Soldier Suicides Reflect Spiritual Health of America

Our soldiers are having great difficulty in handling the great stresses that they must endure in the present day.  It has been reported just recently that suicide in the American military was at an all-time high in 2010, and reduced a small amount in 2011 after intensive efforts by the military in taking actions to identify those at risk, but the rates are still higher than the general population.  For the first half of 2009, suicide claimed the lives of more American soldiers than did combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

There have been various studies done in an effort to explain the higher rates of suicide.  Economics certainly explains some of the problem because suicide rates do correlate with the economic situation of America.  Nevada has been hit hard economically especially with the decline of the housing market, but it’s also a major center of gambling.  The suicide rate in Nevada for veterans was 250% of the state’s rate for non-veterans from 2008-2010, but almost 400% of the national non-veteran rate.  Economics is only part of picture although.  The amount and type of combat seen by veterans plays a role along with the amount of rest available between times of combat.  Availability of mental health services is a factor, too, and has been greatly increased for veterans.

 

An analysis of this subject brings one common variable to the forefront; that variable is the presence, or absence, of hope.  Aldous Huxley wrote in his book, The Doors of Perception, “Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul.”  The presence of an inner hope kept alive some in Nazi concentration camps while the absence of hope can and will result in suicide in circumstances not near as comparably dire.  The obvious next question regards the object of hope.

The beginning words of The Object of Hope (1862, James Smith) sum it up well:  ” ‘For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we do not see—we wait for it with patience.’ [Romans 8:24, 25]  Some have no hope, being destitute of the very form of religion. To them . . . there is no God; the Bible is no more than a book of fables, hell is a fabrication, and heaven is but a dream!  Millions have a false hope, having only a form of godliness—but being destitute of its power.  Some have a good hope through grace—a hope . . . wrought in them by the Holy Spirit, excited and drawn forth by the everlasting gospel, and fixed upon invisible realities.  This hope always purifies the heart and regulates it; for they hope to be like Jesus when He comes, and to be with Him forever—and every man who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, even as He is pure.  This hope prompts the soul . . . to expect great blessings, to aspire to lofty privileges, and to attempt the most difficult duties.  This hope protects the man from many dangers, and preserves him from many evils.  This hope is well-grounded, on . . . the oath of God, the blood of the covenant, and the pledge of the Holy Spirit.  This hope is well-tried . . . by Satan and the world without, by unbelief and corruption within, and by God in the dispensations of his providence.  This hope is well-supported, having for its support . . . all the promises of the Word, the experience of the Lord’s people, and the glorious character of God.  This hope is a lively hope—being full of vigor, buoyancy, and energy, so that it rises above all that opposes its progress, and enables its possessor to reach the goal.  Well, then, may the apostle say, ‘For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it’ [Romans 8:24, 25]. 

The object of hope is the source of true hope.  In the America of today, where Christianity is under constant attack, the source of true hope is also under attack.  Hope is talked about just as much as faith and love are discussed.  A neutral “faith” is politically correct, but is as dead and powerless as a created idol set on a pedestal.  If we are going to get serious about what is ailing not only our military, but our country, we must realize that what is wrong in our military is a reflection of what is wrong in America.  When the stress of storms hit, the homes with a good foundation and solid construction will stand.  What looks good on the outside can be found to be hollow on the inside when extreme stress tests how the building has been made.

Too often in “successful” churches, God is portrayed as nothing more than a cheerleader.  Dallas Willard writes in his 1997 book, The Divine Conspiracy, “When this cheerleading approach to the ‘real world’ triumphs among those who profess Christ, they may then have faith in faith but will have little faith in God.  For God and his world are just not ‘real’ to them.  They may believe in believing but not be able to rely on God—like many in our current culture who love love but in practice are unable to love real people.  They may believe in prayer, think it quite a good thing, but be unable to pray believing and so will rarely, if ever, pray at all.”  Christians have the source of real hope and it’s not just an ideal that should be left at home, or relied upon when nothing else seems to work.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.”  The health of our military is a microcosm of the real health of our nation under stress.  Do we dare keep playing games and watch our nation collapse?  What would heal our land would heal our military as well and that is a revival in His Church.

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God Bless the Atheists

It is quite sad to read of a group of atheists, Humanists of Florida, in Polk county, Florida who recently got together to “unbless” a highway that leads into the county and put “unholy water” on it with brooms, mops, and water hoses.  A year earlier, a group of Christians, Polk Under Prayer, had prayed for a blessing on the same road as a means of protecting their county from evil and destructive influences.  This group of atheists makes fun of Christian believers and are allowed to exercise their free will of choice of whether to reject or accept God, and to accept blessings or to curse.  Christians should respond to these insults in the way that the Bible demands:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14, 17-21).

 

“And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Corinthians 4:12-13).

It’s About Freedom, not Contraception

In November 2011, Mississippi voters failed to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would have identified life as beginning at conception.  Polls that were done only weeks before the vote showed that the measure would pass in this state that is identified by surveys as being the most conservative in the nation.  However, those polls started changing quickly after robo-call machines and millions of dollars of advertising churned out propaganda meant to cast doubt in the public regarding contraception’s legality if this were to be passed.  Even though the arguments posed by many liberal pro-abortion groups were false and deceiving of the public, there was enough confusion created that the conservative state showed its reluctance to accept the initiative by the majority voting against it. 

What has become apparent since that time is the burgeoning debate regarding contraception in our entire country.  The debate has entered the Republican presidential primaries having been escalated by the liberal media who feel that they have found a wedge issue to divide voters.  Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment failed after their tactics were tested in the state and now those same ideas have emboldened the liberal Democrats to push this issue of availability of contraception as a means of splitting conservative and independent voters. 

Besides the presidential primaries, the issue has become more prominent through the Obama administration’s foolish stance against churches who do not believe in contraception.  United States Attorney General Eric Holder has even stated that his office will fully enforce the law regarding fines of $100 per day per individual denied free contraception under what is popularly known as ObamaCare.  These kind of fines and court costs threaten to bankrupt any church that decides to abide by its doctrine.  The most prominent church threatened under the healthcare law is the Catholic Church and they have boldly defended their position.  In an apparent double standard, President Obama and Attorney General Holder decided that the Defense of Marriage Act, which is also law, would not be enforced.

The boldness of the Democrats on the position of contraception availability paid for by the taxpayers and companies (whether it’s against their conscience or not) has been emphasized again by the failure of the Democrat controlled Senate to pass the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” that was put forth by Republicans.  Democrats are relying upon polls which show that the public reportedly supports Obama’s position on birth control.  Scare tactics were used again in the Senate to keep the measure from passing and would have allowed for those who still have a conscience to be able to abide by it by opting out of paying for items that are against their conscience.

The idea of tolerance has been promoted extensively among liberals, but on this topic there is clearly no tolerance for anyone to have a different opinion than what they deem to be acceptable.  If there is disagreement, the courts now threaten them with jail and fines which could cause possibly severe financial damage, or even bankruptcy.  Freedom is being threatened to a greater degree than many people realize through acceptance of these new laws and through sanctioning this attack upon churches.  No one advocates forcing anyone to not be able to buy contraception and if someone wants it, they can buy it themselves.  No one is being hurt by not having someone else to pay for contraception. 

The debate in this country needs to be refocused from who should pay for contraception availability to debating who wants to promote freedom of people to think differently and follow their conscience.  I think the majority of the people in this country still support the right of people to have freedom of thought and freedom to follow their conscience.  Liberal Democrats tested their tactics with the failure of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment in 2011 and believe they will prevail in using this issue of contraception to help them keep the White House in 2012.  However, if independent thinkers will consider the real issues at play here, this issue could turn against the liberals through revealing how un-American it is to directly threaten churches, stifle freedom of thought, and force people into violating their conscience.