Archive for the 'Ethics' Category

Blatant promotion of assisted suicide by ABC TV

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If you wanted to euthanise someone with a drug or provide a drug for self-administered suicide, which drug would you recommend?

Pentobarbital (trade name Nembutal) is the lethal drug recommended and made available through Australia’s Dr Philip Nitschke of Exit International for euthanasia or assisted suicide.[1] Nitschke is a former medical doctor who also has a PhD in laser physics.[2]

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(image courtesy The Guardian)[3]Image result for image of Nembutal public domain
(image courtesy OAK, public domain)

What would you do if your national TV network, funded by tax payers’ dollars to the tune of approximately $1 billion Australian annually,[4] deliberately promoted only one side of a highly emotional contemporary issue? ABC TV’s 7.30 programme in Australia did just that on Thursday, 20 October 2016, with its advocacy for assisted suicide. How could one possibly describe it other than pursuing the role of an activist promoter?

What did it do? It provided video of euthanasia advocate, Max Bromson’s, giving himself a lethal dose of Nembutal, obtained from Philip Nitschke’s Exit International, to end his life. This was from video that the family filmed of his taking this lethal dose and then released to the ABC and the public.

The ABC gave only one side of the euthanasia controversy (with a small exception). It was grossly imbalanced in its coverage.

Therefore, I considered the place to begin was to …

1. Lodged a complaint with the ABC

This was my online complaint sent on 21 October 2016:

clip_image004(image courtesy Wikipedia)[5]

 

I viewed your story in support of euthanasia on the 7.30 programme, Thursday 20 October 2016. The story is titled, Family releases video of euthanasia advocate’s final moments, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2016/s4560443.htm. It includes video and transcript. This shows the dark side of what Philip Nitschke will do illegally.

I protest at the way 7.30 did not provide balance in this story. As a $1 billion tax payer-funded broadcaster, we deserve balance in programming. That is not what I viewed last night.

In this entire story, the only words against euthanasia were from South Australian Labor MP, Tom Kenyon:

TOM KENYON, SA LABOR MP: Some of us are Christians in this Parliament and we have views that are formed and informed by our Christian upbringing and our faith.

There’s nothing wrong with that….

TOM KENYON: The idea that the state should assist in the deaths of people, to contribute financially through resources, the allocation of resources to the deaths of people, is not something I’m prepared to counter [the video said ‘countenance’].

This was an emotionally charged story to support euthanasia, even though it is illegal in Australia. There was not a word on issues such as:

clip_image006 These are the possible deleterious consequences for a nation that legalises the killing of people under any circumstances and assists in their suicides.

clip_image006[1] All human beings have a right to life and palliative care during their painful sicknesses and dying years.

clip_image006[2] The medical profession’s role is to help control the pain and not organise the death or killing.

clip_image006[3] Reasons why killing of human beings should not be legislated.

clip_image006[4] What a death culture of euthanasia and assisted suicide will do to the culture of the nation.

I am not writing as a theoretician. My wife is dying of leukaemia. I have two severe disabilities.

I refer you to retired Australian anaesthetist, Dr Brian Pollard’s, assessment of the dangers of euthanasia: ‘Why safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth‘ (published in Quadrant 2011).

What will you do to bring balance to the 7.30 programme’s advocacy for euthanasia that was evident last night?

Yours sincerely,

Spencer Gear PhD

I asked for a response via email but my experience with the ABC in the past is not to be hopeful of any lasting change in journalistic policy in obtaining balance in reporting. Unless the government demands such balance for funding and signs a contract with the ABC and SBS to that effect, it will not happen.

2. The mass media jumped on board with this story

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Herald Sun front page 12 December 2005, reporting on the 2005 Cronulla riots (image courtesy Wikipedia).[6]

 

Especially the News Corp media took the opportunity to challenge the content of this story. The Herald Sun on 21 October 2016 published, ‘ABC criticised for showing final moments of euthanasia advocate Max Bromson’s life[7]. The article stated that its original edition was published as ‘ABC accused of “death voyeurism”’. ‘Death voyeurism’ was a term used by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in responding to the ABC story.

This Herald Sun article made these points:

clip_image009 Immigration Minister Peter Dutton accused the ABC of being “taken over” by political activists.

clip_image009[1] Tony Abbott: ‘Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there have to be standards of reporting. This is death voyeurism, not journalism’.

clip_image009[2] Neil Mitchell: ‘I strongly support voluntary euthanasia, but this was a blatant and irresponsible piece of attention-seeking by the ABC,’ the 3AW Mornings host said. He also called it ‘self-serving, self-indulgent journalism’.

clip_image011(photo Philip Nitschke 2016, courtesy Wikipedia)[8]

clip_image009[3] Bromson, a passionate and outspoken supporter of voluntary euthanasia, wanted to end his life his own way so he went to Philip Nitschke’s euthanasia advocacy group, Exit International, and secretly obtained the illegal euthanasia drug, Nembutal. Then at his chosen time when his bone cancer was severe, he asked family to take him to a motel room where he took the dose of Nembutal while his family filmed his last moments.

clip_image009[4] There are two bills before the South Australian parliament seeking to introduce voluntary euthanasia. This kind of political manoeuvring has been going on for two decades.

clip_image009[5] ‘The latest bid for change was launched on Thursday with the 15th bill since 1995 put before the lower house by advocate and Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge…. Dr McFetridge said his Choices and Dignity at the End of Life bill had embraced previous concerns from many MPs, making voluntary euthanasia only available to people with a terminal illness whose suffering had become intolerable’.

McFetridge claimed of his euthanasia legislation that ‘it also provided for seven clear steps before voluntary euthanasia would become available and barred people with a disability or mental illness from seeking euthanasia on those grounds’.

‘This is a choice that is wanted by those few people for whom palliative care does not work,’ Dr McFetridge said.

The Sun Herald article continued: ‘Let’s give those people the democratic right to make the decision about how they leave this life’.

‘Labor MP Steph Key, who introduced the 14th bill [into the South Australian parliament] in February, said the new measures had tightened the eligibility and assessment processes. “We have continued to consult widely on the proposed voluntary euthanasia laws and this new Bill will encompass all the checks and safeguards sought by our colleagues,” she said’.

3. Responding to secular arguments favouring euthanasia

clip_image012 The Herald Sun’s article included a poll, ‘Should the ABC have shown footage of a euthanasia advocate ending their own life?’[9] Here it provided opportunity for comments. Two supporters of euthanasia responded:

3.1 Human beings compared with animals

This person compared euthanasia of human beings with what the RSPCA would do with animals that were suffering in a similar way. She[10] compared animals found in poor state with people being prosecuted for euthanasia. However, we allow human beings to suffer, she said.

Those offended by the ABC 7.30 video should understand that ‘YOUR level of discomfort is nothing compared to what they are inflicting on these poor people. We need to stop and think for a minute about this. Making assisted suicide legal is different to making it compulsory! If YOU find the thought unpalatable, FINE don’t do it’.

She went down the standard line that ‘you do not have the right to impose your beliefs onto another human being. Making it legal will NOT result in more people dying, it will just help them die with dignity. We, collectively, as a society need to get OUR bloody noses out of other people’s business.[11]

Another replied:

3.2 Pray to your mythical god

This fellow was in agreement with the animal comparison by Pat but he took the opportunity to give God a secular slam in the religious gut:

I agree with Pat. If Max was a animal his carers would be prosecuted. As for the Liberal Senator Knoll, you can pray to your mythical god and suffer if he wishes you to me. I will die with dignity at my own hand where I want and when I want.[12]

3.3  I chose not to be silent

clip_image013This support for euthanasia and assistance in suicide, comparing with animals, needs a response. This is how I countered:[13]

The difference is that we are not animals. We are human beings. Promoting the killing of anyone is endorsing a mighty cultural shift.

There are important issues that need to be addressed before becoming gung-ho advocates of killing and assisted killing:

clip_image014 What are the possible deleterious consequences for a nation that legalises the killing of people under any circumstances and assists in their suicides?
clip_image014[1] All human beings have a right to life and palliative care during their painful sicknesses and dying years.
clip_image014[2] The medical profession’s role is to help control the pain and not organise the death.
clip_image014[3] We need much more detailed discussion on the reasons why killing of human beings should not be legalised.
clip_image014[4] What would a death culture of euthanasia and assisted suicide do to the culture of Australia, especially for those who are vulnerable?

I do not write as a theoretician. My wife is dying of leukaemia and I have 2 severe disabilities. I would never ever place my wife and me in the category of being animals that are so diseased and need to be put down. Life is given by God and he determines when our end should be.

clip_image016Job 1:21 (NLT) reminds us: ‘He (Job) said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”’ Psalm 139:16 (NIV) confirms that ‘Your (God’s) eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’.

Ronald, in shaking your fist at God and declaring that ‘you can pray to your mythical god’ you have committed an appeal to ridicule logical fallacy. We cannot have a logical discussion on such an important topic as end of life issues when you resort to this fallacious reasoning.

3.4 We choose what is right for each other

It was interesting to see how a non-Christian, relativist and secularist would respond to my challenge. She came back with a predictable promotion of autonomous reason:

clip_image018 She understood ‘exactly’ what I said. Her point was ‘that your choices are right for you under your circumstances’. However, living in our ‘wonderful democracy’ means I have the right to make my choice and others have the right not to share my ideals and beliefs.

clip_image018[1] They have as much right to an opinion and choice as I do.

clip_image018[2] There is ‘a difference between making something legal and making it compulsory’.

clip_image018[3] If I’m opposed to assisted suicide, she was confident that ‘nothing will change if it is made legal’.

clip_image018[4] She is not optimistic about the level of palliative care in hour health care for pensioners, veterans and terminally ill.

clip_image018[5] Who’s at fault? The politicians drop the ball as there are not enough votes in them. We can’t rely on good care being available for these people.

clip_image018[6] She wished me well in dealing with the personal tribulations of my wife and me.

clip_image018[7] In spite of my opposition, she will remain steadfast in her beliefs as stated.[14]

4. Logical consequences of ‘it’s right for you and not right for me’

What are the consequences of accepting Pat’s worldview and its values on euthanasia? This was my assessment of her use of autonomous reason in our democracy.[15]

I also understand what Pat says and the values driving her statements. It means that since we live in this wonderful Australian democracy we can make choices that are right for you and right for me. What’s the logical conclusion of this worldview driven by autonomous reason?

clip_image020Why stop with Pat choosing euthanasia and my opposing it because of choices in our democracy? There is no reason you can stop people making the right decision for them to break into your property and flog whatever they want. I don’t share that value, but who am I to stop them in a democratic society that allows choices?

Let’s press her worldview to another logical conclusion: Who am I to say that people should not murder human beings and lie about what they did when they are the choices they make? You may disagree in a democracy but neither of us should be forced to agree that stealing and murder are wrong if democratic values are maintained. Neither of us would have to agree that paedophilia and the rape of children is wrong. If it’s good for him to do that, who are we to oppose that value.

However, why are murder, theft, lying and rape illegal as absolute values in Australia? It’s because they are wrong, based on God’s transcendent standards in, say, the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17 NIV; Matthew 5-7 NIV). There are those who disagree and break the law in our democracy but they suffer just consequences.

She said, ‘If you are opposed to the concept of assisted suicide, then nothing will change if it is made legal.’ This is a false premise. Introducing voluntary killing of another person into our culture will change the very fabric of our society. There will be fear for the elderly, severely injured and others to enter hospital.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at what is happening in the Netherlands right now following legalisation in 2002. It started with Drs who could euthanise patients if they were competent, conscious, repeatedly asked for euthanasia, and were suffering unbearably as a result of an incurable disorder. What are they up to now? According to Reuters’ news agency of 12 October 2016, the Dutch government is drafting legislation to legalise assisted suicide for people who sense they have ‘completed life’ (the elderly) [Sterling 2016].

I refer you to retired Australian anaesthetist, Dr Brian Pollard’s, assessment of the dangers of euthanasia: Why safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth (Quadrant 2011).

I agree that more money needs to be spent on palliative care. That is one value on which Pat and I agree. However, autonomous reason in a democracy leads to chaos because no reigns can be placed on any moral values. It’s the natural outcome of relativism in action.

What is relativism? ‘The term “ethical relativism” encompasses a number of different beliefs, but they all agree that there are no universal, permanent criteria to determine what may or may not be an ethical act. God granted no divine command, and human nature displays no common law. Consequences have no bearing because each person or society may interpret the “rightness” of each consequence differently. Ethical relativism teaches that a society’s ethics evolve over time and change to fit circumstances’ (Got Questions 2002-2016).

We need absolute standards of right and wrong: It is wrong to steal, kill and tell lies. God provides those standards in Scripture (see Ex 20:1-17; Matt 5-7). Without God’s unchanging standards, there is no way to objectively determine if murder is anything different to euthanasia. The Canadian Law Reform Commission got it right in 1983 when it concluded that mercy killing (euthanasia) should not be made a separate category to homicide (reference below).

5. Other issues from the secularists’ responses

The secular responses from Pat and Don raise some other disturbing concerns about euthanasia.

5.1 Dying with dignity at my own hand

clip_image022Don stated: ‘I will die with dignity at my own hand where I want and when I want’.

As retired anaesthetist, Dr. Brian Pollard indicates, (see below), safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth. That Don wants to die with dignity at his own hand when he wants is a pleasing objective for a person using his or her autonomous reason. However, I have some questions:

(a) How does he know he will have a disease that will allow him to die with dignity at the end of life?

(b) History demonstrates that not all Drs can be trusted to implement the wishes of the patient.

(c) We know from the history of humanity that laws against murder, theft, rape and lying do not prevent those crimes from being committed. Therefore, to die with dignity could fall into the category of the Drs who lie about maintaining the law to euthanise human beings who voluntarily decide when they do it, without permission.

(d) A greater issue than the human side of dying is what lies beyond death. God has told us what that will be: ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).

Don as a secularist wants to give God a kick out of his life by assigning him to this place of imagination: ‘You can pray to your mythical god’. One minute after his last breath he will know he is dead wrong. How do I know? Truth is that which matches reality. I take Scripture and examine its description of what is happening in our contemporary world and I see an exact description of reality. Truth is that which matches reality. God’s truth in Scripture lines up with the reality of human experience in our contemporary world.

It demonstrates why doctors and human beings in general want to violate God’s way of life. Romans 1:18 (NLT) states it clearly: ‘God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’. In practical terms in the euthanasia discussion, God will show his anger towards all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth about whose responsibility it is to take life. They suppress this truth because of their practices of wickedness – sinful actions that violate God’s truthful rule in people’s lives and in our society.

I recommend to Don that he deals with something more serious than ‘dying with dignity’ and choosing the time, place and manner of his own death.

My article: “Will you be ready when death comes“, should give him food for thought.

5.2 What I’m inflicting on the suffering

Pat wrote some of the most provocative comments in her/his support of euthanasia. Here is another one:

Pat: ‘Anyone who took offense at the video should realize that YOUR level of discomfort is nothing compared to what they are inflicting on these poor people’.

Let’s get something clear. My opposition to euthanasia and my offense at the ABC 7.30 programme’s support of euthanasia with the film of Max Bromson’s death by assisted suicide, has zero to do with inflicting suffering on poor people in their distress.

My opposition to euthanasia is spelled out in detail in my article, based on my debate with Michael Moore MLA, Voluntary Active Euthanasia – a Compassionate Solution to Those in Pain?

My views are informed by:

  • Who gives and takes life – God – and that role should not be usurped by autonomous people who reason that killing or assistance in the killing of people is appropriate for a democratic culture. ‘The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up’ (1 Sam 2:6 NLT).
  • Many doctors cannot be trusted with obeying the euthanasia law (see below).
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5.3 You don’t have right to impose your beliefs

Pat: ‘But you do not have the right to impose your beliefs onto another human being. Making it legal will NOT result in more people dying, it will just help them die with dignity’.

Notice the hypocrisy in this statement. I don’t have the right to impose my pro-life beliefs on another human being. What is she doing? She is imposing her pro-euthanasia views on Australian society and I am included. It is paradoxical that someone doesn’t want my values but is brazen enough to push her values on me without seeing the hypocrisy.

I have as much right to oppose euthanasia in this democracy as I have to oppose murder, theft, rape and lying. I have every right to uphold God’s absolute standards of justice for a just society. For the Old Testament people of Israel, moral standards were contained in the Ten  Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV). Since the time of Christ, they have been the commandments of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 NIV). I have every right to promote the Sermon on the Mount as God’s absolutes for a society that brings justice.

It is a furphy (untrue or absurd) statement to say that I don’t have the right to ‘impose’ beliefs. A better way to put it would be: In this democracy, I have the right to demonstrate that adhering to God’s absolute laws of right and wrong leads to a society where justice is practised.

There is a further dimension: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people’ (Proverbs 14:34 NIV). For the Hebrews, ‘righteousness’ was synonymous for ‘justice’. God’s justice will exalt Australia and breaking God’s law by sinning against his righteous standards will condemn Australia to chaos and destruction. If Australia legislates in favour of euthanasia, it will be promoting injustice and condemning the country to God’s punishments.

Pat’s view was that making euthanasia ‘legal will NOT result in more people dying; it will just help them die with dignity’. This has been demonstrated to be false in the Netherlands. Will that also happen in Canada which also legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016?[16]

5.4 Keep OUR bloody noses out of another person’s business

clip_image026Pat: ‘We, collectively, as a society need to get OUR bloody noses out of other people’s business’.

She writes with some anger with his capitalisation of OUR. There are many good reasons why people should have their noses in other people’s businesses. That’s the responsibility of living in a caring, compassionate society. If my neighbour’s house is on fire, I’ll stick my nose into his business and call 000. If a thief breaks into the house, I’ll go to help him and do the best I can to catch the thief and hold him down.

To my dying day I’ll violate Pat’s command. Why? It IS my business if somebody is being murdered, raped, assaulted, or theft is taking place on anyone’s property that I know about. I have a duty of care and love for my neighbour, based on my Christian worldview: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31 NIV). Therefore, rejecting the deliberate killing or assistance in killing of another person through euthanasia for assisted suicide IS my business. I’ll stand up for life and not for murder. The right to life is one of God’s absolutes. It is His responsibility to take like when He is ready and not when autonomous reason says so.

Counselling people has been my business for 34 years (until retirement). I will not change my language from, ‘I’ll be available to help you with your depression or suicidal ideation’ to ‘I’ll be here to assist you to know that life is not worth living and I’ll refer you to a euthanasia doctor’. That changes the ethics of a caring professional. I will not buy into butchering ethics in that manner.

The Canadians got it correct in their 1983 Law Reform Commission on euthanasia. It concluded, following an inquiry, that ‘the Commission recommends that mercy killing not be made an offence separate from homicide and that there be no formal provision for special modes of sentencing for this type of homicide other than what is already provided for homicide’ (Parliament of Canada 1995, emphasis added).

5.5 Lack of good palliative care

Pat: ‘As for your reference to palliative care, I, sadly, do not share your optimistic view. In a perfect world, we would have excellent health care for our pensioners, veterans and terminally ill. The sad reality of it is, we do not. Our politicians continually drop the ball on these issues, guess there just aren’t many votes in it for them, so we cannot rely on the fact that good care will be readily available’.

This is one area where I agree with Pat. If politicians continue to oppose euthanasia (and I pray that they will), I ask them to pump more medical dollars into better palliative care and hospices for the suffering and dying.

6. We cannot trust all doctors to obey euthanasia laws

If we cannot accept that Australians will abide by laws against murder, lies and theft, why should we expect doctors to obey the parameters of euthanasia in any legislation that is passed into law?

See my article, An Aussie Way of Death: Euthanasia.[17]

I do not reject euthanasia because of the results it is likely to cause. We have international evidence that doctors cannot be trusted to abide by a euthanasia law.

clip_image027Steven Pleiter is the director of the Levenseindekliniek – End of Life clinic – in The Hague, The Netherlands. Angela Neustatter (2015) reported for The Guardian that in spite of his Christian upbringing, he wished he could have helped his mother his mother to die after she suffered a stroke. He’s aware of the arguments that people need to be protected from the chance they may improve in the future. However, he those who are really suffering and want help to die. He considers it morally right to give help in that situation.

Where does this lead? Neustatter (2015) reported that this kind of thinking extends to anyone over the age of 18 who fits the criteria. Pleiter told of a 22-year-old male who was paralysed from the neck down in a sporting accident and considered life unbearable as he began to go blind. ‘At this point, he was adamant he did not want to go on. We agreed to help and his parents were utterly supportive’. However, it was more controversial when a 47-year-old woman with incurable tinnitus (like train brakes constantly shrieking in her head) who convinced the clinic ‘her suffering was unbearable’.

The Levenseindekliniek clinic does not charge because it receives funding from the Holland government’s health system. Pleiter acknowledged that ‘we go to the borders of the law, but never outside. We are a professional organisation but one that believes you look at the fact that some people want to die as enabling them to accept responsibility for their choice. It is about using compassion to give them the dignity to go when they wish’ (Neustatter 2015).

An assessment of what is happening in Belgium was published in 2015 by the British Medical Journal (BMJ Open, ‘Euthanasia requests, procedures and outcomes for 100 Belgian patients suffering from psychiatric disorders: a retrospective, descriptive study’. It does not have an outcome that is optimistic for the legalisation of euthanasia.

Luke Gormally, director of London’s Linacre Bio-Ethics Centre (now called Anscombe Bioethics Centre), when in Australia warned of the message sent to youth with legalisation of euthanasia:

Legalizing euthanasia in Australia would send a ‘wholly negative message’ to young people and might even encourage teenagers to consider suicide, a British bioethics expert warned. Luke Gormally, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics in London, told a Sydney news conference Friday night that new research has shown that lobbying to legalize euthanasia generally occurs during economic slumps. The government of Northern Territory has already legalized euthanasia, and Australian philosophers Peter Singer and Helga Kuhse have called for the legalization of so-called mercy killing. Gormally said Singer and Kuhse had ‘no coherent concept of justice,’ and said the underlying philosophical reason for legalizing euthanasia is the judgment that certain lives were not worthwhile. ‘Not only is that concept subversive of the foundations of justice in society, but it would be an educational message of the kind Australian society just does not need,’ he said. He said legalizing euthanasia would send young people the message that suicide is an acceptable solution to problems. ‘Now it seems to me that a society that, through the law, is underwriting the notion that certain lives are not worthwhile is positively validating a perception that young people can lapse into at critical moments in their lives,’ he said. ‘It’s sending a wholly negative message about human life and human worth,’ Gormally said. He added, ‘I gather that the rate of teenage suicide in Australia is rather high,’ although he did not provide statistics. Gormally, in Australia to give public lectures in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, said a study by U.S. researchers had shown that calls to legalize euthanasia increase during times of economic depression (Anderson 1995).

See Gormally’s article, ‘Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Seven Reasons Why They Should Not Be Legalized’ (CAN).

The British Medical Association’s report against legalising euthanasia has been reviewed by Luke Gormally. These are the main points he makes (Gormally n d):[18]

clip_image029 Euthanasia must not be supported because of the value of the individual;

clip_image029[1] It is important to have an unambiguous rule against euthanasia’s killing in order to maintain the true character of the doctor’s commitment to patient care.

clip_image029[1]  The insensitivity of euthanasia needs to be acknowledged.

clip_image029[1]  Which human beings are of `inestimable value’ and why are they?

clip_image029[1] What counts as intentional killing?

clip_image029[1] It creates limits of the duty to treat.

We know that when we support voluntary euthanasia, it can go beyond the person’s choice. Holland is the most evident, contemporary example for which we have clear evidence. That country has permitted voluntary, active euthanasia as far back as 1973 and made it legal in 2002.

Dutch medical doctor, Dr. Karel Gunning, on his 1992 visit to Australia said: ‘Holland has indeed become a very dangerous country, as patients may have their lives ended without their request and without knowledge of the authorities. The doctor thus has become a powerful man, able to decide on life or death’. Dr Gunning wrote that ‘whatever our own position, we have to admit that euthanasia in the Netherlands is completely out of control. If you define euthanasia, as the Dutch Physicians’ League does, as “Consciously causing a patient’s death,” then it occurred in some 20,000 cases in the Netherlands in one year. Of a total annual mortality of 129,000, this amounts to over 15 percent of all deaths’ (Gunning n.d.).

clip_image030

[Photograph of 91-one-year old, Nel Bolten, showing her tattoo on her chest that says: ‘Do not reanimate, I am 91+’. It was taken on Nov. 15, 2014 in The Hague, The Netherlands (Ross 2015)].[19]

 

At a special presentation, Dr Gunning stated:

The government-installed Remmelink Committee, which issued a report on the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands in the year 1991, speaks of 2,300 cases of euthanasia, that is 1.8 percent of all deaths! They used another definition of euthanasia, to wit “life-ending treatment at the patient’s explicit request.”

Using our own definition we have to include, besides the 2,300 cases called euthanasia by the Committee, the 400 cases of assisted suicide and the 1,000 cases of ending a patient’s life without his request, also mentioned in the report. That makes together nearly 4,000 cases. But the report speaks also of cases where high doses of medicine for pain and symptom control were given or where treatment was omitted with the implied or explicit intention to hasten the patient’s death. And these cases are called “normal medical practice”. That is most frightening. Refraining from treatment which burdens the patient and cannot prevent his death is, of course, very good medical practice. But if it is done with the intention to end life, then it is not medical practice at all, but consciously causing a patient’s death, which we call euthanasia. On the basis of the numbers given in the Remmelink report the Dutch Physicians’ League had estimated the number of these cases at 16,000. Together, the League estimated the number of cases where the doctor had the intention (implied or explicit) to end the patient’s life at nearly 20,000 per year, that is over 15 percent of all deaths. These are huge numbers.

Now these conclusions and estimates of the Physicians’ League have been hotly contested. But in a recent letter to the editor of Medisch Contact (MC, April 29,1994), the official organ of the Royal Dutch Medical Association, the investigators of the Remmelink Committee themselves say that abstaining from treatment was done with the explicit intention to hasten the end of life in 11,000 cases. And high doses for pain and symptom control were given with the implied or explicit intention to hasten the end of a patient’s life in 6,500 cases. So, according to their estimates there must have been over 21,000 cases where the doctor had the intention (implied or explicit) to end the patient’s life, which is over 16.4 percent of all deaths, even more than the estimates of the Physicians’ League.

I mention these facts as a warning, because they show that we have no reason at all to tell the world to follow our example. They show how rapidly the Netherlands has slipped down the slippery slope. They show that, once you accept killing as a solution for one problem, you soon find a hundred problems for which killing can be regarded as a solution. First you kill at the patient’s request, then without request, a comatose patient or a handicapped newborn baby, then you help a healthy but depressed person to commit suicide, etc. (Gunning n.d.).

Dr K F Gunning is president of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life; Board Nederlands Artsenverbond – Dutch Physicians’ League (Gunning n.d.).

Of Holland, ‘We have no reason at all to tell the world to follow our example. They show how rapidly the Netherlands has slipped down the slippery slope’.

The New Scientist magazine (20 June 1992)[20] confirmed this alarming situation in an article titled, ‘The Dutch way of death’ (Rachel Nowak).[21] It stated that ‘doctors and nurses in the Netherlands can practise euthanasia if they stick to certain guidelines. Yet many patients receive lethal injections without giving their consent’. It went on to say:

In some hospitals, doctors routinely approach patients who are terminally ill, offering to inject them with lethal doses of barbiturates and curare. But Dutch euthanasia has its sinister side, too. Involuntary euthanasia of sick and elderly people is commonplace in the Netherlands, and that when patients do opt for euthanasia, it is frequently out of fear of being a nuisance rather than to avoid unnecessary physical suffering.

The details are alarming. At least a third of the 5000 or so Dutch patients who each year receive lethal doses of drugs from their doctors do not give their unequivocal consent. About 400 of these patients never even raise the issue of euthanasia with their doctors. Moreover, of those who willingly opt for euthanasia, only about 5 per cent do so solely because of unbearable pain.

New Scientist concluded that ‘these revelations strike a blow at the two central canons of the worldwide euthanasia lobby: that euthanasia should be used only as a means to end pointless physical suffering, and that the patient alone should make the decision’. As one Dutch doctor put it: ‘Everywhere doctors are terminating lives. The only difference in Holland is that here we talk about it’.

6.1 Latest news out of Europe

As I was writing this article on 22 October 2016, , I was alerted to an article in The Washington Post of 19 October 2016 (Lane 2016). Its title was, ‘Europe’s morality crisis: Euthanizing the mentally ill’, and contained this disturbing information:

Once prohibited — indeed, unthinkable — the euthanasia of people with mental illnesses or cognitive disorders, including dementia, is now a common occurrence in Belgium and the Netherlands.

This profoundly troubling fact of modern European life is confirmed by the latest biennial report from Belgium’s Federal Commission on the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia, presented to Parliament on Oct. 7.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for patients suffering “unbearably” from any “untreatable” medical condition, terminal or non-terminal, including psychiatric ones.

In the 2014-2015 period, the report says, 124 of the 3,950 euthanasia cases in Belgium involved persons diagnosed with a “mental and behavioral disorder,” four more than in the previous two years. Tiny Belgium’s population is 11.4 million; 124 euthanasias over two years there is the equivalent of about 3,500 in the United States.

The figure represents 3.1 percent of all 2014-2015 euthanasia cases — and a remarkable 20.8 percent of the (also remarkable) 594 non-terminal patients to whom Belgian doctors administered lethal injections in that period.

What’s a bit different about this Belgian report, however, is that it’s the first to appear since journalists and psychiatric professionals, inside Belgium and outside, began to take notice of what’s going on — and to raise questions about it.

Recent newspaper articles and documentaries focused on cases in which psychiatrists euthanized or offered to euthanize people with mental illnesses, some still in their 20s or 30s, under dubious circumstances.

In December, 65 Belgian mental-health professionals, ethicists and physicians published a call to ban euthanasia of the mentally ill.

Seemingly stung by these criticisms, the commission spends two of its report’s pages defending the system, explaining that all is well and that no one is being euthanized except in strict accordance with the law (Lane 2016).

This article again confirms the slippery slop with euthanasia legislation and how voluntary eventually becomes involuntary with euthanasia – even to killing young people with mental illnesses.

7. Why voluntary euthanasia cannot be controlled: Dr Brian Pollard speaks

Dr Brian Pollard is a retired Australian anaesthetist and palliative care physician, who founded and directed the first full-time palliative care service in a teaching hospital in Sydney at Concord Hospital in 1982 and directed it for five years. He is author of The Challenge of Euthanasia (Pollard 1994).[22] In this article, Pollard demonstrates why ‘every law to permit euthanasia will be inherently and unavoidably unsafe’ (Pollard 2011). These are some of his reasons:

clip_image032 ‘I believe that MPs, who have sole responsibility for making safe laws, should direct their attention to ensuring that draft euthanasia bills cannot imperil the lives of innocent people who do not wish to die’

clip_image032[1] ‘A common feature of those who advocate euthanasia bills is their touching faith that certain things will happen, just because the draft prescribes them. If that were true, no crime would ever be committed because all crime is currently forbidden by some law’.

clip_image032[2] He cited Yale Kamisar, an American professor of law in this field, who wrote a ‘seminal paper’ in 1958 in which ‘he listed these basic difficulties [with euthanasia laws]: ensuring that the person’s choice was free and adequately informed; physician error or abuse; difficult relationships between patients and their families and between doctors and their patients; difficulty in quarantining voluntary euthanasia from non-voluntary; and risks resulting from this overt breach of the traditional universal law protecting all innocent human life’.

Pollard observed that all of these problems ‘still exist and others have been added, such as the critical role of depression in decision-making and the evolution in the moral basis for requesting death from the relief of severe suffering in the terminally ill to reliance on respect for personal autonomy’.

clip_image032[3] Pollard observed that definitions are often vague or at odds with ordinary meanings. What about pain and suffering? He rightly pointed out that ‘both highly subjective experiences; neither can be measured or compared between persons’. He added that according to draft euthanasia bills, they ‘have to be simply accepted as the person describes them, even when this may raise serious doubt. And, as most now allow, if the symptoms are said to make life “intolerable”, even though it is recognised that what one person finds intolerable others can bear’,

There are many other factors he raises that need to be taken on board by legislators.

Voluntary euthanasia cannot be practised with integrity (my word) because:

clip_image032[4] ‘Wherever voluntary euthanasia is practised, legally or not, non-voluntary is also found, including in Australia. Many find this difficult to credit because, whatever their failings, doctors surely would not take life without any request. In fact, they do it because it seems logical’.

See also Dr Pollard’s interview with Robyn Williams on ABC’s Radio National, ‘Safe legalised euthanasia is a myth‘ (4 April 2004).

This happened in Holland. See my comments now on the Dutch Remmelink Report of 1991.

8. Doctors killing without explicit request in Holland: The Remmelink Report

What has been happening in The Netherlands where euthanasia has been practised since 1973 but only legal since 2002?

By eliminating the prosecutorial review of all cases, the government hopes to lessen doctors’ fears of possible prosecutions and encourage more doctors to actually report induced deaths. Reporting noncompliance is a major problem for the government. A Dutch study, published in 1996, found that the majority of Dutch doctors (59%) do not report voluntary euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths, and cases of involuntary euthanasia (without patients’ knowledge or consent) are rarely if ever reported. [van der Wal et al., “Evaluation of the Notification Procedure for Physician-Assisted Death in the Netherlands,” New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 11/28/96:1706-1707]….

In a more recent Dutch study, researchers found that 55% of the Dutch doctors interviewed in 1995 indicated that “they had ended a patient’s life without his or her explicit request” or “they had never done so but that they could conceive of a situation in which they would.” [van der Maas et al., “Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Other Medical Practices Involving the End of Life in the Netherlands, 1990-1995,” NEJM, 11/28/96:1701] (Patients Rights Council 2013).

An earlier official Dutch Government report (The Remmelink Report, 1991) gave conclusive evidence of abuse. The report showed clearly that doctors are killing without the explicit request of the patient. Doctors have violated the ‘strict medical guidelines’ provided by the Dutch courts (in Fleming 1992). See also Fleming (2003), ‘Euthanasia by omission in Australia: What the parliament does not allow, the courts allow’.

 

clip_image034

8.1 EUTHANASIA IN HOLLAND: CRITERIA LAID DOWN BY THE COURTS

(Although officially illegal at the time of the Remmelink Report in 1991), the courts provided these criteria:

1. The request for euthanasia must come only from the patient and must be entirely free and voluntary.

2. The patient’s request must be well considered, durable and persistent.

3. The patient must be experiencing intolerable (not necessarily physical) suffering, with no prospect of improvement.

4. Euthanasia must be a last resort. Other alternatives to alleviate the patient’s situation must have been considered and found wanting.

5. Euthanasia must be performed by a physician.

6. The physician must consult with an independent physician colleague who has experience in the field.[23]

8.2 BUT WHAT WERE THE RESULTS IN HOLLAND?

The Dutch report in the British medical journal, The Lancet, stated that ‘in cases of euthanasia the physician often declares that the patient died a natural death” (p. 669). This report indicated that 0.8% of the 38.0% of all deaths involving euthanasia were ‘life-terminating acts without explicit and persistent request’ (p. 670) [van der Maas, et al 1991:669). The abstract of this article stated that it:

presents the first results of the Dutch nationwide study on euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life (MDEL). The study was done at the request of the Dutch government in preparation for a discussion about legislation on euthanasia. Three studies were undertaken: detailed interviews with 405 physicians, the mailing of questionnaires to the physicians of a sample of 7000 deceased persons, and the collecting of information about 2250 deaths by a prospective survey among the respondents to the interviews. The alleviation of pain and symptoms with such high dosages of opioids that the patient’s life might be shortened was the most important MDEL in 17·5% of all deaths. In another 17·5% a non-treatment decision was the most important MDEL. Euthanasia by administering lethal drugs at the patient’s request seems to have been done in 1 ·8% of all deaths. Since MDEL were taken in 38% of all deaths (and in 54% of all non-acute deaths) we conclude that these decisions are common medical practice and should get more attention in research, teaching, and public debate (van der Maas et al 1991:669).

This means that the deaths of about 1,000 Dutch people in a single year were caused by a doctor who hastened the death of a patient without the patient’s explicit request and consent.

But there is more. Another assessment is that the real number of physician assisted deaths, estimated by the Remmelink Committee Report is, in reality 25,306 which is made up of (they’re on the overhead projector for you to see):

  • 2,300 euthanasia on request (Remmelink Report, 13),
  • 400 assisted suicide (ibid.15),
  • 1,000 life-ending treatments without explicit request (ibid.),
  • 4,756 died after request for non-treatment or the cessation of treatment with the intention to accelerate the end of life. cf, ibid, 15; there were 5,800 such cases but only 82% (i.e. 4,756) of these patients actually died. (cf Dutch Euthanasia Survey Report, 63ff).
  • 8,750 life prolonging treatment was withdrawn or withheld without the request of the patient either with the implicit intention (4,750) or with the explicit intention (4,000) to terminate life.[ibid., 69; There were 25,000 such cases but only 35% (i.e. 8,750) were done with the intention to terminate life. Cf ibid., 72; cf also Remmelink Report, 16).
  • 8,100 morphine overdose with the implicit intention (6,750) or explicit intention (1,350) to terminate life. Of these, 61% were carried out without consultation with the patient, i.e. non-voluntary euthanasia.
  • There were 22,500 patients who received overdoses of morphine, [cf Remmelink Report, 16. 36% were done with the intention to terminate life, cf Dutch Euthanasia Survey Report, 58. See ibid., 61, Tabel 7.7 (“Besluit niet besproken”)].

8.3 THIS TOTAL OF 25,306 PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED DEATHS AMOUNTED TO 19.61% OF TOTAL DEATHS [129,000] IN THE NETHERLANDS IN 1990.

‘To this should be added the unspecified numbers of handicapped newborns, sick children, psychiatric patients, and patients with AIDS whose lives were terminated by doctors according to the Remmelink Report’ (pp. 17-19).[24]

9. What about euthanising infants?

clip_image036

(close-up of Richard Jenne, the last child killed by the head nurse at the Kaufbeuren-Irsee euthanasia facility, Nazi regime).

 

The Dutch programme of euthanasia has moved quickly to go beyond the adult parameters of the law and legalisation. In fact, while there was no legislation but legal protocol for adult euthanasia, killing of children was happening.

This demonstrates that, like with laws against murder, theft, lying and rape, no legislation can curtail the boundaries when autonomous human reason, freedom, and sinful human beings are involved in determining the values of a culture.

‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard’ (Rom 3:23 NLT). What is sin? ‘Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God’’ (1 John 3:4 NLT). So anyone who breaks God’s law, ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13: Matt 5:21 NIV) is sinning. This latter verse states, ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’’’. God’s view is that anyone who commits murder through euthanasia is violating His law and also will be subject to God’s judgment. We are not told explicitly in this verse what that will be but warning about judgment from God should be given to everyone promoting euthanasia. They may not believe in God but will come under his judgment whether they accept it or not, just as a person will face judgment in Australia for breaking the law against perjury.[25]

The following is an example of euthanasia of infants in Holland. It was done at what was formerly the Academic Hospital, Groningen, but is now associated with The University Medical Center, Groningen:[26] The Weekly Standard report stated:

IN 2004, Groningen University Medical Center [The Netherlands] made international headlines when it admitted to permitting pediatric euthanasia and published the “Groningen Protocol,” infanticide guidelines the hospital followed when killing 22 disabled newborns between 1997 and 2004. The media reacted as if killing disabled babies in the Netherlands was something new. But Dutch doctors have engaged in infanticide for more than 15 years. (A Dutch government-supported documentary justifying infant euthanasia played on PBS [Public Broadcasting System USA] in 1993. Moreover, a study published in 1997 in the Lancet determined that in 1995, about 8 percent of all infants who died in the Netherlands—some 80 babies—were euthanized by doctors, and not all with parental consent; this figure was reproduced in a subsequent study covering the year 2001.)

As far back as 1990, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) published a report intended to govern “life-terminating actions” taken against incompetent patients, including severely disabled newborns. The KNMG approved of pediatric euthanasia if the baby is deemed to have an “unlivable life,” a concept disturbingly close to Binding and Hoche’s “life unworthy of life”[27] (Smith 2006).

clip_image037In 1984 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled voluntary euthanasia was acceptable, provided doctors followed strict guidelines. But, under Dutch criminal law, physicians could still face prosecution.

In 2002, the Dutch parliament voted to formally legalise the practice, making the Netherlands the first nation in the world to do so.[28] Belgium did it in that year as well. However, examine what has happened in the Netherlands:

 

clip_image039 Originally when The Netherlands legalised euthanasia [2002], it was for adults. Doctors could kill a patient if that person ‘was competent and conscious, had repeatedly asked for euthanasia, and was suffering unbearably as a result of an incurable disorder’ (Murray 2016).

clip_image041 Although Belgium had legalised euthanasia in 2002,[29] ‘in 2014, the Belgian parliament passed a bill that allows the euthanizing of children, no matter how young, so long as they are terminally ill. In Holland, the lower age limit for euthanasia is currently twelve with parental consent, though euthanasia advocates are pushing to eliminate any age limit’ (Murray 2016).

clip_image043 ‘In Holland today, it is accepted that people who are suffering unbearably from mental illness may be killed’ (Murray 2016).

clip_image045 On October 12, 2016, Reuters newsagency reported: ‘The Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalize assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life,” but are not necessarily terminally ill, it said on Wednesday (12 October 2016)…. Health Minister Edith Schippers wrote in the letter that “because the wish for a self-chosen end of life primarily occurs in the elderly, the new system will be limited to” them. She did not define a threshold age’ (Sterling 2016).

The slippery slope has happened in Holland. Euthanasia and assisted suicide cannot be contained.

10. Case studies of euthanasia

A Belgian physician and euthanasia activist, Wim Distelmans,[30] has released details of what he has done in Belgium:

In September [2013], the 60-year-old physician gave a lethal injection to Nathan Verhelst, 44, depressed over a failed sex-change operation. Last year [2012], he oversaw the double euthanasia of Marc and Eddy Verbessem, 45-year-old deaf twins who chose to die after learning they would lose their eyesight. Also last year [2012], he euthanized a despondent Godelieva De Troyer, 64, whose children learned of her death after the fact. And he acknowledges there are many more “borderline” cases that the public never hears about.

To some, Dr. Distelmans has come to embody the dangers of legalized euthanasia. “What is he? Is he God or something?” Ms. De Troyer’s son, Tom Mortier, asked in a recent interview (Hamilton 2013).

Charles Lane reported another case by Dr. Distelmans:

Frank van den Bleeken, imprisoned for 30 years for rape and murder, sought euthanasia from Distelmans, citing his incurable violent impulses and the misery of life behind bars. Belgian officials and Distelmans initially agreed; a lethal injection the murderer might have gotten as punishment in the United States would be supplied as therapy in anti-death penalty Europe.

In January, however, Distelmans backed out just before the scheduled procedure — there was still hope for van den Bleeken to get treatment at a facility in the Netherlands, he said (Lane 2016).

Dr Karel Gunning was a medical doctor in Holland. He gave examples of how doctors violated the Dutch euthanasia law:

An internist, called to see a lady with lung cancer who breathed with great distress, told her that he could help her, but that he would prefer to admit her to his hospital. The patient refused, as she feared to be euthanized. But the doctor told her that he would be on duty during the weekend and would admit her himself. She did go on Saturday. On Sunday night, she was breathing normally. On Monday morning the doctor was off duty. In the afternoon, he came back to the hospital but the patient was dead. A colleague had come in that morning and said, “We need that bed for another case. It makes no difference for her whether she dies today or after a fortnight!   So, the patient was euthanized against her explicit will.

I, myself, had a discussion with a colleague about administering morphine. I maintained that large [doses] are needed to kill a patient. At first he denied this, but suddenly said, “You are right. I remember a case of an old man who could die any day. His son came to see me. He was booked for a holiday and did not want to come home for his father’s funeral. He wanted the funeral to be over with before he left. So I went to see the old man and gave him a huge dose of morphine. In the evening I came back to declare death, but the patient was happily sitting on the edge of his bed. At last, he had gotten enough morphine to kill his pain.” My colleague told this story as if it were the most normal thing to do: to kill a patient in order to please the family (Gunning n.d.).

These examples from people in the medical profession demonstrate that some doctors cannot be trusted to obey the law, whether that relates to laws enacted by parliament or by court decisions. Voluntary, active euthanasia becomes involuntary killing of people who have not agreed to this killing.

Gunning (n.d.) rightly pointed out that two kinds of ethics are being promoted in the medical fraternity:

10.1 Humanitarian ethic

This ethic adheres to the universal principle in the Hippocratic Oath (formulated by Hippocrates in 400 BC). He was not a Christian but believed that doctors were powerful people who could decide on life and death issues for humanity. By this ethic, medical doctors swear that they will not use their knowledge or expertise to kill a person, before or after birth, not even with the patient’s own request. With the humanitarian ethic, the well being of the individual person is central (Gunning n d).

The classic version of the Hippocratic Oath contains this affirmation: ‘I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art’ (MedicineNet.com 2016).

The Christian-informed humanitarian ethic is practised by doctors and others who are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide and promote palliative care instead. They love their neighbour as themselves – as human beings made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7).

10.2 Utilitarian ethic

Act and rule utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. It deals with the consequences of actions,

Its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects….

Utilitarians believe that the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the amount of good things (such as pleasure and happiness) in the world and decreasing the amount of bad things (such as pain and unhappiness). They reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings. Instead, utilitarians think that what makes a morality be true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human (and perhaps non-human) beings (Nathanson n.d.)

Apply this to the euthanasia and assisted suicide debate and what do we get? It does not commit to the patient’s well being but to the well being (consequences) of others. Who judges whether the patient’s life is going to be a burden or of benefit to society? The doctor does!

Dr Gunning explained how this was captured in an article in California Medicine (September 1970, ‘New Ethic for Medicine and Society, pp, 67-68) which showed that historically the lives of all human beings had equal value. That cannot be maintained now with over population and people were no longer accepting the quality of life ethic (humanitarianism) for all people. Doctors were now making medical evaluations. Intentional killing of adults was too abhorrent so they started with abortion and have now moved to voluntary euthanasia. Gunning’s assessment was that ‘in the end, we would have death control as well as birth control, and we doctors should prepare ourselves for this new task’ (Gunning n.d.).

That’s the utilitarian ethic in action, all in the name of voluntary euthanasia that has moved to involuntary euthanasia or assisted suicide in a number of countries.

11. Where is euthanasia legal?

BBC News (Lewis 2015) reported that these were the countries and USA states that have legalised assisted dying:

  • The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg permit euthanasia and assisted suicide
  • Switzerland permits assisted suicide if the person assisting acts unselfishly
  • Colombia permits euthanasia
  • California has just joined the US states of Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana in permitting assisted dying
  • Canada permits euthanasia and assisted suicide from February 2016 (slightly earlier in the province of Quebec)

At the time of writing this article in October 2016, euthanasia and assisted suicide were illegal in Australia. However, there is advocacy by groups involved in university departments such as Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Australian Centre for Health Law Research. See its activist site, End of Life Law in Australia, at: https://end-of-life.qut.edu.au/. Within the next month, I hope to prepare a review of this site and note its ideological emphases. However, a brief overview seems to indicate that it is pushing for the reform of Australian law to accommodate euthanasia and assisted suicide. There also are activist groups such as Dying with Dignity Queensland[31] (my home state). Its theme is, ‘My life, my voice, my choice’. I have critiqued that worldview of autonomous reason above and its harmful consequences.

This also was indicated by this Law School’s invitation to Canadian Professor Jocelyn Downie to deliver the lecture, ‘The legalisation of medical assistance in dying – Lessons from Canada’ at the Gardens Theatre, QUT Gardens Point Campus, Brisbane, 19 October 2016, 6pm. I attended this lecture. This was an enthusiastic promotion of the Canadian law that has legalised euthanasia and to recommend a similar procedure in Australia. Professor Downie is Professor of Law at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.[32]

She was not a neutral person on the euthanasia issue at this lecture. Some Canadians have described her as a ‘pro-euthanasia prof’ and a ‘long-time advocate for the legalization of euthanasia’ (LifeSite News 2015). After the lecture, I spoke with one of the QUT professors, Professor Ben White, who promoted this lecture. I challenged the QUT censorship of the opposing view in this public presentation. He brushed the objection aside and considered the opposing view was covered adequately at Q&A at the end of the lecture and they have had other panel presentations that included a pro-life person. The Q&A at the lecture on 19 October 2016 was not an opportune forum to present a counter proposal, as there was not opportunity to challenge Downie’s responses and there were few who opposed Downie. It is an unfair imbalance to have a Professor of Law make a public presentation (with PPTs) in support of euthanasia in Canada and expect people in the audience to present the alternate view in the Q&A. That is destined to lead to an unfair exposure for euthanasia at the expense of the anti-euthanasia view.

At the lecture, I heard Prof. Downie state that ‘the feared slippery slope didn’t eventuate [in Canada]’. At Q&A after the lecture, I challenged her on this, providing evidence from Holland and Belgium. She resorted to denying this and using a genetic logical fallacy with her sprouting the superiority of peer-reviewed journals to my information from mass media sources. I had no right of reply to challenge her genetic fallacy. I hope I’ve presented enough information in this article from Dutch, Belgium and other medical sources to demonstrate that there definitely has been a slippery slope in euthanasia legislation in Holland from the legal system prior to 2002 and in legislation from 2002 to 2016.

12. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) on end of life care

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The AMA’s ‘Position Statement on the Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care 2007 (amended 2014)’ states that ‘The AMA believes that while medical practitioners have an ethical obligation to preserve life, death should be allowed to occur with dignity and comfort when death is inevitable and when treatment that might prolong life will not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or will impose an unacceptable burden on the patient’ (10.1).[33]

In section 10.5 of this Position Statement, it is stated: ‘The AMA recognises that there are divergent views regarding euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.[34] The AMA believes that medical practitioners should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life. This does not include the discontinuation of futile treatment’.[35]

What should an Australian doctor do if euthanasia or assisted suicide is requested by a patient? The AMA’s Position Statement is:

Patient requests for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide should be fully explored by the medical practitioner in order to determine the basis for such a request. Such requests may be associated with conditions such as a depressive or other mental disorder, dementia, reduced decision-making capacity, and/or poorly controlled clinical symptoms such as pain. Understanding and addressing the reasons for such a request will allow the medical practitioner to adjust the patient’s clinical management accordingly or seek specialist assistance (10.6).[36]

Therefore, the Australian Medical Association’s current policy is against the practice of medical doctors’ involvement in euthanasia and assisted suicide, with the view of ending a person’s life. However, as of 06 October 2015, the AMA was engaged in a ‘Review of AMA Policy on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide’. This is ‘part of a five year position statement review cycle’.[37]

13. Conclusion

Two of Australia’s major institutions are actively promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide, even though it is illegal. They are: (a) ABC TV’s 7.30 programme, and (b) Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research. However, other mass media (e.g. the Herald Sun) exposed the ABC’s ‘death voyeurism’ by showing film of the assisted suicide of a client.

In responding to secular arguments favouring euthanasia, it was shown that human beings are not animals and to choose what’s right for me must allow me to allow you to choose what’s right for you in the breadth of ethical issues, including murder, theft, lying, rape and euthanasia. One person’s assault on the Christian’s ‘mythical god’ was an appeal to ridicule fallacy. Pushing these secularists to the logical conclusions of their ethical relativism demonstrates the chaos that results when God’s ethical absolutes are abandoned

If I don’t have the right to impose my Christian beliefs, why are they imposing their secularist values? It’s a hypocritical value system that wants to censor Christian beliefs while promoting secular beliefs. If I’m to keep my nose out of another person’s business, then it will tear the fork out of altruistic values of caring for one another in a democratic society.

Illustrations were given of how medical doctors violate euthanasia laws when euthanasia is illegal or legal. Some doctors cannot be trusted to obey the law and voluntary euthanasia becomes involuntary euthanasia for unfortunate individuals who are killed without their permission. Retired Australian anaesthetist and palliative care specialist, Dr Brian Pollard, has provided evidence to demonstrate that any effort to achieve safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth. Euthanising infants is already taking place, outside of the law.

Several case studies were provided to demonstrate that euthanasia cannot be controlled by legislation or the legal profession. Dr Karel Gunning, a Dutch medical doctor, showed how this demonstrated two contrasting ethics in action: (a) The humanitarian ethic of caring for patients and valuing life, and (b) A utilitarian ethic where the end justifies the means.

The Australian Medical Association has affirmed that it does not support euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, it is examining this policy in light of its customary 5-year review.

The position demonstrated and advocated in this paper is that God gives life and it is his responsibility to end life in His time. It is not for autonomous human beings to decide when time is up and to murder them or assist in their committing suicide. This is how it is with God and human life: ‘You [God] saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed’ (Psalm 139:16 NLT).

There are sound biblical, practical and philosophical reasons for demonstrating that the relativistic, utilitarian ethic of euthanasia and assisted suicide is wrong for individuals and societies. Australia will be exalted as long as it promotes God’s absolutes of justice in its ethics. As soon as it promotes the sinful evil of euthanasia and assisted suicide it will bring disgrace and God’s judgment on Australia.

‘Justice exalts a nation, but sin is a people’s disgrace’ (Proverbs 14:34 NAB).

14. Works consulted

Anderson, T 1995. Euthanasia sends young ‘negative’ message. UPI (online), 10 November. Available at: http://www.upi.com/Archives/1995/11/10/Euthanasia-sends-young-negative-message/3926815979600/ (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Binding, K & Hoche, A n.d. Allowing the destruction of life unworthy of life. Athanatos Christian Ministries (online). Available at: http://lifeunworthyoflife.com/ (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Breen, J 2015. Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke sets medical certificate alight, rejects Medical Board’s conditions. ABC News, Brisbane Qld (online), 27 November. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/philip-nitschke-sets-medical-certificate-alight/6981522 (Accessed 23 October 2016).

Fleming, J 1992. Euthanasia, The Netherlands, and the slippery slopes. Bioethics Research Notes Occasional Paper No.1, June. Published by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, PO Box 206, Plympton SA 5038, Australia. It is now associated with the Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture at: http://www.bioethics.org.au/index.html (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Fleming, J I 2003. Euthanasia by omission in Australia: What the parliament does not allow, the courts allow. Bioethics Research Notes 15(2), Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia . Available at: http://www.bioethics.org.au/Resources/Online%20Articles/Opinion%20Pieces/1502%20Euthanasia%20by%20omission%20in%20Australia.pdf (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Got Questions 2002-2016. What is ethical relativism? Available at: https://gotquestions.org/ethical-relativism.html (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Gunning, K F n.d. Practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands. CHN (Compassionate Healthcare Network). Available at: http://www.chninternational.com/Gunning%202006.html (Accessed 23 October 2016).

Hamilton, G 2013. Death by doctor: Controversial physician has made his name delivering euthanasia when no one else will. National Post (Canada), 22 November. Available at: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/death-by-doctor-controversial-physician-has-made-his-name-delivering-euthanasia-when-no-one-else-will (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Lane, C 2016. Europe’s morality crisis: Euthanizing the mentally ill. The Washington Post, 19 October. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/europes-morality-crisis-euthanizing-the-mentally-ill/2016/10/19/c75faaca-961c-11e6-bc79-af1cd3d2984b_story.html?utm_term=.bf3082d3e044 (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Lewis, P 2015. Assisted dying: What does the law in different countries say? BBC News, 6 October. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-34445715 (Accessed 24 October 2016).

LifeSite News 2015. Pro-euthanasia prof: Supreme Court ruling allows doctors to do lethal injections (online), 5 March. Available at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-euthanasia-prof-supreme-court-ruling-allows-doctors-to-do-lethal-inject (Accessed 24 October 2016).

MedicineNet.com 2016. Definition of Hippocratic Oath, 13 May. Available at: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20909 (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Murray, D 2016. Grim Reaper, M.D. National Review.(online), 25 April. Available at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434446/euthanasia-belgium-netherlands-slippery-slope (Accessed 19 October 2016).

Nathanson, S n.d. Act and rule utilitarianism. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/util-a-r/ (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Neustatter, A 2015. Assisted dying: how does it work in a Dutch end-of-life clinic? The Guardian (online), 12 September. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/sep/11/assisted-dying-dutch-end-of-life-netherlands-unbearable-suffering (Accessed 24 October 2016.

Nicholl, D 2011. Lundbeck and pentobarbital: pharma takes a stand. The Guardian (online), 1 July. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/01/pentobarbital-lundbeck-execution-drug (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Nitschke, P & Stewart, F 2006. The peaceful pill handbook. Lake Tahov NV: Exodus International US Ltd.

Normally, L n.d. The BMA Report on Euthanasia and the Case Against Legalization (1994): A review of the Report by Luke Gormally. Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford UK. Available at: http://www.bioethics.org.uk/view_article.php?view=View&type=0&article_title=The%252BBMA%252BReport%252Bon%252BEuthanasia

%252Band%252Bthe%252BCase%252BAgainst%252BLegalization%252

B%25281994%2529 (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Parliament of Canada 1995. Special Senate committee on euthanasia and assisted suicide: Of Life and Death – Final Report, Appendix D, June. Available at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/351/euth/rep/lad-a2-e.htm (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Patients Rights Council 2013. Dutch Parliament votes to legalize euthanasia. Update 022: Volume 14, Number 3 (2000) [online]. Available at: http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/update022/ (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Pollard, B 1989. Euthanasia: Should we kill the dying? Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Little Hills Press.

Pollard, B 1994. The Challenge of euthanasia. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Little Hills Press.

Pollard, B 2011. Why safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth. Quadrant, January-February. Available at: https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2011/01-02/why-safe-voluntary-euthanasia-is-a-myth/ (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Ross, W 2015. Dying Dutch: Euthanasia Spreads Across Europe. Newsweek, 12 February. Available at: http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/20/choosing-die-netherlands-euthanasia-debate-306223.html (Accessed 24 October 2016).

Smith, W J 2006. Killing babies, compassionately. The Weekly Standard (online), 26 March. Available at: http://www.weeklystandard.com/killing-babies-compassionately/article/13146 (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Sterling, T 2016. Dutch may allow assisted suicide for those who feel life is over. Reuters (Amsterdam), 12 October. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-euthanasia-idUSKCN12C2JL (Accessed 22 October 2016).

Van der Maas, P J; Delden, J J M; Pijnenborg, L & Loom, C W N 1991. ‘Euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life’, The Lancet, September 14. Abstract available at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PII0140-6736(91)91241-L/abstract (Accessed 22 October 2016).

15.  Notes


[1] See Nitschke & Stewart (2006:137).

[2] Exit International n.d. Philip Nitschke. Available at: https://exitinternational.net/about-exit/dr-philip-nitschke/ (Accessed 25 October 2016).

[3] Nicholl (2011).

[4] The 2016-17 budget for the ABC (post-efficiencies) is $1.009 billion. Then add the SBS budget (post-efficiencies) for the same year of $274.5 million and we see that approx. $1.27 billion is given to the ABC/SBS consortium by tax payers to present a one-sided euthanasia story (as an example). For these budgetary figures see, Malcolm Turnbull MP, ‘FAQs on the ABC and SBS’, 19 December 2014. Available at: http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/faqs-on-the-abc-and-sbs#budget (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[5] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABC_(Australian_TV_channel) (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[6] Wikipedia 2016. Herald Sun, 23 October. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herald_Sun (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[7] Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/television/abc-criticised-for-showing-final-moments-of-euthanasia-advocate-max-bromsons-life/news-story/c395200bcdc98bace24044e148f20f51 (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[8] Wikipedia 2016. Philip Nitschke, 23 October. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Nitschke (Accessed 23 October 2016). Nitschke set fire to his medical certificate, rejecting the Medical Board of Australia’s conditions placed on him. ABC News Brisbane, Qld., reported Nitschke’s statement: ‘Today, and with considerable sadness, I announce the end of [my] medical career,’ he said. He maintained that ‘the conditions the board has sought to impose on me … amount to a heavy handed and clumsy attempt to restrict the free flow of information on end-of-life choice’ (Breen 2015).

[9] Poll results as of 22 October 2016, 6.18am Qld time. Available at: https://polldaddy.com/poll/9557482/?view=results (Accessed 22 October 2016). The poll is at Herald Sun, 21 October 2016 at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/television/abc-criticised-for-showing-final-moments-of-euthanasia-advocate-max-bromsons-life/news-story/c395200bcdc98bace24044e148f20f51 (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[10] Her name was Pat and I’m unsure if this person was female but her writing style seemed to fit more for a female than a male in the caring way she responded to me, but that is only a ‘seemed so’ as my subjective interpretation.

[11] Pat, 21 October 2016. Available at: https://polldaddy.com/poll/9557482/?view=results (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[12] Ibid., Ronald Spencer, 21 October 2016.

[13] Ibid., Spencer, 21 October 2016.

[14] Ibid., Pat, 21 October 2016.

[15] Ibid., Spencer, 21 October 2016.

[16] Canada drafts law to allow euthanasia 2016. SBS News, 15 April. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/04/15/canada-drafts-law-allow-euthanasia (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[17] The following information is taken from that article.

[18] Even no date was given for this review, it had to be in 1994 or shortly thereafter.

[19] This photograph is courtesy Pinterest at: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/389631805241360807/ (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[20] New Scientist, June 20; 1992. vol 134 (1826): 28-30.

[21] Accessed 2 January 2010. However, on 22 October 2016 this article was available only by subscription.

[22] These biographical details are from Pollard (2011).

[23] Summarised by Mrs. Borst-Eilers, Vice-President of the Health Council (a body which provides scientific advice to the Dutch government on health issues). In I.J. Keown, “The Law and Practice of Euthanasia in The Netherlands”, The Law Quarterly Review, Vol. 108, January 1992, p. 56.

[24] Source: Dutch-speaking Dr. Daniel Ch Overduin, Vita, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 1992, pp. 2-3].

[25] Perjury is ‘The offence of wilfully telling an untruth or making a misrepresentation under oath’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2016. s v perjury).

[26] Information gained from: https://www.umcg.nl/EN/corporate/The_University_Medical_Center/Paginas/default.aspx (Accessed 22 October 2016).

[27] See Binding & Hoche (n.d.). This relates to the ideology of two non-Nazi academics that led to the Nazi Holocaust and its practice of involuntary euthanasia of those with ‘life unworthy of life’.

[28] David Johnson 2000-2016. Legalized euthanasia. Infoplease. Available at: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/euthanasia1.html (Accessed 19 October 2016).

[29] ProCon.org 2016. Euthanasia & Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) around the World. Available at: http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000136 (Accessed 19 October 2016).

[30] This article states that Distelmans is ‘a cancer specialist, professor in palliative care and the president of the Belgian federal euthanasia commission poses in Wemmel, Belgium’ (Hamilton 2013).

[31] See: http://dwdq.org.au/ (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[32] See: https://www.dal.ca/faculty/law/faculty-staff/our-faculty/jocelyn-downie.html (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[33] Australian Medical Association, Position Statement, available at: https://ama.com.au/sites/default/files/documents/ps_on_the_role_of_the_medical_practitioner_in_end_of_life_care_2007_amended_2014_0.pdf (Accessed 24 October 2016).

[34] At this point in this ‘AMA Position Statement’, there was the footnote, ‘Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient for the purpose of ending intolerable pain and/or suffering. Physician assisted suicide is where the assistance of the medical practitioner is intentionally directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life’.

[35] AMA Position Statement, loc cit.

[36] AMA Position Statement, loc. cit.

[37] See Australian Medical Association, Australian Medicine 2016. Available at: https://ama.com.au/ausmed/review-ama-policy-euthanasia-and-physician-assisted-suicide (Accessed 24 October 2016). This statement on the Review of euthanasia and assisted suicide policy is made ‘by Dr Michael Gannon, Chair of the AMA Ethics and Medico-Legal Committee’.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 October 2016.

Graphic abortion images removed from Queensland submission

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

26 Week Abortion

(photo 26 week abortion, courtesy AbortionNO)

By Spencer D. Gear PhD

I made a 15-page submission to the Queensland ‘Abortion Law Reform (Woman’s Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016 that was submitted in June 2016. It was published online as submission No 455 at: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/HCDSDFVPC/2016/AbortionLR-WRC-AB2016/submissions/455.pdf (Accessed 16 July 2016).

The Bill is designed to change the law to decriminalise the killing of the unborn through abortion. My emphasis was to retain the law as it exists.

You will note in my published submission online that the Parliamentary office has chosen to:

A. Blank out certain portions of my submission

Here is how the censorship appeared. This table with a picture was blacked out.

5. This will be what will happen for many Qld children if MPs CHOOSE to reject the Bill.

You will choose this kind of life over death!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. This also was blanked out

7. This will be what happens to unborn Qld children if you CHOOSE to pass this Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. What did I send in my submission?

5. This will be what will happen for many Qld children if MPs CHOOSE to reject the Bill.

You will choose this kind of life over death!

clip_image002
(photo courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

D. This also was sent in the submission

 

7. This will be what happens to unborn Qld children if you CHOOSE to pass this Bill.

clip_image004
(image courtesy Abortion Truth)
clip_image006
(image courtesy 100 abortion pictures)

E. Conclusion

I am left to conclude that the graphic contrast between a newly born and growing child when compared with aborted remains of 2 children were too graphic for the government bureaucrats to include. Or could I be more accommodating and concede that the guidelines for submissions prevented the use of graphics? This especially applied to photos that would show the existence of a human being who was slaughtered by abortion and the unsightly remains that clearly demonstrate the nature of abortion.

Here’s the contrast again of life for children and the killing of children in the womb (abortion):

Image result for Newborn Baby on an Arm public domain
(photo courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

(photo courtesy www.abortiontruth.com)

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 September 2016.

Queensland Senator bullying Queensland MPs

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

(image courtesy clker.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How do you think a politician would push her views on abortion? I wrote to her on 5 November 2015 by email to expose what I understood she was doing. The title of my email was, ‘Quit your histrionics[1] and bullying’:

I read the article in the Brisbane Times (2 November 2015) about what you are doing to Queensland State MPs, ‘Greens Senator Larissa Waters wants Queensland MPs to show position on abortion‘.

Please quit this action of bullying Qld MPs. They are big boys and girls who are capable of thinking through the abortion issues themselves.

We already have provision for doctors to abort if there is physical or mental danger to the mother.

It is important that children be protected from conception. You obviously don’t give a hoot about that view. It’s important to safeguard children from murder while they are in the womb. There are life and death reasons for keeping the Qld abortion laws as they are.

It is time for you, a federal Qld senator, to remove yourself from wanting to influence State MPs like this and using the mass media to push your view. What you are doing is engaging in histrionic bullying of MPs with your public demands.[2]

How do you think her office would reply to this kind of personal email from me?

A. Red herring reply from a Senator’s office

I want to commend the Senator’s office for replying to my email because many of the Senators I contact do not get back to me at all. It’s as if my writing to them, for whom I have voted, is a waste of time. However, how did the person in the senator’s office reply? Here it is:

Thank you for contacting Senator Larissa Waters regarding abortion.

Senator Waters respects your concerns and acknowledges your perspective on this issue.

The Australian Greens have been, and continue to be, strong supporters of women’s right to access free, safe and legal termination services.  The Greens believe it’s unacceptable that so many Australian women still struggle to access this basic health service, which is why we will continue to work to improve women’s access to termination services.

Thank you again for contacting Senator Waters to express your views.

Regards,

[staff member’s name]

Office of Senator Larissa Waters [3]

Notice what she missed from my email of 5 November to Senator Waters? She omitted one of my primary emphases that I placed in the email title, ‘Quit your histrionics and bullying’. Not once in this reply did the staff member mention my accusation of bullying of Qld MPs – not once. She avoided it to push Senator Waters’ pro-abortion agenda.

(Herrings kippered by smoking and salting until they turn reddish-brown, i.e. a “red herring”. Prior to refrigeration kipper was known for being strongly pungent; courtesy Wikipedia)

By avoiding the topic I raised of histrionic bullying of MPs, Senator Waters’ office has practised a red herring logical fallacy. What is that? The Nizkor Project explains:

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. Topic A is under discussion.

2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (The Nizkor Project 2012. S v red herring).

Therefore, I responded to Catherine Garner via email:[4]

Your response is a red herring logical fallacy. You did not address the issue I raised of Senator Waters bullying Qld MPs about their views on abortion. Please quit it. Bullying in all its forms should not be promoted, let alone practised, by Senator Waters.

1. Politicians among least trusted

Your reply endorses fallacious reasoning. No wonder in 2011, reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, it was found that ‘this year’s Reader’s Digest survey on the most-trusted professions sandwiches politicians between car salesmen and telemarketers, in the bottom three out of a list of 45 vocations’. Politicians were 44 on the list of 45′ (The Sydney Morning Herald 2011). Sadly, journalists were competing with politicians near the bottom of that list at No. 40. In fact, sex workers are at #39, meaning that politicians are less trusted than prostitutes.[5]

How was Senator Waters tackling the views of Queensland MPs on abortion?

B. Politician bullying other politicians

clip_image002(photo of Senator Larissa Waters, courtesy Wikipedia)

 

This federal Greens’ senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters was bullying Qld MPs with some of these emphases, as reported by the Brisbane Times:[6]

1. She was asking Queensland State MPs to declare their position on decriminalising abortion. Why? It was a component of her campaign to expose what she considers is Qld’s ‘outdated law’ that she wants changed. To me, this seems like a predicted technique. She is pushing for a change in Qld State legislation. So what better way to do this than to unmask the politicians’ perspectives on abortion so that she could then attempt to debunk or parade their values for possible ridicule or exposure in their electorates?

However, she is a federal politician and should be leaving State politics to the state political sphere. This doesn’t prevent her from expressing her views. However, she did it in a very public sphere through this article in the Brisbane Times.[7]

2. This was associated with a report in the Brisbane Times that Qld women were travelling interstate to obtain abortions (Mitchell-Whitington 2015). This article claimed Qld women wanting abortions were breaking the law by going south for the procedure. ‘In 2014, Children by Choice referred 77 women interstate, with similar organisations making the same type of referrals so that figure is probably much higher’, claimed Professor Caroline de Costa of James Cook University School of the College of Medicine and Dentistry.[8] De Costa’s contention was that ‘extensive abortion “tourism” from all Australian states to Victoria and overseas (is occurring) in the face of barriers to access to abortion’.

So this Brisbane Times article garnered a pro-abortion response from a Professor of Medicine. Where was the balance? I did not find a right of response from Cherish Life, a right-to-life organisation.

3. This is how Waters is bullying Qld MPs. It was reported that ‘Larissa Waters has begun campaigning to decriminalise the procedure [of abortion] in the sunshine state, with plans to publish where Queensland’s MPs stand on the issue’ (Remeikis 2015). This kind of threat amounts to bullying by intimidation, in my view.

4. This article stated, ‘”The fact that abortion is still a crime in Queensland creates stigma and legal uncertainty for women and for doctors,” Ms Waters said in the letter to the state’s MPs’. So Waters is pushing the stigma and legal side to try to get MPs to declare their hand on abortion so that she will shame them (this is how I see it) about ‘the dearth of access to abortion in Queensland’ (Remeikis 2015).

5. The bullying by shaming continues: ‘Our outdated laws, are hurting Queensland women’. This is guilt by association. If Qld MPs support the current abortion laws they are endorsing old fashioned laws that are hurting women, according to Waters.

6. The guilt by association and bullying continued: ‘Ms Waters said polling shows four out of five voters supported decriminalising abortion, with the Australian Medical Association of Queensland calling the current law “a barrier to a doctor’s first duty – best patient care”’. Not one statistic was quoted by the Brisbane Times or Ms Waters to support this assertion of the percentage of Queenslanders who support abortion. However, elsewhere these are the polling statistics that were not 80% in favour of abortion:

ALMOST two-thirds of Queenslanders support the decriminalisation of abortion, according to an exclusive Galaxy opinion poll.

The poll of 800 voters, conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail, found 64 per cent believed abortion should be legalised, while 31 per cent disagreed. Five per cent were uncommitted (Miles 2009, emphasis in original).

A year later it was reported:

Image result for clipart research public domain

(image courtesy clipartpal.com)

New independent polling by Galaxy Research reveals Queensland voters are evenly split on whether to “decriminalise abortion”, despite widespread media coverage of the recent Cairns court trial and contrary to recent claims by the pro-abortion lobby that there is 90 per cent support.

The poll, taken after the week-long trial, shows a cautious attitude towards abortion with 29 per cent saying they would not allow abortion “at any stage of pregnancy”. This makes a total of 74 per cent of Queenslanders who would not permit abortion beyond the first trimester, or not at all.

Even support for first-trimester abortions is qualified because half (49 per cent) of Queensland voters do not support abortion for non-medical reasons (that is, social or financial reasons). Of course, it is deemed common knowledge that the majority of the annual 14,000+ abortions in Queensland are carried out for non-medical reasons, something which may shock the general public if they knew.

Catapulting the cause for abortion law reform into media headlines was the trial of a young couple in Cairns during October 12-14. After only one hour of deliberation the jury found them not guilty of the two charges: procuring one’s own abortion and supplying a drug to procure an abortion (McCormack 2010, emphasis in original).

Commenting on this poll, the Australian Christian Lobby stated:

“Despite activist organisation GetUp! reportedly claiming that decriminalising abortion has 90% public support, this new poll shows that 74% of Queensland voters are opposed to abortion past the first trimester,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said. “Another important finding is that almost everybody (94%) believes that a woman should receive free independent counseling to enable a fully informed decision. Three quarters of respondents (77%) believed that abortion can harm the mental and physical health of a woman.

“The poll also found that 29% of respondents did not support abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, and that nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said they did not support abortion for non-medical reasons. This is particularly noteworthy considering that the vast majority of abortions carried out in Australia today are not for medical reasons, but for purely for financial or social reasons.

“There is clearly no consensus that abortion laws should be changed except to introduce better safeguards for women such as independent counseling, cooling-off periods and parental consent for girls under 16,” Mr Wallace said (Australian Christian Lobby 2010).

A 2008 survey reported in The Medical Journal of Australia came to different conclusions. It was ‘an anonymous online survey of 1050 Australians aged 18 years or older (stratified by sex, age and location) using contextualised questions, conducted between 28  and 31 July 2008’ and reached the conclusion that there was,

a high level of support for access to early abortion; 87% of respondents indicated that abortion should be lawful in the first trimester (61% unconditionally and 26% depending on the circumstances). In most of the clinical and social circumstances described in our survey, a majority of respondents indicated that doctors should not face professional sanctions for performing abortion after 24 weeks’ gestation.

Conclusions: Our data show that a majority of Australians support laws which enable women to access abortion services after 24 weeks’ gestation, and that support varies depending on circumstances. Simple yes/no polls may give a misleading picture of public opinion (de Crespigny et al 2010).

However, this study did admit that ‘late abortion is especially controversial, although less than 2% of abortions occur at 20 weeks or later. Few data support the belief that Australians strongly oppose women’s access to late abortion, while surveys in the United Kingdom and United States do report opposition’ (de Crespigny et al 2010).

C. Abortion ‘tourism’ is pathetic publicity

passenger airplaneProfessor de Costa of James Cook School of Medicine used a wretched designation for the travelling to another city to have an abortion. She called it, ‘extensive abortion “tourism”… in the face of barriers to access to abortion’ (Mitchell-Whitington 2015). Sarah Colyer (2015) for the Australian Medical Association also used the language of ‘abortion tourism’ and cited Professor de Costa in her article, along with others. In a Media Release for the Australian Medical Association on 26 October 2015, Professor de Costa again repeated the offensive language of ‘tourism’ to obtain an abortion because of the divergence in legislation across Australia: ‘The result of these differences is continuing and extensive abortion “tourism” from all Australian states to

Victoria and overseas in the face of barriers to access to abortion’ (de Costa 2015).

1. ‘Medical tourism’ in action

I find it abominable that any medical doctor or professor could call the killing of an unborn child in abortion to be an example of tourism in action. Wouldn’t travelling interstate to murder somebody be a better description of what goes on?

How do you think others see this view of ‘tourism’? One comment to Colyer (2015) was: ‘The use of the word “tourism” in this article is in the same context as “medical tourism” – where people travel to have procedures or treatment that are not accessible to them locally – either due to availability or cost. The term does not intend to trivialise the treatment, but to describe the act of travelling’ (comment by Sue Ieraci). Another’s response was more provocative, ‘“Tourism’”??? Really???? I find this both an inflammatory and demeaning term to be used in the exploration of a significant health issue’ (Nicole L in Colyer 2015). How does a doctor of conscience with a different view to that of de Costa and others deal with abortion?

I work in Victoria and am always concerned about the welfare and rights of both mother and baby when a woman with an unwanted pregnancy presents. It happens to me very rarely now as I get older.

Unless the mother’s viability is in real danger and there therefore exists the mother’s right to act in self defence of her life, I will not be part of killing anyone. Therefore, I refuse to be involved in a referral for abortion to someone who is not of the same moral belief. i.e. I will break the law in Victoria where my right as a citizen to act according to my conscience has been legislated away as a result of the unfortunate alliance of left wing Victorian Labor politicians of the early 2000s. Emily’s List is a very powerful lobby group in the Labor Party who have engineered legislation which allows the legal killing of babies while in utero until birth. What barbarity! (Paul Jenkinson in Colyer 2015).

I’m with you, Nicole. To describe travelling to have a procedure to kill an unborn child as ‘tourism’ is not only demeaning and abominable but profane,[9] in my view. The abuse of a life given by God (the child in the womb) through killing is vulgar and wicked to redefine as tourism, even medical tourism. What is a nation coming to where a professor of medicine is prepared to publicly go on record as regarding murder of an unborn child as tourism?

This does get down to worldview and scientific issues regarding the commencement of human life.

D. Conclusion

This article commenced with a Qld example of a Qld federal Senator, Larissa Waters, who was pressuring (bullying was my language) Qld MPs for their views on abortion so that she could pressure them to decriminalise abortion in Qld.

What was her purpose? She wanted to prevent ‘medical tourism’ by which a pregnant woman would travel to another state or territory to have her abortion – the killing of her unborn child.

The Brisbane-based ‘Children by Choice’, states that the organisation ‘is proud to have the support of our three patrons – Senators Claire Moore, Sue Boyce and Larissa Waters’. So that nails Senator Waters’ colours to the mast. She’s a promoter of abortion and her bullying Qld MPs to obtain their views on abortion seems to be to pressure them into providing evidence that her pro-abortion side can use to manipulate Qld laws for pro-abortion change to decriminalise abortion.

I find the tactic abominable that she has used.

Works consulted

Australian Christian Lobby 2010. Qld polling challenges pro-abortionist claims (online), 29 October. Available at: http://www.acl.org.au/2010/10/qld-polling-challenges-pro-abortionist-claims/ (Accessed 10 November 2015).

Colyer, S 2015. Call to end “abortion tourism”. MJAInSight[10] (online), 26 October. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/insight/2015/41/call-end-abortion-tourism (Accessed 11 November 2015).

de Costa, C 2015. Advances in fetal medicine outstrip abortion law reform. The Medical Journal of Australia: Media Release (online), 26 October. Available at: https://www.scimex.org/__data/assets/file/0007/57355/Abortion-Laws_MJA_Media-release.pdf (Accessed 11 November 2015)

de Crespigny, L J; Wilkinson, D J; Douglas, T; Textor, M & Savulescu, J 2010. Australian attitudes to early and late abortion. The Medical Journal of Australia (online), 193 (1), 9-12. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/193/1/australian-attitudes-early-and-late-abortion (Accessed 10 November 2015).[11]

McCormack, L 2010. QUEENSLAND: 12 per cent swing in favour of protecting unborn. News Weekly, November 13. Available at: http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=4491 (Accessed 10 November 2015).

Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).

Miles, J 2009. Two thirds support abortion law change: poll. The Courier-Mail, September 15. Available at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/two-thirds-support-abortion-law-change-poll/story-e6freon6-1225773035076 (Accessed 10 November 2015).

Mitchell-Whitington, A 2015. Outdated Queensland abortion laws creating a ‘tourism’ of women travelling south. Brisbane Times (online), October 26. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/outdated-queensland-abortion-laws-creating-a-tourism-of-women-travelling-south-20151023-gkhbe6 (Accessed 11 November 2015).

Oxford Dictionaries 2015. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).

Remeikis, A 2015. Greens Senator Larissa Waters wants Queensland MPs to show position on abortion. Brisbane Times (online), November 2. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/greens-senator-larissa-waters-wants-queensland-mps-to-show-position-on-abortion-20151101-gko8sy.html (Accessed 10 November 2015).

The Nizkor Project 1991-2012. Fallacies (online). Available at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).

The Sydney Morning Herald 2011. Australia’s most trusted: sex workers trump pollies in public confidence stakes (online), June 22. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australias-most-trusted-sex-workers-trump-pollies-in-public-confidence-stakes-20110622-1ge82.html (Accessed 10 November 2015).

 

Notes


[1] ‘Histrionic’ means being ‘excessively theatrical or dramatic in character or style’ (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v histrionic):

[2] I sent this to Senator Waters’ email address: Senator.Waters@aph.gov.au.

[3] The staff member sent this email on 10 November 2015 from email: Senator.Waters@aph.gov.au.

[4] I do not make my personal email available on this ‘Truth Challenge’ website.

[5] I did not include this last sentence in my email to Waters’ office.

[6] Remeikis (2015).

[7] Ibid.

[8] This professorship is confirmed in the MJA InSight (Colyer 2015).

[9] I am using ‘profane’ as meaning ‘to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt: desecrate; to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use’ (Merriam-Webster 2015. S v profane).

[10] This is a Medical Journal of Australia publication.

[11] There was no pagination for this online edition.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 January 2016.

Righteousness and justice for the Christian

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

(courtesy clipartbest.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The Christian can be trapped into thinking that when ‘righteousness’ is used in Scripture it has an English flavour in its meaning. Oxford dictionaries give the meaning as ‘the quality of being morally right or justifiable’. It is the opposite of wickedness or sinfulness (2015. S v righteousness). Or, it has the meaning of being ‘morally good: following religious or moral laws’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. S v righteousness).

Is that the meaning of the word in Bible verses such as Rom 3:21-26 (ESV)?

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Meaning of righteousness in Scripture

Richard Strauss has summarised the biblical material well, in my understanding of Scripture,[1]

While the most common Old Testament word for just means ‘straight,’ and the New Testament word means ‘equal,’ in a moral sense they both mean ‘right.’ When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right, what should be done, and that He does it consistently, without partiality or prejudice. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the translators render the original word ‘just’ and other times ‘righteous’ with no apparent reason (cf. Nehemiah 9:8 and 9:33 where the same word is used). But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and fair.

God’s righteousness (or justice) is the natural expression of His holiness. If He is infinitely pure, then He must be opposed to all sin, and that opposition to sin must be demonstrated in His treatment of His creatures. When we read that God is righteous or just, we are being assured that His actions toward us are in perfect agreement with His holy nature (Strauss 1984:140).?

I was alerted to that quote in Bob Deffinbaugh’s article, ‘The Righteousness of God‘.

1. Justice and righteousness[2]

Image result for clipart justice public domainIn English, righteousness and justice are 2 different words but in the Hebrew OT and Greek NT that is not so as there is only one word root behind both ‘righteousness’ and ‘justice’.

The word for righteousness, dikaiosune,[3] means ‘uprightness, justice as of a judge’. Examples include ‘enforce justice’ (Heb 11:33), ‘judge justly’ (Acts 17:31; Rev 19:11); ‘righteousness, uprightness as the compelling motive for the conduct of one’s whole life: hunger and thirst for uprightness’ (Matt 5:6) [Arndt & Gingrich 1957:195, emphasis in original].

So the meaning of this word is that God always does what is correct/right and God determines the standard of what is right.
These verses teach us this meaning of righteous/justice (emphasis added):

  • Gen 18:25 (ESV), ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’
  • Deut 32:4 (ESV), ‘all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he’.
  • Isa 45:19 (ESV), ‘I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right‘.
  • Paul tells us that God’s sending Christ as a sacrifice for the punishment for sins in Rom 3:25-26 (ESV), it ‘was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’.

This is reason for us to praise God that in everything he does; all his ways are righteous. They are just; there is no injustice in Him. Question: How does God’s justice harmonise with the killing of all the inhabitants of Ai (Joshua 8:24 ESV)?

When we examine a text such as Genesis 15:16, [4] we see what God warned Abraham what would happen: ‘And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete’ (ESV). The promise was that the time of the iniquity of the Amorites ‘was not yet complete’ after the Israelites left the nation of Egypt. The implication of that Scripture is that when the wickedness of the Canaanites had reached God’s limit of guilt or restraint, God would remove them from the land.

That is what he did to Jericho and Ai (Joshua 8:18-26). He did it with Makkedah (Josh 10:28), Lachish (Josh 10:32); Eglon (Josh 10:34-35); Debir (Josh 10:38-39), and the cities of the Negev and the Shepheliah (Josh 10:40). You can read about God’s punishment of Hazor, Madon, Shimron and Achspaph (Josh 11:10-14). It happened previously to Sodom & Gomorrah. You can read about what God did with his punishment of other cities according to Judges 19 and Judges 20.

When we engage in the plain reading of Scripture, we cannot get past the fact that when degenerate idolatry and brazen moral depravity developed in nations, God had to remove them so that the theocratic kingdom of Israel could settle in those regions.

I do not like the deplorable loss of life and atrocities that happened in these nations, but it would be much worse if these depraved activities were allowed to continue among God’s people.

How does God’s justice harmonise with this carnage? God warns about the consequences of sin. If people and nations continue to act against God’s instructions, he will so what is right and bring punishment. He warns before he does it. ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ (Gen 18:25). The lesson is this: Anyone can live this life as he/she wishes, but there are consequences – God’s consequences – when we give God the shaft and follow Frank Sinatra’s dictum, ‘I did it my way‘.

See John MacArthur, ‘The lover of righteousness’ (in MacArthur 1993: December 15).

How does righteousness fit with ‘holiness’?

2. Holiness

Psalm 99:9 (ESV) states, ‘The Lord our God is holy‘. God is called the ‘Holy One of Israel’ (Ps Pss 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; etc). When God says he is holy, it means he is separate from sin.

However, using his own holiness as an example, God commands, ‘Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’ (Lev 19:2 ESV). We find a similar message in 1 Peter 1:16 (ESV), ‘since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”’. Also, in the New Covenant, ‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord’ (Heb 12:14 NIV). Hebrews 12:10 (ESV) reminds us that God ‘disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness’.

Free photo of a red rose bud

What is the meaning of holiness to be experienced by the Christian believer? Heb 12:14 is a parallel verse to 1 Thess 4:7 (NIV), ‘For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’. Hagiasmos (holiness) in Heb 12:14 (NIV) presupposes that a person is reconciled with Christ through justification. ‘The word denotes a process by which we become separated unto God in our entire life and conduct. We, who are already hagioi [holy] by faith, are ever to continue in pursuit of hagiasmos, a life that is more and more sanctified to God’ (Lenski 1966:443). The author of Hebrews was writing to people in a pagan culture who had recently become Christians. They knew what it was to be embroiled in a culture that was very unlike that of God’s requirements. Unless this changed life of growing to be more like the holy God was evident, these people would not see God. Why? It was because they were not Christians and were incapable of separating from worldly things.

So, God disciplines us so that we may share his separateness from sin. As we grow to be more like Jesus, we will more and more be separate from sin – not performing acts of sin. This is related to sanctification. That is how Lenski translates Heb 12:14, ‘Peace continue to pursue with all, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord’ (Lenski 1966:442).

It does raise the question: How can any believer be separate from sin in a world that is contaminated by sin?

How does this sanctifying holiness relate to purity?

3. Purity

Do you remember the problems that Paul had with moral impurity in churches? See the church of Galatia (Gal 1:6-9; 3:1-5) and the church of Corinth (1 Cor 3:1-4; 4:18-21; 5:1-2, 6; 6:1-8; 11:17-22; 14:20-23; 15:2; 2 Cor 1:23-2:11; 11:3-5, 12-15; 12:19-21).

Second Cor 12:21 (ESV) states, ‘I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practised’.

Pure EvidenceLet’s look at the opposite word first. The word translated ‘impurity’ relates to ‘those who sinned’. It is the Greek, akatharsia, that is translated as ‘impurity’ (ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB, HCSB, ISV, NET, NRSV, NAB, NJB), ‘uncleanness’ (KJV, Douay-Rheims, NKJV). Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek lexicon (1957:28) gives the meaning as referring literally to ‘refuse’ (Matt 23:27) and in a moral sense of people who commit ‘immorality, viciousness, especially of sexual sins’ (2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Col 3:5; Eph 5:3) and is the opposite of hagiasmos (or hagismos) in 1 Thess 4:7 and Rom 6:19.

Thayer’s lexicon gives the meaning of hagiasmos as consecration and the effect of consecration (which is sanctification of heart and life) as in 1 Cor 1:30; 1 Thess 4:7; Rom 6:19, 22; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. It is produced by the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2), so it is opposed to lust (as in 1 Thess 4:7) (Thayer 1885/1962:6).

Impurity will separate the sinner from worship of God and involvement with God’s people. Paul could be referring to the libertines of Corinth who could state, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’ (1 Cor 6:13 NIV). A follow on to this philosophy could be that other physical satisfactions were also permitted – including impurity.

So, purity, being the opposite of impurity, can have this meaning: Wayne Grudem provides this definition, ‘The purity of the church is its degree of freedom from wrong doctrine and conduct, and its degree of conformity to God’s revealed will for the church‘ (Grudem 1999:371, emphasis in original).

Purity in Christian conduct thus deals with acceptance and practice of God’s standard of doctrine and behaviour. It is caused by the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us and clean-up of our lives.

How does this relate to God’s call for the Christian to be perfect? Or, is ‘perfect’ the wrong word in English translations.

4. Perfection

A person asked: I see a Christian is imperfect or incomplete and is without purity. She thinks perfection ‘describes only God’.[5] This cannot be correct because Matt 5:48 (ESV) states, ‘You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’. So believers need to be perfect in some way that is parallel to that of the heavenly Father’s perfection.[6]

I need to dig deeper. Does ‘perfect’ here have the meaning in English, ‘Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be’ or ‘free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless’? Does it mean ideal, flawless or exemplary? (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v perfect).

So, what then is the meaning of ‘perfect’ in Matt 5:48 (ESV) if ‘you therefore must be perfect’?[7] How can you and I be or become perfect in the English sense of faultless?

Image result for clipart goal public domainThe word used in the Greek of Matt 5:48, teleioi, is from telos, which means end, goal or limit. So, the standard to which we are called – the goal – is the Heavenly Father’s standard. The word is also used for a relative perfection of adults when compared with children.

The parallel verse is with Deut 18:13 (ESV), ‘You shall be blameless [upright, sincere] before the Lord your God’. So God is perfect in the sense of being true and upright in how he deals with us. That is the model we have to follow. In the Hebrew of Deut 18:13 (ESV), the word sham is used for ‘blameless’ and has the sense of being complete like a whole number, the full time, an animal without blemish or deformity.

In Matt 5:48 (ESV), it is the English understanding of ‘perfect’ as sinless that causes us to miss the meaning. We know that sinlessness is not the meaning of ‘prefect’ because in Matt 5:6 (ESV), the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples (and us) that ‘blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied’.

It is unfortunate that the English does not seem to have a single word that conveys the idea of the Greek of aiming for the goal. Yes, that goal should include loving our enemies and friends but this love will have blemishes in it as we reach for the goal.

So to become perfect is not referring to perfection – in the English sense of the word. That will never be possible in this life. It is referring to reaching for the goal of becoming like our Father. He is infinite in his attributes. We are finite. Becoming more like Jesus in our thinking and actions should be our aim. This is called progressive sanctification; becoming progressively more like Jesus is our goal.

This will include renewing of the mind. See my article: Are unthinking Christians normal for Christianity?

Conclusion

Four aspects of the Christian’s new life in Christ were investigated: righteousness, holiness, purity and being perfect.

It was found that righteousness and justice are synonymous terms, from God’s perspective. God’s expectation of believers is that they do what is right (practise justice) with God’s law as the standard.

Holiness is the call to be separate from the actions of sin in a sinful world. This involves progressive sanctification, a process by which we become separated to God in our entire life and conduct.

This is parallel with purity, which means acceptance and practice of God’s standard of doctrine and behaviour, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

To be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect does not involve what the word for ‘perfect’ means in English. It refers to the call of all believers to reach for the goal of becoming more like the Father.

All of these words cover various areas of growth in sanctification for the believer. My observation is that this is not an area of emphasis in many evangelical churches in my part of the world.

(courtesy pinterest.com)

Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[8] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Grudem, W 1999. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. J Purswell (ed). Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press (by special arrangement with Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House).

Lenski, R C H 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (limited edition licensed by special permission of Augsburg Fortress).

MacArthur, Jr., J F 1993. Drawing Near. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.

Strauss, R L 1984. The Joy of Knowing God. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers.

Thayer, J. H. 1885, 1962, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti). Tr, rev & enl by J H Thayer. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.  (Note: The first Zondervan printing of this edition was in 1962, but Thayer’s preface in the lexicon was first written in 1885.) A Cornell University edition is available online at: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924021607704;view=1up;seq=13;size=125 (Accessed 18 December 2015).

Notes


[1] I posted this material in Christian Forums.net, ‘Righteousness, Holiness, Purity, etc’, OzSpen#2. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/righteousness-holiness-purity-etc.62455/ (Accessed 18 December 2015).

[2] I posted the following material in ibid., OzSpen#7.

[3] The last Greek letter in dikaiosune is eta, seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, which is transliterated into English as ‘e’ with an ellipse. However, the html of this website converts letters with an ellipse into question marks. Therefore, I have used ‘e’ as the transliteration, but that is also the transliteration of the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, epsilon. That is confusing but I am left with no alternative. Since ‘o’ with an ellipse is the transliteration of omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, I have chosen to use a transliteration of ‘w’, which was used by some earlier Greek NT scholars. Wikibooks states, ‘Sometimes unofficially it is rendered as w (inspired by the shape of the small letter)’ (2014. S v Modern Greek / Lession 4x).

[4] This response is based on Christian Forums.com [as opposed to Christian Forums.net], Christian Apologetics, ‘Contradictions in the Bible’, December 10, 2015, OzSpen#165. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/threads/contradictions-in-the-bible.7918 (Accessed 18 December 2015).

[5] Christian Forums.net, ibid., Classik#10.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#12.

[7] Most of this information was shared in ibid., OzSpen#14.

[8] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 December 2015.

Is polygamy promoted in the Bible?

Monday, December 7th, 2015

(Courtesy Premier Christian Radio)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How would you respond to this comment? ‘I’ve never heard of any Christian teacher teaching people it’s just perfectly fine to go on sinning all you want. Everyone teaches repentance. And I’ve never met anyone, much less a Christian, who was a thief or an adulterer and didn’t know it was wrong’.[1]

My comeback was: What about this story from Ohio reported in the Brisbane Courier-Mail (1 December 2015), ‘Pastor, 60, marries his pregnant teenage girlfriend — and his wife doesn’t mind‘? This article told how pastor

Thom Miller, 60, is now building a massive home for his two brides — 44-year-old Belinda Miller and 19-year-old Reba Kerfootruba — in the US state of Ohio.

Thom splits his time between the women, although the trio plans to raise Thom and Reba’s child together as a family.

“I don’t preach about polygamy but I feel it is a very Christian lifestyle,” Thom told Barcroft TV. “I have no problem with homosexuals but I think it’s wrong that their marriage is now recognised by the state, but my second marriage is not. I’m going to try and fight the bigotry of that. This is America and my wives and I have the right to live anyway we please, providing we’re not hurting anybody.”

Bigamy by pastor in Mansfield, Ohio

Another article in the British newspaper, The Independent, stated, ‘Having discussed polygamy after Mrs Miller suggested finding another woman to be part of the family, the pair from Mansfield, Ohio, decided to welcome 19-year-old Reba Kerfootruba into their relationship’ (Henderson 2015).

The Mansfield News Journal in Ohio reported that

Miller is a licensed minister with United Christian Ministries International at 840 Koogle Road in Mansfield, according to records from the Ohio Secretary of State. He also is affiliated with Special Visit Ministry, which lists its address at 287 N. Diamond St. He told the News Journal earlier this year he is affiliated with Hope Ohio, which he called an outreach of the Restoration Network.

Richland County Probate Court records show Thomas Nicholas Miller is married to 44-year-old, Belinda Miller, but the records neither confirm nor disprove his marriage to 19-year-old Reba Kerfoot, who the video states is pregnant with Miller’s child….

Though polygamy is illegal in Ohio and Richland County has not issued a marriage license to Thom Miller and Kerfoot, probate court staff say it is possible the pair were issued a marriage license by another county or in another state.

Miller did not respond to calls from the News Journal Monday and Tuesday (Day 2015).

What kind of denomination is United Christian Ministries International? Premier Christian Radio reported that

the 60-year-old pastor at United Christian Ministries International has married Reba, 19, but he says his congregation do not support his decision.

He runs a ministry which visits prisons and also has his own church in Mansfield.

Revd Miller admits that he does not have the full support of his congregation in Mansfield, but makes no secret of his alternative lifestyle….

The pair married at his church seven years after Thom married Belinda.

The pastor is now fighting for the state to acknowledge his marriage.

The trio have decided to raise the baby as a three (Tooley 2015).

I emailed the Pastor of the United Christian Ministries International, Rev. Kwasi Alex Adu-Boffour, at the email address on the website, message@unitedchristianministries.org, but it timed out over a few days, so I was unable to contact him by email. Since I live overseas I was unable to complete the online form at its website as it would not accept my phone number. Therefore, I was unable to receive an explanation of the acceptance of a bigamist pastor by that denomination. This is what I wrote to Pastor Adu-Boffour:

I’m an Australian living in Brisbane, Qld., and I write to you out of deep concern over what your minister in Mansfield, OH, Thom Miller, has done to darken the name of Jesus and the reputation of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity with the story that was published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, ‘Pastor, 60, marries his pregnant teenage girlfriend — and his wife doesn’t mind‘, December 1.
This story has gone around the world. See also:

I have read your Statement of Faith online, with which I agree. I find it impossible to harmonise what Pastor Thom Miller has done in Mansfield OH with orthodox, charismatic Christianity. His witness is a blight on the name of Christ and I’m embarrassed that he is allowed to continue as a bigamist with your denomination.

Would you please let me know what you are doing to deal with the sin of Pastor Thom and what he has done? ‘Alternative lifestyle’ is not an example, in this case, of biblical Christianity.

Sincerely in Christ.

Rev Spencer Gear
Brisbane, Qld.

How is it possible for a man to be married to two women in the USA when none of the 50 USA states allows polygamy/bigamy? Lawyers.com explained:

Polygamy and bigamy are illegal in the US, but as the Utah “sister wives” show, it goes on anyway. Essentially they mean the same thing – someone has more than one spouse. More often than not, it’s when a man has more than one wife. In some states, the law uses the terms interchangeably. There are some legal differences, though:

  • Bigamy is when someone legally marries more than one person. That means they go through the hoops set out by state law, such as getting a marriage license, etc. It may happen on purpose, or by mistake, like not having a proper, legal divorce before getting remarried
  • Polygamy is when someone has one legal spouse and one or more co-spouses he married through some sort of spiritual marriage that’s not legally recognized by the state….

Often, polygamists are left alone by the police, and the few states that have anti-cohabitation laws generally don’t enforce them. There are a few reasons for this, such as the respect for freedom of choice – the freedom to choose your own lifestyle. Freedom of religion also plays a role. Polygamy is acceptable in some religions, from the mainstream, like Islam, to the not-so-mainstream, like certain cults. (‘I do, I do, I do: Is polygamy legal?’ Lawyers.com, 2015, emphasis in original).

Theology of The United Christian Ministries International

The denomination’s headquarters are in Bronx, NY and its Statement of Faith is orthodox Pentecostal-charismatic with a high view of the Trinitarian God and the Scriptures. Its ministries include:

We are the church that thrives to reach out to the dying world with the full gospel of our Lord Jesus to minister to the needs of our community, individuals and the family. Our ministries in the church are tailored to educate our members and the community to develop strong relationships with the Lord Jesus (About Us).

clip_image003The founder and international director of the denomination is Rev. Kwasi Alex Adu-Boffour. In discussing ‘our pastor’, the homepage stated: ‘He has endured many trials in his life and has come out victorious by the power of God. He has an incredible testimony of the dynamic redeeming work of Jesus Christ. He believe and teaches that regardless of a person’s background or past mistakes, God can restore them to the right place and can help and lead them to enjoying every day life’.

What is this denomination going to do to deal with a pastor who commits adultery in his bigamy? It does not matter if he has his wife’s permission. Fornication or adultery is sin. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV).

Why didn’t Scripture condemn polygamy/bigamy?

In response to my post with the link to this 60-year-old pastor committing bigamy, there was this comeback on the Christian Forum. Part of it read:

If he is guilty of adultery or bigamy in God’s eyes, why in scripture didn’t God condemn people of the Bible who did the same thing, but in fact supported those people as if they were doing nothing wrong? I know there is a lot of speculation as to why this is true. But what are the cold facts from in context scripture to prove these people of the Bible were committing adultery and/or bigamy?

And just to be clear, I’m not supporting or recommending things like polygamy, but I’m trying to point out how different people from different backgrounds can have different ideas of what scripture says is sin and doesn’t say is sin.[2]

This is a tough issue because there are a number of instances in the OT where leading men of God had multiple marriages and partners/concubines.[3] Was God putting his stamp of approval on polygamy and so endorsing what Pastor Thom Miller has done in Mansfield, Ohio?

There is some clear biblical evidence that we must not ignore.

God did not approve of polygamy

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/The_old_wife_and_the_new_one.jpg/330px-The_old_wife_and_the_new_one.jpg?ssl=1[Azim Azimzade painting criticizing polygyny in Muslim communities. (Old wife and a new one in 1935). Wikipedia 2015. S v Polygyny in Islam]

How do I respond to this challenge? For an excellent exposition, see William Luck Sr’s article, ‘On the Morality of Biblical Polygyny‘.

blue-arrow-small Bigamy refers to having two spouses;

blue-arrow-small polygamy is having multiple marriages;

blue-arrow-small polygny is having multiple wives;

blue-arrow-small polyandry means to have more than one husband;

blue-arrow-small polyamory is the practice where a ‘committed’ couple openly engage in dating and having a sexual relationship with others.

How do we deal with some of these dimensions? Is it a widespread opinion that God approved polygamy in the OT? This is not the case. We know that ‘the Bible does speak strongly against polygamy in both the Old and New Testaments’ (Geisler 1989:281). We know this from direct statements in Scripture and precedent in the OT. These are some examples:[4]

clip_image005 Adam had only one wife, thus this was a pattern for the entire human race (Gen 2:7, 20-24).

clip_image005[1] In the moral law taught in Ex 20:17, we are told, ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife’, where ‘wife’ is singular. This is suggestive of monogamy but not definitive because in context, the verse continues, ‘Or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s’. One could not assume that the neighbour only has one servant, ox, donkey or anything else. One unit is given as an example, but it may not be absolutely one in all of these examples.

clip_image005[2] In the laws concerning each of Israel’s kings, Deut 17:17 states, ‘And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away’ (ESV).

clip_image005[3] If we look at the proportion of women vs. men in the world’s population, they are approximately equal in numbers. If polygamy was God’s design for marriage, there should be many more women than men in a population. According to the World Bank figures for 2011-2015, the percentage of females in each of the countries listed hovers around 50% (deviating from, say, 46.3% in Bhutan to 53.5% in Belarus). In my home country of Australia it is 50% female population. Notice the countries with lower female population: (1) Oman 34.2%; (2) United Arab Emirates 26.3%; (3) Saudi Arabia 43.4%; (4) Bahrain 37.9%; (5) Kuwait 43.8%; (6) Qatar 26.8% (World Bank, Population, female (% of total), 2015).

(Prince Manga Bell and favorite wives, courtesy Wikipedia). Prince Manga Bell (1873-1941)was a Duala king and resistance leader in the African nation of Cameroon when it was a German colony. He was hanged for alleged high treason in 1914 (Wikipedia 2015. S v Rudolf Duala Manga Bell).

clip_image005[4] China is a clear example of what happens when a nation tries to manipulate the male vs female balance with its forced one-child policy. In 2015, it was reported that this will change to a 2-child policy from 2016.

The reason China is doing this right now is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a result of the one-child policy. And if people don’t start having more children, they’re going to have a vastly diminished workforce to support a huge aging population. Right now the ratio is about five working adults supporting one retiree. That’s why they have ended a policy that should actually never have been started in the first place….

One of the results of the policy is that there is a dramatic gender imbalance with millions of men predicted to never find wives…. The lack of women in rural China resurrected the old, feudal practice of a bride price, or cai li. In the ’90s, cai li prices shot up to the point where it was the equivalent of a decade’s worth of farming income. If a man wanted to marry someone, his whole family had to beg and borrow from all the relatives. And that created a whole scam market (Worrall 2015).

These verses from the Book of Proverbs seem to be driven by a presupposition of monogamy:

clip_image007 Proverbs 5:15-20 (ESV),

Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19  a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated[5] always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?[6]

Here the evidence states she is the wife, singular, of his youth. One should not be ‘intoxicated’ with a forbidden woman or embrace an adulteress. So, the statement is that another woman’s embrace is that of an adulteress.

clip_image007[1] Proverbs 18:22 (ESV), ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord’.

It is important to understand that this teaches that the one (a man) who finds a wife (singular) obtains the Lord’s favour. This is not an endorsement of polygamy or polyandry.

clip_image007[2] Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV):

An[7] excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[8] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[9]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Throughout this proverb, the emphasis is on the one (singular) wife and her one husband (singular). Note especially, ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’ (v. 29). This one wife is compared to the rest of the excellent women but she goes beyond all of the others. She is a woman, a singular wife, who fears the Lord. There is no hint of polygamy here.

Dr Norman Geisler has provided this summary evidence of God’s view of polygamy:

There is ample evidence, even within the Old Testament, that polygamy was not God’s ideal for man. That monogamy was His ideal for man is obvious from several perspectives.

(1) God made only one wife for Adam, thus setting the ideal precedent for the race.

(2) Polygamy is first mentioned as part of the wicked Cainite civilization (Gen. 4:23).

(3) God clearly forbade the kings of Israel (leaders were the persons who became polygamists) saying, ‘And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away again’ (Deut. 17:17).

(4) The saints who became polygamists paid for their sins. 1 Kings 11:1, 3 says, ‘Now King Solomon loved many foreign women . . . and his wives turned away his heart’….

(5) Polygamy is usually situated in the context of sin in the O.T. Abraham’s marriage of Hagar was clearly a carnal act of unbelief (Gen. 16:1-16). David was not at a spiritual peak when he added Abigail and Ahinoam as his wives (1 Sam. 25:42-43), nor was Jacob when he married Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:23, 28).

(6) The polygamous relation was less than ideal. It was one of jealousy among wives. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (Gen. 29:31). Elkanah’s one wife was considered a ‘rival’ or adversary by the other, who ‘used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her….’ (1 Sam. 1:6).

(7) When polygamy is referred to, the conditional, not the imperative, is used. ‘If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights’ (Ex. 21:10). ‘Polygamy is not the moral ideal, but the polygamist must be moral’ (Geisler 1971:204-205).?

In another edition of this publication, Geisler gave this perceptive insight: ‘The fact that God permitted polygamy no more proves he prescribed it than the fact God permitted divorce indicates that he desired it. What Jesus said of divorce is true also of polygamy; it was “permitted … because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning”’ (Matt. 19:8)’ (Geisler 1989:281).

Polygamy allowed but within boundaries

While monogamy was God’s best arrangement for marriage and the family, polygamy was permitted as an inferior option in a sinful world. We see this:[10]

1. When men took concubines who had fewer rights than a wife, concubines were treated as little better than slaves. See Exodus 21:7-11.

2. Some of the Hebrew leaders who practised polygamy included: Jacob (Gen 29); David (2 Sam 5:13-16); Solomon (1 Kings 11), and Rehoboam (2 Chron 11:21).

It is of note that some of the above biblical emphases have influenced the contemporary organisation, BiblicalPolygamy.com, which has the slogan: ‘Polygamy really is Biblical’. On this website it provides links to polygamists in the Bible (by direct statement or inference). Copyright restrictions prevent my incorporating the table of biblical polygamists. You can locate the table HERE.

Peter Toon observed that

Deuteronomy 21:10-14[11] protects the rights of a female captive in war who is taken as wife (second wife?), and the inheritance law (vv. 15-17) recognizes that the primary moral criticism of bigamy is that one man cannot love two women equally. Hence this law protects an unloved wife and her son. The story of Elkanah and his wives is a comment on the moral dangers of polygamy (1 Sam. 1) (Toon 1987:314).

Those Mormon promoters of polygamy

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(Brigham Young’s 12 widows lament. Caricature in a newspaper about Mormon polygamy. Text:” In memoriam Brigham Young. And the place which knew him once shall know him no more”. It references the apocryphal “long bed” story (and illustration) found in chapter 15 of Mark Twain‘s 1872 book Roughing It, courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

 

John Turner,[12] as Brigham Young’s biographer, discovered that Young, who was Joseph Smith’s successor as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had ‘55 well-documented marriages’.

“He married – was sealed to, in Mormon parlance – young (Clarissa Decker, 15) and old (Hannah Tapfield King, 65). He married single women and widows. Perhaps most unusually, he was sealed to his first two mothers-in-law. Perhaps most controversially, he married women who were already married, some to Mormon men in good standing’ (Turner 2012).

Why did Young pursue polygamy? Turner discovered that ‘Young sought a second wife because Joseph Smith instructed him that plural marriage was a divine commandment that would bring a select number of righteous men tremendous blessings for eternity’ (Turner 2012).

However, plural marriages ceased in late nineteenth century Mormonism. lds.org explains that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach monogamy as God’s standard, ‘except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise’.[13] This online document affirms that plural marriages came through a revelation to Joseph Smith recorded in Doctrine and Covenants (Section 132) and was instituted among the LDS people in the early 1840s and only the Church President could authorise the performing of new plural marriages.

In 1890, the Lord inspired Church President Wilford Woodruff to issue a statement that led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church. In this statement, known as the Manifesto, President Woodruff declared his intention to abide by U.S. law forbidding plural marriage and to use his influence to convince members of the Church to do likewise.3

After the Manifesto, monogamy was advocated in the Church both over the pulpit and through the press. On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years. In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church (‘Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah’, lds.org 2015).

File:Mormon Family (Russell's Polygamy in Low Life).jpg

(Mormon family – Russell’s polygamy in low life, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Christian missionaries and converted polygamists

What does a church leader or missionary do when a polygamist in a polygamous-friendly nation becomes a Christian? Some of us have read of sad stories like that raised in this Christianity Today article:

Earlier Western missionaries felt a need to confront polygamy at the point of conversion. During colonial days in mission churches, Christians in good standing would give up the status symbol and send away all but one wife…. Such a painful decision often meant that men would choose family or social standing over church. Medical missionary David Livingstone’s single convert abandoned the faith to return to polygamy.

Many African church leaders regret zero-tolerance policies for polygamous families of converts, saying that treating those marriages as invalid raises a number of problems. Besides absolving fathers of their responsibilities and leaving many economically dependent women out in the cold, it’s theologically questionable to force new converts to divorce, said Sunday Agang, an ethics professor at Jos ecwa Theological Seminary in Nigeria and a John Stott Ministries scholar (Wunderink 2009).

It is my considered view that, since polygamy is in a similar league to divorce (Matt 19:8) in terms of biblical understanding (because of the hardness of people’s hearts), it needs to be allowed to continue when a polygamous man or woman comes to know Christ in a polygamous-friendly nation. He should not be forced to renounce polygamy. Instead, he should be supported in maintaining his present situation with husband, wives and family. The husband should not be encouraged to get rid of all his wives except one, as that leaves the other wives with negative consequences financially, socially and in the family.

In a polygamous culture, such as in many nations in Africa, it should be taught that a Christian should not seek to become a polygamist. However, the convert who is already in a polygamous relationship at the time of conversion should choose the lesser evil – continue as a polygamist, supporting the wives, and he should not be sending away the wives and children. Way too much heartache has been caused by well-meaning missionaries with a narrow view of dealing with existing polygamous relationships. It could be that missionaries will be church planting in areas where there will be a number of polygamous families, newly converted, in the congregation.

For church leaders in a polygamous society, the standards are higher than for general membership in a congregation. This is the biblical standard, whether an elder/overseer is in Australia, Kenya, Germany or Qatar : ‘Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[14] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach’ (1 Tim 3:2 ESV, emphasis added). The same standard applies to deacons (see 1 Tim 3:12 ESV).

Which countries accept or have legalised polygamy? Oliver Wheaton for Metro.co.uk, 22 June 2015, ‘Where exactly is polygamy legal?’ has provided a helpful diagram to explain this on an international basis:

Where exactly is polygamy legal?

Conclusion

Pastor Thom Miller’s bigamous situation in Mansfield OH has hit the news headlines around the world. This has caused me to examine the biblical position on polygamy and other multiple marriage situations. I have discovered that:

1. The theology of the denomination of which Thom Miller is a bigamist and pastor does not support polygamy.

2. From the beginning of creation, God’s design has been monogamy. However, with the introduction of sin into the world, there are examples of leaders in the OT who committed the sin of polygamy and concubinage . God had stated that he did not approve of polygamy and there were dangers inherent in this sinful practice. For those OT leaders, their wives sometimes turned their hearts away from following the Lord.

3. God did place parameters around the practice of polygamy for the protection of the polygamists, particularly the wives. It was suggested that polygamy is like divorce; God permitted it because of the hardness of people’s hearts.

4. One unashamed example of the promotion of polygamy was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), that originated through a ‘revelation’ to Joseph Smith in the early 1940s. It was practised by Brigham Young and others until the Manifesto to cease it in 1890. Mormons today forbid the practice of polygamy.

5. Some recent and contemporary Christian missionaries have created additional problems on the mission fields when they have required polygamists who became Christians to put away all wives except one. It was suggested by me that this is an unwise strategy and that polygamist relationships should be allowed to continue in the church – but not in leadership positions as elders and deacons.

6. How is a person like Thom Miller and his two wives allowed to practise bigamy in the USA which forbids polygamy? Lawyers have indicated that this is allowed because legal authorities turn a blind eye to it.

7. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this article: Is polygamy promoted by the Bible? No, it isn’t. Examples are given of its practice, even by leaders of Israel and Judah, but God’s design is monogamy. Polygamy is an example of sinful practice which God allowed and did not promote. Because of the hardness of people’s hearts, God permitted it, but did not endorse or promote it.

Works consulted

Day, C 2015. Reports: Mansfield pastor claims he’s polygamous. Mansfield News Journal (online), 1 December. Available at: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/12/01/media-outlets-mansfield-pastor-polygamous/76620202/ (Accessed 3 December 2015).

Geisler, N L 1971. Ethics: Alternatives and Issues. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Geisler, N L 1989. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues. Leicester, England: Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press).

Henderson, E 2015. Thom Miller: Pastor marries pregnant girlfriend with consent of his wife. The Independent (online), 2 December. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/thom-miller-the-man-who-married-his-pregnant-girlfriend-with-the-consent-of-his-wife-ohio-america-a6755536.html (Accessed 3 December 2015).

Tooley, H 2015. Former mafia pastor marries girlfriend with blessing of wife. Premier Christian Radio, 2 December. Available at: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/News/World/Former-mafia-pastor-marries-girlfriend-with-blessing-of-wife (Accessed 3 December 2015).

Toon, P 1987. Polygamy. In R K Harrison (gen ed), Encyclopedia of Biblical and Christian Ethics, 314. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Turner, J G 2012. Polygamy, Brigham Young and His 55 Wives. Huffington Post Australia (online), 27 August. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-g-turner/brigham-young-and-polygamy_b_1792555.html?ir=Australia (Accessed 4 December 2015).

Worrall, S 2015. How China’s One-Child Policy Backfired Disastrously. National Geographic (online), 30 October. Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151030-china-one-child-policy-mei-fong/ (Accessed 4 December 2015).

Wunderink, S 2009. What to Do about Unbiblical Unions. Christianity Today (online), 25 June. Available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/july/12.17.html (Accessed 4 December 2015).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums.net, Christian Talk & Advice, ‘Can a homosexual go to heaven?’, Obadiah#114. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/can-a-homosexual-go-to-heaven.62014/page-6http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/can-a-homosexual-go-to-heaven.62014/page-6 (Accessed 3 December 2015).

[2] Christian Forums.net, ibid., Obadiah#163.

[3] Concubinage is ‘the enduring state or practice of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman not bound to each other by legitimate marriage’ (encyclopedia.com 2015. S v concubinage). There are many examples of concubinage in the OT Scriptures.

[4] The following dot points were suggested by Geisler (1989:281).

[5] Here the ESV footnote stated, ‘Hebrew be led astray; also verse 20’.

[6] The ESV footnote at this point stated, ‘Hebrew a foreign woman’.

[7] The ESV footnote here was, ‘Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet’.

[8] The ESV footnote is, ‘Hebrew She girds her loins’.

[9] The ESV footnote stated, ‘Or in double thickness’.

[10] Some of these emphases were suggested by Toon (1987:314).

[11] For an Islamic response to Deut 21:10-14, see the article, ‘Biblical Law Permits Rape of Female Captives’, Answering-Christianity. Available at: http://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/Karim_-_articles_islamic_answers_-_part_3/Biblical%20law%20permits%20rape%20of%20female%20captives.pdf (Accessed 4 December 2015).

[12] John G Turner is the author of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press, 2012.

[13] The footnote at this point was, ‘Jacob 2:27, 30. For instances of plural marriage in the Bible, see Genesis 16:3; 25:1; 29:21-30; 30:3-4, 9. See also D&C 132:34-35’.

[14] The NIV UK version translates this phrase as ‘faithful to his wife’ (1 Tim 3:2 NIVUK, and NLT). The NRSV translates it as ‘married only once’.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 December 2015.

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Please do not support same-sex marriage

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
Close Up Of Happy Lesbian Coup...
(courtesy dreamstime)
Young Couple In The Park
(courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

In 2014-2015, Senator David Leyonhjelm in the Australian federal Senate has been promoting a Bill to legalise same-sex marriage (with support from other politicians). It was reported: ‘Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm introduces same-sex marriage bill’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, November 26, 2014). The Sydney Morning Herald also provided information on ‘the surprise visitor [Senator Cory Bernardi] at David Leyonhjelm’s gay marriage press conference’ (SMH March 19, 2015). What has happened to the Bill? Leyonhjelm told Sky News that he expected the Bill to be debated in federal parliament in 2016. See, ‘Gay marriage vote in 2016 says Leyonhjelm’ (Sky News, 2 June 2015).

I wrote to the Queensland Senators to provide evidence why they should not support homosexual marriage. I wrote as a Queensland elector, one who has been a counsellor and/or counselling manager for 34 years, and someone who isnot a homophobe.

Reasons not to support homosexual marriage

I urged the Senators not to support or promote this legislation for these reasons:

1. While there have been widows and single parents since the beginning of time, the marriage of a man and woman has been the norm to have the potential to produce children naturally. To change this is to change a necessary fundamental of society.

2. To go down the road of same-sex marriage would be a potentially dangerous social experiment in Australia for the following reasons:

One of those is the impact on children born to surrogates and then parented by a same-sex couple. Too often, the man who donated the sperm or the woman who donated the ovum is not known to the child. Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states: ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents’. All children, wherever possible, have the right to know and they need both mother and father. Such is not possible with many homosexual couples where there are children.

3. All is not well with children from some homosexual parents. On 19 March 2015, The Courier-Mail published the article, ‘Heather Barwick, the daughter of lesbians, against gay marriage, defends Dolce & Gabbana’. Part of what she wrote was:

“I’m writing to you because I’m letting myself out of the closet: I don’t support gay marriage. But it might not be for the reasons that you think. It’s not because you’re gay. I love you, so much. It’s because of the nature of the same-sex relationship itself,” she said. “Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mum’s partner, but another mum could never have replaced the father I lost.”

‘Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognise the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me,” she said. “It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting”.

(Male same-sex couple with a child, courtesy Wikipedia)

 

A new study of children raised by homosexual parents by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin reverses the conventional academic understanding that such children are not at a disadvantage when compared to children raised by a married mother and father. The article in the journal, Social Science Research, has found that ‘the children of homosexuals did worse (or, in the case of their own sexual orientation, were more likely to deviate from the societal norm) on 77 out of 80 outcome measures. (The only exceptions: children of “gay fathers” were more likely to vote; children of lesbians used alcohol less frequently; and children of “gay fathers” used alcohol at the same rate as those in intact biological families)’.[1]

This newer study contradicts earlier research which was reported in, ‘Children of same-sex couples thriving: study’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, April 6, 2013).

Therefore, the same-sex relationship, even in marriage, does not have the same dynamics as those for the man-woman relationship and may have detrimental consequences on children and our society as the following points illustrate.

4. The rectum is not designed for sexual penetration; the vagina is. Anal sex is a high risk sexual activity. One of the many hazards is the vulnerability of the tissues to tearing and bleeding. Damage can be done to the sphincter muscles that may lead to incontinence and rectal prolapse. There is a high level of organisms that may cause disease in the rectum. Do you want these medical issues to be added to the already overloaded Medicare system?

5. Some research has shown that the risk for transmission of HIV is higher for anal sex than for vaginal sex. This report from 2008, “Inequitable Impact: The HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men in Massachusetts“, demonstrates the increased HIV rate among MSM (men having sex with men) in Massachusetts

6. Please read this assessment by Brian Camenker in 2008 of “What same-sex marriage has done to Massachusetts: It’s far worse than most people realize“. Examine the impact in Massachusetts on education in schools right down to the primary school level. Observe how it influences public health, increased domestic violence, business, the legal profession, adoption of children, Government mandates, the public square and the mass media.

Diagram showing stage 1 anal cancer CRUK 189.svg(diagram anal cancer, stage 1, courtesy Wikipedia)

 

7. The anal cancer problem. ‘For HIV-positive Gay Men, the risk is even further elevated. In a recent meta-analysis of all studies describing anal cancer incidence in Gay Men living with HIV, it was reported that anal cancer incidence increased to 78-100 per 100,000 per year in reports published after 1996. These data demonstrate that the incidence of anal cancer is increasing in HIV-positive men, despite the improved general health associated with effective HIV therapies.

The incidence of anal cancer in men and women who identify as heterosexual and have HIV is about 20 per 100,000’ (Submission, June 2014, ‘Anal Cancer-Diagnosis, Monitoring and Management in Sydney and South East Sydney Local Health Districts’, Positive Life NSW).

So, the occurrence in anal cancer for homosexual men is 4-5 times higher than for heterosexual men and women. Marriage is not likely to stop this incidence in the homosexual population, but Senators should be promoting the message in Parliament and to the mass media that the homosexual lifestyle has some deleterious medical consequences.

Another report on anal cancer indicated that ‘in the general population, anal cancer is a rare disease…. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), the incidence of anal cancer is significantly more prevalent and increasing annually’ (National lgbt Cancer Network, ‘Anal Cancer, HIV and Gay/Bisexual Men’, 2013).

8. The foundation of Australia’s healthy democracy and laws has been built on a Christian worldview that promotes heterosexual marriage for the health of the nation, which states that ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Jesus Christ affirmed heterosexuality for the norm of society when he repeated the Genesis mandate, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). If Australia moves away from this foundational law for a just and fair family, it will be violating a fundamental of Australia’s national cultural health.

In light of these details, I urge all politicians not to vote for any Bill that legalises homosexual marriage.

Notes:


[1] Mark Regnerus 2012, ‘How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study’, Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4, July, pp. 752-770. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610 (Accessed 21 March 2015, emphasis in original).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 December 2015.

Traditional marriage = anti-marriage equality

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Wedding Rings

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

I was alerted to what SBS television had done with censoring heterosexual marriage by an item on news.com.au. The heading of the article was, ‘Anti-marriage equality ad pulled from SBS TV’ (March 09, 2015).

AN ADVERTISEMENT critical of same-sex marriage was pulled by SBS management ahead of their telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Sunday night, the ad’s sponsors say.

The Australian Marriage Forum said in a statement that the ad was booked and scheduled for broadcast during a Sunday night Mardi Gras special.

Dr van Gend says the ad was booked and paid for before he received an email on Friday to inform him it had been pulled from the Sunday night schedule. “I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast,” the email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, said….

Dr van Gend said: “It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage.”

“SBS is funded by taxpayers on both sides of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate”, Dr van Gend said.

Dr van Gend called the cancellation of the ad a “suppression of free speech on a matter of public importance”.

An SBS spokesperson told Fairfax Media that it reserved the right “to determine what advertisements it broadcasts” (emphasis in original).

My complaint about this censorship

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

(courtesy clker)

SBS TV is an Australian public broadcaster. It receives government funds to the tune of approximately $275,000 a year (see below) from the Australian taxpayer. So, on 11 March 2015, I sent this email:

The manager,
SBS television comments@sbs.com.au

Dear manager,
I object strongly to what SBS, a publicly funded broadcaster, did to an advertisement by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) on SBS on Saturday evening, 7 March, when SBS was telecasting the Gay Mardi Gras.

Here is a link to the advertisement that your network censored: youtu.be/s80wL5al5NA.

The AMF advertisement was booked and paid for to be shown on Saturday night, 7 March, during the SBS delayed broadcast of the Parade – but only on Friday 6 March did the AMF agent receive this message from SBS management: ‘We choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast’.[1]

No explanation was given. This is disgusting discrimination against the heterosexual community and traditional marriage. It is censorship to be condemned.

Please advise me why your publicly funded network engaged in this kind of discriminatory censorship of an advt that had been paid for and scheduled to be telecast?

Yours sincerely,
Mr S Gear

SBS reply

On 11 March 2015, SBS replied:

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for contacting SBS.

SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts.

Regardless, I have passed on your comments to our relevant departments as viewer feedback.

Regards,

SBS Audience Relations

In other words, SBS continues to promote its censorship with ‘SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts’. That’s not how Sam McLean of The Drum saw it.

‘SBS should have run this offensive ad’

Sam McLean of ABC’s, The Drum, even though he objected to the content of the advertisement, complained that SBS should have telecast the ad:

I was offended by the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV ad, but we shouldn’t censor any one side of a political debate, writes Sam McLean.

A lot of people have been in uproar over the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV advertisement – chief among them, my fellow progressives.

The ad, which the AMF pitched for a provocative first run on the night of Sydney Mardi Gras, implies same-sex marriage poses a danger to children. I was offended by the ad, but frankly, so too by SBS refusing to run it.

Yes, the ad is incendiary. Yes, it is wrong. But yes, the AMF has absolutely every right to run it – and no broadcaster should be able to deny them that. An email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, reads:

Our review board has instructed that SBS has the right to choose what ads we run, and I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast (Mclean 2015, emphasis in original).

The following represents a summary of the ABC and SBS funding from the Australian government over the next 5 years (Turnbull 2014):

clip_image001

Therefore, for the 2014-2015 financial year, $287,023 was funded from government proceeds to run this operation. The conclusion is that ‘80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government through triennial funding arrangements. Funding is legislated annually through the Budget Appropriation Bills…. The remainder of SBS revenue is derived from independent sources. These include advertising and sponsorship, production services and sale of programs and merchandise’ (Jolly 2007).

Conclusion

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

ringsview.com

Several issues are playing out in our Australian culture and the promotion of homosexual marriage:

6pointblue-small The promotion of heterosexual marriage in the language of anti-marriage equality, is deconstructing language to make heterosexual marriage mean something else.

6pointblue-small SBS has censored one side of the debate, the discussion that supports traditional marriage. That is abhorrent for a public broadcaster that receives 80% of its funding from the Australian government. It is supposed to represent ALL Australians and not just the homosexual community and its supporters.

6pointblue-small Those who support ‘marriage equality’ are ‘fellow progressives’ (Sam McLean). This again is deconstructing language. In an era of political correctness, to be conservative and supporting traditional marriage is to be radical in a mass media environment that wants to silence the traditional marriage voice.

6pointblue-small Sam McLean rightly concluded, ‘The anti marriage equality lobbyists said it was unfair for SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage, and I agree’ (McLean 2015). I would have stated it this way: Those promoting traditional marriage consider the censorship of their advertisement was unfair for SBS to withdraw the advertising.

6pointblue-small It’s impossible or extremely difficult to get through to public mass media with an alternate message to their allegedly progressive, anti-conservative views. Penetrating the barrier is like pounding a brick wall with a foam hammer.

Image result for hammer brick wall public domain

hanglogic

Works consulted

Jolly, R 2007. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS): Operations and funding. Parliament of Australia: House of Representatives, 28 March. Available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/archive/SBS (Accessed 10 August 2015).

McLean, S 2015. SBS should have run this offensive ad. The Drum (ABC), 13 March. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-13/mclean-sbs-shouldnt-censor-anti-gay-marriage-ad/6314748 (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Turnbull, M 2014. Communications and Broadband: FAQs on the ABC and SBS, How much do the national broadcasters receive from taxpayers in the budget each year? (online) Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, 19 December. Available at: http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/communications-broadband/faqs-on-the-abc-and-sbs#budget (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Notes:


[1] Included in McLean (2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Why politicians should not support ‘marriage equality’[1]

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

clip_image001

Former lesbian, Jeanette Howard (photo courtesy vimeo)

By Spencer D Gear

Australia’s politicians are being asked to vote on same-sex marriage in parliament in a Marriage Equality Bill sponsored by the Labor Party.

The Labor Party Bill

According to the Brisbane Times, this is how Bill Shorten’s Bill will change the definition of marriage in Australia to allow for homosexual as well as heterosexual marriage unions:

The words “man and woman” and “husband and wife” will be replaced by “two people” in the Marriage Act under Bill Shorten’s proposal to redefine marriage in Australia.

Under the changes gay couples who have already married overseas would have their unions recognised under Australian law, with the repeal of section 88EA of the Act….

And, as flagged by Mr Shorten earlier this week, ministers of religion will not be required to solemnise a marriage where the parties to the marriage are of the same sex.

The Labor leader’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia, which will be introduced to Federal Parliament on Monday, defines marriage as  “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The current definition in the Marriage Act, which would be replaced, states it is “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The repeal of section 88EA and the redefinition of marriage as between two people would reverse former prime minister John Howard’s 2004 amendments to the Act.

The same-sex marriage bill, Marriage Amendment (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, allows a union between two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status (Massola 2015).

However, the Labor Party is joined by some in the Liberal Party government to support same-sex marriage: ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year…. Mr Turnbull says rapidly changing community attitudes to same-sex marriage are likely to ensure the move will ultimately succeed’.[3]

Reasons for rejecting this Bill

A Channel 9 news report for 27 May 2015 stated:

Australians who support gay marriage are being urged to contact their local MP or Senator to voice their opinions, with marriage equality campaigners saying the country is now within “striking distance” of legalising same-sex marriages.

Australian Marriage Equality’s deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh today praised federal opposition leader Bill Shorten’s announcement Labor would move a bill in the House of Representatives on Monday to legalise gay marriage.

But he’s urged everyday Australians to keep the pressure up on politicians to ensure the bill passes.

“It’s important our elected officials understand the strength of support (for gay marriage),” Mr Hinton-Teoh told the TODAY Show.

“The most important thing people can do is share their stories, get in contact with their MPs and Senators.”

Mr Shorten yesterday gave formal notice of the bill, which will be seconded by his deputy Tanya Plibersek, stating he will present a bill “for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality”.

“Our current law excludes some individuals – and to me, that is unacceptable,” Mr Shorten said.

“I believe the time has well and truly come for the Parliament to debate marriage equality.”

While support for marriage equality seems strong among many parliamentarians, the Abbott government could simply use its numbers in the Lower House to send the bill to a committee.

Some recent polls have put Australia’s support for gay marriage at an all-time high of 72 percent.[4]

We wouldn’t be caused to wonder which view Channel 9 is pushing. We get a similar emphasis from Australia’s ABC News:

In a statement, Mr Shorten said the time had come for Parliament to debate marriage equality and that he found it unacceptable current laws excluded some individuals.

The bill will come before the House of Representatives on Monday.

“I know this private members bill will not have the universal support of my colleagues,” Mr Shorten said.

“It will challenge the deeply held personal beliefs of MPs and senators on both sides of politics.

“This is why Labor members have the freedom to vote their conscience, a freedom Tony Abbott is currently denying his party.”

Even with a conscience vote in the Labor Party, Mr Shorten does not have the numbers to pass his bill.

Rather he is using it to urge the Prime Minister to grant a conscience vote to his MPs, something the Coalition already appears to be edging towards.

In recent days, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Australia as the “odd one out” on same-sex marriage among Commonwealth nations including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

Renewed debate in Australia has been triggered by Ireland’s vote in favour of marriage equality in a referendum at the weekend.

“The world isn’t waiting for Tony Abbott and our Parliament shouldn’t have to,” Mr Shorten said.

“I know there are Coalition MPs who’d support marriage equality if Tony Abbott granted them a free vote.”

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos said the Coalition had been waiting to see how the Labor Party would move on the matter.

“I know some of my colleagues, like Warren Entsch and others, want to raise the issue and have talked about having game plans on this,” he said.

“So we’ll wait until next week, but certainly I would support a conscience vote on this.”[5]

AustralianChristianLobbyLogo2011a.jpg

(logo courtesy Wikipedia)

How does the Australian Christian Lobby respond to this proposed legislation? On 26 May 2015, it had this article on its website: ‘Shorten fails to consider the consequences of changing marriage’. Here it stated that,

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s same-sex marriage bill fails to consider the consequences of changing the definition of marriage in law, according the Australian Christian Lobby.

“It is disappointing that Australia’s alternative prime minister is legislating a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their mum or dad.

“Many Australians are watching with great concern as florists, photographers and cake makers in other countries are being legally punished simply because they prefer not to participate in a same-sex wedding.

“I wonder if Mr Shorten has considered the consequences of changing the definition of marriage,” Mr Shelton said.

“We urge parliamentarians to vote against the bill.”

In another article, ‘Why Australia should not rush to follow Ireland’ (ACL 26 May 2015), ACL stated:

So militant have they [homosexual marriage activists] become that we are beginning to see glimpses of what life might be like for dissenters in a post gay marriage future.

Senior Labor MP Jenny Macklin gave some insights in an interview with Chris Uhlmann on ABC1’s Insiders recently.

Supporting Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek’s push to expel parliamentarians from the party who don’t toe the line on changing marriage,  Macklin equated discrimination on the basis of ‘sexual preference’ with racial and gender discrimination.

Uhlmann had the presence of mind to pick her up on this and make the obvious follow-up point.

Uhlmann – “You are arguing that a person who disagrees with you on this is the same as a racist, that they are a bigot.”

Macklin – “I am not calling anybody names.”

Uhlmann – “But that is the natural extension of what you are saying.”[6]

Of course Uhlmann is right. Whether she wants to admit it or not, what Macklin is saying is that millions of Australians who will never support redefining marriage are the moral equivalents of racists or misogynists. Nice.

With attitudes towards dissent like this, it is no wonder 28 per cent of traditional marriage supporters in Ireland told pollsters they were too afraid to express their views openly.

Email to politicians

Thumbtack note email by zeimusuThe following is what I wrote to my local federal MP and some Queensland Senators.[7]

1. Parliament does not determine the nature of marriage. Since the beginning of time that was determined by God: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24), affirmed by Jesus (Matthew 19:5), and confirmed by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:31). This Australian nation has its foundation in Christian principles. Please do not go down the route of populist parliamentary and community appeal.

2. It is only the union of a man-woman that has the potential to produce children naturally. Even for artificial insemination or IVF, there is need for the ‘seed’ of male AND female. Male-male or female-female will not do it. Surely this should scream at politicians, GAY MARRIAGE GOES AGAINST A FOUNDATION PILLAR OF AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY!

3. Are you prepared to throw caution to the wind and change the meaning of marriage in a very risky social and political experiment? Heather Barwick is the daughter of lesbians. In an article in the Courier-Mail (March 20, 2015, ‘Heather Barwick, the daughter of lesbians, against gay marriage….), she said: ‘Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognise the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting’.

4. Do you understand the positive impact of children being raised by a mother and father? It was reported by statistician, Graeme Archer, in The Telegraph (UK) that ‘the evidence that children raised in standard two-parent families fare, on average, better in life than their peers – and that boys in particular benefit from the presence of a father – is so strong that it takes a wilful perversion to ignore it’ (04 May 2012, ‘The village can help, but children raised by a mum and dad do best‘).

5. Part of that is because children need role models from both Mum and Dad to have a balanced development in life. The information led to Texas A&M University preparing the following material, based on research: ‘20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father‘. A lesbian couple cannot provide this input. That’s the evidence! Do you understand the damage that will be done in legislating homosexual marriage?

6. The language of ‘marriage equality’ does not provide ‘parenting equality’ for children raised in homosexual marriages. The nature of the man-woman relationship in marriage is radically different from that of a same-sex couple. Therefore, to talk of ‘marriage equality’ is inappropriate labelling.

7. Of course two women can love each other and two men can love each other, but common sense leads to the conclusion that the nature of the loving, sexual relationship between a man and a woman is very different to that happening in same-sex relationships.

8. Do you understand how promiscuous same-sex relationships can be? Do you want children exposed to any number of different men or women in the house who are engaged in ‘bed sex’? ‘In one recent study of gay male couples, 41.3% had open sexual agreements with some conditions or restrictions, and 10% had open sexual agreements with no restrictions on sex with outside partners. One-fifth of participants (21.9%) reported breaking their agreement in the preceding 12 months, and 13.2% of the sample reported having unprotected anal intercourse in the preceding three months with an outside partner of unknown or discordant HIV-status’ (Lelands et al in Nicolosi 2009, ‘An open secret: The truth about gay male couples‘).

9. Does Australia want to be in agreement with Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or not?  Part 1 of this article states: ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents’. The last portion of this statement is shot to bits in homosexual marriage.

10. This is such a fundamental issue for the health of Australia. Politicians need to know that how they vote on this legislation will determine how I vote in the next election – and I’ll be telling my friends of their voting record on this issue.

Please consider these matters in regard to the Bill for Marriage Equality, which would be better called the Bill for Marriage Distortion for couples and children.

What is God’s view on marriage and homosexuality?

Purple Scripture ButtonSuch a question doesn’t seem to enter the minds of many Aussie politicians. However, my local MP has told me he will be supporting marriage to continue to be between a male and a female.

God’s design from the beginning of time was for marriage of a man and a woman. See Genesis 2:24-25, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed’ (ESV).

Jesus Christ affirmed this passage according to Matthew 19:4-6, ‘He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (ESV).

(3)   The apostle Paul also affirmed this emphasis in Ephesians 5:31, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ (ESV).

(4) Then add this factor from the apostle Paul who wrote of ‘men who practice homosexuality’ as being among those who were among ‘such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In this list, homosexuals were placed among the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers who were the ‘unrighteous’ who would not inherit God’s kingdom. But Jesus changes all of these people – even homosexuals.

A redeemed and changed lesbian speaks

If you don’t believe me, read my interview with a redeemed lesbian, Jeanette Howard, ‘One woman’s journey out of lesbianism: An interview with Jeanette Howard’. I recommend her book, Out of Egypt: Leaving lesbianism behind.

clip_image003

(courtesy Kregel Publications)

For some further information see my articles:

clip_image005 Spencer Gear’s submission against homosexual marriage to the Australian House of Representatives

clip_image005[1] Loree Rudd (Kevin Rudd’s sister): Support for homosexual marriage caused a Labor Party member to quit the Party

clip_image005[2] Homosexual unions, homosexual marriage, mass media & politicians

clip_image005[3] Why should we oppose homosexual marriage?

clip_image005[4] Reasons to oppose homosexual marriage.

clip_image005[5] Is homosexual life expectancy lower than for heterosexuals?

clip_image005[6] Kevin Rudd MP’s changed position on same sex marriage is self-refuting

clip_image005[7] Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality

clip_image005[8] Religious marriage with a different twist: My response to Spencer Howson

clip_image005[9] Queensland government passed civil homosexual union Bill

Works consulted

Massola, James 2015. Bill Shorten releases details of Labor’s same-sex marriage bill, 29 May. Brisbane Times (online). Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bill-shorten-releases-details-of-labors-samesex-marriage-bill-20150529-ghcinb.html (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Notes


[1] I sent the points, ‘Email to my politicians’ (see below) to my local member of federal parliament and some Queensland Senators in Australia on 27 May 2015.

[2] Reference deleted when edited.

[3] Amanda Cavill, SBS News, 27 May 2015, ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year’. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/05/26/hopes-grow-same-sex-marriage-reform (Accessed 28 May 2015).

[4] 9news.com.au, 27 May 2015, ‘Australia now within “striking distance” of marriage equality say same-sex campaigners’, available at: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/05/26/02/09/greens-speed-up-marriage-equality-debate (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[5] ‘Bill Shorten to introduce private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage’, ABC News, 27 May 2015. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-26/shorten-to-introduce-bill-legalising-same-sex-marriage/6499124 (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[6] The footnote was: http://www.jennymacklin.net.au/transcript_insiders_3_may_2015.

[7] I sent the email on Wednesday, 27 May 2015.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 June 2016.

Politicians, people and the pits

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Why this person distrusts politicians

 

Parliament House Canberra Dusk Panorama.jpg

Australian Parliament House, Canberra (Wikipedia)

By Spencer D. Gear

Why do politicians refuse to answer the questions of mass media interviewers? It frustrates me over and over when a journalist asks a specific question on a topic and the politician gives an answer that is not related to the question. It’s called political spin and amounts to a red herring logical fallacy.

That happened on Wednesday, 17 September 2014, when the Australian federal treasurer, the honourable Joe Hockey, was interviewed on Australia’s ABC’s nation current affairs programme, ‘7.30’. The nature of the logical fallacy became evident when the interviewed talked over the treasurer to try to bring him back to the topic. Those in current affairs’ shows often do this when a politician goes off at a tangent and doesn’t answer the question.

Some background

Costello1.jpg

Peter Costello (Wikipedia)

This is how The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported on former Australian treasurer, Peter Costello’s, speech to a property forum:

Australia’s longest-serving treasurer has warned that the country’s luck is beginning to run out as wages fall and consumer pessimism grows.

Peter Costello says while Australia is “far” from recession, the economy is undergoing big changes, leaving people with a sense of uncertainty about the future.

“(Australia’s) luck’s beginning to run out,” he told a property forum in Sydney on Wednesday. “For the first time since the 1990s, per capita incomes have stabilised in Australia – they are no longer growing.

“Young people under 50 who have lived through a period of uninterrupted rising incomes are beginning to experience something that’s different.”

Consumers were “anxious” and had “stopped spending”, he said.

Real wages were falling and disposable incomes had “peaked”, Costello said.[1]

Costello also added: ‘And they’re distrustful of the political class where consensus is breaking down. We need to work out how to put things back together’.[2]

A politician’s problem

I have grown increasingly frustrated by the inability of politicians, whether federal or state, and no matter what political brand, to answer straight-forward questions put to them by journalists. What follows is but one example.

Leigh Sales (canberratimes.com.au, public domain)

 

On the evening of 17 September 2014, I watched Australia’s ABC 7.30 programme and Australian federal treasurer, Joe Hockey, being interviewed by Leigh Sales. See ‘Joe Hockey rejects Peter Costello’s warning that Australia’s economic luck is running out as demand for resources falls‘. Leigh referred to the above speech made by Australia’s former, but longest serving, federal treasurer, Peter Costello, on 17 September 2014.

One of Leigh’s questions to Hockey was: ‘Mr Costello mentioned a distrust of the political class. Has the Abbott government contributed to that by introducing plans like the Medicare co-payment and the pension changes without ever mentioning those things before you were elected?’

Although Hockey said, ‘Well, no, not at all’, he directly avoided answering the specifics of this question. Leigh persisted, saying that politicians have eroded public goodwill and this has contributed to the distrust of the political class. Hockey continued on with his political spin (only saying what you wanted to say in promoting his political line) and not answering her questions about this specific topic of distrust of the political class.

I ask Hockey and all politicians: Don’t you understand what that does to droves of us around the nation who know what he is doing and we are fed up with THE POLITICAL TACTICS OF NOT ANSWERING QUESTIONS. If he and his party continue to do this, I’ll put my TV volume on mute immediately I see a politician on air. I’ve learned to expect the politicians of whichever stripe all to do the same – AVOID THE ISSUES OF THE MASS MEDIA QUESTIONER.

Don’t politicians understand what this does to the people of the electorate? It causes exactly what Leigh Sales said – a distrust of the political class, eroding public good will, and causes listeners to tune out on politicians.

There is a simple solution

When will politicians wake up to the Aussie populace who know exactly what they are doing?

All politicians would enhance credibility if they as politicians would make these commitments:

1. I now will specifically answer whatever a mass media journalist asks me about any topic.

2. Quit making promises before the election that you will break when in government.

3. Become politicians of integrity who speak the truth and nothing but the truth.

Is that asking too much? That’s what would assist in enhancing political good will.

Equipping politicians for the simple solution

man-young-2

(courtesy Rostrum)

One of the problems for politicians is that when many of them are elected to parliament, they don’t seem to have a handle on being competent public speakers. They need more training in how to think on their feet to answer:

blue-arrow-small questions in parliament,

blue-arrow-small questions from their constituents, and

blue-arrow-small questions from the mass media.

How do they get that training? Before they are elected to parliament and while they are in parliament, join a public speaking club such as Rostrum or Toastmasters.

I know that it is more comfortable for a politician to keep to the script of the party line. They can be prepared for this kind of rote response. However, I find it dissatisfying as a listener. There is no excuse for politicians not to become better presenters and to learn to think on their feet when journalists and constituents ask questions – even pointed questions.

Works consulted

Australian Associated Press 2014. Peter Costello warns ‘Australia’s luck is beginning to run out’, The Guardian (online),17 September. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/17/peter-costello-warns-australias-luck-is-beginning-to-run-out (Accessed 18 September 2014).

Powell, R 2014. Luck running out: Peter Costello warns of hard days ahead as property market slows, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/luck-running-out-peter-costello-warns-of-hard-days-ahead-as-property-market-slows-20140917-10i0t7.html (Accessed 18 September 2014).

Notes


[1] Australian Associated Press (2014).

[2] Powell (2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015..

Spencer Gear’s submission against homosexual marriage to the Australian House of Representatives

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Submission: Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

House of Representatives:

House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

E-mail: The Secretary of the Committee, SPLAmarriagebills@aph.gov.au

 

Prepared by:

Spencer Gear MA (couns. psych.)

Address, phone number & email withheld

13 March 2012

Submission was available formerly as submission no. 87 Mr Spencer Gear (PDF 344KB)

It is no longer available online.

Marriage cover photo

Courtesy Salt Shakers (Christian ministry)

Please note: My ‘Submission: Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage  Amendment Bill 2012’ to the Australian House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Committee, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, was previously located at, ‘Senate Committees, Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, Submissions received by the Committee’ but is no longer available online.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 March 2017.