We Are Losing Our Religion – Revised Draft

Standard

We Are Losing Our Religion:

Failing to Protect the Next Generation

Jason M. Roebuck

Northwest Christian University

 

Abstract

This issue is important because even though more young people every day say they disagree with issues like abortion, they refuse to stand up for what they believe.  This attitude is one that is born from a lack of understanding and limited availability of scientific research to young people about the reasons attitudes toward abortion and indifference toward the poor are so vehemently defended.  It is important, because as a youth minister at a church in Springfield, Oregon, this research and my essay could serve to help me realize new and different ways to educate young people in and outside the church.

The issue of abortion has been a hotly debated in the United States for over 40 years.  Since abortion was made legal by a decision in 1973 by the Supreme Court, there have been many studies done and research analyzed about the ways abortion is supported and the conditions of the culture that lead more and more people to come out in support of a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy.  It is not as simple as whether or not someone was raised in the church.  The issue is not just about feminism and your belief in women’s rights or even opposition to equal rights for women.  What are the social conditions that have led to the abortion rights in America being vehemently defended?

The challenge to organized religion comes from indifference rather than atheism (Cheyne, 2010, p. 56).  Because of this challenge, there are more people that consider themselves as having no religion, “Nones”, than ever before.  The number of people that consider themselves atheist is significantly smaller than those who consider themselves as having no religion.  Cheyne says, “There were only 1% atheists among the 15% Nones”.  (p. 57)  Tamney, Johnson and Burton (1992) state that the reason this is so important to the argument about supporting conditions that defend abortion is that without religion there is no class of people willing to stand in opposition to life issues (p. 33).  The percentage of people who stand in radical opposition to faith is small, but still there is an ever increasing number of people that have no opinion on faith, because they have no interest in religion.  Tamney et al. (1992) declares, “Opposition to legalized abortion finds its ideological justification in the religious tradition, specifically in natural law or puritanical doctrines.” (p. 34).  Still, there needs to be more conversation between the conservative “religious” and the liberal “religious” in order to find out why abortion happens.  However, it is this lack of religion that begins to explain the social conditions that are leading our country to a place of not being able to defend the next generation from abortion.

If there is a decreasing amount of religious people, there are less people objecting to immoral and unethical behavior.  More directly, there are more people supporting behavior that would be seen by religious people as objectionable.  Chang (2005) articulates that early pregnancy prevention efforts failed because of their connection to issues like socialism and feminism.  All feminists or socialists are not going to support immoral or unethical behaviors, but without the balance of faith in God, their efforts will surely succeed to promote self-serving interests, rather than life-protecting issues, especially in areas of the country that are without religious affiliation (p. 228).  Early adopting states in support of legalized abortion were in areas of the United States that were without the fervor of support from the Catholic Church that supports efforts to defend life, and no real feminist movement in the 1960s.  (Chang, 2005, p. 228-229)  So, the forces that would be a rallying cry for people who stand in opposition to unethical and immoral behaviors were non-existent in these, mostly southern states, which were early adopters of state legalized abortion.  (Chang, 2005, p. 228)  At the end of Chang (2005), it declares that religion is an impetus for conflict within a society (p. 230).  It is that conflict that would allow us to see the real enemy in the disagreements over why abortion exists.

If someone accepts premarital sex and divorce as a part of normal life, it would be more likely that they would accept abortion.  Marsiglio and Shehan (1993) have alleged “People who have more traditional views, such as opposition to premarital sex and support of legal restrictions on divorce, are more likely to oppose abortion.”  Although, this is not quoted as the only reason for opposition to abortion in this article, it is posited as one of the strong factors in deciding whether someone is capable of standing in opposition to the action of aborting a child.  Borgmann (2009) theorizes that the belief in “life beginning at conception”, which comes from a religious perspective, is only a part of the beginning of the conversation.  It is only when reason and belief are considered together that we are able to come to a “reflective equilibrium”.

Religious freedom is being persecuted actively by secular societies that boldly claim that religious people are intolerant, because they won’t participate in activities that they object to on moral or religious grounds.  Hodge (2002) brings to light the oppression or active targeting of religious values by a “new class” of people that want to do away with traditional values because they stand in opposition to their neutrality towards social issues like abortion (p. 404).  However, it is only through the challenging of the issues that surround statements like, “life that begins at conception” that will help our society deal with the reasons that women choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Christians in the United States are seeing the level of persecution toward them on a much broader scale.  It is no longer just Catholics that are targeted, but all Christians that are following the rules that are laid out in scripture concerning sexuality and morality.  The conclusion drawn by Hodge (2002) is that “the oppression of Evangelicals and other people of faith should concern every social worker, for authentic diversity is an intrinsic good that enriches society” (p. 411).  It should be a concern for more than just the religious, that people with religious conservative values are being targeted with oppression, because it threatens the whole of society when a good that enriches the society is subjugated.  When the religious are asked to explain the reasons for their faith, real solutions to cultural issues can be found through an authentic dialog about why they believe and what that belief can do for them and others.

Some people in the modern world might say that we are becoming more self-aware, and not less religious.  It is true that we have more access to knowledge today, because of the internet and the ability to find reference material from any number of outlets.  However, it is also true that we don’t always choose to study the things that will enrich our lives and lead us to a moral truth that could guide our lives in a positive way.  Cheyne (2010) relates that this is what happens when the modern person is left alone to search the internet for truth, only to end up putting together a lot of stuff that sounds true, but they would have no principled basis that led to that truth (p.58).   People in today’s world are just so busy, it is difficult to make a commitment to slow down and listen to the wisdom that comes from any authority, even the authority that comes from their own church.  It is easier to just find someone who agrees with your stance on the issues, than to find the absolute truth that would speak to the heart of even the most cynical non-believer.

Finally, the argument could be made that people are deciding to not affiliate with religion, which causes them to lean more on a truth that relates to them alone.  Cheyne (2010) advances that a kind of “Religionism” exists among some of the believers that are found in our modern culture, where they pick what beliefs match their previously concluded understanding of faith (p. 58).  Without a reliance on some absolute truth, it would be easy to find ways to justify all kinds of moral evils, especially if the evil doesn’t have an effect on the reality that we have created for ourselves.  In addition, liberals are allowing themselves to be painted as evil and immoral, because they do not question the reasons that believers use statements like, “life begins at conception” as a reason for opposing abortion.  Borgmann (2009) gives us a glimpse of how political discourse is almost too polite to really consider issues like abortion.  The example of Barack Obama and John McCain’s answers to the question of when life begins, as a jumping off point for understanding why the question is not sufficiently answered.  “For his part, Obama answered that ‘if you believe that life begins at conception, then–and you are consistent in that belief–then I can’t argue with you on that.”  It is exactly that argument that needs to happen.  The author says McCain would have to believe in murder, since he supports abortion in some cases, even though he proposes that life begins at conception.  Card (2000) shapes the argument around the idea that some people believe that certain conditions need to be present to indicate a person exists, and it posits that in order to be a person, it must be able to survive outside the womb of the mother.  The author suggests that the argument presented there is not without problems, but it is an important argument to have, in order to come to an understanding of how liberals can accept abortion.  (p. 345)

The research done over the past 20 years says that it is a fact that the United States is becoming less religious.  However, the reality of a less religious country may lend itself to bringing more reason and understanding to bear on a people that have spent too much time being divided on many social issues.  Poteat (2012) shows through survey results that only people that do not have their identity tied up with their beliefs are able to see issues like abortion and same-sex marriage from a position of understanding (p. 62).  The article states that more research could be done on a larger scale, but the idea of not being too polarized on an issue, in order to be able to see both sides of it, makes sense to this author.

The losing of our religion in America and the lack of willingness to discuss morality in the public square are important factors that contribute to abortion being vehemently defended by a majority of the population.  However, it does not offer the solution to lowering the number of abortions performed.  If conservatives and liberals are sincerely challenging each other on important issues, like abortion, that can help the culture find solutions to these important issues.  “Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with your neighbor; if you no longer oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow after other gods to your own harm, only then will I let you continue to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors long ago and forever.”  (Jeremiah 7:5-7  NABRE)

 

References

Borgmann, Caitlin E. (2009). Symposium Volume: New Scholarship on Reproductive Rights: Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate (Report No. 18 Colum. J. Gender & L. 551). New York, New York:  Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

Card, R. F. (2000). INFANTICIDE AND THE LIBERAL VIEW ON ABORTION. Bioethics, 14(4), 340.

Chang, P. (2005). Abortion, Religious Conflict, and Political Culture. Journal for The Scientific Study Of Religion, 44(2), 225-230.

Cheyne, J. A. (2010). The Rise of the Nones. Skeptic, 15(4), 56-60.

Hodge, D. R. (2002). Does Social Work Oppress Evangelical Christians? A ‘New Class’ Analysis of Society and Social Work. Social Work, 47(4), 401-414.

Marsiglio, W., & Shehan, C. L. (1993). Adolescent Males’ Abortion Attitudes: Data from a National Survey. (Cover story). Family Planning Perspectives, 25(4), 162.

Poteat, V. H. (2012). (Dis)similarity Between Liberals and Conservatives: Predicting Variability in Group Differences on Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage Rights Attitudes. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 34(1), 56-65.

Tamney, J. B., Johnson, S. D., & Burton, R. (1992). The abortion controversy: conflicting beliefs and values in American society. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 31(1), 32-46.

 



Rewriting the Psalms…Journal #3

Standard

Psalm 1 (in my own words)

Happy is the man who does not follow bad examples,011816_1756_CovenantFir1.png

nor do they live in opposition to God,

nor hang with people who convince you evil is good.

Instead, he finds eternal happiness in following God;

with the Word of God always in the front of his mind.

He is like a stronghold

placed in the best strategic position,

to take advantage of every good harvest when it comes;

The bricks are impenetrable,

the things he pursues, he gets.

But the bad examples are not eternally happy!

They are like tumbleweeds in the breeze.

So the bad examples will be judged accordingly,

along with the people who oppose God.

God leads the faithful people back to himself,

and the bad examples will be left to themselves.

AND

Psalm 23 (revised)

The Lord, Savior and Redeemer

A psalm of Jason.Fountain_of_Eternal_Life_crop

The Lord is my savior;

he always shows me his mercy.

In church he makes me kneel down;

to the water that flowed from his side;

he restores me through his body.

He advises me through his church

for the sake of his love.

Even though my flesh calls out to sin and death,

I do not fear the world or the devil, for Jesus is with me and loves me;

your chastisement and your authority make me feel at home.

You freed me from my sins,

while the unrepentant looks on;

You make me into your priest;

to show your mercy to others.

I will always be ready to receive your forgiveness

while I am on earth;

My savior’s church will be my home until the end comes.

Time to stand up…For Jesus and the unborn children!

Standard

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Social Conditions in Support of Abortion

    The issue of abortion has been a hotly debated issue in the United States for over 40 years. Since abortion was made legal by a decision in 1973 by the Supreme Court, there have been many studies done and research analyzed about the ways abortion is supported and the conditions of the culture that lead more and more people to come out in support of a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy. What are the social conditions that have led to the abortion rights in America being vehemently defended?

    First, in an article by Marsiglio and Shehan “Adolescent Males’ Abortion Attitudes: Data from a National Survey” they consistently come back to the idea that the survey numbers are skewed by either the religious affiliation or the view that the respondents have of religion. In “Abortion, Religious Conflict, and Political Culture”, Chang goes as far as to say that religion helps explain the social conflict and the impetus for the social conflict comes from religion. (Chang, 2005, p. 230) Finally, in the article from the 1980s, Tamney, Johnson and Burton explain the attitudes of different parts of the culture that stand in opposition to religion in the article, “The Abortion Controversy: Conflicting Beliefs and Values in American Society”. So, people in the United States will continue to support legalized abortion because the United States is becoming increasing less religious.

    Finally, this issue is important because even though more young people every day say they disagree with abortion, they refuse to stand up for the unborn. This attitude is one that is born from a lack of understanding and limited availability of scientific research to young people about the effect of abortion. It is important for me, because one of my jobs is as a youth minister at a church in Springfield, OR. I hope that this research and my essay serves to help me realize new and different ways to educate young people about this issue.

Egypt as an incubator…

Standard

I spent too much time pondering this question for the second discussion essay in my latest biblical theology class.  The question was “How did the Egypt experience serve as an ‘incubator’ for the nation of Israel?”  The answer was given very succinctly by our professor in a video from the previous lesson.  Incubator At the end of the video was his discussion of the covenant relationship between Abraham and God, but it talks about the idea of Egypt being an incubator for the chosen people of God to multiply without the distraction of having to keep an army, a government or taxation.   Professor Larsen says in the video that they are protected by their oppressors.

The reason for spending some time ponderinc76d0-www-st-takla-org___jesus-second-coming-advent-03g this question is that I believe God may be revealing some truth about the chosen people of God that are now inhabiting all parts of the world.  We are being called to be made strong in the face of the slavery that is being put on God’s people through all kinds of vice.  You can pick any one of the deadly sins, and you should see how the world’s governments are steadily attempting to make all people dependent on the vices that they control.  I won’t get into all of them here, but it is enough to say that Christians are being called upon to witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ to overcome all of these vices through his power.  The virtues that have slowly been taken out of the public discussion need to be placed back in the forefront of everyone’s mind in order to combat the vices.

Rather than make this an essay about how to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue, it is more helpful to see the three virtues stated in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as the guiding principles to lead a good moral life.  Paul says, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians 13:13 NABRE)  It is faith in the one true God, and hope that he is preparing us for eternity with him, and finally he is asking us to love each other, the same way he loved us.  It may be difficult to see the world we live in as an incubator for God’s chosen people, because we have lived most of my lives being slaves to the same vices that I was putting down in the last paragraph.  However, it is true from the story we read about the Exodus of God’s chosen people that they often longed for the place of slavery because they had enough to eat or drink.  Also, when the were in Egypt, they were not being asked to suffer to cleanse themselves of the defilement of their time in slavery.  Their slavery had become their life, and it was hard to let it go.

Finally, we wait for the final coming of the Lord to rescue us from our inability to let go completely, like Moses did for the Israelites in their Exodus.  We should see God in all parts of his creation and thereby not struggle to have faith.  We should allow our lives to be possessed by God and thereby have no need to hope.  We can rest in the knowledge that loving God and our neighbors will lead us out of slavery and into the kingdom of God that he has prepared for us.

Covenant – First Essay (BTH101 – OL1)

Standard

When reading through the chapters assigned for this essay, I noticed one thing that I don’t believe I have ever noticed before. I always assumed that Lot was Abram’s brother, but it says in two different places that he is his brother’s son or nephew. (Genesis 12:5, 14:12 NABRE) I don’t know how this relates to the covenant, but I thought it would be worth mentioning as I started my essay to set up the understanding of how this relationship between Abram and God will affect Abram’s relationship with his family.

Professor Larsen’s video

First, we read about the original covenant with Abram, Moses and Jesus. Professor Larsen in his “Covenant” video, said that these beginning verses encapsulate the meaning of the three main covenants of the bible. He mentions the blessing of Abraham’s name and his family, the people of his nation, and the people of the whole world. (Genesis 12:1-3 NABRE) To me, this explanation is a great way to explain the meaning of the bible to someone who has never read it before and could easily get caught up in the symbolism of the book of Genesis, and get bogged down in understanding the details before they ever get a chance to hear the good news.

Second, the idea of marriage as a covenant relationship has always been hard for me to accept. I do believe it is a covenant, but the fact that my own parents are divorced makes it difficult to see the reality of what God meant for it to be. However, as Professor Larsen said in his “Covenant” video, it is supposed to be a relationship where two people stay together for their whole life, and he adds, “If their faithful.” Unfortunately, both my Dad and my Mom decided to not be faithful to the covenant, and the consequence of that is that their children suffer with accepting of the permanence of a covenant relationship. My wife and I have not been perfect through 16 years of marriage, but it helps us to realize that our four children are looking to us to see that covenant relationship. We don’t just stay together for the kids, but we grow closer every day to become better role models of the loving relationship that our children can expect from God.

Finally, in Chapter 14 of Genesis, we see how Abram goes to war to save his nephew and his kinsmen. It is helpful to me to understand that as Abram did not hesitate to come to the aid of his kinsmen, we must be willing to defend our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted today in different parts of the world. For some reason, I had never read that Abram’s nephew, Lot, was his nephew and not his brother as I had thought before. The deeper meaning of this, for me, is that even though we may not be close to our relatives in our own family, we can’t forget about their need of a savior. In the same way, we wouldn’t forget about sharing the good news with our closest relatives, we should be willing to share it with everyone. It is a sure sign of our covenant relationship with God, that we entered into at our Baptism, that we are willing to share this good news with everyone.

What is the will of your Father?

Standard

In order to answer this question, I propose that we ask the opposite question and look to scripture to find the answer.  What is not the will of the Father?  If you follow me on Twitter, you saw this answer coming.  Matthew 18:14 says, “In just the same way, it is not the will of the Father that one of these little ones be lost.”  I just tweeted this verse from scripture because I know most people are not going to take the time to read this post, but I think the message is something believers in this world really need to hear right now.  Earlier in the chapter, Matthew’s gospel offers a glimpse of who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and what the perception of temptation should be.  However, right before this, he tells us what lengths he is willing to go to save the lost sheep.  How many of us can say we are willing to be uncomfortable to save a lost sheep when there are 99 found sheep with us?  If we are being honest, it is really hard to choose to be uncomfortable when it looks like we are already surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.   The will of the Father is that all of his sheep are brought back to the sheepfold, so we must stand ready to go in search of them when we are sent.  We will probably not be consulted about how and when we will be sent, so we must stand ready at all times. Just like he did…Jesus

Jesus, help us look at our cross and not count the cost…Save us, savior of the World…For by your cross and ressurection you have set us free…Amen!

Mary knew, but knowing it doesn’t make it easy!

Standard

I was pondering this song that was made popular again by Jordan Smith during the latest final’s competition of the Voice on NBC.  The song is called, “Mary did you know?”  In reviewing all of the reasons that people like or dislike this song, I came to a new conclusion.  It is not the basis of the theology that troubles me, but rather the idea that somehow knowing would make things easier.  It is the idea that once I know something, I will be able to live my life fully in response to that knowledge.  Mary could, because she was preserved free from the stain of original sin, but I can’t because I will always have that thing that leads me to struggle with my decision to follow Jesus.

Mary did not need to know what it felt like to carry Jesus in her heart, but it didn’t make her suffer any less when she watched him die for all of us, including her.  She did not need to know what it would be like to hear God’s voice and wonder if she should follow it, she just did it.  I can hear everyone saying than why did she question the angel who told her, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”  (Luke 1:31)  She questioned it, because it was not physically possible to conceive a son without being sexually active, and she had not been.  The angel gives her the assurance that what is going to happen is from the holy Spirit, and she is to name her son, Jesus.  Contrast this to what had just happened a few verses earlier in Luke Gospel account of the conception of John the Baptist.  Zechariah had also questioned the angel, but pay close attention to what he asked.  Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  (Luke 1:18)

Mary did not need to know it, she was asking for physically how it was possible.  She was overshadowed by the holy Spirit and became one with God through this amazing encounter.  Unfortunately, Zechariah was struck dumb for his need for knowledge, and it was only because of his concupiscence that he was made to stay quiet while God did his great work of making conception possible in his wife’s womb.

We should not be questioning, “How will we know this?”, unless we are comfortable with the suffering that will accompany our waiting for God to supply the answer.  It is not possible to completely get rid of our concupiscence, so the suffering for most of us will be a part of this life.  However, if we can be like Mary when we say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:38b)  We will be given the holy Spirit to lead us on our journey to heaven, and maybe we can save some of the suffering that comes to us when we always need to know.