Ask Your Preacher
Several days ago, we received a question that broke our hearts. The individual asked for anonymity and to not reveal the details of their situation. We wish to honor this person’s request, but we also believe their plight is faced by many of today’s youth. This individual is so disheartened by their physical appearance and the bullying and ridicule they have received because they aren’t “pretty/handsome” that they are considering ending their own life. With today’s culture of air-brushed models, plastic surgery, and Botox… is it any wonder that body image issues are so common and vicious in today’s youth? With this issue in mind, we are posting our response to this suffering soul in the hope that others who are silently struggling may have a Bible answer to comfort their hearts through the awkward years.
The AYP Team
Dear Hurting One,
Let us begin by saying that each heart has its own sorrow, and we will not pretend to know exactly how you feel – only you and the Lord know the depths of your pain (Pr 14:10). Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the greatness of your bitterness and pain. If we may, we would like to offer you a few verses to consider...
The apostle Paul had a physical infirmity that made him grotesque and despised by many (Gal 4:13-14). Paul prayed and prayed for God to remove this illness (he called it his "thorn in the flesh" - 2 Cor 8:7), and God's answer was 'no' (2 Cor 12:8). God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that Paul would learn to be a better man because of his weakness (2 Cor 12:9). In fact, Paul said that the things that God had for him to do in this life were so great that the thorn in the flesh kept him from becoming arrogant (2 Cor 12:7).
Have you ever considered that your physical appearance is a blessing disguised as a curse – that is what Paul found. Because Paul wasn't “beautiful”, his character had a chance to shine brighter, and his message of salvation had opportunity to reach those who wanted the truth... not just those looking to listen to the next pretty face. Even Jesus is described as being someone of unremarkable appearance (Isa 53:2). Those who heard Jesus loved Him (Jhn 7:46), but His looks never converted a single soul. We say all this to tell you that physical beauty isn't as important as you think – and it isn't important to God. God treasures the inner character and beauty of a godly soul (1 Pet 3:3-4). It is the hidden man that God desires to shine forth.
Nothing we have said removes your suffering, but it may give meaning to it. All of us age, and our bodies decay, but it is our inward man that matters (2 Cor 4:16). Every life is precious, including yours. You are capable of great things if you are willing to have faith that your life is more than your looks. If you end your life because of your physical appearance, the devil will have won and defeated another soul with his deceptive lies. Be different and let your inward man shine forth.
I have a question about Christmas: we all know that most people tell their kids about "Santa". I wanted to know what you thought about parents telling kids about this. Is it wrong? I guess it is a lie, and telling a lie is wrong... I always thought that on Christmas, you should be thinking about what Jesus did for us and not be thinking about how much money we spent on each other. I think it is not about gifts that we give each other but the gift that Jesus has already given to us. I think that if we do give gifts, it should be from the heart and not because "Santa says you were a good boy or girl." I guess I am confused on the subject. I don't have kids, but if I ever do, I’m not sure what the right thing would be to do, and I’m sure that others out there are confused also. That is another reason I am asking this question. Thanks for your time and God bless!
You Better Not Cry
Dear You Better Not Cry,
It is always wrong to lie; the question is whether telling your kids about Santa Claus is lying or not. Many christians have many different views on this. Some christians tell their children that Santa is imaginary because they feel that is honest. Other christians allow their children to believe in Santa and simply don’t dissuade them from the notion until they ask point-blank. No matter what, christians must in good conscience do what they believe is honest. Lying is always wrong (Rev 21:8). The debate isn’t over whether or not lying is a sin; the debate is over whether or not allowing your children to believe in something imaginary counts as being deceptive. Each must do what they believe is faithful and right… it would not be good to be too dogmatic on this point.
Now let’s deal with the issue of Christmas. Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is that no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15). Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25). Christmas is not a Biblical holiday. There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a Biblical foundation to it.
America has me worried. I think the government is corrupt and society is immoral. I'm seriously thinking about taking my family and making a community like the Muslims have in some US states. We'd have our own law and law enforcement. No one could come in who wasn't a christian. What should I be looking for to know when to leave?
Not In My House
Dear Not In My House,
Christianity has suffered through quite a bit more than America has ever dished out. As the book of Hebrews says, “You have not yet suffered to the point of bloodshed” (Heb 12:4). No one would dispute that America’s government is corrupt. The question is whether a christian should flee a society as soon as it is corrupt. Biblically speaking, that is not the pattern we see. Christians didn’t flee Jerusalem until christians began to be killed (Acts 8:1). Paul wouldn’t leave a city until they forcibly persecuted him or sought his life (Acts 9:24-25).
There will always be corrupt governments, but within those nations are citizens who need the Gospel as much as everyone else. Christians are supposed to be in the world… but not of this world (Php 2:15). The answers to our problems do not lay in this life. In this life, we shall always have troubles, but Christ has overcome the world (Jhn 16:33). Our hope is in eternal life where God’s law will be the only law and only christians will be allowed in (Tit 3:7). Until then, we must live within the governments of this world (Rom 13:1-2).
Relating to your post "A Vote for God" on June 15: would it be sinful for a Christian to vote for a specific candidate that openly endorses gay marriage or abortion? I am under the impression that it would be wrong no matter where they stand on other issues. Am I on the right path?
Sincerely, Going To The Polls
Dear Going To The Polls,
In most cases, yes, it would be a sin to vote for someone who openly endorses gay marriage or abortion. There are, however, at least two circumstances in which it would be understandable for a christian to vote for someone that endorsed ungodly behavior.
- If the other candidate is even worse. Unfortunately, there are times where christians have to choose between one ungodly candidate and another even more ungodly one. In this case, a christian has to either not vote (which would offend the conscience of some christians because they would feel they were leaving their moral voice unheard) or to vote for someone who promotes immoral behavior (but they feel is a better option).
- If the government office has nothing to do with policy. There is a distinct difference between someone running for President of the United States and someone who wants to be County Auditor. Although in this case, I personally still could not vote for the person, it is only fair to point out that there is a reasonable argument to be made that a county auditor is not in a position to affect the laws that address abortion and gay “marriage”.
In those two circumstances, a christian must use wisdom (Rom 16:19) and maturity to discern the right decision (Heb 5:14). If in doubt, it is better to not vote at all than to vote and harm your conscience (2 Tim 1:3).
Having said all that, 99.9% of the time a christian would be in the wrong to vote for a politician that endorsed abortion (baby-killing) or gay “marriage”.
How should Christians view the recent unrest in Iran? I know the Bible says we are supposed to honor those in authority, but does this apply even to rulers who are over another nation? Is it okay to root for the rebels?
Going further, is it okay to take action to aid the protesters in Iran? I've seen some people encouraging others to use the Internet to provide alternate ways for the Iranians to communicate despite the government's censorship efforts. Is this something a Christian can participate in?
Sincerely, Rebel Alliance
Dear Rebel Alliance,
The issue you bring up is one without a clear and easy answer, but in general, yes, it would be okay to root for the rebels and even to aid them. The Bible makes it clear that we must show respect for the government authorities that we are under (1 Pet 2:13-15). 1 Pet 2:17 says that we should “honor the king”, which would imply the king that you are under the authority of, not necessarily every king or ruler. You still need to speak well of rulers and treat them with respect because they are placed in authority by God (Rom 13:1).
The fact is, it would be impossible to be in subjection to every ruler and government because those governments often contradict each other. Soldiers are a perfect example of this. When a soldier fights in a war against another country, he is directly opposing the other government’s authority while upholding his own ruler’s wishes. Therefore, if you are an American on American soil, you aren’t subject to Iran’s ruling powers. The only exception would be if you were to visit Iran (or any country for that matter), you would be subject to its rules and regulations as a visitor of that nation. Until then, feel free to oppose the politics of another country as long as your own nation allows it.