Will My Body be the Right Weight and Appearance in the Afterlife?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Patty:

I know this may seem silly but I struggle with my weight and I’m extremely self-conscious about it. Will my body be the right weight and appearance in the afterlife?

Thanks for the good question, Patty!

You are certainly not alone either in your struggle with your weight or in your self-consciousness about the appearance of your body. Many people have ongoing battles with their weight, whether with being overweight or underweight. And many people—even people whose bodies are a healthy weight—have major body image issues.

The anxiety people feel about their bodies is commonly attributed to the widespread use of idealized and sexualized male and especially female bodies in advertising and mass media. And that certainly does have a major effect.

But there’s more to it than that.

Jacob's Dream, by William Blake, 1805

Jacob’s Dream, by William Blake, 1805

It is through our body that we communicate and interact with the world. Not only our words, but our facial expressions, our gestures, our actions, and the general appearance of our body communicates—or conceals—what is in our mind and heart. Our body is an integral part of who we are and how we relate to our family, friends, and everyone else we see each day. It is only natural to have some concern about the appearance of our body and the messages it sends to the people around us.

Unfortunately—or sometimes fortunately—while we are living here on earth our body doesn’t always reflect the reality of the person inside.

However, in the spiritual world our body will become a perfect reflection of the person we truly are. So the short answer to your question is: Yes, your body will be the right weight and appearance in the afterlife, in the sense that it will fully and accurately express your true self to everyone around you.

Do you find that idea reassuring? Or scary?

Either way, it is a call to action.

For more on our body in the afterlife, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Afterlife

Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Polytheistic?

(Note: This post is an edited and slightly expanded version of an answer I originally wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here. I am now posting it on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life to follow up on a recent series of comments on the article, “Does Doctrine Matter? Why is it Important to Believe the Right Thing?”)

Retablo of the Holy Trinity, by Alcario Otero, 2001

Retablo of the Holy Trinity, by Alcario Otero, 2001

The vast bulk of Christian denominations, representing the overwhelming majority of Christians, subscribe to the doctrine of the Trinity—which, boiled down to its essence, is “one God in three persons.”

Non-Christian monotheists such as Jews and Muslims commonly charge Christians with believing in three gods (a form of polytheism) based on this Trinitarian doctrine.

However, there are also some Christian groups and denominations that consider Trinitarianism to be a belief in three gods.

The various “Swedenborgian” denominations, which accept the Christian theology of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), are among those denominations.

Trinitarians say that they believe in one God. Why, then, do many people, including some Christians, think that Trinitarians actually believe in three gods?

For more on the Trinity and polytheism, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Heaven in a Snowbot

Edward Snowden has become a household name as the famous or infamous National Security Agency (NSA) document leaker and whistleblower. He notoriously outed the mass surveillance of ordinary American citizens and people around the world by the United States and allied governments, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies. When Snowden revealed these mass surveillance programs to the public, it led to a major debate on privacy vs. security in the computer age—a debate that continues to rage right up to the present.

To avoid arrest and almost certain conviction on espionage charges that would likely mean decades in jail, Snowden is now in self-imposed exile in Russia.

But that hasn’t stopped him from appearing for lectures, debates, panel discussions, and committee meetings in New York, Princeton, and at many other locations around the United States and the world.

Edward Snowden via "Snowbot"

Edward Snowden via “Snowbot”

How does Snowden do it? For his appearances in the New York area, he uses a 5’2” robot called a “BeamPro.” It has two wheels, two legs, a flat screen monitor, a camera, and microphones, all of which Snowden controls from his computer keyboard at an undisclosed location in Russia. It was quickly dubbed the “Snowbot.”

For appearances farther afield from the Manhattan offices of the American Civil Liberties Union, where the Snowbot resides, Snowden speaks from screens and monitors on location through encrypted video teleconferencing.

For the full story, see “I, Snowbot,” by Andrew Rice, at nymag.com.

All of this modern robotic and communications technology gives Snowden a great deal of freedom, not to mention a decent income from speaking fees, despite his confinement in Russia. Although his body is confined to an apartment and neighborhood in Russia, he can go virtually anywhere he wants, meet new people, and engage in an active public life.

It’s a brave new world!

And yet, to long-time readers of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), it all sounds strangely familiar.

For more on Snowbot and heaven, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Science Philosophy and History

Does Doctrine Matter? Why is it Important to Believe the Right Thing?

Many articles here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life are about how people from all different religions, and even people who have no religious beliefs at all, can go to heaven if they live a good life of love and service to their fellow human beings. Here are some of the more popular ones:

And yet, there are many other articles here that focus on the error of various traditional Christian doctrines, and present other doctrines that we believe to be better and truer. For some samplers with links to more articles, please see:

So what gives?

If people of all different beliefs and doctrines can go to heaven, why does doctrine even matter? Why is it important to believe the right thing? And why do we here at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life spend so much time saying what’s true and what’s false? Isn’t that just a big waste of time? Isn’t it just a lot of argument for argument’s sake? Isn’t it sort of . . . combative? Why not just leave people alone and let them believe whatever they want? After all, they can get to heaven even if they believe the wrong things, right?

These are all questions that readers have asked. And they’re good ones!

For more on believing the right thing, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Spiritual Growth, The Bible Re-Viewed

What does the Bible Say about Pornography? Is Pornography Sinful?

Olympia, by Edouard Manet, 1865

Olympia, by Edouard Manet, 1865

Several Spiritual Conundrums have been submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life in recent months on the subject of pornography. Here are some of them. First from a reader named Tom:

I have a question I would like answered. Is porn considered sin in the Bible? Or is it just based on whether or not the star you are looking at is married, homosexual (I’m straight btw), or if you get addicted to it or not?

And from “newbeliever”:

I struggle with a desire to look at pornography, as well as to read erotic stories and to masturbate. Now, I cannot tell if all of these three things are related. Could any of those things possibly be okay, and under what circumstances? Because I believe that sexual desire is natural but not necessarily sinful, but lust is sinful, and I have trouble distinguishing between the two. Could masturbation be a way of staving off temptations to lust? Could doing things with my girlfriend function in a similar way?

When there is a temptation to sin, God always gives you a way out. Therefore, if I ever sin, it is by choice. I struggle because I feel as though if I ever look at porn, though I would try to choose not to, because I gave into temptation and could have done otherwise, God will not forgive my sexual immorality, as He seems to judge sexual immorality more harshly than some other forms of immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).

And from a reader named Johnny:

my name is Johnny.. am a practising Christian.. but when I went to high school.. I became a porn addict and later end up in masturbation.. so one day a pastor came to our school, and started to praying to people. after a while he said that the holy spirit showed him that someone is struggling with masturbation.. so he wanted that person to come to the alter to be prayed for. I was really troubled and I refused to go to the altar. is that blaspheming the holy spirit?

The Holy Spirit revealed to a pastor that in a room full of teenagers, someone is struggling with masturbation? No way!

On that subject, please see, “What does the Bible Say about Masturbation? Is Masturbation a Sin?” About blaspheming the Holy Spirit, see: “What is the Unpardonable Sin? Am I Doomed?

And about “doing things with my girlfriend,” please see: “Is Sex Before Marriage Forbidden in the Bible?

Now it’s time to answer the question everyone’s asking:

Q: What does the Bible say about pornography?

A: Nothing.

For more on pornography, the Bible, and sin please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships

The Orlando Nightclub Shooting of June 12, 2016

Annette and I extend our deepest sympathy to everyone affected by yesterday’s mass shooting at the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We are heartbroken, sad, bewildered, and, yes, even angry over the slaughter of so many people due to bigotry.

As I write this, the details of what happened are still coming out. It is too early to come to any firm conclusions other than that this was a terrible act of violence and a terrible tragedy.

However, the initial indications are that the shooter was motivated primarily by bigotry and a violent character, which seems to have become mixed up in his mind with various Islamic extremist groups. If you feel spurred to act in response to this mass shooting, please join us today by showing kindness and love to your neighbor, especially any who are gay or Muslim.

We will not attempt to write any analysis or response to this tragedy so soon after it happened. However, we offer these previously posted articles for people who may be seeking some perspective on this horrific event:

 

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Posted in Current Events

Does God Send Terror Attacks because of Bathroom Rights and Evolution?

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Those Christian fundamentalists are at it again!

This time it’s Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.

According to recent statements by Lotz, terror attacks such as 9/11 and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, are the result of the United States abandoning God by promoting such “godless” ideas as gay marriage, evolution, and bathroom rights for transgender people. And naturally she’s touting a new book that tells us how we can put an end to terror attacks and even natural disasters if we’ll just pray and return to God. You can read all about it here: “Anne Graham Lotz Says God Sends Terror Attacks Because Of Bathroom Rights And Evolution,” by Ed Mazza, in the Huffington Post.

Lotz said:

Our nation seems to be shaking its fist in God’s face and telling him to get out of our politics, get out of our schools, get out of our businesses, get out of our marketplace, get off the streets. It’s just stunning to me the way we are basically abandoning God as a culture and as a nation.

And when that happens, she says:

God abandons us and he backs away and takes his hand of favor, blessings, his hand of protection away from us and he abandons us.

If people would only pray and return to God, she says:

God will begin to reveal the plots of our enemies and terrorists before they are carried out. Even the weather patterns, he can even control the weather patterns and protect us from the violent storms that are taking human life.

Yes, that’s what she said.

Well, I’ve got some news for you:

  1. Although everything does happen according to God’s laws, God sends neither terror attacks nor storms to hurt and kill us.
  2. Although we may abandon God, and reject God’s protection, God never abandons us.
  3. Our nation is not abandoning God. Our nation and our world are abandoning outdated, narrow-minded views of God—and the churches that promote those views.

For more on God and terror attacks, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Current Events

The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 8: God Accepts Sinners as Righteous?

For Part 7, click here: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 7: Imputed Righteousness?

Or start at the beginning: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 1: God is a Trinity of Persons?

And now we come to the final faulty foundation of faith alone—for now!

According to faith alone theology, after Christ’s merit is “imputed” to sinners, when God looks at those sinners, instead of seeing their sin God sees Christ’s righteousness.

In other words according to faith alone theology, God doesn’t look at the human heart and character at all. Instead, God looks merely at the surface—at a veneer of righteousness that Christ supposedly covers us with even though our true heart and our actual character is still that of a sinner.

In effect, faith alone theology says that God’s vision so poor that when people accept some supposed faith that Christ died to pay the penalty for their sins, God doesn’t notice that those people are still evil, immoral, sinful, selfish, and greedy at heart.

For more on sinners and righteous people, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed

The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 7: Imputed Righteousness?

For Part 6, click here: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 6: Jesus’ Death Appeased the Father’s Wrath?

Or start at the beginning: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 1: God is a Trinity of Persons?

The traditional theological name for the mechanism by which Christ’s death supposedly makes us righteous in God’s eyes is “imputation,” or “imputed righteousness.”

The idea is that the righteousness and merit of Christ are credited to believers as if it were theirs, so that they are considered righteous because of Christ’s righteousness.

Why is this considered necessary?

For more on imputed righteousness, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed

The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 6: Jesus’ Death Appeased the Father’s Wrath?

For Part 5, click here: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 5: Jesus Paid the Penalty For Our Sins?

Or start at the beginning: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 1: God is a Trinity of Persons?

As shown in Part 5, the whole idea that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins is not only completely non-Biblical, but is diametrically opposed to the Bible’s plain teaching that God neither condemns the innocent nor acquits the guilty—and neither must we.

And yet, somehow Jesus paying the penalty for our sins is supposed to satisfy God the Father’s justice, and appease God the Father’s wrath.

It would be hard for anything to be more false than this.

For more on divine wrath and justice, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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