Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
The concept of “toxic masculinity” has attracted much press in recent years. In some ways, men acting in ungodly ways have brought the label and condemnation on themselves. But our society tends to readily apply this label to any man who is even remotely assertive. In a recent article in the Telegraph, columnist Madeline Grant observed that, as many seek to force positive male role models into the shadows with accusations of “toxic masculinity,” they have made way for more profoundly extreme and truly toxic men to fill the void (January 11, 2023).
Grant points out that young boys no longer aim for the milestones once expected of them, such as high school graduation or earning a living that supports a family. Fewer fathers now live with their children, and many young men cannot earn enough income even to live on their own! She cites statistics from the United Kingdom, where 27 percent of 27-year-old men still live with their parents. This compares to only 13 percent of 27-year-old women! The sad truth is that few are concerned about this trend. And as men are imagined to be less and less relevant to society, women have skyrocketed to the fore—they have, in many ways, been there for well over a decade. As far back as 2012, author Hanna Rosin noted in her book The End of Men that 12 out of 15 of the top growing professions in the United States were dominated by women.
Bible prophecy warns that as the end of the age approaches, men will be displaced as leaders of society: “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12). This decline leads not only to a social role reversal, but also to the demise of the family as God created it.
The Associated Press reported in January that Mexican authorities had captured Ovidio Guzmán, son of the infamous “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloa drug cartel who was extradited to the United States six years ago. In response to the arrest, the heavily armed drug cartel members began a shootout with police that eventually involved Blackhawk helicopter gunships and other military support, as the conflict turned the area into a war zone. Following the removal of Guzmán, gang members attacked buildings and aircraft at a nearby airport, hoping to prevent the transfer of Guzmán to Mexico City. Nineteen gang members, ten military personnel, and a policeman were killed, and another 35 military personnel and 17 police officers were wounded. Despite the gang’s efforts, the government successfully transported Guzmán to Mexico City via military helicopter. Later, gunmen from the cartel arrived at a hospital attempting to abduct doctors to treat their wounded gang members.
The Bible provides insights into recent events in Mexico and around the globe. Scripture states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12), and Jesus Christ warned that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Mexico’s drug lords are motivated by greed and selfishness. They care little about anyone or anything else. This selfishness is not unique to Mexico; it is seen everywhere and increasingly in world leaders. Ezekiel warned that end-time leaders, even in the Israelite-descended nations, will be in it for themselves (Ezekiel 34:2–4). They will clothe and feed themselves and neglect everyone else for whom they are responsible. This world needs compassionate leaders who will take care of their people. This world needs Christ’s return and His reign of peace!
American inventor Benjamin Franklin discovered that lightning was caused by electrical discharges from clouds, and he is credited with inventing the lightning rod. Almost three centuries later, high-speed photography in the twenty-first century has revealed precisely how a lightning discharge happens, and it is much more complex than previously thought. Slowing down the flash observed by the human eye revealed that normally unseen negatively charged branches, called leaders, fork their way from the cloud towards the ground. Meanwhile, positive leaders grow upward from high places, like lightning rods. When two leaders make contact, the electrical connection is completed and a channel is made. Instantly a massive high-current discharge—a return stroke—occurs between the ground and the cloud along this pathway. This return stroke is what the human eye sees. This fascinating video captures the channel being made.
European researchers in January published a report in Nature Photonics about using a high-powered laser on the ground to create a virtual lightning rod that would guide a leader to a physical lightning rod (Interesting Engineering, January 16, 2023). By ionizing the air, the laser creates an artificial pathway directing the leader to the lightning rod.
This scientific phenomenon bears a striking resemblance to the Creator’s own description of lightning. God challenged the patriarch Job, “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt… ?” (Job 38:25–27), or as the King James Version renders it, “a way for the lightning of thunder… ?” How fascinating that modern, high-tech equipment echoes details of the Creator’s design that fit so precisely to the Bible’s own description, written thousands of years ago.
The Pew Research Center projects that, if current trends continue, those who call themselves “Christian” will be a minority in the U.S. by 2070. The largest group of the non-religious are those aged 30 and under, raising concerning questions about the future. Research suggests not only that these millennials will raise their children to be atheists or agnostics, but also that most of those children will remain non-religious after becoming adults.
The Guardian reports that a consequence of this rapid mass secularization of America is the closing of church buildings by the thousands every year (January 22, 2023). “About a quarter of the young adults who dropped out of church said they disagreed with their church’s stance on political and social issues,” according to one researcher. And the impact of COVID-19 has only accelerated the exodus, as Protestant pastors report church attendance is only about 85 percent of the pre-pandemic numbers.
What many don’t realize is that what most think of as mainstream “Christianity” has been off track for many centuries. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day for “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). False teachers replaced biblical Christianity with their own ideas—seeds that would blossom at the end of the age, producing a massive “falling away” from even the most basic truths of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the rise of a generation pursuing an empty and powerless form of spirituality (2 Timothy 3:5). This turning away from God in a nation that once considered itself “Christian” is sobering to watch.
According to a recent study in the journal Scientific Reports, a “growing body of empirical evidence is revealing the benefits of nature for mental health, including higher mental wellbeing and lower risk of mental illness.” The study asked more than 1,200 people to record their mental and emotional wellbeing in real time while watching and hearing birds, as well as afterward. Researchers found that such exposure produced “time-lasting improvements in mental wellbeing,” meaning that the effects lasted even after the participants’ exposure to sights and sounds of birds ended. Even study participants diagnosed with depression experienced benefits.
The study was careful to rule out causes unrelated to the exposure to birds, and the findings echo the results of an earlier study that illustrated exposure to bird songs may “alleviate anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants.” Researchers behind this new study suggest bird exposure could one day play a role in complementing current mental health treatments.
The God of the universe created the earth with mankind in mind, and upon creating the birds, He declared that “it was good” (Genesis 1:21). Certainly, birds are needed for pollination, transfer of seeds, keeping insect populations in check, and acting as a food source for other animals and humans. But God apparently designed them with other benefits to humans in mind, as well. Today, with so many people living in large cities and “concrete jungles,” individuals come into contact with birds far less regularly than they once did—which has motivated the study’s authors to consider possible benefits of policies that would help bird populations to grow in urban areas.
Jesus Christ declares the coming of God’s Kingdom to this earth. That Kingdom will bring a time of unprecedented peace for both humans and animals (Isaiah 11:6–9). It is likely that this coming utopia will involve more regular exposure to God’s creation, including wildlife and birds, bringing the positive impact on the mental health of humanity that He intended all along.