Deluged

Deluged

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The latest WikiLeaks downpour didn’t just hurt U.S. interests—it exposed just how weak America has become.
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

When Julian Assange released a deluge of confidential U.S. intelligence documents on the Internet last November, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initially called it a major attack on the United States. The response was accurate, justified and suitably forceful.

It was also an anomaly. Sadly, soon after that refreshing display of force, the U.S. began backpedaling away from any talk of aggression or retaliation against the blatant act of espionage.

The day after Clinton made her remarks, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates downplayed the significance of the unauthorized release of more than 250,000 classified State Department documents. He said the overall impact of America’s secrets going public would be “fairly modest.”

Gates explained, “The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. … We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation” (emphasis mine throughout).

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs exuded this same air of superiority during an interview on December 1. We’re not afraid of one guy with a laptop, Gibbs exclaimed. “We’re the United States of America!”

America’s leaders weren’t the only ones claiming the leaks were no big deal. Former New York Times columnist Leslie Gelb actually said that WikiLeaks “accidentally helps” America. In his list of WikiLeaks winners, Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf handed first place to “The United States of America,” and second place to “American diplomats.”

Such expressions of inflated self-worth, however, don’t fix the damage the leaks have caused. In fact, the lack of a firm response only reinforces an uncomfortable truth that the leaked cables themselves post on a billboard for all the world to see: that America’s will has been broken.

Broken Connections, Damaged Credibility

Consider the damage done to America’s information-gathering abilities. For example, one secret cable contained important testimony from a well-connected Iranian businessman who works in Baku, was educated in Britain and made famous in Iran as a sportsman. His name was omitted from the cable, but how long will it be before Iranian authorities figure out who it is? Next time he’s interviewed by American diplomats—assuming he is even alive—how forthright do you suppose he will be?

“We do know … that our adversaries are out there actively mining this information,” a Pentagon spokesman explained. We just don’t know how they are going to use it, he said.

Besides abetting the terrorist cause, consider the impact WikiLeaks will have on America’s diplomatic exchanges with allies. There have already been reports of foreign diplomats backing away from their dealings with American officials. According to the State Department, fewer diplomats are now attending meetings abroad. In one case, there was a request for notebooks to be left outside the meeting room.

Who can blame them? No one wants their off-the-record comments to go viral. Even America’s own diplomats must surely be thinking twice about offering candid remarks when reporting back to Washington. How can they be expected to provide the unvarnished truth if, in the backs of their minds, they are worried about someone else seeing that information later?

Remember the example of Theodore Roosevelt. For negotiating peace between Russia and Japan, he became the first U.S. president to win a Nobel Peace Prize. This feat would have been impossible if either side feared their communications could be made public. Both sides were afraid of losing face by being the one to ask for peace, yet both sides wanted peace. Tsar Nicolas only agreed to negotiate on the condition that his agreement would remain “absolutely secret” until Japan had also agreed to do so. Actually, Japan had been asking the U.S. the same thing for some time.

In this case, Japan and Russia put their trust in America firstly because it was in their interest, but also because they trusted America to keep their secrets. Thus Roosevelt was able to negotiate a treaty that stopped a war, helped American interests in the Far East, and increased America’s global prestige.

Now that trust is gone. “[T]aking away privacy makes diplomacy impossible,” wrote Stratfor’s George Friedman. “If what you really think of the guy on the other side of the table is made public, how can diplomacy work? … [W]hat [Assange] did in leaking these documents, if the leaking did anything at all, is make diplomacy more difficult. It is not that it will lead to war by any means; it is simply that one cannot advocate negotiations and then demand that negotiators be denied confidentiality in which to conduct their negotiations. No business could do that, nor could any other institution” (Dec. 14, 2010).

All in all, as former cia officer Robert Baer wrote in the Financial Times, American credibility and diplomacy have suffered “incalculable” damage. “[T]he credibility of the State Department as a reliable interlocutor has evaporated, and no doubt for a long time,” Baer concluded (Nov. 30, 2010).

No Consequences

The most disturbing development, as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer noted, “is the helplessness of a superpower that not only cannot protect its own secrets but shows the world that if you violate its secrets—massively, wantonly and maliciously—there are no consequences” (Dec. 3, 2010).

A reporter asked Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell why the United States didn’t employ its recently developed Cyber Command in order to prevent the WikiLeaks fiasco. This was his stunning response: “We … clearly have offensive capabilities. But at the end of the day … the decision was made not to proceed with any sort of aggressive action of that sort in this case. It was just deemed not appropriate for us to consider such a thing.”

The Pentagon, in other words, might have stopped WikiLeaks before it even got started, but that wouldn’t have been appropriate. And besides, as Morrell went on to explain, at the end of the day, the document dump “does not … adversely impact America’s power or prestige.”

Don’t worry—we’re the United States of America! We’re invincible and indispensable!

The rest of the world, meanwhile, sees America as a former superpower in rapid decline. The pride of America’s power has already been broken, just as God said it would be (Leviticus 26:19). Nothing illustrates this quite like America’s passive response to the WikiLeaks sabotage—a blatant act of international espionage aimed directly at the United States.

It’s a far cry from the iron-handed approach to foreign affairs that presidents like Theodore Roosevelt once employed, when America was on the rise as a prestigious and dominant world power. “Speak softly and carry a big stick—[and] you will go far,” Roosevelt said. As Thomas Bailey wrote in his 1968 volume, The Art of Diplomacy, Roosevelt’s proverb means that for diplomatic courtesy to produce tangible results, it has to be backed by a show of real strength.

Now, America seems to be ditching the proverbial “big stick” altogether.

Yemen

Consider the now-blown cover of Yemen’s president (a covert U.S. ally). The cia lists the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda as the most urgent threat to U.S. security. One leaked cable shows that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave U.S. Gen. David Petraeus permission to routinely bomb al Qaeda targets within Yemen, saying, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” The cable also indicts Yemen’s deputy prime minister for blatantly lying to parliament when he claimed Yemeni forces were dropping the bombs on the terrorist positions—implying that heathen American forces were not allowed in the country.

Another cable reveals President Saleh gave his approval to alcohol smuggling by government officials, even as he worked to boost his popularity by portraying himself as an Islamic leader in the full religious sense. The cable paints him as a blatant hypocrite. Greg Johnson, a Yemen expert at Princeton, said, “In some of the tribal areas where al Qaeda is really attempting to recruit people, having something like this where the president and his ministers are on the record talking about lying and deceiving parliament and the Yemeni public, I think it will have traction. Al Qaeda will be able to use it in the months to come.”

Now, not only is America’s ability to attack al Qaeda in Yemen in peril, but there is also the potential loss of an ally and the reinforcement of the terrorists that America will have to deal with.

Lebanon

WikiLeaks also gave Hezbollah terrorists a boost in Lebanon. The cables quote Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Murr, former Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade and other politicians giving sensitive information about Hezbollah to American officials. Murr offered advice for the U.S. to pass on to Israel to use against Hezbollah. The leaks show that Murr wanted Israel to weaken Hezbollah so the Lebanese Army could “take over.”

This is exactly the type of propaganda that Hezbollah, which paints itself as the true defender of Lebanon, loves. Hezbollah will no doubt use it to justify radical actions against the Lebanese government.

The Lebanese leaks will also affect the international tribunal investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A Lebanese tribunal was expected to implicate Syria and accuse several Hezbollah members of being involved in the murder. However, leaked cables reveal that the tribunal had asked the U.S. for intelligence. Hezbollah is using this to claim that the tribunal is a setup. Again, the leaks hurt the politicians that chose to work with the U.S. against terrorist groups.

Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe too, the position of America and its allies has been undermined. Leaked cables paint President Robert Mugabe’s chief opponent, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as an American stooge, and a crummy one at that. They relate Tsvangirai’s discussions with the U.S. on how to oust Mugabe. The leaks also reveal the name of a member of Mugabe’s own party who was informing the U.S. Now he could end up fired, in prison, or dead. Zimbabwean officials are accusing Tsvangirai of treason.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies said the leaks could easily destabilize Zimbabwe: “We are sitting with a very tense situation, very delicate, where we’ve got a dictator now for the last 25 years here in Africa, absolutely insistent that any opposition to him is being instigated by the West. And now he has that on paper, and that is dangerous. … I do fear that the revelations [are] really going to give ammunition to President Robert Mugabe, especially while we are facing a new election in Zimbabwe [in 2011].”

The cables have made a mess of America’s efforts to undermine a despotic regime that disregards human rights and works closely with China.

Pakistan

America’s tenuous alliance with Pakistan also took a hit. U.S. critics in Islamabad, of which there are many, cannot be happy about the cable accusing Pakistan of “playing a double game.” Other leaks reveal America’s aggravation over the lax security surrounding Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. As one Pakistani official recently noted, “The documents show what Washington really thinks about us.” Which is to say, not much.

Terrorist Targets

The leaks broadcast to the world the locations of America’s hard-to-defend soft spots. According to Agence France-Presse, one secret cable contains a list of important global infrastructure locations, including underwater pipelines, communication ports and mineral reserves. Said P.J. Crowley, spokesman at the State Department, it’s exactly the kind of classified information that can be used by terrorist groups as a target list.

Iran

The WikiLeaks reveal an America not only unwilling to use force against its most avowed enemy, but a nation going to extremes to cover up that nation’s hatred for the U.S.—even going so far as to hide from Americans the fact that Iran is at war with America and killing its soldiers.

Try to wrap your mind around that: Even as American soldiers are asked to sacrifice their lives in the war against terrorism, two U.S. presidents—representing both political parties—have been hard at work covering the tracks of the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror!

In October, when WikiLeaks released another batch of secret documents coming from the Iraqi battlefield, the New York Times said it revealed how Iran’s military had “intervened aggressively” to support combatants fighting American troops. Another Times piece noted that U.S. troops had discovered evidence of Iran’s role in training Iraqi militants and supplying militias with rockets, magnetic bombs and other weapons. “The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders,” the Times wrote (Oct. 22, 2010).

Even as Iran continued its deadly assault on American troops, President Obama worked to erase the Iranian connection. Who can forget his Cairo speech, when he showered praise on the Iranian people and encouraged the mullahs to finish their nuclear power project?

For his part, President Bush repeatedly stressed toward the end of his second term that he had “no desire” to go to war against Iran.

Even as practically every major leader in the Middle East was pleading with the United States to do something about the primary source of state-sponsored terrorism, America backed down.

In November 2009, according to one diplomatic cable, King Hamad of Bahrain “argued forcefully” for the U.S. to use “whatever means necessary” to knock out Iran’s nuclear program. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it,” he said.

His plea was shared by numerous other Arab leaders. “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won’t matter,” said one senior representative from the Jordanian Senate.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak referred to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as being irrational and accused Iran of continually “stirring trouble.” In another cable, America’s ambassador in Cairo described Mubarak as having “a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic.”

Abu Dhabi’s crown prince said it was only a matter of time before Ahmadinejad plunged the Middle East into war. He said if American air strikes didn’t take out the nuclear program, then the U.S. should send in ground forces. He urged such action back in 2006.

Even before that Saudi Arabia’s powerful King Abdullah angrily expressed his disapproval of the Bush administration for disregarding his advice against the Iraqi invasion. Prior to the war in Iraq, Abdullah said, the U.S., Saddam Hussein and Saudi Arabia had collectively kept Iran in check. But by knocking out Saddam, the U.S. had unwittingly handed Iraq over to Iran as a “gift on a golden platter.”

As many of our readers know, we were talking about the likelihood of Iraq falling to Iran as early as 1994. Can you imagine the power Iran would have, Gerald Flurry asked in December of that year, if it gained control of Iraq? Then, soon after the war broke out in March 2003, we wrote, “It may seem shocking, given the U.S. presence in the region right now, but prophecy indicates that, in pursuit of its goal, Iran will probably take over Iraq” (June 2003).

According to one cable that turned up in the latest WikiLeaks dump, King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran and put an end to its nuclear weapons program.” The Saudi ambassador to Washington implored America “to cut off the head of the snake.”

Many of our readers will remember us using that same analogy when the war on terrorism began. “If the Taliban is just one tendril of the monster, where is the head?” we asked in November 2001. “The real head of the snake of terrorism is referred to in end-time prophecy as the king of the south.” And Iran, that article explained, was the one Mideast nation with enough strength, willpower and resources to be the king of the south.

Students of Bible prophecy are well aware of the coming clash between the kings of the north and south, spoken of in Daniel 11:40. This is referring to a German-led European combine, the king of the north, coming against the Iranian-led king of the south like a whirlwind.

The United States, meanwhile, isn’t even mentioned in the Daniel 11 prophecy. In fact, no Bible prophecy speaks expressly of a major clash between the United States and Iran.

What prophecy does reveal is that God has broken the pride of American power—that America’s military strength in these latter days will be spent in vain (Leviticus 26:19-20).

How Humanity Will Learn Its Lesson

How Humanity Will Learn Its Lesson

The Trumpet

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

The state of our world was prophesied and written in advance. About 2,000 years ago, the greatest “newscaster” the world has ever known foretold today’s chaotic world conditions. He foresaw today’s scientific discoveries and technological advancements, and the radical changes they would effect on humanity. He foretold the wars, famines, disease epidemics and natural disasters now increasingly occurring before our very eyes.

This famous newscaster knew that men would produce the destructive forces that now threaten cosmocide! He warned: “For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed” (Matthew 24:21-22; New Living Translation).

This great newscaster was Jesus Christ of Nazareth—the same Jesus who is coming again to intervene at the last moment to save humanity from extinction and establish world peace!

But before He intervenes, a number of catastrophic events that will impact all humanity must first occur.

These events are outlined in the book of Revelation. In the last two installments, we have learned that this last book of the Bible details “seven seals” that reveal events to occur in the years leading up the return of Christ (Revelation 5:9). The seventh seal contains seven symbolic trumpets (Revelation 8:1-6) that represent consecutive punishments from God on a rebellious mankind. And, as we saw last month, the fifth and sixth trumpets are also known as the first and second woes, signaling warfare between military powers in Europe and Asia.

Next in the sequence of events described in Revelation is the seventh trumpet.

1. What will happen when the seventh trumpet sounds and the third woe begins? Revelation 11:14-15. Who will then be given the kingdoms, or governments, of this world? Verse 15.

Comment: On the climactic day of Christ’s return, a myriad of events will take place at whirlwind speed. The very first event that occurs at this time is the coronation of Jesus Christ (Daniel 7:13-14), followed by the announcement at the trumpet blast that His government will finally replace those of Satan and man. Other events will take place at the moment of the seventh trumpet’s blast as well, as we will see later. But first, let’s notice what happens as Christ’s return to claim the Earth is noticed by the people of the world.

2. What will be the reaction of the nations of this world? Revelation 11:18.

Comment: Jesus Christ, the new world Ruler, will not be automatically accepted by the warring nations as the King of the Earth. The nations will actually gather their armies to challenge Christ. They will consider Him their common enemy, and will rage against Him for coming to take control of all earthly governments. They know that with Jesus Christ ruling, their human schemes can never be completed.

It is this climactic battle that will determine the outcome of World War iii, and who will rule the world!

Seven Final Punishments

1. Is this time of God’s intervention the time of His righteous wrath on rebellious mankind? Revelation 11:18. What more is revealed about this time of God’s wrath? Revelation 15:1.

Comment: Just as the seventh seal is divided into the seven last trumpets, so the seventh trumpet is divided into seven last plagues. These plagues will finally crush all rebellion.

2. Are the seven last plagues—likened to vials of God’s wrath—about to be poured out? Verse 7. How are the seven last plagues described? Read Revelation 16 for a summary of all seven plagues.

3. Because men refuse to repent, will God continue to send each plague in sequence? Revelation 16:9, 11.

Comment: Despite the plagues, the majority of mankind will not turn to God in repentance right away.

4. How long will it take for all seven plagues to be administered? Revelation 18:8.

Comment: All seven vials against the disobedient will begin in one 24-hour day—the day ushered in by the blowing of the last trumpet. Some of these vials of wrath will continue to be administered beyond this 24-hour period. The combined power of these plagues will devastate the disobedient.

5. With the sixth plague, will God prepare the way for the kings of the east and their armies to cross the Euphrates into the Holy Land? Revelation 16:12. Is this part of God’s plan to gather the armies of all nations that remain rebellious to His government into one place for the final battle of World War iii? Verses 13-14. See also Zephaniah 3:8 and Joel 3:9-14.

Comment: Recall that the fifth and sixth trumpets are also called the first woe and second woe. In the first two woes, the beast power will attack, then be devastated by a counterattack from the kings of the east. But on the day of the seventh trumpet, when Christ returns to Jerusalem, both armies will unite to fight Him!

6. Will Christ make war in righteousness against those nations that fight Him and His armies? Revelation 19:11; Isaiah 11:4-5. Is Christ going to smite the nations with His sharp sword, symbolic of His divine power, and rule them with a rod of iron? Revelation 19:15.

7. Who will be defeated in this climactic battle of World War iii? Verses 19-20.

8. After all organized military resistance to the Kingdom of God has been crushed, will Christ then punish the leaders of this world’s political and religious system that warred against Him? Verse 20.

Why God Sends Punishment

1. Are God’s angels who will pour out the seven last plagues upon Earth clothed in white linen, a symbol of righteous judgment? Revelation 15:6.

2. Does God have to punish mankind because their sins would eventually lead to the destruction of life on Earth? Zephaniah 1:17; Revelation 11:18.

Comment: God is love (1 John 4:16). God and Christ love all of humanity (John 3:16). But Christ will be angry at the sins of mankind when He returns. He is coming to punish—in love! Otherwise, man would destroy all life upon the planet! Power-mad politicians at the helm of human governments will have already destroyed much of the Earth, and unless God intervenes with force to stop warfare, no human would be left alive (Matthew 24:22).

3. Will the nations finally accept God and repent, and seek to learn His way? Isaiah 2:1-4.

Comment: The glorified Christ is coming in all the splendor, power and glory of God to stop escalating wars, nuclear mass destruction, human pain and suffering. He is coming to usher in a radically different, utterly transformed global order. God’s laws will be taught, embraced and enforced worldwide, which will result in peace, abundant prosperity, happiness and joy for all mankind.

Meanwhile, each of us can receive the blessings of God’s way of life and His protection now. But first we must come to see the catastrophic effects of sin as God does. Left unchecked, man’s sins would lead to the destruction of humanity. The events that occur at the seventh trumpet show how much God hates sin—and what He will do to finally eradicate it in the world. We must have this same attitude toward sin. That means coming to have a sincere willingness and earnest motivation to completely eliminate it from our own lives, just as Jesus Christ will utterly destroy the sin in the world at His return.

Those who turn to God and seek to do His will, instead of following the sinful ways of this world, will be given divine protection (Revelation 3:10; 12:14-16). You need not suffer any of the coming plagues!

This short study is a sample of the method employed in each lesson of the free Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course. Over 50,000 people have enrolled in this exciting, dynamic course. Ordering information is on the back cover of this magazine.

The Emotional Corrosion of Casual Sex

The Emotional Corrosion of Casual Sex

©iStock.com/tobi

From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Recently I had the opportunity to work with a group of people from starkly different backgrounds. Most of our conversations were simply small talk. Yet one woman was surprisingly open about her life. Without prodding, she often articulately explained her philosophy on sex and relationships. Having been married and divorced multiple times, she now welcomed “no strings attached” sexual encounters. She thrilled at the hunt and the conquest.

However, studying her over a period of time I noticed that she was often depressed. One day she came to me and asked, “Why does casual sex hurt people?”

This painfully honest question deserves a truthful answer.

Casual sex is sex for physical pleasure only, without emotional connection, no strings attached. Often it’s a one-time occurrence. It includes any kind of sex act with anyone, heterosexual or homosexual. In its rawest form it involves total strangers—no names, no history, no tomorrow. It coldly seeks to suppress the development of any type of relationship.

Casual sex has been glamorized in movies and on television. Casual sex membership websites, often accompanied with pornographic material, make it easy for partners to hook up. Many authors praise its advantages. They assure us of the thrilling excitement of the casual sex lifestyle. Its joys are made to appear unquestionable.

The philosophy underlying all this hype is that marriage is out; casual sex is harmless fun; everyone is doing it; you are missing out—just do it!

This is a seriously flawed philosophy. Risks are minimized. The threat of possible lifelong damage is ignored.

Let’s face the problem squarely. The misuse of sex brings incredible personal sorrow. Monogamous, marital sex is the only source of true fun.

Casual sex is extremely risky and harmful to all involved. Yet, without question, casual sex experimentation is most destructive to our youth. All parents must come to grips with this problem. Why? Young adults and the youngest of teens are the most likely to be taken in by such thinking.

The current adult generation has yet to deal with the problem of and the problems caused by promiscuous sex. Our sex-crazed society willfully overlooks the bad fruits of its actions.

Contraceptives—including condoms—are not the solution. The harm done goes much deeper than an unwanted pregnancy or being struck by a health-threatening sexual disease.

New brain research proves that there is no such thing as safe sex outside of marriage. How science has come to this conclusion is amazingly interesting.

The Brain and Sex

Neuroscience research has uncovered useful information about how sex affects the human brain. Using mri techniques, scientists have gained a clear picture of what takes place within the brain during sexual activity. Although it is not new knowledge, science confirms that the use of sex can either give us wholeness—or damage us, possibly for a lifetime. These scientific facts add support to necessary sex instruction that must be provided to protect our teens and young adults.

Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush, both ob-gyns, have taken the current neuroscience research and translated it into a plain-speaking, easy-to-understand book titled Hooked. Dr. McIlhaney also founded the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in order to tackle the global epidemics of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (stis). These two medical professionals have much experience in working with teens and young adults. They have seen the incredible damage done to our youth as a result of the improper use of sex.

In Hooked, the duo confront the emotional and psychological damage casual sex does to young, developing brains. “[W]ith the aid of modern research techniques and technologies, scientists are confirming that sex is more than a momentary physical act,” they write. “It produces powerful, even lifelong changes in our brains that direct and influence our future to a surprising degree.”

In other words, the use of sex can either keep the human brain healthy or severely damage it.

Emotional Bonding

The brain has been described as the largest human sex organ. Neuroscience confirms this fact. Sex triggers a magnificent biochemical process within the human brain. Three different chemicals flood the brain from initiation to completion of the sexual act: dopamine and oxytocin in women, and dopamine and vasopressin in men. Each chemical is designed to fulfill a specific purpose.

Dopamine is known as a feel-good chemical rewarding us when we accomplish something thrilling or exhilarating. Runners often experience dopamine highs during exercise. Dopamine has an addictive property that causes us to want to repeat whatever we have accomplished.

Oxytocin is present in both males and females, but it has a far more important role in the life of a woman. Science has known for some time that oxytocin is present when a mother nurses her baby. It aids and accelerates the human bonding process between the mother and child. During sex, the release of oxytocin in the female brain helps a woman bond with her mate.

Vasopressin serves a similar function in males. Besides helping a man to bond with his children, during sex it aids bonding with his mate.

How does all of this relate to casual sex? McIlhaney and Bush connect the dots. They emphasize that parents need to understand the role these hormones play in sexual experience.

Concerning dopamine and young people having casual sex, they write: “It seems that the dopamine reward signal is working very well in these young people. Once they experience sex, they want to repeat it again and again. We have discussed elsewhere how sex is similar to drug, alcohol, or nicotine addiction; it is understandable that a young (or older) person would want to experience that same rush again” (ibid.).

The dopamine reward process in the brain is values-neutral: It cannot distinguish between positive or negative behavior. If an individual gets a thrill out of risky sex, the dopamine reward will encourage the repetition of the risky behavior.

Loss of Connectedness

The dopamine reward for sex is intensely powerful. Thus, a sexually active couple upon breakup will often move quickly to sexual intercourse with a new person. In a culture that encourages casual sex, many people are moving quickly from partner to partner. Sexual addiction is often the result. The tabloids are full of accounts of the broken lives of people suffering from this addiction.

Certainly this is a terrible problem that is extremely difficult to overcome. Yet those who move from partner to partner suffer even greater damage.

The bonding biochemicals oxytocin and vasopressin are just as powerful as dopamine. Neuroscience shows that these hormones are released with intimate physical contact such as hugging or kissing. McIlhaney and Bush explain: “When two people join physically, powerful neurohormones are released because of the sexual experience, making an impression on the synapses in their brains and hardwiring their bond. When they stay together for life their bonding matures. This is a major factor that keeps them together, providing a desire for intercourse, resulting in offspring, and assuring those offspring of a nurturing two-parent home in which to grow” (ibid.). Although not new knowledge, science confirms the immeasurable value of monogamous sex within marriage.

Science also affirms a destructive downside to casual sex. The doctors explain: “[E]very time a person has sexual intercourse or intimate physical contact, bonding takes place. Whenever breakups occur in bonded relationships there is confusion and often pain in the brains of the young people involved because the bond has been broken.”

The problem described here also has much deeper and long-lasting effect. The authors report: “Further, there is evidence that when this sex/bonding/breaking-up cycle is repeated a few or many times—even when the bonding was short-lived—damage is done to the important, built-in ability to develop significant and meaningful connection to other human beings.”

Living a casual sex lifestyle spawns a loss of human connectedness. The truth is, we all need human attachment to survive and thrive. Right use of sex promotes personal wholeness and builds stable family life. Casual sex, by contrast, impairs an individual’s ability to form lifelong relationships.

McIlhaney and Bush warn that in fact, the emotional corrosion caused by casual sex makes people less than human: “It may sound blunt, but if we try to eliminate this connectedness from sex, we remove the uniquely human aspect of it, and the sexual act becomes nothing more than raw animal behavior.” It is time well spent to think deeply about that quote.

Abstinence Until Marriage

Let’s be honest. Science is uncovering what God knew thousands of years ago.

God placed within the pages of the Bible vital instruction on the proper uses of sex. Just after the creation of Eve and while at the first marriage ceremony, God taught our first parents to “be one flesh.” The newly created couple were to use sex to bind them together for life. They were also instructed to multiply—build a family that would rule and beautify the Earth (Genesis 2:24). There was no shame to sex within this God-ordained boundary (verse 25).

The Bible also warns of the penalties that accompany the abuse of it. Study Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 2 Peter 2:6.

We shouldn’t need science to tell us what God has already told us. Unfortunately, we have ignored God. It is likely that humans will also ignore the evidence of science.

Human sexuality was designed by a great Creator God to bestow lifelong benefits to mankind. To reap those benefits, sex must remain within the bounds of marriage. Abstinence until marriage is the only workable safe-sex practice. It is interesting to note that a survey taken among teens revealed that 93 percent of the teens questioned believe that teens need to be given a strong abstinence message from parents and other adults.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex: “God designed sex to produce pure, righteous, clean, holy and rich blessings! He made it to be the loving bond which not only would inspire a properly mated couple to marry but which would preserve that marriage in love. Sex should be the energizing magnet to draw constantly closer and closer together with increasing love a husband and wife ….”

This wonderful, factual book is available to you at no charge upon request. Mr. Armstrong used the Bible and science to provide the missing dimension so prevalent in sex knowledge today. In the hands of loving parents, this book is the best tool to instruct our youth on how to avoid the damage caused by casual sex.

Year in Review 2010

After looking back on the past 12 months, Joe Klein concluded in Time this week that “nothing much happened in 2010.”

“Oh, I know there was a lot of frothing and screaming,” he wrote. “There was outrage aplenty. There was an election. Wars were fought. Humongous pieces of legislation were passed.” But in time, he predicted, “2010 will be regarded by historians … as something of a neon hologram.”

It makes you wonder what planet Joe Klein has been living on for the past 12 months.

The following is a digest of the most pertinent world events of 2010. Considered in the context of Bible prophecy, it is impossible for a person to read about these events and conclude that “nothing much happened in 2010.”

Europe Remodeled

The financial crisis that began in Greece in 2009 overflowed to other eurozone states. Across the eurozone, but especially in the Mediterranean, contracting economies and extreme public and private debt pushed governments to their limit. In May, with riots erupting, Athens went to fellow eurozone states for a bailout. In November, it was Ireland. As 2010 came to a close, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Italy were lined up on the cusp. As the financial crisis worsened, it became clear that the existence not just of the eurozone, but also of the European Union itself, was at stake. Europe needed to be saved.

Germany Rides to the Rescue

As the financial crisis unfolded, Europe turned to Germany for the solution. Over the year, Berlin exploited the financial crisis to gain control of the euro, the eurozone, and the entire European Union. Stratfor analyst Peter Zeihan wrote that if “the euro is essentially gutting the European … economic base, then Germany is achieving by stealth what it failed to achieve in the past thousand years of intra-European struggles” (March 16; emphasis ours). Since March, Germany has continued to refashion Europe. Berlin agreed to give Greece and Ireland a bailout, and then imposed strict conditions. In December, Germany convinced EU counterparts of the need to create a permanent eurozone debt fund, which would require amending the Lisbon Treaty.

As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote at the end of the year, “What is happening in Europe is not merely a game-changer—it’s a world changer!” (emphasis his). “We are witnessing one of the most significant moments ever in the history of Europe,” he said. The collapse of European economies is handing Germany control of the taxing and spending policies of once-sovereign nations. The euro has turned out to be a tool for economic conquest by Germany. A German-led Europe is emerging from this financial crisis, and war is coming with it.

“Watch closely,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “Germany will use this crisis to force Europe to unite more tightly. In the process, some eurozone countries will be forced out of the union. When that happens, the pundits will say European unification is dead, that the European Union has failed. Don’t listen to them! Every country that leaves the EU puts us one step closer to seeing the German-led 10-nation European superstate!”

Germany Grows in Nationalism

At the grassroots level, the German populace grew increasingly frustrated with Muslims. In the summer, a prominent former board member of the country’s central bank, Thilo Sarrazin, showed the popular support in Germany for confronting Islam: His new book, Abolishing Germany—How We’re Putting Our Country in Jeopardy, details what he calls Germany’s “demise,” saying that with constant immigration and higher birth rates among immigrants, Germany is “turning Muslim.” An Allensbach Institute poll found that 60 percent of Germans believe Sarrazin said “many things that are correct.” A mere 13 percent disagree with him. Spiegel featured the author on its cover, calling him a “people’s hero.”

In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the multiculturalist approach in Germany “has failed, utterly failed.” Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria, said that the two parties are “committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.” Stratfor analyst George Friedman remarked, “The statements were striking in their bluntness and their willingness to speak of a dominant German culture, a concept that for obvious reasons Germans have been sensitive about asserting since World War ii. The statement should be taken with utmost seriousness and considered for its social and geopolitical implications.”

He continued, “It must also be remembered that this is Germany, which previously addressed the problem of the German nation via the Holocaust. In the 65 years since the end of World War ii, the Germans have been extraordinarily careful to avoid discussions of this issue, and German leaders have not wanted to say things such as being committed to a dominant German culture. Simply put, Germany is returning to history.”

Germany is following a Europe-wide trend. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s anti-immigration Party for Freedom is working with the ruling coalition after winning 24 parliamentary seats out of 150 in elections on June 9. The far-right, anti-Semitic party Jobbik won 17 percent of the vote and 26 seats in Hungary in April. Switzerland banned the construction of new minarets after 57.5 percent of voters supported the measure in a national referendum. France and Belgium both passed laws against women wearing burkas.

Revival of Germany’s Economy and Industry

Of all countries on the planet, Germany is the one where everything seems to be going right! As the rest of the world suffers with high unemployment and massive debt, Germany is weathering the global financial crisis just fine. Economists are predicting annual economic growth of 3.5 percent in 2010; the German economy expanded in the second quarter at a phenomenal annual rate of 9 percent. Exports are soaring and factories are bustling, which has resulted in the unemployment rate falling to 7.5 percent, the lowest in 18 years. (Elsewhere in the eurozone, unemployment is above 10 percent. Real unemployment in America is nearing 20 percent.) Berlin has emerged in recent years, particularly through the financial crisis, as a regional and international powerhouse.

Until May this year, building up large-scale defense companies has been taboo in Germany. That month, two of Germany’s top military manufacturers, Rheinmetall and Mann Group, merged their military vehicle production. The resulting combine will produce a new national champion and leading supplier for wheeled military vehicles in Europe. MarketWatch columnist David Marsh said the German government “has been providing behind-the-scenes assistance to make sure industry goes in the right direction.” The new combine “meets the long-held German desire to build industrial companies with world scale in the defense field” (January 18).

Germany Remodels Military

Last August, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg presented plans designed to transform his nation’s military services. Military conscription will be suspended, and the Bundeswehr will be reduced from 250,000 to about 160,000 troops. Given a passing glance, Germany’s military power may appear to be diminishing. However, conscription was designed to ensure that the German army would be “immune to the kind of elitist force that dominated state affairs during the years of the Weimar Republic and before,” as the New York Times put it (August 30). When it comes to military reform, and specifically suspending conscription, Guttenberg is simply trimming the fat. His ultimate goal is to forge the German military into a trimmer, more efficient, more powerful fighting machine. Watch closely to see how Guttenberg chooses to use it. Considering Merkel’s plummeting popularity and Guttenberg’s meteoric rise, the man currently leading the German Defense Department may soon be leading the entire nation.

The Vatican Raises Its Voice

On November 11, Pope Benedict xvi released an “apostolic exhortation” Verbum Domini (“The Word of the Lord”) that was a direct attack on all who believe the inerrancy of the literal Scriptures as inspired by God. Pope Benedict “criticized ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘literalist’ interpretations and urged renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church” (cna/ewtn News, November 11). “An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church,” he said. The pope is restoring the kind of archaic and conservative theology that gives the Catholic hierarchy control over its subjects. The Vatican has also been bringing conservative church leaders to the fore as it establishes greater control over Catholicism around the world. And it has been progressing in bringing Anglicans back to Rome. The creation of an organization within the Catholic Church for disgruntled Anglicans will be complete next year.

A mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East continued. “Across the Middle East, it is the same story of despairing—sometimes frightened—Christian minorities, and of an exodus that reaches almost biblical proportions,” wrote the Independent’s Robert Fisk. “In short, a creeping religious genocide is taking place,” wrote Jeffrey T. Kuhner in the Washington Times. On October 31, in Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church, 10 gun-wielding terrorists detonated suicide bomb vests, killing 58 men, women and children, including two priests, and wounding 80 more people. These events are reminiscent of the 11th century, when the persecution of Christian pilgrims triggered the First Crusade. Once again, the Vatican is preparing itself as the West’s champion against Islam. “Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims—which is actually happening gradually,” said the outgoing archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, in an interview published January 6. “If Europe doesn’t change its relation to its own roots, it will be Islamized,” he said. In his homily at the close of a synod on the Middle East on October 24, Pope Benedict said that the synod showed “the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East.”

Russia Extends Global Reach

Last January, Russians made a world-changing move as they completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets their nation up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The pipeline allows Russia to transport 250,000 barrels of central Siberian oil per day to the energy-hungry economies of China, Korea and Japan. By unlocking these central Siberian oil fields to Oriental markets, Russia is simultaneously binding Asia together and lighting a fire under Europe. Until now, Moscow has had to let its oil reserves sit dormant every time it had a pricing dispute with Europe. With this new oil pipeline and port complex, however, Moscow can turn off the tap to Europe and still pump in the profits by opening the pipe wide to its oil-thirsty Asian partners. This will hasten the development of an Asian alliance of Russia, China and Japan. Europe is sure to start looking for alternative sources of oil and natural gas in Africa and the Middle East.

In 2010, Russia reversed the Orange Revolution that swept Ukraine toward the West with the narrow victory of its puppet Viktor Yanukovych in national elections on February 14. With some almost certainly unconstitutional maneuvers, Yanukovych used his shaky victory to gain firm control over the nation. He quickly guaranteed that Russia could station its Black Sea fleet in the Crimea until 2042. Yanukovych then turned Ukraine’s intelligence services over to Russia. He took steps to bring Ukraine into Russia’s alternative to nato, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. All this amounts to a peaceful takeover of Ukraine by Russia.

China Gobbles Up World Resources

This past summer, the world woke up to the fact that China controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, which are essential for nearly every piece of advanced technology, from iPods to hard drives, guided missiles to smart bombs. China showed the power this control brings by forcing Japan into a humiliating climb-down in a spat over a disputed border. The rest of the world is scrambling to end China’s monopoly, but catching up to China will take years. China continued its policy of buying up raw materials, as well as port and transit facilities, worldwide. This year, China’s trade with Africa passed $100 billion for the first time.

China-Europe Axis Forms

China’s biggest trade partner is the EU. These two organizations are the world’s top two exporters. Today’s global power centers of manufacturing and trade have swung back to Europe and China. The most important and lucrative trade routes are once again between the old world’s East and West. The most recent example of this trend is China’s growing partnership with Greece. Encouraged by government incentives and rock-bottom prices, China is pumping hundreds of millions and on the road to billions of euros into Greece, even as Americans and other investors head for the exits. According to the Washington Post, the cornerstone of those plans is the “transformation of the Mediterranean port of Piraeus into the Rotterdam of the south” that will create a “modern gateway linking Chinese factories with consumers across Europe and North Africa” (June 9). Greece’s severe economic woes created an opportunity that China is exploiting. Strapped for cash, the Greek government is privatizing the economy in blitzkrieg fashion, which has opened the doors to rich Chinese investors. “The Chinese want a gateway into Europe,” noted Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Even Germany—which as a major economic exporter is increasingly in competition with China for market share—seems content to allow the Eastern merchant powerhouse more access to Europe. Angela Merkel came out in support of China being granted “market status” on October 8. During a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, she said, “Germany will continue to actively support the quick awarding of the market status to China from the EU. China will intensively continue to dialogue with the EU on this issue.” This coming year, control of the global economy will continue to shift away from the U.S. and toward the EU and China.

Iran, the Cancer of the Middle East

A cable dated April 28, 2009, released by WikiLeaks shows that Egypt views Iran as its top strategic threat. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he sees “Iranian influence spreading like a cancer from the gcc [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] to Morocco,” according to the cable. That trend certainly continued in 2010. Intelligence officials have warned that Iran is releasing al Qaeda terrorists from prison so they can fight nato in Afghanistan, according to the Times of London, December 24. The Iranians have been secretly pouring millions of dollars into the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. They have also become more assertive in bossing around Pakistan; Iran threatened Islamabad with unilateral action if it failed to hand over Islamic terrorists who had attacked Shiites in December. They continued to fund Hezbollah and Hamas and build them up as threats to Israel. On October 14 Iran was elected head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iran’s nuclear program may have been set back by the Stuxnet computer virus, but its more important program of Middle East domination has continued unabated.

Iraq Falls to Iran

As the year closes, Iraq is in the process of cobbling together a government that will favor Iran. The coalition will be headed by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a man United Press International calls “Iran’s choice to rule in Baghdad.” The most important ministries, including the Oil Ministry, have been promised to Shiite and Kurdish parties—except the Finance Ministry, which has been given to the Sunni-supported Iraqiya bloc. Watch Iran’s takeover of Iraq to continue in the coming year.

World Assaults Dollar

This past year, the world’s leaders vented their anger on the dollar. Leaders from France, China, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere all took turns bagging on the greenback, blaming it for causing the world’s economic imbalances. The world needs a new global reserve currency, they said. But alas, with the eurozone locked in economic crisis, and Greece and Ireland on the brink of bankruptcy, the world lacked a credible paper alternative. At the end of the year, the volatile dollar eked out a 1.2 percent gain against the dollar index basket of currencies. But Americans should not rest easy. According to Li Daokui, an academic member of Chinese Central Bank’s monetary policy committee, the U.S. dollar will only remain a safe investment for so long. “For now, market attention is still on Europe and for the coming 6 to 12 months, it will not shift to the United States,” he said on December 8. “But we should be clear in our minds that the fiscal situation in the United States is much worse than in Europe. In one or two years, when the European debt situation stabilizes, attention of financial markets will definitely shift to the United States. At that time, U.S. treasury bonds and the dollar will experience considerable declines.” Against gold, silver, copper, oil, cotton, coffee, and pretty much every other commodity, the dollar has already slid by double digits over the past year. Over the long term, prepare for the dollar to resume its downtrend as the world looks for a new reserve currency.

America: On the Road to Bankruptcy

Want to know the future? Look to Detroit. It is a ruined, decaying, post-industrial, almost post-apocalyptic ghost town. And if the 2010 trend continues, it won’t be long before America is Detroit. Over the past year, the ranks of the unemployed have risen, and if truth be told, probably stand in excess of 20 percent. In Detroit, unemployment is over 50 percent.

Yet, on a national scale, America embraced more of the same policies that destroyed one of its formerly most prosperous cities: namely, expanding the social welfare state. As the year progressed, the “official” national debt grew by an astounding $1.5 trillion, taking the nation to European crisis levels. Forty-three million Americans now receive food stamps. Unemployment insurance was extended again, and legislation mandating that Americans sign up for health insurance (government-run or otherwise) was passed. The biggest difference between America as a whole and Detroit is that Detroit actually raised taxes to try to pay its bills. In 2010, the federal government embraced an alternative policy: debt monetization—simply printing money. Over the coming year, “quantitative easing” will cover approximately 75 percent of America’s projected deficit with funny money. It might work for a while, but history shows it will not end well. The Federal Reserve risks destroying the dollar to cover the social state, which means that ultimately America won’t just resemble Detroit, but Zimbabwe.

America’s Weakness Exposed

America’s weakness and lack of will became all the more obvious in 2010. A massive dump of intelligence by WikiLeaks broadcast this weakness, as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer noted, by demonstrating “the helplessness of a superpower that not only cannot protect its own secrets but shows the world that if you violate its secrets—massively, wantonly and maliciously—there are no consequences” (December 3).

America’s broken will was also on display in its dealings with other nations. Take North Korea. It torpedoed a South Korean ship. The U.S. responded with delay and dithering. North Korea then shelled a South Korean island. The U.S. finally got around to holding joint military actions with the South. North Korea displayed stunning advances in nuclear technology to the world. The U.S. quickly forgot about it. These events made clearer than ever just how staunch is America’s refusal to confront North Korea, or its patron, China.

America’s collapse in will is directly connected to its moral slide, which was also clear to see. The U.S. struck down its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a liberal procedure that allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they don’t identify themselves as such. President Barack Obama said that his next target was the Defense of Marriage Act, a step toward making same-sex “marriage” legal across the country.

U.S.-Israel Ties Deteriorate

The historic alliance between the United States and Israel was rocked by diplomatic crisis this past year, and by all indications it will never be the same. In March, during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph Biden, Israel’s interior minister announced that construction of 1,600 housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem had been approved. The timing was awkward, but the Obama administration took the opportunity to launch a diplomatic assault against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The president ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to upbraid Netanyahu, which she did during a much-publicized, 43-minute phone call. Later, a Clinton spokesman publicly questioned Israel’s seriousness with respect to the peace process. Netanyahu visited the U.S. later in the month to try to mend the diplomatic breach between the two countries. The trip, however, only further highlighted just how strained relations between the U.S. and Israel have become. The Israeli prime minister maintained his stance on the issue of “settlements,” getting a cold reception from Washington that included no photo ops and no official statements. The bond that once joined America and Israel has been shredded. Watch this relationship—and take note of who Israel turns to for help instead of the U.S.

Britain Surrenders Military Sovereignty

Britain announced drastic cuts to its military this year. The British military will shed 17,000 personnel; the army will lose 7,000 soldiers; 40 percent of its tanks and 35 percent of its artillery. The navy’s fleet of destroyers and frigates will shrink to 19. (In World War i Britain had over 300 destroyers alone, out of a fleet of nearly 600. After these cuts, the fleet will be smaller than it has been since the days of Henry viii.) The first of two new aircraft carriers, currently under construction, will be mothballed or even sold as soon as it is built. The Royal Navy’s 80-strong fleet of Harrier jump jets have been scrapped. This means the aircraft carriers will have—of all things—no jets to carry. New fighters won’t be available until 2020. Thus, these floating airbases will only be able to serve as helicopter pads and assist with humanitarian missions.

The drastic cuts means that Britain now has to look to other nations for its defense. On November 2, France and Britain signed up to share aircraft carriers; collaborate on technology for nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines; work together on cyberwarfare; and commit troops to a joint rapid reaction unit, among other things. So Britain now trusts its defense to France, which in recent times has been, at best, an unreliable ally. In the next year it will only get worse. Like everything else happening in Europe, Anglo-French military cooperation is certain to become prey to the encroachment of EU regulation and bureaucratization, and eventually subsumed wholly into the common European defense. The Bible prophesies that Britain will be double-crossed by its European “allies.” By putting its defense in Europe’s hands, Britain is setting itself up for a nasty defeat.

Spotlight on South Africa

South Africa spent over $2.5 million in preparation for August’s World Cup. It sought to present a clean, positive image to the world. But the truth is ugly. Since the end of the apartheid regime in 1994, the South African murder rate has skyrocketed from 5,100 to an astounding 43,000 people per year. More white farmers were murdered in South Africa in 2009 than have been killed in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe came to power. According to human rights group Actionaid, one quarter of South African women can expect to be raped at least once in their lifetime. Twelve percent of South Africa’s population has been diagnosed with aids, making the country home to the world’s greatest concentration of the disease. South Africa’s leaders are only exacerbating these problems by encouraging further violence. Last March, Julius Malema, the radical leader of the African National Congress Youth League, whipped up black university students into a frenzy by repeatedly chanting, “Kill the Boer, kill the Boer” in a song at a rally. South Africa has become a nation ruled by the law of the Serengeti—meaning there is no law.

Weather Strikes Back

As 2010 winds down, eastern Australia drowns under floodwaters, millions are fleeing floods and landslides in Colombia and Venezuela, Europe shivers in a “big freeze,” and a “monster blizzard” has shut down America’s East Coast. A fitting conclusion to a wild year of deadly natural disasters. More than a quarter million people perished in earthquakes, heat waves, floods and other such events. “This was the year the Earth struck back,” wrote the Associated Press. AP noted that natural disasters claimed more lives in 2010 than terrorism has in the last 40 years combined. The vast majority of deaths came in the devastating Haiti earthquake last January. Deadly quakes also hit China, Indonesia, Chile and Turkey. A typical year sees 16 earthquakes of at least magnitude 7.0. This year—one of the most seismically violent in decades—saw 22. A weather system this summer swept through Asia that brought a killer heat wave to Russia and caused epic flooding in Pakistan. All told, that system claimed nearly 17,000 lives. Floods killed over 6,300 people in 59 nations, according to World Health Organization statistics through September. The world’s biggest reinsurer, Swiss Re, estimates that worldwide, such disasters cost three times more than in 2009, totaling nearly a quarter trillion dollars. After the deadliest year of disasters in a generation, scientists are looking for lessons, and some say it’s man’s fault. The Bible agrees—but for much different reasons. It’s not poor urban planning or carbon emissions that are most to blame. It is the fact that we have angered the being who has power over these destructive phenomena. Not until we learn that lesson can we expect the disasters to subside, and the Earth to be at peace.

After Midnight

Of course, these aren’t the only major events of the year. Mexico experienced its deadliest year yet in its war on drugs, with over 11,000 killed. That’s still not as many as the number of violent deaths in Venezuela in 2009: 20,000 according to a human rights group. By comparison, there were 4,644 civilian violent deaths in Iraq in 2009. In Congo, the UN’s largest peacekeeping force failed to prevent 500 rapes in July and August.

The events of 2010 have made the world a more dangerous place. Germany is reverting back to the warlike nature that has characterized its history. Iran is growing stronger and more belligerent. Russia and China are increasing in power. And the U.S. and UK are becoming much weaker.

On the clock measuring this age of man, midnight is drawing near. Yet, though it may not seem like it, this is a blessing. Because that clock has to strike midnight before the world can move into the warmth and light of a new day.

The events of this year have brought us closer to an all-out nuclear war—a war that will come frighteningly close to destroying every human on the planet. But there is hope after midnight.

After midnight, mankind will have finally learned that we cannot solve our problems without help from our Creator.

After midnight, Jesus Christ will return. With the world under His loving guidance, there will be no more drug wars, or wars of any kind. There will be no more homicides and no more rapes. There will be no more nuclear weapons—or even swords.

That is the great hope we can see in the events of 2010. The closer we come to midnight, the closer we come to the morning of a glorious new day.

The Week in Review

PT/Getty Images

More goals crossed off on the Palestinian agenda; German elections, technology and currency in 2011; British law’s decay on display; and preparing for war “in every direction.”

Middle East

Palestinian leaders have rejected Israel’s suggestion of an “interim peace agreement” after the failure of direct talks between the two sides. In an interview on Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time publicly suggested an interim deal that would not have to include the most divisive core issues such as the sovereignty of Jerusalem. An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that such an interim agreement was not an option. “Jerusalem is a red line as it is to be the capital of a future Palestinian state,” he said.

At the same time, Israel is trying to fight the growing effort in the West to “delegitimize” the Jewish state, the Telegraph reports. The Israeli Defense Ministry on Tuesday designated the Palestinian Return Center, a campaign group based in London, as a front organization for the terrorist group Hamas. “[T]he center is involved in initiating and organizing radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while delegitimizing Israel’s status as a nation among the European community,” a statement said. “Among other terror-affiliated activities, the center organizes many conferences in various European countries for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood activists from all around the world ….”

Dissent among Palestinians against Palestinian National Authority policies is not tolerated and is often met with repression and brutal force, according to Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim journalist writing for the Hudson Institute (December 24). The Palestinian Authority has been held up by the international liberal media as the antithesis of the supposedly brutal Israeli security forces. The truth, however, is that the PA is conducting a campaign using violence and intimidation to silence critics and opposition figures—and journalists who would report objectively. Only a quarter of Palestinians in the West Bank believe they can criticize the Palestinian Authority, a recent public opinion poll found. There is also a lack of media freedom in the West Bank, evidenced by the fact that the three major newspapers are controlled by the Palestinian government.

A Commentary article this week reports that over the past six months Tehran has been working hard on one way of undermining America’s ability to conduct military strikes against Iran’s nuclear program: “denying us our use of regional military bases for the attack.” The article outlines how Tehran used an intimidation campaign to push Bahrain into announcing in August that it would not allow its territory to be used as a base for offensive operations. With Qatar and Oman, Iran has sought bilateral defense-cooperation agreements, Commentary says. Last week, Qatar hosted an unprecedented visit by three Iranian warships and a military delegation, with the Persian Gulf state announcing its readiness to conduct joint military exercises with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In August, Oman signed a defense-cooperation agreement with Iran, which was ratified by the Iranian Parliament this month. Washington’s “latitude to ‘calibrate’ force against Iran is effectively gone,” writes Commentary. The United States finds itself in this position today because—due to its lack of national will—it failed to deal with the “head of the snake” early on.

Europe

With seven out of Germany’s 16 states holding elections in 2011, next year could see some dramatic changes in the German government. The public appears to be against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (cdu); opinion polls suggest only 37 percent of Germans support her government. “The March 27 election in Baden-Württemberg is the most important of the 2011 elections,” according to Spiegel Online. “It is a traditional cdu bastion, having been ruled continuously by the party since 1953. … Opinion polls suggest that the center-left Social Democrats (spd) and the Greens have a realistic chance of ousting the cdu in Baden-Württemberg in what would be nothing less than a political earthquake” (December 28). It looks even worse for the cdu’s coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (fdp). After winning 14.6 percent of the vote in the last elections, the fdp’s approval rating has shrunk to only 3 percent. The fdp’s leader Guido Westerwelle could lose his post. “Chancellor Merkel is deeply concerned that immigration, or more specifically Islam, is becoming a major issue in Germany,” writes the Telegraph’s Bruno Waterfield. “She fears that a German Geert Wilders could spring from within her Christian Democrat ranks to challenge her by emulating the popular and successful Dutch anti-Muslim politician” (December 24). Indeed, there is a void in Germany that a charismatic anti-immigration politician could fill, rising to great popularity. Watch this void closely in 2011.

Germany will develop a “National Cyber-Defense Center” in 2011, Interior Ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said on December 27. “It will work by bundling existing know-how in the area of cyberdefense,” he said. “There has been a sharp rise in so-called electronic attacks on the networks of German government and local authorities,” he told a regular government briefing. “Germany is a very high-tech country with considerable experience and know-how, so of course others will naturally try to get hold of this knowledge—China is playing a large role in this.” The U.S. has already created a Cyber Command Center, and the UK is working to improve in this field. As Trumpet editor in Chief Gerald Flurry has often pointed out, the U.S. is especially vulnerable in the area of cybersecurity.

Five people were arrested for plotting to attack newspaper offices in Copenhagen on December 29. The group planned to enter an office block that housed several papers including Jyllands-Posten—the paper that published cartoons of Muhammad in 2005—and “kill as many as possible of those around,” according to Danish pet security police. “On the basis of the investigation, it is the pet’s assessment that the detainees were preparing a terror attack against a newspaper, which according to the pet’s information was Jyllands-Posten,” they said. “It is likewise the pet’s view that the attack was due to be carried out in the coming days.” Continue to watch for terrorist plots to rouse Europe to act more strongly against the Islamic threat.

Forty-nine percent of Germans want the deutsche mark back, according to a survey recently published by the German Bild newspaper. Only 41 percent said they’d rather stick with the euro. The poll of 1,068 Germans, conducted by YouGov, found that 77 percent of Germans said they had not profited from the euro. If Germany were not already part of the eurozone, only 30 percent would vote to join, and 60 percent would oppose. Sixty-seven percent said they were not sure the euro could survive times of crisis. Fifty-six percent said they feared inflation. A survey conducted earlier in December by Infratest dimap found that 57 percent said they’d have been better off keeping the mark. Continue to watch German attitudes toward the euro.

Italy’s cost of servicing its debt rose to the highest point since 2008 this week. Yields on its 10-year bonds rose to 4.83 percent on December 29. “The poor auction in Rome may be a warning sign that EU leaders offered too little to restore confidence at their Brussels summit two weeks ago,” writes the Telegraph’s international business editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Italy avoided the sort of property bubble seen in Spain or Ireland and has kept a tight rein on public spending under Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti. However, the rise in yields looks ominously like the pattern seen in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain when they first began to lose easy access to the capital markets.” Watch for the euro crisis to continue into 2011.

A bomb exploded outside two court buildings in Athens on December 30. The explosion damaged cars and blew out windows, including those in nearby shops, but no one was hurt. Authorities believe that a far-left or anarchist group is behind the attacks.

Asia

China is gearing up for military conflict “in every direction,” Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said in an interview published on Wednesday. “In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction,” Liang said. “We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away.” China’s party line is that its rise is peaceful, but the scope of its military buildup has many of its neighbors worried, including Japan, which, earlier this month, called China’s expanding military might a “global concern.” Also this month, Beijing announced that it will be launching its first aircraft carrier next year, which is a year earlier than U.S. analysts had forecast. China is also close to unveiling “carrier-killing” missiles which could sink American aircraft carriers from far off. This development will effectively reorder the balance of power in Southeast Asia, which has been dominated by the U.S. since World War ii’s end. We can expect China to make good on Liang’s claims, and to emerge as the dominant player in the region as the U.S. continues its decline.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian former oil tycoon who was imprisoned in 2003 for defying then Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sentenced on Thursday to six more years of jail time. The ruling is viewed as a jab at the credibility of Russia’s current President Dmitry Medvedev, who has vowed to bolster the independence of the nation’s judicial system. Khodorkovsky, who is in the final year of what was originally an eight-year prison sentence, was originally convicted in 2003 for stealing from his own oil company, Yukos. The ruling led to Yukos’s bankruptcy and a dramatic increase in the Putin administration’s control over Russian oil, which greatly boosted Putin’s global influence. Shortly after Khodorkovsky’s arrest, Jane’s intelligence firm said, “[I]t is becoming clear that Russia is undergoing a profound political convulsion. This amounts to nothing less than the birth of the Second Russian Republic …. But it will be a country in which President Vladimir Putin controls both the political and economic levers of power” (Nov. 5, 2003). Putin has repeatedly called Khodorkovsky a violent criminal and said that he deserves to be imprisoned for many years. But Khodorkovsky’s supporters claim he is being punished for saying that the Kremlin uses its power to manipulate Russia’s judicial system. The latest sentence is widely seen as an indication of Putin’s unwavering power over Russia ahead of 2012’s presidential elections, which he is expected to run in. Putin will not risk the possibility that a liberated Khodorkovsky could help rally his political opponents. The ruling reveals that little has changed under Medvedev’s reign despite his pledges to fortify the independence of Russia’s courts. We can expect Putin to continue ruling and manipulating Russia from behind the scenes until his leadership is official once again.

Africa/Latin America

At least 86 people were killed and over a hundred hospitalized in attacks and fighting between Muslim and Christian youths in Nigeria on December 24. A radical Islamic group Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awatu Wal Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombings. The name has previously been used by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram. The group fought government forces last year as it tried to establish sharia law in the nation.

Venezuela’s national assembly used its last few days in office to grant more powers to President Hugo Chávez. They approved Chávez’s request for the power to pass laws by decree for the next year and a half. They passed a law banning nongovernment organizations such as human rights groups, and political parties from receiving money from outside the country. Another law labels anyone who switches political party a “fraud” and puts him at risk of being disqualified from public office. This law makes it harder for anyone to defect from Chávez’s coalition. Posting a message online that aims to “incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order” or “refuse the legitimately constituted authority” could now land you with a fine or see your website taken down. Television station owners must now be in Venezuela when their station re-applies for a broadcast license. This law appears to be targeted at one of the few news networks in the country critical of Chávez: Globovisión. Its owners are in exile in the U.S. “One has to say it clearly: A new dictatorial model is being imposed in Venezuela,” said Ismael García, a former ally of Chávez who now works with the opposition.

Anglo-America

The U.S. government built up more debt during 2010’s Congress than in the first 100 congresses put together, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury this week. The current Congress, America’s 111th, accumulated $3.22 trillion of debt—$10,439.64 for every American. cns news reports that “the 111th Congress not only has set the record as the most debt-accumulating Congress in U.S. history, but also has outstripped its nearest competitor, the 110th, by an astounding $1.262 trillion in new debt.” Each congress lasts for two years. America continues to jeopardize its future by getting in more debt than it could ever hope to pay back.

Over a quarter of teens and children in the U.S. regularly take prescription drugs, according to the nation’s biggest pharmacy-benefit manager, Medco Health Solutions Inc. Almost 7 percent take two sets of prescription drugs. “Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic,” warns the Wall Street Journal. “There is limited research available about many drugs’ effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines’ impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient’s lifespan are little understood.”

A study commissioned by the Fabian Society found that 45 percent of Britons say that EU membership has been bad for Britain. Only 22 percent said it has been good. The study, conducted by YouGov, will be released next year, though preliminary results are already available. Forty-nine percent said EU nations should loosen the ties between them. Twenty-one percent said they should cooperate more closely, and 9 percent said they have the balance just right. British attitudes continue to harden against Europe. Expect the nation to leave or be kicked out soon.

A senior bishop in the Church of England warned on December 25 that the British legal system now discriminates against Christians. The judiciary, said Michael Scott-Joynt, the bishop of Winchester, goes out of its way to protect sexual minorities at the expense of Christians. He gave the example of a relationship councilor sacked by the charity Relate for refusing to give therapy to a homosexual couple. Also in Britain, two Christians are being sued for not allowing two homosexuals to share a room at their bed and breakfast. The owners do not allow any unmarried couples to share a room. The British government is forcing adoption agencies that won’t place children with same-sex couples to shut down. Britain’s moral slide is becoming more and more obvious.

Sixteen-to-twenty-five-year-olds in the UK without a role model of their gender are 67 percent more likely to be unemployed than their peers, according to a report conducted by YouGov and published by the Princes Trust on December 30. Young people in this position are more likely to commit suicide. Almost one in five without a father figure or role model said they used illegal drugs. Only one in 10 with a male role model said they had. Tragically, one third of the men and almost a quarter of the women said they had no position role models in their lives to look up to. The report highlights the importance of a loving family that provides young people with the support and example of their parents.

The United Church of God and the Evils of 300-Man Rule

The United Church of God and the Evils of 300-Man Rule

iStockphoto

One thing we know about collaborative government—it sure produces lots of division and strife.

Over the past year, the largest offshoot of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, ironically named the United Church of God, has been rocked by internal division and contentious strife—much of it brought on by disgruntled ministers who are unhappy with the way the church is governed. It is also ironic that the church appears to be falling apart after the same manner it first broke away from the wcg in 1995—following a series of secret meetings and mass resignations.

The ucg’s first ministerial conference in May 1995 attracted 150 former elders of the Worldwide Church of God—a veritable who’s who of the wcg hierarchy. Former members of the wcg, fed up with Tkachism, fled for United in droves. Within weeks of its coordinated kickoff, the United Church of God became the largest splinter group to ever break away from the wcg. Approximately 6,000 members attended its first Sabbath service in 1995. By the end of 1996, its worldwide membership had swelled to about 20,000 people. Within seven years of its inception, the church had more than 200 congregations worldwide and well over 300 elders.

From the outset, ucg ministers made no secret of their intent to try out a new approach to government—a bottom-up format where the general assembly of ministers would regularly vote for a council of elders. They even went so far as to use the term home office when referring to the church’s office complex in Arcadia, California, rather than headquarters, which sounds too hierarchical.

The interim council set up in 1995 chose David Hulme, a well-known wcg evangelist and presenter on the World Tomorrow television program, to serve as the church’s first president. After his appointment, Hulme made these candid remarks about the ucg’s “new” government format: “It’s not a hierarchical structure anymore. It’s a collaborative process, and it should be seen as that” (In Transition, May 5, 1995; emphasis mine throughout). He admitted this was a radically different approach to what Mr. Armstrong used, but was convinced that “God’s hand” was behind the establishment of the ucg. The brethren, he said, just needed to give the new government a chance—“give it time,” he said.

As it turns out, Hulme gave it less than three years. After a contentious and protracted struggle with the council of elders, he was removed from office in early 1998 and left the church soon after. “I could no longer support a governance structure that I believe has failed,” Hulme wrote to those who followed him out of the ucg. “I have had to admit that Herbert W. Armstrong was right in Mystery of the Ages, especially Chapter Six, where he describes a proven form of government for the Church.”

It took 20 years of service as a minister in the Worldwide Church of God and three years as president of the United Church of God for Hulme to finally conclude that Mr. Armstrong was right. But instead of searching for a worldwide work that was backed by God’s family government, Hulme opted to start another church—an offshoot of the offshoot.

Rod Meredith is another prominent wcg evangelist who got burned by the “collaborative” scheme. When he broke free from the wcg in 1993 to form the Global Church of God, he claimed to be following in the footsteps of Mr. Armstrong. Yet the very first doctrine he changed was the principle of God’s government that Mr. Armstrong used throughout his ministry.

“If we look into the New Testament with an open mind, we find a totally different approach to government than what has developed in the Church,” Meredith wrote in Church Government and Church Unity. On the most important matter of all, in other words, Mr. Armstrong had it all wrong. The right kind of government, Meredith later wrote in his 1993 booklet, should be “collegial” in form. It should include “a broad representation of all the elders” in the church, he believed.

Five years later, after the church’s board of directors terminated Meredith’s employment at the Global Church of God, he quickly changed his tune on the subject of church governance. After starting another offshoot of the offshoot, Meredith handpicked his board of directors and charged them with the responsibility of advising the president, rather than ruling the church.

It took Mr. Meredith 40 years of service as an evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God and five years as president of Global to figure out that Mr. Armstrong got it right on the principle formation of God’s government in the Church.

Given these much-publicized, embarrassing failures, you would think these men would wonder, Where was God during the three years I served as president of United? Or, Where was God when I founded Global?

Prior to the first ucg conference in 1995, David Hulme said he was “skeptical” that a large group of ministers could ever reach a consensus on church governance. After he came out on top, however, he was convinced that “God’s hand” was behind it.

Rod Meredith was equally sure that God was behind his “collegial” experiment back in 1993. He claimed to be “faithfully preaching” everything Mr. Armstrong taught—assuming, of course, that everything does not include his radically different approach to church government and his rejection of Mr. Armstrong as the end-time type of Elijah (Matthew 17:11).

Today, both Meredith and Hulme head up two spin-offs of wcg offshoots. All totaled, there must be at least 100 offshoots of what once was the Worldwide Church of God.

It makes you wonder: How many failed experiments with collaborative government will it take for former members of the Worldwide Church of God to wake up and figure out where God is working today?

Since firing David Hulme in 1998, the United Church of God has tried out four other presidents. Les McCullough agreed to fill the post for three years after Hulme was ousted. After McCullough’s three-year term expired in 2002, he asked the board for another three years. Instead, it gave him one additional year and then voted to replace him with Roy Holladay in 2002. Three years after that, in 2005, council members gave Holladay the boot and selected Clyde Kilough as his replacement.

Last year, amid swirling controversies about a proposal to move the “home office,” complaints of politicized bloc voting within the general conference of elders and charges of unethical behavior and financial mismanagement aimed at board members, Kilough decided to give up his chair on the council, but continue on serving as president.

Against this backdrop, the council distributed an eight-page heart-to-heart letter to all the elders in the church. In it, board members maintained that God was still leading United, but that the ucg ministry had become deeply divided and the atmosphere in the church had become toxic.

The council wrote, “Due to this negative spiritual incursion into our fellowship, for more than two years we have been forced to focus our church’s time, energy and resources inwardly ….” Later, board members expressed grave concern about the “preservation” of the United Church of God.

The church, we now know, was teetering on the brink of total collapse.

We predicted this would happen way back at the start, when the former wcg ministers gathered themselves together to experiment with a new government format. On May 6, 1995, for example, my father said this about the newly-established United Church: “It absolutely will fail because it’s a new form of government, and not the one that Herbert Armstrong taught us, inspired by God.”

He issued the very same warning in response to Meredith’s collegial experiment in 1993: “You can’t do God’s work without God’s government. Mr. Meredith will have that proved to him by God—since he has shamefully failed to learn that most important lesson of all while he ‘sat at the feet’ of Mr. Armstrong!” (Trumpet, April 1993).

It’s so simple—if you’re submitted to God’s family government. If not, then—as we have seen—history simply repeats itself.

Earlier this year, on April 9, the ucg council of elders terminated Clyde Kilough’s presidency and outlined a new process for selecting a president whereby the general conference of elders would submit nominations to the council. The council would then determine which nominee should be president.

Toward the end of June, the ucg council settled on Dennis Luker as the church’s fifth different president in just 15 years.

Over the past six months, Luker has been desperately working to keep the sinking ucg ship afloat. The worst of it started about the same time Luker was voted in as president. That same week, the council terminated the employment of Leon Walker, who had served as regional coordinator for Latin America. Firing Walker triggered a mass exodus of Spanish-speaking brethren and ministers from the ucg and resulted in the establishment of another offshoot—the Church of God, Latin America.

Incredibly, when responding to the crisis, President Luker pinned the blame for the split on hierarchical government, rather than the collaborative form that has repeatedly failed inside his own church! Walker’s rebellion, Luker wrote in a letter to ucg members,

represents the very reason that hundreds of ministers collectively chose some 15 years ago to embrace and refine the administrative structure that we now have. We have seen the destructive outcomes that “one man rule” in a Church of God organization can wreak, and this current experience in Latin America underscores the reason we changed our model of governance 15 years ago to include safeguards from this happening again.

In looking at the fruits, one would think he would at least acknowledge how destructive 300-man rule has been over the past 15 years. In the six months since the ucg council relieved Mr. Walker of his ministerial duties, at least 100 moreucg elders have either resigned or been removed from the ministry.

That can only mean that many more offshoots are on the way.

Meanwhile, the one organization that actually started the right way—as a tiny mustard seed planted in 1989, without any of the best-known former ministers of the wcg or their many thousands of supporters, but with God’s government—continues to grow and prosper as it fulfills its God-given commission to prophesy again before all the world and to raise up the ruins of a work God established and built through His servant Herbert W. Armstrong.

Next week, we will examine the fruit borne of God’s work on Earth and compare it to the works of the many offshoots. This is the surest way to find the correct answer to the one question every former member of the Worldwide Church of God ought to be asking right now: Where is God?

For as Jesus said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).