Monday, December 19, 2011

Jim Bob, Michelle, and Jubilee Duggar

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, whose family is chronicled on the hit TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, recently lost the baby that Michelle was carrying. Jubilee Shalom Duggar was stillborn on December 11th when she was 19 weeks along; she weighed just 4 ounces. 

This family is obviously mourning the loss of their daughter, and they should be given time to grieve. I have debated blogging on this issue because I believe in privacy, but yet it is the need for privacy that has compelled me to write this. I have been disgusted by the criticism this family has received.

This family has many critics for the same reason Tim Tebow does: they are successful Christians, and non-believers can’t stand that. They passionately love Jesus, live holy lives, and enjoy life. They are proof that Christians don’t need filthy TV, sexual music, or alcohol to have a good time, and for that, liberal Christians have become their critics as well.

The 19th Duggar baby, Josie, was born early and spent a few months in the NICU. There were harsh comments made then about how careless it was for them to continue to have children. So last month when the Duggars announced that Michelle, now 45 years old, was pregnant again, the blogosphere erupted with more of the same.

I’m having trouble reconciling these comments of concern for the loss of a baby with the political agenda that says Michelle could have aborted this baby if she wanted to. These people are saying that the Duggar family’s selfish desire for another child has caused this tragedy, but since the majority of their critics are liberals, these comments are being made from people who would be just fine (some even delighted) with her choosing to abort.

The family has even been criticized for having a memorial service for little Jubilee. At the service the family passed out a black and white picture of Jubilee’s feet in Michelle’s hand, and an inscription that read, “There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world.”

An article in The Daily Beast reported on this event: “It just seems too public and almost seems like, ‘OK, we’re stars, everybody wants to know abut us.’ From what I know of parents who have lost children, it’s horrific. It’s not something you want pictures of. There are people who will argue with me and say it’s a way of coming to terms with the death. But given the Duggars’ history, their television show, and the way they exploit their children, I just find this a cog in the same wheel. I find it rather distasteful.”

What I find distasteful is a woman who hasn’t lost a child trying to weigh in on how the parents are supposed to grieve. The woman who said that, a psychologist named Susan Newman, should know that there is not a textbook way to deal with a loss. A frequent critic of the Duggars, she is putting her professional skills aside to take a stab at this family. She assumes that parents will not want pictures of their lost children, so I wonder how she explains organizations like Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which take pictures especially for families that have lost a child.

When my aunt and uncle had a stillborn daughter they took many pictures, some of which are still displayed in their house along with their other children’s photos. They also had a memorial service. For this psychologist to claim that the Duggars are only doing those things to exploit their children is absurd.

The real reason why this is disturbing people is that these beautiful pictures of tiny hands and feet hurt the abortion issue. An overwhelming percentage of women (every survey puts the number in the 90%’s) who have aborted said they were given very little information about how abortion works and about the life that was developing inside of them. Pictures like these might help young ladies realize that it is not a “glob of tissue,” but a tiny human. This scares liberals.

As I explain in my book Asleep in Heaven’s Nursery, life begins at conception, and these babies that were lost too soon are immediately ushered into heaven. The Duggars’ strong faith in the Lord assures them of this, and they know that they will see Jubilee in heaven.

I hope that no professing Christian is criticizing this family during this time of tragedy. As Christians, let’s take this opportunity to pray for them. Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will provide the Comfort that He promises, and pray that this family will continue to be a light for Jesus Christ to millions of people every day.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Was Jesus Born on December 25th?

Christmas is the Christian holiday that remembers the birth of Jesus Christ, but was this whole idea just borrowed from other religions?

I was told last week that Christianity is a hoax that has taken bits and pieces from other religions and created its own. Consider some of these other ancient gods:

Dionysus (Greek) was born on December 25th. He was known as the son of Zeus, and his followers symbolically ate his body and drank his blood in the form of bread and wine.

Attis (Roman) was born on December 25th to a virgin. Attis was sacrificed through crucifixion on a tree, and he spent three days in the underworld. On the third day, Sunday, he rose again. Later, his body was symbolically eaten in the form of bread.

Osiris (Egyptian) had his birth announced by three wise men, and his followers ate his body in the form of cake.

Other gods claimed to have been virgin-born, like Ion, Pythagoras, and Hercules.

If these things are true than it would seem as if Christianity were nothing more than a chapter from mythology. Is Jesus just another ancient god along with Dionysus, Attis, and Osiris?

Let’s look a little closer at these similarities. Starting with the virgin birth accounts, none of these supposed births came from a human. While Jesus was born to the human Mary, these other gods were born to other gods, which tarnishes the whole miraculous part. Anyone can write a story of a fictional god producing another god; the biblical account of Mary could be validated by all who knew her.

But what is more important is the date of these events. Proponents of these conspiracies teach that these gods were “pre-Christian,” meaning that they happened before Christianity, and thus, Christianity copied them. But Christianity did not begin with the resurrection of Christ, or even His birth.

Consider that Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born to a virgin more than 600 years before the event came to pass. Even more impressive is that God Himself told Adam and Eve that the Son of a woman would bring salvation (Genesis 3:15). Every other child in the Bible is referred to as being from the father, but Jesus was from the mother.

These prophecies about the virgin birth predate any religions of antiquity, so if anyone is doing the plagiarizing, it would seem that others have ripped off God’s story.

The same case can be made for people eating bread to symbolize the body of other deities. Jesus first told His disciples to remember Him when they ate the bread in the year 33, long before other followers began to eat bread to symbolize their gods. Even still, the meal that Jesus was referring to was the Passover, a feast that Jews had been eating since the Exodus. This was a centuries old practice for the Jews, which certainly doesn’t “pre-date” Christianity.

For the ones who claim that Attis was crucified, there is no record of that report until 150 years after the resurrection of Jesus, meaning that all the Gospels were in circulation when this report first surfaced. Attis was known of before the birth of Christ, but his crucifixion and resurrection came much later.

Other claims of resurrections do not hold up either. Osiris was murdered by his brother, who mutilated his body and chopped him into 14 pieces. Isis, who wanted to give Osiris a burial, was only able to find 13 of his pieces. He never resurrected, but instead was declared to be the god of the underworld. This doesn’t look like it was stolen by Christianity, does it?

In fact, no ancient gods ever claimed to have been sacrificed for sin, and none ever claimed to have risen back to life. Attis came back in the form of the sun god, not to a bodily resurrection.

Osiris’ birth was announced by 3 wise men, but that does not mean that Christians stole that detail. For one thing, Jesus' birth was announced by angels. For another, wise men visited Jesus, but not until He was about two years old. Tradition puts 3 wise men in the nativity, but the Bible does not.

And so that brings us to December 25th. Was Jesus born on that day, or is that copied from ancient religions? We have already seen that other pagan religions have stolen from Christianity, so the case about His birth is not under fire any more, but let’s look anyway.

December 25th coincides with the winter solstice. On that day the night is longer and the day is shorter than any other day of the year. The night gets progressively shorter while the day gets progressively longer on the proceeding days. Ancient pagans created gods to be born on December 25th and said that as their gods grew, so did the day. The sun gods were especially common to have been born on the winter solstice, and that is why older gods claimed that day.

(The winter solstice is officially December 21st, but in ancient days December 25th would have been the first day that people would notice the changing of the length of the day)

Was Jesus born on December 25th? No. But did Christians plagiarize that day? No.

This is similar to Halloween, which is filled with pagan practices. While ancient pagans were out indulging in their holiday, Christians began to find ways to combat it. Consider how your church might utilize a “trunk or treat,” Fall Festival, Judgment House, or Halloween Alternative (I have been to Hallow-Teens, for example). This doesn’t mean that Christians stole October 31st from pagans; it means that they are combating what is sinful with something holy.

We don’t know the date that Jesus was born, so early Christians began to observe His birthday on the day that pagans were observing the birthday of their gods. When the pagans were celebrating, so were the Christians.

Jesus was most likely born in the fall. The fact that Joseph had to return to his hometown to be taxed is a good indication. These taxations took place after the harvest when people had the most money on hand, so many believe that Jesus was actually born around late September. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) was also at this time, and travel was not unusual.

The shepherds in the field with their flocks is also important. In December the fields would not provide grass for grazing, and shepherds usually gave up on the fields after the fall.

Christmas literally means “Christ-mass,” which refers to the Catholic mass, or their rendition of the Lord’s Supper. Since the date of the birth of Jesus is not known, the Roman Catholic Church established that a Christ mass would be observed on December 25th while the pagans were celebrating the new sun.

So Jesus was not born on December 25th, but I have no problem celebrating that day. As Christians, we say that we actually celebrate His birth every day, just as we celebrate His resurrection more than just at Easter.

So let me wish you a Merry Christmas, and let us wish Jesus a Happy Birthday, for both take place in the lives of believers every day of the year. 

(Read Happy Holidays and Christmas Music)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rachel Dowd Book Sponsorship Program

Several times over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to sit down with people and hand them a free copy of Asleep in Heaven’s Nursery. These people were parents who had recently lost children to infant mortality, and I was directed to them by mutual friends.

While there are no easy words to say in these situations, it is an honor to be able to provide a free book that will hopefully answer some questions they are facing, and that will definitely present the gospel.

Even though I am the one sitting on their couch and giving them a free book, I am not the only one who plays a part. These books that I have donated have been paid for through the Rachel Dowd Book Sponsorship Program.

Rachel Dowd was stillborn on May 31st, 1995, to Chuck and Carol Dowd in Alabama, and their story can be read in the Testimonies section of Asleep in Heaven’s Nursery.

The Rachel Dowd Book Sponsorship Program was created to provide free books as a ministry to those who have lost a child. A gift of just $10 will put a book into the hands of one of these grieving parents.

Your donation is tax deductible, and it can be made in honor of or in memory of someone. Gifts made in someone’s memory or honor will be listed on the Tommy Mann Ministries Facebook Fan Page.

Thank you for your generosity! 

(Read Asleep in Heaven's Nursery