Monday, May 25, 2009

My Answers to Five Questions

A friend of mine recently wrote down five questions that he'd like asked, and I thought that that would be a great way to break from my long hiatus from my blog and so took it upon myself to answer these five questions as thoroughly and accurately as I new how. I hope you guys enjoy what I had to say and the evidence that I provide is both thought provoking and satisfying. The original questions of the article written are in red while my responses are in black.

Something that I have been thinking about latelyare the gray areas of life. What I mean are the areas that the Bible takes stances for or against, but then we, in our human knowledge, begin to wonder where that line ends.

As Christians we simply allow the “line to end” wherever the Bible allows it, and in these areas specified below I hope to help everyone reading this to see what the Bible does and does not say about these topics and hopefully help create a better understanding of the arguments and issues at hand.

Below are some of these areas and if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to share. I want to challenge my thoughts and beliefs to grow closer to a Biblical understanding on these topics.

Challenging your own ideas on certain things is indeed a great way to learn and understand the issues at hand and what the Bible as to say about them, and as I write what my thoughts are on these issues and what the Bible has to say, please understand that everything that I say is said with the utmost respect and with the love of Christ.

1) Abortion: Christians are typically anti-abortion, however my question is this – what about incest and rape? Is abortion okay in those instances or is it not okay? Why or why not? (Another question presented by a friend: What if the life of the mother is in danger if the child is born or the life of the child is in danger if the mother gives birth?)

These old canards are nothing new and have been dealt with by the Christian and scientific community many times over, but there are many people out there determined to stick to their own ideals and not let go of them to push a hidden agenda instead of accepting facts as facts and letting the matter drop. But in order to answer these questions we must first tackle why it is Christians believe abortion to be wrong, and then address the issues that have been brought up here.

First we as Christians firmly believe that it is wrong to murder as God had commanded us in Exodus 20:13, the Hebrew word murder here being râtsach (רצח) which literally means to slay or kill an innocent human life, so in order for this to hold any ground, Christian then need to assert that an unborn life is a human life and thus an abortion is in fact murder. Here are what some abortion advocates have to say to that:

"I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus." - Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood in a 1997 interview in Ms. Magazine.

"Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life...we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death." - Naomi Wolf, a prominent feminist author and abortion supporter

When looking at these statements it is easy for the pro-choice camp to argue that these are merely referring to the fetus, which is not in fact a human, and that a human life is not formed at conception. For that, we go to the most authoritative embryology and prenatal development books out there to see if this is really indeed the case:

"Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

"A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)."

Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

"[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being."

Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008. p. 2.

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."

Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

"The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual's unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated."

In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005.

These are just a few of the many resources I have access to, but for the sake of your time and the space available here, I limited it to these few, but the message is made clear by them. Human life begins when conception occurs within the mother, but, for the hardcore skeptic, here are a few more professional testimonies that you may want to read and see what even many abortion advocates have said on the issue:

"When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists."

C. Christopher Hook, M.D.
Oncologist, Mayo Clinic, Director of Ethics Education, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine

"Science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man."

Jerome Lejeune, M.D., Ph.D.

In 1981, a United States Senate judiciary subcommittee received the following testimony from a collection of medical experts (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981):

"It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth
Harvard University Medical School

"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception."

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni
Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania

"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion...it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."

Dr. Jerome LeJeune
Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes

"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."

Professor Hymie Gordon
Mayo Clinic

"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception."

Dr. Watson A. Bowes
University of Colorado Medical School

All of these testimonies are completely in line with what the Bible hints at towards Gods attitude towards unborn life:

Jer 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Psa 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

Psa 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psa 139:15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Psa 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Exo 21:22 "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.

Exo 21:23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,

Exo 21:24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

Exo 21:25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

So we see that God makes plans for those not yet born (Jer), that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image in conception (Psa), and that He had strictly penalized one who killed a pregnant mother’s child with death (Exo). These strongly imply that God views inborn life in the same as he does born life.

So now we’ve built a nice strong case in opposition to abortion both scientifically and biblically, but what about if the mother is raped, or the child is the product of incest (does this even happen anymore?)? What are we to do now? It seems cruel to make a mother carry to term a baby that she didn’t want and had no say in the process of making the baby. So how are we as Christian to respond?

First of all it is important to note that this argument is one specifically built to create the worst possible case scenario and force the person being asked the question to get emotional in their response, and this is called the fallacy of argument from pity. It’s also important to note that rape/incest (really?) cases only account for less than three percent of all abortion cases, the rest simply being girls who couldn’t keep their legs shut and didn’t like what inevitably resulted.

But to prove a certain point, let’s add to this argument and see where it leads us. Let’s say the mother decided to not only carry the baby to term but also raise the child herself. As time progresses, the boy grows to the age of five and she decides that he has become too much of a burden to her, and looks too much like his father and this haunts her, so would it be permissible to then kill the child? Of course not, but the argument is still the same. The child was brought on by rape, and is too emotionally hard for the mother to take, so why not let her kill her son? It’s because the argument has nothing to do with the rape aspect, but the birth aspect, as in where the child is when it’s killed, in or outside the womb.

So, to end on the point of rape and abortion, here is the testimony of a young lady who was raped and chose to keep her child as written in an email to Abort73.com:

I am the single mother of a beautiful, fun-loving, bright young woman of 16 years of age. This Easter we celebrated the 17th anniversary of her conception. Raped by an acquaintance, my first consideration was abortion even though I had spoken out against it all my life... I considered abortion until I [determined it wasn't] the right thing. I perused adoption and chose parents to give my baby to. I changed my mind and chose motherhood. I have provided, educated, clothed, fed, nursed, counseled, encouraged, and loved with all my heart the daughter of a man who violated the last virtue I was cherishing, my virginity... When interviewed about my experience several years ago, I was asked what I would a tell a young woman contemplating an abortion. After some careful consideration and a determination never to water down the truth I replied, "It is the hardest thing in the world to choose what you know is right. Being a single parent is no more easy than living with the haunting memory of aborting your child. No matter how hard you wish, either way your life will never be the same. Both have their pains and their struggles, however, only one choice afforded me a profound peace... Never have we been in want. Never have I regretted my choice. The scars of my experience have been healed... we show no signs of lack nor neglect...

Just for the record, I have to assume that as incest always finds itself tied in with the rape argument, then so it should fittingly be tied in with the rape response, and so I will not bother to write another complete response to incest as the previous response should satisfy.

Now, for the hardest part of the question, what if the baby is a danger to the mother and if she does not the abortion, then both the baby and the mother will die. Before answering this, it is important to note that this occurs about one tenth of one percent of all abortion cases.

Ultimately, it makes sense that the mother need not die and have an abortion if both her and her child are going to die should she not. This is a rarity in which an abortion would be morally permissible, even though it may not be pleasant. We should not condemn a woman for saving her life instead of throwing it away needlessly. If there is a risk factor and death is not guaranteed, then the parents should pray for wisdom from the One who knows all and then decide accordingly.

In closing, it is most important to note that abortion is not unforgivable. If you are a woman who has had an abortion, and are struggling with your decision, I would encourage you to bring it before God and let Him handle it. He is not above forgiving you, and to maybe encourage you, here is the testimony of a woman who did just that:

In regard to the person who wrote that they were offended about your use of the term “baby killers”. This person was concerned about the offense someone might take who had an abortion. I am such a person. I killed my first child. B.P. said “This sort of ignorant propaganda is the type that encourages people to stand outside abortion clinics and tear into the poor women who have been forced to make this terrible choice.” I wish someone had been standing outside with such “propaganda” when I went into the abortion clinic. My child would now be 21 years old. But the fact is that I am a murderer. And the greater fact is that I can have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven, not because of what I’ve done, but in spite of what I’ve done. Though I shed innocent blood, His blood was shed for me. While I was His enemy—Christ died for me. We are truly trophies of His grace. And like King David, I will one day be able to see that child in heaven!!– God’s mercy is so great!

Kaitlyn MacMillan
USA

2) Violence: One of the more controversial topics since not all Christians agree on what exactly the Biblical stance is, but here we go anyway. For pacifists – How can we read in the New Testament “love your enemies” yet look in the Old Testament and see that God caused the Flood (a violent act since it ended the life of many) and read about the killing God commanded? For non-pacifists – How can you “love your enemy” and “love your neighbor” yet still kill them? How do we rationalize, in eitherpoint of view,mercy killing and assisted suicide?

Well, I for one am not a pacifist, but I find it interesting that the writer implies or asserts that non-pacifists are all for killing our enemies. This is ridiculous to say the least, and ultimately has nothing to do with not being a pacifist, but more to do with being, well, a murderer or sadist. It is important to realize that the non-pacifist position really has no organized set of beliefs like pacifism does, and so no one person can speak for all non-pacifists. And instead of making a case as to why pacifism is not biblically supported here, I am instead going to just present my personal view and create a whole new blog post later providing evidence against the biblical argument for pacifism, not pacifism itself, and it will deal with how Christians should view violence, the death penalty, and war, since these all seem to somehow tie into pacifist idealism.

Keep in mind that non-pacifists do not delight in violence or killing, but simply view it as sometimes being a necessary yet un-pleasurable means to a favorable end. If a man is attacked, no person that I know, minus pacifists, would look on it and condemn the man should he decide to defend himself and his own life even at the risk of the life of his assailant. If I were watching on and could identify who the assailant was, I’d “love my neighbor” by helping keeping him safe, even if his assailant has to be carried away in a body bag. And despite what some believe, there is no real biblical evidence that would put me and the man in the wrong for defending against this assailant. And if a woman or child were ever to be in similar danger, the my efforts to defend them would multiply, even if it means the assailant loses his life. He made the choice to threaten the life of another, and as such has thrown away his own right to life. Is this unloving towards that person? Not really. He made a choice and I am lovingly giving him what he justly deserves.

As far as mercy killing and assisted suicide, well, assisted suicide is not loving but instead aiding in a person’s cowardess and aiding in the intentional ending of a promising human life. Now as for a mercy killing, something different can be said. Instead of allowing one to suffer in agony, it is often thought of as being merciful to end that person’s life suddenly, so as not to permit suffering. This is why hanging is no longer considered a humane method of carrying out the death penalty, and why there are certain laws that regulate international interrogation so as to protect a person from things like torture or persecution. Killing someone in irreversible and deadly pain is merely preventing that person from suffering in their final moments, which, in my personal view, is loving.

3) Political Patriotism – I’m writing this post on Memorial Day, not a day typically set up for a Biblical understanding to life, it’s more about America and America’s military, and that’s exactly why I brought it up. We in America get consumed by the pro-America holidays (Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the biggest one Independence Day), but how are we, as Christains, suppose to respond to those days? I know I enjoy watching the fireworks (I more enjoy lighting them and then watching them) on July 4, but should we participate at all?Howshould our allegiance to the Biblical Kingdom interact with the kingdoms of this world?

I find it hard to equate honoring those who have died for our country as something that is a statement of our allegiance to our country over our allegiance to our God, or celebrating the day our country became free. These are truly things to celebrate, as they honor not only those who have died for us in the past, but also what they died for. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Romans 3:1-7 says:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

So on these days, we are paying the respect and honor that is well deserved by those who fought for our country and gave us the rights and privileges we have now.

4) Easter – Okay, now for some more controversy. Easter is one of the two most important holidays for the Christain religion, but some the fun Easter activities for kids are not in the Bible (Ex: Easter Egg Hunts, the whole Easter bunny thing, etc.). I love the Biblical Easter, but how do we look at Easter and not see all the non-Biblical Easter stuff that comes with it?

I agree with what a friend of mine said in regards to this and am thus going to quote him for it to lighten my load a bit:

“…As for holidays, I can't help but think of Colossians 2 where it speaks of festivals, that we should not let anyone pass judgment on us based on a festival (amongst other things). In the context, this would speak much more ... Read Morespecifically to religious ceremonies related to our religion rather than the religion of others or non-religious festivals/holidays (covering the bases for both those who view patriotism as religious expression, and those who don't). Therefore, I think we should be careful calling into question the ethics of much surrounding Easter. I think that even if many of the modern Easter traditions are pagan in origin (they are), they can still be redeemed…”

5)Austin Powers vs. Pearl Harbor- The Bible is pretty clear to stay away from sinning and for a lot of people sex (and all of it’s not so wonderful baggage) is where that gets a little weary. For that group, sex issomething to stay away from, but what about violence? We try to avoid movies and games with sex in them, but what about movies and games that have a lot of violence in them? We can play Halo in multi-player and kill each other, but aren’t we, in a way, taking out some kind of aggression toward one another? What about art like the statue of David and the Sistine Chapel in Italy… how are those different than the nudity in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? (This point was also brought up by a friend, but it made me start to think about it as well.)

This seems to confuse the effects that sex in a movie has with the effects that violence in a movie has. Is sex wrong? No, not really, unless it is premarital. Is viewing sex wrong? Yes. Is violence wrong? Yes, unless it’s justified. Is the viewing of violence wrong? No, it is not, and here is why.

Viewing sex causes the viewer to lust after the persons and events occurring in the movie, which is wrong. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So therefore the viewing of anything that causes us to lust is wrong. Philippians 4:8 says Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, and porn or any kind of sexual interaction in a movie does not fit this bill.

Now what kind of effect does violence have on us? Does it impress upon us the unrestrained desire to go commit violence? No, I have never heard of such a case. Regardless of what the media may say, video games, movies, or any other form of entertainment that presents violence has never and can never be tied in with the violent acts of human beings. So there really is no correlation between violence in movies and sex in movies. One merely uses their own discretion in what they feel appropriate for themselves to watch and what they can enjoy when it comes to violence, and children are to obey their parents if they decide a movie is too violent for them, but sexual interactions in a movie are sinful in themselves and aid in the committing a sin of others, and are thus a stumbling block, and thus immoral and sinful.

These are the topics that I have questions about and would love to engage in conversation about. What are your thoughts?

Those are my personal thoughts, and like I said more will be written about on the question concerning pacifism dealing with whether or not the Bible really does take the stance that pacifism is the only right idealism for living. I hope you learned a little something, and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. Thank you very much.


1 comment:

indianforever05 said...

Your responses to these questions are very well written and researched. I will have to read through this post one more time prior to responding with any questions that I may have (and I look forward to doing just that).

Keep up the good work and I look forward your post on pacifism.