An overview of events and conditions around the world featured in the March/April 2021 issue of Beyond Today.
Biden administration pushes abortion, LGBTQ agenda
With dozens of executive orders and other declarations the new U.S. president, Joe Biden, and his administration are taking the country in a significantly shifted direction—moving farther down the path of immorality and defiance of God.
On Jan. 18, 2021, two days before leaving office, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation concerning the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion (Jan. 22, 1973). Declaring a National Sanctity of Human Life Day, his statement began: “Every human life is a gift to the world. Whether born or unborn, young or old, healthy or sick, every person is made in the holy image of God. The Almighty Creator gives unique talents, beautiful dreams, and a great purpose to every person.” It went on to support awakening America’s conscience, restoring a culture of respect for the sacredness of life and defending the lives of every innocent and unborn child, listing a number of steps that had been taken by the Trump administration to these ends.
The same day a LifeNews story related that Joe Biden would “make abortion a priority on his first day in office. Backed by the pro-abortion lobby, Biden supports killing unborn babies in abortions without restriction and wants to force taxpayers to fund their deaths. Among his first actions . . . Biden will overturn [as he then did] the Mexico City Policy and President Donald Trump’s Protect Life Rule, both of which defunded the abortion chain Planned Parenthood of millions of dollars. The Mexico City Policy, established by President Ronald Reagan, traditionally gets repealed by Democrat presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents. It prohibits taxpayer funding to international aid groups that promote and/or do abortions, including Planned Parenthood’s international arm” (“Joe Biden Will Sign Executive Order on Day 1 Forcing Americans to Fund Planned Parenthood,” Jan. 18). Biden followed through, as expected.
Trump’s proclamation for the Roe v. Wade anniversary was removed and replaced by one declaring, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe.” It avoids specific mention of abortion, instead using code phrases “right to choose” and “reproductive health”—although even in this contorted redefinition of words it’s hard to equate the murder of unborn infants as anything remotely resembling “health.”
It was also announced before the inauguration that “on day one of his presidency, President-elect Joe Biden plans to reinstate Obama-era Title IX regulations ensuring that transgender students are allowed to use the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender identity,” which can be whatever a person claims to feel at the moment (The Blaze, Jan. 19).
In aiming to remove legal recognition of the two sexes, this will also allow biological males referring to themselves as women to compete in women’s sports, knocking actual women out of the competition. Gary Bauer, of the Campaign for Working Families, remarked: “So, the president who is in office largely because he won the women’s vote has just created a regime where your 17-year-old daughter may have to compete against a 17-year-old boy in track and other sports . . . When she loses the competition, she may have to take a shower with him when it’s all over” (“Left Joins Conservatives in Uproar Over Joe Biden’s ‘War on Women,’” Breitbart, Jan. 26).
Biden furthermore removed Trump’s ban on transgender persons from serving in the military. “Ecstatic LGBT activists insist that all government agencies must deny the science of DNA, human genetics, and physiology . . . Military women and athletes deserve respect and fair treatment, but medical issues that detract from deployability and combat readiness are even more important” in terms of military service (“To Insult of U.S. Troops, Biden Administration Adds Forcing Female Soldiers to Shower With Men,” The Federalist, Jan. 26).
In addition, Biden has selected Pennsylvania’s transgender health secretary to, if confirmed by the Senate, become federal assistant secretary of health—as if this is in any way “healthy”!
As part of the direction change, the new president also announced that he was abolishing the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, which was set up to counter deficient and deceptive education about the history and founding principles of the United States. In losing knowledge of the reasons and circumstances of their nation’s founding, Americans are losing their country and becoming something else—which is the intent.
Adding further insult to the nation’s founding in biblical values, we note that while rioters have been burning the American flag, “LGBT activists are cheering Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that he will reverse an order from President Donald Trump and put up ‘pride’ flags at U.S. Embassies around the world” (Breitbart, Feb. 1). Blinken, who also plans to name a special envoy for gay rights, said, “Raising the pride flag is one way to outright show LGBTQ solidarity.” In the words of the pro-homosexuality Outfront magazine, “Biden is the first U.S. president to openly embrace a full range of queer rights, including transgender equality.”
For the underlying truth and biblical perspective on these core matters of life, be sure to read our free study guide Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension.
Iran nuclear deal: Will it sink Mideast peace efforts?
Israeli-Arab peace negotiations conducted by the U.S. presidential administration of Donald Trump achieved some remarkable results. In listing a number of his successes, the Investor’s Business Daily editorial board noted that “thanks almost entirely to Trump’s efforts under the ‘Abraham Accords,’ Israel has normalized diplomatic ties with four Arab League members: Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco. Jordan and Egypt already have ties.
“Terrorist sponsor Iran, meanwhile, has never been more isolated and on the defensive than it is now, thanks to Trump’s pulling out of President Barack Obama’s phony ‘nuclear deal’ with Tehran’s mullahs [“phony” in the sense of still allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons while accessing immense funding, placing America and Israel under grave threat]. And while the terrorist group ISIS still exists, it has effectively been neutered, a shell of its former self, pushed out of nearly all its strongholds in Syria and Iraq” (Issues & Insights, Jan. 21, 2021). ISIS did manage its deadliest suicide bombing in three years in Baghdad just as the new U.S. president, Joe Biden, took office (Reuters, Jan. 21), but it remains a shadow of what it was.
The 2015 nuclear deal had “put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions. Israel strongly opposed the deal, saying it did not include sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It welcomed the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018”—and it has warned Biden against rejoining the former deal even with some changes, as he has said he would seek to do with certain conditions (Associated Press, Jan. 26, 2021).
On Jan. 31, Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged to NBC News it could be only “a matter of weeks” before Iran has sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear weapon, echoing reports from Israel. The previous week “Israel’s chief of staff met with U.S. Central Command leaders and warned that Israel was preparing operational plans for dealing with Iran’s nuclear enrichment program . . . Attempting to stop Iran, however, would entail an extremely high-risk operation—even if the U.S. were on board” (Geopolitical Futures, Feb. 1).
It should be realized that the Trump administration’s strong stance of “maximum pressure” against the Iranian government and its nuclear program was a major factor in drawing Arab countries to seek and build up ties with Israel. These Arab countries, which are predominantly Sunni Muslim, do not want to see a rival nuclear-armed Shiite Muslim Iran dominating the region. If the United States fails to keep Iranian power from expanding—especially in term of nuclear weapons—the peace ties achieved could fall apart, and others who were ready to join in the accords may decide to refrain.
A Heritage Foundation posting of a commentary that originally appeared in The Washington Times gave these key takeaways: “1. If America rejoined the Iran deal as is, Iran would not be held accountable for past cheating and blatant violations of the deal. 2. The process of normalization between the Arab nations and Israel, without the guarantor of U.S. engagement and support in pushing back against Iran, could well die. 3. The Arab nations will likely start hedging against the declining influence of Washington. They will increasingly look to cut deals with China and Russia” (James Carafano and Adam Milstein, “Why Going Back to Iran Nuclear Deal Is Folly,” Jan. 6, 2021).
For a fuller perspective of the underlying problems in the Middle East and where things are eventually headed, be sure to read our free study guide The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
Searching for life on Mars
If all has gone according to plan, three spacecraft that launched in July 2020 will have reached Mars by the time you’re reading this. The missions, from the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates, were all scheduled to arrive at the red planet in February 2021. Two were to land.
The Arab world’s first mission to Mars, to arrive on Feb. 9, “aims to chart a global map of the planet’s climate” across about two years. “It would be humanity’s first such picture of Mars’ atmosphere” (Business Insider, Jan. 27).
Set to arrive the next day was Tianwen-1, China’s first interplanetary mission. It’s intended to be “the first Mars mission to send a spacecraft into orbit, drop a landing platform, and deploy a rover all in one expedition.” The landing is scheduled for May.
America’s spacecraft was to descend through the Martian atmosphere on Feb. 18, landing and deploying NASA’s newest rover, Perseverance. After 30 days the rover is to release the first interplanetary drone, a helicopter called Ingenuity.
Setting down in a crater with an ancient river bed, Perseverance has been tasked with drilling into the Martian soil for signs of alien life. “‘This is the first time in history when NASA has dedicated a mission to what we call astrobiology: the search for life—either maybe now, or ancient life—on another world,’ Jim Bridenstine, who served as the NASA Administrator during the Trump administration, said ahead of the rover’s launch.”
The Chinese rover “is equipped with a radar system that can detect underground pockets of water. It aims to sniff out ancient reservoirs that could harbor life.”
These technological achievements are astounding—yet ignore fundamental wisdom. Scientists are enthusiastic to find any signs of even microbial life beyond the earth to confirm their notion that life is the result of undirected natural processes without the need for intelligent design and creation. They are sorely misguided in this.
It does appear that liquid water once flowed across the Martian surface, but having some suitable conditions for biological life does not mean such life was ever there. There is no reason to believe life will be found on Mars.
On the other hand, what if evidence of microbial life were found? If proven to have not come from the earth, that would certainly be a remarkable discovery. Yet it would say nothing about how such life came to be. It would not prove life arising spontaneously from non-life or evolutionary development. All it would mean is that God created physical life beyond the earth. Of course, we still have no reason to think that He’s done so.
For more on the impossibility of life arising on its own, and the uniqueness of the earth as a habitation for life, request or download our free study guides Life’s Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?