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If you noticed that I had a visible tattoo, would it make any difference in your opinion of me? Apparently for some it would—to the point they either acquire or avoid tattoos pretty much for the same reason—they believe tattoos change what people think about them.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #19 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


Tattoos are now visible in whatever direction you look. In the last decade, tattoos have gone mainstream. Nearly half of millennials report at least one tattoo. And the resurgent popularity of body art doesn’t seem to have reached its cultural peak.

Body art of some kind has apparently graced human skin since shortly after the Garden of Eden. Yet one would do well to remember that body ink in its current manifestation is a fashion fad, and, by definition, fads are here today, gone tomorrow.

Today, religious people, including Christians, get tattoos as a way of conveying their faith, including all manner of religious symbolism, crosses being the obvious favorite but also doves, angels, biblical references, and more. In some parts of the world this is an important means of identity.

This is a different world from my youth when tattoos could only be found on three kinds of individuals: 1) a few armed forces veterans sporting small arm tattoos, 2) bikers and other assorted bad guys, 3) or tattooed ladies at the carnival.

Today you can see tattoos on most of the prison population and among professional athletes, the young woman serving you an omelet, innumerable college students, and not a few young pastors. But when I was a kid, religious leaders if not adult culture in general tended to frown upon the practice of getting tattoos. So, I wonder why it’s OK now to wear tattoos when it wasn’t OK in my youth? And I wonder, how do we decide to tattoo or not to tattoo?

When Christians ask these questions the first verse cited is in the Old Testament book of Leviticus: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (19:28). Some people quote this verse as the letter of the law, thus the end of the argument. No tattoos, ever.

But this isn’t a valid interpretation. This verse commanded the Israelites to avoid certain funeral practices wherein bodies were marked in some pagan hope of attaining a good afterlife. This verse doesn’t really address present-day tattooing, and as part of the Israelite’s ceremonial law it does not directly apply to us today.

So, we look to the New Testament, only to discover it says nothing about whether a person should get a tattoo. The fact is, God didn’t give us a “black or white” yes-no answer on tattoos. He left it in the so-called “gray area” in between, so we have to figure out what to do and “be fully convinced in (our) own minds” (Romans 14:5). In other words, God gave us enough other principles in Scripture for us to be able to decide this “matter of conscience” for ourselves. This is called Christian liberty.

Since clearly God wants us to maintain a lifestyle that honors him, we should make decisions or discern what is best (Philippians 1:9-10). If we discern properly, we’ll live according to God’s command: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So let’s summarize:

--God doesn’t answer all our cultural lifestyle questions and grants us Christian liberty to discern what is best.

--He expects us to choose in a manner that glorifies him.

--Tattoos are not proscribed in Scripture.

--So, each person must decide whether, why, when, how, where, what to tattoo or not to tattoo.

So, to tattoo or not to tattoo?

While we’ve discovered God didn’t give us rules, we should remember he did give us principles to help us answer this question, one of which is that not everything we can do we should do: In 1 Corinthians, it states, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive” (10:23).

This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends.

So, to discern whether to tattoo or not to tattoo we should ask ourselves and perhaps our confidants these questions:

1. Do I want this body art for my entire life? (Some say 90% of people who get tattoos later regret it; 5% regret it immediately.)

2. What will this tattoo say about me, what I believe? (Like Christian body art sends a message, other symbols send different messages.)

3. Is the place and procedure I’m considering medically safe?

4. Why am I getting a tattoo? (Peer pressure? Rebellion? To look better? To look tough? Other?)

5. What will my tattoo look like in 20 or 30 years? (Have you seen 30-year-old tattoos? They ain’t pretty.)

6. Will the tattoo really look as cool or beautiful as I think, or will it look silly, cheap, sad, revolting, or worse?

7. If I get a tattoo, what might its existence prevent me from doing or experiencing later? (Job or profession? Relationship?)

8. Why shouldn’t I get a temporary rather than permanent tattoo?

Now for the record, I’m, really, not against all tattoos. They just perplex me.

The Christian perspective on tattoos might best be described as, rather than tattoo or no tattoo, tattoos are a matter of the values represented in what is portrayed and why. It gets down to making wise choices about what we place on our bodies, what it says about what we believe, and whether we seek to honor the Lord. Again, for me, it’s about Christian liberty.

Periodically, I see an understated tattoo that seems attractive, like a delicate butterfly or flower, or a tattoo that clearly means something, like a cross, or a phrase like “Never Forget,” or maybe a flag.

But mostly I see huge gaudy looking tattoos, generally worn by men but not exclusively, that I don’t understand: 5” tall grotesque creatures or snakes on a guy’s calf – Is this demonic figure how he sees the world, or himself?

Jagged barb wire on a man’s biceps – Does he feel tough or courageous with this ink on his arm?

Men, and sometimes women, getting so many tattoos the body art is no longer individually distinguishable, and the color is gone, just a run-together blue.

Handsome men – hunks they are called – like soccer start David Beckham, who now makes money as a clothing model, plastering his entire upper body – maybe more, don’t know – with multiple tattoos – Why? Does this make him cooler, more handsome?

I get why the Rock, actor Dwayne Johnson, tattooed his chest and shoulders. It fits his Samoan heritage and acting persona.

If you’re an Mixed Martial Arts fighter like Conor McGregor, maybe all those tattoos make you look more formidable?

But why would attractive models or actresses get multiple tattoos? What can ink add to their God-given beauty?

As I said, tattoos perplex me.

To hear some people tell it, tattoos are often acquired impulsively—in the early years this is part of their public braggadocio. But tattoos last a lifetime and impulsiveness isn’t a good decision-making attribute no matter who you are or who you aspire to be.

Now if you already have a tattoo and want to get rid of it, removal is now possible-if-painful and expensive. Laser and other methods are available.

I’m not suggesting a Never-Tattoo moral argument here, just wondering aloud about a fad that I don’t comprehend.

Piercings are another subject. This I truly cannot understand, for in my estimation piercings are about pain, not pleasure, beauty, or even functionality. The entire aesthetic conjures images of debasement. I believe you can make a moral argument against piercings.

But even here, I admit, there is no clear mandate one way or another in Scripture and you have to wonder where to draw the line: two or five or six piercings? What about just two pierced ears featuring earrings on posts? In the ears piercing is OK, but not in your nose, lip, tongue, or sexual body parts? I think a moral understanding of piercings can be developed, but it’s challenging.

Tattoos are an ancient and contemporary practice, so maybe the word “fad” isn’t accurate? Tattoos it appears are here to stay. But they still perplex me.

Can you imagine George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Taylor or Charlton Heston with tattoos? I can’t either.

Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at

Have you ever met someone who hasn’t forgiven another person who’s been dead for 15 years? Unforgiveness is rampant in the human experience, and in the Church.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #18 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.



Your son steals the family car and eventually calls three weeks later from three states away. Your spouse has been unfaithful. Your pastor absconds with several thousand dollars of your church’s funds. You are the focus of a slanderous attack that undermines your reputation. Your business partner finds some way to cheat you, legally, and walks away with your investment. Someone abused you in terrible ways. Your father or mother have been gone for decades, but you’re still haunted by the memory of how one or both wronged you.

The “normal” response pattern to all these circumstances might include disbelief, hurt, anger, bitterness, and maybe vengeance. Some people might even argue that such emotions are justifiable and understandable. Some claim that certain acts perpetrated against us are forever unforgiveable.

People expect a certain amount of “righteous anger.” It’s a part of our American code of individualistic ethics. Kill or be killed. Hallowed self-defense. John Wayne rides again.

But I’ve got to believe that most of us are not very good at separating “righteous anger” from unrighteous, carnal wrath. That’s why forgiveness seems like an even more unlikely response. At least with anger, righteous or otherwise, you get the satisfaction of directing your feelings toward the offender. With forgiveness you don’t even get that. You let go and walk away.

Actually, forgiveness is a rather un-human thing to do. Think about it. Forgiveness goes against the grain. If someone hurts us, why should you forgive them? What’s in it for us? Forgiveness isn’t the typically human response.

Forgiving seems too much like yielding. It smacks of injustice and weakness. It’s almost as if we’re allowing for some legitimacy in the offender’s actions.  Besides, if we want to be religious about it, doesn’t the Old Testament say, “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”? Shouldn’t we retaliate? Can’t we all think of a couple of people whose teeth we’d like to knock out?

You see, forgiveness really is un-human. Forgiveness does not fit our human psyche. It’s not natural.

But then again, who said we should be natural? Being natural means that we’re following the nature we were born with and that, according to Scripture, is an evil nature, a heart that is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9).  

My wife and I did not teach any of our four children (now adults) to lie, but they all did sooner or later. We didn’t teach them to cheat, but they did that too. They did what comes natural. They sinned. I’ve done the same things and more.  I’ve let the “natural man” control my heart and my response.

Yet we should not want to do what comes “natural.” We should be interested in the supernatural. We should allow the Spirit of God to work in our hearts to redeem the natural and make us useful for his service in the here and now. It’s only through submission to the Lord that we can do the “un-human” thing and forgive those who hurt us.

If forgiveness is un-human, unforgiveness is inhuman. Unforgiveness eats away at the spirit of the unforgiver and sometimes the unforgiven.

We describe torture, cruelty, and vicious violence as inhuman. We detest “man’s inhumanity to man” as evidenced in slavery, killing, genocide, or unlawful capture and detainment. Inhuman action is hurtful, destructive action.

Unforgiveness is inhuman because it hurts us, you or me. Unforgiveness binds and restricts. It chokes and destroys. It cruelly works emotional and spiritual violence on the soul.

Unforgiveness is to the spirit what disease is to the physical body. Unforgiveness debilitates, slowly and steadily. It begins to determine what we do and who we are.  

Unforgiveness captures our future.  

But unforgiveness has a remedy. We don’t have to live in spiritual and emotional ill health. Forgiveness is the remedy that frees us from the bondage of sin. Life, liberty and joy are ours to embrace.

This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends.

Our ability as Christians to forgive others is rooted entirely in the fact that God through Christ has already forgiven us. Through Christ’s shed blood we enjoy redemption, the forgiveness of sin (Col. 1:14). We are “free from” sin and “free to be” what God wants us to be.

I conclude every podcast with the powerful biblical statement, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1).  

The fact of God’s forgiveness literally gives us a new lease on life.

Think with me about the ways that God’s forgiveness liberates us.   

  1. Forgiveness frees us from rendering vengeance.

When we forgive, we leave vengeance and justice to the Lord (Rom. 12:17-21).  We don’t have to become buddies with the one who hurt us, but we don’t need to retaliate either. God will bring all things to account. 

  1. Forgiveness frees us from possibly thwarting God’s purposes.

Forgiveness frees us to acknowledge the sovereignty of God even in the hurtful things he allows to come into our lives. Esau eventually forgave Jacob for stealing his birthright, and Joseph forgave his brothers for their treachery in selling him into slavery. At the time of the offense, none of them knew that what some meant for evil, God meant for good.  

  1. Forgiveness frees us to testify to God’s love.

Jesus forgave the wicked woman at the well, he forgave the Christian-killer Saul who became the Apostle Paul, and he forgave me. When we forgive others, contrary to human nature, we are a testimony of the grace of God.  People simply cannot understand it.

In October 2006, people worldwide were amazed when Amish families forgave the man who shot ten and killed five young girls in a Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania schoolhouse, then killed himself. The families then attended his burial, hugged his widow, and donated money to her and the man’s three children, victims all.  How could the Amish families do this?

In December 2014, an 11-year-old Iraqi girl, Myriam, was interviewed by Essam Nagy of Christian channel SAT-7 KIDS. In the video that eventually went globally viral and was reported on news agencies in multiple languages, she says she forgave ISIS for what they did to her hometown of Qaraqosh, Iraq, driving she and her Christian family from their home, killing others, and destroying the community. How could she do this?  

In February 2015, ISIS theatrically beheaded 21 Christian men on a Libyan beach.  Later, one man’s brother, and a mother of two of the men and mother-in-law to another, called the Christian channel SAT-7 to express forgiveness of the ISIS men, praying for their salvation. How could these aggrieved families do this?

Forgiveness is a supreme act of spiritual maturity. It is only possible in those who have grown in Christ to a point where his grace overwhelms their (our) grudges. 

    4.  Forgiveness frees us to be blessed by our own acts of mercy.

Ironically, showing mercy to another person is a selfless act that is ultimately in our self-interest.Solomon told us that a gracious woman retains honor and a merciful man does good to his own soul (Prov. 11:16-17). When we are merciful, longsuffering, and forgiving, we allow God’s grace to be shed on both the forgiver and the forgivee

Forgiveness liberates. It’s like unhooking a ball and chain from around our necks. Forgiveness frees us to enjoy the Christian life as God intended.  

Jesus told his disciples to forgive unto seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, our capacity to forgive should know no limitsForgiving is not an option.  It is a biblical mandate. We must forgive even if the offender is 100% wrong and even if the offenses occurred repeatedly.  

Unforgiveness is a rather common part of the human condition. It’s all around us. Sometimes it’s within us.

I’ve long thought that unforgiveness is the number one sin in the Christian Church, though I cannot prove this.

Forgiveness on the other hand is all too rare, which makes it special, a light in a darkened world. Forgiveness is a way for Christians to let the Son shine in.

Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at  

I have no problem with public displays of religious art and sculpture, including Native American like this sculpture dedicated 2021 in the Gerald R Ford International Grand Rapids Airport (GRR).
I consider such presentations interesting and enriching.
But I also note that somehow Native American art is considered “cultural” rather than “religious.” Yet how could anyone read the artist’s interpretation of this art and not understand its religious symbolism?
I also note the public confusion that eagerly presents Native American religion while actively rejecting Christianity and Christian symbolism. In recent rears, advocacy groups promoting strict separation of church and state have argued that any display of religious iconography on public property is a violation of the US Constitution “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment.
Such groups, including the ACLU, have demanded the Christian cross be removed, not only from schools or government buildings, but even in military cemeteries.
So, too, monuments portraying the Ten Commandments have been removed, while Nativity scenes have been kept out of parks and public venues. Bibles have even been forced out of public university chapels.
Given these trends, I was therefore pleasantly surprised last Nov to see a sizable and attractive Nativity Crèche alongside the outdoor White House Christmas Tree in Washington, DC.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at

In just under a decade, sports gambling has exploded into a ubiquitous activity almost as important as the sports. But why? Haven’t we heard experienced gamblers say, “You can win a race, but you can’t beat the races?” 

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #17 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

The Super Bowl is the number one betting day of the year---this year with legal wagering over $7.61 billion. An estimated 31.4 million adults bet on the Super Bowl, a 35% increase from 2021. Illegal gambling worldwide multiplies that total by a factor of 10 or 20 or 30. Gambling is not just an American pastime; it’s a world pastime

The biggest gambling news in a long time in the US took place May 14, 2018. In Murphy vs National Collegiate Athletic Associationthe United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned commercial sports betting in most states, violated the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In one opinion, the Supreme Court opened the biggest possible expansion of legalized betting in the US in years.

States were set loose to pass legislation allowing whatever sports wagering seemed most lucrative to them, and this is the real bottom line…states, starting with New Jersey, wanted their piece of an estimated $340 billion to $1.7 trillion annual haul in illegal sports betting.  

By legalizing sports betting, or as proponents call it, “regulating” sports betting, state legislatures got the chance to funnel funds to their own coffers. 

March Madness is America’s other gambling lollapalooza.

Las Vegas casinos have taken in over $378 million in college basketball betting during the tournament in recent years. But most sports wagering, especially during March Madness, is done illegally through local bookies or through online sportsbooks.

Some guess that legal number reflects as little as 1%-4% of the total amount of gambling done in the United States.

NCAA tournament brackets pools alone see Americans risk around $3 billion – that’s 45 million or 17% of American adults as opposed to 31 million betting on the Super Bowl – and that doesn’t even count the numerous contests put on by businesses that entice bettors and pay out prizes to winners in hopes of getting people to their stores.

Now interestingly, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had been the most stalwart sports organization opposing legalized sports wagering. 

Along with the NCAA, professional leagues—NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL—were also historically wary of sports wagering. They rightly remember the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of “losing on purpose,” i.e. fixing the outcome of, the World Series, so the Cincinnati Reds would win and the players would earn gambling payouts. The Black Sox Eight, as they were called, cheated at America’s Pastime, tore out the hearts of their fans, and were eventually all banned from professional baseball and the Hall of Fame. They became a forerunner of Cincinnati Reds major leagues hit leader Pete Rose’s sports betting and subsequent 1989 banishment for life from major league baseball and the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.

But with the US Supreme Court’s 2018 Murphy decision, resistance to sports wagering rapidly collapsed in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL. The leagues took the bait hook, line, and sinker and at the speed of light began opening their businesses to legalized sports betting, including professional leagues investing in online gambling or fantasy sports websites. 

By the end of 2021, online or in-person wagering was sanctioned in more than half the country. Revenue is skyrocketing. Professional leagues are not just going along with the wave, they “are evangelizing. And booming business means big changes for anyone who operates, plays, covers—or bets on—the games we love.”

In an astoundingly short decade, leading sports figures reversed then jettisoned their earlier concerns, platitudes, and policies regarding gambling’s threat to the integrity of sports. Why? Because culture had already dropped this idea, making it now possible for professional sports leagues to earn hundreds of millions more on the backs of their fans. If the fans don’t care, why should sports leagues remain gambling prudes?

Every major league and nearly all teams now have dozens of negotiated business partnerships with sportsbooks and gambling data companies and fill broadcasts with ubiquitous commercials for FanDuel and DraftKings. 

FanDuel, 2009, and DraftKings, 2012, created daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involvedSo, fantasy sports sites are technically, i.e., legally, not defined as gambling. Yet pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month. 

This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends.

Sports wagering is still a key entry point to more gambling by adolescents and college students. Sports betting is like gambling kindergarten. Sports betting is the easiest and quickest way for children and youth to begin gambling because it taps into athletics opportunities that are literally “everywhere.” And because frequently, kids are emulating adults in their families who are already gambling on sports.   

But gambling is not a sport, though people often think that it is. It’s a “game” that turns into a moral and financial vampire. Kids don’t always know that you can’t serve God and money, and adults are not doing much to teach them.

Sports wagering, like most gambling, especially lotteries, tend to “tax” the poor rather than those with higher incomes, becoming a burden on already financially stressed families. 

And sports wagering robs the game of the sheer joy of competition, of its beauty, something sports has enjoyed back to the first Greek Olympics. 

People who get in deep, whether via fantasy sports sites or social gambling, testify to the change in their attitudes about the game, which goes from who is best and who wins, to what-has-to-happen-for-me-to-make-good-on-my-bet? In other words, the focus shifts from athletics to money.

Sports betting is a direct threat to the integrity of free and fair competition between individuals or teams on the court, course, field, pitch, or any other sports format. Without the sense that competition is indeed fair, played by the rules of good sportsmanship such that the best man or best woman or best team wins, sports become a charade, a silly act like professional wrestling

And let no one believe that somehow athletes, coaches, umpires and referees, have somehow today become morally stronger since the Black Sox. No one is above the overwhelming temptation money presents. Remember, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Sports wagering is a major threat to the integrity of athletic competition. It’s what one experienced gambler called “seasonal losing.” 

Christians are getting sucked into the gambling vortex. Some say, “There’s no Bible verse against gambling” or “Hey, it’s my money.” But they forget that God requires us to be stewards of our time, talent, and treasure. He expects us to discern, to be a testimony to others, to handle our money in a way that honors him, and to never allow ourselves to be controlled by anything other than the Spirit of God. Christians riding along on this cultural wave have forgotten their theology and the record of church history. 

Christians who gamble, particularly in sports wagering, are playing with fire. It’s almost impossible not to get burned, via debt, compulsive if not addictive behavior, loss of pleasure in sports, broken relationships and more.

Gambling in any form is little more than a time bomb in a pretty package.  

Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at  

Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?  I haven’t, though I’ve been ridiculed, but this is nothing.  I’ve met people, though, who experienced real persecution, and their faith is resilient.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #16 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Throughout the history of Christianity, persecution of individual Christians and the Church has been constant.

And today, persecution against Christians is increasing around the world. 

The ministry Open Doors, sponsors a “World Watch List,” that recounts the top 50 countries in which, in their words ,“it’s most difficult to follow Jesus.” 

According to The Watch List, more than 360 million Christians live in places around the world where they experience high levels of persecution. That’s more than the population of the United States. In 2021, some 4,761 Christians were killed for their faith, 4,888 churches and other Christian buildings were attacked, and 4,277 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, or imprisoned for their faith.

For 17 consecutive years, North Korea has been ranked #1 as the most dangerous country for Christians, only recently displaced in 2021 by Afghanistan. Add countries like China, Laos, Somalia, Libya, Nigeria, Iran, Syria, and other Middle Eastern or North African countries where persecution of minority religions, especially Christianity, is an ongoing experience. 

Persecution intersects with discussions of freedom of religion and belief, and it can be considered in at least two ways: persecution of others – how we should respond to it, and personal persecution – how we should prepare for and respond to it.

Persecution is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict,” or “specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief.” The word is typically used in association with religious violence.

Periodically, I hear someone claim the American Church or Christians are experiencing “persecution.” But I don’t use “persecution” to refer to incidents in the US. Frankly, while churches in the US have been harassed by government or other entities, and while genuine persecution will likely someday come to this country, it’s not now. 

Meanwhile, persecution of the Church, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or several religious minorities is rampant elsewhere in the world. Indeed, restrictions on religious freedom is now a global crisis, in autocratic and religiously dominated regimes but also in democratic countries.

In my view, and I believe it is a biblical perspective, Christians should defend and promote religious freedom, the “first freedom,” for all human beings, whatever their religion or no religion at all. It’s part God creating us thinking, reasoning, choosing human beings made in his image, and it is part of Love your neighbor as yourself.

In the US, rather than persecution, we can talk about opposition, harassment, discrimination, even hostility, for example:

  • Eroding freedoms and a cultural tide that is more secular or pagan.
  • Increasing intolerance of Christian activity, evident in fines, lawsuits, jobs lost, and public disdain.
  • Increasing harassment and anti-religious or specifically anti-Christian bias in education at all levels.
  • Big Tech censorship of religious or Christian viewpoints.

Yet what we experience in the US, worrisome and negatively trending though it may be, is still different from the painful struggles elsewhere in the world that Christians are enduring because of their faith. 

Christians in the US still enjoy freedoms and protections rooted in the First Amendment that make profession of faith relatively easy or unthreatened compared to Christians living where owning a Bible could cost life and limb. 

This does not mean that persecution will never come to the US, nor that we should ignore anti-religious trends in government and culture. In fact, we should learn what God says about persecution, discover how we can assist isolated believers globally, and learn how we should prepare if God allows persecution to come to our doorstep.

Let’s think about what the Scripture says.

First, persecution is predictable.

  1. In John 15:30, Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
  2. The Apostle Paul said, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Tim. 3:10-15. 

Second, the Scripture indicates persecution occurs within the will of God.  

  1. God uses persecution to purify the church. Persecution has always made the church stronger. “Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”  13:21, Mark 4:17
  2. And persecution has been instrumental in generating the Diaspora, spreading the truth worldwide: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21

Third, the Early Church suffered persecution.    

  1. The first martyr, Stephen, was arrested and stoned Acts 6:8-15, 7:1-60.
  2. The Apostles were arrested and imprisoned, and all but John were eventually martyred. Tertullian, one of the 2ndC, Church Fathers said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”
  3. The great Apostle Paul said, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure,” 2 Cor. 11:24-28.
  4. And Scripture pays tribute to faithful followers of Christ, saying in Heb. 11:36-38, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated. of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

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Scripture also tells us what our attitude should be toward persecution and persecutors:

  1. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, fortheirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:10-12
  2. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”  5:44
  3. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”  12:14

How then should we regard persecution?

  1. Expect persecution
  2. Be informed and pray for those who are persecutedInternational Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church – first Sunday in Nov. See also Voice of the Martyrs, or read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563), William Tyndale – translator of Bible to English, burned at stake.
  3. Stand with persecuted Christians. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it,” 1 Corinthians 12:26.
  4. Provide practical help, as possible, for persecuted Christians, including immigrants.
  5. Be ready to give an answer, 1 Pet. 3:15-16.
  6. Trust God for the results– Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fiery furnace, yet Stephen was stoned unto death. God said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life,”  2:10.
  7. And we’re provided perspective: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Eph. 6:12.

In the providence of God, real persecution may indeed come to the United States. I do not know what God will ask of us. I do know he will build his church “and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” Matt. 16:18.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at  

Isn’t it amazing to hear seemingly sophisticated people saying things that seem to lack common sense?  Does common sense even exist anymore?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #15 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

The idea of “common sense” goes back to Aristotle and, generally, refers to a kind of basic awareness or ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that shared by nearly all people.

But for there to be common sensepeople need to believe certain thing in common. In other words, they, and the culture they produce, embrace certain understandings, what the philosophers call “presuppositions,” about God, humanity, the created order, right and wrong. We order our lives around such presuppositions. 

But we now live in an upside-down age that defies presuppositions rooted in Christian faith. Consequently, we live in an irrational age. Pretty much, like the days of Noah, people do whatever they want to do, when they want to do it, with whom they want to do it. This sounds good. Sort of sounds like freedom.     

But what we’re doing doesn't add up. No matter if you measure by history, religion, moral philosophy, nature, or common sense, the answer is the same: a lot of what we’re doing is irrational, i.e., it makes no sense.     

Why? Because so much of what we’re doing jettisons concern for right or wrong, defies faith and reason, and is disconnected from reality as God designed it.This is the very definition of irrational.      

Freedom is a wonderful thing, a blessing, and a gift from God to humanity. God created us with free will. It’s part of being made in his image.

But freedom works best, guided by belief in God, individual responsibility, and personal accountability. For freedom to thrive, it needs a culture wherein moral concerns remind us that life is best when lived within divine parameters.

The Scripture says it like this: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).    

But these are old ideas, ones contemporary culture no longer recognizes. We want no one, least of all religion or even duty to God and country telling us what we cannot do. 

Freedom to act with a moral compass of our own devising, freedom to do what’s right in our own eyes is what we want, and we’re chasing after this wind with all we’re worth.    

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And I don’t just mean “bad people,” the violent, the murderer, the rapist. Certainly, they act with no regard for anything but their own gratification, rage, or emptiness.      

Nor do I mean just the bold, often articulate, or creative, secularists, atheists, or hedonists among us. We know them today. If not “celebrities,” they’re called “influencers,” a term that means individuals who post their shallow values online, day in and day out, for millions of followers to read and emulate.

But these celebrity influencers are not a cause but a symptom. They’ve become who they are because they’ve been enabled by a culture enamored by the beautiful people, their high rent looks, or outrageous behavior, or material excess.   

So, when I say we’re riding hell-bent for leather into irrationality, I don’t mean just the wayward ones out in la-la land. I mean “us,” our culture.     

Contemporary culture—meaning our “way of life”—seems bent upon finding ways to embrace, even promote ideas, attitudes, values, and practices earlier cultures, and earlier generations in our culture, considered lacking in common sense. Indeed, in much of this, contemporary culture is celebrating irrationality.     

Some of the ideas, attitudes, values, and practices we’ve recently embraced are irreverent, some are immoral, some are ill advised, and some, at least at one time, were illegal

I say, “recently embraced,” but Solomon reminded us in the book of Ecclesiastes that there are no new practices under the sun, just old ones recycled (Ecclesiastes 1:9).     

Of course, what one calls irreverent, immoral, ill advised, or illegal depends upon one’s worldview. What you believe—your presuppositions—about God, life, and truth influences what ideas, attitudes, values, and practices you consider legitimate. This is the prime reason contemporary culture celebrates irrationality. It does so because the current cultural zeitgeist, or “spirit of the age,” has jettisoned the idea of moral absolutes in favor of a new (ironically) absolute called “moral relativism.”   

According to moral relativism, ultimate truth doesn’t exist…or if it does, it can’t be discerned or defined. And moral relativism also rejects the existence of clearly knowable, objectively established truth. In place of ultimate truth, or knowable, objective truth, contemporary culture affirms the idea, “There is no truth” or “What’s true for you may not be true for me.”     

Consequently, since we can know nothing for sure, we cannot believe anything for sureIf we can know nothing and can believe nothing for sure, what we believe and, therefore, what we do does not matter.     

A culture that does not believe in objective truth is vulnerable. Well, actually it is wide-open, to subjective “truth.” In other words, if we don’t believe truth is determined outside of us than it must be OK to determine it within us. 

But this idea doesn’t work well, because human beings have depraved hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 1:28), so, what’s inside us is not strawberries and cream but darkness, a capacity for and an inclination to evil.

Scripture repeatedly describes human beings as created good and for good. Yes, humanity by God’s design started out well. But with what’s called the Fall, human beings gave over their hearts to sin and depravity.      

Scripture uses phrases like “willingly ignorant” or “deliberately forget.” We forget on purpose what is right (2 Peter 3:5). We are influenced by sin’s “powerful delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). We “suppress the truth by…wickedness,” we function with futile thinking and foolish hearts, and we “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1: 18, 21, 25).     

We’re so good at this we “invent ways of doing evil” and in terms of our evil ways of life we “not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:30, 32).     

This approach to what’s right allows us to determine what to do based upon personal experience, or the new catch phrase—“fairness”—as opposed to deciding what’s righteous or what’s best, based upon biblical doctrine (Philippians 1:9-11), Church teaching, history, or even “natural law.”    

So, if we want to have our cake and eat it too, or if we think “just the right amount of wrong” is a sustainable lifestyle, then what’s to stop us from joining Frank Sinatra and singing the classic humanist anthem:

“And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my wayFor what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes, it was my way.”

My way…

If we want to get an abortion, it’s my way.     

If we want to say heterosexual relationships outside monogamous marriage are OK, well then, “If you can't be with the one you love honey, Love the one you're with.”     

If we think we can win not just a race, we can beat the races, than why not gamble with abandon? Life is just a crapshoot anyway so let it ride.           

If we want to believe life began by chance and that human beings are descended from some animalistic humanoid, it’s my way.      

If we want to spend beyond our means including spending other peoples’ means (our children and grandchildren), there’s no piper to be paid, no reckoning. It’s all going to work out. It’s my way.     

If we think God is an unnecessary hypothesis, that we can live life, and apparently the afterlife, without him, then what’s stopping us from creating our world and our future in our image? It’s my way.

And that’s the problem. We’re creating an increasingly scary world with a scarier future.          

Celebrating irrationality is not rational. 

Our culture cannot sustain itself indefinitely with this kind of pell-mell rush to senselessness. Yet lemming-like, we keep running toward the cliff.

But God is still the God who created reality. If we want to celebrate rationality, to exercise common sense, do it God’s Way.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at