As a Christian, a trained animal scientist, and farmer who has owned and managed a flock of sheep for nearly 35 years, I often get a better understanding of the behavior of Christians by careful observation of my flock of sheep.
Effects of Genetics and Environment Upon Behavior
Sheep producers are aware that animal performance is affected by two broad categories of influence, (1) genetics, and (2) environment. The challenges are many, and the primary one is that for a given trait, or performance, there is seldom a clear-cut influence from the two categories. For most behaviors, environmental factors far outweigh any genetic influence.
Humans are not much different. Genetics will usually affect color of eyes, skin and hair, the physical height and other physical characteristics. When someone uses dye to color his or her hair, this is obviously an environmental effect. We often hear that homosexuals “are born that way.” Usually, when we say, “born that way,” we mean that genes from the parents caused a permanent genetic result that cannot be changed. We have a problem explaining how two heterosexuals produced a homosexual child. Environmental influences are more likely the cause of this behavioral trait. The genotype, or profile of the genes as they are combined from the father and mother, are set at conception and do not change from that point forward. In contrast, the environment is constantly changing. Food, water, air, the TV programming, movies, music, and those people with whom we associate, are all environmental factors that can influence our behavior.
We All, Like Sheep, Have Gone Astray
One of the interesting revelations I recently received about that Bible verse saying we have all gone astray is that there are two different ways we can go astray. (1) We can leave the group on our own and go the wrong way, or, (2) we can go astray by following the wrong person or group. While, for many years, I had thought going astray, like a sheep, was leaving a group, BUT now I am convinced that most of us go astray by following the WRONG CROWD and/or following and adhering to some WRONG TEACHING. Ruminate on that for a moment. One word of caution: we must NOT look for some crowd to blame for wrong choices we make as individuals. “The Devil made me do it,” is not a substitute for repentance. Far too often, I hear someone excuse their behavior, or that of another person, because of the fact that they had a poor childhood, and could not recover from some bad influence in their life.
Some Basics of Learning, Leading, and Following
The followlng bullet points outline important things I have learned with my sheep.
- My sheep know my voice
- Sheep have to LEARN my voice
- Sheep will not follow me if their bellies are full
- Older sheep follow me more readily
- Young lambs follow their mothers
- Young adult sheep learn by following older “lead” sheep
- I use salt to get the sheep to follow after I call them
- I don’t call the sheep unless I have the salt
- Sheep following the shepherd, or other sheep is a learned behavior
While some people, just like some sheep, seem to naturally be more gregarious than others, for practical purposes, the behavioral trait of “following,” is LEARNED.
Americans Have Bought into Some Really Big Lies
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. (Colossians 2:8 -HCSB)
There are many, but here a few of the big lies that many American’s have embraced.
- It is important to collect stuff, as much or more than your neighbor. I heard the late Paul Harvey say many years ago, “Isn’t it sad that Americans have become so prosperous that they have more clothes than their closets will hold?”
- Women need to work outside the home in order to help with the “stuff collection.” I remember hearing Hillary Clinton in 1992, in defense of her political activism say, “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas,” And I ask, “Which is worse, messing up a batch of cookies, or messing up batch of countries?
- There should be free education for all children in government schools. Firstly, there ain’t no free education in government schools, just as there ain’t no free lunch, and secondly, look who wrote this idea down in 1848.
- Islam is a religion of peace. Wrong, regardless of who says so, and Sharia Law is totally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. Those who follow Islam use stealth techniques to deceive others. I discovered Islam in public school textbooks more that 30 years ago, presented more thoroughly than Christianity.
- Marxist ideology and Communism have been spreading in America for several decades under the guise of progressive ideology, as in control of private property, spreading the wealth around, excessive government regulation of our lives, and most anything else you can read about in George Orwell’s book, 1984.
- The unborn child has no value unless that baby can be butchered, and it’s body parts sold to the highest bidder.
In addition to the lies, Americans have had several decades in which we have become addicted to entertainment, primarily sports and various forms of visual entertainment provided by machines like movie projectors, television sets, computers, and mobile phones. For those of us who even know what a movie projector is, we can get a fairly clear understanding that this addiction has become, in many cases, an unhealthy use of our time. Most of this entertainment is manufactured, meaning unnatural compared to such activity as hiking, hunting, building things with our hands, growing plants and tending to animals. I am well aware that those who have their eyes glued to a hand-held device for most of their waking hours, would not consider these activities as entertainment.
Summary – Part 1
Behavior is learned, and affected very little by genetics. While we often hear about “quality time,” I agree with a man who said, “quantity is quality,” meaning that is what parents need to understand. Our children spend more waking hours at public schools than they do with their own parents. Whether you like him or not, Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next” (Source) Schools, more than anything else, either directly, or indirectly, have done the most to take us down the wrong path for more than 150 years.