FAQ's

Big Questions

Creation

Q As a fifth-grade Sunday school teacher, how can I teach Genesis 1 without setting up students for conflict when they study science in school and college? I currently teach that God created a glorious creation, but I do not talk about the six days. Is this a proper method or a cop-out?

A We’re glad you emphasize God’s glory in creation! This is a key theme in the Bible that sometimes gets lost in all the controversy.

You’re right, though, that it’s important to prepare students to understand the controversy when they grow older. Young children are not yet able to understand gray areas, so it’s appropriate to simply teach the Bible stories as written; these passages have been used across cultures for thousands of years to teach about God’s glory and the goodness of creation.

By upper elementary, you can begin to teach children about the culture in which Genesis was written. Just as you explain the culture of idol worship in Old Testament times, you can explain that those cultures viewed the physical world very differently than we do today, as a flat earth with a solid-dome sky.  Most people also believed that the earth and sky and sun were all gods that must be worshipped. Ask students to imagine how the Israelites felt to hear that those things actually are not gods, but good things created by Israel’s God, Yahweh.

When students reach middle and high school, they can begin to understand different Christian positions on origins. The Walk With Me curriculum from Faith Alive Christian Resources includes a unit on creation for grades 6-8 (year 3, unit 5), which emphasizes that science and the Bible both teach us about creation and that we should respect different Christian viewpoints on origins. This theme is continued in more depth in the Faith Alive four-session curriculum for high school students called

“Fossils and Faith.” Some parts of these curricula could be adapted to younger grades, depending on the questions your fifth graders have.

—Deborah and Loren Haarsma

Deborah and Loren Haarsma are professors in the Physics and Astronomy department of Calvin College. They are authors of “Speaking of Evolution,” which appeared in the February 2009 Banner and of Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution (Faith Alive).

Health

Q When should a person seek medical attention for chest pains?

A For severe chest pains the answer is now—and to the nearest emergency department. If the pain is not that bad but associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, loss or change in consciousness, or pain in the arm, neck, and jaw the answer is also to go to the ER—now. Call 911. Transport should ideally be by ambulance because the crew is able to give you early oxygen, do an ECG, give drugs as necessary, and monitor for and treat potentially fatal heart rhythms.

Another reason for going quickly is to prevent permanent heart damage (time is muscle), using increasingly sophisticated treatments. For communities that do not have a hospital or local ambulance, still call 911 to determine your best options.

If it turns out not to be your heart, one needs to think of other major problems such as blood clots to the lung, collapsed lung, or aortic aneurysm, as examples. Not all cardiac diagnoses mean you are having “the big one.” A concept of “risk stratification” can be used to determine if you need emergent admission to a coronary unit, a ward bed, or if you can be managed outside the hospital.

Patients with chest pains are not a nuisance in the ER—everyone in the system knows what’s at stake. Delaying your own treatment unnecessarily is seen as foolish.

The ER is not your only option. For minor, temporary chest discomforts, an office visit may be appropriate. If you can speak to your doctor, he or she can guide you further.

No one is able to tell exactly which set of symptoms should trigger a doctor’s visit because people vary so greatly in their symptoms—everyone’s owner’s manual is different. If you have any doubt please check with your doctor or the nearest ER.

—Herman Borkent

Dr. Herman Borkent practices medicine atMisericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.  

Relationships

Q My pastor’s wife is rude to me. How should I handle this?

A The first thing to remember is that

perception is not the same thing as objective truth. For instance, people’s differing character traits and cultural upbringing can lead to very different interpretations of the same behavior. We should be slow to judge and quick to tolerate differences.

Having said that, the possibility always exists that your pastor’s wife seeks to insult and wound you when the opportunity presents itself. Your best approach is to speak to her privately and ask if there is anything you did to upset her. If she gives you a litany of what is wrong with you, listen attentively and mirror back to her what it is that she is saying so you know you have understood her correctly. Do not become defensive. Apologize if your actions or words have been hurtful to her in some way and thank her for her observations. Then end your meeting.

Talk about her observations with a close friend whom you consider to be wise. Ask your friend if she sees the same faults in you that have been expressed by the pastor’s wife. If your friend sees some merit in them, learn from them. If the accusations are vague, however, or completely untrue upon reflection with a friend, ignore them.

 Accept that you may never be the pastor’s wife’s favorite person. Be pleasant and polite if you are thrown together, but for the rest, go on with your life, and accept that you can’t please everyone.

If your pastor’s wife tells you that nothing is wrong, she will likely apologize for having hurt your feelings. Accept her apology, express your relief, and enjoy a good laugh together about the incident.

—Judy Cook

Judy Cook is a family therapist living in Hamilton, Ontario.  She is a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster.

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