Ask Your Preacher
Do you believe the world will end on Dec. 12, 2012?
Mark Your Calendar?
Dear Mark Your Calendar,
Feel free to do your shopping for the holidays in 2012; the world isn’t likely to be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012. For those of our readers unfamiliar with the 2012 doomsday schtick… we will take a moment to explain this New Age teaching. The idea that the world is going to be destroyed or transformed on December 21st (some say 23rd), 2012 is based off of the Mayan Long Count calendar. The Mayan Long Count calendar is a non-repeating calendar that was used in Mesoamerica during the height of the Mayan civilization, and because it is a non-repeating calendar (unlike the Roman calendar which repeats every 365 days), it eventually runs out of days. The last day on the Mayan Long Count calendar is December 21st, 2012. Therefore, some folks are expecting a cataclysmic change to the world order on that day.
Now that we’ve explained what it is, let’s explain what it isn’t. It isn’t right. We here at AYP are pretty sure that if God was going to hide the date of the end of the world in a conspiracy-theory fashion, He probably wouldn’t hide it in the calendar of a blood-drinking, child-sacrificing, snake-worshipping heathen culture. But, hey, maybe that’s just us… (insert friendly chuckle here)
As you mentioned, God promises that He will return like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2). If there is one day this year that you can be guaranteed Jesus won’t return – it is Dec. 21st, 2012.
Should I vote for Mitt Romney (a Mormon) for president?
We won’t tell you who to vote for or who not to vote for… that just simply goes beyond the Scriptures and into the realm of opinion. Politics have always intermingled with religion because many political issues (such as abortion, homosexuality, etc.) have moral implications, but religion is not the same as politics. Jesus’ attitude toward the government was that we should pay our taxes (Lk 20:25), obey the laws (Rom 13:1), pray for the rulers, and hope for a quiet life (1 Tim 2:1-2). Politics are a big deal in this country (especially during such volatile political times), but Christianity transcends such earthly disputes and battles. Stand by God’s Word in all issues, and you will always be fine.
Currently, I am not attending a church. I stay in my Bible and study The Word as much as possible. I love learning about the Lord and am excited about my journey with Him for the rest of my life! My question is: are there other ways to tithe my money other than giving to a church? I listen to a Christian radio station daily and would love to send an offering, but from what I have been told, this is not tithing. What about giving to the Salvation Army or another Christian organization? Please help!
A Generous Heart
Dear A Generous Heart,
It is a common misconception that studying our Bible at home is a replacement for attending services. Heb 10:24-25 states that forsaking the assembly is a sin and that without the church, we won’t be the kind of people that we ought to be because the church provokes us to love and good works. It is an admirable thing that you want to give, and it is an admirable thing that you faithfully study your Bible. Now is a great time to fulfill even more commands by finding a faithful church and doing what every New Testament Christian did – become an active member. We’d be happy to help you find a congregation in your area that is faithful to the Word in every way. If we can help, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our preacher says that not attending church is a sin and that you are NOT able to worship Him without going. Am I not always in His presence and can worship and praise Him anywhere? Thank you.
Worship Where I Want
Dear Worship Where I Want,
You can worship God on your own, but the Bible commands that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church, so each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted Christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church.
Okay, I have a controversial question, but I really need the answer. What is the true view on masturbation? I don't mean to be crude; I’ve just found it hard to find a biblical answer, and I've found nothing that says it's wrong necessarily (by the way, I know that pornography and things like that are wrong).
Dear Honestly Asking,
We receive a great many questions regarding this subject. We here at AYP do not wish to fixate upon a private and sensitive topic week after week, but we understand that the issue of masturbation is a very real struggle for most young men, and it deserves a Bible answer.
The truth is that the Bible never specifically addresses the topic. When we search for a Bible answer, we must conclude that God has not spoken one word on this subject. Having said that, we realize there are many religious teachings in the world today claiming it is either right or wrong. Catholic doctrine teaches it is a sin one hundred percent of the time, but that is a man-made teaching – not something directly understood from the Bible. On the other hand, many liberal religious groups teach that masturbation is a perfectly normal thing that should be practiced without any reservation. Neither teaching is accurate. We need to look at what the Bible says concerning the topic and accept its teachings and nothing else. There are some other things (such as lust and guilt) that are closely related to this subject, so we will address them because there are specific Bible teachings on those subjects.
- Lust is sinful. Anything that involves lusting after a woman (that is not your spouse) is not allowed (Matt 5:28). ‘Lust’ means to ‘look upon with strong passion or desire’. Any action that involves a strong sexual desire for a specific person that is not your spouse is sinful.
- Many, many God-fearing people have a sense of extreme guilt after the act of self-relief. When someone’s conscience is upset, that is always sinful because it shows you are doing something you believe is wrong. If we cannot do something in faith, then it is sin (Rom 14:23). In essence, if you think it is wrong, then it is wrong… at least for you. If you do what you believe is right, you will not have a guilty feeling in anything you do. If you do not do what you believe is right, then you will always have a guilty feeling. This holds true of everything in life. This is why it is so important that we examine the Scriptures and be fully assured that what we are doing is right with God. That means we must always study what God has said (not man) on every subject.
- Pornography is often closely associated with masturbation and should always be avoided. Pornography is sinful because it is designed around lusting after specific women (see point #1). Pornography is also a highly addictive sin. Many young lives have been horribly destroyed because of sexual addiction to pornographic images. We cannot overstate the dangers of this type of addiction. Thus, pornography must be avoided at all costs.
- When young people are in that stage between childhood and marriage, there is a constant pull and temptation from the sexual realm. There is no easy way around the desires created by the physiological reaction of a young man’s body. God understands that a young person’s body burns in passion (1 Cor 7:9). It is said that in today’s culture and society, a young man is bombarded with things to stimulate him on an average of every ten seconds. This is not an excuse, nor should it be used as an excuse, for immoral behavior – but it is a reality that every young man has to cope with.
- Marriage is God’s vessel for the relief of sexual desires (1 Cor 7:1-5). God understands the devil uses the sexual realm to tempt us away from a faithful life, and God created marriage as the solution to that temptation. That is the long-term answer to this issue. The problem we are dealing with is what someone should do to act faithfully through the short-term period of time between childhood and marriage.
This issue is not an easy one and there are no clear-cut answers. The Bible provides many principles that surround this subject, and we have tried to outline them here… but ultimately, each person must faithfully consider these principles and behave themselves in a way that they believe is adhering to the teachings God lays out in His Scriptures. We shouldn’t allow man-made religious laws to control our lives, whether they are overly conservative or overly liberal.