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December 23rd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My take: Why my church rebelled against the American Dream

Editor’s Note: David Platt, Ph.D., is the author of the New York Times bestseller Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream and is senior pastor of the 4,000-member Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.

By David Platt, Special to CNN

We American Christians have a way of taking the Jesus of the Bible and twisting him into a version of Jesus that we are more comfortable with.

A nice middle-class American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts.

A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who for that matter wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings comfort and prosperity to us as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream.

But lately I’ve begun to have hope that the situation is changing.

The 20th-century historian who coined the term “American Dream,” James Truslow Adams, defined it as “a dream… in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are.”

But many of us are realizing that Jesus has different priorities. Instead of congratulating us on our self-fulfillment, he confronts us with our inability to accomplish anything of value apart from God. Instead of wanting us to be recognized by others, he beckons us to die to ourselves and seek above all the glory of God.

In my own faith family, the Church at Brook Hills, we have tried to get out from under the American Dream mindset and start living and serving differently.

Like many other large American churches, we had a multimillion-dollar campus and plans to make it even larger to house programs that would cater to our own desires. But then we started looking at the world we live in.

It’s a world where 26,000 children die every day of starvation or a preventable disease. A world where billions live in situations of such grinding poverty that an American middle-class neighborhood looks like Beverly Hills by comparison. A world where more than a billion people have never even heard the name Jesus. So we asked ourselves, “What are we spending our time and money on that is less important than meeting these needs?” And that’s when things started to change.

First we gave away our entire surplus fund - $500,000 - through partnerships with churches in India, where 41 percent of the world’s poor live. Then we trimmed another $1.5 million from our budget and used the savings to build wells, improve education, provide medical care and share the gospel in impoverished places around the world. Literally hundreds of church members have gone overseas temporarily or permanently to serve in such places.

And it’s not just distant needs we’re trying to meet. It’s also needs near at hand.

One day I called up the Department of Human Resources in Shelby County, Alabama, where our church is located, and asked, “How many families would you need in order to take care of all the foster and adoption needs that we have in our county?”

The woman I was talking to laughed.

I said, “No, really, if a miracle were to take place, how many families would be sufficient to cover all the different needs you have?”

She replied, “It would be a miracle if we had 150 more families.”

When I shared this conversation with our church, over 160 families signed up to help with foster care and adoption. We don’t want even one child in our county to be without a loving home. It’s not the way of the American Dream. It doesn’t add to our comfort, prosperity, or ease. But we are discovering the indescribable joy of sacrificial love for others, and along the way we are learning more about the inexpressible wonder of God’s sacrificial love for us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my country and I couldn’t be more grateful for its hard-won freedoms. The challenge before we American Christians, as I see it, is to use the freedoms, resources, and opportunities at our disposal while making sure not to embrace values and assumptions that contradict what God has said in the Bible.

I believe God has a dream for people today. It’s just not the same as the American Dream.

I believe God is saying to us that real success is found in radical sacrifice. That ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of him. That the purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. That meaning is found in community, not individualism. That joy is found in generosity, not materialism. And that Jesus is a reward worth risking everything for.

Indeed, the gospel compels us to live for the glory of God in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, and this is a dream worth giving our lives to pursue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Platt.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (556 Responses)
  1. Me

    What a nice day to pick a fight.:) I'm just enjoying the spirit of this special season. If you are someone in a position to give then give, if you are the one who needs help then I sincerely hope that you will find it. Merry Christmas everyone! Peace on Earth, good will toward all men.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  2. Steve

    Also, people in real poverty are able to handle it, they are truely tough. When you give charity, it should be to allow them to rise above their conditions and see God working in their life. Sick and tired of alot of people of privilege whining about how bad America is, we didn't cause poverty, it is the people in power through the years in the impoverished lands. The evil is working through them. GOD RULES and He gives these impoverished people the strength to endure it!!!! Shine a light on the real oppressors, greedy domain lords, and until that is done, these people will live in the captivity they dwell in. But the devil can only destroy their bodies and not their souls. May all good works of charity release those in captivity to the love of GOd the Father, the light of Christ and the protection of the HOly Spirit. Peace

    December 23, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  3. Juanita

    This article is so right on! The so called American Dream is non-atainable by so many because it's not real! The sooner people realize this the sooner this world will be a better place to live. Having said that, I won't hold my breath to see the "whole" world look outside of themselves. Seems once greed takes hold, it's hard to break from it. It can be done though. I no longer go to church because I was caught up in a rather well known religion that literally tried to take my freedom of decision away from me. I have tried other church's and found the same thing. So now in my world, God knows how I feel about Him, His Son and the Holy Ghost. I do the best I can in this world as I am alone on the earth, but I know I am not alone in life. I am in the process of building a women's retreat on my land to help women and to help myself as well. This is what life is about. Everything Jesus did was an example, if more people would just see that.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  4. Steve

    This man is on the right track saying the American Dream does not always coincide with God's/ Jesus' Dream stated in the bible and revealed to certain humans. But I think he is leading his flock down a tricky path. Trowing money at the symptoms of problems is usually unlikely to foster a real solution. Real poverty around the world is the result of powerful leaders in foreign countries being greedy and not caring about the welfare of ordinary people. I for one would be hesitant to give money oversees without personnally knowing who will manage/distribute it, even if it is clergy person. And when you visit a foreign impoverished country, you will not be given the truth of really what is going on unless you stay there for a long time and find out for yourself. And as for the people who bash believers of the one true God, their attacks are irrelavent. Good try church leader, but i would be weary of a man who has no authority trying to lead a large group of people to do the will of GOd. Truth is, that only the Catholics and Orthodox faiths have the complete and total truth. My American Dream is that we will practice it more!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Jack

      Before you cast stones at those evil "foreigners" do some research on the greed and corruption amongst our own leaders, govt. and corporate, today and throughout US history. I am a US citizen but I have lived in foreign lands in Europe and Central America – trust me when I say, the US is NOT the authority on charity and humanity as many of us would like to believe.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • James Swanson

      It is exactly this att-itude that Jesus came to renounce, that one group of people have a monopoly on the Spirit of the Lord. Individuals of these denominations are doing great works and walking with Jesus, but corporately there is a huge problem just as the Pharisees in Israel thought they were better than those lowly peasants because they had their rules and regulations and piety.

      Before you call out other governments and charitable organizations you may want to look inside your own religion and the history of it. If there was a book on corruption, the Catholic church would have at least a couple of chapters dedicated solely to itself over the years.

      December 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Paul Swonger

      Amen Steve! gratias tibi domine

      December 24, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  5. Johann

    Sounds like more of the social gospel. The remedy to materialism is not more social gospel but an adherence to the family of the bible: Husbands are leaders and providers, wives are full time mothers and they respect and obey their husbands. Once the evangelicals get some grasp of this, things will start to change.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • AnnieL

      What religion are you talking about? Christianity or Islam? Anytime a Christian talks about a "woman's place" I get confused. I'm a Mary Magdalene Christian. You know, the "friend" and "disciple" of Jesus, the one he appeared to first and trusted to tell the male disciples he had risen from the dead, the one who wasn't afraid to stay at the foot of the cross with him, the one who probably wrote a book of his teachings that the menfolk didn't see fit to include in the Bible, the one who probably washed his feet with her tears and anointed him with oil? This isn't the kind of Christian woman who would marry you and let you tell her what God says. She would go straight to the source.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • skr

      Get a grip... You want a slave not a wife! That scenario has nothing to do with anything except your skewed view of what a relationship should be. A sub-serviant woman, enslaved in your home, barefoot and pregnant, dependent on you for everything. You are on an egotistical power trip that has nothing to do with religion.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
  6. Queen Barbara

    God of Israel is the owner of Kingdom of God.He is rich beyond anything we can imagine.That is why he is my King and I am his Queen because of the healing that his son Jesus Christ of Nazareth gave me.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:11 am |
    • Jack

      A very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you Queen Barbara!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • SeanNJ

      So Jesus is your step son? Are you going to adopt?

      December 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Queen Barbara

      I thought the Queen of heaven was named Mary...

      December 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  7. Brian

    I don't remember Jesus building a huge mega church with state of the art sound and projection equipment. If these people really understood the message they are stating, then they would take only their sandles, tunic and themselves and set off on a spiritual path. That this message is coming from a bunch of comofortable middle class Americans in their secure mega church is disturbing. It's up there with oil companies that claim to be environmentalists.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • AnnieL

      What would happen if every Christian employee volnteered to take a 25% pay cut and asked their employers to "redistribute" that 25% to employees who earn less than them? That would be "radical" Christianity worth writing a book about.

      December 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
    • Daniel

      I'm curious, what immediate organizations that you are a member of have donated their $500,000 surplus? How many children are you a foster parent to? How man wells have you built that brought water to the thirsty? Or food to the hungry? You condemn excesses, while completely marginalizing the selfless work they do. As if Christians are the only ones who fall prey to materialism.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • TIffany

      Hey Brian!

      David Platt actually became the pastor of this church AFTER their campus was built by another pastor. He came to Birmingham as a result of losing his home in Katrina. They have drastically reduced budgets beyond any mega church I know of in this country. In fact, all the decor at this church is made out of recyclable materials. Also, many members of this congregation were not orginally a part of this church before Platt arrived or during the building process of your campus.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:43 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Brian

      It was implied by Jesus when He told Peter he would be the rock upon whom He would build His Church.

      Love and Prayers!

      December 25, 2010 at 7:38 am |
    • hh

      I was a former member of this church, but I have since moved to a small town in Montana and attend a church that is not at all a "mega church." Yes, Brook Hills is considered a "mega church." Yes, it is full of "comfortable middle class" people and situated in a wealthy suburban community in Birmingham. BUT what you should know is that the body of people there is committed to moving away from that materialism. As you saw in the article, they took their surplus money that was allocated for new buildings, better equipment, etc. and put it towards something better. These "comfortable Americans" are finding ways to make themselves uncomfortable for the benefit of others. We weren't all born poor and among the suffering, and we realize to help those people out, we have to reposition ourselves in society. Instead of ordering pizza or going out to fancy restaurants after church, the college students get together and eat beans and rice while praying for the people in third world countries who are receiving their money. When Platt says there are literally hundreds of peopele going across seas, he means it. People literally selling everything they own to help others. People realize they are called away from materialism and are beginning to pursue lives that don't revolve around things. I left the private college I attended there in Birmingham, which was one small step, and I have thousands more to go. You don't just wake up one morning and have all the answers. I suggest you read his book. He is an honest and humble man and writes the book with no pretense whatsoever.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  8. cdl10

    this article TICKS ME OFF!!! he makes it sound like everyone in this country is so well off! "we don't want even one child to be without a loving home" how about helping all those children IN loving homes KEEP their loving home! there are people all over this country losing their loving homes thanks to this economy! yeah, Merry Christmas, here is your foreclosure notice!

    http://www.turningleaf.vpweb.com

    December 23, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  9. Shel

    I personally found this article refreshing. I'm not a church-goer, mainly because of a bad experience with a "super" church. Whether you believe in god or don't; isn't one of the best human characteristic that of selflessness and charity. One of this biggest challenges of the religious (regardless of which religion) is to overcome hypocrisy and legalism and worship with humility and love. If you aren't a believer, can't you just settle for being a decent human being without bashing those you disagree with? COEXIST!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • atomD

      Shel, you've hit the nail on the head. Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but regardless of your views on God and religion, that is good advice. I know I don't let myself starve, don't look in the mirror and tell myself how bad I am for what I do. If we would all get over ourselves and work to make sure this world is a better place for all, think of all the problems we could fix. Does Disney having a gay pride day really matter when there are countless millions starving to death and having to deal with complete hell on earth?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  10. GSA

    @RudeDog – Unlike Frogist I don't care if I offend you. I think you're whole statement is made up BS. If you think that the problems your adopted son has are hereditary than you have to be mentally challenged or as I see it are just making up a lie. Adopted or not, you raised the child and you and the environment the child grew up in and his/her experiences (good or bad) will mold him...it has absolutley nothing to do with genes.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:36 am |
    • James Swanson

      I agree with you that the vast majority of a child's problems or triumphs are about the environment that they grew up in, but it is just as much BS to say that it has nothing to do with genes. Genetics play a role in pretty much everything in our lives.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • David Johnson

      @James Swanson

      Yep! Good post. Alcohol Abuse is Hereditary.

      I have no idea if the birth parents suffered from this, but it might help explain much. We shouldn't be so quick to get down on RudeDog. I doubt his own kid slept in a bed, while the adopted kid slept in the shed on a pile of leaves.

      Remember, god has a plan for each of us. Gods plan for some, seems to involve drug addiction. Hmmm...

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • vonStemwede

      @David Johson: God's plan for us never include addiction. That is the sort of thing that he died to save us from, which is the result of our own poor choices. I am quite sure that you understand this, but you seem to take a great, childish delight in blasphemy.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • a

      Well, it could very well be that the child has learning disorders, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, among other mental illnesses which are inherited. But, in that case, wasn't it your responsibility to help this child no matter what? A lifetime of services, good environment and love go a long way. I wonder if your adopted child received those things? I wonder if your wife wanted to adopt and you didn't? You aren't showing a lot of compassion for this person you claim is your child.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @vonStemwede

      You said: "God's plan for us never include addiction. That is the sort of thing that he died to save us from, which is the result of our own poor choices."

      Hmmm... So the child that a monster abducts and kills made poor choices? The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazi, made bad choices? The monster and the Nazi had free will, but what of their victims. Did the child make the choice to be killed? Did the Jews? So free will depends on might or stature? Some god you have.

      If god has a plan for each of us, then free will (choice) is not possible. Everything is predestined.

      Some believe, that we are born already saved or already damned. God allows the damned to be born, knowing they will some day burn forever. Seems wrong to me somehow...

      Cheers!

      December 24, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  11. Dan

    Great article – thank you sir for the work you are doing. For those who are finding fault with this man, or Christians in general, you will find it beneficial to watch a video on YouTube...type in "NetMissionary" and it will come up...see if you pass the test before you are so quick to judge.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  12. Jack

    Christianity, religion, etc. are not the issue here. The point is that materialism, while your fellow humans are suffering, is immoral. It would appear, from some of the comments, that many are so much in love with their gadgets and glittery things that they do not, and probably never will, understand this.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:17 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Jack

      Well Jack, I take it you have given up all worldly goods? No materialism for you, right?

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • LEB

      I disagree with your assertion. If you work for a living, make decent money, and wish to pay for "gadgets" that provide enjoyment and entertainment, precisely what is immoral about that? You wanted something, you earned money to pay for it, and now you're enjoying it. Seems ethically sound to me. What is immoral and unethical is taking away something that *someone else* has earned through legal means.

      Materialism as a general concept is not evil. It can actually be quite positive, because it can inspire people to work to the best of their abilities. For example, if you want to buy a house and have a baby but you don't have a good income, then you might go back to school for a better degree, get a better job, and save up for the downpayment. In other words, you've set a goal, bettered yourself, practiced financial restraint, and then achieved that goal... which, in my world view, are all very positive traitts.

      Furthermore, if people have a lot of money, then they're spending a lot on those gadgets which have to be sold and produced (creating sales jobs, administrative jobs, engineering jobs, IT jobs, and manufacturing jobs), and they're probably also paying a lot in taxes (which supports schools, police, fire departments, public works, and more). So now kindly explain again to me why materialism is bad and self-induced poverty is good, because I guess I'm just too in love with my iPad to get it.

      December 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • Brent Baccala

      @LEB

      How exactly do you work for a living? Do you stand behind a counter and refuse to do anything for people unless they hand you money? Or do you work for a charity that will serve anyone who comes through the door? Not all work is moral; not all work is immoral. Christ said "give to all those you beg of you". Work is immoral if it violates this principle.

      Materialism seem more likely to inspire people to be selfish than to work to the best of their abilities. Given the choice between running a restaurant that feeds anyone who comes through the door vs. running one that only feeds those who can pay, materialism encourages the latter.

      And before anyone starts crying about people HAVE to run a for-profit restaurant in order to stay in business, let me respond that that is exactly the point. Capitalism, materialism (or whatever name you want to call it) discriminates against moral behavior by making it very difficult to "give to all those who beg of you"

      December 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • a

      It is IMPOSSIBLE to run a not for profit restaurant unless you re a trust fund baby with a big heart... and who is?? How are you going to buy the food, equipment, license, facility...much less pay for a house to live in, yourself?

      December 23, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • a

      And Brent... to "give to al those who beg of you" is an impossible thing. The stories about Jesus doing this are ridiculous and fabricated. Sure, it's good to be generous, but one can't continue with that without sustaining onesself and anyone who says otherwise is not living in reality. Resources are resources. There are certain things we can't live without and we can't very well consistently provide for others unless we are providing for ourselves, Read: The Giving Tree. The moral of the story is: don't be a worthless stump!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • BAP

      Says Jack on his own gadget.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:39 am |
    • hal9thou

      Good one, BAP!

      December 24, 2010 at 6:13 am |
  13. carlinism

    With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • James Swanson

      If you don't have something outside of humanity judging between good and evil, how can you say something is absolutely good or absolutely evil?

      December 23, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • David Johnson

      @James Swanson

      You asked: "If you don't have something outside of humanity judging between good and evil, how can you say something is absolutely good or absolutely evil?"

      There are no set rules for behavior that cannot be changed. No objective morality. All morality is relative. Subjective.

      Our morals evolved along with our intellect. It is part of the survival of our species.

      I recently watched a YouTube video of a school of piranha attacking a dead animal. They were ferocious in their feeding frenzy. The cool part, was that none of the piranha was bitten by his fellow piranha. Why? 'cause this action would endanger the survival of the species. It is a survival mechanism that evolved.

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcyberlaw.stanford.edu%2Fnode%2F5290&ei=mhoETcYwgv3wBrznregC&usg=AFQjCNF20qrUZNKL73u6EQDv1E5HFmTTig

      We learn our morals and our religion from our parents.

      Society stamps every individual with its concepts. If you were born in U. S., you have many Christian concepts whether you are religious or not. The people of Iran have Muslim concepts.

      If you or any of the fundies were adopted by Muslims when you were babies, you would be followers of the religion of Islam.
      All children are born atheist. No one is born with an inclination toward any specific religion or god.

      Nothing is always right or always wrong. War, killing, is wrong, but if you have a Hitler in the world, it is not as wrong as allowing him to continue killing.
      Telling a lie (bearing false witness) is wrong. But if you are saving the life of a Jewish girl hiding in your attic, then it is not wrong.

      Society must decide what they will allow and not allow, based on an action's effect on society. Gay marriage has no bad effect on society. It should be allowed. Murder has a very negative impact on society. It should not be allowed.

      God cannot be the objective moral lawgiver, in that He is not moral.

      The Old Testament contains many tales of men, women, and children (including babies) being murdered directly or at the insistence of the god of Abraham. The story of Job and the story of Isaac and Abraham are good example of an immoral god. How can a moral god behave immorally? I don't have me enough faith for this one! LOL

      Jesus had this to say:
      Matthew 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
      Luke 6:43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

      A good god can't do evil things! So, god could be evil or he could not exist. I'm checking the "doesn't exist" box, myself.

      Happy Holidays!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • James Swanson

      You are completely correct in saying that human morality is relative. We all can base our morals on whatever we want. I choose to believe that the standard of good and evil is the God of Abraham, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and that their morality is not relative, but absolute. You choose differently which is your right.
      About the piranhas, you have posted about animal morality many times before and still have the same holes in your arguments. Fish from the same family/school/pack/whatever they are called do "think" of survival of that group. However, this is nowhere near thinking of all piranha in the world as their brothers in co-survival and well being. If these fish were in competi-tion with another school of fish for the same food they would fight to the death. Just because animals display "human-like" qualities does not mean the theory of evolution explains how humans are on Earth.

      December 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      "Society must decide what they will allow and not allow, based on an action's effect on society."

      But then you go on and make a statement contrary to what Society has historically disallowed.

      "Gay marriage has no bad effect on society. It should be allowed"

      How do you put your views above society? Btw, how big is a society, the Nazi's thought they were doing the best for society?

      What do you do if there is someone doing something that you believe is intheriently wrong regardless of their views? Let's say womans right's as defined by Western culture and the Middle East

      If it is all relative how can you ever say oppression of women / race is incorrect? What makes your society more "right" then that society?

      Then their is something not defined by us but defined with in us.

      December 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike, not me

      I said: "Society must decide what they will allow and not allow, based on an action's effect on society."

      But then you go on and make a statement contrary to what Society has historically disallowed.

      "Gay marriage has no bad effect on society. It should be allowed"

      Gay marriage is a religious prohibition. So was inter_ra_cial marriage. Times and society change.

      How do you put your views above society? Btw, how big is a society, the Nazi's thought they were doing the best for society?

      Yes, the Nazi thought they were doing what was best for society. They did not feel evil for what they were doing.

      The believers who tortured and killed in the name of god did not believe they were evil. They were doing the will of god.

      If Germany had won the war, do you think there would have been war crime trials? Society decides. History is written by the winners.

      You said: "Then their is something not defined by us but defined with in us.

      No, because morality is not objective. It is relative. Also, the moral lawgiver is not moral.

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • Brandon

      @ David Johnson...well I see, sir, that you are quite active on this comment section. I'd like to say I'm impressed with your thorough knowledge. There is, however, one item of business I would like to point. I believe you were the person that said "There is no objective morality. All morality is relative. Subjective." Yes that may be correct, all except the objective, universal moral truth that all morality is relative. Think on that one David.

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • vonStemwede

      @David Johnson: I have to take issue with your piranha story. When I was in college my roommate and I kept a tank with three piranhas in it. The behavior you claim so amazing was not present in the fish in my tank who took little bites out of the smallest fellow even biting out his left eye. They were regulary fed goldfish, so they weren't starving.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
    • Brandon

      @David Johnson, as I was reading a few more posts you seemed particularly interested in Nazi morality and ethics. You are correct, Hitler in particular believed he was actually doing good for society. He believed that it was his job to advance evolution. However, I'd like to point out a couple things about your post. You are addressing Nazi morality from a different societal perspective (meaning you live in 21st Century America, they lived in 20th Century Nazi-controlled Germany). Now, for someone who believes in the objective nature of morality (like myself) this presents no problem as morality is the same today as it was in Nazi Germany. However for you it is completely inappropriate (and perhaps illogical) to address the moral principles of Nazism from todays perspective. In fact, according to your view, there's nothing wrong at all with Nazism. They were simply doing what they believed was good and right. How can you present what they did with the assumption that it was evil when it was quite obviously (according to your previous posts on the nature of morality) not evil?

      Now I am not attempting to introduce a red herring into the discussion but I believe it would be irresponsible to discuss God's non-existence without discussing the philosophical ramifications of the Deity's absence. Let's not forget the basis of the Nazi's racial ideologies. Hitler and the Nazis were committed Darwinists. Read Mein Kamf. They believed that it was their job to drive forward evolution. They believed the Jewish race was at the bottom of the evolutionary chain and held the Aryan race back from its full potential. This idea is rooted in Social Darwinism. Consider for a second that this same theory is that which David believes best explains our origins. There is no room for condemnation of Nazism in Darwinism as Hitler is simply driving Natural Selection forward. David's implied condemnation of Nazism is itself non-sense as he is condemning the very theory of origins he otherwise embraces.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:29 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Brandon

      You said: "In fact, according to your view, there's nothing wrong at all with Nazism. They were simply doing what they believed was good and right. How can you present what they did with the assumption that it was evil when it was quite obviously (according to your previous posts on the nature of morality) not evil?"

      Are you trying to paint me with the Nazi brush? I believe the Nazi were evil. Horrid. I do not envy them, nor do I agree with their deeds.

      In the Nazi mind, at the time, they believed they were doing right. If Germany had won the war, there would have been no war crime trials. No hangings.
      George Bush admitted to authorizing torture. Is he in jail? Might makes right. Bush was torturing to save America.

      Often a society takes a path, that in retrospect is deemed evil.

      The believers tortured and burned people, in an effort to get them to accept the Christian Religion. The torturers did not feel evil. They were doing god's work. Better that the body be broken on earth, than to suffer for eternity in hell. Amen.

      My statements were not contradictory. Evil is relative. Subjective.

      Concepts of what is right or wrong evolve.

      Cheers!

      December 24, 2010 at 9:11 am |
    • David Johnson

      @vonStemwede

      What you describe is different than the feeding frenzy behavior.

      What you describe often happens in nature. The weak are "picked on". Culled. When I use to visit my grandmother on her farm, I often observed a chicken that the others would peck, often to death. This is good for evolution. Only the biggest and strongest survive (survival of the fittest).

      Cheers!

      December 24, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • Mike, not me

      @Dave
      "I believe the Nazi were evil.", is correct and regardless of your might, or time. There were people of the same time, and even of the same country that fought against the regime. If it is all relative then you can not quantify what is evil or put the Nazi on trial no more they you could for the color of their hair..

      Please it is my prayer this morning that you would see that.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • David Johnson

      @James Swanson

      Did you check out the link to an article on primates developing morals, that I included as evidence? Dude! Evolution! It's what's true!

      Happy Holidays!

      December 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike, not me

      You said: "I believe the Nazi were evil.", is correct and regardless of your might, or time. There were people of the same time, and even of the same country that fought against the regime."

      You said: "If it is all relative then you can not quantify what is evil or put the Nazi on trial no more they you could for the color of their hair.."

      The Nazi were put on trial and hanged, for their crimes. Why? Ans. 'Cause we won.
      If we had lost, we'd be goose stepping to the grocery store. Hitler would be a hero to us all. There would have been no Nazi on trial for anything. Don't you agree?

      In Vietnam, we used Napalm on civilians – often children. If you don't know what napalm is, google it.
      "Napalm Sticks to Kids" is a call and response running cadence occasionally used in the U.S. military. (A google moment)
      The 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons outlawed the use of napalm on civilians.

      Do you think this was evil, Mike? Should the people who did it/allowed it, be on trial for war crimes? If somehow the North could have taken the war to the U.S. and gotten an unconditional surrender, do you think this might have happened?

      George W. Bush admitted to using torture (water boarding). Bush said he was protecting Americans. Bush didn't think he was doing wrong. He is born again. Some think he should be in jail.

      Again: Society decides what is right and wrong, based on the action's impact (perceived impact) on society. The times and circ_umstances alter societies' decisions.

      Sometimes a war is necessary to settle a difference. The American Civil War was used to decide the issue of slavery. The South believed slavery was sanctioned by god. They didn't feel evil. But after the war, there was no more slavery.

      The decisions made by society do not require a unanimous decision. Look at abortion and capital punishment. The pro-choice people don't feel evil. They don't run from the sunlight.

      Our morals are based on empathy. Feeling other's pain. As we evolved, we developed the ability to feel sympathy of others.

      Scientists have found this trait developing in primates.

      There is no moral lawgiver, Mike. We don't need one.

      You said: "Please it is my prayer this morning that you would see that."

      Oh, Mike. How often have you seen me post: "Prayer doesn't work"? It really doesn't.

      Happy Holidays, Mike!

      December 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @James Swanson

      You said: "Fish from the same family/school/pack/whatever they are called do "think" of survival of that group. However, this is nowhere near thinking of all piranha in the world as their brothers in co-survival and well being. If these fish were in competi-tion with another school of fish for the same food they would fight to the death. Just because animals display "human-like" qualities does not mean the theory of evolution explains how humans are on Earth."

      Dude! You just made my point.

      You said: "If these fish were in competi-tion with another school of fish for the same food they would fight to the death."

      Yep, just like humans fighting over food, land, oil, dogma etc. ad nauseam , with other "tribes". Yet, as you agreed with, humans consider it taboo to kill members of their own tribe.

      Also, go to the link I left in my comment. It is about primates exhibiting the beginnings of morality.

      Happy Holidays!

      December 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  14. carlinism

    Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal.He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  15. carlinism

    If there really is a God, You give him very little credit. What intelligent God would be associated with any religion on THIS Earth!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:00 am |
    • Snuke

      Amen brutha 🙂

      December 24, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  16. carlinism

    It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:49 am |
    • Fergie

      Agreed !!!

      December 24, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  17. JB

    Would be nice if you could just do this good work without feeling the need to evangelize. I sure hope your people aren't in developing countries only offering food with conversions. If I were starving to death, I'd pray to any god in exchange for a sandwich. It's meaningless. Not worshipping the "right" God is not what put them in their current situation. You are doing amazing things, just don't need the bait and switch tactics.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Frogist

      @JB: Very true.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:02 am |
    • sams mum

      JB,
      I respectfully want to let you know that of the many Christian chariity organizations I know of (especially the larger and more transparent ones like World Vision or Mercy Ships) they do not...never and in no way....offer food or assistance with, or contingent upon, conversions. There is no bait and switch. They simply provide services and let the recipient know that the reason they (the volunteers) are there to serve is because they love God and want to demonstrate his love to others by serving. That's all. No request to convert. No request to "say a sinners prayer". Nothing like that at all. Just show God's love by serving others. I've been "on the ground" to see this for myself and I've worked with various organizations for decades who are run the same way.

      I'm sure there are faith-based organizations out there who require conversions or push people to convert, and that makes me sick to my stomach as it is not the way Jesus lived his life (according to the Bible). Jesus would have condemned those people, as evidenced by his words as quoted in the Bible and how he himself served others. But the organizations I know of do not participate in anti-Jesus behavior of pressure tactics or bait and switch. If you personally know of any organizations that do a bait and switch or conversions for food, you absolutely should call them out! No one, especially true Christians who know what the Bible says about loving and serving others, wants those types of organizations around....they are contrary to the basic tennants of the Bible and they turn people away from opening a Bible to learn about who God really is. Those organizations make me as upset as they make you. But to the best of my knowledge, they are the minority and not the rule....and I hope they disappear all together. The world would be a better place.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • ScottK

      @sams mum – you say "They simply provide services and let the recipient know that the reason they (the volunteers) are there to serve is because they love God and want to demonstrate his love to others by serving. That's all. No request to convert." and yet to many living in the impoverished conditions they do might see the educated, light skinned, prosperous, well fed, well dressed Christian worker who tells tales of having three cars in the driveway and attend majestic high steepled churches as at least an offer of conversion. An offer of "Hey, all this could be yours too if only you were a follower of this really cool guy that a billion of you have never heard of..." combined with food and water makes a great campaign slogan.

      December 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Donald L McDaniel

      May I remind you that even Jesus took the bread and fish which were offered by the audience themselves (5 loaves of bread and 5 small fish) and fed them back what they had offered (miraculously, if the Gospel writers are to be believed), then preached the Kingdom of God while they were all eating?

      If modern-day disciples of Christ use their own (and donated ) resources to feed, clothe, teach, and house the poor, while knowing that Christ has commanded them to both preach the Gospel ("...in season, and out of season...") and feed, clothe, and house the poor, how is their act any different than Christ's?

      If you had actually read the New Testament, and found out what Christ commands of His disciples, you would understand the need for MORE churches (rich and poor) to address materialism in their midst and the world.

      Materialism in the larger world, especially among Westerners, is the sin of this Age, and Christians in the U.S. and Europe are first among all sinners. God's judgment ALWAYS begins with the leadership of the Church, then radiates out to the rest of the Church community, and then into the world at large

      If you must find fault with the Church of Jesus Christ, you must also find fault with secular organizations who do the same things the Church does what it does out of love for Christ and the world. Can you say the same for Secularism and Humanism?

      But the Church must first undergo judgment for incroaching secularism and materialism. Love for Christ Himself must be returned to the Church, then compassion will spring up, and the Church will recognize its own sin of materialism, and God's forgiveness will be returned when the Church repents (does a 180-degree turn in their thinking), and starts to put God first by doing what He commands for the poor. Then the Gospel will have a fertile ground to be sowed, because the world will see the Church practicing what it preaches, and the reproach of the Nations will be turned into thanksgiving to God.

      December 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • a

      sans mum....

      Why do they need to mention religion at all, then? Why the need to label the reason why they are helping/ doing oood?
      Why not just tell the people they are there to help BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO as a FELLOW HUMAN BEING? That is how an atheist helps others, not for an ulterior motive, just because it is human nature to see our species thrive/survive, and not watch as others suffer. Furthermore, religious people are notorious for "praying" for help while others get out there and do something about it.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Deb Roberson

      We do these things in obedience to the One who created all people and everything, who commands us to take care of widows and orphans in their distress. To "bait" or "dangle carrots" would indicate a hidden agenda or secret personal gain, which is the exact opposite of what David Platt is saying.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • ad

      @ a

      The only reason many people of faith (and I say many instead of all because I acknowledge that many "Christians" do not live and act in a Christ-like way) ever even mention Jesus or God when giving aid to others in the world is because they truly and honestly believe that God has brought them a joy that you could never even begin to know or understand unless you have God as a part of your life. Their only reason for mentioning it at all is to try and share that joy with as many people as possible. There is no "ulterior motive," there is nothing in it for them, they are not getting special rewards in heaven based on how many people they "convert." Based on what Jesus taught (and therefore what true Christians should believe) the only reason for them to mention God is to spread the news of the life-changing joy that results when you pursue and have a relationship with God.

      Would people who have this joy not be the most selfish beings on the planet if they didn't tell everyone they came across about it? If you lived in a village and everyone in your village got their water by walking 5 miles everyday to the closest well, but one day you found a well just 100 feet away that had more than enough water for everyone, would you really refuse to tell the rest of your village about it just because you don't want to annoy them or because they might not believe that you actually found a well 100 feet away and you figure they'll survive just fine walking 5 miles a day for the rest of their lives so you might as well just not tell them about this amazing new discovery that could make their lives so much better? That is exactly the way that people who have a true relationship with God, and who are actually living their lives according to God's guidance, see things. They feel so blessed that they discovered this amazing and great thing, that to not try to share that amazing and great thing with as many people as possible would be the most selfish, uncaring, and non-loving thing that they could possibly do. I agree that no Christian, or any person of any faith should ever condition aid upon any conversation or upon any agreement to do anything, especially making a decision about faith. Anyone who does so is just an idiot, is not acting in line with any true Christian teachings, and is the kind of person who give Christians such a horrible name and who make me want to not even associate myself with "Christians."

      You're right that people of faith should be taking notes from many athiests in the way that they whole-heartedly give without any expectations for anything in return. I just hope that you, other athiests, and all people around the world will recognize that true Christianity teaches just that; Jesus would likely be out there giving with the athiests rather than hanging out with the "Christians" who only give if people agree to be evangelized to. I am saddened that so many people seem so turned off to a relationship with God when God would never condone these types of actions of the people who claim to follow him. Organized religion has dangerously distorted God's true teachings and his true messages over the last couple thousand years. Be angry with the "Christians," but don't take it out on God – a relationship with him will make you realize that you were never fully complete without him. Yes, you can make it through life without God, and it may very well be a great and happy life. But you will just be so missing out on something that could have been so much more. And that's completely your choice, but those people who do know that fulfillment will just feel so badly for you.

      Many "Christians" just claim to be Christians because they grew up that way; they go to church every Sunday because it is a part of their culture and what they're comfortable with; they go through all the motions of being a Christian, but they don't truly have a relationship with God. We should not judge God's character based on the lives of these people because they are not truly following God. God's true followers transcend all religious labels. God only wants to be a part of our lives and his only requests of us are that we let him and that we love each other, period. No ulterior motives, no conditions, no judgments.

      December 24, 2010 at 2:16 am |
    • Casey

      Actually we as Christians help people for that very reason- to convert them to Christianity. Let me explain why. As Christians we believe that without accepting Jesus as our Lord & Savior that you will go to hell. I'm not asking you to agree with me on this point but that is in fact what Christians believe. So knowing that we believe that, you should be insulted if every Christian you meet doesn't try to convert you. Because in their lack of trying to tell you about Jesus, they are simply saying they don't think you are worth "saving" and/or they don't care. It may not seem that black & white, but in essence it is. So, for us NOT to try to convert the needy we are missing the main part of helping someone (according to our beliefs of course). We are commanded to help those in need & we most certainly should. However we do so to show the love of Christ. I hope that makes sense.

      December 24, 2010 at 2:27 am |
    • Alan

      Jesus didn't call for conversions. He called for love.

      Love converts on it's own according to the will of the one who created love.

      I agree, no need for bait and switching.

      December 24, 2010 at 4:49 am |
    • Bubba

      @Alan Actually, Jesus called for both, according to the texts (which is all we have to go by, textual criticism fans). He said on several occasions that He was the only way to God, that He was the only source of eternal life, that anyone who didn't believe in Him was already condemned. Not in an arrogant, threatening way but as a statement of fact. He also said anyone who didn't help others in His name wasn't really His disciple. People who say Jesus was ONLY about a generic form of peace, love, and understanding are just as unbalanced in their perception of Him as those who think practical charity is a tertiary concern next to "winning souls." Whether you believe in Him or not is not the point of this post. It's whether Christianity – on its own terms – requires its adherents to perform charitable acts in His name. It does.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  18. Bruce

    Dave (Platt) - thanks for your blog (and book), and commitment from your church to "be church" not just "do church". And apologies to those posting here from some other agenda. You guys are doing great work for the kingdom here, not just "to come"...

    December 23, 2010 at 9:38 am |
    • ScottK

      First, I'll have to agree with Bruce for the first time I think, what this church is doing can only be seen as a step in the right direction, regardless of your religious beliefs.
      I do have to take some minor issue with your assumption that they are "doing great work for the kingdom here" in that I think the work done is not for any one denominations "Kingdom" but more to benefit the world as a whole. I understand that people of your faith believe in a King and a Kingdom, I just hope that those giving aid such as wells for clean water, clothes or building schools and hospitals in impoverished 3rd world countries don't use said aid as the carrot just to convert the poor.

      December 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Casey

      @Scott K

      Actually we as Christians help people for that very reason- to convert them to Christianity. Let me explain why. As Christians we believe that without accepting Jesus as our Lord & Savior that you will go to hell. I'm not asking you to agree with me on this point but that is in fact what Christians believe. So knowing that we believe that, you should be insulted if every Christian you meet doesn't try to convert you. Because in their lack of trying to tell you about Jesus, they are simply saying they don't think you are worth "saving" and/or they don't care. It may not seem that black & white, but in essence it is. So, for us NOT to try to convert the needy we are missing the main part of helping someone (according to our beliefs of course). We are commanded to help those in need & we most certainly should. However we do so to show the love of Christ. I hope that makes sense.

      December 24, 2010 at 2:26 am |
    • hal9thou

      I'm so glad I have charitable alternatives to give my time/money to that don't think the recipients need to hear that Jesus is doing it for them.

      December 24, 2010 at 6:03 am |
    • Stephen

      @Casey – So by your reasoning, you Christians should not be offended when us non-Christians do everything we can to show you how ridiculous it is to believe that an invisible god will take all the good boys and girls up to an eternal Disneyland in the sky and send all the baddies down below to eternal flames and torture. Can you not see how stupid this all sounds? That's why we can't join the club; the price of the Mouse ears is too high.

      December 24, 2010 at 8:10 am |
    • JT

      @casey...first of all, thanks for being honest. Most Christians would never admit to their motivations for doing good deeds. Secondly...you are suffering from a delusion. You can't even fathom how and why others would reject the same beliefs as you. You are so tightly encased in your bubble and are totally convinced that you are right and billions of others just are not intelligent and enlightened as you. Missionaries who go and destroy other cultures also have this same mental illness. I do hope you find a cure one day. Good luck.

      December 24, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  19. Frogist

    I think what they did for those adopted and foster kids was fantastic. Finding them a home is just a really truly wonderfully generous act. I hope that those who signed up for these kids are aware of the responsibilities and difficulties they might be in for. I would hate to think these children would be treated like the puppy kids always want for Christmas, but after they find out how much time and effort they are, get sent to the pound. I hope they didn't all just sign up because the church said to do it. I hope they really are accepting of the situation they have put themselves in for those kids sake.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:32 am |
    • James Swanson

      I think this shows your judgmental att-itude towards Christians, that the first thing you think of when you hear of a group doing something good is that they are doing it for appearance sake and they are going to corrupt the kids and leave them out in the cold.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:33 am |
    • James Swanson

      You're right, we are all good at pointing things out in other people and inept at seeing our own faults, Christians as much or more than others. Thanks for the gut check.

      December 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
    • Homeschool Mom in AZ

      Don't listen to the accusations about being judgmental. I understand and agree with your concerns. I was a certified foster parent and am the parent of an international adoptee. In a post later in the comments section I cover all the interviewing I did before we chose an adoption route. Scroll down if you care.

      Many people get into it without checking it out thoroughly. I interviewed a dozen foster parents and the recurring theme for most of them was "We didn't really understand what we were getting into." Foster children are removed because they were in a SERIOUSLY neglectful or abusive situation-that can have difficult consequences.

      When we began the process of adopting our daughter from S. Korea, the first part of the interview process was spent weeding out people out with, "Do you want children to have a home? If you do, we can give you a list of reputable charities that match children to homes, or do you want to parent a child form the rest of your life in a permanent parent/child relationship? There's a difference." A huge amount of the interview process (6 hours in person, 20 pages in written form) were spent making sure which category we were in.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • JonH

      seriously.. how many children are treated as pets. Neglected and abused.. There's this couple that named their kid Rex. I mean cmon.. no matter how cute, you're kid has to live with that name. I'm naming my guy Little Foot... and I'm not Native American so you'll just have to deal. We have adults with the mindset of a child raising children. I wish there were some kind of liscense to have a child. Some mandatory counseling and planning courses for expecting parents.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:55 am |
    • gwen

      You are so right. Families go into fostering children as if they are ornaments to place on their Christmas tree and then when the ornament appears to be different they want to take it back. I've seen it happen so many times; and that adds to the broken heart and emotions and then we have a damaged child/teenager.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  20. Rudedog

    My wife and I adopted a baby 20 years ago. He is going to jail for 2 months on his second dui conviction. It has been real tough on us. We barely passed the requirements to adopt him and it cost thousands. My heart was broken when he grew up and started stealing/forging my bank acct, unauthorized use of credit card etc.
    How different than my biological son who made the Deans List. Hereditary?
    But I still am greatfull he was NOT aborted.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:12 am |
    • Frogist

      @Rudedog: I don't know you. And I don't want to offend. But thinking that your adopted child's actions are hereditary alone instead of a part of some other issues seems a convenient answer. There are many factors in how a child grows up, and you obviously know this from having at least 2 of them. But extra stresses like being adopted, not fitting in , not having the same support structure your biological child has etc etc could also contribute. So while it removes any guilt associated with anything you've done to say it's hereditary, it's also very harmful to your son who might also believe that he was born a criminal no matter how false we know that to be. Just the fact that you point to his hereditary differences as the first reason for his behaviour might be an indication of how you've seen him and treated him as a result whether you were aware or not.

      December 23, 2010 at 9:23 am |
    • jeff

      @David Johnson – you know, in a weird sort of way, you are a wonderful evangelist for God! Thanks for being you, David! Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Juanita

      I don't believe it's in the genes at all. I can understand how you might feel that way though. I know you said you adopted a baby, but how old was he when you adopted him? I know some people will refer to a child as old as 2 or 3 years of age as a baby. It's amazing what kids pick up and learn as they grow. I don't want to offend you but I do wonder (because it happened to me as an adopted person) if you ever voiced your comparison to your other child to this boy? I wish you all the best and he can still turn around, I believe that totally.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Jeff

      You are quick to comment, but your comments lack substance. When I comment, I try to include the reasons I say a thing.

      Please try to do the same. Show me where my reasoning fails. Or my facts are wrong.

      But don't just quote scripture. For that is worthless.

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • David

      I think maybe that "God" is giving you a spiritual lesson. God does not always grant all things good, but challenges you with life lessons. Seek the meaning behind this rather than feeling sorry for yourself, asking why me and blaming the so called "Devil". True spirituality is what is missing from the so called "Christians" today.

      December 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • ScottK

      I applaud your willingness to take in a child in need, and from your experience I can see that your adopted son is likely worthy of your disappointment. However, you seem to be trying to make the point that biological children behave better than adopted children without any other research than your own sittuation. I can bet that there are many many many people out there just as discouraged by their own biological childrens actions as you are of your adopted son. And then to make the claim "But I still am greatfull he was NOT aborted." seems to say, well he's a lost cause and a burden on society, but thats better than him not being born at all. So, if you are a christian, you are saying that he will likely be going to hell someday to burn and be tortured for eternity because he made some bad choices during his few short years here on earth, but thats better than a doctor preventing him from being born to either an uncarring or unprepared mother who has to put the responsiblity for raising him on some poor Rudedog.

      December 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • LEB

      Maybe he turned to delinquency after he noticed the strong preference you have toward your goody-two-shoes biological son. Young kids often misbehave for their parents' attention. If they don't get what they need, they behavior continues. It's true that he's an adult now and making his own choices, but if he grew up always feeling "second best" in school, in his family, and in life, then you can't blame how he turned out on genetics alone.

      December 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jeff J

      @ David Johnson–Exactly when and where is there a written account of Jesus calling/believing/thinking the earth is flat? Just trying to check your sources.

      December 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • Daniel

      Of course there are genetic factors. Anyone that believes that it is only environment is sadly mistaken. Now, the politically correct folks say that everyone can be saved with the proper home environment, but if you were truly clear about what makes up the entirety of a human being, including genetics, then you would know differently. Rudedog did not state that this was the only reason this child turned out as he did, but for commenters to chastise them for pointing this out is naive at best and insulting at worst. Kudos to them for adopting a child, even if that child did not turn out quite as well as they had hoped.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Mei

      Abortion is evil David Johnson and definitely not from God. It is true that some characteristics/ personality disorders could be biologically based. I tend to think humans are affected by both biology and environment. It is very sad what Rudedog has to deal with after sacrificing much to adopt a child. But certainly adoption does far more greater wonders to those who need a family. There are many, many happy-ending stories with adoption. Rudedog is an example of what this pastor is saying. Life is about giving, not being selfish. We live in a culture that is extremely selfish (one of the reasons we have abortion to begin with). Ironically, the MAJORITY of women would never abort but they feel forced/pressured into it by their relatives or their boyfriends. Sadly it is the "others" in the equation who do not support the baby.... all because of SELFISHNESS. This article is trying to open our eyes to GIVE rather than think only of ourselves. Giving LIFE in pregnancy is one of the greatest acts of GIVING by both parents.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • pserna

      Nice article but some stupid comments from people. To the one that asked if he should stop buying toilet paper and donate the money to the poor, I would say that he should buy his TP to clean his mouth lol

      December 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jeff

      Remember when Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth?

      Obviously, the biblical authors thought the earth was flat. Otherwise, Jesus would not have been able to see all the kingdoms of the earth, no matter how high the mountain.

      Say what you want, that is an error. The bible is flawed. Jesus never said, " WoW! Hold on buddy! The earth is a sphere!

      Now you would quote Isaiah 40:22. You would be wrong. It is a fundie straw to grasp

      The Geographical Meaning of Earth Seas in Genesis 1:10
      by Paul Seely:
      "There is one verse in the OT, however, which has often been cited at least by laymen as a proof that the earth was understood to be a globe. I refer to Isaiah 40:22 which speaks of God as the One sitting above the circle of the earth. This verse does imply that the earth is circular, but there is nothing either in the underlying Hebrew word (hug) or in the context which necessarily implies anything more than the circularity of the flat earth-disc which the historical context and Genesis 1 have given us as the meaning of. If Isaiah had intended to speak of the earth as a globe, he would probably have used the word he used in 22:18 (dur), meaning 'ball.' "

      For as E. J. Young noted, Isaiah 40:22 describes God as seated on the zenith, the highest point directly overhead. Thus the verse implies that earth's dwellers, all mankind according to Psalm 33:13, 14, are clearly visible from a very high point directly overhead. This imagery fits most naturally the conception of the earth below as a flat disc, not a globe. For if the earth were a globe, part of all mankind namely earth's dwellers in Australia, Argentina, South Africa, etc... could not be seen from a point directly overhead. One could force the issue by appealing to God's omniscience, but Isaiah 40:22 (as well as the other verses which mention God looking down) is focused on God's height above the earth; and his seeing all mankind is derived from that height. That phrase "the circle of the earth" in no way implies sphericity is confirmed by the fact that in Egypt this phrase was used to refer to the earth as a flat circular disc. So when interpreted within its historical and biblical context Isaiah 40:22 implies indeed that the earth is circular in shape but also that it is flat.

      Whoever wrote the bible, thought the Earth was flat. They were wrong. The bible cannot be the inspired word of god. It is the work of men. It reflects their knowledge and beliefs of the times.

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mei

      If god didn't give babies to women who don't want them, can't care for them, then abortion would not be necessary.

      Abortion can't be all bad, if it lowers the crime rate.

      Cheers!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • Wes

      Both my son and daugher are adopted. From my experience, I would say that heredity clearly plays a major role. Some of our values took seed, but the kids are the souls they were born with, no question. By the way, Steve Jobs was adopted; Don't give up hope. It took a long time before the kids came around to their parents values.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
    • Donna

      So... you raised this boy all his life to believe there is no foundation for "right" and "wrong" (i.e. no moral law) and then you are shocked and disappointed that he actually grew up and proved the logical outworking of that philosophy to you? Hmmmm... makes perfect sense to me.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • a

      I second Froist and LEB's sentiment. Nowhere in your comment did you talk about how much you believe in that child. I'm sure he sensed this. Maybe if you had dealt with his needs instead of focusing on his differences he would be in a different situation, now. Should have let a smart atheist raise him.....

      December 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • KateInMT

      A child's brain is wired before they're born. If an expectant mother is under constant stress, constant fear, taking certain drugs, abused, etc., the child's reptilian brain, the "pre-brain" will develop to react in an adverse way to many situations we might consider "normal". This is pure reflex in the child and cannot be explained as being bad, obstinent, obtuse or any other negative actions; also, any infant who is neglected will show the results of this neglect well into their teens and beyond if there is no intervention and long-term "re-wiring" done by the adoptive or foster parents. It isn't genetic, it's purely learned behavior.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Snoflinga

      This is YOUR experience – one poor one out of many, many millions of happy successful adoptions that take place. My sister, aunt, AND two cousins are all adopted, all of them are happy productive stable members of society. My brother is biological, he has spent time in jail for multiple DUIs. Same with our neighbors family: They have 4 kids, and of the 4 the only child with behavior problems is the one born to them physically, the ones who came via adoption are star students and athletes. The biological child is in treatment for serious problems at school and with mistreating other kids. Long story short? Kids don't come with guarantees, no matter how they come to your family. You could nuture them every day with the best of care in utero, and still end up with a disabled child, mentally ll child, or a felon. Or you can adopt and have awesome kids who are precious gifts. Life is a crap shoot, baby.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tastycles

      Seriously beat the living tar out of your son.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • And the winner is...

      @David,
      From a non-anthropocentric view point, abortion not only lows crime but poverty, abuse and even in an extreme sense reduces climate change. Then again, much of this could be accomplished if all the saved with get on with ascending. Their world has been ending for the past 2000 or so years, I am running out of time to wait for them to leave.
      The most disappointing part of this article, like many Christian charities, is that instead of worrying about the country the live in and complain about they try to fix someone else 'backyard' before their own. Many of these countries might be better off if the white-faced devil would stay away i.e. Haiti and Cholera, Jesuits and small-pox/syphilis. While at the same time, American children need just as much as help. God=Fail.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
    • Wig

      David Johnson, you are my hero. Its just too bad everything you say will be ignored because you are an infidel. Its too late to help these people by pointing out the ridiculousness and of their views. If they hadn't come to these conclusions themselves (as they are so easy to come to) they never will, for logic is lost on them because they have faith. And faith advocates believing despite there being no reason to believe, and once someone starts doing so, they are lost to the realm of reality forever. Its unfortunate your efforts will go to waste.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
    • shoelady

      Was he prenatally exposed to alcohol? There is a great book called the Fatal Link that talks about kids who might not have the physical characteristics of FAS, but have what is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. From what you described as his behavior, it matches some of those characteristics. A lot of kids who were adopted from Eastern Europe have been affected.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
    • metmo

      @DavidJohnson

      The original-language word translated “circle” at Isaiah 40:22 may also be rendered “sphere.” Certain Bible translations read, “the globe of the earth” (Douay Version) and “the round earth.”—Moffatt.

      (Job 26:7) . . .He is stretching out the north over the empty place, Hanging the earth upon nothing;

      December 24, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • Tracy

      Mr. Johnson,

      You've wasted enough time of your life trying to convince people that Christians are wrong. Perhaps you're trying to convince yourself? Why waste your time? People will believe what they want and have the right to do so. Quoting scripture on a story on CNN is ridiculous. Christianity is obviously a sore point with you... come to terms with how you really feel and LET IT GO. Live and let live.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • Joe

      Many families with only biological children have both Cains and Abels.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • srjsac

      I have two biological children as different and night and day. The one with the DUi and terrible judgment is a wonderful loving person who took many years to get the big picture. He was welcomed home at 35 to attend community college and get some skills. He made the president's list (which in our state is a higher achievement than the deans list). My other child breezed through college and is a wonder citizen. Don't give up on the difficult child nor make them fell unloved. It may or may not be genetics but at this point it really doesn't matter, you are his father. Oh and one other tip, I am very clear that I don't bail people out of jail. They must be accountable for their actions.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:53 am |
    • Whyohwhy

      Hey, I was adopted and so was my sister and we are bother very thankful; I will be completing my PhD in epidemiology soon to hopefully do the same sorts of things described in this article... so BITE ME! it's not our fault you are lousy parents

      December 24, 2010 at 1:06 am |
    • blaaaah

      people still believe in gods? what year is this?

      December 24, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • JonH

      Just because you can adopt, doesn't mean you should. I really hate the idea of Christians stepping out to adopt children. So many modernized Christian ideas are very poisonous. The guy in this article asks the church to step out of their comfort zone but although it's always good to challenge yourself, I doubt it's a good idea just for the sake of feeling uncomfortable. Everytime I hear a self-righteous Christian mention "comfort zone" I picture a priest that whips himself at the hint of any lustful thought. It's a very mentally unstable idea and stressful. Humbling to the point of low self-esteem to constantly chide yourself for living comfortably. We should only adopt if we have something to give. And if all we have to give is christianity, you aren't doing anybody any favors. I want to encourage those that can afford to give their all, including financing for education, thier time, and their love to adopt a child. Nothing less. I wouldn't let anyone under the age of 35-40 adopt either. A parent with experience can lead a child much better than someone in their 20s.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:14 am |
    • saylorscreek

      It is really sad how many people will reject genetic arguments, even when these have been proven. With some good reason, these are rejected for practical reasons, like stigma,bias or increased insurance premiums. But the research shows that some alcoholics have biological relatives that are alcoholics even if the relative is not raised with the family of origin. Get off Rudedog's case and face the facts as he/she has done. Let's see if we can help solve the problem of addiction without blaming the adoptive parent. After all, this family has had the guts to adopt a child when there were no assurances of how the child will turn out. Commend Rudedog instead of blaming him/her.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:56 am |
    • Tim

      How you can read this, assuming you did, and come up with this kind of comment... really makes me question the "real" issue in your household... barely met the requirements? I wonder why.

      December 24, 2010 at 2:12 am |
    • Mom of Three

      I'm adopted. I've volunteered with animal shelters for over 15 years, have three great kids, have basically raised another for five years, work for a police department, have a college education that I got on my own. My worst offense was a speeding ticket. My parents got me through LA County and I cost almost nothin'. So, with biological or adopted children, it's a crap shoot. Welcome to life.

      December 24, 2010 at 3:20 am |
    • rreah

      Really? You are glad he was not aborted? Give me a break. You are in ruins, finacially, emotionally, spiritually. You must walk away in order for your son to learn.

      December 24, 2010 at 3:28 am |
    • CG

      My grandparents had the same issue, my dad went on the smooth track and his adopted sister was the wild one. Maybe its the genes, but its probably just the random variation in success. The better the one child, the relatively worse the other appears, too. Keep fighting the good fight.

      December 24, 2010 at 5:17 am |
    • glrm

      My friend was adopted. I think he has a lot of abandonment issues, one girlfriend took off (a live-in) with another man obviously from neglect, as he's neglecting his current girlfriend. Sure it might be part hereditary, but he is dealing with lots of issues – a former friend was still talking forty-years after-the-fact about his terrible dad whom his mother had thrown out and then his dad got another woman pregnant and devoted himself to the new wife's family. It shows how many are a product of their environment, and your son is young and still can straighten out his life, but if he's stealing he's possibly involved in drugs...

      December 24, 2010 at 5:45 am |
    • adopted

      Rudedog, I take extreme offense to your comments. I AM an adopted child, and know my birth family history as well. I do not do drugs, I do not steal, I do not lie. I was raised in a middle class family and grew up to be fairly successful. You do a great disservice to the idea of adoption by suggesting that heredity could cause all your child's issues. Perhaps your son has issues BECAUSE you see him as an "outsider" because of his different genes?

      December 24, 2010 at 6:06 am |
    • Ellid

      Based on your letter, it is obvious what went wrong, and it wasn't adopting a kid with bad genes: it was that on some level, you didn't treat your adopted child with the same unconditional love and acceptance as your biological child, and it showed.

      Shame on you.

      December 24, 2010 at 6:46 am |
    • AJ

      Great article! It is THIS kind of lifestyle that is God's dream for his people. If our embracing of the humility and generosity of Jesus becomes the main thing we are mocked & criticized for, we can be truly joyful on that day!

      December 24, 2010 at 6:54 am |
    • aj

      Alcoholism is an inherited disease, so there is a genetic component. There has also been so much research into pre-natal care and those early years – they are critical to later development. I actually have a cousin and know several families with the same story you have told (where one adopted child struggles in such different ways than the other children – even when others were adopted.) Biological or adopted, parents try to do what is best for their children, and sounds like unconditional love and some tough rules are all you can do. Try a psychologist also. There is only so much you can do – he ultimately must take responsibility for himself and grow up.

      December 24, 2010 at 7:38 am |
    • commander cody

      Rudedog, alcoholism IS hereditary. Sit him down, tell him you love him & you will never help him get out of any trouble again. You WILL send him to treatment. There are state sponsored programs for 200 bucks. He most probably needs a 1/2 way house. Don't give up hope; do give up guilt. Alcoholism is a disease; treat it. Been there, done that.

      December 24, 2010 at 7:50 am |
    • Mike_V

      @Rudedog: so it is absolutely impossible that a biological son of yours would commit a crime?

      December 24, 2010 at 8:00 am |
    • David Johnson

      @And the winner is...

      Dude! I loved what you said! Cheers!

      My Jesus bring you lots of chocolate eggs! And beer!

      December 24, 2010 at 8:09 am |
    • SHILOH MOHAMMED

      I think this article was beautiful and really captures what each American's mind set should be. Our society seems to be twirling into some uncontrollable whirewind, there are no more limts in society no accountability, people just don't care about their concience anymore. It is just a mad race to accomplish material things, and prove to the world that we are settled and well -off in life and therefore successfull. People..if the one's around you judge you by how much material value or how much prosperity you have then you should distance yourselves from them and live life your own way with your family and people like you. Before you know it there will be more and more people seeing the right way to lead their life, and will have peace inside of them. Just because you don't have the best of everything does not make you a loser, just look at the people that judge you as losers who will never have peace or love even in Heavan. Even though I am not Christian, I am a muslim our basic beleifs about religion and how one should conduct their lives are similar. Be giving, be thankful to God, be kind, and helpful and God will return upon you many things to be thankful for.

      December 24, 2010 at 8:11 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Wig

      You are right of course, but I still have a child's innocence and hope that truth will rule the day!

      Let us stand together against the silly!

      Actually yesterday, I looked out the window and thought I saw Jesus coming back through the clouds. It turned out to be a smudge. Oh well.

      May Santa bless and keep you!

      December 24, 2010 at 8:15 am |
    • Priscella

      @Rudedog
      I am not sure what life you have provided for your son, I can only hope it is a good one.
      However, based upon the simple reality that your husband has been arrested twice for a DUI leads me to assume he has a drinking problem which I am sure he has not hidden from you or his son.
      That being said, it is not so much genetic for your son to struggle with the pain of his fathers neglect and love for alcohol over his family. It is also not genetic for your son to act out and display behaviors he has grown up being displayed...

      genetics do not play a role in the well being of a child, they play a role in the structure of the child's personality.
      it is the caretakers job to then ensure that the child is able to fit comfortably into their genetic makeup despite being entirely out of their element.
      i have many adopted friends and know many adoptive parents and not one of them have ever "come out bad" because they were genetically inclined because they were each raised (and are raising) their kids in good, stable, loving homes.

      unfortunately, you and your husband are more to blame for the development of your sons behavior than your sons genetic make up. i do not say that to be rude, but your claim is not only outrageous, it is probably hurtful and offensive to your kid if they found out.

      December 24, 2010 at 8:38 am |
    • Jeepers

      I look at it from a biological standpoint. In the animal world, when an animal rejects or kills their baby, it's often because they know instinctively that something is wrong with it. Whenever I hear of adopted children turning out to have issues, I wonder about that. I'm sure it's not always the case...sometimes a heartbroken mother feels she has no other choice and does what she thinks is best for the baby. But my guess is that it sometimes is something else. And like someone said, the child could have felt rejected and might have felt that he never measured up to your biological son. But there is no 100% answer. I believe they're wrong to completely discount the heredity question.

      December 24, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Anne

      @Rudedog - Right, because nobody ever had a biological child who went astray. Nobody was ever estranged from their biological family. That never happens. It could certainly never happen to an upstanding person like you. (How did you pick your screen name, btw?)

      Have you considered the possibility that an entire lifetime of being raised by someone who always considered him not... quite... *theirs* might have anything to do with your adopted son's problems? I'm an adopted child, and when I was a kid, I always felt like I didn't quite fit in at family gatherings, although certainly no one ever said anything to me directly. It was only when I was fully an adult, and one of my cousins, whom I'd grown up with (I was taken home by my adoptive parents when I was 3 days old, so they were the only family I ever knew), came up to me at my mother's funeral, put his arm around my shoulders and said, "You know, we'll always think of you like family." Oh really? Well, wasn't that nice of them? In the years since then I've come to understand that the problem wasn't ever with me; there wasn't anything any more wrong with me than with any other five year-old, and I certainly didn't do anything to deserve to feel like an outsider. It was *THEM*.

      And sure enough, guess what, I'm not at all like them. I have advanced degrees. I have a good job. I have an interesting life that extends beyond the boundaries of the impoverished, rural county that they will never set foot out of. I've never been in jail, and I didn't get pregnant before I graduated college. My parents are gone now, bless their hearts, and I won't ever lay eyes on any of the rest of them ever again. I won't miss them even a tiny little bit.

      December 24, 2010 at 9:48 am |
    • TXZag

      The problems you are having with your adopted child may have a biological link (nature), but there also may very well be nurturing elements, too. Most sociologists would agree that nature and nurture both play roles in our outcomes.

      My oldest (biologically mine) also stole from us, and even went to jail for similar offenses against others. My youngest wouldn't think of taking a piece of bread without asking. Same parents, and same environment, so you'd think same results. But maybe not. They are individuals and therefore are wired differently, so to speak. They interpret the world around them, including interactions with parents and others, differently. It may very well be that while we thought we were treating our kids the same (thus giving them the same values and moral framework), we were actually alienating the one, to a degree. Because we didn't fully respect that different people really do interpret and respond to events differently, our attempts to make him respect our parenting methods and conform to our worldview may have helped set the stage for his deviant behavior. This is not to say that we should have accepted criminal behavior, but that there were probably other ways to get his attemtion and cooperation.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • Mercene

      @Rudedog. As an adopted child I am appalled by you comment. You have no idea how hurtful it is for you to say such things. I am sure that your comparing the two children over the years has contributed to your adopted child's pain and feeling like he is less. Trust me, we feel different all on our own, I still do and I am a grandmother of 9. Shame on you.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • Mike, not me

      @Dave
      "Remember when Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth?"

      Very weak, inconsistent belief. You have no problem with Satan "transporting" Jesus from dessert to mountain, (and later to the top of the temple) but you infer from what is not in the text that Satan says all the kingdoms you can physically see are the ones on the earth. Then you go on to state that because Jesus did not refute this point, but focus on the sinful issue at hand, that he must obviously agreed with Satan on this one point. As if everyone that reads ours, yours and mine, comments and does not discuss them must obviously agree with them.

      Further more, even if the world was flat to presume any one can see all of it with natural eyes is absurd regardless of the shape.
      So many angles this is wrong not enough time to go through it all, but let's take Satan at his word for a moment, could he have not shown a vision or a "movie", transported them all over the globe and not to just a high mountain.

      You and I can see all the nations, Google maps, tv, internet, but we can not instantaneously transport, but still you put limitations on those who are not earthly by earthly constrictions????????

      December 24, 2010 at 11:12 am |
    • Swizzle

      @frogist, @scottk, @leb, et al:
      Scientific research of adopted children have been performed over the years to show that the biological descendants of alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholics themselves. This holds true even when the children of alcoholics were removed from their biological parents shortly after birth and raised with non-drinking foster parents.

      While biological factors like hereditary set the trigger levels for developing alcoholism, it is other social influences and behaviors that determine whether that person will actually become an alcoholic.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • JM

      @david johnson

      Hi David,

      It is interesting that you are arguing about the scientific understanding of the biblical authors. I long ago realized that the debate about inerrancy of scripture is a recent phenomenon birthed in America where the fundamentalist backlash to the liberal Christianity movement of the late 1800s tried to make it impossible to misinterpret the bible by making it literally perfect. However, the truth is that the bible is not the koran. It was not dictated by God to one man. It is a collection of books written by many ancient authors and, like all of God's works through humanity, is not without clear evidence of its human component. For those who wish to engage in a battle on an unnecessary pretense that the bible was written by God, or contains all of God's knowledge with respect to science and history, this is being unfair to the truth, and discounting that God works through man and all of his imperfections. Just as Jesus was both divine and human, so the evidence of the human is ever-present in scripture even as the divine is clearly there for those looking for it.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • David Johnson

      @JM

      All that you say is just your opinion. Your opinion is no better than the fundamentalist view.

      Why is that? Ans. – Because you have no proof for your opinion.

      You talked about science. Well, science is evidence based. Religion is faith based.

      Cheers!

      December 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • prayinglady

      Just don't stop praying for him. Some seeds take longer to grow than others. None of us can say the choices that children will make when they are able to make and act on their own decisions. Praying for you.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • bek

      A close relative has two sons (both her own) who are in their early/mid-twenties. Those young men are a mirror image of yours – one has excelled at everything, the other is in jail for the third time. The boys had equal opportunities for success, including wonderful, loving parents. Children are individual people. They make individual choices for their lives. Heredity plays a role, but only one role. Growing up is complicated and influenced by innumerable factors. It cannot be reduced to a simple formula.

      December 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
    • Hope 111-3

      Rudedog, yes, there is a spiritual/ soulish inheritance as well as physical one. Regardless what today's experts say, this is a fact. I have seen it in my own family... It's amazing that a child growing up may never know his/her father or mother, but yet, they inherited so much of same personality traits, and end up doing the same things their natural parents have done, not even knowing about them... These are not just coincidences..., not by the long shot! Only power of God can break those bondages!

      December 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • Marconi

      If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die.–Deuteronomy 22:22

      December 25, 2010 at 2:29 am |
    • quillaninc

      I'm one of 3 adopted children, my older brothers being natural twins. How children turn out is as complex as the bodies we are born in. For myself, I am stubborn, self reliant, at times highly focused and others frightfully lazy, creative, compassionate, have the fiery temper of a true red head, choose daily to see the positives and to control a tendency to depression, and have a determination that can either be my greatest asset or my worst enemy.

      All of these things are completely inherent. Having traced my birth family for medical needs, I can tell you right now, I would have developed all of my worst traits and few of my positive ones in an environment where my birth mother's untreated mental illnesses created a home full of tensions and subtle, unintended manipulations. My adopted family accepted all of my foibles, even when they didn't understand them, and I'm daily grateful that the Lord led them to me.

      On the other hand, one of my brothers has flirted along the edges of danger for as long as we can remember. Had my parents remained in a rough city suburb instead of returning to mum's home town, I can only imagine the level of trouble he would have ended up in, very much like your adopted son.

      My brother marches to the beat of his own drummer, at times being the most generous person in the world, and at others being cuttingly ignorant of other people's needs and feelings. Nevertheless, I'm certain that all of these things would have come about, and possibly worse, had he been raised within his birth home.

      My other brother shows many of the signs of bipolar. Again, this is a biological tendency, certainly. There have been tensions in our family because of this, too. And yet, as a family we attempt to support one another, despite the difficulties. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say we don't always succeed, but again, I'm frightened of the things he could have become in a different, less accepting environment.

      My point is, we have no idea what triggers these things in your son. As many natural children cause pain like this as do adopted ones. The causes may be as simple as a natural-born inclination to rebel, or as complex as an inbuilt sense of rejection absorbed while in the womb, or as random as a single word said carelessly at school that triggered this within him. We don't know.

      While it's understandable to search for answers why, pinning his rebellion on his 'adoptedness' is not only unfair, but also the surest way to ensure he never comes to God's path. No matter how you try, this emotion will seep through your interactions with him, and with your other son. Pray for the Lord to keep him, daily, and that he'll protect those your son comes into contact with. The power of a parent's prayers have a strength all of their own.

      God bless.

      December 25, 2010 at 5:40 am |
    • David Johnson

      @metmo

      I'm sorry I didn't answer you sooner. I didn't see your post until now. Thank you for your comment. It is a good one.

      Job 26:7 – He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

      Yep, it would seem to point out that only gravity and inertia are holding the earth in space. But, you have to weigh this against the many verses that indicate the earth and heavens are held up by pillars: Job 9:6, Job 26:11, Psalms 75:3, 1 Samuel 2:8.
      If the bible really was inspired by a god, why would these contradictions exist?

      Fundies will latch onto any verse they can, to try and show the bible was inspired by god. The parts that contain errors or contradict each other, are deemed to be translation errors, allegory, context, or actually referring to some other passage etc.

      Fundie rule of thumb: If it strengthens their case for god, the verse is to be taken literally. If it harms there case for god, it is allegorical, or just plain magic. LOL

      Bronze age people thought the earth was flat, and held up by pillars. It's turtles all the way down!

      Love and Prayers!

      December 25, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike, not me

      Satan took Jesus to a high place, which Matthew explicitly identifies as a very high mountain, where all the kingdoms of the world can be seen.

      Hmmm... I watched an episode of "Surviorman" a while back. Les Stroud was in a thick forest. He climbed a high mountain, so he could see as much of the environment as possible. The fellow on Man Vs. Wild climbed a tree, to acheive the same objective. I've never seen anyone seek out a valley,to get the lay of the land.

      Satan taking Jesus to a very high mountain, where all the kingdoms of the world can be seen, seems to indicate all the kingdoms of the world could be seen from this vantage point.
      Otherwise, what would be the point of Mathew stressing that it was a very high mountain?

      So again Mike, spin this however you want. But the passage says what it says. It is what it is.

      Fundie rule of thumb: If it strengthens their case for god, the verse is to be taken literally. If it harms their case for god, it is allegorical, or just plain magic.

      Bronze age people thought the earth was flat, and held up by pillars. It's turtles all the way down!

      Happy Holidays Mike!

      December 25, 2010 at 10:06 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mei

      You said: "There are many, many happy-ending stories with adoption."

      There are many, many happy ending stories with abortion. *Yawn*

      Cheers!

      December 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • ricksaunders

      Sir- As an adopted child I can tell you there is more to heridity than most understand. Raised by loving supportive parents with 3 loving also adopted sibs, I too , like your non-bio son, spent time feeling/being lost. It wasnt until a few years that I found my bio-sibs that the hole I felt inside me began to close. Truth be told, as much as I loove my non-bio sibs we have very very little in common yet I could hardly be more like my bio-sibs who I didnt meet until my 40s. Same taste in music/art.books/politics..all things my non-bio sibs have little interest in.I share a similar gait to one brother and many similar mannerisms. All I can suggest is to not compare the two boys and do all you can to love, guide and forgive the non-bio son. He will have to find his way alone but if you laid a good foundation it will help. Forgive and do not blame yourself. I grew up in a close home feeling apart and seperate but always knowing I was loved (tho not understood) in spite of my failings and offenses. This knowledge helped my take care of myself when I felt like the only one of me in the world (a very lonely feeling). If able do what you can to help the boy but remember he will always be alone. Prayer and finding my bio-sibs helped to heal me. Good Luck and thank you for adopting. My bio-sibs rarely had a father and lost their mother when I was 10. Ive seen what that did. In spite of your sons failures you may have saved him from a worse fate.

      December 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • gwen

      I have been working as a Social Worker for 17 years and I used to believe that children needed a loving home. Well thats not always true sometimes envronment does not always out weigh genetics and family. So as long as you gave him the same opportunties afforded your birth children and did not make feel "adopted" there may have been nothing else you could have done. Children tend to forge their own path sometime n spite of family direction and love and it has nothing to do with whether they are adopted or not.

      December 30, 2010 at 7:40 am |
    • Carol

      Rudedog,
      Heredity MAY have something to do with the differences in you 2 sons, but also MAY not. My husband and I have 2 sons, 2 1/2 years apart. They could not be any more different. We raised them the same, taking them to church, going to sports games with each, etc. So, you would think they would turn out about the same. Well, the oldest son is in his 2nd year of Law School and has given us very little grief. Our younger son got into drugs about 5 years ago and has turned our family upside down. We have spent close to $100,000 on him....rehab, cars, fines, etc. Do to how we are dealing with our "drug" son, my Dad just recently disowned me for not "enabling" him more. So, who is to know what causes differences in children? I just pray for both of them that God would be real in their lives and that they would trust in God and follow His path.

      January 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.