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FIRST-PERSON: Amid U.S. woes, change begins within

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
DORA, Ala. (BP) -- Financial woes are far from America's only ill. Despite our Christian roots, we're a nation sinking in a myriad of problems. Let's view a few statistics in light of biblical teaching.

-- The U.S. is ranked 131st on the poverty scale, with 12 percent of our population living at or below poverty standards. At least 22 countries, including Syria, Lithuania and Malaysia fare better.

Jesus spoke a great deal about money and material possessions. In Matthew 25:45, He admonished: "Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either."

-- We have the highest divorce rate in the world, and we're tied with five other nations at third place in our number of single-parent homes. While God certainly forgives divorce just as He forgives any other sincerely confessed sin, we still have to recognize sin is the root of failed marriage, even when the fault lies only with one party. Speaking of sin, God hasn't changed His teaching regarding sex outside marriage.

What did Jesus teach? "What God has joined together, man must not separate" (Matthew 19:3). God ordained marriage as a lifetime commitment. Likewise, sexual intimacy is not a frivolous act, but a holy union exclusively between husband and wife.

-- Almost half of U.S. pregnancies are "unintended." Of these, four in 10 are aborted. Overall, 22 percent of all U.S. pregnancies are aborted.


We don't have to look beyond the Ten Commandments to know God's stand on abortion: "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13, KJV). Anyone who doubts the validity of life from the very point of conception should read what the Lord proclaims in Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (NIV).

-- Would you believe the U.S. even gets the number one spot for vehicular deaths? Sure, we have a lot of cars on our roads, but we also have a lot of drivers who don't use seatbelts or child safety seats. Many drivers speed, are intoxicated or weave through traffic while talking on cell phones or texting.

God's Word tells us in Romans 13:1-2: "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities ... So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God's command." Unless a law clearly opposes the teachings of the Bible, we are to obey it.

-- Last, but by no means least, 63.1 percent of the U.S. population is overweight, including 26.5 percent who are even obese. No other nation runs a close second. Not surprisingly, America ranks 49th in life expectancy, far below others including Canada, Sweden and Japan.

How do these figures relate to the Bible? Ezekiel 16:49 lists Sodom's sins as "pride, gluttony and laziness" (NLT). Overconsumption in any form goes against Christ's teaching, and we have become a nation of over-consumers.


Can we change these statistics? "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). It's time to stop blaming others and accept personal responsibility. It's time to do as Jesus said: Stop looking "at the speck in your brother's eye" and "first take the log out of" your own (Matthew 7:3,5).

Instead of criticizing what everyone else is doing, let's examine our own lives. Change begins within.

"Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind" (Psalm 26:2).

Judy Woodward Bates, an author, speaker and TV personality, is on the Web at Statistics used in this article are from Scripture is quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, except where otherwise noted.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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