Ask Your Preacher
Many religions wear symbols of their dedication or “religiosity”. Despite their sincerity, some may wear prayer beads, crosses, or tattoo themselves as reminders or as objects of worship. Yes, it is wrong to worship anything but God; however, is it wrong to wear a cross just because it’s pretty? Or would it be an unwise idea due to the societal connotations?
A Little Glam
Dear A Little Glam,
Wearing a cross is not inherently a sin, but there are some principles that reveal it to be not a very good idea. The problem with crosses and other religious garb are threefold:
- As you stated, some people use crosses, rabbit’s feet, rosary beads, etc. as forms of worship and superstition. This is wrong. God soundly condemns superstition, the occult, and idol worship (1 Cor 10:7, Acts 19:19, Matt 4:10).
- God tells us that it is our character that should proclaim our Christianity – not our clothing (1 Pet 3:3-4). In an attempt to look the part of being faithful, many people wear crosses, slap “WWJD” bumper stickers on their cars, and tattoo themselves with the words “Jesus Freak”… which rarely leaves the impression they intended. Let the world know you are a christian because of who you are and how you live.
- Crosses are designed to be beautiful, ornate, and elegant nowadays – which thoroughly negates the message of the cross. The cross of Christ was anything but pretty. It was a torture device intended to inflict the highest degree of pain possible upon the Son of God. We here at AYP sometimes wonder if Jesus had been killed by electrocution if everyone would have little electric chairs hanging around their necks…
Suffice it to say, wearing religious jewelry, at best, sends a mixed message – at worst, it sends the wrong message.
My 46-year-old sister has been caught up in a group of new age shamans. She has taken all the classes and is now involved in some things they call “soul retrieval” and “journeying”. Both delve into the spirit world. She claims to talk to spirits and my deceased mother. Whenever I see her, I get a very uneasy creepy feeling. I am at the point where I can’t stand to be around her or look at her. I want to be a good sister and christian, but I don't know what I should do. She knows that I think what she is involved in is wrong and thinks it is funny. She says she believes in God, but I feel what she is involved in is not right. Not sure how to handle this anymore. Any suggestions? Thank you.
My Soul Doesn’t Need Retrieving
Dear My Soul Doesn’t Need Retrieving,
If she thinks your religious differences are funny, religion is not something she is taking very seriously at this stage of her life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jhn 14:6). Jesus is an exclusive Savior; He leaves no room for other gods or forms of worship. Your sister needs be only mildly interested in spiritual things to recognize the differences between the Bible and her occult practices. The fact that she is amused by your discomfort makes it clear that she is not interested in discussing the topic with you. Unfortunately, the only option you have is to back off and “not throw your pearls before swine” (Matt 7:6). Maybe someday she will change her attitude and be more receptive to God’s Word. Until then, be cordial but as distant as you need to be to feel that you are keeping “good company” (1 Cor 15:33).
Is it wrong to celebrate Halloween? By celebrating, I mean taking our children trick-or-treating or handing out candy, not worshipping the holiday.
Dear Sweet Tooth,
Good and faithful people debate this issue all the time, but, yes, you can celebrate Halloween without sinning. Halloween does have its roots in pagan rituals. All Hallow’s Eve is often associated with evil spirits, demon worship, voodoo, and witchcraft. It is, however, also associated with happy scampering children whose most wicked intent is the desire to glut themselves on candy. New Year’s Eve could be viewed the same way. New Year’s Eve is often associated with inappropriate male and female interaction and drunkenness. It is also associated with fresh starts, reflective new beginnings, and an evening of friendship and brotherly kindness. These holidays can be a good thing or a bad thing. How you participate and your reasons for participating will make the difference.
- God soundly condemns witchcraft and any magical arts (1 Sam 15:23, Acts 19:19). Anyone participating in Halloween in an occult way is sinning.
- Christians are supposed to focus on pure and holy things (Php 4:8). Many of the costumes that are worn during Halloween are macabre, violent, or ghoulish. Christians should think very carefully before placing too much emphasis upon dark things.
- Christians should dress modestly (1 Tim 2:9). Many costumes, especially those worn by adults, are immodest. A holiday is not an excuse for dressing in an ungodly way.
- Don’t participate if it will bother your conscience. God tells us that we should always keep a pure conscience (1 Tim 1:5). If you can’t do something in faith, it is sin (Rom 14:23).
After considering these principles – go get some candy corn!
The Bible says that Jesus said, "No one gets to the Father except through me", which I have been taught means if you don't believe God is the Father and Jesus is His Son, you don't/won't go to heaven.
My question is: does this mean that three quarters of the world's population (non-christians, Jews, Mormons, the Dalai Lama, etc.) who don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God aren't going to heaven? It doesn't seem to me that the God I believe in would let this happen.
Sympathy For The Masses
Dear Sympathy For The Masses,
The verse you are referring to is Jhn 14:6. Here is a great example of a fork in the road for christians. Will we take the Bible at face value and accept what God says, or will we ignore certain verses in order to mold God into an image that is more suitable for us? You are absolutely right; there is no mistaking the implications of Jhn 14:6. All that do not follow Christ will not be saved. In fact, there are other verses that re-emphasize this message. Jesus said that the way to salvation was narrow, and the way to destruction was wide (Matt 7:13). He also says that many people will erroneously claim to have served God and will be turned away on the Judgment Day (Matt 7:22-23).
These verses do exclude large swaths of mankind from heaven. However, if we believe the Bible to be God’s infallible Word (and we here at AYP do – read “Who Wrote The Bible” to see why we are so convinced), then we must accept that the same loving God who would send His own Son to die for our sins has a very good reason for being so picky about who goes to heaven. Remember, God doesn’t condemn people to hell; it is our sinful choices that does that (Rom 6:23). Jehovah offers us salvation through His Son, even though we deserve death (Jhn 3:16).
Is neutral witchcraft that won’t harm, curse, or effect anyone in any way against the Bible, and if it is, why?
Dear Something’s Brewing,
There is no such thing as “neutral” witchcraft that won’t affect anyone. Anything that is wrong always hurts someone – even if it just hurts you. Anything that departs from God is sin (Ps 18:21). Witchcraft, by design, places your trust in the occult. Witchcraft, of any type, is always wrong (1 Sam 15:23). We must choose whether we trust witchcraft to guide our life or whether we trust God to guide it (Matt 6:24). When Paul preached in Ephesus, many of those who practiced magical arts converted, burned their books, and confessed their sins (Acts 19:17-20). That is the only proper way to deal with witchcraft… burn the behavior up and never practice it again.