Category Archives: Life Decisions Questions

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Woman Wear a Bindi?

 

Hindu women have a custom of wearing a round, red mark between the eyebrows called a “bindi” (also spelled “bindhi”). The application of bindis is common in South Asia, including the countries of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In some parts of India, a bindi traditionally signifies that a woman is married. In other sections of India, all girls wear bindis. A bindi can also signify the caste or sect a woman belongs to. In every case, a bindi carries a spiritual and religious meaning in addition to its cultural significance. Of the various Indian decorations of the body, the bindi is considered to have the strongest religious implication.

A bindi represents an individual’s “spiritual eye,” also called the “third eye,” which some claim gives spiritual vision. Through the third eye, Hindus believe they can obtain extraordinary perspective, seeing that which cannot be seen through their physical eyes. Hindu gurus and saints meditate by focusing their energies toward the spiritual eye. It is believed that, when the individual’s spiritual eye opens, he attains true enlightenment and gets closer to whatever god he’s trying to reach.

The bindi is located over the sixth chakra, assumed to be one of the psychic “energy spots” on the human body. Thus, a bindi marks the nexus of concentrated, secret wisdom associated with mantra meditation. Bindis are also thought to purify the intellect, improve concentration skills, retain energy, bring good fortune, and ward off evil spirits. The red color is said to be a symbol of power and strength.

A bindi is also seen as an enhancement of beauty. An old Indian proverb says, “A woman’s beauty is multiplied one thousand times when she wears a bindi.”

Western culture, with its ever-shifting notions of style and fashion, will advocate wearing just about anything, including bindis. Just as non-Christians sometimes wear crosses as a fashion accessory, non-Hindus sometimes wear bindis. In Western fashion, a bindi is often a shape other than round and a color other than red. Some women choose to tattoo or pierce their foreheads for a more permanent bindi. Celebrities such as Madonna, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry have all sported bindis in public. Whatever statement these persons are trying to make, the connection to Hinduism still exists.

Every custom within Hindu culture has a certain meaning to it, and all Indian customs are linked in some way to their gods. For this reason, a Christian woman should have serious reservations about wearing a bindi. Even if she herself does not see her bindi as a lucky charm or source of psychic energy, others—especially those familiar with Eastern mysticism—will associate it with pagan traditions.

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” Paul asks. “For we are the temple of the living God.… Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’ ” (2 Corinthians 6:16–17). Christians should have nothing to do with the stuff of idolatry. Those who wear a bindi identify themselves with cultural practices that deny the One True God.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Does the Bible Say to Follow Your Heart?

 

There are many calls to “follow your heart” in movies, novels, slogans, blogs, and memes. Related pieces of advice are “trust yourself” and “follow your instincts.” A corollary dictum is “your heart will never lead you astray.” The problem is that none of these quips are biblically supportable.

Rather than trust our hearts, we are to commit our hearts to God: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). This passage gives an explicit command not to trust ourselves. And it gives the promise of guidance to those who choose to follow the Lord.

For anything to provide proper direction it must be based on objective truth. That is to say that whatever is consulted for guidance must reach a conclusion based on objective truth and not subjective, emotional inference. The Bible teaches that man is to follow God. God declares, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7). God has perfect knowledge of everything (1 John 3:20), a trait often called omniscience. God’s knowledge is not limited in any way. God is aware of all events that have ever transpired, are currently occurring, and will ever happen (Isaiah 46:9–10). God’s knowledge goes beyond mere events and extends to thoughts and intentions (John 2:25; Acts 1:24). It is not all this knowledge, however, that makes God a perfectly reliable source of guidance. God is also aware of every possibility, every eventuality, every imaginable outcome of any series of events (Matthew 11:21). That ability, combined with God’s goodness, enables God to give the best possible direction for people to follow.

God says this about the unregenerate heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). This passage makes clear two reasons why no one should bind himself to following his heart when making decisions. First, there is nothing more deceitful in all of creation than the heart of man because of his inherited sin nature. If we follow our heart, we follow an untrustworthy guide.

We are, in fact, blinded to our own heart’s deceitful nature. As the prophet asks, “Who can understand it?” When we rely on ourselves for wisdom, we end up unable to tell right from wrong. The hit song of 1977, “You Light Up My Life,” contains these unfortunate words: “It can’t be wrong / When it feels so right.” Determining right from wrong based on “feelings” is a dangerous (and unbiblical) way to live.

Second, Jeremiah 17:9 teaches that the heart is desperately sick. There is no way to fix the heart. Rather, man needs a new heart. That is why, when a person comes to faith in Christ, he is made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus does not fix the heart; instead, He replaces it with a new one.

But that does not mean that we can rely on our hearts after we come to faith in Christ. Even as believers, we are encouraged to follow God’s will over our own desires. The Bible teaches that “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17).

We have an omniscient, benevolent Lord who promises to give us wisdom (James 1:5); we have His inspired, inerrant Word written down for us (2 Timothy 3:16). Why would we turn our backs on God and His eternal promises in order to pursue the whimsical impulses of the heart?[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Is Christian Country Music Appropriate?

 

As country music is simply a certain style or genre of music, Christian country music—sometimes called country gospel or inspirational country—is music of that particular genre that expresses beliefs consistent with the Christian faith. Determining whether or not Christian country music is appropriate is ultimately a personal decision, but there are biblical principles we can apply.

Historically, country music has had a spiritual nuance, with many artists incorporating biblical themes into their music. It’s not uncommon for country singers to record some straight gospel songs, or at least songs that talk about God.

Almost all genres of music have some sort of Christian sub-genre. However, simply labeling something as “Christian” doesn’t automatically mean that it is. Jesus taught that we should not make determinations by externals, but by the fruit produced (Matthew 7:15–20). In determining whether or not a Christian country song is appropriate, we need to consider several things, including the song’s effects (“fruit”).

First, what is the message of the song? A country song may mention God, for example, but is He portrayed in a way consistent with the Bible? Also—and this is a subjective test—what feelings, thoughts, and memories does a song evoke? Our thoughts should be focused on things that remind us of God’s goodness and truth (Philippians 4:8). If the music one listens to evokes thoughts or feelings that are contrary to God’s goodness, that’s a good sign it may not be appropriate for that person.

Context is also an important consideration. A Christian country song may inspire you as you’re driving in your car, but that does not necessarily make it an appropriate fit for a Sunday morning worship session.

It’s possible to use any genre of music to create songs with a Christian message. Any type of music can be used to point people toward God and encourage relationship with Him. People enjoy different styles of music. The country style connects with some people; others may prefer a different genre. The Bible does not say anything about styles of music. It’s more the message of the music in question and the effects it has on us as listeners that will determine whether or not it is appropriate.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: What Does the Bible Say about Playing the Lottery?

 

The word gamble means “to risk something of value on an outcome which depends on chance.” Because the outcome of a lottery “depends on chance” and playing it involves “risk,” then, by definition, playing the lottery is gambling.

The Bible does not specifically mention gambling, though it does mention the casting of lots for the purpose of decision making (Joshua 18:10; Nehemiah 10:34). And Proverbs 16:33 emphasizes the sovereignty of God: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

However, the main purpose of playing the lottery is to win money, and the Bible tells us what our attitude toward money should be. So often, riches get in the way of a man’s spiritual benefit (Mark 4:19; 10:25). Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13). First Timothy 6:10 is where we find the famous warning that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Playing the lottery as a get-rich-quick scheme is statistically futile, and, the fact is, God wants people to work hard: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We ought to gain wealth through diligence, as a gift from the Lord: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).

Additionally, not only do gamblers typically covet money, but they also covet the things that money can buy. God forbids covetousness: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17; see also 1 Timothy 6:10). Money is not the answer to life’s problems.

So, we would do well to be cautious about playing the lottery. There are probably many better uses for the money spent on a ticket, and we must guard against addictions to gaming. Buying a lottery ticket here and there may not be a sin, but greed is. Those playing the lottery must prayerfully examine their motives and, if they continue playing, do so responsibly and only in moderation.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Be Involved with Cosplay?

 

“Cosplay” (or cos-play) is short for “costume play.” It is the practice of dressing as a real or fictional character, typically from a video game, comic, TV show, movie, or even from history. Cosplayers often gather at a science fiction, game, or anime/magna conventions, but they also like to attend Renaissance fairs and historical reenactments. Some may participate for fun or to compete in contests, others are paid to advertise a product such as a video game or comic book, while a few dress up to promote their own costume supply business.

Cosplay costumes vary. Many are based on pre-existing characters while others are adaptations of a genre. It’s also common to combine one or more genres or characters, for example, a steampunk Darth Vader. Quality varies, as some cosplayers throw on ears and a tail and call it good while others spend hundreds of dollars and several weeks hand-making a single costume.

There is nothing inherently anti-biblical about dressing up with a bunch of other people. Many of the considerations are the same as for other pastimes (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). Cosplay can be very expensive; a custom-made outfit can cost several hundred dollars. Most cosplayers make some or all of their costume, which can be extremely time-consuming. When travel, hotels, and convention admissions are included, cosplay can suck up time and money that could be used for better purposes.

Christians must also consider some problems more specific to cosplay. Many of the women’s science fiction, fantasy, and anime costumes are very revealing—either skimpy or skin-tight. It should go without saying that Christian women should not chose a costume that is blatantly sexual (1 Timothy 2:9), and Christian men should not attend an event if they find such costumes distracting (Romans 13:14). Also, it is natural that putting on a costume encourages a person to act in ways he wouldn’t normally act; even if the costume makes the cosplayer unrecognizable, a Christian should always act in a way that glorifies God. Christians should also take care in what character they portray, staying away from anything based on demons or otherwise blatantly endorsing a non-Christian lifestyle.

Cosplay is not all bad. The level of craftsmanship elevates many costumes to an art form. Cosplay can be a family activity, whether the parents support their kids’ hobby or the entire family dresses up for a Ren Faire. The cosplay community can be very supportive, as players swap manufacturing tips and encourage newcomers. There are even opportunities to share Christ with fellow players.

Whether a Christian should get involved in cosplaying is a personal decision. Dressing up for a Renaissance festival or a steampunk ball is mostly harmless fun. Dressing as a demonic anime character or Slave-Leia at a comic-con, however, is not a good choice. As with any kind of entertainment, cosplayers should seek God’s will first and foremost.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: How Should a Christian Respond to Hollywood?

 

Hollywood is more than a city in California. The name has become synonymous with the values, lifestyles, and hedonistic philosophies of movie stars, celebrities and wannabes. In the Bible, the cities Sodom and Gomorrah had the same stigma (Genesis 18:20; Jude 1:7). They had become defined by their extreme values and lifestyle. To this day, when we hear of Sodom and Gomorrah, we think of sexual perversion great enough to bring God’s judgment (Genesis 19:24–25).

We often use the termHollywoodto refer to anything pertaining to the entertainment industry, even though other cities such as New York and Nashville contribute to it also. Although there are many Christians and ordinary people living in Hollywood, the city is known for its lavish materialism, adultery, sensuality, self-worship, idolatry, and anti-God bias. The overwhelming majority of movies and television shows Hollywood produces are filled with profanity, graphic or implied sex, and blatant promotion of all types of sin. Children are seduced by the “glamor” of Hollywood from their preschool years and grow up longing to be movie stars. Parents who recall their own star-struck childhood race to buy the latest product endorsed by the current heartthrob, regardless of the morals or lifestyle that idol embraces. Unfortunately, we are reaping the disastrous results of another generation raised by Hollywood’s standards.

There are several questions to consider in forming a response to Hollywood.

  1. What, exactly, so attracts us to Hollywood?Part of Hollywood’s appeal is the covetousness it champions. From every newsstand and television set, we are told that we want what the celebrities have. Headlines such as “America Wants to Know!” or “The Life Every Woman Dreams Of” scream at us from checkout lines, planting the message that we cannot possibly be content if we are not following celebrities. Millions gobble it up and, in their attempt to live like their idols, become indebted, anorexic, or promiscuous. Hollywood is in the business of creating idols and foisting them upon us whether we want them or not.

God has strong words for the sin of covetousness. He included it in His Top Ten List (Exodus 20:17). Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Covetousness is a thief that steals joy, peace, and contentment—qualities God wants His children to have in abundance (Galatians 5:22; 1 Timothy 6:6). So, for a Christian to become enamored with the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous is to break God’s tenth commandment and forfeit the contentment He wants us to develop.

  1. Why is Hollywood so influential?Aside from the materialism it wallows in, Hollywood has come to represent the great American fascination with entertainment. Entertainment is an idol that has crept quietly through the back door of Western Christianity. It goes mostly unnoticed as a threat because it does not wear the mask of evil. Entertainment itself is neutral. We use it to distract crying babies, quiet restless children, and relax weary workers. Entertainment can help unify a family on vacation, give teenagers something healthy to do, and bring enjoyment in stressful times.

But in prosperous cultures, entertainment has become an addiction. Entertainment for its own sake steals time, money, and mental energy that could be spent on more worthwhile pursuits. The world’s appetite for entertainment is Hollywood’s lifeblood. Without a demand for entertainment, celebrities would have to get real jobs like everyone else. Hollywood could not sustain itself without the public’s hunger for more. As with any addiction, the craving for greater thrills increases, and that’s why the public demands spectacles that are bigger, louder, more exciting, more beautiful, and more sensual. The lust for entertainment replaces the joy of the Lord until time with God is seen as an interruption in the pursuit of pleasure. At that point, entertainment has replaced God as our supreme delight and has become an idol (Exodus 20:3; 34:14; Jeremiah 2:13).

Entertainment is also wrong when we allow ourselves to be captivated by things that displease the Lord (Romans 1:32). When we excuse a movie’s sex scenes with “It had a good message” or become fans of openly immoral entertainers, we are crossing a line. We are allowing Hollywood rather than God’s Word to define our values. When making entertainment choices, one good question to ask is: “If Jesus was coming to spend the weekend with me, would I be happy to share this with Him?” Would He approve of the movie? reality show? new CD? Would He buy aPeoplemagazine and feast on the stories of mate-swapping and infidelity? Would He applaud the sensual dancers on the stage? If He would not, then why do we?

  1. Do we excuse language and behavior in movies and television shows that we would never endorse if it was done in our homes?If we willingly sit through acts of violence, immorality, profanity, and anti-Christian themes without it bothering us, then perhaps we have allowed the values of Hollywood to invade our lives. When we can fill our minds with vulgarities on Saturday night, yet show up for worship on Sunday morning with no awareness of the inconsistency, we have fallen victim to the lure of the Hollywood god.

Philippians 4:8 instructs us about our thought life: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV). Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). When our minds have entertained that which God calls evil, our thought life and eventually our actions will be affected. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

How we spend our time eventually defines us. If Hollywood is not reflecting the values we claim to cherish, then we must be careful how much time we spend with it. To honor God, we must compare the values coming out of Hollywood to the unchanging standard of Scripture. Then we must “hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Hollywood flaunts what God despises. Why do we suppose God is indifferent when a culture clamors for depictions of sin? As Christians, we are to seek after God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). If any form of entertainment does not support that goal, our response must be to reject it.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Play Multi-player Fantasy Games like Dungeons and Dragons?

 

Multi-player role-playing games (RPGs) can be played with pens and paper around a table with a group of friends or in an online world that exists 24/7, involving hundreds to thousands of other players around the globe. The goal is for each player to control a character that represents himself, interact with other players, and complete quests, missions, or tasks to gain various attributes, experience, or treasure.

Fantasy games in particular often include magic, murder, and general mayhem. In online games, female avatars (representations of characters) are often scantily dressed. Some RPGs allow players to flirt with each other or have sexual encounters. In general, many video games are structured in such a way that encourages obsessive or addictive behaviors as players attempt to reach certain levels. Of course, the same can be said of many other types of entertainment.

As the Bible was written before the internet or RPGs were even a twinkle on the horizon, there is nothing specific in Scripture that refers to playing RPGs or even engaging in the fantasy worlds presented today. However, there are plenty of principles God has laid out in the Bible for godly living. These principles can guide us in how to live our lives as believers—including how we occupy our minds for fun.

Games of any kind are a form of entertainment, whether you’re talking about Angry Birds and Farmville or Monopoly and Candy Land or World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons. Biblically, we have freedom to enjoy entertainment. God never says, “Thou shalt not have fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days.”

Enjoying a game with friends is not a sin. Games themselves, even RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, are not sin. Sin is an action or thought performed by a human being. What we do with what we have constitutes whether or not we have sinned. But how do we know if any given choice is a sin or not?

We must weigh our choices against biblical principles. Possibly the most important one to remember in regards to entertainment is stated in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we are engaged in fun activities, we should always make sure those activities are pleasing God and that we are representing Christ well in our behavior toward other players.

RPGs like Dungeon and Dragons have an element of fantasy and magic about which it may be well to be wary. But we can still apply the same principles to determine if these games will or will not detract from your relationship with God or with others.

Is the theme appropriate?

Are you able to distinguish between reality and fantasy, right and wrong, or good and evil? Would exposure to the game’s themes and ideas leave you confused about God’s views on the occult or desensitize your mind to occult lifestyles? A mature Christian may not have any issues with separating a game from life, but someone who is already wrestling with his or her faith may find the messages confusing (Romans 12:2).

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that even a mature Christian should be exposed to a game that may cause him or the ones he loves to stumble or struggle in their faith (1 Corinthians 8:9). First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Is evil encouraged?

In some games, evil is the goal, or characters can take on malicious or licentious characteristics that allow players to do things that would not be allowed in real life; thus, an unhealthy fantasy unfolds in the players’ minds. First Thessalonians 5:21–22 says to “hold fast to what is good” and “abstain from every form of evil”—even in how we represent ourselves in game play.

Philippians 4:8 says to dwell only on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

How does this game affect my life and relationships?

If game play becomes more important than God, family, or work or school responsibilities, then it has become an idol or an obsession. Idols take our focus off of what is most important in life. The Bible instructs us to flee from anything on this earth that we might idolize (1 Corinthians 10:14).

Additionally, if interacting with online players begins to replace, damage, or hinder the relationships we have with other people, then the game is replacing our healthier communities. It would then be wise to draw back from these false friendships and cling to those which will be most beneficial. However, playing a game in person with close friends as a way to enjoy each other’s company can be a valuable and positive experience (Proverbs 18:24).

Whether or not you can personally, in good conscience, participate in a multi-player fantasy role-playing game is a matter to discuss between you and God. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God is concerned about every aspect of our lives, including the ways we allow ourselves to be entertained, so we should give all of our worries and concerns to Him (1 Peter 5:7). After all, He knows what is best for you, and He knows exactly how a fantasy-based RPG will affect you and the people around you.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Is It Wrong to Want to Be Famous?

 

In our age of celebrity, the pull toward fame can feel overwhelming. The famous seem to have it all, and we sometimes find ourselves coveting what they have (or appear to have). When we evaluate whether a desire is right or wrong, we have to look at our motivation. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That instruction is our gold standard for evaluating our own motives. We can look at any desire and ask ourselves, “Do I want this for God’s glory or for my own?” It’s easy to tell ourselves that we could glorify God more by being famous. Wouldn’t more people listen to our message if we had a bigger platform?

Jesus gives us a great example in John 6. He had just fed over 5,000 people, healed the sick, and performed other miracles. The people were thrilled. They believed He was the One who would finally deliver them from the oppression of Roman rule. Jesus’ fame was at its peak, and the crowds were ready to crown Him king. But verse 15 says, “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

Imagine the situation. Jesus had the opportunity to be catapulted to fame and fortune. A certain logic says that, if Jesus were famous, powerful, and wealthy, then people would take more notice of His message. If He were king, He could glorify God even more. That makes sense from an earthly perspective, but Jesus said “no” to the coronation. It wasn’t God’s plan, so Jesus chose the harder way. Jesus’ goal in everything He did was to seek the will of His Father and to do it (John 4:34; 8:29; Luke 22:42). He said in John 8:50, “I am not seeking glory for myself.” Since Jesus is our model, that must be our goal, too.

Some people have a worldwide platform with which to glorify God. Others serve Him in seeming obscurity. Both are equal in importance in God’s kingdom (Matthew 5:19; 25:14–15). A desire for fame is not wrong in itself, if we want it for the right reasons. Most of us wouldn’t have the proper motivation. If we are honest, our desire for fame is to glorify ourselves (James 4:3; 1 Timothy 6:9). But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8–9). He chooses the humble to accomplish things of eternal value. He chooses simple truths to confuse those who think they are wise (1 Corinthians 1:27–28). He does it all so that “no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29). That should be our heart’s cry to Him: “Lord, let my flesh never glory in Your presence.”

When we make it our goal to keep our hearts humble before the Lord, He promises to exalt us in His way, in His time (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). If He can better use us by making us famous, then fame will come our way. But fame brings its own challenges. Many famous people warn that fame is not all it appears to be. There are headaches and heartaches that come with fame that many cannot handle. God wants the very best for each of His children. When we seek His fame over ours, we can trust that He will direct us into the path He has chosen for us (Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 3:5–6). His path, unlike the world’s, includes rewards that last for all eternity (Matthew 6:4; Luke 6:35; Ephesians 6:8; Proverbs 19:17).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: What Sort of Careers Can a Christian Consider?

 

At times we think that Christians should aspire to “Christian careers” like working at a church or in a parachurch ministry. We may realize that Christians can also work outside the walls of the church or the Christian name, but then we tend to limit ourselves to the “helping” professions. Christians can be doctors, nurses, teachers, child care workers, social workers, law enforcement officers, or counselors. But a businessman? A lawyer? An IT guru? An inventor? A builder? A fashion designer? A news anchor? A TV producer? A musician? An artist? We tend not to list these jobs among the most desirable work for Christians. There is nothing biblical about such a limiting stance.

Christians can consider almost any career. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.… Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) … So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Corinthians 7:17, 20–21, 24). Paul does not tell the believers to leave their current work and become missionaries or pastors. He tells them to remain where they are and serve God there. Paul wrote something similar to the Colossians, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). It is not so much what we are doing that matters, as for whom we are doing it. We glorify God when we work hard and cheerfully, whether as a pastor, an investor, an actor, a stay-at-home mother, or a barista.

Choosing a career can be difficult. Obviously, it is a matter for prayer. You should seek God’s direction for His will for your life. It can also be helpful to examine the specific gifts God has given you. He makes us each different (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:4–8) with unique desires, talents, and interests, and for unique purposes. It is also helpful to talk with those who know you well. Such people can serve as wise counselors (Proverbs 15:22), often providing helpful insight. It may also be beneficial to shadow or interview someone in your potential career field or to volunteer in the field to which you feel drawn.

Christians may consider any career in which they can honor God and use the uniqueness with which God created them. Of course, there are certain careers that are inherently dishonoring to God—most of them not strictly legal, such as prostitution or pornography. But any career that does not require sin in its performance is laudable Christian work and can be done to the glory of God (Colossians 3:23).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Watch Scary Movies/Horror Movies?

 

Movies are a powerful medium and they have a profound impact on culture. And the sad truth is that many movies these days, including those outside the scary “horror” genre, are either completely antithetical to Christian values or at the very least are at odds with God’s divine standard of holiness. As for most horror movies, their “entertainment” value often lies in their ability to titillate our youthful desire to be scared witless. The gruesome means by which moviemakers attempt to shock our consciences usually involves an abundance of carnage and bloodshed. The problem is, however, that it takes more and more to shock seared consciences these days, which means the level of depravity is continually on the rise to accommodate our increasing desensitization to hard-core gore and evil. All things considered, true Christians would likely find it difficult enjoying the majority of today’s horror movies.

Let’s consider the horror movies that delve into the supernatural realm with a particular focus on demonic activity. Scripture makes it clear that our earthly struggle is “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Christians are keenly aware of the evil reality of demons and how every moment of their very real existence is spent trying to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10), or to otherwise separate us from our Savior. As such, this is a subject that should hardly be taken lightly; neither should it be considered a form of “entertainment.” If something would offend Jesus Christ, it should offend His children in whom His Holy Spirit resides.

As we mature in our Christian walk, sin and evil should bother us more and more all the time. We are to be beacons of light in an ever-darkening world, striving to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Scripture tells us to be moral and pure, abhorring what is evil and to have our minds focused on things which are noble and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and that “whatever [we] do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). These verses should guide us daily in everything we do, including the movies we choose to see. How can it be possible to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when we are at a horror movie laden with murder and mayhem and, essentially, being entertained by the very sins that Jesus Christ died for?

Now, notwithstanding the above, it should be noted that there are some Christian moviemakers who actually produce horror movies, albeit not the bloodlettings referred to above. Realizing that evil is a very real part of our existence on earth, they feel it is not only possible but responsible to make a horror movie that accurately depicts the reality of the dark forces of evil with which Christians’ constantly struggle. Certainly if such a movie could help the audience appreciate the depth of our worldly struggle between good and evil, then such a movie could indeed be congruent with a Christian paradigm. Better yet, how beneficial would it be if such a movie could even point to our need for a Savior?

In deciding what movies to watch, perhaps it would be wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5 emphasis added). As Christians, we of course know that the Spirit of Christ resides in our hearts (Romans 8:9). He is with us wherever we go. What if, however, rather than occupying a place in our heart, Jesus Christ walked beside us so that we could literally see Him every moment of the day? What effect would this have on our behavior? What if when we went to the movies, for example, we saw Jesus Christ sitting beside us—watching the movie that we took Him to? Knowing the divine character of our holy and sinless Savior, and knowing the sanctity He places on the very life He died to give us, what sort of movie would we feel comfortable taking Him to?[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Read Romance Novels?

 

Romance novels have always been extremely popular, especially with women. In fact, romance novels have been labeled by some as “pornography for women.” Not all romance novels contain sex scenes and/or sexual innuendo, but more and more today, that is a component of them. Should a Christian read romance novels? This is a difficult question to answer because not all romance novels are the same. But the Bible has principles upon which to base our decisions in this, and all of life’s, questionable areas.

First is Paul’s admonition to believers in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” If the romance novel contains anything that is not honorable, pure, lovely or not worthy of praise, then we are not to “dwell on” them. Some people can read or watch or listen to things and forget them immediately afterward. Most people, however, are affected, some very deeply, by the things they take into their minds via the different media. If the elements of romance novels do not contain the things contained in Philippians passage, then they fall into the category of what we are not to dwell upon. A good test is whether we could honestly say we could read from the novel out loud to Jesus and feel comfortable in doing so.

There are many Christian romance novels that offer rich characters and intriguing plots without sex scenes. There are many secular novels from previous eras that do the same thing. Jane Eyre, for instance is a classic romance novel of English literature that not only contains nothing offensive, but its message is entirely in line with Christian principles. Many such books exist.

Another biblical principle to be considered is the need to protect our eyes, ears and heart. It is very important to not let novels, movies, or TV shows influence our perception of what is real. Many people watch TV or read books and think they portray the way real life is supposed to be. They then become disillusioned with their own lives and become frustrated that they don’t line up “life” as portrayed in the books or movies.

As in all things, wisdom is available from God who promises to give it without finding fault (James 1:5). If we pray and ask God to convict us of things that may be questionable, His Spirit speaks to our hearts as we yield to Him for guidance.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Work as a Bartender?

 

As Christians, we are called to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Clearly, bars are usually filled with people who need to hear the Gospel. Further, many people will open up to a bartender more than they would to some other random individual, especially when they are intoxicated. So, yes, a Christian might have some ministry opportunities while working as a bartender. However, working and building relationships in a sinful environment, surrounded by ungodly music, the abuse of alcohol, and sexual temptations for several hours a day is clearly unwise. “What fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Realistically, after a long shift of serving drinks in a bar, would the spirit of a Christian be edified? Would he/she leave with an increasing hunger for God’s Word? Would his/her mind be filled with holy images? Would his/her thoughts be that of Philippians 4:8? Scripture clearly teaches us to, “Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good” (Romans 12:9). Perhaps a Christian feels he/she would enjoy interacting with unbelievers to share the message of Jesus Christ. But is that the biblical model of evangelism, to share in their lifestyle? Yes, Jesus ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 11:19); however, with a heart of true compassion, His primary goal was, and still is, to save sinners. He never indulged in their lifestyle; rather, He commanded them to come out of it and live godly lives (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Many refer to 1 Corinthians 5:10 when debating over whether we should work in an environment where sin is prevalent. However, Paul is not encouraging us to enter into full-time business relations with the “fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters.” He is simply saying we cannot escape their company altogether: “In that case you would have to leave this world.” But we must not spend huge amounts of time with those indulging in evil lifestyles—as is certainly the case when working in a bar—in hopes of having a moment or two in which to share the gospel. Realistically, not many bar owners would tolerate a bartender who spent a majority of his/her time evangelizing the customers. He knows that would be detrimental to his bottom line. The fact is that people who go to bars are not usually in any frame of mind to hear the gospel.

As Christians, we are to obey the commandment of God to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). So “let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: What Does the Bible Say about Organ Donation?

 

The Bible does not specifically address the issue of organ transplantation. Obviously, organ transplants would have been unknown in Bible times. However, there are verses that illustrate broad principles that may apply. One of the most compelling arguments for organ donation is the love and compassion such an act demonstrates toward others. The mandate to “love your neighbor” was stated by Jesus (Matthew 5:43), Paul (Romans 13:9), and James (James 2:8), but it can actually be traced all the way back to Leviticus 19:18. From the earliest days in the Old Testament, God’s people were commanded to demonstrate a love for God as well as for their neighbors. Being willing to donate an organ from our own bodies would seem to be an extreme example of selfless sacrifice for another.

We have the utmost example of this in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made as He gave up His body for all of humanity. John summed up the command well when he wrote, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). As Jesus was trying to convey this message of unconditional love for others, He spoke of caring for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned (Matthew 25:35–46). He went on to clarify: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus also used the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) to teach that we, as Christians, are to be kind and to show love toward everyone. If a practice or procedure is not contradictory to biblical principles, then it should be considered permissible and can be supported by faithful Christians.

Some people view organ donation as the ultimate form of mutilating the human body. Frequently, passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 are used to defend the idea that organs should not be harvested from a person’s body. As stewards of God’s creation, we should treat our bodies with respect, and abstain from whatever is deleterious to them. However, when Paul wrote those words to the Christians at Corinth, he stated: “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (v. 20), indicating this was something that was to be carried out while the individual was still living. In the apostle’s second letter to the church at Corinth, he reminded them: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (5:1). One of the biggest concerns among Christians is the concept that the entire body needs to be present and preserved in some fashion for the resurrection. Therefore, many Christians are reluctant to donate organs because they believe that resurrection itself requires a “complete” body. However, when God was handing out punishments at the Garden of Eden, He told Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). Thus, God said that one day our earthly bodies would return to the soil.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, provided some insight as to the difference between the physical body at death (which may be disposed of in a variety of ways), and the spiritual body of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35–49). He used the analogy of the difference between a seed and the product of that seed to illustrate the difference between the earthly body and the resurrected body. He then went on to comment: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (v. 44). If we believe that the bodies raised at the resurrection represent simply a “reoccupation” of our earthly bodies, then we possess a false concept of our resurrection as presented in the Bible. We are told that the earthly body, “that of flesh and blood,” will not enter into the heavenly inheritance (1 Corinthians 15:50). Based on these facts, Christians should not fear or reject organ donation merely in an attempt to keep the physical body intact for the resurrection.

Additional thoughts on organ donation and organ harvesting
The legitimate argument against organ donation arises from the process of organ harvesting. There is nothing ethically wrong in recovering organs from the dead, but most successful organ transplants require that any prospective organs be kept alive with blood and oxygen flowing through them until they are removed from the body. This dilemma is troublesome, because we cannot, and must not, support the termination of life in favor of organ donation. The medical profession has traditionally used cessation of heart and lung activity to mark the point of death. Medical technology had progressed to a point where it is possible to sustain (via a respirator) heart and lung activity for days or even weeks after a patient had irreversibly lost all brain function. There has been a push in some medical circles to harvest organs when the patient has lost higher brain functions but is still alive. In 1994, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) issued its updated opinion that it is “ethically permissible” to use babies born without higher brain functions as organ donors.

As Christians, we can support organ donation only in those cases in which death has been determined by every criteria, “including complete loss of brain function,” rather than just by one or two criteria. God forbids intentional killing (James 2:10–11); thus, we must carefully determine, in light of God’s Word, whether a respirator is simply oxygenating a corpse or sustaining a living human being. Then we must act accordingly. Since most transplants come from donors who have been declared neurologically dead, it is important that we fully understand the criteria the medical profession is using to define brain death. Only when a patient is determined to be irreversibly and completely brain dead should he or she be considered a candidate for organ donation.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Use Social Networking Tools (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Blogs, Etc.)?

 

Hundreds of millions of people are running toward social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to participate in the relational components of the Internet. Are these networks the next big mission field or an enormous waste of time? Should a Christian participate in social networking? The answer to these questions should be determined by whether we can honestly ask God to bless and use our actions for His own good purposes. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If we are willing to let God use our participation for His glory, we have freedom to participate.

Christians who choose to participate in social networking should be aware of the negative aspects of social networking. It should be remembered that not everyone on the Internet has pure motives, and we should use safety precautions, utilize the privacy settings, and be selective as to who is accepted as a “friend” or “fan.” Parents should regularly interact with their children and be active participants in their child’s use of social networking sites. In addition, Christians should be aware of the danger of the narcissism (excessive self-love and preoccupation with self) inherent in self-oriented sites. Studies have shown that overuse or wrong motives in social media participation can breed narcissism. When we rely on social media sites primarily to promote ourselves or draw attention to ourselves, it is time to take a step back. It’s wise to utilize accountability, encouraging spouse, family members, and Christian brothers and sisters to view our social networking activity and hold us accountable. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.”

It’s also important to understand the impact our status, photo, comments, or blog posts may have in the future. It should be remembered that social networking sites involve publishing to the entire Internet, including family members, current and future employers, college admissions personnel, etc. The ramifications of any statements, both now and in the future, should be considered. It should be assumed that everything written is permanent and viewable by everyone. Furthermore, while maintaining relationships is important and healthy, addiction is not. Limiting the amount of time we devote to these social networking sites is both healthy and wise.

On the other hand, there are definitely positive aspects of social networking. For the Christian, social media sites can be an enormously productive mission field. Reconnecting with old friends and increasing our sphere of influence can lead to evangelistic opportunities unavailable elsewhere. Social media allows us to reenter the daily lives of people we may have lost contact with and open up new avenues for sharing Christ. As such, we can influence the views of others by what we post, bringing encouragement and spiritual guidance to others and using friends lists or Facebook status updates to pray regularly for friends and their needs. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Finally, social networking sites can engage spiritual seekers on the Internet, meeting those seekers where they are. Just like face-to-face evangelism, we can establish credibility and authenticity in the seeker’s natural and comfortable environment, and then build on that foundation and share the love of Christ with new online friends.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.