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19 May 2008

Comments

Andrew T

Even better, our rulers should outlaw this wicked practice of slaughtering unborn children. Humans should only be put to death for commiting a crime worthy of death. All unborn children are "shapen in iniquity" and "conceived in sin" (Ps 51:5) but this does not mean that they deserve to die at the hands of their fellow men. It makes me weep to think of all the lives ended as they were not deemed to be convenient enough to be allowed to come into the world! Think also of all the childless couples who are denied the chance to adopt those children and give tham a loving home!

Latest reports in the press indicate that "almost 4,000 women have had at least four abortions. In a 'grotesquely bleak' picture of British society, scores of women have had at least eight terminations", (source: "The Sunday Telegraph 18/5/08). It is beocming clear that abortion is now a last-ditch form of contraception and a symptom of our sick and degenarate society and culture.

A nation that legislates for unlawful killing stands guilty before God: "For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain" (Is 26:21). Our MPs would do well to remember this.

Mitchell Jacocks

Well said Andrew T. Killing an unborn is wrong at any arbitrary number of weeks. As for a woman's "right to choose", this was lost at conception. We do not have the right to kill our unborn. Lastly, GV, I'm thankful that you are back on line and pray for blessings on your efforts.

lynn

Ryan, I haven't been to a church service at GV's church but I do know quite a few people who go there and I get the feeling that all are welcome...."target audience" is any who will come, reminds me of some words spoken in John 3:16!

I'd personally be offended to be considered as anyone's target audience. I've always wondered what a feminist woman is anyway. Is that one whose views differentiate her from a doormat? :-) :-)

Kendo Nagasaki

"All unborn children are "shapen in iniquity" and "conceived in sin" (Ps 51:5)"

Personally I think this attitude devalues human life (regardless of your position on abortion).

Jonathan

It might appear that the UK has a far higher limit than other European countries, but the circumstances under which abortions take place are very different. This link explains it better than I could:

http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2008/05/14/debunking-dorrie/

Lorraine

Every child conceived is created in the image of God - beautiful, precious and of tremendous value. It is indeed a great tragedy when life is ended (at whatever age and for whatever reasons) and I'm sure the prospect of a child can seem a huge undertaking for lots of reasons too, particularly if conceived through force. I do think a woman has a right to chose - but that must be at the point of conception. If 2 people consent to having sex together then they need to consent to the consequences of their actions. When sex takes place within the context of marriage then a new life from their love would be something to be celebrated not destroyed! The debate will rage but I take comfort in the fact that God creates in the womb (Psalm 139) and God will continue in relationship with each precious child.

Andrew T

May I add to my earlier comment?

To explain, my purpose in quoting Psalm 51:5 is to show the common origin of all humans. In this debate I would particularly apply it to those abortions where the developing child has been found to have a handicap or is deemed to be of the "wrong sex" and thus is seen as of lesser value and to be disposed of. I would strongly contend that no human has the right to judge that another is unworthy of being allowed to be born. How is any of us better than that child?

I would like to take issue with Mr Dunne on two points. Firstly: I am sorry if he is refering to me as peddling "mad religious ideology". I try to find answers in God's Word and do not try to relativise it to suit the mores of today's society. Indeed, the world's problems would be better solved if we attempted to bring society more into conformity with what the Bible teaches. Secondly, I'm afraid that I do not see his correlation between treating a disease, (HIV), and snuffing out a human life, (abortion). The two seem poles apart; treating a disease helps to save, (or at least prolong) lives, whilst abortion ends them.

But perhaps another debate we need to have in our society is why, (whether you agree with the proceedure or not), there are so many abortions in Britain? What is it about our society that leads us here? Perhaps if that question was addressed peoples' lives could go down different paths and would not lead them to the abortion clinic in the first place. Abortion is a damaging process for the mother as well and we should have a care for this aspect as well as that of the life of the unborn child.

lynn

Think you are right Mr T on that last paragraph in particular, which strikes me as something we tend to ignore in our rush to get into the women's rights argument. I read some feminist women glossy magazines and last week's edition (of Now, if anyone's interested) had a feature on a woman who told her story of having seven abortions.

I wasn't angry with her when I read it, my first emotion was incredible sadness for HER and then for the babies because I do believe Psalm 139 guides me on how precious what is happening in a womb at that time is. I did think she had been more than a tad foolish because I am well qualified to speak about contraception (as a fellow person able to give birth and a onetime consumer of the stuff. Be a parent of young children. Saves you loads of hassle! Sorry, personal digression).....it's not that hard to get "it"(condom - oooh can I say that on GV's blog??)or "them" (pills) to work - 95-99% efficacy.

I spent ten years teaching sex ed to my regi(registration) class in deprived urban school. Most (but not all) of my pupils did not fall pregnant accidentally. Of course, as a Christian I tended to chat a lot to the girls in my class about waiting; and that was one of the first methods of avoiding teen pregnancy that the classroom materials advocated; I talked a lot to the boys AND girls about respecting themselves; about not being forced to have sex by another person because they told him/her it was about time s/he had sex. So I saw the low self-esteem and desperation to be loved pushing boys and girls to do things they didn't actually want to do. Yes, I had experience of a boy coming out too. My advice was exactly the same.

I suspect that what some of my pupils wanted more than anything was a hug from their dad or another loving, significant adult in their lives....please permit me to say that from watching teenagers as a caring non-health professional who didn't force my views but listened and tried to be "God with skin-on" a bit. Jesus didn't judge women who had slept with people. Not one bit. And I love him so much for that!

Back to the woman in the magazine - she was traumatised; her life was marked by broken relationships; her health had suffered, she had been warned by doctors that medical evacuations should not be carried out as often as that; yet they still gave her medical abortions. Hello? Doctor!? Actually, two doctors each time certifying the procedure? ::::slaps head::::

This whole scenario is not as simple as a number of weeks being changed. At the very heart of it is a broken world, where sadness, lack of love, pressure to conform and insecurity reign. If each one of us is ever able to help a man or woman facing abortion choices either before or after the event (cos men feel it too) to know first and foremost that we want to listen to them and support them, then its a first step to mending what's broken. I kinda think that's what Jesus would do.

Beat Attitude

The Americans do this debate so much better...

Some might be interested to read Ramesh Ponnuru's book "The Party of Death" which looks at the US democratic party's shift from being pro-life to pro-choice. I've heard it's very balanced, and have read the author's defense against certain unfavourable reviews: he struck me as very transparent, systematic and intelligent. His arguments from a practical point of view end up being in line with his catholic beliefs, but he strongly insists he remained impartial for the purposes of examining the issues.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Party_of_Death

lynn

"Doubtless there are many teenagers who have sex due to peer pressure, but I also know lots of people who happily had sex as a teen because *they* wanted to and suffered no negative repercussions. Conservatives especially assume that there is something pathetic or degrading about promiscuity which is (in my experience) not the case, althought they have certainly done their best to try and make people feel bad about entirely natural impulses and behaviours. I know of many instances of supposedly 99% effective contraception failing too."

I shan't comment on your empirical observations and I would respectfully ask you to do the same. I'm sure there are teens having sex and are quite happy; but they are not the ones of whom I spoke, with whom I had a trusted relationship as an approachable teacher.

I shan't comment on your ability to remain detached and able to listen when vulnerable people approach you as I would expect you to do for me. Blogging courtesy seems to be disappearing, which is a shame, as its a blog I liked visiting over the years.

Beat Attitude

Ryan: definitely not impressed with Ann Coulter, as she's caustic and unhelpful, and fuels her celebrity with heat, not light, which is pretty much one of my biggest bugbears when it comes to debating issues. Speaking of which...

" Can you honestly look dispassionately ..." what a great idea! Perhaps this is getting needlessly personal?

Getting back to the point...The real question is "at what point does life begin?". When does something stop being biological matter and start becoming a human life? (Interestingly, to digress, neither Clinton nor Obama were willing to give a straight answer to this question. It's mostly an "I don't know" issue.)

How do you balance "potential" with "dependence"? If someone has potential to recover from an illness, you don't unplug the life-support machine. But also, the egg and the sperm have a degree of potential, but depend exclusively on combining in highly controlled biological circumstances. So by aborting are we simply denying the additional key circumstances required to turn those merged cells into a person, or does the fact that they have started that process mean that we ought not to interrupt it for our convenience? I just worry about the mindset that views human life as a potential disease that should be nipped in the bud. Maybe in judgement God will make it a matter of conscience, or maybe he will prove it a matter of objective right and wrong. I for one would be too afraid to risk something that could objectively be killing a human life.

It has massive implications in the arguments surrounding euthanasia as well, and my feeling is always to legislate to protect life wherever possible. Not many people under our government feel like taking responsibility for many things, but the government *makes* them responsible. I think it's a good idea to legislate so that the strong are made responsible for the protection of the weak. In individual circumstancial terms, that means the mother is strong and the foetus is weak. If that foetus is a person, or may well be a person in an objective sense, then play it safe, whatever the inconvenience. (how you decide what is objective starts to highlight theological issues that need to be addressed, which is why abortion is such a "religious" issue)

The psalmist does talk about being conceived in sin as a way of describing the abject nature of his existence, and the inescapability of his sin. But the bible talks about how much God values humanity, and the extent to which he goes to offer redemption. If God treats it with that kind of importance, ought we not to do the same?


lynn

You're wrong Ryan. Common courtesy means not knocking someone else's lifeview, which is really what you are asking for on behalf of the people at the heart of this debate.

There is room for grace, where one says: I accept that was YOUR experience and now here's mine.

lynn

thanks Ryan. You made me smile quite a lot in this post and thanks for the encouragement at the end.

G'night.

Andrew T

I read recently a wry observation that in Germany it might take you years to learn someone's Christian name whilst in Britain it might take you years to find out someone's surname! No, I do not see myself as Rumpole but I do believe that it is correct to address people that you do not know in a formal way. Hence "Mr". Sorry for any irritation this may have caused in my earlier post.

The two gentlemen who made the most hell on earth in the 20th century were both avowed atheists. Similarly I would not accept events such as the inquisitions as genuine manifestations of Christian influence upon public life. I would urge people to look at the career of Abraham Kuyper to see a more fitting application of Christian values in public office. Surely if the Ten Commandments and the moral guidance given in Scripture were followed then life would improve for all?

I'm not going to enter into a debate over when is a life a life as no doubt people could browbeat me with all sorts of medical jargon but what I would say is just as there is that good old saying "you can't be a little bit pregnant", foetuses can't also just be a little bit alive. Life starts at conception. I note that two of the presidential candidates are reluctant to give a definitive answer on this which is not surprising given the way that US politics runs on trying to be all things to all people!

With regard to sex education, or the lack of it, I would be interested to see where in the UK apart from perhaps Roman Catholic schools where anything like a message of abstaining from sex outside of marriage is taught. The fruits of sexual liberalism are not pretty with the UK having Europe's highest rate of teenage pregnancy and the level of abortions being carried out. I cannot imagine how sexual promiscuity has any kind of positive benefits; a series of animalistic, mechanical couplings devoid of love and true commitment sounds pretty bleak to me. Perhaps if we valued sex in the context of marriage and the stability of that commitment then a lot of the the problems caused by rampant sexual immorality would be eliminated. It is not a bad thing to exercise some self-restraint in this area.

GadgetVicar

Been away in London for 24 hours, and a software update at Typepad seems to have made comments appear without moderation.

Please do remain courteous, my friends.

One comment: just because you have experience doesn't make that experience, right, good or true. Situational ethics so easily comes down to what the individual wants. I'm facing the sharp end of that in so many ways, and find that one cannot even debate whether another's experience is right or wrong.

Kendo Nagasaki

I was going to keep out of this until I saw the Hitler was an avowed atheist comment. However, Firstly,

Andrew said, “To explain, my purpose in quoting Psalm 51:5 is to show the common origin of all humans.”

I knew the point that you were making, my point is that the whole idea that humanity is corrupt and does not deserve anything other than eternity in hell is not something that shows a high regard for humanity. There is no evidence that mankind is “sinful". Now, the whole concept of the fall makes no sense to me, and it doesn’t matter if you take it literally or metaphorically. God punishes all mankind for the sins of two people, yet these two people only knew it would be wrong to disobey god after they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – not exactly fair! Which brings in the issue of perfection. If you define god as perfect, then anything that lacks a quality of perfection must be imperfect. Genesis alone tells us that man lacked two qualities of god: eternal life and the ability to know right from wrong. God therefore creates man in an imperfect state, yet punished him – and his unborn descendants for not acting perfectly – I would not call this fair either.

Andrew said “The two gentlemen who made the most hell on earth in the 20th century were both avowed atheists.”

This is not true. Hitler was raised a catholic (as was Stalin). Hitler has also been recorded as endorsing Catholicism (whether he believed it or not). Hitler actually enjoyed the support of Germany’s Christians and relied heavily on the Christian Zentrums-Partei and Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen parties. The latter declared that it was the duty of good catholics to support Hitler. In Rome on 20 July 1933, the future pope Pius XII signed a concordat legitimising the Nazis to the catholics.
Hitler also had other supernatural views (so was not an atheist). Unlike many, I think you realise that atheism does not lead to Stalinism or Nazism, but the truth of Hitler’s beliefs is often lied about in certain fundamentalist circles. The danger of Hitler and Stalin was not atheism, but dogmatism – the same danger present in religion.

Andrew said (I’m not picking on you – honestly) “Surely if the Ten Commandments and the moral guidance given in Scripture were followed then life would improve for all?”

I presume you don’t mean that I should follow a god that I don’t believe in and that will be better for me? I hope you don’t mean society will be better off if we stoned gays (Lev 20:13), non virgins (Deut 22:20), kept slaves (Ex 21:2-4) or made rapists marry their victims (Deut 22:28-29). If you mean, treat other like yourself and forgive your enemies. Then the bible does not own the copyright on these. Many secular writings that are older than the bible teach such things. So, basically, the good bits you may want to observe are not unique to the bible.

Lorraine said “If 2 people consent to having sex together then they need to consent to the consequences of their actions”.

Why? Do you hold the view that condoms should not be allowed and that people should catch if HIV they want sex that does not conform to your unrealistic expectations of how people should behave?

lynn

Hope you had a good trip in London, David. Missed you and glad you're back!
Reminds me of when the teacher nips out of the classroom "to get some paper" and the kids get some time to "chat amongst themselves"....

:-)

Susan Tittmar

Situational ethics is interesting, though we cant base either a theology or a political structure round it.

I'm not about to get pregnant again - have very gallant husband who had the op! But .. say I was raped? Pregnancy makes me exceptionally ill. Last pregnancy I spent 1/3 of it in hospital and ended up being airlifted from remote location to more specialist unit. Then with every child I have suffered at least 18 months of severe post-natal depression, which has landed me in hospital more than once and has led to several suiceide attempts.

I have 3 children. They need me. As does my gallant and lovely husband.

Should I have an abortion? I hope I never have to make that choice. What if the baby was seriously defective (eg anencephaly? Potters syndrome (no kidneys)? )- something incompatible with life? What if going through with the pregnancy would cause my kidneys to pack in (thats the risk I would take.)

Its all very well to bat on about the 'right to choose' or the 'right to life'. its all very well to deal in moral absolutes when you are not dealing with the person right in front of you, living the pain and tragedy that so much of life is made up of.

I dont agree with abortion normally. But I am prepared to concede that there are circumstances when there may be no option.

I'm in my late 30's. Some might say I have become a dodgy liberal since my days of certainty in my younger days. Others might agree with me that the longer you live in the world, the less black and white you see, the more there are unknowable and unexpected shades of grey!

Coxy

I think that the lowering of the number of weeks up until which a termination can occur is something that needs to happen.

My parents lost a child before I was born, he was born extremely premature - in fact he was born earlier than the cut off for abortions at that time. He lived for three days. Nowadays he may well have made it, but at that time babies were literally being 'thrown out' who were older (not sure what the term is here) than he was (from concpetion).

However, I do not think that lowering the number of weeks should lead to a complete "outlawing" as has been mentioned above. Like Susan I would say that I don't normally agree with abortion, but I could understand why in certain situations a woman (hopefully a couple) would decide that it was the best course of action.

Also, it is my understanding that two doctors have to consent that either the health of the woman or the unborn child is at risk (is that the case?). If it is then I would say that this is something that needs addressing as urgently as the lowering of the weeks, namely because if this were addressed - i.e. if the required criteria really did have to be met and holidays, lifestyle, or "I can't be bothered with a child" were recognised as illegitimate reasons for abortion - then surely the number of women being given terminations would drop significantly.

I think that basically what I am saying is that there needs to be some right to choose, but that abortion is not just to be seen as a final line of contraception.

Now I'll leave it to you educated types to make sense of what I've said and continue the discussion...

Dan Marino

I think that better sex education is necessary in solving this problem. In too many countries it is acceptable to watch the body count mount up in violent movies, whereas, on the other hand, it is painfully difficult to discuss or portray sex with the same audience.

I think that religion is to blame for the retarded attitude to sex in this case, and the connection with religion and violence is probably for another forum.

I will say that I cannot support abortion as a lifestyle choice. This would be the only circumstance where I would not support abortion. I find that it is pretty straightforward, if you are going to have sex, chances are that this could involve pregnancy. If you don't want to get pregnant, take measures to ensure that it is not going to happen.

I object to the moralising attitude of religion here, with the horrendous views that they invariably hold on women. Priests who, unnaturally don't have sex I'm lead to believe ;) , telling other people how to conduct themselves in sexual relationships is just plain weird.

Andrew T

Just a quick jotting as I'm off to a land far, far away from internet connections for the bank holiday weekend and thus you will have to do without my inimitable input for a few days!

Kendo, you obviously have quite a detailed knowledge of the groups that supported Hitler and it is in today's position of hindsight that we can perhaps judge them too harshly? Last week I was strolling in glorius sunshine near Berlin Cathedral when I caught a little of what a tour guide was saying about the economic situation in the 1930's in Germany and it struck me that most people then were between a rock and a hard place. Remember also that Christians such as those in the White Rose group in Munich resisited the regime and paid with their lives. In Stalin's Russia he performed a volte face when the forces of his erstwhile chum were at the gates of Moscow and went from a position of trying to wipe out Christianity to offering the Patriach a deal whereby if he supported Stalin in a holy crusade to save Mother Russia he would release any Orthodox Church people still alive in the Gulags. What would we do if put in such a position?

An interesting footnote to the embryology legislation is that while Hitler was well known for his belief in the "science" of evolutionism and genetics, Stalin too had an interest in these areas. A favourite at his court was the quack geneticist Trofim Lysenko who believed, amongst other gems, that if you conditioned parents to be perfect socialists then the children would be born perfect socialists! Another pet project of former weatherman and bank robber JV Stalin was the creation of an army of ape-men that would be impervious to pain and hardship......eat your hearts-out advocates of human-animal hybrid embryos! No pesky regulation in that workers' paradise that was the USSR!

We can at least say that Stalin was not without a sense of humour. When during WWII he was told that the Pope had criticised him he is reported to have said: "How many divisions does he have?".

Kendo Nagasaki

Hi Andrew,

You bring up a valid point when you ask what would we do in such a situation. Jews for example stoked the crematoria. However, the problem then is that bible teaching clearly does not stop people getting caught up in Nazism. People without faith also refused to cooperate. Interestingly, it was not faith that strongly differentiated holocaust rescuers from non rescuers, it was the fact that rescuers were brought up as critical thinkers. It holds for religious and non religious. This further underlines the dangers of dogmatism. Let's also not forget, Stalin did not act in the name of atheism. The crusades and 9/11 were carried out in the name of religion (brought on by dogmatism/authority). Note, I am not saying all religious people are like this - sadly that is a common knee jerk response when you criticise religion.

I would actually say that Hitler and Stalin took a pseudoscientific approach. Darwinism for example is most definately not about group selection. It is about selection at the level of the individual - therefore, talk of master races is not Darwinism.

"eat your hearts-out advocates of human-animal hybrid embryos!"

Do you actually understand the issue here? It is not like taking a cow egg and a human sperm. It is taking a cow egg without the nucleus and adding a human nucleus. The only cow input is the mitochondrial genome (about 27 genes in total compared to som3 25 000 to 30 000 human genes. The mitochondrial genome is also very highly conserved between mammals. It certainly is not the Frankenstein science that the ignorant o'connor speaks of.
The choice is simple - investigate ways of potentially saving human life and ending terrible suffering, or sit back, pray and let them die.


"No pesky regulation in that workers' paradise that was the USSR!"

And you think people had freedom under Torquemada?

Lorraine

Kendo -
I did say, “If 2 people consent to having sex together then they need to consent to the consequences of their actions”.

You asked "Why? Do you hold the view that condoms should not be allowed and that people should catch if HIV they want sex that does not conform to your unrealistic expectations of how people should behave?"

I most certainly don't hold to the view that condoms should not be allowed!! My point is this, whether condoms are used or not, if 2 consenting adults choose to have sex (and I'm talking about 1 male and 1 female, since we're talking about reproduction!), then they must be aware of the risks involved and be prepared to deal with the consequencies.

For example: If a couple are choosing to have sex to create a child and a child is created through that act, then many things could happen. That child may be lost in miscarriage, may be born with some kind of disability, may die at birth, may be born perfectly healthy ... or the couple may find out there is something wrong with the child and opt for an abortion/or not - assuming the man has any rights here at all (but that's another debate!). If you don't want to have a child but choose to have sex anyway, even taking all measures to avoid conception (i.e. contraception), then you are still choosing to take a risk. If conception does occur (in the small %age of cases), you are subsequently faced with the same situations to deal with as the couple who were trying to get pregnant.

The bottom line is this, that if you don't want to take the chance of going through any of these experiences then the only way to be sure to avoid them is not to have sex! Abortion isn't a form of birth control ... and sadly, many women (particularly young girls) can wait weeks before having a pregnancy test done when they suspect they are pregnant - hoping they're not. [And I've worked with many!!] By this point, the baby is well formed and even from 10 weeks the baby can be seen on an abdominal ultrasound scan moving its tiny arms and legs. If a woman chooses to abort, having seen her child on a scan, then the long term affects of her decision can be dreadful, hence 'she' will have to live with the consequencies of her actions - as will her partner (depending on whether he is around).

A friend of a friend has just had an abortion. She had a child of just one year and didn't feel she could cope with another just now. She had a scan at 12 weeks to confirm the gestation, and has the photos as a reminder, but opted for the abortion 2 weeks later. I know she feels it's the best thing just now but my concern is for her 1, 5, 10 years from now ... and having prayed with so many women in similar situations, I wish better pre-abortion support and advice were available. I can't help but feel that it's all too easy to deal with the immediate 'problem', regardless of what we are told about the measures put in place to make sure the reasons need to be justifiable!

Kendo Nagasaki

Lorraine, I still think you have unrealistic expectations of the way people should behave. I am not comfortable with the idea of using abortion as a form of contraception, but I do think people should have the choice. I think there are good rational arguments for the time limits, what I object to are people trying to impose their religious agendas.

The truth is that some people never regret having an abortion, but like you say, if you do, that is a consequence of your own actions that you will have to deal with. Pointing out that some people regret it is not really an argument against it in my view.

What is your position on abortion for rape victims or for medical reasons?

If you believe that god forms babies in the womb, does that mean that you have to believe that he also creates deformed babies too?

Susan Tittmar

I came back to this because I knew that there was something in the comments that disturbed me, and I found it in the first comment :

"Humans should only be put to death for commiting a crime worthy of death. "

Really? Do people really think that? I wasn't aware that in the UK especially that there were CHristians who still support the death penalty. I know that evangelical support for the DP is more common in the US, but I was surprised to find a comment supporting it on UK based blog. Do we *really* have the right to decide who will live and die. If we can't have abortion, can we still have a death penalty? I don't really think so, but thats my opinion. Surely the decision about death is God's, not one a person can make?

And if, in God's eyes, there is no hierarchy of sin, then shoudl we put people to death for something, when we have, in our own hearts, done the same (as Jesus told us that murder is as bad as hatred)?

Just a thought, anyway


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