Insight on the News
For the past ten years, a college in New York State has been offering a course on human sexuality that can earn students three college credits. The students are “required to go on ‘field trips’ to talk with prostitutes, visit gay bars or check out nude beaches,” reports a columnist in the New York Post. The class textbook is said to provide explicit instructions on engaging in oral sex and encourages the practice of masturbation. According to the Post, as part of the classroom curriculum, students are being shown a film that shows “couples engaged in sexual intercourse,” as well as “close-ups of male and female anatomies.” What could be farther removed from the norms of chasteness and virtue?—Philippians 4:8, 9.
While young people need to know the facts of life and to have a healthy attitude toward such, parents have the prime responsibility to provide such instruction. (Proverbs 22:6) Any school course that encourages sex outside of marriage and requires students to view X-rated films and to explore homosexuality and prostitution would, of course, never be acceptable to true worshipers of God. The Bible clearly describes those practicing fornication, adultery, and homosexuality as persons having “disgraceful sexual appetites,” engaging in what is “obscene.” Regarding such things, the Bible commands: “Abstain from fornication.” What is more, it says: “Let fornication . . . not even be mentioned among you.”—Romans 1:24-32; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Ephesians 5:3, 5; Galatians 5:19, 21.
A False Hope
People seeking “a more personalized passage” into death are turning away from conventional forms of burial in favor of the ancient practice of mummification, reports The Wall Street Journal. A base price of $7,500 “will get a customer soaked for two months in wine, herbs and chemical preservatives, coated with scented oils and bound in a cocoon of linen, fiberglass, polyethylene and plaster,” says the Journal. Gold overlays or jewels encrusted on bronze caskets shaped to the body may go for $100,000 and up.
Yet, it is not simply the uniqueness of mummification that is attracting customers. One person said that “if it’s true as some Christians say that on Judgment Day Christ will call us up from the grave, then I want to be in the best shape I can.”
Like ancient Egyptians who believed that the body should be preserved for the soul’s return in the afterlife, such people usually base their hope on the teaching that the soul is immortal. Religious leaders have taught that on Judgment Day, the bodies of the righteous and of the wicked will be reunited with their respective souls to share in heavenly bliss or hellfire damnation.
Yet, the doctrine of inherent immortality is not taught in the Bible. Instead, the Bible teaches that the soul is mortal. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) Thus, the Biblical hope for a future life rests, not on the survival of an immortal soul, but on God’s resurrecting a person with his own life pattern and a suitable body having the same identity and memories as when he died. Correctly, Jesus could say: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
“No Part of the World”
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., met with the New York City Board of Estimate last year to request a zoning variance on the construction of a 19-story residence building. While the majority of board members opposed the project, the two votes favoring the zoning change were cast by New York City’s mayor Edward Koch. In a statement explaining the basis for his decision, Mayor Koch observed that “Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . can only be considered to be good neighbors . . . I hold them in the highest regard.” He then added: “I am told that for religious reasons they do not vote in any election and maybe that is one of the problems with this project, because it is very hard for non-voters to win in a controversial matter where elected officials are importuned by large numbers of people.”
Mayor Koch is to be commended for his courage and impartiality in the face of so many opposers. Although matters might have turned out differently if Jehovah’s Witnesses shared in political elections, they cannot be dissuaded from their neutral stand on political issues—no matter how great the prize. For true Christians the position is clear. Jesus said: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 17:16.