmingly countered by the church’s good works and novel institutions of care, compassion, and justice.

Carlton Hayes wrote, “From the wellspring of Christian compassion, our Western civilization has drawn its inspiration, and its sense of duty, for feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, looking after the homeless, clothing the naked, tending the sick and visiting the prisoner.” As one writer put it, missionaries and other Christians lived as if people mattered.{1} Revolutionary!

Christianity exploded onto a brutal, heartless Greco-Roman culture. Believers in this radical new religion set a new standard for caring for the ill, downtrodden, and abused, even at risk of death. Through their transformed Christlike outlooks, they established countercultural ways that lead to later innovations: orphanages, hospitals, transcendent art and architecture, and systems of law and order based on fairness, to name a few. In the early church, every congregation had a list of needy recipients called a matriculum. Enormous amounts of charity were given.{2} “Pagan society, through its excesses, teetered on the brink of extinction. Christianity, however, represented . . . a new way.”{3}

Compassion and charity are biblical ideals. “Early Christians set a model for their descendents to follow, a model that today’s modern secular societies try to imitate, but without Christian motivation.”{4} We take for granted the notion that it’s good to help the needy and oppressed, but wherever it’s found, whether in religious or secular circles, it can be traced right back to Jesus Christ and His followers.

Answering Atheists: Is Religion Evil?

“Religion poisons everything,” carps militant atheist Christopher Hitchens. Fellow atheist Richard Dawkins claims that “there’s not the slightest evidence that religious people . . . are any more moral than non-religious people.” True? Not according to social scientists from Princeton and other top universities.

As citizens, religious people generally shine. According to Logan Paul Gage, “for every 100 altruistic acts—like giving blood—performed by non-religious people, the religious perform 144.” Also, those active in religion in the U.S. volunteer in their communities more.{5} A Barna study reports that “more than four out of five (83%) gave at least $1000 to churches and non-profit entities during 2007, far surpassing . . . any other population segment studied….”{6} This echoes studies from the past few decades.

Furthermore, studies show that religious youth have more self-control against cigarettes, alchohol and marijuana. “Religion also correlates with fewer violent crimes, school suspensions and a host of other negative behaviors.”{7}

It appears that Dawkins is very wrong. He lamented that “faith is . . . comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.” People who care about our culture will hope he’s right about how hard religion is to eliminate, especially Christianity.{8}

So, what about the evil perpetrated by the church? Early Christians were admirable in their display of compassion and charity. But haven’t the centuries since witnessed a parade of continual religious wars (including “Christian wars), persecutions, and mayhem? Among Christianity’s sins: forced conversions, expansion by so-called “Christian states” mingled with genocide, execution of accused heretics and witches, and the ever infamous Crusades. Regrettable, inexcusable, but largely overblown.

Dinesh D’Souza writes that this popular refrain also “greatly exaggerates [crimes of] religious fanatics while neglecting or rationalizing the vastly greater crimes committed by secular and atheist fanatics.”{9} Historian Jonathan Riley-Smith disputes that the Crusaders were rapists and murderers. He and other historians document that they were pilgrims using their own funds to liberate long-held Christian lands and defend Europe against Muslim invaders.{10}

What about heretics who were burned at the stake? Author Henry Kamen claims that “much of the modern stereotype of the Inquisition is essentially made up. . . . Inquisition trials . . . were fairer and more lenient than their secular counterparts.”{11}

Atheism is associated with far more death and destruction than religion is, particularly Christianity. In Death by Government, R.J. Rummel writes “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners.”{12} Rummel directly attributes eighty-four percent of these to atheistic “megamurderers” like Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.

For perspective, consider that “the Crusades, Inquisition and the witch burnings killed approximately 200,000 people” over five hundred years. These deaths, tragic and unjust as many were, only comprise one percent of the deaths caused by atheist regimes during a few decades. That’s a ninety-nine to one ratio of death tied directly to the atheist worldview.{13}

History shows that atheism, not Christianity, is the view that is bad—even murderous—for society.

Compassion: Christian Innovation in a Cruel World

Christianity is unique. No other religion or philosophy values and practices wholesale taking care of the young, sick, orphaned, oppressed, and widowed, hands-on and sacrificially.

To ancient Greeks and Romans, life was cheap. Infanticide—baby killing— was “condoned and practiced for centuries without guilt or remorse [and] extolled by Greco-Roman mythologies.” This ungodly practice was opposed by Christians, whose compassionate example eventually caused Roman emperors to outlaw it.{14} First-century art shows believers rescuing unwanted Roman babies from the Tiber River. They raised them as their own.

Emperors pronounced death sentences on a whim, even beyond gladiatorial games. This was the ultimate extension of paterfamilias: a father had the right to kill his own child if she displeased him. Life was expendable, even among families!{15}

Abortion, human sacrifice, and suicide were also part of societies unaffected by God’s love.How different from the scriptural doctrine that all are made in God’s image and deserve life and dignity.

Slaves and the poor were on their own. One exhaustive survey of historical documents “found that antiquity has left no trace of organized charitable effort.”{16}

The ancient code was: “leave the ill to die.” Roman colonists in Alexandria even left their friends and next of kin behind during a plague.{17} Japanese holy men kept the wealthy from relieving the poor because they believed them to be “odious to the gods.”{18}

By contrast, Jesus expanded the Jewish obligation of compassion well beyond family and tribe even to enemies. His parable of the Good Samaritan exploded racial and social boundaries.{19} Scripture says that Jesus “had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Christ’s disciples went around healing and teaching as their master had. Believers were instructed to care for widows, the sick, the disabled and the poor, and also for orphans. “Justin Martyr, an early defender of Christianity, reveals that collections were taken during church services to help the orphans,” writes Alvin Schmidt. By the time of Justinian, churches were operating old folks’ homes called gerontocomia. Before Christianity, homes for the aged didn’t exist. Now, such nursing homes are taken for granted.{20}

Schmidt notes that “Christianity filled the pagan void that largely ignored the sick and dying, especially during pestilences.” Greeks had diagnostic centers, but no nursing care. Roman hospitals were only for slaves, gladiators, and occasionally for soldiers. Christians provided shelters for the poor and pilgrims, along with medical care. Christian hospitals were the first voluntary charitable institutions.{21}

A pagan Roman soldier in Constantine’s army was intrigued by Christians who “brought food to his fellow soldiers who were afflicted with famine and disease.” He studied this inspiring group who displayed such humanity and was converted to the faith. He represents much of why the early church grew despite bouts of severe persecution.{22}

Basic beliefs—or worldviews—lead to basic responses. The Christian response to life and suffering changed the world for good.

Early Church Charity vs. Self-Serving Greco-Roman Giving

In ancient Greece and Rome, charity was unknown, except for gaining favors and fame. This stood in stark contrast to Jesus’ thinking. He rebuked the Pharisees, whose good deeds were done for public acclaim. Christ’s ethic of sharing with any and all and helping the underprivileged brought a revolution that eventually converted the entire Roman Empire.

Caritas, root word of charity, “meant giving to relieve economic or physical distress without expecting anything in return,” writes Schmidt, “whereas liberalitas meant giving to please the recipient, who later would bestow a favor on the giver.”{23} Pagans almost never gave out of what we today would ironically call true liberality.

In contrast, for Christ-followers part of worship was hands-on charity. They celebrated God’s redemption this way, giving and serving both individually and corporately. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem in the fifth century, sold church ornaments to feed the poor. (Another contrast: the Hindu worldview assumes that neediness results from bad deeds in a past life.)

Ancient culture was centered on elitism. The well-off and privileged gave not out of any sense of caring, but out of what Aristotle termed “liberality, in order to demonstrate [their] magnanimity and even superiority.” They funded parks, statues, and public baths with their names emblazoned on them. Even the little philanthropy the ancients did was seldom received by the needy. Those who could pay back in some way received it.{24}

Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette noted that early Christians innovated five ways in their use of their own funds for the general welfare:

First, those who joined were expected to give to their ability level, both rich and poor. Christ even called some to give all they had to the poor. St. Francis of Assissi, Pope Gregory the Great, and missionary C.T. Studd all did as well.

Second, they had a new motivation: the love for and example of Christ, who being rich became poor for others’ sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9).{25}

Third, Christianity like Judaism, created new objects of giving: widows, orphans, slaves, the persecuted.

The fourth Christian innovation was personalized giving, although large groups were served. Also, individuals did the giving, not the government. “For the most part, the few Roman acts of relief and assistance were isolated state activities, ‘dictated much more by policy than by benevolence’.”{26}

Last, Christian generosity was not solely for insiders.{27} This was truly radical. The emperor known as Julian the Apostate complained that since Jews never had to beg and Christians supported both their own poor and those outside the church, “those who belong to us look in vain for the help we should render to them.”{28}

Believers sometimes fasted for charity. The vision was big: ten thousand Christians skipping one hundred days’ meals could provide a million meals, it was figured. Transformed hearts and minds imitated the God who left the throne of heaven to serve and die for others.{29}

Even W.E. Lecky, no friend to Christianity, wrote, “The active, habitual, and detailed charity of private persons, which is such a conspicuous feature in all Christian societies, was scarcely known in antiquity.”{30} That is, until Christians showed up.

Medieval and Modern Manifestations

This way of thinking and living continued in Medieval times. Third century deacon St. Laurence was ordered by a Roman offiical to bring some of the treasures of the church. He showed up with poor and lame church members. For this affront to Roman sensibilities, he was roasted to death on a gridiron. Today, a Florida homeless shelter named after St. Laurence provides job help and basic assistance to the downtroden.

The Generous Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw Christian compassion grow. In the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, Italian clergy “zealously defended widows and orphans.”{31} Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester in the tenth century “sold all of the gold and silver vessels of his cathedral to relieve the poor who were starving during a famine.”{32}

Furthermore, according to Will Durant,

The administration of charity reached new heights in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. . . . The Church shared in relieving the unfortunate. Almsgiving was universal. Men hopeful of paradise left charitable bequests. . . . Doles of food were distributed [three times a week] to all who asked. . . . In one aspect the Church was a continent-wide organization for charitable aid.{33}

From Hospitals to the Red Cross

Christian hospitals spread to Europe by the eighth century. By the mid-1500s, thirty-seven thousand Benedictine monasteries cared for the ill. Arab Muslims even followed suit. Christianity was changing the world, even beyond the West.

The much-maligned Crusaders founded healthcare orders, helping Muslims and Christians. This led to the establishment of insane asylums. By the 1400s, hospitals across Europe were under the direction of Christian bishops who often gave their own money. They cared for the poor and orphans and occasionally fed prisoners—an all-purpose institution of care.

“Christian aid to the poor did not end with the early church or the Middle Ages,” says Schmidt.{34} By the latter years of the nineteenth century, local Christian churches and denominations built many hospitals.

Medical nursing, a Christian innovation in ancient times, took leaps forward through the influence of Christ-follower Florence Nightingale. In 1864, Red Cross founder Jean Henri Dunant confessed on his deathbed, “I am a disciple of Christ as in the first century, and nothing more.”{35}

Child Labor Laws

The Industrial Revolution in England ushered in a shameful exploitation of children, even among those naming the Christian faith. Kids as young as seven worked in horrible conditions in coal mines and chimneys.

Compassionate believers like William Wilberforce and Charles Dickens rallied their callous countrymen to pass Parliamentary laws against the worst child labor. The real superman of this cause was Lord Shaftesbury, whose years of tireless “pleadings, countless speeches, personal sacrifices and dogged persistence” resulted in “a number of bills that vastly improved child labor conditions.” His firm faith in Christ spurred him and a nation on to true compassion.{36} This had a ripple effect across Western nations. Child labor has been outlawed in the West but continues strongly in nations less affected by Christian culture.

And Still Today . . .

This attitude of charity and compassion continues today in Christian societies like the Salvation Army and Christian groups who aided Hurricane Katrina victims so much better than the government.{37} Many more can be named. As someone said, “‘Christian ideals have permeated society until non-Christians, who claim to live a “decent life” without religion, have forgotten the origin of the very content and context of their “decency”.”{38}


1. Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) 147-148.
2. Ibid, 127.
3. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Nashville: Word/Thomas Nelson, 1995) 40.
4. Schmidt, pg. 148.
5. Logan Paul Gage, Touchstone, January/February 2008.
6. “New Study Shows Trends in Tithing and Donating,” Barna Research Group, April 14, 2008, www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdateNarrowPreview&BarnaUpdateID=296.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2007), 204.
10. Ibid, 205.
11. Ibid, 207.
12. R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (Transaction Publishers, 1994), quoted in The Truth Project DVD-based curriculum, Focus on the Family, 2006.
13. D’Souza, 215.
14. Schmidt, 71.
15. Schmidt, 100.
16. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994) 29.
17. Schmidt, 129.
18. Schmidt, 131.
19. Christopher Price, “Pagans, Christianity, and Charity,” CADRE (Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research & Evangelism), www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_charity.html.
20 Schmidt, 136.
21. Schmidt, 155-157.
22. Schmidt, 130.
23. Schmidt, 126.
24. D’Souza, 64.
25. 2 Corinthians 8:9.
26. Lecky, quoted in Schmidt, 128.
27. Kennedy and Newcombe, 30.
28. Shelley, 36.
29. Schmidt, 126.
30. Quoted in Kennedy and Newcombe, 32.
31. Schmidt, 131-134.
32. Schmidt, 126.
33. Will Durant, The Age of Faith, 31, quoted by Christopher Price: www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_charity.html.
34. Schmidt. 137.
35. Schmidt, 155-166.
36. Schmidt, 143.
37. Schmidt, 142-144.
38. Schmidt, 131.

© 2008 Probe Ministries

Myanmar Cyclone Response: Power-Lust and Lost Lives

As the world looks on to the tragedy in Myanmar and the coldhearted response of its government leaders, Byron Barlowe urges us to keep in mind that a humanitarian response is not a natural reaction.

Corrupted Power

Climate of Fear and Repression

Myanmar, traditionally known as Burma, is a country where ten percent of the population lives “without enough to eat” on a normal basis.{1} The brutal military government is best known for the repression of a democratically elected opposition candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi, now under long-term house arrest. Burma watchers blogs and sites show grisly photos of alleged brutality (one shows the carnage of soldiers running over political dissidents with ten-wheeled trucks). Last fall, the junta put down protest marches, killing at least 13 and jailing thousands. “Since then, the regime has continued to raid homes and monasteries and arrest persons suspected of participating in the pro-democracy protests.”{2}

Now, a cyclone has inundated an entire region, the Irrawaddy Delta, killing tens of thousands, displacing at least a million and setting up a petri dish of putrid water and corpses where disease threatens to balloon the death toll. Within this maelstrom, the ruling generals who clutch political power at all costs refuse to allow experienced aid workers from around the world to help manage food distribution and relief efforts. The callousness of their stance has been decried on all fronts, including the often diplomatically soft United Nations (UN).

Feeding and assisting one’s own countrymen seems to be such a basic value that it transcends almost all belief systems. However, the Burmese ruling junta is arrogantly defying not only this basic tenet of decency, but world opinion as well.

Failure to Allow Rendered Aid

“The United Nations said Tuesday that only a tiny portion of international aid needed for Myanmar’s cyclone victims is making it into the country, amid reports that the military regime is hoarding good-quality foreign aid for itself and doling out rotten food,” reports the Associated Press.

It’s understandable if the government wants to lead in relieving victims of its own nation. Yet, characteristically, even in this dire situation the government is cracking down on anything not originating from its own authority while repressing its own people. Reports include:

Stockpiling of high-nutrition biscuits in government warehouses and distribution of low-quality biscuits made by the centralized Industry Ministry.

Old, tainted, low-quality rice distributed in lieu of high-quality, nutritious rice offered by aid groups.

Government demands of businesses in the capital to “donate” aid for victims to be distributed through the central government.{3} So much for central “planning.” Were there a desire to provide relief, it could have been budgeted before now.

Video feeds of military leaders show them in neat, trim uniforms placing relief boxes away from those in needthe very picture of micro-managing control, reminiscent of regimes like North Korea.

Like Cuba in its extreme isolationism, the interests of its people are at the bottom of the ruling partys priorities.

Global Chorus of Criticism

A global chorus of critics has castigated Myanmar for its delays and mixed messages regarding large-scale aid and foreign experts. In what appears to be a show of cooperation, but without the needed effect, more supply flights have been allowed, critical days after the cyclone hit. Yet at this writing, food and relief supplies continue to stack up at the capital’s airport and, reportedly, in military storage facilities.

Aid offers from across the globe contrast starkly with the calculated deprivation and malfeasance exhibited by the military rulers. World leaders are simply appealing with the message, Let us help.

Another clear message to the leaders in Yangon: You are responsible for outcomes. “A natural disaster is turning into a humanitarian catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions in significant part because of the malign neglect of the regime,” said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.{4}

The United States has been direct in offering help. “What remains is for the Burmese government to allow the international community to help its people. It should be a simple matter. It is not a matter of politics,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington.{5}

Even the UN, often accused of appeasing dictatorial regimes, refused to allow the army-government to head up distribution efforts. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he is deeply concerned and immensely frustrated at the unacceptably slow response. We are at a critical point. Unless more aid gets into the country very quickly, we face an outbreak of infectious diseases that could dwarf today’s crisis,” he said.{6}

The UN has learned lessons from past dicatorships’ abuse of privilege.The Oil-for-Food fiasco under Saddam Hussein provides reason enough for UN reticence. Past humanitarian disasters in Africa saw regimes mismanaging aid for political reasons as well. Good intentions of the aid-provider must meet with realistic views of human nature. The foibles and sin of men, especially those in power, tends to validate a biblical view of fallen man much like the physics of a concrete sidewalk demonstrates gravity pretty convincingly.

Some Worldview Implications

The heartlessness of Myanmars leaders evokes sympathy and indignation among most people. But why? A naturalistic worldviewneo-Darwinism taken to its logical end, for examplewould only be concerned with perpetuating those strong enough or “smart enough” to have survived. It might even be the case that the cyclone culled out the least-fit. This naturalistic worldview formed the basis of everything from the eugenics movement to Nazi death camps (not exactly consistent with an insistence on instant relief work).

The final goal of Theravada Buddhism, the strain claimed by 96 percent of the population of Myanmar, is complete detachment from the physical world, which is seen as illusory. Its practice is passive in nature; there is no ultimate reality, much less salvation or reward to attain. This is nothing like the practice of the Dali Lama, well-known the world over for human rights campaining. In his Buddhist sect, Lamaism or Tibetan Buddhism, acts of compassion make sense. Theravadic Buddhism as practiced in Burma, on the other hand, views man as an individual with no incentive for helping others. For Burmese monks and adherants alike, there is really no necessary motivation to provide aid in this or any situation.

Generally speaking, “According to Buddhist belief, man is worthless, having only temporary existence. In Christianity, man is of infinite worth, made in the image of God, and will exist eternally. Man’s body is a hindrance to the Buddhist while to the Christian it is an instrument to glorify God” {7}. While Christian missions like Food for the Hungry, Gospel for Asia, Samaritan’s Purse and others actively seek to assist the Burmese, few such wholesale efforts proceed from either Buddhist nations or in-country monks themselves.

A pantheistic view, rooted in Hinduism’s doctrine of karma, would only wonder what deeds were being dealt with in the recycling of life. This worldview provides no real cause for alarm or compassion at all.

Despite such competing underpinnings at a worldview level, something in the human spirit cries out for fellow humans who suffer. Unless tamped down or obliterated, natural sympathies exist. This leads to the inevitable question, “Why? From where does this universal reality spring?”

Persecution by the ruling junta in Myanmar against ethnic minorities has increased since their ascendancy in the 1960s. “The most affected ethnic minority is the mainly Christian Karen people. Large numbers have been forced to abandon their villages in the east of the country and many have fled to Thailand.”{8} Herein may lay a connection, although Christians are not alone in being oppressed there. Godless governments tend to hate or at least discriminate against Christians. Competing worldviews clash deeply.

Biblical Emphasis on Individuals, Human Dignity

“A Christian view of government should…be concerned with human rights…based on a biblical view of human dignity. A bill of rights, therefore, does not grant rights to individuals, but instead acknowledges these rights as always existing.”{9}

Of course the Myanmar government and culture does not recognize the biblical God, so this standard is not to be expected. However, such a presupposition grounds America’s reaction to Myanmar’s languid response to the cyclone. It also helps explain the rest of the world’s stance: the ideals of democracy, rooted in a largely biblical worldview, have greatly affected world opinion on topics of relief and disaster response. One would be hard-pressed to find historical examples, I’m sure, of a consensus like that described above in centuries or even decades past. But since the Marshall Plan, Berlin airlifts, reconstruction in Japan and a parade of other compassionate rebuilding efforts, the rush to aid has become the global norm. Americas Judeo-Christian model has taken hold.

Christians in the early Church, in utter contrast to the Greco-Roman paganism that surrounded them, extended dignity to the suffering individual regardless of class status and whether or not it benefited them. This new ethic transformed the world and set the stage for the rule of law, compassionate charity and a host of other values taken for granted in Western and now other societies.

Proper View of Man, Need to Limit Power

“While the source of civil government is rooted in human responsibility, the need for government derives from the need to control human sinfulness. God ordained civil government to restrain evil…. {10} Of course, if the ruling government is corrupt, although some restraining occurs and it can look somewhat just, the evil simply becomes concentrated at the top while it leaks out naturally elsewhere despite external restrictions. We saw this in spades in Communist dictatorships like the USSR, which spawned the gulags, and Albania, where repression and elite privilege reached monumental proportions. And the military leaders of Myanmar continue this traditioninevitably, given the fallen nature of man.

Government based on a proper understanding of man is the hallmark of American representative democracy. Unlike Myanmar’s concentration of power into the hands of a few powerful elite, the American system makes room for the human dignity and rationality of the people while controlling human sin and depravity. Neither utopian schemes, which are based on man’s supposed innate goodness, nor controlling systems, which are built on sheer power, do right by human nature. Myanmar’s example of an unworkable government is all too clear in its tragic reaction to a devastating natural disaster.

As Probe’s Mind Games curriculum puts it, “In essence, a republic [like that of the United States] limits government, while a totalitarian government [like Myanmar’s] limits citizens.” And often, as with the estimated 170 million killed by regimes like those of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and others who fly in the face of a right understanding of man, the limits to citizens includes their very lives.{11}

Sanctity of Human Life

What offficials do during a crisis exposes their worldview. Do authorities do all within their means to save lives? What about prevention? Do investments in infrastructure belie a preoccupation with commerce, power or prestigeas in the case of China’s razing of entire neighborhoods to clear the way for the PR coup of the Olympics while political and religious dissidents are jailed? Are well-equipped fire and rescue, police, disaster recovery and even military personnel standing by to help at all costs to save even a few human lives? It seems obvious when certain governments act out of political peer pressure rather than a philosophy rooted in the value of every human being. And that value originates in the God in whose image humans are made. Without this doctrine as a basis for policy, people become mere workers, expendable state property and pawns for despots.

Nothing in Myanmar’s delayed, heartless response to the storm’s effects shows value of human life. In fact, the meager efforts of the regime in Rangoon (the capital, also called Yangon) have so far not only been ineffective in the immediate and for the future, but are insulting to human dignity.

Again, we can invoke first century parallels to help make the case that todays outcry stems from a Christian heritage. Whereas callous Roman elite threw babies into the Tiber River, Christians rescued and raised them as their own. So committed were they to the notion that all people have value as Gods image-bearers, that ancient Christ-followers risked deadly disease to treat strangers. Ancient pagans, not entirely unlike the Myanmar government, left even their own kin to die during plagues.

Biblical Imitation of a Giving God

Hurricane Katrina evoked not only an immediate and massive responsehowever incompetent it may have beenfrom the local, state and federal governments in the U.S. Expectations for relief were sky-high. And the groundswell of private and religious response left a worthy legacy.

So why, we may ask, were expectations so great? Some may say expectations grew from a sense of entitlement. Some folks just think a handout is due them, so in dire circumstances, it goes without saying. After all, the ambulance always comes when called.

A strong case can be made that people have grown to expect help due to a residue of Christian care and compassion that lingers on in what many call post-Christian times. The Churchs centuries-long heritage of innovating institutions like hospitals, orphanages and eldercare has overhauled the way people are treated.

That is, the biblical worldview has so saturated the culture of the West and has since so affected the rest of the world, that it would be unthinkable for most civilized societies not to respond to catastrophes with aid. Yet, this was not the case in ancient cultures unaffected by the radical ethic of Jesus Christ, who took Old Testament compassion for the stranger, widow and orphan to new extremes. (See my radio transcript on the topic of Compassion and Charity: Two More Reasons to Believe that Christianity is Good for Society and listen online at Probe.org soon.)

As the world looks on to the tragedy in Myanmar and the coldhearted response of its government leaders, keep in mind that a humanitarian response is not a natural reaction. It is something introduced and modeled by the caring Creator of all men, Jesus Christ. A truly biblical worldview not only works, it works compassionately.


1. Reuters Foundation Alertnet, May 12, 2008, www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/MY_DIS.htm.
2. CIA, The World Factbook, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bm.html
3. AP report via tinyurl.com/4cas2g.
4. Houston Chronicle, May 11, 2008, www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/world/5770860.html
5. Reuters Foundation Alertnet, Myanmar under pressure, death toll may rise sharply, May 7, 2008, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SP306038.htm
6. Reuters Foundation Alertnet, May 13, 2008, www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/MM_STO.htm
7. Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, CA 1983, pps. 308-309.
8. Ibid, May 12, 2008, www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/MY_DIS.htm
9. Christian View of Politics, Government and Social Action, Mind Games College Survival Course, 1996, Probe Ministries.
10. Ibid, based on Romans 13: 1-7, NIV.
11. R. J. Rummel, Death by Government, Transaction Publishers, 1994, quoted in The Truth Project DVD-based curriculum, Focus on the Family, 2006. For partial online reading: tinyurl.com/3efqjr

2008 Probe Ministries

Can People Do the Right Things Out of Compassion and Not Because of a Moral Law?

I have a question about moral law. Everyone knows what pain feels like and everyone knows what sorrow feels like, etc., so isn’t it possible for humans to not want to cause others to feel these things because they know how it feels to themselves and not necessarily because of a moral law?

Thanks for your note. You asked a good question.

I think your reasoning would work with someone who has a tender conscience and doesn’t want others to hurt. But we all know there are people who don’t care whether others hurt. So while the motivation to not want to hurt others could prevent you and like-minded people from doing others harm, others who don’t have that motivation will have no constraints. And, I have to add, if the typically tender-hearted person has a day when he or she doesn’t care, what will be his/her motivation to do good? If someone responds that it doesn’t matter what a person feels like, that it’s good to not make others suffer, then we’re back with a moral law again.

A fixed moral law, grounded in the nature and will of God, taught in Scripture, and reflected in His universe, provides an objective standard against which we can measure our actions, regardless of our personal motivations.

Thanks again for writing. Write again with other questions, if you like. Or if you think my answer isn’t correct, write back and we’ll talk about it!

Rick Wade

© 2007 Probe Ministries

World Hunger

Kerby Anderson helps us consider the fundamental reasons behind the prevalence of hunger in our world today. He points out our responsibility as Christians to make our resources available to help those caught in this crises. He tells us we need to be praying and working to end world hunger.

Frequently we see pictures of starving children and are overwhelmed by the awesome task of feeding the world’s hungry. Why, we wonder, is there so much hunger in the world today? The answer can be broken down into three categories: poverty, population, and priorities.

Poverty, Population, and Priorities

The first reason for hunger is poverty. The poor are hungry,and the hungry are usually poor. In First World countries, we talk about our quality of life or our standard of living. But in Third World countries, the focus shifts to the mere sustaining of life. A major problem in Third World countries is capital investment. There is very little money that can be spent on agricultural development or even basics like seed and farm tools.

A second reason for hunger is population. Nearly every country has experienced a growth in population, but the greatest impact has been on the world’s poorest countries because they have been experiencing exponential growth in their population.

Notice how exponential population growth shortens our response time to crises. This planet did not reach a population of 1 billion until about the turn of the century. It took the world thousands of years to reach a population level of 1 billion. By 1950, the world’s population grew to 2 billion. So the population doubled in just 50 years. By 1975, we had 4 billion people, so the doubling time decreased to just 25 years. Many experts estimate that we will have 6 to 8 billion people by the end of this century.

This exponential growth puts an enormous strain on our ability to provide resources and services to a starving world. Imagine if your own city or town had its population double every 20 to 25 years. That would mean you would have to double the number of houses, double the number of grocery stores, double the number of roads, and double the number of sewage-treatment plants.

Such growth would be a significant strain on the budget and resources of a First World country. Imagine the strain this would put on a Third World country. So the problem of world hunger is exacerbated by population growth.

A third reason for world hunger is priorities. Those of us who live in an industrialized society place a high priority on comfort and convenience. Our standard of living places a significant strain on the world economy.

In the First World countries, we only have a 1 percent growth rate. But that 1 percent growth rate affects the planet eight times as much as the 23 percent growth rate of the lesser-developed countries. The reason for this is that we use a lot more resources to maintain our standard of living. Currently it costs 30 times as much in terms of energy and resources to feed a North American as it does to feed a Pakistani.

Certainly this is something Christians must consider in terms of their own economic lifestyle. At a time when people are not getting enough to eat, we are living a lifestyle far beyond what many could even imagine.

We have a great challenge before us. We must not only consider what we can do to feed the hungry, but we must also consider what we should do to limit our indulgent lifestyle.


I would next like to focus on some of the most publicized causes of world hunger. The first is exploitation. There is a tremendous amount of exploitation in the world, which has led to the problem of hunger. Christians should not be surprised. Many Old Testament verses in the books of Proverbs, Amos, and Micah speak of poverty that results from exploitation and fraud.

Many countries were exploited by colonial powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. But while this is true, let me also hasten to add that liberals have perhaps made too much of the colonial connection.

P. T. Bauer, in his book Dissent on Development, shows that many of these countries that had some contact with the Western world actually did better economically than those countries that did not have any contact at all. Hong Kong and India, which were ruled by colonial powers, did better economically than countries in the deepest part of Africa that had little contact with Western economies.

When these countries gained independence, they did not have to start from scratch. The colonial powers left behind roads, schools, and hospitals, all of which provided an infrastructure to build upon.

But another aspect of exploitation that is often ignored is not the colonial connection but the Marxist connection. Countries such as Ethiopia with authoritarian Marxist governments bring great suffering on their populations because of government policies that prevent food and compassionate aid from reaching their people.

Misfortune and Persecution

A second cause of hunger is misfortune and persecution. Again this should come as no surprise to Christians. In the book of Job we have an example of poverty that comes through misfortune. In other places we see how poverty results from persecution. And sometimes poverty comes because of God’s judgment on a people who disobey Him.

Because we live in a fallen world, we must not be surprised when misfortune strikes. During the last two decades, for example, we have had fairly stable weather patterns. Now that the weather has become more erratic, we wonder what is going wrong. Although many doomsayers want to blame these changes on the much-publicized greenhouse effect, most of these climatic fluctuations are typical. We have been lulled into thinking that weather is predictable and must remind ourselves that the earth still “groans in travail” because we live in a fallen world. Hurricanes, monsoons, and droughts are going to exacerbate our problems with world hunger.

As we look at these problems, we can see that the problem of world hunger is going to increase rather than decrease. As our weather continues to be erratic and as terrorism and persecution intensify around the world, problems with hunger will intensify.

We are going to have to find ways to help the people and countries that are suffering. Part of the solution may be for our government to provide help through foreign aid. But another important and often neglected part of the solution is for Christian organizations to provide food and resources to the needy. The problem of world hunger is massive, and all of us must do what we can to solve the problem.

Governmental Control

Along with these well-known causes of hunger are a few less-publicized, more obscure causes. One of these causes is governmental control. Hunger and poverty are often due to the very structure of governments. This is important to realize when we begin to talk about cures for world hunger, because we as a country are often limited in what we can do to lessen hunger in a foreign nation.

The statement by Jesus that the poor will always be with us takes on a new meaning when we realize how intractable many problems like world hunger are. Lack of food and unpredictable weather patterns aren’t the sole causes of hunger. Many times governmental control makes hunger worse.

Even a cursory look at the world market shows that those countries that provide the greatest economic freedom also have the greatest amount of economic success. Hong Kong, for example, is a country that has received no foreign aid. But because it has a relatively free market, it enjoys one of the highest standards of living of any country in Asia.

Economic freedom allows personal incentive and pushes the economic engine of development. We can see this in the example of the former Soviet Union. In addition to the large governmental plots of agricultural land, smaller plots were allocated to the individual farmer. It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of all the Soviet agricultural produce came from these small, private plots of land. Soviet production on small plots of land demonstrates the power of incentive created by economic freedom. If a government focuses all its time and attention on the commonality of property, it will lead its country down the path towards poverty and hunger.


Another cause of hunger is indifference. Individuals and their governments should be more concerned about world hunger than they are now. The affluence of North America often keeps us from being concerned about those who do not have enough to eat. Although the United States has set the standard for many other nations in its compassionate giving, still more could be done.

Particularly troubling is the lack of compassion of Third World countries for their neighbors. The OPEC countries, for example, have vast financial resources, which they are unwilling to share with countries in the region not blessed with such geological resources. They need to show compassion to their neighboring countries.

The Culture of Poverty

A third cause of hunger is the culture of poverty. Proverbs 10:15 says, “The ruin of the poor is their poverty.” The reason for poverty is often the prior existence of poverty. Poverty breeds more poverty, and more poverty breeds more hunger.

Those people who come from an impoverished situation do not have the means by which to better themselves. They are not getting the necessary calories and nutrition, so they are caught in the web of poverty. Moreover, they are being raised in a culture of poverty that perpetuates dependence and prevents advancement.

This is where the gospel can have an impact. Poverty and hunger are not just economic problems. There is a strong psychological and spiritual component to poverty. A person who is born again changes his worldview, and this is an important aspect of dealing with the problem of hunger.

Curing World Hunger

When we talk about solutions to world hunger we should realize that there are a number of unbiblical solutions. One of the most incredible is the “lifeboat ethic,” which proposes the use of the principle known as triage.

The Lifeboat Ethic

This idea was popularized by Dr. Garrett Hardin at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He uses the metaphor of the lifeboat to explain how rich nations are surrounded by poor ones who want to get into the lifeboat. He says, at some point, we have to push them back into the water to prevent us all from sinking.

He further argues that the problem will become worse because many of these countries will not control their populations. Thus, he says, it is inevitable that these people will eventually starve. He believes that feeding them will only prolong the suffering. Hardin therefore proposes we use the principle of triage. This concept as it is used in military medicine attempts to classify war or disaster victims according to the severity of their wounds in order to maximize the number of survivors. As incoming wounded arrive, they are placed in one of three groups. The first group has superficial wounds and can be treated later. The second group has more substantial wounds and must be treated immediately. And the members of the third group have such massive wounds that they are simply set aside and allowed to die.

Proponents of this lifeboat ethic suggest that we use the principle of triage and stop shipments of food to Third World nations facing starvation. After all, they argue, there is only so much room in the lifeboat or on “Spaceship Earth.” We must push the rest of these people off the boat in order to save ourselves.

This idea certainly raises profound ethical questions. But the metaphor only makes sense if you accept the following three assumptions. The first assumption is that there is no distinction between people and animals. The second assumption is that we are pushing the limits of the world’s resources. The third assumption is that population growth is not being brought under control. However, all three of these assumptions are false. First, there is a distinction between people and animals. Humans have dignity because they are created in the image of God and are therefore distinct from animals. Yet we live in a world where evolutionists blur this distinction between humans and animals.

The second assumption is also questionable. We do live in a fallen world, and there are some limits to growth. But an even greater production of resources is possible, and numerous conservation techniques can increase production.

The third assumption, that population growth is not being brought under control, is also in doubt. There is evidence that many countries are serious about controlling their population explosion. In fact, many nations are experiencing a decline in their birth rates and will eventually have declining populations.

What we have to recognize is that there are many people who are proposing unbiblical solutions. And we as Christians have a responsibility to make sure these propositions do not become law.

The Christian Ethic

Often I find that Christians look at the problem of world hunger and become overwhelmed. They ask, What can we do? After all, many solutions to world hunger come from governmental agencies and large organizations.

We need to recognize that governmental agencies and even private organizations are only part of the solution and often are not as effective as Christian organizations and missionaries. In Marxist countries like Ethiopia, the United States has limited diplomatic relationships. Moreover, the government has used some of the incoming aid as a weapon against their enemies. Indigenous programs through missionary organizations can sometimes be more effective since they do not have to go through as many diplomatic channels. Christians should realize there are things we can do, and we can learn about these from Scripture. The first obvious thing we can do is to give. The Bible talks about the compassionate distribution of food and other resources in passages such as 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 9. The New Testament church gave to other Christians who were in need.

One way a church can foster an attitude of compassion is to emphasize our responsibility to the hungry. One program called “Skip a Lunch and Feed a Bunch” encourages Christians to save the money they would have used to buy lunch and place it in a container for those who are hungry.

Some agencies have programs for adopting a child in another country and providing for his or her food and educational expenses. You can write letters to the child and have a personal involvement in this often abstract problem of world hunger.

Another solution to world hunger is missionary work. As missionaries go into various cultures, they are able to change attitudes and values that perpetuate the cycle of hunger and poverty. They can teach people how to become more independent economically and how to develop the resources available to them. In the famine in Ethiopia, many Christian relief organizations provided both food and resources. Unfortunately, their efforts were hampered by inadequate ports and a primitive transportation network. Many of the nation’s trucks were being used to fight a civil war, and others were crippled by a lack of spare parts. So the relief organizations began to airlift food in order to feed those starving in remote areas of the country.

Missionary outreach has also had an impact by preaching the gospel. As I mentioned previously, spiritual conversion changes a person’s worldview and can break the culture of poverty. Many of the problems of poverty and hunger are not economic but psychological and spiritual. These include such things as poor training or wrongful attitudes.

Preaching the gospel can change not only individuals but a culture. Just think of the impact the Hindu worldview has on countries like India. False religious beliefs keep the Indians from utilizing beef, an important source of protein. Other ideas such as the concept of karma keep Indians from meeting the needs of the underclass. Conversion to Christianity can change not only individ-ual lives but a culture that rests on a false foundation. World hunger is certainly a major problem. As Christians we need to be praying and working to provide solutions to the awesome problem of feeding the world.

©1992 Probe Ministries