Ethics is a vast field and this is only the merest introduction to it, but hopefully it will help us as Christians to understand and face up to the social, ethical, medical and cultural issues around us and thus will both stimulate our concern and set us thinking along the right lines.
William Mc Nicol
Should the church take any interest in the great moral questions which confront society? Or should church leaders see their role merely as supplying a ‘religious’ dimension to life – conducting baptisms, weddings and funerals; providing church services and marking the passing of the seasons with appropriate festivals? ”Let the scientists, sociologists and politicians deal with the real world” some would say.
Or again, is the role of the church simply to preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit? If men and women repent and believe in sufficient numbers and with enough miracles taking place, then all society’s problems will be solved. Or will they? The O1d Testament prophets continually preached against religion which had no concern for the daily plight of men and women. Isaiah cries: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa 58:6-7)
Jesus addressed all the great issues of His day in the course of His gospel ministry. Kingdom power would be revealed in Good Samaritans, in prison visitors, in those who gave to the poor, in new marriage ethics, political attitudes and protection of the weak.
All the New Testament letters reflect this concern that the good news should touch every aspect of life. Indeed, Paul sees a day coming when God will reconcile all things through His Son.
The Cross is the great road-junction of life, the meeting place of heaven and hell, life and death, justice and injustice, the rich and the poor, men and women, religion and politics.Obey the signals and we drive up Reconciliation Road: disobey them and we crash.
Preaching the gospel of the kingdom involves bringing the government of God into every department of life. Concern for society, its values and practices, is a central part of the church’s mission. We are called to bring God’s reconciliation to God’s world and this course is about just that. In these 10 studies we will consider some of the main issues of our day, the biblical principles which apply to them and some of the practical things we can do about them.
Ethics is a vast field and this is only the merest introduction to it, but hopefully it will help us as Christians to understand and face up to the social, ethical, medical and cultural issues around us and thus will both stimulate our concern and set us thinking along the right lines.
LESSON ONE: HUMAN RIGHTS (PART 1)
Read: Luke 4:18-19; Prov. 31:8-9.
Human rights are important because it is the basic issue that lies behind many of the ethical and social problems that society and the church face today.
A. A Definition of Human rights
The United Nations declaration of human rights proclaims the right:
* To life, to freedom from subjection, to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or to slavery, servitude or forced labour.
*To liberty and security of the person.
*To a fair trial.
*To freedom from retroactive criminal law or punishments.
*To respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.
*To freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
*To freedom of expression, peaceful expression and association.
*To an effective remedy against officials who violate these rights.
*To the enjoyment of these rights without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.
Today, the majority of the people in the world are held in a bondage which denies all or most of the U.N. declaration. And even where democracy holds sway, human rights are seriously limited for many groups. Justice still works best for Western, white, wealthy males!
This declaration is an example of idealism. It is an aspiration to human freedom in a world of political, racial, economic, sexual and religious bondage.
B. Christianity and Human Rights.
Christians are neither idealists nor indifferent to human bondage and deprivation. Jesus’ message of freedom is the greatest single contribution to human rights in history. Here is His Nazareth Manifesto: “To preach good news to the poor…. To proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19)
This has enormous spiritual implications largely ignored by modern society, but it also declares Jesus’ concern for the liberation of the whole person.Yet Christians have sometimes become the persecutors.
Christianity – the State version – has a bad record on human rights. Slavery, torture, class barriers, sexual subjugation, colonialism and many more vices have been justified in the Name of the One who came to abolish injustice. The church has sinned grievously, and many of today’s secular responses to human rights reflect a recognition of that fact.
Not least has been the emergence of Marxism and its Christianised form known as liberation theology. Both stand in stark contrast to the authentic New Testament church – violent confrontation versus healing love and persuasive wisdom. If liberation theology is a Christian extreme, then so is an evangelicalism concerned only with salvation from personal sin and with preserving the faithful until they go to heaven. Jesus’ message implies far more than this.
C. A Biblical Approach to Human Rights
The issue of human rights confronts us’ squarely with the question: “What is man?”
(i) A MARRED IMAGE
The gospel begins with creation. Man is dust into which God has breathed. He is midway between the angels and the animals. (See Psalm 8:3-
Man (or humankind) was created in two forms – male and female. Both were in the image of God, both were to have authority; both were made without reference to racial, social or intellectual characteristics. Alienation, between themselves and God, and between one another, was unknown. Yet today we are magnificent ruins, made in the image of God, yet marred in every part. This is the root of the denial of human rights (See Rom. 1:18-32).
(ii) A NEW HEART
The gospel proposes a remedy. It isn’t a political solution imposed upon unwilling people but a new heart, which in turn is reflected in a new society. (See Heb. 8:10-12).
(iii) A NEW STATUS
If the new heart produces a new attitude of love towards our fellow-creatures, then the gospel of grace also changes our status. The old categories of race, class and sex lose their importance. (See Gal. 3:26-29).
(iv) A POLITICAL S
Grace must affect politics but politics cannot produce grace.
This is why Jesus would not lead a political revolution. (See Jn. 6:15).
He avoided an overt attack upon the repressive Roman government which, in His own nation, abused every known human right, simply because He knew that the most dangerous thing you can give to a man is his freedom – unless grace operates to sanctify his conscience and to discipline his heart.
All rights carry responsibility (Gal. 5:13). We cannot embrace the ways of violence in order to achieve the goals of the Prince of Peace. Proclaiming the gospel of grace is the only sure remedy for injustice.
(v) THE RIGHT TO RIGHTS
Human rights are not an absolute. Doing the will of God is.
Christians are called to sacrifice their human rights for the sake of the gospel. (Mt. 5:10-12; 38-42: 1 Peter 4:12-16).
The Christian church today is the most heavily persecuted minority in the world. Religious liberty is purchased with martyrs’ blood. This means, incidentally, that the believer can hardly be a supporter of religious persecution. In all this we follow Jesus who at the cross willingly put Himself into the hands of unjust men. The trial and crucifixion of Christ stand as one of the greatest denials of human rights in history. But it was the will of God. – See Isa. 53:10!
We must face the fact that we will come into conflict with the powers that be when we speak up for the needy – and this is part of our calling – See Prov. 31:8-9; Rom. 12:14-21.
1. Do you agree that human rights are the basic issue that lies behind the ethical problems of today’s society?
2. Is the U.N. Declaration in section ‘A’ realistic or idealistic? Why?
3. Can you add any other Biblical material to section ‘C’?
4. Do you have a different Biblical approach to that suggested here?
5. Can Christians support the work of:
(a) Amnesty International?
(b) Liberation Theology?
(c) Animal Rights?
Give reasons for/against in each case.
6. Can we always allow others the free exercise of their rights? What about children? Criminals? Animals? Nature?
1. Examine your own attitudes before God on this whole issue of human rights.
Have you given it much thought? lf not, then why not? What implication does this have for you in the future in thinking through ethical issues?
2. Have you found this first session boring? Interesting? Challenging? or threatening? Examine your reactions.
3. What positive steps are you going to take before God to get actively involved in ethical and social issues? ‘
HUMAN RIGHTS (PART 2)
Read: Eph. 2:11-19: Gal. 3:28
In this session we shall look at the issues of Race; Sex and Class and their implications for the Human Rights issue.
A. JEWS AND GENTILES
Read again Eph. 2:11-19. No greater divide existed in the ancient world than that between Jew and Gentile. It is difficult to imagine just how great the impact was when suddenly they began to live together in harmony. This is what the cross accomplished. Rival alienation is abolished when we become members of a new nation which embraces faith in Jesus.
Notice that the Council of Jerusalem did not require Gentile converts to embrace Jewish circumcision and ceremonial laws in order to become part of the Christian church (Acts 15:5-11; 28-29). Nor were Gentiles to be insensitive to Jewish scruples about food. (Romans 14:1-6; 13-17). The early church also dealt with tribal favouritism. Read Acts 6:1-7.
What was the complaint? And how did they deal with it?
As Christians, we are opposed to all forms of racism: including racial prejudice, discrimination, apartheid, whether blacks against whites or whites against blacks, because of our belief in the dignity of humanity. But we believe that only the gospel of grace can make this a reality.
We aren’t opposed to racial distinctiveness, however. That is a part of human identity. As we embrace biblical principles together, so a new culture emerges which enables us to live in harmony and yet be enriched by our diversity.
B. MEN AND WOMEN
The battle of the sexes has its origin in the Fall. In Eden was born male chauvinism, female vulnerability and mutual mistrust. In this way a society was evolved in which Aristotle considered females to be imperfect males, accidentally produced by the father’s inadequacy or by the malign influence of a moist south wind!
And Josephus, the Jewish historian, stated that: “the woman is inferior to the man in every way.”
The gospel restores the original creation model – as it was in the beginning. Eve was of co-equal status with Adam. Her role was as complementary helper to him in his leadership (Gen. 1:26-27).
She was received as a gift from God and in no way inferior to Adam.
They functioned as a unity. In the words of Peter Lombard (1157 AD), “Eve was not taken from the feet of Adam to be his slave, nor from his head to be his lord, but from his side to be his partner.”
Women are of equal status to men as regards salvation – See Gal. 3:28. But equal status doesn’t imply sameness or loss of masculinity and femininity. The modern world confuses status with function and many feminists suggest that the traditional functions of home- making or exercising feminine virtues imply lower status. This can be true, but it doesn’t have to be. Read Prov. 31:10-31. Here was a woman with a home-based ministry which provided full scope for all her many talents.
There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the creational model means a cultural stereotype. Women have the right to pursue a career and earn their own living. Married women don’t have to do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and baby-rearing. But neither should the latter calling be despised as unfilling or demeaning.
However, the creational model does throughout Scripture assign a headship role to men.
That means they have the responsibility to lead, especially in marriage. Paul appeals to the priority of creation (see 1Tim. 2:13); the mode of creation (see 1Cor. 11:; and the purpose of creation (see 1Cor. 11:9) to uphold this.
Properly exercised male headship releases a woman to fulfil her calling and enjoy her God-given rights. This does NOT mean that any man can, by virtue of his maleness, order women to submit to him! Read 1Tim. 5:1-2 for the correct relational attitude.
[NB. The issue of women's ministry is a separate issue and is confused by talking about rights because Christian ministry is not a right!
It is perfectly appropriate that women should be afforded equal opportunities, pay and conditions with men, and be entitled to equal legal status and franchise.]
The realism of the gospel meant that Christians were not encouraged to fight directly against slavery. At that time it would have been a futile exercise. Freedom was desirable, (1 Cor. 7:20-22) but was not the prime issue. Christian slaves were the Lord’s freemen and should serve Him in their situation (Eph. 6:5-.
However, the seeds for emancipation were sown in the early church. Masters are instructed to care for their slaves (Eph. 6:9). Instead of treating them as animals they were to be considered the Lord’s people. Nowhere is this clearer than in the letter to Philemon. A captured runaway slave would normally be executed. Paul instructs Philemon to receive him back as a brother and to treat him as though he were the apostle himself. (Philemon v15-17). The implications of this are very far-reaching. The axe was laid to the root of slavery. What a tragedy it took so long for the wretched tree to be felled!
Nor is it entirely dead. Slavery still exists in many parts of the world. That is to say nothing of economic slavery which binds multitudes in sub-human conditions, usually for the material benefit of the affluent West. We should not remain silent about this.
1. What is the value or otherwise of ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of minority groups.
2. “Black people are inferior to whites because God decreed it.” Ponder this statement. Do you agree or disagree? What is the Biblical basis for your answer?
3. “God considers women to be of equal status with men.” Do you agree or disagree? Give Biblical reasons for your answers.
4. For something really radical! – Why not host a ‘multi-cultural evening’ in your home and ask what others find difficult with your culture. (Also an opportunity for low-key evangelism!).
1. What is your personal attitude to people from a different culture, race or social grouping than yourself? Be honest here!
your attitudes to ‘Women’s Rights’ issues formed by Scripture or your denomination or your own upbringing?
3. Begin to pray regularly for persecuted Christians.
PLEASE EMAIL YOUR ANSWERS TO: email@example.com
LESSON THREE: PEACE: (PART 1.)
Read: James 4:1-3; Mt. 24:6-7; 5:9.
We live in a world of unceasing war. Our greatest investments of wealth, ingenuity and energy are concentrated, not on the relief of sickness and famine, but on a programme of ‘how to kill your neighbour more effectively than he can kill you!’
International arms deals total nearly £20 billion a year. An estimated twenty million people have died in wars since World War Two – nearly all of them in third world countries. The two super-powers (U.S.A. and Russia) still have enough warheads between them to destroy the world several times over.
Many other nations such as Israel, Iran? India, China and others now have nuclear war potential. In our madness we have now developed the capacity for total self – annihilation. The grim spectre of the nuclear mushroom-cloud haunts us all, even in spite of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Add to that the escalation of conventional wars, the rise of international terrorism and the increase in crimes of violence on our streets, and we have a situation where people’s hearts fail them for fear.
A. THE ROOT CAUSE OF WAR
(i) THE FALL
War and violence are a fruit of the Fall. The poisonous root of Adam and Eve’s disobedience soon began to produce bitter fruit in their offspring: See Gen. 4:8.
(ii) A HEART ISSUE
Violence is in the heart of men and women. Jesus said: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder . . . . . . .” (Mt. 15:19). See also James 4:1-2.
Covetousness (or greed) is the major sin that initiates war. Cain wanted Abel’s blessing; John the Baptist was executed because Herod wanted to continue in an unlawful marriage.
Nations go to war because they become greedy for power, land, natural resources, or even religious domination. Greed devours its victims. Countless people have been driven reluctantly to defend their homes, loved ones and their lands because of the rapacity of others.
Who can compute the grief of the millions bereaved in the battle for liberty? A weeping world cries out for peace.
Only the gospel brings true and lasting peace because it alone tackles the root issues and brings us under the reign of the Prince of Peace. This should make the Church of Jesus Christ the greatest peace movement in the world but, sadly, this has not always been the case.
B. THE OLD TESTAMENT APPROACH TO WAR.
Sometimes the church has made alliances with the State and the name of Jesus has been invoked to justify mass slaughter. Support for such actions has sometimes been drawn from the Old Testament – but there is no justification for this.
(i) VIOLENCE GRIEVES THE HEART OF GOD.
“The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.” (Gen. 6:6).
Why was this so? Read Gen. 6:11-13. What was the earth filled with? There is no suggestion here of a war-mongering God delighting in violence. What we do encounter in the Old Testament however, is a holy God who is the righteous Judge of all the earth.
(ii) WARS OF JUDGEMENT.
The Canaanites were particularly vile sinners – not only were they sexually very immoral but they also sacrificed live children to the god Molech. Such sins, if allowed to continue unabated, would sooner or later have polluted the whole world. So God’s people, Israel, were commanded to perform a clean-up operation on His behalf.
Read Lev. 18:24-28. What was not to be defiled? What would happen if God’s people defiled it?
Read Dt. 7:1-6. Note particularly verse 5 and jot down the things the people were to do. Notice that these actions were all inspired by their faith. God’s people were not to be motivated by covetousness for land but by jealousy for the Name of the Lord. (See also 1Pet. 2:9; 2Pet. 2:4-9 for the N.T. counterpart)
(iii) A FREE CHOICE
Fighting was never compulsory for the Israelites. They were not to be a warlike nation.
What are the four reasons given for a man to be excused fighting? See Dt. 20:5-9.
(iv) TRUST IN THE LORD
God’s people were instructed to look to Him for their defence rather than trusting in the weapons of their day. The notion of spiritual protection is clear in the Old Testament. See especially Isa. 31:1; 2 Kings 6:8-23; Isa. 37:14-2O; 33-37. Also Zech. 9:9-10 gives us a tremendous promise associated with the coming of the Messiah. What is it?
To summarise, the O1d Testament nowhere advances a power philosophy to justify imperialist expansion. When violence is advocated, it is always for the purification of God’s earth.
His people were not to seek advantage in sophisticated weaponry but were rather to trust their cause to Him.
[NB. It is important to realise that the warfare in the O1d Testament which was approved by God was radically different from all other types of warfare in that it involved both complete dependence on God and genocide. The other form of warfare in the O1d Testament fought by kings and their armies is actually condemned by O1d Testament writers and the prophets. See e.g.: 1 Sam. Ch. 8. See Alan Kreider's book 'Journey towards Holiness' for an excellent and balanced treatment of this whole issue.]
1. Read the following and ponder the questions raised:
During the first two centuries of church history God’s people held to a non-violent stance. The pagan philosopher, Cicero, wanting to control the awful excesses of warfare, came up with the theory of ‘a just war’ – as distinct from an unjust war. When the Church became allied with the state, under Augustine’s influence it adopted this as the Christian position. This has largely been the position in the Western world ever since. Briefly, the just war theory states that:
*Only defensive war is legitimate:
*The intention must be to obtain peac
*It must be the last resort:
*There must be a formal declaration:
*It must be fought with limited objectives and weaponry:
*Non-participants must be immune from attack.
The just war theory has failed because of its initial commitment to violence. It has a history of ‘brakes failure.’ Nuclear weapons in any case render the just war theory null and void. Most Christians are agreed that the use of nuclear weapons is immoral.
But should they be retained as a deterrent? Granted that a nation should not attack another nation for unworthy motives, is it right to seek to liberate another nation from tyranny? Is it right for a nation operating on Christian principles to defend itself against tyranny?
The late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed that the last war, i.e., World War Two, was truly a ‘just war.’
Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answers.
1. Pray for international peace every day for a week and then build this into your prayer life on a regular basis.
2. Deliberately check in your heart that you have forgiven everyone you can remember who has harmed you.
[NB. lf you have difficulty here then seek counsel from a mature and trusted Christian friend or pastor.]
PLS EMAIL YOUR ANSWERS TO : firstname.lastname@example.org
LESSON FOUR: PEACE: (PART TWO)
Read: Eph. 2:14-17; 2Cor. 10:3-5.
In this second part, we look at the New Testament teaching on this issue and our response as God’s people living in a new covenant.
A. THE NEW TESTAMENT APPROACH TO VIOLENCE:
(i) A VIOLENT AGE
Jesus recognised and prophesied that this age would be characterised by war. See Mt. 24:6-7. The book of Revelation speaks continually of the strife of sinful men but also of God using war as an instrument of His righteous judgement. Revelation ch. 9 is a good example of this and reminds us of the continuity between the revelation of the Old Testament and that of the New.
Jesus is in ultimate control of world history (See Rev. 6:1-8; 5). He is the awesome Lord of glory who rules with a rod of iron.
(ii) LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
Against this backdrop to world history, Jesus both taught and practised non-violence (See Mt. 5:9). Read Mt. 5:38-48 for an astonishing new ethic that applied not only to civil enemies but also to the occupying Roman army. Love in this context doesn’t mean personal endearment – they were, after all, enemies – but it does mean consideration and kindness. Paul has the same thought in Rom. 12:17-21.
We are called to be a law-abiding people of peace.
B. THE GOSPEL OF PEACE:
(i) THE PRINCE OF PEACE
The birth of Jesus was announced in terms of peace. See Lk. 2:14.
Isaiah prophesied that wars would end wherever He reigned. Note in particular the last of the four titles given to Jesus in Isa. 9:6.
(ii) PEACE THROUGH THE CROSS
True peace was accomplished through the death of Jesus on the cross. Read: Eph. 2:14-17.
(iii) NEW PEOPLE, NEW SOCIETY
The gospel transforms both our inner nature and our outer conduct.
It removes the covetousness and the anger from our souls. See Tit. 3:3-5. The more this gospel spreads, the greater the prospects for peace in our time, in the streets, in the nation, in the world.
C. WHAT ARE GOD’S PEOPLE TO DO?
We have a positive contribution to make in mitigating the worse effects of sin. As light we show the way; as salt we slow down the putrefaction. Although we cannot absolutely prevent war we can make a marked difference.
(i) WE ARE TO PRAY
War is more likely to occur when we fail to pray. Look up and consider 1 Tim. 2:1-4. As we pray we are to recognise the sovereignty of God over the affairs of this world.
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. We must also recognise a satanic strategy. In spite of stories of servicemen coming to the Lord, (in which we rejoice), war hinders the gospel – and nuclear war hinders the gospel absolutely. The devil would love to pre-empt Christ’s return for His bride by engineering a nuclear holocaust which would destroy the human race. Our prayers can prevent it.
(ii) LIVE IN HOPE
Read Psalm 91 and write out in your own words what it promises.
We are to put faith in God, not in people. We must refuse the fear of this generation. Our concern about nuclear war must not be first to save our own skins but to see God’s purposes achieved. Instead of cowering we are to conquer.
(iii) FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
We are called to spiritual warfare. Our ‘holy war’ is described in 2 Cor. 10:3-5. Read also Eph. 6:10-2O. Who is the enemy (v12)? Consider each piece of armour, noting that some are for defence, some for attack.
(iv) DO GOOD TO ALL PEOPLE
If we find ourselves in a conflict situation, our first concern must be to alleviate suffering.
This may be by doing medical work or by sacrificing our lives to save others. This is often a dilemma for peace-loving Christians. We want to be pacifists but circumstances can appear on occasions to make that untenable. We must obey our conscience. Whether we fight in these circumstances or declare ourselves to be conscientious objectors, it will take courage to serve the good of others.
(v) PREACH RIGHTEOUSNESS
We must speak out against unrighteousness, not only as it is found in individuals, but where it is institutional and political.
As peace-makers we must advocate reductions in internal tension, including realistic multi-lateral disarmament policies, both of nuclear and conventional weapons.
Righteousness exalts a nation – even Sodom and Gomorrah could have been spared if sufficient righteous people had been found. Gen.18:20-33. Proclaiming the gospel will turn many to righteousness and bring peace in our land. This is our distinctive contribution to society and we must become confident enough to share it. ‘Righteousness marches’ will achieve more for peace than ‘peace marches’!
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1. Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. .
Does this mean that a Christian should refuse to defend himself when being assaulted in the street or should stand passively by while a friend or relative is being assaulted? Ponder, and write out your answer.
2. “Well, nuclear war and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Armageddon, and the coming war with Russia, what does this have to do with you and me? It says this: prepare to meet thy God. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, none of this should bring fear to your heart, because we are all going up in the Rapture before any of it occurs” – Jerry Falwell.
Ponder this statement. Do you agree with this paragraph? Is it Biblical or not? Are there any dangers in this ‘Christian’ attitude?
3. ‘‘Criticism, anger and malice are all right in the church provided we don’t actually get physical about it.” Do you agree? Give reasons for / against.
1. What has God spoken to you about in this lesson? Lay it out before Him in prayer and respond in obedience.
LESSON FIVE: SEXUALITY: (PART ONE)
Read: Gen. 1:27: 2:23-25; Rom. 13:8-10.
None of us can answer the question ‘Who am I’ without taking our sex into account.
Equally, we cannot divorce our character from our sexual relationships and habits. Sexuality cannot be put in a box marked ‘Private’ in the way many secular thinkers believe – what we are in this area affects every part of our lives.
The Bible is very honest and very outspoken on the whole area of sexuality. No other gift from God has been so abused and misused as this. This has been especially so in the past few decades. Sex before marriage seems to be the norm. Adultery is so commonplace that it destroys one in three marriages. Homosexually and bi-sexuality are presented in our schools as legitimate options. Lust and masturbation are considered healthy. Also, feminism has attacked wholesale the traditional relationship and role of men and women in society, leaving many people sexually confused.
What has happened?
A. SEXUALITY – DESTRUCTIVE IDEAS.
In the 1960’s, secular forces which had been gathering strength for many decades suddenly burst on to the streets. The attack was devastating to traditional morality. It was spearheaded by four ideas:
(i) ‘LET IT ALL HANG OUT’
This was a popular catch-phrase. It was based on the theories of psychiatrist Sigmund Freud – that our parents and the church put a fear of sexual expression into our lives at an early age. This, so the theories go, produces inner conflicts which make us neurotic. As this is bad for us, we should shake off those restraints and freely indulge our sexual desires as we wish – ‘Let it all hang out.’ As a result, masturbation and sex outside of marriage suddenly became healthy. Self-control is now a sign of psychological sickness!
However, although our parents may have passed on to us some unbalanced notions, the Bible teaches us to honour them and their basic teaching. (See Eph. 6:1-3).
Read Eph. 4:19 and notice what has caused people to give themselves to impurity: “Having lost all sensitivity.” In other words, they do not fear God. The answer to sexual lust is not self-indulgence but a new heart: See Eze. 36:25-27.
Self-control – being ruled by the Spirit – is the source of true liberty: See Gal. 5:16.
(ii) THE NAKED APE:
Evolutionary theory denies that God created the world. Instead, it teaches that all life developed from the simple to the complex, from the weak to the strong. It teaches that men and women are no more than highly evolved animals and that they have no moral responsibility before God. Love and marriage are merely complicated animal rituals for reproductive purposes.
However, the Bible teaches that men and women are a special creation, different from the animals. See Ps. 8:4-5.
We are responsible to a moral God – therefore the person who sins will die spiritually but the righteous will flourish. Read 2 Pet. 2:2 and see what happens to men and women when they act like animals.
Marriage reflects God’s love, not just a biological urge to reproduce. See Eph. 5:25-32. Children are the fruit of that union but not its primary purpose.
(iii) LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER
The publication in 1960 of D.L. Lawrence’s book ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ effectively abolished censorship of the written word in Great Britain. It also popularised a philosophy known as Romanticism. (This is not the some as romance).
Lawrence portrayed sex within marriage as frustrated. Passion – moist, earthy, warm sensuality – was to be found in an illicit relationship. Marital unfaithfulness could now be justified in the search for passionate love.
However, the Bible does not portray sexual faithfulness as dull, unadventurous frustration.
Whatever the Song of Songs teaches us about the relationship between Christ and the Church; it is also an exuberant celebration of passionate married love. (See S of S 8:6-7).
(iv) ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Many theologians, wanting to avoid the extremes of legalism or licence, tried to find another way. So they abolished absolutes and came up with what is known as the ‘situation ethic.’
This states that we cannot know what is right and wrong until we face a specific situation, and every situation is unique. The one guiding principle is love. So, for example, if it seems to be loving to sleep with your unmarried partner, then it must be right.
This sounds noble, except that most people understand love to mean ‘enjoyment’ – or self-indulgence. One result is that many people now equate sex with love. Then they become disillusioned with the latter when the former isn’t too good. Many become sexually promiscuous in a desperate search for love through sex.
We need to realise that the love of God is not self-gratifying – It is sacrificial. Read John 4:7-11.
The situation ethic cheapens love. Although the Bible is opposed to legalism, nowhere is love set against the law. Love is the right way to fulfil the law. Read Rom. 13:8-10.
The situation ethic attempts to find an intellectual solution to the dilemmas of life.
It takes no account of the possibility of prayer or of divine intervention. All its so-called new morality has provided is an intellectual justification for the old immorality!
1. What impact has the material under ‘destructive ideas’ of sexuality had on you? Were you aware of these changes that were taking place in society? How has it affected you or your family?
2. “Christians should have intercourse out of necessity, not for enjoyment.” Do you agree with this statement or not? Does this conflict with God’s idea of sexuality?
3. Think of ways of promoting Christian sexual values among young people.
1. Check your bookshelves, newspapers, TV. , video viewing
Are they sexually pure?
2. Pray over the issues raised in this section.
3. If you have real sexual problems then get help and counsel from your Pastor or a trusted Christian friend.
LESSON SlX: SEXUALITY (PART 2)
In our last session we looked at some of the modern destructive ideas about sexuality. In this session we shall look at some specific issues and present the Biblical view of sexuality.
B. SEXUALITY – THE UNBIBLICAL PERVERSION
The Biblical understanding of deviance and perversion is this: behaviour which is contrary to the revealed will of God.
So it’s not a question of whether behaviour is inherited or learned, common or rare, socially accepted or not, but whether it is consistent with what God teaches as right for us and therefore good for us in His Holy Word!
We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-. Read Hosea 4:1-3 for a fair description of what has happened in our land as a result of the destructive ideas that we looked at in our last session.
This has resulted in various perversions of sexuality:
(i) HOMOSEXUALITY – sex with someone of the same gender. Lev. 18:22.
Homosexual practice is a sign of a God-forsaken society.
Read Rom 1:21-27. Why did God give them over to these things? See v21, 23.
Heterosexuality (man and woman in a ‘one flesh‘ committed relationship for life), is part of God’s gift to humanity. The whole process of procreation and the command to ‘be fruitful and increase in number’ can only mean heterosexual relationships. See Mt. 19:4-5.
Thus it is quite wrong to say that homosexuality is something natural, like having red hair or being left handed.
However, we must be careful to make a distinction between homosexual orientation where sexual attraction and preference is directed towards the some sex, and homosexual intercourse which comes obviously into the area of responsible choice. We cannot and must not blame people for what they are, especially when they are victims of biological upset or emotional lag.
We must resist and indeed repent of a judgemental attitude that treats every homosexual person with revulsion as if they are automatically degenerate and perverted. So while we cannot blame people for what they are, we can blame them for what they do. We are simply not at liberty to affirm homosexual relationships as an equal alternative to heterosexual relationships, for the Bible is very clear that homosexual acts are unnatural and sinful. (See Gen. 19:4-8: Lev. 18:22; 20 v13; Judges 19:22-24; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10). So-called ‘Christian homosexuality’ is not a biblical option.
Sin distorts, turns love into lust and brings guilt and shame. Although nakedness is not evil, it is inappropriate in a fallen world which requires modesty. Nakedness is only appropriate between two people for whom love has been restored whole in a committed relationship of marriage. This is why pornography is so wrong; it is against everything a biblical Christian would understand about God’s view on sex.
We need to develop a truly biblical view of sexuality and human relationships that will enable us to grow into maturity. We are not to be ashamed of our sexuality but we are to be in control of it.
In spite of strong statements voiced by the church through the centuries, nowhere does Scripture condemn masturbation as such. Nor is there any suggestion that it makes one blind, senile or spotty! However, it is an inadequate use of the sexual gift – sex turned in on itself. If regular, it suggests a lack of self-control (one aspect of the Spirit’s fruit – Gal. 5:22-23), and may become a real bondage. If accompanied by lustful fantasies, (as it usually is) it is a cause of sin.
(iv) OTHER AREAS:
The perversions (and consequences!) of our God-given sexuality are so numerous that it is impossible to touch on them all within the limits of this study. However, some areas for private research are the following: FORNICATION – sex before marriage (1 Cor. 7:2.)
ADULTERY sex with someone other than your spouse (Ex.20:14) INCEST sex with a near relative (Lev. 18:6)
PROSTITUTION sex for hire (Prov. 23:26-28
BESTIALITY sex with an animal (Ex. 22:19)
CHILD ABUSE – sexual abuse of children; plus abortion (Ps. 106:37-40)
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES -
E.g. Syphilis; gonorrhoea; genital warts and herpes; non-specific urethritis; cervical cancer; AIDS (See Prov. 5:11; Rom. 1:27; Prov. 6:32-33)
C. SEXUALITY – THE BIBLICAL POSITION:
Unashamed sexuality existed before sin distorted and deceived. Adam and Eve were whole together, complementary, one flesh, naked and unashamed. And to all this God wants to restore us in Christ.
The Fall did not create eroticism, it perverted it.
So many Christians are afraid of their own sexuality believing the error that sex is in itself something dirty and sinful. But this is not so – certainly sexual sin IS sin and is rightly condemned, but no more so than many other sins. In fact the worst sins according to the Bible are ‘pride’ and especially ‘unbelief’ because that is the only unforgivable sin.
Sex is God’s idea, part of His good creation, given for pleasure as well as procreation; for partnership as well as parenthood; but only in the context of a loving, faithful and permanent commitment within heterosexual marriage.
If you are single, then Paul has positive advice in 1 Cor. 7:32-35 as to what to do with sexual energy – serve the Lord with all your strength! It is perfectly possible to live a sexually pure life while single without frustration or regret.
This needs to be promoted in our churches as a positive option. Let it be known that virginity is not an adolescent complaint. Chastity is honourable. Marriage is beautiful. Thus can we show the world the way back to true and fulfilled sexuality that is pleasing to God and a blessing to us.
1. Ponder how you feel about homosexuality and how, as Christians, we should respond to homosexuals, particularly in the light of the AIDS crisis.
2. What personal and practical steps could we take as a church to combat pornography?
3. Read 1 Thess. 4:1-8. What principles does it teach for us to live holy lives?
4. How can we, as a church, be a positive help and encouragement to single people in the area of sexuality?
1. If you are married, discuss with your partner the quality of your sexual life.
2. If you are single, examine your lifestyle to see if you are finding fulfilment in serving the Lord.
3. If you have problems or have sinned sexually, remember ALL sexual sin can be forgiven. Repentance and confession brings release from both actual and felt guilt.
Read Psalm. 51. It is David’s repentance after he had sinned sexually. God heard his prayer. Make it yours.
LESSON SEVEN: LIFE: (PART ONE)
Read: Ps. 139:13-16: Ps. 106:37-38
It is incredible that any civilised country with a Christian heritage should authorise the wholesale slaughter of its children. Yet that is precisely what has happened in most Western nations.
In Great Britain, since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967, over three million babies have been legally and scientifically put to death before seeing the light of day. The womb is the most dangerous place to live in today’s society – a child has a one-in-five chance of being killed at its mother’s behest. Recent figures in Britain stand at 200,000 a year, or one every three minutes.
A. ABORTION – THE BRITISH LEGAL POSITION:
In 1861 the Offences Against the Person Act made abortion a felony punishable by life imprisonment. This was modified in 1929 so that a pregnancy might be prematurely terminated in order to spare the life of a mother. This act was widened in the 1938 Bourne Case, when the phrase ‘life of the mother’ was deemed to include acute mental anguish as the result of a pregnancy arising from rape.
In 1948 the Declaration of Geneva stated: ‘I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.’
All this changed dramatically in 1967 with David Steel’s Abortion Bill which has been described as “naive, clumsy and sinister.” This effectively opened the door to abortion on demand. The wording is such that abortion is now “no longer an offence” provided certain criteria are met. These criteria are:
*Risk of life of the mother.
*Risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the mother.
*Risk of injury to the physical or mental health of existing children.
*Substantial risk of the child being born abnormal.
*In emergency to save the life of the mother.
*In emergency to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother.
The majority of abortions are performed under the second of these criteria. The reason is simple – risk of injury is implicit in all pregnancy. As no parameters are given to quantify this risk, any woman may argue the case for an abortion. There is a risk. Therefore I am entitled to abort this child! The only restraining influence is the doctor’s conscience.
With over 160,000 abortions procured on this ground each year, that appears not to be very effective. Less than ten abortions are carried out each year in cases of genuine danger to the life of the mother. The argument that such a law would abolish back-street abortion has proved unfounded. These have remained almost constant.
B. ABORTION – BUSINESS ARISING:
The change in the law has spawned an industry of ‘pregnancy advisory centres,’ that is, legalised private clinics whose only function is to kill babies for money. This may seem undesirable, but the law produces other ‘business arising’ too.
Approximately twenty per cent of aborting mothers are left with some permanent physical damage such as persistent infection, blood clots, perforation of the uterus right through to sterility. Abortion is not corrective surgery – it is an assault on the body. Add to this post-abortion suicidal tendencies, depression, emptiness and guilt.
The most common methods of abortion in Great Britain are vacuum aspiration and D. & C. (dilatation and curettage). Both involve the chopping up of a live and pain-sensing baby and then crushing his or her head to pulp with specially designed forceps. It is a medical barbarity.
C. ABORTION – THE SPIRITUAL ISSUE:
Are there any spiritual implications in all this? The church was largely silent in 1967. But this is GOD’S world and, as His children, Christians are responsible for how it is run.
(i) THE VALUE OF LIFE
The Abortion Act is built upon the philosophy or evolutionary humanism, the view that all living creatures have developed deterministically from primeval chemical reactions. But this runs counter to the Word of God. Man is unique – see Gen. 1:27; Ps. 8:3-5. Children seem to have a special place before God – see Mt. 18:5-6: Mark 10:13-16.
(ii) LIFE BEFORE BIRTH
There is no scientific or medical doubt that a baby is a separate human being from the moment of its conception. However, it is pure guesswork to suggest that the new human being does not receive a soul until later. We know that the development of the child in the womb is more than the unfolding of a genetic programme. See especially Job 10:8-12; Ps.
139:13-16; Luke 1:39-45.
God determines our sex, physical characteristics, parents and genes. Because the unborn baby is a human being, abortion as it is currently practised is an abuse of human rights.
D. ABORTION – THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE:
(i) DEFEND THE WEAK
We have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Prov. 31:8-9; Ps. 82:3-4. We have a responsibility to argue the case for the unborn – including the deformed. God’s answer is CARE, not KILL. What do you make of Ex. 4:11; Lev. 19:14?
(ii) CARE FOR THE NEEDY
It is no use advising a teenage girl not to abort her illegitimate baby, without providing all the help she needs. Love, practical support, a roof over her head, protection, advice, adoption, and advice – all need to be provided. What is the mark of true religion in James 1:27?
(iii) EDUCATE THE IGNORANT
A good half of unnecessary abortions are carried out on married women – in many cases it is seen as a form of birth control. There is much pressurising and withholding of the facts along with double-think, euphemistic language (‘disposing of foetal matter’; ‘terminating a pregnancy’; ‘just a blob of jelly’) that must be resisted. We have a responsibility to educate people as to the facts. (Hosea 4:6).
1. Think about how you would counsel and hel
p an unmarried pregnant mother who was contemplating an abortion.
2. How would you handle the statement: “All deformed foetuses should be aborted.”?
3. “A foetus is not really a human being.” Do you agree? Give biblical reasons for your answer.
4. Look up and study Lev. 20:2-3; Ps. 106:37-38 on the practice of child- sacrifice to the god Molech. Has this any relevance for the abortion practice of today?
1. Engage in spiritual warfare when you pray against abortion in this land.
2. Educate yourself and ‘read up’ about this issue – especially from a Christian viewpoint.
3. Consider joining an organisation such as CARE campaigns; or LIFE in order to support the campaign to repeal the Abortion Law.
LESSON EIGHT: LIFE: (PART TWO)
In this session, we will consider together the issues involved in Genetic engineering and Euthanasia.
A. GENETIC ENGINEERING:
In 1961 the first tadpoles were cloned (genetically identical specimens grown from a single cell.)
In 1962 DNA was unravelled by James Watson and Francis Crick.
In 1966 Robert Edwards cultivated human ova in a laboratory.
By 1969 ova could be grown to 100 cells.
In 1978 Louise Brown was born – the first ‘test-tube baby.’
Since then, tremendous strides have been taken in the whole realm of genetic engineering. Grotesque experiments have been done on chimpanzees with a view to the possibility of homosexual men carrying a pre- fertilised ova in their abdominal cavities, later to be delivered of the baby by caesarean section. Similarly, it is possible by egg-fusion to give a lesbian couple guaranteed female offspring.
With some ten per cent of people unable to conceive and a further fifteen per cent having difficulty, it is understandable that we should seek to do something about infertility.
However, what we do has to be governed by moral and spiritual considerations. Because these do not rank high among some geneticists, the only limit to what may be attempted is dictated by public opinion. As those concerned for the sanctity of human life, we Christians must pass comment.
(i) ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION BY THE HUSBAND may be justified in some circumstances. However, the economically-determined practice of fertilising several ova and either disposing of or experimenting upon, the un-needed ones should be discontinued. In fact, human fertilised ova should never be experimented upon – these are, after all, children in all but age.
(ii) ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION BY DONOR divorces life-giving from love-making and brings a third, albeit anonymous, person into the marriage. Questions arise as to the legal status of the child and the psychological acceptance of the child by the stepfather. And there are increasing concerns about the genetic and health risks for society should widespread AIDS continue.
(iii) THERE ARE A GROWING NUMBER of acceptable ways of preventing and curing genetically transmitted diseases without the need for human embryo experimentation.
And if only one per cent of abortions were discontinued, there would be enough babies available for adoption for all who are childless.
The word ‘Euthanasia’ means ‘easy death’ or ‘mercy killing.’ It is not yet legal in the U.K., but surveys indicate that a majority of people favour its introduction. It is an emotive subject. How long do you let a suffering person go on living, especially when he or she wants to die? Isn’t it charitable to put such people out of their misery with a fatal drug?
Part of the problem today is that we can keep people alive much longer than previously. Pain itself shortens life, but that can now largely be alleviated. Life-support machines can sustain bodily functions almost indefinitely even though there is no hope of conscious recovery.
Easy death as a medical technique seems a neat solution to the problems raised by terminal illness. But is it? Who is going to make the decision? The pain-ridden patient? Or relatives shattered with grief or callously wanting to get Aunt Nellie’s fortune? Or a central committee? Or the doctor whose training and responsibility it is to save life? Who would trust a doctor if you knew he had legal power to terminate your life?
All positive killing of humans is murder in God’s sight (Ex. 20:13). Therefore, from a biblical perspective, euthanasia is an evil because it evolves taking a human life that is considered special by God.
Having said this, those who are obviously dying should be allowed to do so. Living corpses should not be sustained on machines – that does nothing for the dignity of human life.
We must also be prepared for the consequences of our stance on euthanasia. Are we prepared to give the necessary support to the elderly and terminally ill? Are we prepared for the financial consequences? The best approach to dying and the whole issue of euthanasia lies nowadays in the hospice movement where, with a high staff-to-patient ratio and skilled counselling and drug administration, patients are able to die with dignity. Many Christians are actively involved in this movement. Such care for the dying is the final, loving brush-stroke in the art of healing.
1. Plan a strategy for educating the young people in your church and local schools on these issues.
2. “It is a morally neutral thing to experiment on human embryos.” Do you agree? If not, why not?
3. Scientists are talking about the possibility of ‘cloning’ human beings.
Would you agree with this? What are the dangers?
4. “Everyone over seventy should voluntarily take a suicide pill to ease the burden on the taxpayers.” Do you agree or not with this statement? Give Biblical reasons for your answer.
1. Pray over these issues as they relate to your own personal life and experience.
2. For more information and advice on these issues contact CARE or the Christian Medical Fellowship; or research on the Internet.
3. See if you can visit patients who are dying from terminal illnesses in (a) Your local hospital; (b) Your local community.
LESSON NINE: EMPLOYMENT
The Technological Revolution is changing the Western understanding of work.
Gone is the time when all but the favoured few had to work for their — very existence, when to be unwaged meant almost certain death – or at least terrible destitution. Today we talk of the post-industrial society, of the virtual abolition of work as we have known it and of a booming leisure industry.
But there is another side to the matter. We are not finding the transition easy. The millions of unemployed, often on meagre incomes and in deprived environments, don’t greet this as a new day of creative opportunity. Instead, many are bitter, alienated, disillusioned and depressed. Saved from starvation maybe, but not from the loss of hope.
The Technological Revolution makes man the worker permanently redundant. Self-monitoring factories declare even the machine-minder obsolete. Unless the shop-floor worker can be retrained and relocated he has no future. Mass unemployment is inevitable – unless someone comes up with some bright ideas! However, first we must comment briefly on the two dominant economic theories of our society as they affect employment.
CAPITALISM AND COMMUNISM
Capitalism insists that the rich and the poor will always exist and should seek peaceful cc-existence for their mutual benefit. The wealthy put their wealth to work to produce more wealth. The labourer generates this wealth and is rewarded with a living wage. In a free enterprise system, excess capital will be used to generate more jobs, and unlimited expansion of the economy is theoretically possible.
Capitalism has been strongly undergirded by the falsely-named ‘protestant work ethic’ which teaches that diligent work is a moral duty, whatever the job and the working conditions. This ethic (actually a humanist one born out of the Renaissance) has been criticised on many grounds.
*It tends to slot people into a role appropriate to their class, thus denying the opportunity for a person to ‘break out.’
*It uses people as units of labour rather than treating them as whole people. A person’s identity becomes determined by what he does, rather than by who he is. Little wonder that the redundant worker feels such a loss of personal identity!
Raw capitalism itself is open to abuse by sinful human beings.
Alienation, inequality and hardship are the common lot of the worker in such a system. There are other problems:
*Untrammelled trust in the power of the free market means that many suffer at times of dramatic change, as with the Industrial Revolution and now the Technological Revolution
*Enterprise is commonly motivated far more by the financial benefit to the investor than by the benefit to society as a whole.
*There is no honourable place for those dispossessed of their jobs. They are the failures of society and little effort is made to develop new work – the market motivation isn’t there.
Socialism seeks to tackle these issues by proposing a cooperative economic system in which the means of production is common ownership vested in the state. Communism goes much further by insisting that the means of distribution should also be state-controlled, thereby moderating the market to ensure a fair distribution to all.
The weakness of communism is its implicit belief in the perfectibility of man outside of Christ and its utopian conviction that through revolution a new society will be born. Because it is idealistic, such societies have required repressive force in order to operate the theory.
Socialism also fails to take account of the inherent selfishness in sinful men and women. Its mammoth state industries have generally produced inefficient management and an underestimated workforce.
Socialist systems exalt the worker and, like capitalism, over-identify a man with what he does.
Capitalism is broadly associated with the Conservatives (UK) and the Republicans (USA), while socialism/communism has been the political philosophy of the Labour Party (UK) and of the Democrats (USA).
In Britain the contrast has been vividly demonstrated in conflicting party policies of free enterprise and state ownership, respectively.
Neither system has been able adequately to produce a society where there is full and satisfying employment. So is there a better way? The Bible doesn’t propose an economic theory but it does provide an approach to work which can dramatically change the face of labour.
2. THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF WORK
The Bible’s view of work has to be understood with reference to three other concepts: the Sabbath; Service and Salvation.
A. THE SABBATH
Read Gen Ch. 1. What did God do at the end of each day?
See, for example, verse 25. Then notice from Gen. 2:1-3 what God did when He had finished creating the universe: “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.” (Gen 2:2)
From these two passages we can draw certain principles:
1. WORK IS HONOURABLE.
God did not consider Himself above labour.
2. WORK IS GOOD.
Work should be of a kind whose product can be described as ‘good.’
3. WORK GIVES SATISFACTION.
The worker should be able to contemplate and appreciate the worth of his labours at the end of each day.
4. WORK SHOULD ALSO INVOLVE REST.
Work should be done to a rhythm which includes a day of rest every week.
5. WORK SHOULD PRODUCE RESULTS.
There should be a sense of completion about each week’s work.
From the beginning, God intended our labours to be satisfying – a far cry from the view of working life as a necessary drudgery whose only respite is the weekend, and let’s hope it’s not raining! Consider also Psalm 127:1-2 and Eccl. 5:10-1
The Sabbath was created for the blessing of humankind – See Mark 2:27.
It was instituted as a day of rest and recreation, of fellowship and worship, of blessing our fellow human beings.
Honouring the Sabbath kept a check on commercialism with its attendant evils of greed, debt, stress, materialism and exploitation. Little wonder that desecration of the Sabbath brought the judgement of God upon Israel. See how Nehemiah dealt with the issue during the restoration of Jerusalem – See Neh. 13:15-18.
By Jesus’ time, this blessing of God had been turned into a legalistic curse. Jesus restored a proper understanding of the Sabbath by His own approach to it.
He also saved us from dead works and put the Sabbath principle into our hearts. The primary emphasis under the new covenant is not on the observance of a day (important though that may be) but on living all our days in the rest which comes from grace (Hebrews 4:1-1 l). This sets us free to enjoy the creation ordinance of one day’s rest in seven and to make rest in God, not our daily labours, the source of our identity.
In contrast to the modern world, the Scriptures do not force a divide between the sacred and the secular. Consequently, all work is a ministry to God and to our fellow-human beings. Sacrificial love is to mark our tasks. Such love will produce diligence, punctuality and excellence.
Both employees and employers are called to serve one another. Hence, there is a concern for each other’s well-being. This abolishes the need for confrontation between workers and management and instead allows co-operation. It may lead to creating jointly-owned companies.
The Fall brought a curse upon all creation and not least upon work.
A new factor came into being (Genesis 3:l7-19). What does Solomon call it (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23)?
Redemption lifts the curse (Galatians 3:l3-14). This will not ultimately be seen until the new creation at Christ’s return, but the principles of the new age are already operating. Our work should fit in with God’s ultimate plan, which is: “through Him (Christ) to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. (Col 1:20)
We are to bring these principles to bear upon work.
1. They will make us examine the type of work we perform.
Not just any work will do. Is the product truly beneficial to the human race, a good gift from God? Try to identify some products which you consider to be decidedly unhelpful to society.
2. We will be concerned about the conditions we work under.
Do they uphold the dignity of men and women? Or degrade them by putting them in a soul-destroying environment or one that is dangerous to their health, or in a job whose demands threaten their family life?
3. We will want the work to give opportunity for a person to express his creativity and individuality.
This will enable a person to take pride in his job and feel he has actually produced something at the end of the day.
To summarise, the Scriptures teach a harmonious rhythm of work and rest, which is service to God and an expression of the process of reconciliation. It has none of the modern contradictions and conflicts.
3. DEFENDING WORK
The political polarities of Western societies drive those on the left to emphasise the right to work, while those on the right stress the responsibility to work. This is unfortunate because rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, for both workers and management.
A. THE RIGHT TO WORK.
This term has taken on a particular meaning: the responsibility of governments so to order their policies that all members of society are granted the human right of paid employment.
Biblically, we cannot speak of the right to work but we can speak of the rightness, or appropriateness, of work. God gave Adam a responsible job in Eden: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15)
Constructive work, beyond nest-building, is something which distinguishes people from the animals. A government which by its policies denies this, lowers human dignity.
Furthermore, work should have its reward. This is much more than merely a pay-packet. It is unfortunate that our society has so limited the concept of reward. Job satisfaction needs to include a sense of achievement, of producing something worthwhile, of creative expression, of appreciation by others (Matthew 25:l4-30) – nobody thanks the unemployed.
But the pay-packet is important! In l Corinthians 9:7-12 Paul argues that even preachers are entitled to some material reward for their labours (see also Luke 10:7; 2 Timothy 2:6).
The Scriptures command us: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. “ (Proverbs 3:27)
The sober fact is that, though the unemployed aren’t starving, they are far from well-off and most don’t have sufficient resources either financially or environmentally to live a life of creative leisure.
In fact, enforced idleness pot only gives opportunity for dissipation but creates loneliness, boredom told lassitude through lack of stimulus.
It also contributes significantly to, the rising crime rate.
It is a poor, not to say perverse, leadership that cannot find anything for people to do! At the very least, it shows a lack of creative initiative unworthy of those elected to govern the modern economic state.
Christians have a responsibility to speak out on this issue.
B. THE RESPONSIBILITY TO WORK
The responsibilities of an employer are clear:
1. He must pay the labourer worthily.
The employee needs a living wage commensurate with the work done, sufficient to keep him and his dependents in health and honour. Woe to the employer if he withholds it: “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fat
herless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.” (Mal 3:5)
2. He must provide a safe environment for his employees.
Deuteronomy 22:8 reminds us of our responsibility for the safety of others.
3. The work conditions and hours should not grind the face of the poor
4. He must deal fairly with employees, as to the Lord.
“And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with Him.” (Eph 6:9)
The worker must be taken on as a person, not merely as a unit of labour. Workers, too, have responsibilities:
1. To serve wholeheartedly as to the Lord (Ephesians 6:5-7).
This includes showing proper respect for a boss together with enthusiasm and willingness when working. Those working for Christians should not take advantage of the fact (l Timothy 6:1-2).
2. To work honestly and not steal (Ephesians 4:28)
3. To provide for their own family (l Timothy 5:
Scripture has a specific command for those who are wilfully idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6- l 0): “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2Th 3:10)
C TRADE UNIONS AND EMPLOYERS’ FEDERATIONS:
The trade union movement arose because of the failure of employers to observe biblical principles. Banding together to defend certain basic human rights was the only way. Unfortunately, the whole process – which started with the best motives – has led to a sharp economic and political division.
Should a Christian join a trade union or an employers’ federation? The answer lies in balancing two passages of Scripture, both of which were written to Christians:
“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (1Co 5:10)
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2Co 6:14)
One passage tells us to stay in the world, the other to come out. We are to be involved in the world and its affairs as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), but not to be compromised in our testimony by that involvement. In particular, a Christian must not be yoked to an unbeliever. This applies to covenanted relationships where we become dubbed with the other person’s values and actions.
The issue then has to be decided on merit. How much commitment is required? Is there a real say? What is the strike policy?
Believers have vital contributions to make in industrial relations.
Indeed, it would help if our divinely-given wisdom dominated! Blessed are the peacemakers.
4. CREATING WORK:
Many things need doing in our society which will not naturally attract capitalists motivated only by profit. The government could, by redirecting part of the nation’s wealth, create jobs which may not be strictly of economic necessity, but neither are they a mere playing at work by creating artificial jobs in local government.
For example, we could as a nation begin to clear up some of the mess of our past ‘achievements’ – derelict ground, inner city wastelands, spoilt countryside, defunct architectural monstrosities.
We can embark upon building houses for people instead of expecting people to fit economic units of accommodation. We might also build fine parks, elegant architectural testimonies to a generation with hope, new cultural resources. Our heritage could be given a face-lift. Our roads could be dramatically improved.
In the caring areas we could provide research and resources for the growing numbers of elderly and disabled people in our society. We could create real opportunities for deprived youngsters. Our casing professions could be properly staffed without that necessarily meaning wasteful inefficiency.
We could invest in leisure facilities for all. Craftsmanship could be revived as true art. Educative leisure could enhance the lives of many.
Even tourism could be developed as a worthwhile industry instead of an offering of over-priced trash. Think of some more ideas.
Believers should put pressure on the government to take initiatives in creating worthwhile jobs, but the church should also take initiatives of its own, not least taking advantage of government funding where possible – provided there are no positively anti-Christian strings attached.
This is part of the church’s care for the needy in society and shouldn’t be seen as peripheral to the gospel. We should consider projects like:
*Drop-in centres for the unwaged.
*Initiating projects for the good of the community.
*Helping the unwaged put together CVs, application forms, coping with interviews.
*Motivating those who have lost motivation.
*Using unwaged Christians in the charitable service of the gospel.
*Helping the unwaged obtain their social security benefits.
*Providing educational facilities to those who need retraining.
*Organising pressure groups on local councils and government to do something about the problems.
*Helping wives and mothers to develop home and community- based employment which keeps them in touch with their children and offers creative outlets for their talents – see Proverbs 31:10-3l
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecc 9:10)
1. Think about and evaluate the kind of work that you do.
2. Assess what your church is doing about unemployment.
n information that will be of use in advising the unemployed.
1. Examine your own attitudes to your job, if you have one. Are they pleasing to the Lord?
2. Write down a report of your week’s work as your boss might see it.
3. Assess your leisure activities. Are they worthwhile and recreative?
LESSON TEN: THE POOR
We live in a divided world. It is the world of the haves and the have nots, of the stark division between rich and poor, of the economic oppressors and the oppressed.
At a time when the techno-nations enjoy a wealth unparalleled in human history, over five hundred million people are starving to death and another one billion are suffering chronic malnutrition. Untold millions more struggle against the daily deprivation wrought by unending poverty – they are powerless, in poor health, lacking education, constantly weary and dying prematurely.
Earn £100 a week and your poor two-thirds-world counterpart will earn only £10. – Or even less. But things are not ten times cheaper for him. Your poor neighbour is in real terms often ten times worse off than you.
Or look at it this way. The USA uses only seventeen per cent of its disposable income on food. The other eighty-three per cent is spent on medicine, education, comfortable living and defence. But a nation like India has to spend no less than sixty-seven per cent of its disposable income on food, leaving only a third of what is a much less valuable sum anyway, available for everything else.
The problem is exacerbated in many developing countries because small elites often hold the majority of the nation’s wealth. For example, in Brazil some five per cent of the population holds thirty-eight per cent of the wealth. In these countries a global process known as evisceration takes place with particular fierceness. (Emisseration is that process where the rich become both fewer and richer while the poor become poorer and more numerous. Disaster is inevitable if the process is not reversed.)
The International Monetary Fund was set up ostensibly to assist the funding of developing countries. However, because of the high interest rates, these countries have often been unable to pay off the loans.
As a result they have had to borrow, at a rate of interest, in order to pay the interest on the first loan. Soon they can’t pay this either and have to borrow again – at a rate of interest.
It is becoming impossible for some third-world countries ever to pay their debts. And what they can pay demands high taxation on the very people who should have received the benefit of the original loan.
A fluctuation in the interest rates can mean death by taxation for those at the bottom of the social scale.
Nor is it simply possible for loan repayments to be waived. Such is the magnitude of the debt that this would have serious repercussions for Western economies. And indeed for our pensioners, as many pension schemes depend on overseas investment. We live increasingly in a global village.
Tackling the problem of world poverty is a major item for the agenda as we enter the 21st century. But it has only recently become part of the evangelical agenda. Why?
(i) Reaction of Evangelicals
For most of this century evangelicals have taken very little interest in the plight of the poor. Part of the reason has been a sinful middle- class complacency, itself made possible by the acquisition of wealth gleaned from the poor of the world. Such an attitude would have earned the indignation of the prophets. Read what Amos has to saw about it: “They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane My holy name.” (Amos 2:7)
There is also a theological reason. Towards the end of the last century there developed what became known as the ‘social gospel.’ This was a theologically liberal response to the view, born of ‘education’, that traditional biblical Christianity was no longer tenable. What was left for the church to do? Why, justify its existence by ministering to the needs of society.
Evangelicals, who had always done this as an expression of their faith, now reacted by putting the emphasis on holding to ‘the truth once for all delivered to the saints’. They retreated en masse into their church services and began to decline.
The development of Christian Socialism further compounded this by bringing in a political element that many of the middle classes found unacceptable. This presents itself in a modern, more extreme form in many third world countries with what is known as liberation theology – ‘Christianised’ revolutionary Marxism – as we have seen in an earlier lesson.
Liberation theology redefines the gospel in sociopolitical terms. It seeks biblical support in the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and the heroic death of the revolutionary, Jesus.
‘Salvation’ is thus redefined, being worked out in the struggle for economic justice against the exploitation of people by people; in the struggle for human dignity against political oppression of men and women by their fellow human beings; in the struggle for solidarity against the alienation of person from person; in the struggle of hope against despair in personal life.
Mere charitable action is viewed as an actual hindrance to the need for fundamental change in the political structures which create poverty. If necessary, violent means may be used to bring this about.
Needless to say, evangelicals have been extremely guarded about these developments, though a younger generation is less patient.
2. BIBLICAL VIEWPOINT
What does the Bible have to say on these issues? Quite a lot! The biblical writers have none of our reticence in talking about money, and they certainly don’t duck the issue of poverty.
A. CONCERN FOR THE POOR:
God wants us to be concerned about the plight of the poor.
We have already noted the blunt prophecies of Amos which will not allow us to hide under a cloak of religion. What is true fasting all about? Isaiah gives the answer (see Isaiah 58:6-10): “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and yo
ur night will become like the noonday.”
James defines the essence of practical Christianity to include care for the poor of the day: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (Jas 1:27)
And, in a most amazing statement, Jesus assesses the difference between the sheep and the goats, not on the basis of professed faith in Him, but on the basis of who serves Him by ministering to the needy (Matthew 25:31-46).
A significant part of Paul’s apostolic ministry consisted in raising money in order to provide for famine relief. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 he reveals his heart in this. Note his answers to the following questions:
*What is the great motivation to give? (8:9)
*Do you have to be rich to give? (8: 1-3)
*What is the measure of our reaping? (9:6)
*What is a sign of God’s righteousness? (9:9)
*What else happens when we supply the needs of the poor? (9: l 2)
Although Jesus came seeking all people, his ministry had a significant impact among the poor (Matthew 11:5). The feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand, though by no means famine relief, nonetheless tells us that Jesus was concerned with the whole person and not just the spiritual aspect. There is also a hint in the miraculous nature of his supply that our own care for the poor needs a charismatic dimension.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) defines our neighbour as anyone who crosses our path, regardless of colour, creed or country of origin. Paul sums it up: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal 6:10)
This keeps us from either doing nothing or trying to do everything.
B. FREEDOM FROM COVETOUSNESS:
Materialistic philosophy dominates both the capitalist and socialist economic systems in our modern world. Jesus challenges the assumption that we should find meaning to life only in what can be seen and touched: “Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
He went further and declared that it was extremely difficult for a rich person to be saved (see Luke 18: l8-25). So, out of love for him, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and to give it to the poor (Luke l8:22).
Covetousness is a curse. It can be the vice of a man with only five pence to his name. It is especially a threat to the affluent. The only way that a person with assets and the ability to make money can be an heir to the kingdom of God is by becoming a generous giver, especially to the poor ( l Timothy 6:l7-19).
Paul gives some specific advice on how to give to the poor in l Cor. l6: 1-2. What is it? And what sort of giver does God like (2 Corinthians 9:7.)
C. RELIGION AND POLITICS CAN MIX TO PROVIDE A REMEDY:
The Scriptures are always realistic, never idealistic. As we saw in a previous lesson, Paul didn’t attack slavery as such but nonetheless made it impossible for any true believer to continue treating his slaves as slaves (see Philemon l5-17).
The implications of this are tremendous. How, on that basis, could we ever cram the working classes into tenement housing, let alone keep anyone in economic, racial or political subjugation, once given the opportunity to do something about it? However, whatever means we use to bring about social and political change, they must be non-violent. This is apparent from Jesus’ words to Pilate in John 18:36. Our warring is in the spiritual realm, the home of the real mowers (Ephesians 6:10-12). Prayer and proclamation can change a policy, or a government.
Does the Bible give us any economic clues beyond the charitable? Is there a godly way to arrange the economics of a society and indeed of a world so as to lessen the appalling divide? The answer is ‘yes’.
(i) THE SPIRIT OF TEMPERANCE
The malaise of the West is due in large part to worshipping the false god of mammon (money). Governments as well as individuals need to repent of this and temper their policies by the principle of wisdom found in Agur’s prayer: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour thee name of my God.” (Pro 30:9)
This assesses the degree of wealth we should possess by its effect on the soul, not by our place in the league table of world economic growth. As a result, we will temper our growth and therefore our exploitation of the poorer nations. Maybe we will also seek to protect them from others more greedy.
It is this spirit of temperance which undergirded the Mosaic Law and led to legislation to prevent gross extremes of wealth and poverty.
(ii) SABBATH-YEAR EMANCIPATION (DEUTERONOMY 15:12-18)
This prevented ‘class’ from developing in the nation by giving employees, every seven years, the opportunity and the resources to set up on their own if they wished. In effect, it was a profit-sharing scheme on a national scale. The worker was a direct personal beneficiary of the economic growth.
(iii) JUBILEE RESTORATION (LEVITICUS 25:8-17)
The fifty-year lease system not only taught that men and women were but stewards of the Lord’s earth; it also served to control property prices. These were determined by the genuine business potential of the land rather than by what people were willing to pay for it.
Speculation was thus discouraged. “Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 25:17)
(iv) INTEREST-FREE LOANS (LEVITICUS 25:35-38)
No money was to be made out of other people’s poverty or misfortune. What a difference this would make to the modern world! An absence of high interest rates would transform society.
Our modern ‘get rich quick on the stock exchange’ mentality would have to go, of course. Maybe recent crashes on the markets are God’s warning shots across the bows of the Bad Ship Enterprise. When enterprise is used to promote the good of the human race, especia
lly of the deprived, God will bless it.
(v) THE RELEASE OF DEBTS BY CREDITORS (DEUTERONOMY 15:1-6)
There must surely come a time when we stop asking for our rightful dues from those who in any case cannot pay. And in many instances those poorer countries have helped make us rich in the first place. “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” (Deut 15:1)
(vi) DIRECT PROVISION FOR THE POOR (LEVITICUS 19:9-10; EXODUS 23:10-11; DEUTERONOMY 10:16-19; 14:28-29)
Foreign aid needs to be increased – and provided with the necessary wisdom and safeguards to see that it reaches the right place and supplies appropriate technology. Great Britain has not reached the recommended minimum and in fact has now reduced its foreign aid.
The implications of economic temperance are worth discussing at personal, national and international levels. Herein lies hope for the future.
D. A NEW AGE
“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.” (John 12:
This world is sinful and passing away. Today’s economic system can be greatly alleviated by attention to biblical principles, but ultimately it is corrupt and must perish. Greed is deeply in the nature of men and women without God.
We seek to bless all people in our generation, but our hope is in the return of Christ and in the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Then the nations will be truly healed. (Revelation 22:1-3).
1. Think of ways in which you could influence your Member of Parliament to promote biblical economic principles.
2. Consider how you would convince a communist that Christian economics are more radical than those of Marx.
3. Research an area of poverty and implement some form of action to help deal with it.
1. Carefully examine your lifestyle with regard to possessions to ensure that you are free from idolatry.
2. Check that you are obeying Paul’s principle of setting some money aside for the poor each pay-day.
3. Read a book about current Christian responses to world poverty.
By Keith W. Munday
The word euthanasia comes from the Greek language en thanatos which means a happy or gentle death. In modern terms we understand it to mean the taking of (or omission of) a deliberate act causing the death of a person who is suffering from a very painful illness or disability. It is done at their request.
A form of euthanasia was practised in pre-Christian times when babies were exposed and left to die. It was a form of population control. Old people were likewise abandoned.
The writer visited a former concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria, to read up some of its history. During its existence in the 1930/40s some 128,000 died there; many through so-called euthanasia. The inmates had to work in the local quarry, and the work was so strenuous and the rations so meagre they would constantly fall sick.They were given three days to recover, otherwise euthanasia was administered by means of an injection of potassium cyanide directly into the heart.
These extreme cases of compulsory euthanasia really amounted to murder, and to be fair to those who advocate euthanasia today we accept that their motives are those of compassion even if we cannot agree with them. Some well-known figures in the past have made claims for an easy death such as Seneca, a Stoic philosopher, Pliny the younger (governor of the Roman province of Bithynia) and in later times by Francis Bacon.
In 1935 the Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation Society was formed, and in the following year a bill was presented to the House of Lords promoting the Society's aims, but it was refused a second reading. Further attempts to get something on to the Statue Book have so far been unsuccessful.
If euthanasia were allowed it could be carried out in several ways:
Active euthanasia. This would be by a positive act to bring about death by directly administering a drug.
Passive euthanasia. This would involve the withdrawal of treatment (or food) so as to hasten death. Involuntary euthanasia. The ending of a person's life without any indication that such was the wish of the person concerned.
Voluntary euthanasia. The ending of a person's life at their request. A law to allow this is what pressure groups are wanting.
Non-voluntary euthanasia. This involves the ending of the life of a person who does not have the faculty to make a decision whether to live or die.
Suicide. This is a form of self-administered euthanasia and is an act of self-destruction. Since 1961 suicide is no longer a felony, but to assist someone to do so is still an offence. There was the case of a Mrs Pretty who requested permission from the Courts (including the European Court of Human Rights) for her husband to take her life, but was refused. She did die a few months afterwards.
The definition of suicide has not changed, but the public's attitude to it has changed. It is becoming recognised as an act of self-release, but it is still self-killing. The stigma surrounding it has largely ceased, and very often the Coroner's verdict carries a compassionate tone. It may be described as the taking of life, "whilst the balance of mind was disturbed"
Living Wills. This is an advance directive (given when the person concerned is of a sound mind) which stipulates the health, management and treatment that they wish to receive in the event of any future incapacity to make such decisions, nor be able to convey any instructions when such circumstances arise. The document can also stipulate what treatment they do not wish to receive, eg resuscitation. There is however an eventuality that a Living Will does not (and cannot) cover; that is when the time comes and they wish to revoke the former decision but have not the facility to convey the change of mind. Such cases would probably be rare.
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Holy Scripture does not address the subject of euthanasia directly, as it does not seem to have been an issue in those days; but it does give principles for our guidance. For instance, mankind was created in the image of God, so this gives human life a dignity and sanctity that we must acknowledge. In the New Testament book of James, we are even forbidden to curse our fellow men because they are made in the similitude of God.(1) Cursing would be an affront to their dignity. Many countries agree with the Judaeo/Christian life-values.
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Pressure groups are still seeking to get such a bill on the Statue book. In Britain at present euthanasia is illegal, as is its aiding and abetting. It is allowed in the Netherlands, but there are strict guidelines. It is only allowed to resident citizens and their doctors must fully acquaint themselves with the whole history of such cases. In Switzerland however, their attitude is the most liberal of any country. An organisation known as Dignitas is allowed to assist in self-administered euthanasia (suicide) to any who request it, including foreigners.
In September 1991, The European Commission on Human Rights stated that "Wherever a sick person in perfect clarity of mind strongly demands that an end be put to their existence when it has lost all meaning for them, and a committee of doctors, recognizing the unavailability of any other treatment, euthanasia should be granted".
The 'thin end of the wedge' is a well-known cliche, but there are times when it is very apt. The 1967 Abortion Bill is a classical example of this. It laid down very definite instructions governing who should receive an abortion. These instructions are now almost totally ignored and the proverbial 'coach and horses' has been driven through its original intentions. When a door becomes ajar it doesn't need much of a push to throw it wide open. There is little doubt therefore that the same could happen if euthanasia became law. However stringent conditions are at the outset, time will either see them weakened, amended or ignored.
There could also be a subtle shift in the doctor/patient relationship. The 'angels of mercy' might be perceived to be taking on a more sinister role, however well -intentioned it may be.
But there are other considerations, human nature being what it is. What if a relative who was caring for a loved one began to feel it was all too burdensome, could not the suggestion of euthanasia be planted into their minds? The same situation could arise from more ulterior motives ... especially if one was to benefit from a Will, and any who have been involved with Wills will know that some people have an insatiable desire to come into money, and would not stop short of influencing in some way a premature decease.
From reports, requests for euthanasia come from patients whose symptom-control has been less than adequate. Where control is established the fear of unbearable pain is diminished, and it is significant that in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is practised, here were no Hospices up to 1992.
A report of the Health Council on Palliative Care stated that 54% of cancer patients suffered unnecessary pain because of the inadequate skills in that area. In 1992 there were already 183 Hospices established in the U.K. Palliative (pain control) care is a part of the programme and courses are available. Funds also are necessary and should be forthcoming to enable more research in this area.
The Churches must have a voice in this national debate, not merely to oppose the pro-euthanasia lobby, but to promote life-affirming alternatives which should include:
(a) The provision of spiritual, emotional and physical support for sufferers and carers alike.
(b) The identifying with and the coming alongside all parties involved, emphasising the help, comfort and hope of the Christian Faith.
(c) The provision of practical support for the Care establishments.
(d) The regular visitation of the terminally ill in their homes and in the Hospices.
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