For more than 20 years, doctors in the Netherlands have been free from fear of prosecution for taking away the life of a patient in certain circumstances. Each year some 2000 people have their life taken away unnaturally, and sinfully. Now the lower house of the Dutch Parliament has, by a large majority, made euthanasia legal; approval by the upper house is regarded as a formality.
There are safeguards, of course, but one suspects that it will not be difficult to get round them. “Would this not be an easy way to get rid of ailing relatives because nursing them has become too much trouble?” asked one MP. Whatever may be said about “patients’ rights”, the fact is that no one has the right to take away their own life, and no doctor or anyone else has the right to take away anybody else’s. In the face of God’s strict command, “Thou shalt not kill”, the time of our departure into eternity is something we must leave in the hand of God. There is no doubt that some terminally-ill patients suffer greatly; the answer lies in palliative medicine, and great strides have been made in techniques of pain control and in improving the quality of this last part of life.
Holland, sadly, is not the only country were euthanasia is practised. While it is illegal in Switzerland, no one will be punished for helping someone commit suicide “without selfish motives”. And a change in the Belgian law to legalise so-called mercy killing is a distinct possibility. Such is the lack of respect for human life when the fear of God is absent. There is always the danger that such ungodly legislation will be adopted elsewhere. May the Lord prevent it!
The State of Society
There has been widespread shock over the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor on a London housing estate only months after he had arrived in the UK from Nigeria. Questions have been asked as to how anyone could have been so depraved as to take away this young life. The answer lies in the fact of human sinfulness, exacerbated by the continuing departure from God in British society and the increasing denial of the authority of divine law.
When interviewed, the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, in whose diocese the murder took place, claimed that things were actually getting better on what he called “one of the toughest estates in Europe”. He pointed to projects aimed at giving all a stake in society. “There is much good”, he went on, “to be seen in those who haven’t abandoned the area – sticking with local schools, for example, even when they’ve been condemned as failing.”
One is thankful for those who do their best to help others in difficult circumstances. But the Bishop seemed totally unable – certainly he was unwilling – to point to a spiritual remedy for the ills of these housing estates. Even when pressed by the interviewer with the words, “You are a Christian”, he made no reference to the gospel. Palliative remedies for these ills are useful, but the proclamation of the gospel is the only real cure, not only on problem housing estates in Britain but for sinners everywhere.
Proposal to Legalise Human Cloning
We learned with relief that at the end of October the House of Commons rejected by a large majority a proposal to allow human cloning. But there is still cause for concern.
In November the Prime Minister told the European Bioscience Conference, “Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth; rather it should inform our judgement about the implications and consequences of the truth science uncovers. We sould also recognise there are areas where even in exercising such judgment, there is more than one morally acceptable outcome.”
We agree with the commentator who said that the Prime Minister’s “pragmatic view of ‘morally acceptable outcomes’ suggests very strongly that he is a moral relativist who recognises no ethical or spiritual absolutes. He treats the sacrifice of embryonic lives as a means to his political end of putting ‘Britain at the forefront of world science’.”
The Government is in fact proposing to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 to legalise “therapeutic” cloning. Cloning, whether “therapeutic”, for research purposes, or “reproductive”, involves generating human life. Therefore, allowing therapeutic cloning would result in an indefinite number of embryos being cloned and then destroyed in the course of research.
As to the great wonder of human procreation, Scripture shows that God requires that it should take place only between a man and his wife, as we see, for example, from the instruction given to our first parents, Adam and Eve, when they had been created and united by God in marriage. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth . . .” (Gen 1:27,28).
NMR Traditional Family Under Attack
Is the Scottish Executive out to ruin the traditional family? is the question posed recently by a newspaper columnist. To see that the answer appears to be, Yes, we need only consider the Executive’s repeal of Clause 2a of the Local Government Act, which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools; then its announcement of an initiative to set up a chain of sex clinics for teenagers in Scotland’s main urban centres. That was followed by the report that the Justice Minister was preparing legislation to reduce the waiting period for divorce from two years to one. Also, the Family Law White Paper which the Justice Minister has drawn up has no commitment to marriage – instead it has a statement that “it is not for this paper to discuss the merits of different family styles”.
It is painfully obvious that the chief victims of such measures are children, and the traditional family. Recent research by the influential Rowntree Foundation shows conclusively that children from broken homes, or raised by single parents, are more likely to suffer failure and unemployment, or turn to crime, when they grow up.
What we call the traditional family consists of one man married to one woman, together with any offspring from that union. Would that our legislators would heed what Scripture teaches so clearly – that this family unit must be the basic building block of society – and that they would do all in their power to protect and foster it.
NMR Lowering of the Age of Consent to 16
The legalisation in the UK, in 1967, of homosexual acts between consenting adults was a heinous offence in the eyes of the Divine lawgiver. More heinous was the lowering of the age of consent from 21 to 18 in 1994. Last month the House of Commons did something even worse when it reduced the age of consent from 18 to 16 by passing the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, although the House of Lords rejected the proposal three times.
The sin of our Government is compounded by the fact that it determinedly passed this legislation despite many vigorous protests from religious leaders and family values campaigners which echoed the concern of most of the population. The Government also pressed ahead in the face of the clearest medical and ethical evidence about the dangers of this vile perversion, and despite the fact that the Bill exposes both boys and girls, at an age at which they are still children in law, to the predatory activities of older men.
In its determination to overcome all opposition and suppress further debate, the Government used the Parliament Act (a rarely-used procedure that was originally adopted for major constitutional issues; it has always been reserved for such issues and not used in matters of conscience). Little wonder that MP Gerald Howarth told a news conference that the Government’s decision to press ahead with the legislation was “symptomatic of overbearing arrogance” towards the country’s institutions, and that Baroness Young, who has led opposition to the Bill for the last two years, accused the Government of behaving in a “completely dictatorial manner” towards Parliament.
What is especially serious is that the Government has behaved in a completely defiant manner toward the God of heaven, who requires nations as well as individuals to obey His holy law. God said to Israel on account of her sins of idolatry and sexual immorality, “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jer 5:9). It is high time for us to plead more earnestly with God that He would not visit us with further judgements for our great national sins, but bring us back to Himself in His mercy.
NMR Steep Rise in Aids Feared
The number of people diagnosed with Aids in England and Wales is expected to rise by 40% in the next three years, reports The Daily Telegraph. The Public Health Laboratory Service, which issued the figures, said that by 2003 there would be 29 000 people in the country with HIV, compared with 20 800 at the beginning of this year. Improved drug treatments prolong life but the downside of this fact is that there are more people capable of transmitting the disease. Homosexual men remain the group at greatest risk of HIV infection in the western world.
In Scotland, more than 3000 people have been infected with HIV, of whom 1150 have died, says the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health. Throughout the world about three million people will die from Aids in 2000, it was forecast last month.
The rapid and relentless spread of this fearful disease is a compelling witness to the dreadful consequences of the sin which is its main cause. There are other causes which do not involve any sin, but transgression of the Seventh Commandment continues to be the principal cause. The witness of Scripture is loud and clear: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7).