Friday, January 28, 2011

Abortion: Biblical View and Essay Conclusion

Evidence proves that abortion is murder, and if murder, then it is undoubtedly despicable to God. The clearest passage in the Bible simply states “you shall not murder”. (Exodus 20:13) That should be enough for us to base our argument on, knowing that whatever method of abortion, through murder we are breaking a clear commandment of the Lord. Isaiah 1:15 reveals a more frightening thought to what God does to such people: “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” We also learn from Proverbs 6:17 that the Lord hates “hands that shed innocent blood”. Aborted babies are the innocent whose blood is being shed. Additionally, God says that this is something wicked people love, as “Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways”. (Isaiah 59:7)

Millions of children are killed by abortion daily. Euthanasia for the weak, infirm, and aging is becoming more rampant. And if we ignore these issues, they will continue to grow. Our nation has become like Nazi Germany, in a more “admirable” form. Instead of torturing the people in concentration camps, we simply dispose of the unwanted ones or the ones with potential problems to our society before they are born. Or if their life quality goes down after having a stroke, going into a coma, or surviving an accident that produces brain death, we let them die “naturally” by refusing to feed them or care for them. The terminology sounds good, the logic makes sense, and we have senselessly bought into the lies about when life begins and when it should end. In both abortion and euthanasia circumstances, man feels like he has the right to play God—to choose who lives and who dies. But whether the circumstance involves organ donation, quality of life, the right to death, personhood, or special abortion cases, we need to seek Scripture for a biblical response. They are important for us to speak in to and to stand against, because if the Christians don’t stand against the evil in our culture, who will? We must be willing to do whatever is necessary to hold firm to the truth that life is precious in God’s sight, and that we never have the authority to choose who should live and who should die. God alone governs life, and is the only one with the power and authority to determine when that life should begin and end.

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As you can see, I take a strong stand for life, and I hope that through reading this that you are encouraged to do the same!

Katie

Monday, January 24, 2011

Abortion: Special Cases

In every argument, opponents contrive the most extreme examples and question to see how you’ll defend your argument consistently in such a circumstance. Such is the case with abortion; people want to know if we’ll still support no abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or difficult pregnancies. In the complex circumstances of rape and incest we must determine a clear, biblical solution. Despite the terrible realities of rape or incest, there is never justification for destroying life. Many argue that the mother should not have to deal with the trauma and consequence of carrying a child she did not want, but the truth is that she makes the child out to be a victim as well by choosing to abort the baby. While the circumstance may be difficult, the ends do not justify the means. If the mother was diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease and needs to undergo immediate radiation or treatment, it is often advised that she abort the baby because it will likely die. The Association of Pro-Life Physicians site suggests that “The necessary medication may injure or kill the pre-born child, but this is no justification for intentionally killing the child. If the child is injured or dies from the medication prescribed to the mother to save her life, the injury was unintentional and, if truly medically necessary, not unethical.” (www.prolifephysicians.org)


There are a couple situations when it may be ethical to abort a child, but this must be carefully explained and understood. One may be if the mother has an ectopic pregnancy, where in many cases if the baby continues to grow both she and the baby will die. Another may be a rare pregnancy where the mother’s health is in critical danger if nothing is done. In either case we must be incredibly careful to fully explore the options and determine that the mother will most likely die if she either continues with the pregnancy or gives birth. For instance, most people consider ectopic pregnancies to be deadly in any case, and that in order for the mother to live the baby must be aborted immediately. However, there are some cases where ectopic pregnancies have survived when after waiting the baby moved from the fallopian tube. There still are ectopic pregnancies that have to be ended because they are seriously endangering to the life of the mother. The Association of Pro-Life Physicians says this about such issues:
“If through careful follow-up it is determined that the ectopic pregnancy does not spontaneously resolve and the mother’s symptoms worsen, surgery may become necessary to save the mother’s life. The procedure to remove the ectopic pregnancy may not kill the unborn child at all, because the unborn child has likely already deceased by the time surgery becomes necessary. But even if not, the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, and the death of the unborn baby is unavoidable and unintentional.”  (www.prolifephysicians.org)
Waiting is generally not even considered in today’s medical system, which is why it’s important to carefully analyze the situation, and if possible, find a pro-life doctor. If it were impossible to save both, the life of the mother would take precedence over the life of the unborn child. But even in extreme pregnancy examples when we can’t do two right things at the same time, we have to carefully and prayerfully determine what is most important.

Katie

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Abortion: Personhood and a Scriptural View of Life

Besides euthanasia, abortion is one of the most hot-button but imperative ethical issues of our day. Webster’s dictionary defines abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus”. (Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary) Many justify abortion under the terms that you aren’t really killing a baby; it is only a fetus. That is why it is crucial that we understand when life begins and whether the mother has a baby with human rights, or is simply a fetus that has no rights. From a scientific perspective, life clearly begins at conception. Even some in favor of abortion will admit this. However, since abortionists cannot logically argue that the baby is not a baby, the debate has shifted more towards whether life inside the mother’s womb is fully human and should be protected as one.

In the debate over abortion, it is important to define personhood. Many who favor abortion take the stance that a fetus is not a person, and that other standards should define personhood. Mary Anne Warren describes it in this way:
“A fetus, even a fully developed one, is considerably less personlike than is the average mature mammal, indeed the average fish. And I think that a rational person must conclude that if the right to life of a fetus is to be based upon its resemblance to a person, then it cannot be said to have any more right to life than, let us say, a newborn guppy (which also seems to be capable of feeling pain), and that a right of that magnitude could never override a woman's right to obtain an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.”
(“The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion” article, found in the book The Right Thing to Do) Instead of defining humans biologically, Warren prescribes that in order to be “human” we must meet five standards. We must have consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, the capacity to communicate, and the presence of self-concepts and self-awareness. The problem is this view is not logical. If personhood is defined by cognitive skills, than some of us won’t ever reach the definition of “personhood”. If someone is in a coma, unresponsive, or even asleep they clearly don’t meet the definition of personhood, so can we kill them too? Our morality becomes shaky under such terms.

Instead of holding to the view of personhood described by Mary Anne Warren, Christians should base their view of life from the Scriptures alone. Psalm 127 speaks of the blessing of children. Each child is conceived in the Lord’s perfect timing, despite what we may think, and choosing to abort that child rejects God’s sovereignty and His perfect plan, as well as His view of life. Life is precious because each person is made in the image of God. God has perfectly knit each person together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and He makes no mistakes. Color, size, cognitive abilities, disabilities, none of these matter; each person is important to God because He created them. Because of the value of life, we cannot be the determiner of who should live; only God can make that choice. Furthermore, Christians know that this life is not all there is, and that each of us has a soul that will live for eternity. For believers in Christ, our future is not dim, but something to look forward to as our life now is not worth comparing with our future glory. (Romans 8:18) Our desire then should be to embrace life, and subsequently see all men come to Christ, that none should perish.


Katie

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Euthanasia: A Biblical Response

Some Christians don’t see a purpose in keeping someone alive that cannot function in society, is confined to a hospital bed, on a ventilator, and unable to communicate. John Shelby Spong asserted:
“I affirm that the choice of death with dignity, whether by my own hand or with the assistance of my physician, is a moral and more godly choice than passively endorsing a life pointlessly devoid of hope or meaning.”
(Euthanasia, by Opposing Viewpoints series) This Episcopalian declared that it was more ethical to be euthanized than to live a life, as he described, “devoid of hope or meaning”. But, as believers, can we truly say that whether or not a person has the ability to communicate with us that their life is completely devoid of hope or meaning? Absolutely not. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says that we were “bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Believers don’t have authority or control over their own bodies. It is God’s. We have no ability or freedom to choose when we should die. Additionally, as believers we know we will suffer at some time on this earth. 1 Peter 4:12-13 states
“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
Scripture articulates that we will experience affliction, but it is not the end. Unlike unbelievers, we can trust a loving God and have hope. As Romans 5:3-4 says, we should “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Ultimately, whether our life here is full of suffering or not, we understand that when we are ushered into God’s presence after death, there will not be any pain or sorrow. Finally, in the midst of affliction, believers should be filled with overwhelming hope for their future. We should also be able to give the reason for the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15) Our hearts should overflow in gratitude that God would choose to develop character in us, and we should turn to Him for help and comfort during trials. Trials will only be for a short while compared to eternity in heaven.

In addition to a right view of death and the suffering that sometimes accompanies it, we must have an accurate view of life. Man is made in the image of God, and therefore has inherent worth. We are to preserve life whenever we can because it is precious in God’s sight, not seek to destroy it. There are certainly times when a patient on a ventilator or in a coma really dies, evidenced when their heart stops beating; and we must be sensitive to that and not keep a person biologically alive on a machine forever. When a person meets the criteria for brain death and really is dying, their heart will stop beating soon after. Before this happens though we have no right to stop feeding them or take them off machines. We prayerfully need to walk on this tough ground if we are faced with it in the situation of a family member or friend, seeking the wisdom of the Lord and looking for answers that are in sync with what the Bible says about life and death. We know that death comes for all people, and that God has appointed that time. The reason Christians should not support euthanasia is not to avoid death or extend life as long as possible, but to do what God commands in preserving and valuing life in such a way that we protect it.

(image from getty images)

Katie

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Euthanasia: Organ Donation & Quality of Life Ethic

Organ donation from deceased donors is typically thought of in a positive light. After all, you’re helping save someone else’s life by donating your heart, kidney or some other organ after you can no longer use it. Most aren’t even aware of the dreadful reality of heart or lung donations, which come from a brain dead donor. While they are legally declared dead because of a lack of brain waves, they are in fact titled “beating heart” donors, proving that they are alive. Their certificate of death will have to say “heart failure” or “lung failure”, which was due to the fact that surgeons removed the organs vital to living! The ironic thing about the justification and ideology behind organ donation is that the doctors are willing to kill a person who is no longer of use to society in order to help another weak person that may not live without the organ transplant. The belief behind it is that it is best to give the organs of the people deemed brain dead to someone who will benefit from them, since the brain dead person will never be of use to society and perhaps will never wake up. We’re taking life in order to keep others alive. It is morally wrong to euthanize any person, even to give their organs to another, if they are still alive.

The quality of life ethic is a common belief in our day and age and based off of evolutionary presuppositions that the strong will control and the weak die. Sadly, the quality of life ethic has been used at various times to support whether a patient considered brain dead or in a vegetative state should be kept alive. Because of the evolutionary mindset in our culture, people are not considered worthwhile unless they can contribute something to society. This is a heartbreaking belief to hold, as it destroys. In fact, this worldview is what led Hitler and Stalin to exterminate millions in their country they deemed “unfit” to live. While our culture attempts to make the quality of life ethic sound positive and as if it is truly helping society, it is certainly destructive and does not value life. The truth is all life is made in the image of God. It doesn’t matter whether the person is capable of intelligently answering questions or if the person can contribute to society like a “normal” person can. It doesn’t matter if they are disabled, have mental incapacities or are laying in a hospital bed or nursing home. God has revealed through His Word that the breath of the Almighty gives life (Job 33:4), that we boast about what we want to do but that we don’t know what will happen tomorrow (James 3:14-15), and that He has appointed a “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). We have to trust that God’s way is best and that He has perfectly orchestrated when each person should die.



(image from getty images)

Katie

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Euthanasia: Terminology and Right to Death

The terms about euthanasia are often so twisted that we don’t understand whether it is really killing someone to perform the various methods of euthanasia or whether the doctors are right in their recommendations. There are two ways euthanasia can be determined, and two ways it can be accomplished. The first is voluntary euthanasia, where the patient requests to die. It could be accomplished through a living will, or could simply mean that the person is able to communicate but is in such excruciating pain or terrible circumstances that they wish to die. This request should be equated with suicide. A second form of euthanasia is involuntary euthanasia. This is a case where someone else decides that the patient needs to be euthanized. After being informed that there is little or no hope of recovery for the person, the family member or guardian may feel that it is best to euthanize the person in order that they won’t be a drain financially and to help them die sooner instead of dragging the death out. Active euthanasia and passive euthanasia are opposing ways to see to it that the person in question dies. Active euthanasia involves a direct action to end life, while passive euthanasia withholds some sort of treatment or basic life care such as food or water so as to let the person die “naturally”. Sadly, patients like Terri Schavio can be starved under the semblance that they are dying naturally, when in reality they are dying of starvation.


Today many people believe they have a right to death. Some base their understanding off of our constitution’s proposition that we are given inalienable rights such as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, stating that if we feel life is not worthwhile living in a coma on a hospital bed, we should have the right to end our life. Initially this basis sounds logical. They claim that it is an individual’s right (or a guardian’s if he cannot respond at the time) to determine whether he should live or die. If someone doesn’t want to be a financial burden to his family and live unresponsive for years and years, they should have the opportunity to be taken off the ventilators or the feeding tube and allowed to die. This has spurred on living wills, where a person has the ability while they are still alert and functional to determine if under a vegetative or brain dead state they would prefer to die. However, should believers ever honor a request for death? If a friend wanted you to shoot him because he was dying of cancer, would you do it? Despite the supposedly good intentions of living wills, most often there is not a circumstance when it would be biblically ethical to use and uphold a living will.

(image from getty images)

Katie

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Critical Look at Abortion and Euthansia: introduction & brain death

I decided to go ahead and post (most of) my essay I completed a couple months ago for the Ethics course I took. But instead of overwhelming you by putting all of it into one post, I will divide it up into seven, by paragraphs and content. I hope that not only will you understand the position I take, but that it will encourage you to think carefully and turn to Scripture to develop your own conclusions about these serious biblical issues.
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God’s Word says that He treasures and upholds life. He alone has the power to give life and take it away. The ethics revolving around life are crucial in our culture today, and something we must biblically think through and determine. A biblical view will give us hope and uphold life, while a secular, evolutionary based view will catalyze destruction and destroy life. In my essay I have chosen two critical issues in our day, issues revolving around when life begins and when it ends, the topics of abortion and euthanasia. The issues at hand may be difficult, but they are crucial, and coming to a clear, biblical understanding in these areas is important as we face the future.

Webster’s dictionary defines brain death as “final cessation of activity in the central nervous system especially as indicated by a flat electroencephalogram for a predetermined length of time”. This sounds like a reasonable definition. In the United States, the term “brain death” is considered an ethical and acceptable means to determining if a person is dead. The problem with the definition of brain death is that doctors are not consistent—they do not all hold to the same standards of brain death. There is no national standard for brain death, so it’s basically left in the hands of the physician. What if the doctor is anti-life, an evolutionist who believes he’s helping the world by killing off the weak and infirm? He could convince the patient’s family or guardian that the patient is indeed brain dead according to his own definition, while the patient may not really be dead. This would be a startling and horrifying thing to imagine. Oppositely, sometimes the doctor doesn’t clearly understand what brain death is, and prescribes that patients whom he considers brain dead be euthanized simply because of his lack of knowledge. However, just because there is a lack of brain activity does not denote that the person is truly dead. We must biblically define death. Leviticus 17:11 says that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. Even if a person has a lack of brain activity, if his heart is still beating, he is still alive, and we have no right to take that life away. This definition is important and affects our decisions regarding organ donation, quality of life ethic, types of euthanasia and the popular right to death view.


(the next few posts will go into more detail regarding euthanasia including organ donation, quality of life ethic, terminology and right to death, and a biblical response to life, death and suffering)


Katie

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about this year. Eager to see what will happen. Anxious to watch God work. And I found another resource for you! ;)  10 Questions for the New Year by Donald Whitney.  I'm thinking about not writing on my blog anymore, but just sharing things other people wrote, since most of them say it better than I ever could anyway.  Okay, just kidding, I'll still write.  But yes, I would like you to look at these questions. 

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

If you go here, there are 20 additional questions you can ask yourself as well.

Katie