Monthly Archives: June 2020

Buddhist, Rohingya and Christian lives matter

Why must I go to alternate media for information about persecution?

(Image of Christian girl, Orissa, India  who was bruised and burnt during the anti Christian violence in Orissa in August 2008. It occurred when a bomb was thrown into her house by extremists; Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black police SUV with the city name "MINNEAPOLIS", and a license plate that reads "POLICE" (some letters are obscured in this frame). One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.(Frame from witness video, showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd‘s neck. Image courtesy Wikipedia).

This article was published in On Line Opinion, 25 June 2020.

There have been 8:46 rallying cries across the USA to coincide with the length of time it was assessed for George Floyd to die on 25 May 2020. Others conclude it took 7 minutes 46 seconds.

The police officer, alleged perpetrator of the crime, Derek Chauvin, has been sacked from the police force. However, Floyd’s death has propelled rallies for ‘Black lives matter’ across the world – in the USA, Great Britain, across Europe, Australia, and in other countries.

This Rohingya crisis caught media attention.

I honestly support these protesters and their reasons. A policeman killing a man by putting so much pressure on his neck he could not breathe, if convicted, should be called a murderer.

However, there are other situations as serious that have had some mass and social media coverage. In recent years, mass media outlets have reported on the persecution of the minority sect that Rohingya Muslims have been persecuted in Myanmar (Burma) and have fled to Bangladesh.

BBC News (23 January 2020) gave details on the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.

(Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017; Image courtesy Wikipedia)

‘The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered measures to prevent the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (formerly Burma)….

Thousands of Rohingya died and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh during an army crackdown in 2017.

UN investigators have warned that genocidal actions could recur.

How have Myanmar people responded?

Tun Khin tweeted the ICJ ruling was ‘a crucial moment for Rohingya justice, and vindication for those of us who have lived through this genocide for decades’. He is the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK and continued:

‘The court’s decision clearly shows that it takes the allegations of genocide seriously, and that Myanmar’s hollow attempts to deny these have fallen on deaf ears’ (BBC News).

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the ICJ decision ‘sent a message that the world would not tolerate Myanmar’s “atrocities”’.

The extent of Rohingya sprawling camps near the Bangladesh border for those fleeing Myanmar’s violence has been captured by a camera on a drone (BBC News 2017).

The Australian Government has explained its position but it hasn’t been updated since 14 June 2018. The Sydney Morning Herald (2017) reported: ‘Australia must act on Rohingya genocide’ which relates how ‘Almas saw her seven children and husband murdered during a wave of massacres in Myanmar. She and thousands of other survivors now face new threats as they languish in refugee camps’. ABC News, Brisbane Qld, ‘Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocide, says Rohingya Muslims caught up in armed internal conflict’.

Why don’t the people take to the streets with this slogan: ‘Rohingya Muslim lives matter’?

Why do I need to go to alternate media for other deaths?

George Floyd’s death is in the news, and rightly so. Have you heard much on the following?

Release International Voice reported on Indian Christian believers who were ‘taunted, beaten and forced to pose “like Christ on the cross” in police custody when extremists accused them of “forced conversion”’.

‘Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam and four others were arrested after 30 Hindu extremists broke up their Sunday service in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh’. Australian mainstream media gives this persecution a flick pass as it doesn’t seem to have the worldwide implications of a George Floyd murder.

Why haven’t we heard a media campaign, ‘Indian teens’ lives matter’, following the death of a 16-year-old by stabbing and stoning? What was his crime? He was a Christian and wouldn’t renounce his faith. What was the crime he committed?

If it were not for alternate news’ sources I would not know of this persecution to death by Hindu extremists.

He refused to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ. Where were Australia’s news outlets to report this with catchphrases such as, ‘Indian Christian lives matter’?

It’s time for the ABC, SBS, Fox News, Sky News, Channels 7, 9, and 10 to wake up to international news’ responsibilities. I commend The Guardian Australia edition for reporting in February 2020 on the Australian ambassador’s meeting with the Myanmar military chief who was accused of Rohingya genocide. ‘Human Rights Watch has said Australia’s decision to take the meeting risked giving legitimacy and credibility to a military accused of mass atrocities’.

Other Australian news sources may have given limited coverage to some of the examples which follow. However, as a regular news reader and watcher, I have not seen any kind of uprising like ‘black lives matter’ in association with the deaths of other ethnic minorities – except Rohingya Muslims.

According to The Gulf News (01 March 2020) in Pakistan, 22-year-old Saleem Masih was ‘tortured to death for taking a dip in a village tube well in Pakistan, his fault was that he was a Christian’ and ‘polluted’ the water he bathed in.

Masih’s father said Saleem claimed the men who attacked, abused and cursed him did it because he was a ‘filthy Christian’. Social media users were furious about Saleem’s treatment and spread the word through #JusticeForSaleemMasih. ‘Pakistani Christian lives matter’.

The Buddhist minority in Vietnam has been under threat for decades in fear of persecution. At the Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum in Hsinchu City in June 2018, Vo Tran Nhat, executive secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, a nongovernmental organisation founded in Paris in 1975, explained his views as a non-religious person: ‘He cares a great deal about the Buddhists and minority Christians, who raise their voices against oppression and injustice. If Buddhists lose their religion, Vietnam would lose its “soul,” he warned’.

What has Australia’s main-stream media reported about these situations?

There are many other examples that the mass media choose to ignore. I’m thinking of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who maintains his allegiance to Jesus in spite of suffering unemployment, persecution from Muslim family members, and homelessness.

An Egyptian woman is another case in point. She was kidnapped by extremists, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man. It is exceedingly difficult to bring such women back home to a normal life when they live in an honour-shame culture.

In April 2020, a Christian pastor, his wife and 15-year-old son were attacked by a Muslim neighbour in Pakistan. They were severely injured by machetes, sticks and pistols and they were treated in hospital. The case was reported to a local police station. Pakistani Christians face severe maltreatment. Often it comes from family members, radical Islamic groups, and even the government.

North Korea is a closed country and distribution of unapproved literature is a capital offence that could lead to forced labour or execution.

However, in 2014 Natasha Moore from the Centre for Public Christianity (a Christian organisation) published an opinion piece for the ABC’s, The Drum, Why don’t we hear about persecuted Christians? She gave an example of ‘the plight of Mosul’s Christians [that] has been noted by a growing number of news outlets, from The Independent to The New York Times. It has broken the surface of the international news cycle in a way that other atrocities – the fire-bombing of churches in Nigeria, the summary execution of North Koreans caught with Bibles – have not’. She does not consider the media were covering up the global persecution, but it reveals the media’s blind spots. As an example of the seriousness of the situation, she stated that Christians were persecuted in139 countries and about four or five acts of religious discrimination are against Christians.

Countries that were moderately secular and are now ‘avowedly secular’ have stepped up their hostility towards Christians. Turkey and Egypt join with post-communist, Islamic and some South Asian countries, Moore wrote. She referred authors to the 2008 book, Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Paul Marshall et. al.).

Farce of injustice by media

I find it to be a pretence against fair journalism when the media can so promote ‘Black lives matter’ when we have examples of Buddhist lives matter, Rohingya Muslim lives matter, and Christian lives matter around the world.

When will we see major, objective reporting on the Christian, Buddhist, Rohingya and other persecutions?

(Image courtesy fssx.news. An 11-year-old Christian child was beaten to death by his Muslim employer on July 11, 2019, in Faisalabad, in northeastern Pakistan.)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 June 2020.

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Pornography: “One day you’ll beat it”

Conquering porn addiction

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Sadly, the title of this article is a typical response from those who have not been therapists and had to deal with tough cases, especially when helping those with a desire for more and more porn. Many Christians take this approach. My experience is that these people who love the Lord don’t know practical ways to help the person battling pornographic addiction.

My experience as a long-term therapist is that most people are out of their depths in offering practical help to those battling addiction, including pornography.

So, they brush it aside with unhelpful slogans like the title to this article. This is an unsupportive response as it prevents the person from travelling down the road to recovery. In counselling, I’ve heard people tell me that their friends say: ‘Hang in there mate. You’ll get over it one day. You’ll grow up and become a man who doesn’t need that kind of sexual junk’.

None of these clichés is a caring response like: ‘I’ve never had that problem, but I’ll seek some ways to find you help. It might mean going to a counsellor’.

1. Fundamental principles

With any of the emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, addiction, anger, worry, procrastination, and smoking, people tend to think that something causes the emotion: e.g.

  • ‘I’m anxious about swimming in the ocean when large sharks have been seen in the water’.
  • ‘My wife has left me and got into bed with a close friend’, so that has made me deeply depressed.
  • ‘Watching that porn on my Tablet has caused me to go back and back to watch porn and become addicted. I don’t know how to get this out of my mind’.
  • ‘I smoke because it relaxes me after a hard day at work’.

2. A basic approach

With all of the emotional disorders, I use Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). It’s a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Some of its core principles include:

· ‘For as people calculate in their souls, so are they’ (plural from footnote in Prov 23:7 ESV). ‘What he thinks is what he really is’ (GNT).[1]

clip_image002(Image courtesy Pinterest)

Albert Ellis, founder of REBT, often quoted the Greek philosopher, Epictetus who taught the same kind of thing: ‘Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them’ (The Enchiridion §5).

clip_image004(Image courtesy Inspirational Quotes)

Both statements from the Bible and Epictetus agree with the fundamental of short-term REBT. Large sharks in the ocean cannot make anyone anxious. A wife committing adultery is not the cause of deep depression by the husband. Watching porn on a Tablet cannot cause anxiety about its danger and possible addiction.

How come? Things do not cause emotional disturbance. It’s our view of things (thoughts or beliefs about them) that bring on emotional issues.

You might find it hard to believe that this works. Research has confirmed the effectiveness of REBT with children and youth.

2.1 Practical ways to deal with pornography

clip_image006Block every porn site on your PC, phone, Tablet and any other electronic device you access. If you don’t know how to do this, check it out with an IT geek.

If you try to get around this by using tricky ways to find other sites, you are not being honest with your thoughts for seeking help. Why are you doing this when you know pornography is harmful to you and your relationships?

clip_image006[1]That’s only the first step to deal with what your mind is doing. Here is a biblical and cognitive-behavioural way to overcome the problem. It will mean discipline by you and accountability to one other person who is serious about helping you. He or she can ask you nearly every day how your thoughts are changing. You have to be 100% honest with him or her.

Guidelines for the accountability person are in ‘Job description for accountability partner’ in the agreement below: ‘COMMITMENT TO CONTROL MY USE OF PORNOGRAPHY (contract)’.

clip_image006[2]Unless you conquer your porn addiction, you will take it into your marriage and your spouse will never be able to perform according to the porn actresses or actors.

2.2 The ABCDEF model to conquer porn addiction

This is the ABCD model[2] of dealing with your emotions and pornography involves your emotions.

A    Activating event for your anxiety (watching porn online or wherever);

B    Beliefs about addiction and why you need to watch porn.

Remember, it is not the porn itself that causes you to go back again and again and to repeat it in your thought world. Porn has no power to make you an addict.

Something else does have that power. These are your thoughts about porn. You’ll need to fill these in, but many addicts believe …

clip_image008 I MUST view porn to bring satisfaction in masturbation.

clip_image010 I MUST use porn techniques in the sexual relationship; otherwise it will lack satisfaction;

clip_image012 My mates will think I am weak if I’m not into exciting pornography. They get sexual excitement that way and I need their approval.

clip_image014 I’m depriving myself if I flunk the porn test with friends.

What are your beliefs or thoughts about why you need to go back to porn, over and over?

2.3 Three MUSTs in your thinking

In this form of therapy, there generally are 3 basic MUSTs in your thinking. Applied to pornography, they are:

clip_image016I must do well and win others’ approval (especially with the person who introduced me to porn) by continuing this addiction, otherwise I’m no good.

clip_image018Others must treat me fairly and kindly and in the same way I want them to treat me – even though I’m battling pornography. If they do not treat me this way, they are not good people and deserve to be punished.

clip_image020I must always get what I want, when I want it. I must beat porn addiction NOW. Also, I must never get what I don’t want. If I don’t get what I want (instant stopping of porn), I’m miserable. It’s awful when I can’t conquer the urge to watch and think about porn images.

  • If you don’t obtain MUST #1 you’ll probably feel anxious, depressed and perhaps guilty.
  • If you don’t achieve MUST #2, you are most likely to feel angry and act aggressively.
  • If MUST #3 is not fulfilled, you may procrastinate and feel self-pity.

Therefore, the key to dealing with porn is to change the thought patterns in the 3 MUSTs. Remember, things such as porn do not cause addiction. Your thoughts about porn DO.

clip_image022(Image courtesy Pinterest)

C    Consequences: emotions and behaviours associated with porn addiction.

Effects of thinking include emotions, behaviours and other thoughts. The behaviours for the person with problems with porn are the regular desire to pursue thoughts about current porn or porn seen in the past.

D    Debate the beliefs at B.

  • How rational is it that you MUST bring porn into your mind when you masturbate? (Can I presume you masturbate? Most males do.)
  • How will you expect your spouse to perform in sex to compete with the sex actresses? What about you in comparison with the male actors?

Here are some helpful questions to help you dispute/debate the irrational beliefs at B:

flamin-arrow-small “Where is holding on to this belief getting me?

flamin-arrow-small “Is the belief helpful, or is it self-defeating?

flamin-arrow-small “What do I get out of while holding on to this belief?

flamin-arrow-small “Where is the evidence to support my belief?

flamin-arrow-small Is my belief consistent with actuality?

flamin-arrow-small “Is my belief rigid or flexible?

flamin-arrow-small “What’s another way I could look at this?

flamin-arrow-small “What other helpful belief can I use to replace this unhelpful belief?”[3]

E    Effective new thoughts replace old beliefs at B.

  • For the Christian, Philippians 4:8 (ERV) is a key in beating all kinds of anxiety, depression or addiction: ‘Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected’.
  • You will be successful in getting porn out of your thinking if you change (by your choice) your thinking to what is good, worthy of praise, true, honourable, right and pure, beautiful and respected.
  • Who will hold you accountable for putting off the old beliefs and putting on the new?

F New Feelings

I will make sensible decisions about pornography. I will not beat myself and have anxiety if I relapse for a time or two. I accept that battling temptation is a normal part of the Christian life.

So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure (James 4:7-8 ERV).

The difference between Christians and non-Christians who battle with pornography is that Christians know they battle on two fronts: (1) Against their irrational and ungodly thoughts, and (2) Against the devil, whom they must name and resist him. He will not give up easily in dragging you down.

To better understand the REBT model of cognitive-behavioural therapy for various counselling issues, I recommend Dr. Michael R Edelstein and Dr. David Ramsay Steele, Three Minute Therapy (lulu.com 2019).

3. How to be an effective accountability person

See the contract below for details:

COMMITMENT TO CONTROL MY USE OF PORNOGRAPHY (contract)

Because I care for myself, my family and others, I (write name), …………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………

commit myself to do the following things to control my use of pornography:

1. Block every pornographic site on whichever device I use to access the Internet or magazines.

2. Accountability to one person with whom I’ll be 100% honest about my use and images of porn.

3. To pursue the biblical therapy of, ‘For as people calculate in their souls, so are they’ (Prov 23:7 ESV). This is fleshed out in a REBT model of therapy (Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy), i.e. your actions will be determined by what you think about an issue.

4. Effective new feelings will come when you practise biblical thinking, ‘Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected (Phil 4:8 ERV).

1. Accountability

I agree to the following person to hold me accountable to check on the above actions once per week:

(1) Name: …………….……………………………………………………………………………………………

Address: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Phone & email contact: ………………………………………………………………………………………….

2. Job description for accountability partner

(a) Ask the porn user what his/her thoughts have been since you last saw him/her.

(b) How much porn has he/she watched?

(c) What anxiety has he/she experienced from porn use?

(d) What did he/she do about the anxiety?

(e) Make sure you understand that what people think they become (Proverbs 23:7).

(f) Therefore, how is the porn user practising the ABCDEF model of therapy? You need to be clued up on this approach to cognitive-behavioural therapy. It’s a short-term method of therapy.

(g) Make sure to ask the user what he/she is finding the toughest area in which to change. Help the person in this area by using the ABCDEF model.

Often people have problems with identification of Beliefs. Some say to themselves: ‘I must never have a single relapse. Since I had a relapse that proves I’m powerless to beat this. Or, I must get these images out of my mind immediately or by the end of the month, otherwise I’m a failure’.

At D you will debate these statements with the user: Why must I not have a relapse? Where is the evidence for that? What evidence is written in God’s laws of the universe as to how long it will take for you to gain self-control of your porn? We know that one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control and that means as you grow in your Christian faith, the Holy Spirit will help you gain control (Gal. 5:22-23).

What Effective new thinking is needed? As long as you are a person, you will battle with your sinful nature (Gal. 6:1-5; 1 John 1:8-9). The Scriptures have given plenty of techniques on how to deal with sin.

In putting Philippians 4:8 (ERV) into practice, what has been your thinking in these areas?

‘Continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected’.

To change your thinking, these questions need to be answered in regard to things that have no relationship to thinking on porn:

  • What good thoughts have replaced the porn thoughts?
  • What are you praising God for, instead of thinking on porn images?
  • What are truthful and honourable things in your circumstances? What have you said to yourself about these?
  • What thoughts have you had about what is right?
  • What beauty surrounds you? What have you thought about this?

Remember to pray with the person being healed from porn involvement: ‘Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16 NIV).

3. Porn user’s commitment

I will be absolutely honest, co-operative and share to the best of my ability with my accountability persons I will do this for the benefit of:

1 .……………………………………………………………………..…….……………………..……..…………………..

2 .……………………………………………………..…………………..….…………………………..…………………..

3. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I understand that my behaviour has not happened suddenly and that the turn-around may take some time to correct. I commit myself to attend a minimum of 6 counselling sessions. I will not participate in anything dangerous or illegal.

Name of client: …………………………….……………………………….……………………………..

Signature of client: ……………………………………………………………………………………….

Date: …………………..…………..…….…

Name of accountability person: ………………………………………………….……………………………………………………….……….

Signature of accountability person: ………………………………………….……..

Date: …………………………….………


Notes

[1] Good News Translation.

[2] It was originally developed by psychologist, Albert Ellis (Wikipedia 2020. s.v. Albert Ellis).

[3] These questions are from The Liberation Place n.d. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: Disputing Irrational Beliefs (online). Available at: http://www.theliberationplace.com/images/PDF/Session-2.pdf (Accessed 11 June 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 June 2020.

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