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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:19 pm

Should we/Shouldn't we?
"Euthanasia comes from the Greek eu - thanatos. Literally means 'well-death' or 'easy-death'."
Euthanasia - Collection of Articles from the Journal of the Christian Medical Fellowship

Euthanasia the bringing about of a gentle and easy death in the case of incurable and painful disease.
Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder

The Case History
Mrs Thompson's husband has terminal cancer. You have been told that he has, at most, 6 weeks to live. Mrs Thompson is naturally very distressed and - not in good health herself - is finding caring for her husband at home almost too much of a strain.

Recently, Mr Thompson's condition has become worse. The nurse has started calling regularly and his pain relieving medication is being increased. Yesterday the nurse, seeing Mrs Thompson's distress, said reassuringly 'We won't let him suffer too much. We increase the dose each time and then after a few visits we will give him a larger dose, and help him die in peace.'

Mrs Thompson has recently heard a sermon, which left her in no doubt that 'euthanasia', was wrong. Was this what the nurse was planning for her husband?
How should she react to this proposal?

The Facts
Mr Thompson has terminal cancer.

Mrs Thompson is not well either.

She finds caring for Mr Thompson at home a considerable strain.

Mr Thompson has deteriorated.

His pain relieving medication has been increased.

The nurse is calling regularly.

The nurse has made a statement that 'We won't let him suffer too much. ……(we will) help him die in peace."

Mrs Thompson has heard a sermon that convinces her that 'euthanasia' is wrong.

In her anxiety she comes to you for help. What can you say to Mrs Thompson?

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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:22 pm

The value behind the facts.
Mrs Thompson is a vulnerable woman with a dying husband and in poor health herself. She may be in awe of 'professional' people like nurses and ministers and be confused by 'mixed messages' from them of how to deal with this situation which life has dealt her. She may have understood from the nurses comments that some definite action intended to curtail her husband's life was to be taken. She may have understood from the minister's sermon that 'euthanasia' means to kill deliberately and with intention to kill, whereas it appears from the evidence that it is a loose term that has come to have that meaning.

In tackling this delicate pastoral situation it might be important to do one's homework and consult with the nurse herself as to what she meant by her comment and also, perhaps, to talk to the medical practitioner in charge of the case, ascertaining Mrs Thompson's permission beforehand, if necessary. The purpose of this would be to have some concrete medical knowledge of this particular case so as not to further muddy the waters. Also it is necessary to think through thoroughly one's own view of the case for and the case against 'euthanasia'.

Speaking Scripturally
To explore the Christian and Scriptural view it is necessary to go to the beginning. God created mankind, according to Genesis 1 and 2, however we might currently interpret that, and he declared that it was good. However mankind rebelled against God and chose to follow the desires of 'the flesh', and in consequence suffering entered the world. And the question of 'euthanasia' is as much about suffering as it is about dying.

Whilst Scripture indicates that life is God-given (Psalm 139:13) it also suggests that it is He who takes it away. (Job 14:5) There is reference to the fact that people fear death (Psalm 18:4-6). Therefore part of our care for the dying and their loved ones needs to include the calming of fears and the seeing of death as a gateway to new life. (Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Corinthians 15:35-56) as well as the relief of, and the containment of, suffering, for all concerned.

Of course others might see death as a release, (Philippians.1:21-23) and may, indeed, seek it out. This is a difficult area for the person, for the carers (whether relatives or professionals) and also for any spiritual advisor who may be present during the weeks or months that the person is ill.

When we enter the arena of people wanting to die or their relatives wanting them to die quickly and not to suffer any more, then we enter into the area of 'mercy killing'. Since 'euthanasia' actually means 'dying well' I would argue that this does not necessarily involve setting out to kill someone or, indeed, to kill oneself. The present use of the term, usually without the recent prefixes of 'voluntary', 'non-voluntary' and 'involuntary' has come to mean killing someone painlessly whose life expectancy is fairly well determined or whose life has become a burden to them.

Scripture makes no distinction in the matter of killing, however it occurs. The sixth commandment is unequivocal, 'Thou shalt not kill' (Exodus 20:13 KJV) or 'You shall not murder' (Exodus 20:13 NRSV). The KJV is more unequivocal than the NRSV as it calls the act 'killing', while the NRSV calls it murder. Therefore the question might be 'Does "mercy killing" constitute murder?'

There are provisions made in Exodus and Deuteronomy for the perpetrators of unintentional killing. We are allowed, in Scripture, to execute certain criminals and to kill in 'just' war. Even when the man, seeking to ingratiate himself with David, tells that he assisted the death of the dying Saul at Saul's request, David has him executed forthwith. (2 Samuel 1 1-16).

From the raising of the widow's son by Elijah, through the death-defying miracles of Jesus, to the stories in Acts of Peter and Paul raising the dead, the Scriptural evidence is of a God who restores life and does not affirm death. In fact, God raised Jesus from the dead, to show that there is life after death and while some of us may be afraid of the process of dying we need not be afraid of death itself, if we have lived according to God's will. (1 Corinthians 15:12 -58)

Speaking Medically
The medical question of 'euthanasia' covers two specific areas, that of bioethics, the ethics of medical and biological research (The Readers Digest Wordfinder Dictionary) and that of clinical practice.

Underpinning these is the etymological change that has occurred in the use of the word 'euthanasia', which is why I have consistently up to now shown the word in parenthesis. In the Middle Ages the dying could be issued with a booklet called 'Ars Moriendi', or 'the art of dying well'. In the seventeenth century the word 'euthanasia' came into use, encapsulating this idea of 'dying well and happily' and meaning being prepared for death in the most positive sense of the word. In the nineteenth century it's meaning changed and it came to have overtones of 'putting someone to death before their natural end'. (Ling, John.R, The Edge of Life, Day One Publications 2002, p79).

In addition to the above change we now have euthanasia divided into different categories. There is 'active' or 'voluntary' euthanasia where the person concerned has expressed a wish to be painlessly put to death. This can be done by 'Advanced Directive' or 'Living Will', where the person decides in advance of the terminal stage of an illness what they wish to have happen at that time, which may include deliberate putting to death. The medical practitioner with whom I spoke in my research, who is a practitioner in a hospital serving the terminally ill, was unhappy about the introduction of such a practice as the patient's opinion of the treatment they need varies very much during the progression of their illness. What they might want six months in advance of their impending death could be very different to how they see things towards the end. Life can become very precious when there is little of it left.

There is also 'passive' euthanasia, which divides into 'non-voluntary' and 'involuntary' euthanasia. Non-voluntary euthanasia refers to situations where the patient is either comatose, or incompetent in some way and unable to communicate as in either senility or new-born. The best known of such cases was that of Anthony Bland, the victim of the Hillsborough disaster, who was left in a permanent vegetative state and who eventually was deemed by court of law to be allowed to die by withholding 'treatment' ie food.

Involuntary euthanasia would be the situation where the person would be killed against their will. One must call this murder, it has no other name. This is where the 'professional' decides that they know what is best for the patient and overrules their wishes. (Ling John R., The Edge of Death, Day One Publications, p 84)

The foundation of medical ethics was the Hippocratic Oath (c 460-377BCE) taken by all doctors at the start of their clinical practice. This divides into four principles of good medical practice. These are firstly that doctors should be registered and follow a course of instruction that was common to all, secondly the principle of 'first do no harm' in clinical practice, thirdly the doctor must never 'take advantage of ' the patient and fourthly, euthanasia, abortion and suicide were strictly forbidden. (Ling, John R., The Edge of Death, Day One Publications, 2002, p47). This plus strong Christian faith and practice in this country formed the basis for medical ethics until the nineteenth century when the effects of the enlightenment spread to medical thinking.

In more recent times the influence of secular humanism has infiltrated the area of medical ethics. Thus Beauchamp and Childress (Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Oxford University Press, 1994) have identified eight criteria for the construction of an ethical theory within modern bioethics. According to them such a theory should have clarity, be coherent, be complete and comprehensive, be simple, have explanatory power, justificatory power, that is it should justify the grounds for the ethic professed, have output power, that is it should move some established practice onward, and practicability, that is it should be accessible to a wide number of people. Such an ethic does not include, or give credence to, any principle of the sanctity of human life, though one might otherwise applaud the comprehensiveness of the arena it seeks to embrace.

While there is no law that permits the deliberate killing of a patient, whether for voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary reasons, nevertheless there is case law, which reveals that such killing does take place in this country, and that the perpetrators receive relatively light sentences. One cannot refer to the case of Harold Shipman as he was carrying out wholesale murder for gain. But one can cite the case of Tony Bland. This was clearly a painful situation for his relatives and no-one would wish to condemn them for the action they took in the circumstances, but such cases do open the door to changes in the law becoming more possible.

The key issue in these situations is the one of motive and/or intention. Ling draws a distinction between the two, stating that motive is concerned with the reason a particular outcome is desired, and intention is concerned with the desired outcome itself. (Ling, John R., The Edge of Death Day One Publications, 2002 p 82) In law the intention is taken into consideration but the motive is not. So if the intention is to offer pain relief, but early death ensues then deliberate killing has not taken place. On the other hand, if the intention was to kill the patient then 'euthanasia', in it's modern sense, has been committed.

Evidence of polls taken among health professionals has apparently consistently shown that nurses are less in favour of euthanasia than the public and more in favour than doctors. (Ling, John R., The Edge of Death, Day One Publications, 2002, p 90) In Church circles again the laity are more in favour than the clergy. (Gill, Robin, ed., Euthanasia and the Churches, Cassell, 1998, Preface) This would suggest either that the effects of secular humanism have spread very widely and infiltrated our church circles or that many people have watched the painful death of someone dear to them and wanted to foreshorten the pain.

Speaking Technologically
Muddying the waters of medical ethics are the advances made in medical technology. The line between life and death is less clearly drawn than it was even fifty years ago and this line moves all the time as we develop more and more sophisticated equipment to establish brain activity. People can be resuscitated from what would have been considered to be death and emerge unscathed.

Life support machines, improved pain relief, equipment and drugs to reactivate the heart, methods of feeding and hydrating the body which bypass the stomach are all part of life-defying medical practice which serve to confuse the situation and make life and death decisions harder to make for all. This impinges on our difficulty in constructing an ethic that covers all eventualities.

Speaking Spiritually
The area where the confusion of technology might not apply is in that of cases like Diane Pretty, where the progression of an increasingly debilitating condition makes the burden of life harder to bear. It is in this area that suffering as a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issue comes into clear focus. One can understand the pain of someone like Ms Pretty, and her desire to shorten her life. But one can also look at cases like that of Christopher Reeve, the actor, Joni Earickson the Christian evangelist and singer and Stephen Hawking the physicist to see that such disabling conditions need not mean the end of useful and fulfilling life.

The expression 'Hope springs eternal in the human breast' can be introduced here. Hope need not mean that one should look for restoration to full physical health, but healing can mean something deeper and more eternal - the healing of the spirit and soul. Suffering is part of the human condition and our task is to seek out what that might mean for each of us individually or for those whom we love.

We need only look to the sufferings of Job and the final outcome showing the restoration of his life and fortune. But supremely we have the witness of the need for the Cross before the joy of the Resurrection. Each of us has our own cross to endure before we can experience the joy of our resurrection, and who are we to say whether or not that is to be the pain and suffering of a terminal disease. The 'common sense' approach of secular humanism will take us the same route with euthanasia as it did with abortion and the untold misery that has created both in the deaths of many millions of unborn babies but also in the mental health of their mothers.

Actions have consequences. Do we wish to open our doors to the consequences of agreeing to have our loved ones 'put to death' because we cannot bear a little, or even a lot, of suffering. As I sat at the bedside of my dying father and prayed for God to take him soon I was only too painfully aware that it was my own pain as much as his that I could not bear. Should we put ourselves in this invidious position with the Law 'on our side', as it were allowing us to take action? I think not.

Speaking to Mrs Thompson
Mrs Thompson needs to be supported in her painful task of assisting her husband to face and come to terms with his inevitable death and separation from his wife and family. As she comes to me seeking help this is my role as well as to assure her of the sanctity of her husband's God-given life and the presence of God with them both in their suffering. In that respect I must support her in her belief that euthanasia is wrong and encourage her to talk to the nurse about what exactly she meant by her statements. Pain relief comes in different forms depending on the type of pain involved and not all pain relief is life shortening. Mrs Thompson needs support in establishing the type of pain relief being offered and also to establish the intention of the nurse and doctor involved in her case.

She needs to be sure that when her husband dies she has nothing with which to reproach herself. The grief process often includes a time of guilt and Mrs Thompson needs to be sure that she does not feel guilty unnecessarily. So it is important for her to be as clear as possible in her own mind that the treatment Mr Thompson receives is the best he can get and that she gives the best she can offer to him at this time.

This may include considering whether or not being admitted into the care of a hospice might be best for him. It would probably be best for Mrs Thompson, but if it is not what Mr Thompson wants then it will not help either of them and then she needs to have as much medical support as she can have.

The situation which has arisen with Mrs Thompson being unsure of the intention of the medical professional involved in her case is precisely the concern which would arise if euthanasia were to be legalised. In the case of abortion, which is the other end of the scale from euthanasia, while the mother has a choice, the child has none. In the case of euthanasia while it might be argued that the patient has a choice, in reality the threat of unasked for medical intervention could add stress and discomfort to an already stressful situation. As long as it is unlawful the patient is protected and can make his requests for death, borne out of extreme pain, in the sure knowledge that they will not be acted upon.

The law's been passed and I am lying low
Hoping to hide from those who think they are
Kindly, compassionate. My step is slow.
I hurry. Will the executioner
Be watching how I go?

Others about me clearly feel the same.
The deafest one pretends that she can hear.
The blindest hides her white stick while the lame
Attempt to stride. Life has become so dear.
Last time the doctor came,

All who could speak said they felt very well.
Did we imagine he was watching with
A new deep scrutiny? We could not tell.
Each minute now we think the stranger Death
Will take us from each cell

For that is what our little rooms now seem
To be. We are prepared to bear much pain,
Terror attacks us wakeful, every dream
Is now a nightmare. Doctor's due again.
We hold on to the gleam

Of sight, a word to hear. We act, we act.,
And doing so we wear our weak selves out.
We said, "We want to die" once when we lacked
The chance of it. We wait in fear and doubt.
O life, you are so packed

With possibility. Old age seems good.
The ache, the anguish - we could bear them we
Declare. The ones who pray plead with their God
To turn the murdering ministers away,
But they come softly shod.

Elizabeth Jennings

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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:25 pm




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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Bryn Thomas / Keith Munday
Bibliography & helpful organisations

Gambling has become Britain's number one pastime. There is the national lottery, now called Lotto; the Government-sponsored premium bond scheme, whose winners are automatically selected by Ernie the computer; horse racing, football pools, bingo and scratch cards all provide outlets for the gambling public.

Betting companies will often take bets on all kinds of odd eventualities from how many goals a football team will score by half-time to the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury. All these methods raise hopes (usually false ones) for those who would get rich quick. The national lottery started off by selling £4.5 billion worth of tickets in its first year, and at that time 50% went on prizes, 28% to good causes, 12% was tax, 5% to the vendor and 5% to Camelot. There is a continual list of applicants for lottery grants.

Gambling was not unknown in Bible days (1) and although there are no direct instructions that forbade it, there are references to the underlying reasons. "You shall not covet" is one of the ten commandments mentioned in Holy Scripture.(2) And later in the New Testament we are reminded that "the love of money is the root of all evil". (3)

The Christian believer regards himself as a steward of all that he owns, and is called upon to handle all his affairs responsibly and wisely.

The results of various surveys have indicated some of the more principal reasons. First there is a deep desire to acquire financial security. Others see it as an opportunity to help one's family, by sharing some of the winnings or buying them a house etc. Some want money to fulfil a life-long ambition such as world travel, while others would use it to invest in a business project. Others become spendthrifts.

The answer is yes because gambling premiums are paid in the hope of gain, whereas insurance premiums are paid to guard from possible loss. Gambling hopes to obtain what one does not have, but insuring protects what one already has (or ensures the replacement of what is lost). Furthermore, gamblers have been known to put their families at risk when their habit becomes compulsive. Insuring does the opposite, it secures benefits when needed. The motives between the two are totally different.

In a capitalist society funds are necessary for industry and commerce and investments secure their success while at the same time provide a return for the investor. It is understood that shares fluctuate, and the money market carries risks which cannot always be foreseen. An unexpected crisis in a company can see its shares slump quickly, or if it takes over another company, the shares may soar. We are all at risk whatever we do whether its walking down the stairs or crossing the street.

"Playing the market" however is somewhat different. This is when someone closely studies the market, constantly switching investments for the higher profit. That is not only gambling, it savours of covetousness - trying to amass wealth without working for it.

Christians should avoid all forms of gambling, even to the innocent raffle ticket as the gains are quite unrelated to creative or merited effort; especially remembering that all gambling gains are made at the losses of others, many of whom cannot afford to lose. Always present too is the possibility of addiction, remembering that the majority of gamblers do lose. The odds of winning the national lottery jackpot is about 14 million to one, or, as someone has humorously remarked, one is more likely to see Elvis Presley landing on the Lochness monster in an unidentified flying object!

The gambling habit can not only bring unhappiness to the losers, but also to the winners. It has brought about marriage breakdowns, jealousy, family quarrels, theft, burglary, despair and even suicide. A survey showed the case of Mandy, a single mother with 2 children. She spent five pounds a week on gambling, and although she did not win anything, she feared giving it up in case the next week her numbers would have come up.

Winners too can find themselves in difficulties. Apart from the begging letters they can find themselves in a social 'no man's land' inasmuch that they move into another area and find it difficult to make friends. They may be regarded as newly-rich upstarts and ignored. Old friends also may keep at a distance lest they be regarded as wanting favours. These are but a few of the difficulties that gambling brings.

What Does the Bible Say About Gambling?
Surprisingly, the Bible contains no specific command to avoid gambling. However, the Bible does contain timeless principles for living a life pleasing to God and is filled with wisdom to deal with every situation, including gambling.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we read about people casting lots when a decision had to be made. In most instances, this was simply a way of determining something impartially:

Joshua then cast lots for them in Shiloh in the presence of the LORD, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions. (Joshua 18:10, NIV)

Casting lots was common among many ancient cultures. Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garments at his crucifixion:

"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did. (John 19:24, NIV)

Does the Bible Mention Gambling?
Although the words "gambling" and "gamble" do not appear in the Bible, we cannot assume that an activity is not a sin simply because it is not mentioned. Looking at pornography on the Internet and using illegal drugs are not mentioned either, but both violate God's laws.

While casinos and lotteries promise thrills and excitement, obviously people gamble to try to win money. Scripture gives very specific instructions about what our attitude should be toward money:

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, NIV)

"No servant can serve two masters. [Jesus said.] Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Luke 16:13, NIV)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV)

Gambling is a way to bypass work, but the Bible counsels us to persevere and work hard:

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Proverbs 10:4, NIV)

One of the key principles in the Bible is that people should be wise stewards of everything God gives them, including their time, talent and treasure. Gamblers may believe they earn their money with their own labor and may spend it as they please, yet God gives people the talent and health to carry out their jobs, and their very life is a gift from him as well. Wise stewardship of extra money calls believers to invest it in the Lord’s work or to save it for an emergency, rather than lose it in games in which the odds are stacked against the player.

Gamblers covet more money, but they may also covet the things money can buy, such as cars, boats, houses, expensive jewelry and clothing. The Bible forbids a covetous attitude in the Tenth Commandment:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Exodus 20:17, NIV)

Gambling also has the potential to turn into an addiction, like drugs or alcohol. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million U.S. adults are pathological gamblers and another 4 to 6 million are problem gamblers. This addiction can destroy the stability of the family, lead to job loss, and cause a person to lose control of their life:

…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2 Peter 2:19)

Some argue that gambling is nothing more than entertainment, no more immoral than going to a movie or concert. People who attend movies or concerts expect only entertainment in return, however, not money. They are not tempted to keep spending until they "break even."

Finally, gambling provides a sense of false hope. Participants place their hope in winning, often against astronomical odds, instead of placing their hope in God. Throughout the Bible, we are constantly reminded that our hope is in God alone, not money, power, or position:

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5, NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NIV)

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV)

Some Christians believe that church raffles, bingos and the like to raise funds for Christian education and ministries are harmless fun, a form of donation involving a game. Their logic is that, as with alcohol, an adult should act responsibly. In those circumstances, it seems unlikely someone would lose a large amount of money.

God's Word is No Gamble
Every leisure activity is not a sin, but all sin is not clearly listed in the Bible. Added to that, God doesn't just want us not to sin, but he gives us an even higher goal. The Bible encourages us to consider our activities in this way:

"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV)

This verse appears again in 1 Corinthians 10:23, with the addition of this idea: "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive." When an activity is not distinctly described as sin in the Bible, we can ask ourselves these questions: "Is this activity beneficial for me or will it become my master? Will participation in this activity be constructive or destructive to my Christian life and witness?"

The Bible does not explicitly say, "Thou shalt not play blackjack." Yet by gaining a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures we have a trustworthy guide for determining what pleases and displeases God.

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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:33 pm

Question: "Is gambling a sin? What does the Bible say about gambling?"

Answer: The Bible does not specifically condemn gambling, betting, or the lottery. The Bible does warn us, however, to stay away from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). Scripture also encourages us to stay away from attempts to “get rich quick” (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10). Gambling most definitely is focused on the love of money and undeniably tempts people with the promise of quick and easy riches.

What is wrong with gambling? Gambling is a difficult issue because if it is done in moderation and only on occasion, it is a waste of money, but it is not necessarily evil. People waste money on all sorts of activities. Gambling is no more or less of a waste of money than seeing a movie (in many cases), eating an unnecessarily expensive meal, or purchasing a worthless item. At the same time, the fact that money is wasted on other things does not justify gambling. Money should not be wasted. Excess money should be saved for future needs or given to the Lord's work, not gambled away.

While the Bible does not explicitly mention gambling, it does mention events of “luck” or “chance.” As an example, casting lots is used in Leviticus to choose between the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat. Joshua cast lots to determine the allotment of land to the various tribes. Nehemiah cast lots to determine who would live inside the walls of Jerusalem. The apostles cast lots to determine the replacement for Judas. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast in the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

What would the Bible say about casinos and lotteries? Casinos use all sorts of marketing schemes to entice gamblers to risk as much money as possible. They often offer inexpensive or even free alcohol, which encourages drunkenness, and thereby a decreased ability to make wise decisions. Everything in a casino is perfectly rigged for taking money in large sums and giving nothing in return, except for fleeting and empty pleasures. Lotteries attempt to portray themselves as a way to fund education and/or social programs. However, studies show that lottery participants are usually those who can least afford to be spending money on lottery tickets. The allure of “getting rich quick” is too great a temptation to resist for those who are desperate. The chances of winning are infinitesimal, which results in many peoples’ lives being ruined.

Can lotto/lottery proceeds please God? Many people claim to be playing the lottery or gambling so that they can give the money to the church or to some other good cause. While this may be a good motive, reality is that few use gambling winnings for godly purposes. Studies show that the vast majority of lottery winners are in an even worse financial situation a few years after winning a jackpot than they were before. Few, if any, truly give the money to a good cause. Further, God does not need our money to fund His mission in the world. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” God is sovereign and will provide for the needs of the church through honest means. Would God be honored by receiving donated drug money or money stolen in a bank robbery? Of course not. Neither does God need or want money that was “stolen” from the poor in the temptation for riches.

First Timothy 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Hebrews 13:5 declares, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Matthew 6:24 proclaims, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Gambling and the Bible
Recently in a southern city a young man was canvassing the community selling chances on $25.00 to be given away by local church of which the boy was a member. After carefully learning from the youngster the facts, one of his contacts asked him, "Isn't that gambling?" The reply was, "Not if I do it for the church".

It is a modern tragedy that some religious organizations resort to methods of gambling in order to raise money for their operations. Here a boy was being taught by a religious group to feel that a thing wrong in itself was all right if done in the interest of his church. The New Testament teaches the Christian to give of his free-will unto God and the church (I Corinthians 16:1-2). This story illustrates that not only secular groups, but religious groups as well are involved in this widespread sin of gambling. The argument that the end justifies the means is not new. It has been the rallying cry of every tyrant throughout history. It is a double tragedy, however, when it it used as a means of justifying the sin of gambling by those who claim to represent God's work.

Gambling is defined by Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "to play or game for money or other stake; to hazard; wager." Connected with gambling is the strong element of uncertainty, the large chance of losing. It has been popularly defined as "getting something for nothing without rendering service or exchange of goods, and is essentially stealing and a form of robbery". It involves taking a risk in order to obtain something for nothing and often means losing what one has and obtaining nothing.

Why do people gamble? Some people gamble because of the thrill they receive from the uncertainty connected with it. The more that this attitude pervades them, the more gambling becomes a kind of incurable disease with them. Others gamble because of their strong desire to obtain something for nothing, Others gamble because it makes an egotistic appeal to them to excel over others and win the rewards of the game. Whatever the motives and purposes, gambling is contrary to the teachings of God's Word and is therefore sinful.

Gambling is a way of practicing dishonesty. It is a form of taking what does not rightfully belong to a person. Interested in obtaining something for nothing, the gambler tries in every way to attain his ends, and usually is concerned to learn all the "tricks" he can. He is interested in "fleecing" those that are inexperienced. Gambling often takes the wages from innocent mothers and children and returns nothing. Along with gambling frequently goes cheating, and both are forms of dishonesty. Paul states, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" Ephesians 4:28. Although the word "gambling" does not appear in the Bible, the practice is clearly condemned in numerous passages of scripture. Gambling is based on the evil desire to get money or goods which belong to someone else without giving fair value in exchange. The Bible calls this sin "covetousness" and makes it clear that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Romans 1:28-32).

Because gambling encourages the "getting something for nothing" philosophy, it also encourages laziness and indolence. Men and women who set out on a career of gambling shun honest labor and become parasites. States and cities where gambling is legalized and a "big business" become mere parasites living off the productive labor of others. Such statements as Paul made in II Thessalonians 3:10,11, certainly conflict with the gambler's ideal of living.

Will Oursler in an article on graft and corruption in New York City, makes this frank statement: "Large scale gambling, traditionally the fountainhead of all crime, cannot be carried on without police knowledge and acquiescence." When gambling flourishes the underworld is strong. Murder and government corruption are its companions. "Evil companionships corrupt good morals" (I Corinthians 15:33 American Standard Version). Paul teaches Christians to "Abstain from all appearance of evil" I Thessalonians 5:22.

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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:39 pm




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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:44 pm

Ecology and Animal Rights
Dr Andrew Davies. BD MA PhD

Green issues are no longer exclusively the concern of conservationists and hippies which they once were. The way we should care for the planet has become a mainstream political concern of immense national and international significance, and cases of pollution and enviromental damage still raise strong feelings at local level.

Although the 'spiritual' justification offered by many environmental protestors often has strong roots in 'new age' or pagan philosophies, there are strong theological reasons for arguing that Christians should be equally passionate in their care for our God-given resources - although the Bible also offers an equally important counterbalance.

Ecology and Animal Rights continued....
One of the central doctrines of the Old Testament is that God created our environment out of nothing but himself. 'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it' as the Psalmist reminds us.(1) The New Testament expands on this teaching by examining the place of Christ in creation. Paul teaches 'by Him all things were created';(2) whereas the prologue to John's Gospel is even more explicit: 'Apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being'.(3)

There are further Scriptures indicating that the formation and sustenance of the universe was an act of the whole Trinity together. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth',(4) and'The Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters',(5)

Why did God create us? We were made for God's own pleasure and greater glory, so that we might have communion with Him. 'The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever' as the Westminster Shorter Catechism has it.

But the created order has its own purpose too. It is not only there for the benefit of human beings. That much is evident from the fact that there are plants and animals which serve no apparent purpose for human beings, and from God's command for Noah to preserve the unclean as well as the clean animals from the flood.

Also, there is a sense in which the Universe itself worships God. Jesus told the Pharisees at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem that, were it not for the praise of his followers, the stones would feel the need to applaud his presence.(6) The morning stars also sang for joy when God laid the foundations of the earth.(7) Although we should probably take neither text totally literally, the underlying thought of creation worshipping is quite clear and must not be disregarded.

More radically, the Apostle Paul points out that the creation of a visible world has made it possible for us to 'clearly see' God's divine nature, even going so far as to say that he can be 'understood through what is made'.(Cool This means that our environment in itself is a revelation of God's character. Surely then, we should care for it!


Ecology and Animal Rights continued....
How do humans fit into God's plan for creation? Scripture clearly states that God made man in his own image and likeness.(9) This claim is made for no other part of the created order, and must imply that humankind has a special place within that order. While we have to live in the animal kingdom and relate to it, we are inherently different from the animals, and have our own unique status within creation.

Furthermore we read that Adam was explicitly given responsible tasks and powers of decision and determination with regard to the earth. He was put in control as God's viceroy.(10) The verb however is in the plural which means that God did not just give this position to Adam, but to humankind. This is a hereditary regency, and is still legitimately applicable to the human race today, even though as we shall see, it is now over a fallen and corrupted creation.

God's command is for man to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.(11) The Hebrew word translated 'rule' is used of treading grapes in a winepress, but still more harshly 'subdue' can also mean 'to bring into bondage', 'to keep under', 'to force'. So we must not become so pro-environmental that we discard our God-given right to use the resources around us. We are given dominion over the planet, but we must use its resources wisely. This also is a Biblical concept. God's commission to man also requires him to 'cultivate and keep' the garden.(12)

Theologians interested in a Biblical response to the ecological crisis have found the concept of stewardship helpful. We hold the earth in trust, (for the Lord, not just for future generations) and are obliged to use its resources for his glory.

There is a statement in the book of Genesis showing that animals too contain a 'living soul'.(13) We often overlook this. They were accorded by God at creation the right to make use of the planet's resources for food, just as much as Adam and Eve were, and they deserve therefore to be treated with respect and compassion.

Peace in the animal world is also one of the marks of the Messiah's millennial reign,(14) but does the Bible present all creatures as of equal worth in God's sight? The plain answer has to be no. Jesus explicitly places man higher than the sparrows at the pinnacle of his ethical teaching,(15) and the Psalms stress the subjection of animals to humans.(16)

There is no theological ground for vegetarianism then, although increasing numbers of people are refusing to eat meat in protest at the brutality of some modern farming methods.

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Post  Admin Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:48 pm

The Earth Charter and the Ark of the Gaia Covenant
- ©️ Terry Melanson Nov. 6, 2001
For those who may have dismissed the notion of a UN Agenda for a New World Religion used to usher in sweeping anti-constitutional environmental agreements, I offer the following.

“The real goal of the Earth Charter is that it will in fact become like the Ten Commandments.”

— Maurice Strong
“Cosmos is my God. Nature is my God.”

—Mikhail Gorbachev, on the PBS Charlie Rose Show, Oct. 23, 1996
“A post-Christian belief system is taking over – one that sees the earth as a living being mythologically, as Gaia, Earth Mother – with mankind as her consciousness... Such worship of the universe is properly called cosmolatry.”

—Donna Steichen, Ungodly Rage, p. 237

“Do not do unto the environment of others what you do not want done to your own environment....My hope is that this charter will be a kind of Ten Commandments, a 'Sermon on the Mount', that provides a guide for human behavior toward the environment in the next century.”

— Mikhail Gorbachev, The Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1997
On September the 9th, 2001 a celebration of the Earth Charter was held at Shelburne Farms Vermont for the unveiling of the Earth Charter's final resting place. This "Ark of Hope" will be presented to the United Nations along with its contents in June of 2002. It is hoped that the United Nations will endorse the Earth Charter document on this occasion; the tenth anniversary of the UNCED Earth Summit in Rio.

Placed within the Ark, along with the Earth Charter, were various items called "Temenos Books" and "Temenos Earth Masks." Temenos is a concept adopted by Carl Jung to denote a magic circle, a sacred space where special rules and energies apply. Some of the Temenos Books were created within this magic circle by children, who filled them with visual affirmations for Mother Earth. Fashioned with the "earth elements", the Temenos Earth Masks were also worn and created by children.

Maurice Strong and the "Agenda"
In 1992 Maurice Strong was the Secretary General of the historic United Nations (UNCED) Earth conference in Rio. This gathering featured an international cast of powerful figures in the environmental movement, government, business, and entertainment. Maurice Strong's wife Hannah, was involved in the NGO alternative meeting at the Summit called Global Forum '92. The Dalai Lama opened the meeting and, according to author Gary Kah, to ensure the success of the forum, Hanne Strong held a three-week vigil with Wisdomkeepers, a group of "global transformationalists." Through round-the-clock sacred fire, drumbeat, and meditation, the group helped hold the "energy pattern" for the duration of the summit.

It was hoped that an Earth Charter would be the result of this event. This was not the case, however an international agreement was adopted – Agenda 21 – which laid down the international "sustainable development" necessary to form a future Earth Charter agreement. Maurice Strong hinted at the overtly pagan agenda proposed for a future Earth Charter, when in his opening address to the Rio Conference delegates he said, "It is the responsibility of each human being today to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light." [note: Alice Bailey, and Blavatsky before her, used these terms often. Their writings state that the 'force of darkness' are those who adhere to the 'out-dated' Judeo-Christian faith; those who continue along their 'separative' paths of the one true God. The 'force of light' (Lucifer), in their view, is the inclusive new age doctrine of a pagan pantheistic New World Religion. In the New Age of Aquarius there will be no room for the 'force of darkness' and 'separativeness'.] "We must therefore transform our attitudes and adopt a renewed respect for the SUPERIOR LAWS OF DIVINE NATURE," Strong finished with unanimous applause from the crowd.

Despite the disappointing setback of no official agreement toward a "peoples Earth Charter", Maurice Strong forged ahead, with Rockefeller backing, to form his Earth Council organization for the express purpose of helping governments implement UNCED's sustainable development which Agenda 21 had outlined. Agenda 21 was perhaps the biggest step taken to facilitate any future "enforcement" of a patently pagan Earth Charter. According to Strong "the Charter will stand on it's own. It will be in effect, to use an Anglo-Saxon term, the Magna Carta of the people around the Earth. But, it will also, we hope, lead to action by the governments through the United Nations."


The New Age and the Radical-Left 'Enlightenment'
The "For Love of Earth" day-long celebrations at Shelburne Farms Vermont began with an early morning pilgrimage during which 2000 or so participants, led by Satish Kumar, walked to the "great barn" where they were greeted by the sounds of the "Sun Song" played by musician Paul Winter. The Pagan festivities continued with the words of Dr. Jane Goodall, Satish Kumar and organizer Dr. Steven C. Rockefeller. The Earth worshippers were treated to dance, music and paintings of several Vermont artists, after which they joined hands and offered an "Earth prayer" of "reverence" and "commitment" to Mother Earth and the "Ark of Hope".

Satish Kumar, who led the early morning pilgrimage at Shelburne Farms, is an influencial advocate of Gaia. Kumar says that "contemporary thinkers of the green movement are collectively developing an ecological world-view." The Earth Charter is the green movement's crowning achievement toward this holistic world-view, and the practical means by which all of us will soon be held accountable to "Divine Nature". According to Satish Kumar,2 this pagan view has five ingredients: Gaia (James Lovelock), Deep Ecology (Arne Naess), Permaculture (Bill Mollison), Bioregionalism (Gary Snyder et al.), and Creation Spirituality (Matthew Fox). "Creation Spirituality" is what had, undoubtedly, taken place at the Shelburne Farms Earth Charter celebrations. In the words of Steven W. Mosher, president of Population Research Institute, "Gaia is the New Age term for Mother Earth. The New Age believers hold that the earth is a sentient super-being, kind of goddess, deserving of worship and, some say, human sacrifice. Compared to Gaia worship, the simple animism of primitive cultures is wholesome."

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