WHY TIME with NannyGranne

Will I Turn Into a Boy, Too, Like Chrissy? (Part Two)

As we sat together, I tried to imagine this child’s confusion as she wrestled with her playmate’s morphing from a girl to a boy…and worrying, could it happen to her?

“How can we tell if we’re girls, do you think?”  I continued coloring the chameleon on the page thinking of the irony. “How can we tell baby boys from baby girls?”

She ducked her head and giggled, unwilling to say the words.

“Are girls and boys made differently on the outside?”

Relieved, she returned to her coloring and said, “Yeah.”  Not daring to say more.  I didn’t want to make this harder on her than it already was.

“Yes, boy people and girl people are made differently, boy cows and girl cows, boy dogs and girl dogs. Also girl dogs have puppies and not boy dogs.”

“Yeah!  My dog Molly is going to have pups soon!” She was relieved to be on benign territory again.

“Did you know there is another way to tell if someone is a boy or a girl?”

Stopping mid stroke, she turned to me surprised, “Really!  How?”

“Scientists and doctors can take cells from our bones or our skin and look very closely at the tiny parts of them and they are actually different.  You’ll hear about DNA…”

“I know about DNA! They talk about it in my science books at school!” she interrupted.

“Good!  Then you know that our DNA tells us all about our bodies.  In fact, our DNA always tells us whether we’re girls or boys.  And that doesn’t change in our bodies.”

“Then how did Chrissy change into a boy?”  She realized the inconsistency between thought and scientific fact.   She was beginning to see the reason for the confusion.

“I have a picture of a lady who decided she’s a cat.  She acts like a cat, meows like a cat, and wants to do what cats do.  Do you think she’s changed into a cat?”

She giggled and said, “No….but she looks funny.”

“Sometimes girls like to do things boys do, like play ball, climb trees, wear boots, or collect bugs. But they can still be girls and grow up and go to the Olympics, or be scientists or game rangers or mommies.  Sometimes boys like to cook or sew or play music or read rather than get dirty or wrestle.  But they can still be boys who grow up to be chefs or tailors, teachers or orchestra conductors or maybe even artists or authors.”

“Have you heard the story of Jacob and Esau in the Bible?” I asked.

“Is he the one with the coat with many colors?”

“Well, that was Joseph. Jacob was his daddy and Esau was his uncle.”  As I explained, she bobbed her head up and down, proud she was in the ballpark at least. “Esau liked to hunt and be outside and even go off on camping trips.  But guess what!”

She stopped coloring and faced me.  “What?!”

“His brother didn’t.  In fact, Jacob–who gave Joseph that beautiful coat–didn’t like to hunt at all.  He stayed inside and was a good cook.  In fact, the Bible says Jacob was his mother’s favorite and Esau was his daddy’s favorite.  Some people would say Jacob must have been gay.  But he wasn’t anythingbad.  He was just the way God made him.  A boy doesn’t have to hunt or be tough or be afraid to sew or cook if that’s what he’s good at.  Do you see what I’m saying?”

“But Chrissy wants to be a boy!” she argued.

“Maybe Chrissy thought because she would rather play outside and climb trees and run races than play with dolls or fix her hair like the other girls, that she had to change into a boy so she could do what she liked.”

Now my little friend’s coloring intensified.  I could tell she was wishing all this wasn’t so complicated.

“And maybe Chrissy feels that way because somebody told her she had to act like they wanted her to instead of being just who God made her.”

She continued coloring, lowering her head a little, contemplating whether to speak.  “I liked racing with Chrissy. Her daddy built her a tree-house and I like that, too.”  She whispered, looking at me as though she was revealing a long-kept secret.

I whispered in return, “I think that sounds like fun.”  She stopped for a second and looked up at me smiling.  Then, continuing my story, I wanted to tell her more about God’s people who didn’t fit our Western mold of manhood or womanhood. “There is a story of the most wonderful woman in the Bible.”  Then I found Proverbs 31 on my smart phone and pointed to verses 16-17.  “It says right here that she bought a field and planted a vineyard and she worked hardoutside.  It said she had strong arms, too.  She also sewed and cooked and dressed pretty.  But working outside and being strong was a good thing.”

“Yeah!” Again nodding her head.  We both returned to our project.

“I’m sad that some people have made Chrissy think that being a girl wasn’t as good as being a boy. And I’m sorry that some people have told her that.  And I’m sorry that other people are mad at her and being mean to her.  I wish she could know that God made her and likes her just like she is.  And I bet she’d really like to hear the stories about God’s women who liked being outside and became judges and travelled with Jesus and camped out and cooked fish!  I think that would be really cool”

We’d both finished our coloring, mine a chameleon and hers a kitten.  She turned to me then with a look of resolve and said words that surprised me and challenged me as well.  She said simply, “I’ll tell her.”

There was still more to consider.  But for now, time to eat.

Will I Turn Into a Boy, Too, Like Chrissy? (Part One)

“Will I turn into a boy, too, like Chrissy?”

The question just burst into the air.  She was coloring at the kitchen table while I made lunch.  Suddenly, involuntarily, the question swam in my brain!  A question that had never occurred to me or any of my friends as a child.  How would her parents answer?  Why had she asked me?  Did she sense that I could be the one who welcomes her questions?  Was I a safe adult in her life?  This was an important moment.  I prayed for wisdom.

“How do you think Chrissy turned into a boy?” I asked.

“I don’t know. She says her name is Chris now and she wears boy’s clothes and cuts her hair short.”

She continued coloring, unwilling to see my expression.

I matched her distractedness by mixing peanut butter and grape jelly.  “That must have been strange to think your friend has changed this way.” I wanted her to know that her feelings were safe with me.

“Yeah. Some of the kids don’t like her any more.  Some of them called her ‘gay,’ too.”

“Do you think that calling her ‘gay’ was a good thing or a bad thing? And what do they mean, ‘gay,'” I encouraged

“I don’t know,” she said.  “The teachers don’t care and tell all of us that Chrissy wants to be a boy and so now she is. But Grandpa and Daddy are mad and don’t want me to play with Chrissy anymore.”  Her wide eyes now searched my face for answers and I saw they were filling with tears. She was so torn.

I set aside my meal preparation and, sitting down next to her, I picked up the crayons and joined her in her coloring, grateful for the relaxing connection.  “Well, Jesus does say to treat people the way we’d want to be treated,” I continued.  “Do you think Chrissy really turned into a boy or do you think she just wants to look like and be treated like a boy instead of a girl?”

“I don’t know,” she repeated.  “She still has to use the girls’ restroom at school because she doesn’t like going to the boys’ bathroom because ….” she stopped then, afraid she was wading into questionable waters.

“Is it because boys go to the bathroom differently from girls, do you think?”

We needed to refocus. I could see she was genuinely confused by the implications of Chrissy’s choice and how she was expected to respond.   The adults in her life were making opposite statements and holding her to opposing expectations.  She was terrified that something out of her control might alienate her from the adults she loved.  There was more to this than her eye could meet…or her young mind embrace.  For her, this was a no-win situation.  What was she to do?

(to be continued)

The Need for the “Zoey” Series

(This week’s guest article is from apologetic author, Dick Sztanyo.)

All of us as parents or grandparents (or those who support their efforts) recognize the responsibility of proper spiritual training for our children.  Schools focus primarily on the “3 R’s” which are “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.”  What I believe that Scripture teaches so plainly is the priority of the “4th R,” namely, “Righteousness.”  Ephesians 6:4 says:  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

This reading is from the New American Standard Bible (used throughout, unless otherwise indicated).  The King James Version reads “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Proverbs 22:6, well known to most parents states:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”   Even though neither passage is a guarantee that youngsters will never freely choose to abandon their Lord, the importance of both cannot be overemphasized.  No one will fail to understand the necessity of teaching children from these texts.  Our Bible school programs in the local churches and our Christian schools, at the University and College level as well as below even to the beginning of a child’s education, are not designed to replace the training of the home, but instead, to support it!

The need for such training should be obvious. Flavil Yeakley, church statistician, informed us that fully 40% of young people affiliated with churches of Christ, leave the Lord’s church by the time they leave home.  20% of these join other religious organizations, while 20% become irreligious.  Half of this last 20% become atheists.  Such information as this makes it clear that it is never too early to begin to train our children to know that God exists, that the Bible is His word, and that Jesus the Christ is His divine Son.  I am thankful for authors like my friend David Roper, who is able to communicate well with small children.  I have been working in the field of apologetics for some 40 years, but I readily confess that I am not equipped to effectively teach younger children.  So, I am grateful for people like David who can do what some of us cannot do.  All of us are needed to do this important work.  I direct my efforts to those who are older, and sometimes very well educated.

Zoey likes to ask questions.  She wants to know how things come to be at all.  Actually, one of the most penetrating philosophical questions is simply, “Why does anything exist?”  This question has intrigued philosophers for decades upon decades.  The first “Zoey” book seeks the very simple answer to that question.  Of course, there will be other books to follow with Zoey’s additional questions.  Perhaps David will even branch out from preschoolers to also include elementary children within the scope of his work.  Maybe other talented individuals will contribute their abilities toward expanding this significant work.  In any case, we all need to thank God for the incredible curiosity of young children, and we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the need, but instead, that we work hard to help our children discover God, learn to love God, and finally, commit themselves to God through their relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.  I am thankful that something is being done to address this vital question at such an early age.

(Dick Sztanyo is the author of various apologetic publications, including the textbook Graceful Reason: Studies in Christian Apologetics. If you are interested in a serious study of apologetics, we recommend this book. It is available on Amazon.)

Does God Know About Dinosaurs? (Part Three)

The party continued with a dinosaur scavenger hunt among the pews in the auditorium.  The kids were sugared up and ready to run.

My table companion was the older brother of the birthday boy and had been encouraged to hang back so the preschoolers could have their fun.  It was a perfect time to continue our conversation. He’d asked earlier when God made the dinosaurs and why there weren’t any on the Ark.

“I’m going to be honest.  Scientists have been arguing about when the dinosaurs lived and died for a couple hundred years. The first guy to call them dinosaurs was in 1842…less than 180 years ago.   Some say dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before humans existed.  Others have done tests that they believe show dinosaurs were still living 50,000 years ago and that cavemen drew pictures of them on stones and in caves.  Still other folks are convinced the earth is only 6000 years old.  So, to be truthful, it’s hard to know when God made them. Some things God just didn’t tell us and He lets us look at the earth itself and try to figure it out.  But you know what?  I’m just glad I don’t have to understand all about that to be in His family. I just know God made them…and everything else…in just the right way, at just the right time.

He lowered his eyes in thought, then looked up at me again.  “Then were there dinosaurs on the Ark?  Weren’t they too big?”

“If they really were extinct before Adam and Eve, then no.  But if there were dinosaurs still alive during the flood, Noah could have taken very young dinosaurs who made the journey.  We just don’t know for certain.  Besides, there are other animals the Bible never talks about.”

“Really?  Which ones?”

“Well, cats for one.”

“Cats?!?” He was gobsmacked!

“Yep, cats…and certainly God knows all about them, too.  There are some things that are interesting, but don’t change God’s story.  So, do you feel like you have some answers now?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Good.  Just remember that we do know that everything had a beginning and God has the only answer for when that was.”

He lowered his head.  I couldn’t tell if it was in thought or disappointment.

“Can I show you one more thing?”

“Sure.”

We again peered into my phone screen.  I pulled up Wikipedia and typed in “List of Christians in Science and Tech.”  He was amazed at the hundreds of scientists living today who believe in the Bible, and the fact that over 65% of Nobel Prize winners in the 20th Century were believers in the God of the Bible.

“I did not know that!”  He was thrilled!

“I know!  Isn’t that cool?  You see, you can listen to folks and what they think, but don’t just take somebody’s word for things that matter.  You can find out for yourself what’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  He smiled when I said that.  “And trust God to help you find out everything you really need to know.  The rest, you can ask Him later.”

“Yeah!” he grinned, raising his hand for a good old high five. “It’s time for cake.  You ready?”

He is a great kid, with a kind heart and an honest mind.  I had a feeling he’d keep asking questions and looking for the truth.  He’d be the guy to answer his baby brother’s questions when he asks someday, “Does God know about the dinosaurs?”

“Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?” (Part Two)

As we watched his little brother and preschool friends color the bills of their dinosaur hats, I realized my young friend was probably confused by his classroom schooling in evolution. Change (evolution) is an obvious reality in biological and archaeological science, but it is confusing when the lessons go beyond scientific fact and claim to be the mechanism for the origin of all species.  True science, because of DNA and mathematics, has debunked the theory of life’s origin beginning with a single primordial cell. But academia always lags behind in teaching the latest scientific advances. Thus, a child might think that, if the existence of dinosaurs proves evolution, then teachers might be right about our ancestors being rat-like creatures scurrying around the feet of the dinosaurs.

So, in answer to his opening question “When did God make dinosaurs?” I said to him, “God made the dinosaurs before He made us, that’s for sure.”

“Then why did He make the dinosaurs and then just kill them all?”  He’d been thinking about these things for a while.  He needed to be heard and taken seriously.

“You ask an important question.  I can tell you’ve thought about this quite a bit.”

He nodded soberly, never taking his eyes away from my own.

“You’ve thought about this, so tell me how you think God killed all the dinosaurs.”

“The scientists think a huge asteroid crashed in Mexico and killed them all.”  He was well versed in the school-book rhetoric.  He’d passed the tests.

“Yes, they think a huge asteroid did crash into Mexico and wiped out about 70% of all the creatures on the earth.  But some scientists think the dinosaurs were beginning to starve out already and others think there were dinosaurs left on the other side of the earth from where the asteroid landed.  They argue all the time over what happened because it’s really hard to know for sure—it’s been so long ago.”

I wanted him to think about where the blame lay for the loss of dinosaurs.  “But I’m wondering if God is the one who killed them off.” He raised his eyebrows, then nodded. He wanted to hear what I had to say. “If a bunch of nuclear bombs or a weird disease killed almost everyone on earth, would that be God’s fault?”

“I don’t know.” He was guarded, not sure where this was leading.

“If the wiring in your house wore out and caused a fire that burned your house down, would that be God’s doing?”

“No, it would be an accident,” he corrected himself.

“When anything bad happens, whose idea is it according to the Bible?”

“The devil’s?” He also remembered what he had been taught in Bible class.

“I want to show you something.  Is that OK?”

“Sure.”

I grabbed my phone and pulled up my favorite Bible app, selecting an easy-to-read version for his sake. “Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve and how they listened to Satan and did the one thing God had asked them not to do?”  He nodded “Yes.”  “That’s where all the bad began.  Before that, God said everything was good.” I added with a smile, “Except that Adam needed help.”  We both laughed.

After reading God’s response to the fall in Genesis 3:14-19, I explained, “After Adam and Eve got into trouble–and Satan, too–God sentenced Satan to a miserable existence and doom to come.  Then he sentenced Adam and Eve to pain and hardship and physical death.  But God also indicated that One Day He would make things right again for those who wanted to be friends with Him again.”

I stopped and faced him and, putting my hand on his shoulder, continued.  “But there’s more to the story.  Did you know that the earth suffered, too, from Satan getting involved and poisoning everything he touched.”   Turning to Romans 8:21-22 we read, “…the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.  Not only this, but we ourselves also…groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, making our bodies free.”

He looked at me, somewhat confused but also intrigued.

“So you see, God didn’t kill all the dinosaurs. The whole universe was broken by Satan. But just for now.”  Turning to Revelation 21:1-5, I showed him where God promises to make all things new..not just our bodies, but an entirely new world with Him.

He sat for a moment, mulling over all this new information.  But he had more questions.  And since we were on a roll, he continued.  “But when did He make them and why weren’t there any on the Ark?”

That question will be answered in Part III.  Meet me there next week.

 

 

Does God Know About Dinosaurs? (Part One)

It was his 3rd birthday party and he loved dinosaurs! He ate dinosaur cookies, played dinosaur games, wore a dinosaur shirt, slept on dinosaur sheets with his dinosaur stuffed companions.  And he had totally nailed a young dinosaur’s roar!  The party was dinosaur dynamite!

As we sipped on dinosaur swamp water (lime punch) and munched on dinosaur bones (cookies), his older brother turned to me to ask a question.  I could tell he was hoping for a real answer, and was a little worried there might not be one.

“When did God make the dinosaurs?” he ventured.

Others have asked dinosaur questions, too, just in different ways.  It was time for some answers.  This boy was serious.

Actually, I have a question, too.  I wondered to myself, “Where has our culture’s ‘dinomania’ come from?  Why the saturation by an extinct life form in every corner of childhood from toddler toys to classroom exposition over almost every other scientific topic?”

Brian Switek, in The Guardian article “Why Do We Love Dinosaurs So Much?”, Sept 5, 2014, said, “Dinomania is so powerful that it has become a cultural institution.”  He went on further to say,”…a gigantic Sauropod…excavated in Southernmost regions of Argentina…is an amazing testament to the wonders of evolution.”

He goes on to say that perhaps children’s imaginations are captured by dinosaurs because they are “big, fierce, and extinct” and therefore thrilling, but safe.  Kids don’t have to worry about one getting into their house because, after all, there aren’t any scary ones still alive.

Sometimes I wonder if the multitudinous emphasis on dinosaurs serves to highlight the void of information about them in the Bible school classroom, leading to a lethal seed of doubt in the minds of our young.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I still believe in Satan’s ploys…and God’s truths.

This discussion is a vital one.  Join me next time for Part Two of “Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?”

When Is God’s Birthday?

She was about seven years old, curly blonde hair bouncing in the breeze as she glided to a stop in the driveway that crisp fall day.  The sun had been warmer than usual and we were in our lawn chairs out front in the cul-de-sac watching the neighborhood kids playing together.  They’d congregated in our driveway because we had a tricycle/scooter/skateboard obstacle course laid out for them.

The kids were already talking about what they wanted for Christmas.  Thanksgiving was just days away.

“So when is God’s birthday?” she asked.  “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  When is God’s birthday?”

“Wow, Jade!  That’s a good question!” I encouraged. “In fact, it’s really a very important question.  When is your birthday?”

“It was July 29th. I got to have a swimming party!”

“What do you like about Jesus’ birthday, Jade?”

“Getting presents!!”  The other kids chimed in now, announcing their own wants for Christmas.

“What does Jesus get for his birthday?” I asked.  Noticing right away I’d thrown water on their paradejm I asked a less confusing question, though still a challenge.  “Why do we have birthdays?  Does anyone know?”  Met with quiet expectant faces, I smiled.  They were waiting for the answer to my riddle.  “When you have your birthday, everybody celebrates that you were born.   Your birth is the day you were born.  That’s why they call it a birth-day!”

A collective “Oh…OK!”

Then came the hook. “That’s why God doesn’t have a birthday.”

Shock and chagrin! “What?!”  “Why?!”  “Why doesn’t God get to have a birthday!”

I offered everyone gum, gathering around closer.  Speaking mysteriously, I continued. “Because God was never born…in fact God has always been God.  He’s the one that made everyone else to be born.”  Looking at each face, I whispered, “In fact, did you know that Jesus is God, too?”

Jade looked at me sideways…had her doubts.  “But Jesus has a birthday.  How come He gets a birthday and God doesn’t?”

“Well, God decided that Jesus needed to come be a human baby, then a kid like you guys, then a teenager..and then a grown-up man so He could show us how to be the best kids, teenagers, and grownups we can be.  So, He had to be born like us, too.  That’s how he got to have a birthday.”  I left unspoken the ultimate reason He came; His death and resurrection would be for another discussion.

“Oh.”  She saw what I said, but something still bothered her.

“Do you think it’s OK for God to not have a birthday?” I offered

“I don’t know.” She seemed resolved to the unfortunate situation.

“You know what, Jade? I want God to be happy, too.  You know what He wants more than anything?”

Her eyes lit up now.

“He just wants us to find out as much as we can about Him and how much He wants us to be His forever friends.  He says, if we really want to be friends, He tells us everything we need to know. He’ll never stop hoping and waiting for us to do that because He’s actually going to have the biggest celebration in the world and He wants everyone there.  But a lot of people just don’t want to be friends with God and won’t be at His house for the party.”  Then smiling and waving to them all, I announced, “But you are all invited!”

“Hooray!!” “Whoo Hooo!” “Yea!!!”  They all jumped up and down festively.  Jade, being the oldest and wisest among the preschoolers and kindergarteners, just smiled, climbed onto her bike and glided away. Veering up the street toward her house she turned, smiled and waved.  I waved back and prayed she’d be there.  I prayed they’d all be there.