Resources Q & A

QUESTION: Why are you so worked up about assisted suicide? If I don’t want to live when my quality of life is gone, why should you have the right to tell me I don’t have options?

ANSWER: Your question indicates some misconceptions on your part. First, we do not convey our own opinions, but rather we share the message of God’s Word and apply Biblical principles to life issues. We are “worked up” about assisted suicide because the Bible makes it clear that we do not have the authority to determine the time of a person’s death, nor the right to take a human life (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 32:39). Secondly, you certainly can exercise your options regarding your health care, even when you are terminally ill. Our ministry is designed to help you identify the option that is consistent with God’s Word and the best choice for your situation. Rather than fighting for the right to end your life, we would prefer to find positive alternatives that help you make your last days as peaceful and beneficial as possible.

QUESTION: What is God’s view of homosexuality? Hasn’t research shown that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition and that as people cannot choose to be a certain race or gender, so also they cannot choose their sexual predisposition?

ANSWER: God’s view on all things can only be derived from His Word. There are no new revelations or inspired prophets of our time to alter what His Word has revealed – even when it is not very politically correct or culturally popular.

God’s view is that the practice of homosexuality is sinful and contrary to His will. God’s Word speaks both directly to it and also by inference. Review of the following passages collectively (not in any particular order) demonstrates that point:

  • Genesis 19:4-8
  • Exodus 20:14
  • Leviticus 18:22; 20:13
  • Deuteronomy 23:17
  • Matthew 5:28
  • 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9-18
  • Ephesians 5:3

It appears, however, you believe that because of a genetic predisposition there is no culpability for homosexuality. As a point of accuracy, it remains an unproven theory that there is a genetic link for homosexuality. For this discussion, the nature of homosexuality – whether it is a choice or it is a predisposition – is irrelevant. It is the act, not the orientation, that is sinful. In fact, there are a number of theories that other sins may be genetically linked (i.e., alcoholism, kleptomania, perversion, etc.).

Scripture does not deal with the biology of presumed genetic links. What Scripture does say, however, is that our nature is sinful. In a sense, one could argue that all of sin is genetically predisposed. Since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin every person’s mind is hostile to God (Genesis 6:5; Romans 3:10; 8:7). From God’s perspective it is a non-issue whether or not sins are genetically predisposed. Sins are sin, and even one of them can endanger the soul forever (James 2:10)!

Sins of homosexuality do not become “acceptable sins,” even if they are rooted in a genetic predisposition. Sins of homosexuality are also no worse sins than any of the other sins all of us commit. All sins are a violation of God’s Word. A willful practice of any sinning, absent of genuine remorse and repentance, endangers the soul eternally.

Because all sin endangers the soul eternally, our primary concern for those wrestling with any sin, including the sin of homosexuality, is for the soul. We would condemn acts of harshness and bullying against those wrestling with the sin of homosexuality or any sin. Rather, out of concern for the soul and love for the sinner, we seek to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2). It was also for the sin of homosexuality that Christ died. Our actions in this matter should always reflect His love with a commitment to speak the truth clearly and handle the soul carefully.

QUESTION: My dad was recently diagnosed with ALS. We are all pretty devastated. He knows that his quality of life will diminish, and he will become totally reliant on us kids. The other night he asked, “Why is God doing this to me?” I didn’t know how to answer him. I guess I have the same question.

ANSWER: The simple answer is that God is not doing this. Bad things happen in our lives because of sin. The second and third chapters of Genesis remind us that God did not create us to be sinful. The sad consequence of human  sinfulness is suffering and ultimately physical death.

The better question that you should ask is, “How should we respond?” An excellent example is recorded for us in John 9, which tells the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. The disciples asked Jesus for a logical explanation as to why this man was blind. Using their human reason, they concluded that either the man or his parents had sinned and blindness was the punishment. Jesus answered “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). According to Jesus, the focus is not on the physical ailment but rather on the response to the condition.

We can’t fully understand God’s plans, but we can do our best to glorify God in every situation. Your father’s illness will cause physical pain, but it might serve as an outlet for others to demonstrate their compassion. His condition might scare away some of his friends, but it could draw him closer to his Savior. His disease will lead some to say that his life is no longer worth living, but you and your family can provide a Christ-like example of unselfish love.

The next time someone asks, “Why would God do this?” you can respond, “So that my faith can be strengthened and His name glorified!”

QUESTION: I’ve heard that teen pregnancy rates have increased. Is it time to teach our kids about birth control?

ANSWER: Teaching about birth control is not the solution. Abstinence is still the only sure way to avoid pregnancy, STDs, and the emotional pain of pre-marital intimacy. Even more importantly, abstinence education is consistent with clear Biblical principles.

Christian parents should not teach or promote “safe sinning” among our youth, even if worldly philosophies  claim it is the prudent option. Rather, we need to convey a clear message that is consistent with God’s Word and continually encourage our youth to pursue God-pleasing relationships in their dating years.

QUESTION: Why is it important to have a medical directive statement?

ANSWER: We at CLR recommend every adult sign a medical directive statement regardless of his or her current health situation or age.

The first benefit of such a statement is that it allows a person to provide direction for medical care in the event he or she is no longer able to make such decisions. Understandably, these directions must be somewhat general, because it is impossible to predict what malady will be faced.

The second benefit is that it allows a person to designate a health care agent to make decisions when the stated wishes of the document are too vague for the circumstance. If you do not have a statement a patient’s family often must guess about the kind of care the patient would want.

If family members disagree among themselves the situation becomes complicated, contentious and sometimes can only be settled by an ethics committee or through legal action.

QUESTION: It’s been years since the death of Terri Schiavo. Shouldn’t we just leave this in the past?

ANSWER: Few cases created more emotional response than the Terri Schiavo story. It seemed that everyone placed themselves in Terri’s situation and shared their opinion regarding treatment wishes if they were placed in a similar situation.

The facts of Terri’s life can be written as historical record, but our emotions can’t be tucked away as easily. Schiavo’s very name creates an emotional response, so each anniversary of the woman’s death gives us cause to wrestle with not only the ethical dilemma but our own emotions regarding end-of-life care.

Rather than spend time in continued debate regarding Terri Schiavo, CLR prefers to encourage families to act in a pro-active manner and avoid similar ethical battles. It serves little purpose to argue about the treatment of Terri if families don’t apply these lessons for their own medical decisions. Here are several things you can do immediately:

  • Think about the medical care you would want if you became incapacitated;
  • Share your thoughts with your loved ones;
  • Create a medical directive (CLR provides a free downloadable Christian version at www.ChristianLifeResources.com);
  • Don’t wait until you are “old” to begin this process.

No one can promise that your family won’t endure some tough end-of-life decisions, but those situations can be managed more effectively when families clearly communicate their wishes and remain faithful to the principles of God’s Word.

QUESTION: I’m working on my medical directive, and my attorney asked me some questions about my end-of-life wishes. He said that, legally, I have total authority over my health care decisions. He used the term “patient autonomy.” How does that fit with my Christian belief that God is the final authority in life and death decisions?

ANSWER: Your attorney is correct in stating that you have the legal right to make your own medical decisions. You are also right in stating that God is the ultimate authority over life and death. The challenge for you is to apply your faith when making medical decisions. Your right to make medical decisions does not remove God’s ultimate authority over your life. Your role is to make decisions that are consistent with the directives of God’s Word. In other words, use your legal right to make life-sustaining decisions until there is evidence that God is bringing your life to a close. When it is clear that death is imminent, then accept His will and receive comfort care until death.

QUESTION: A friend of mine is unmarried and pregnant. She confided in me that she is considering an abortion. She gave me a long list of reasons why, but I didn’t know how to answer her. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER: You didn’t list her reasons, but I think I know most of them. She probably discussed her inability to raise a child at this point in her life; feels she is not financially ready to have a child; is concerned about her educational or vocational goals; doesn’t have the support of friends, family or the father; and concluded that abortion is the best option for her at this time in her life.

The problem with all these responses is that they focus only on her. There is no consideration as to God’s will or any thought about the baby’s well-being. Jeremiah wrote, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5). This passage provides the comfort of knowing that God has a special plan for each person, and we certainly don’t have the foresight or wisdom to choose anything better.

When you respond to your friend, be kind and comforting in your approach. She is struggling with this situation and is faced with a great amount of uncertainty and guilt. Assure her that delivering this baby is not such a terrible decision. She can parent the child or place that child with another family through adoption. She can receive support through government agencies, family members and friends. Her educational or vocational goals might be delayed, but they don’t have to be lost. In other words, help her realize that this pregnancy can continue without ruining her life. She can still make many important decisions regarding her future without facing the guilt of disobeying God in this situation.

QUESTION: Considering the obvious problem of over-population and the need to reduce the world’s inhabitants, why not start with those who contribute little or nothing to society?

ANSWER: Although your question is very rational, it comes from a purely humanistic perspective. My primary concern is that you completely ignore the Biblical principles that apply to these issues. God’s Word clearly teaches that all human life has value, regardless of any differences in quality. Jesus welcomed little children (Mark 10:14); David provided for lame Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9); and many Bible passages tell us to honor the elderly (Leviticus 19:32, Job 32:7, 1 Timothy 5:4). We also read, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”(Colossians 2:8). Scripture leads us to the conclusion that human life is worthy of protection, and human reasoning cannot serve as the sole guide in making these decisions.

It must also be pointed out that the “overpopulation” concerns are not universally accepted as valid, so we cannot assume that there is an obvious problem.

In the end, “enlightened” thinkers might conclude that over-population is the primary cause of our world’s problems. The truth, however, is that the intentional killing of the preborn, disabled or elderly is contrary to God’s directive to preserve and protect human life and cannot be considered a viable option.

QUESTION: Although I don’t live in Washington state, I’m concerned about the voter decision to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Are my concerns valid?

ANSWER: Most certainly you have reason to be  concerned, regardless of where you live. After Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act took effect in 1997, many other states considered similar laws. Fortunately, the movement didn’t gain much of a foothold. Over the years many legislative battles were fought, but Oregon stood alone as the only state to offer lethal medications to its citizens.

That all changed on November 4, 2008, when voters in the state of Washington passed Initiative 1000. The result is that two states now permit legalized physician assisted suicide. Making things worse, it seems that Washington’s decision opened the flood gates on this issue. For example, a judge in Montana ruled that the state constitution allows for assisted suicide. Although this decision will be reviewed by the State Supreme Court, there is serious concern that Montana might become the third state to allow legalized assisted suicide. Now a number of state legislatures are considering similar bills. Apparently the perception is that a second state to approve assisted suicide is equivalent
to a green light for others to follow.

So, most certainly you should be alert to this movement, because the right-to-die leaders do not plan to stop their efforts in promoting this deadly cause. I encourage you to pray for your political leaders, contact them to express your opposition to assisted suicide and stay informed on any developments
that occur in your state legislature.

QUESTION: Why is there so much interest in the Freedom of Choice Act? I thought the abortion matter was settled in the Roe v. Wade decision.

ANSWER: The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is a very dangerous bill. If passed, it would clearly expand the current abortion environment in the United States.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that women had the legal right to get an abortion at any time during pregnancy and for any reason. In spite of that decision, there were still many issues that were not clarified in Roe v. Wade. For example, were the parents of a minor daughter allowed to be involved in the abortion decision?

Should abortionists receive informed consent from their patients? Could doctors refuse to perform abortions if they were morally opposed? Should tax money be used to pay for abortions? These and other questions were debated, and many were handled through a variety of federal and state laws and court cases. In summary, limitations and safeguards were added over the years that clarified the intent of Roeand reflected the will of the people.

The purpose of FOCA is to reverse all those laws, court decisions, and policies that have been implemented over the past 36 years, and to create a legal structure that prohibits any future constraints on the abortion industry. Here are just a few of the changes that would occur if FOCA became law:

• Partial-birth abortions would again become legal — in spite of the ban that was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional;
• Informed consent would no longer be required, so patients would not be given full disclosure before the abortions were performed;
• Parental involvement laws would be dropped, so states that passed these types of laws would be unable to enforce them;
• Conscience clauses would be eliminated so medical professionals would be required to perform abortions even if they are morally opposed;
• The Hyde Amendment, which prohibited the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions, would no longer be law, even though it has been in effect since 1976;
• States could not uphold laws that prevent the transfer of minor children across state lines to get an abortion.

These, and other, transitions would take place if FOCA becomes law. Although these changes seem extreme to most people, the abortion industry is concerned that abortion numbers continue to decline, and they blame the efforts of pro-life groups and politicians for causing this trend.

The passage of FOCA would certainly be the most radical pro-abortion law that the United States has ever passed.For these reasons, it is critical that you contact your federal legislators. Let them know that you are opposed to FOCA and tell them to vote against it. After the 2008 elections, we have a legislative and executive branch of government that is willing to pass FOCA, so the threat is serious.

On the positive side, even somepro-abortion legislators will not vote for FOCA, because of the radical nature of this bill. For that reason, don’t assume your representatives have already made up their minds. Letters and phone calls might encourage at least one of them to take a stand and defend the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves.

For more information on FOCA, including a brief history, some Biblical perspectives, and other resources, go to the links below. Also make a point of sharing this information with others who might not understand the full impact of this legislation. When more people know the truth about FOCA, the greater opportunity we have to defeat this bill and protect the lives of preborn children.


 

QUESTION: I’ve heard about the eugenics movement, but I thought that essentially ended with the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Does the eugenics movement still exist today?

ANSWER: The eugenics movement is more comprehensive than most people realize. A review of the history of eugenics shows that the past eugenicists were void of compassion for individuals with a low value or quality of life. The pervading thought was that society would improve with the elimination of poor and disabled children. During the late 1800s and most of the 1900s, this was accomplished through selective breeding.

As morally bankrupt as this sounds, today’s eugenics movement is equally revolting – though more subtle. With recent technological advancements, doctors can screen for genetic disorders, perform prenatal testing, and use birth control and IVF to limit or control the births of children who are likely to have a less-than-desired quality of life. These modern techniques are equally defiant of God’s Word that tells us that children are a blessing from God (Genesis 33:5; Psalm 127:3) and that we should defend those who are weak (Matthew 25:35,36; Acts 20:35).

So, sad to say, the eugenics philosophy is still alive and thriving today even though the forms and methods have been refined.


Clearly Caring Magazine, March/April 2008, Vol. 28, No. 2

G. U. L. A. G. – A Look at Ethnic Cleaning and Abortion
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1122

 

QUESTION: Is genetic testing of preborn children acceptable for Christians?

ANSWER: The answer to your question requires some clarification, because there are many variables that come into consideration. Some parents are concerned about a genetic disease that could be passed to their children. Some parents have fears over having a child with Down syndrome. In still other cases, parents want their child to be a certain gender or inherit other desired traits.

The ability to test and screen for so many characteristics is representative of the advances in medical technology, but such testing also represents a slippery slope toward eugenics.

There is nothing wrong when parents want a child who is healthy. There is nothing wrong in performing tests to see if the child is healthy. There is nothing wrong when parents want to know in advance that their child is going to be born with a disability.

The problems arise when parents are willing to kill those children that do not meet the perceived standards of “acceptability.” Once we cross the line by saying certain lives are not worth living, regardless of the reason, we then assume an authority over life that God does not give us.


 

Killing Babies, Compassionately: The Netherlands Follows in Germany’s Footsteps
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1159
How Did We Get Here? – A Look at the Current View of Death
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1265

QUESTION: With elections coming up, I would like some help from CLR as to how I should vote.

ANSWER: Christian Life Resources, as a Christian, non-profit ministry, is not allowed to endorse political candidates. We can, however, offer some insight into the issues and encourage you to vote for candidates who support policies that are consistent with Biblical teachings.

A number of candidates might say they are pro-life yet vary dramatically on some points. Make sure you learn about their positions on abortion, assisted suicide, therapeutic cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. Also be aware that some candidates might say they are personally opposed to abortion and yet promote a health care system that pays for abortions. In other words, look at a broad range of issues rather than just their position on one topic.

In the end, regardless of those candidates that are elected into office, you will be required to give those officials your honor and respect as God’s representatives (Romans 13:1), so work hard before the election to promote those individuals who reflect the standards and beliefs that are most closely aligned with your own.


Clearing Caring Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008, Vol. 28, No. 1

Christians, Voting, and Voter Registration Drives
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=950

QUESTION: My 16-year old niece announced recently that she is pregnant. Her boyfriend and parents are unwilling to step in to help. She has come to me for advice. I don’t want to encourage her to abort the baby, but I just don’t see any alternatives.

ANSWER: You are right that abortion is not the option for her. It might seem like a “quick fix” to her situation, but many far-reaching effects cannot be ignored. If your niece is truly unable to parent her child, then the best option for her is to place the child for adoption.

Sadly, adoption is often considered by pregnant women as the least favored of three options – parenting, abortion, or adoption. Yet, the adoption decision can be the most loving and positive choice a mother can make. A mother who places her child for adoption avoids the grief and guilt of killing her baby through abortion and also offers the wonderful blessing of a baby to a great couple.

In the past, adoption was viewed as an abandonment of the child, and terms like “put up for adoption” or “give up for adoption” were routinely used. When talking to your niece, help her realize that the most loving choice is to give her baby the chance to live and grow in a loving home, and to realize that adoption is the most selfless and considerate choice she can make. I can promise you that her child and the adoptive family will be truly thankful that adoption was her final decision.


Clearly Caring Magazine, Nov/Dec 2007, Vol. 27, No. 6

QUESTION: My mother is in a nursing home with advanced dementia. She is both inactive and unable to recognize us anymore. We visit her as often as we can but are starting to feel that our trips are not accomplishing very much. Should we continue to visit her, and if so, what should we do to make each visit a positive one?

ANSWER: It is good to remember that your mom requires both physical and spiritual care. Appropriate physical care can be directed by medical professionals who specialize in the kind of treatment that a loved one requires. Your primary role is to provide appropriate spiritual care. So, yes, keep visiting her and follow these suggested tips:

 

 

  • Despite impaired language skills, never assume your mom can’t hear or understand you even if a response is not evident

 

 

 

  • Read favorite Bible passages or stories to her

 

 

 

  • Sing some of her favorite songs to her; select a couple of them and repeat them often

 

 

 

  • Hold her hands and say prayers that would be familiar to her

 

 

 

  • Share the comfort of the Gospel by reminding her that Jesus is her Savior

 

 

 

  • Tell her about spiritual blessings you have experienced in your life

 

 

 

  • Tell her that God loves her and that you love her

 

Even though your encouragement may not be understood by your loved one, you are faithfully fulfilling God’s commands to demonstrate Christian care (Luke 10:27; 1 Timothy 5:8) and to serve as Christ’s witness (Acts 22:14,15; 2 Corinthians 4:13).


 

Devotions for Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Caregivers
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1056
the Impression You Leave – a Look at Suffering and Burden Sharing
http://www.christianliferesources.com/?/library/view.php&articleid=1258

QUESTION: My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a number of years ago and is now inactive. He always said he was ready to die and go to heaven, but I wonder if I am prolonging his life and keeping him from his goal.

ANSWER: As Christians, all of us desire the joys of eternal life in heaven. The Apostle Paul wrote, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (Philippians 1:23,24). The Bible also tells us, The LORD brings death and make alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6).

These passages, and many others, remind us that life in heaven is certainly more desirable, but God alone has the right to determine the timing. You should certainly rejoice in the faith of your father, but also realize that our eagerness to reach heaven does not allow anyone to assume authority from God.

Your first concern should be your father’s spiritual needs. Even if he cannot respond to you at times, never assume he can’t hear or understand you. Read the Bible to him, sing hymns and say prayers. These activities also strengthen your faith during these difficult times.

Regarding medical decisions, remember that God will take him at the right time. Your role is to provide care that has a reasonable expectation to accomplish its purpose and is meant to keep him comfortable. If a treatment becomes futile, you need not provide it any longer. When death is expected within a day or two, you can rejoice that his earthly life is ending and his eternal life is about to begin.

QUESTION: I’ve heard people say there are hundreds of thousands of embryos currently being kept in frozen storage in the United States. I can’t imagine such a large number. What will be done with all those little ones?

ANSWER: Most experts agree that approximately 600,000 embryos are currently kept in frozen storage in this country. Such a large number should greatly concern Christians. Most of these frozen embryos are “leftovers” from IVF procedures.

The future of those embryos is determined by their owners. There are five options that can legally be considered.

  • Destroy them
  • Donate them to science
  • Keep them frozen indefinitely
  • Thaw them and transfer them to the biological mother
  • Donate them to infertile couples for adoption

In the application of Christian ethics, the first two options are not acceptable because they involve the killing of those young children at about one week old. The third option is not much better because a final decision is simply being postponed.

The last two options are the only acceptable choices. Although the survival rate for those frozen embryos is fairly low (ranging from 35% to 65% depending on the definition of successful thawing), it is still a better option than intentionally terminating them.

As technology advances, society is faced with greater ethical challenges. In making our decisions, we dare never ignore the humanity of these embryos, and we must avoid the temptation of convincing ourselves that preborn children are commodities to be manipulated rather than blessings to be appreciated.

Christian Life Resources favors consideration of embryo-adoption. In this procedure a married couple accepts adoption of life prior to birth by consenting to the in-utero implantation of someone’s unwanted frozen embryo so that the child may completely develop, be born and raised as their own child.

QUESTION: I’m opposed to human cloning, but I feel that embryonic stem cell research has great potential. Why are so many states trying to legalize both?

ANSWER: There is a great deal of confusion on these points. Here are some facts that might clarify this issue:

  • Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research does seem to hold great potential
  • ESC research has experienced serious hurdles that need to be addressed
  • One of those hurdles is the “rejection factor†since ESCs are not genetically matched to the recipient
  • Cloning a person would allow for the harvesting of ESCs that would be genetically matched
  • There are two classifications of cloning – reproductive and therapeutic
  • The end result of reproductive cloning is a live birth
  • The end result of therapeutic cloning is the harvesting of stem cells
  • Therapeutic cloning is sometimes referred to as “clone and kill”
  • Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is the scientific term for cloning

To overcome the rejection factor, advocates of ESC research want the legal right to harvest embryonic stem cells and the legal right to clone potential patients so the embryonic stem cells will not be rejected when they are used on that patient.

As a way to avoid the political or ethical opposition, advocates say they are opposed to human cloning (a.k.a. “reproductive cloning”) but are in favor of SCNT (a.k.a. “therapeutic cloning”). Be wary of people who use confusing language to support their cause.

As Christians, we are not categorically opposed to new developments in scientific research, but we are opposed to methods that involve the intentional killing of human life regardless of age or presumed quality (Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 20:13). Until these concerns are addressed in ethically acceptable ways, we cannot endorse or condone either of these procedures.


Clearly Caring Magazine, May/June 2007, Vol. 27, No. 3

Clearly Caring May/June 2007 Issue 9.pdf)
http://www.clearlycaring.com/pdf/20070506.pdf

 

QUESTION: My 93-year-old mother has been strong and healthy her entire life. I am afraid that she has a false confidence about going to heaven. She says that God must be happy with her, because He has given her a long and happy life. Should I be concerned about her salvation?

ANSWER: We should always be reminded that salvation is a free gift from God which we are unable to earn ourselves (Ephesians 2:8,9). Our sinful nature is constantly telling us that we don’t need God, and that we can earn salvation on our own. So, in that regard, you should be concerned about your mother’s salvation, just as you should be concerned about your own.

Since she is still strong and healthy, you should encourage your mother to use her blessings to glorify God. Paul wrote, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Your mom has some unique opportunities to reflect God’s love by serving others, and you are in the position to encourage her on a regular basis.

Rather than evaluating the reason why God has given her such a long life, I urge her to use each day to glorify Him with the blessings that she has been given. Whether her remaining life is short or long, her purpose on earth is the same – to grow in faith, to live her faith, and to share her faith.

QUESTION: A friend of mine had an abortion a few years ago and never seemed bothered by it. Now she is concerned because she may be getting married but is hesitant to tell her boyfriend about her past. Why is she changing her attitude about her decision?

ANSWER: Abortion providers tell women that abortion is safe and legal, is a good decision, and should not cause shame. Quite honestly, if they told the whole truth, few women would choose an abortion when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

So, the short-term response after an abortion might be relief, but the long-term effects cause confusion, anger, and even depression. Your friend is just one of many women who now face the consequences of an abortion.

When dealing with your friend, consider these points:

  • Encourage her to face the truth – she killed her preborn child. This might sound harsh, but she needs to confess her sin to God and seek His forgiveness (1 John 1:9) before she can expect healing.
  • Give love and support as she goes through the grieving process. Now is the time to help her move forward.
  • Use God’s Word and Bible study to guide the healing process. CLR developed a wonderful resource titled Free to Flourish for post-abortive women.
  • Give her the necessary time to heal. Recovery from an abortion experience is not handled in a few short sessions.
  • Direct her to be honest with her boyfriend. A relationship needs trust and confidence to last. A hidden lie from the past can cause a struggle in a new marriage.

You might be surprised that your friend’s attitude has changed but recognize her effort to confront the mistakes of her past and her desire to move forward with a fresh start for the future. For additional resources, CLR’s website has materials to help educate you on this topic. We can also provide a list of Post-Abortion Syndrome counselors who specialize in using God’s Word to provide the true comfort of the Gospel throughout the healing process.


Clearly Caring Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007, Vol. 27, No. 1

Abortion Linked to Later Anxiety Problems, New Study Shows
http://www.christianliferesources.com/index.php?/library/view.php&articleid=1018
Post-abortion syndrome (PAS) is a psychological state characterized by symptoms that fall under the broader “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) category. PTSD is a condition recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. It is a disorder best known by the psychological dysfunction many veterans of the Vietnam War have experienced. [SOURCE: Joy Comes in the Mourning — Leader’s Guide, Page 1, Aderman & Johnson]

QUESTION: My two children are approaching their teen years. I want to talk with them about chastity, but I made some mistakes when I was their age. Am I being hypocritical if I tell them to wait until marriage to enjoy sexual intimacy?

ANSWER: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and some of those sins have violated God’s design for sexual purity. Those previous acts should not deter you from talking to your children about this important subject – but serve, instead, as an encouragement. Since you know the difficulty of living a chaste lifestyle, you also realize the importance of giving your children strong support. So, the simple answer is, “Yes, talk to your children without fear of being hypocritical.”

The more difficult question to ask is, “How much of my past do I share with my children?” That varies from one family to another and is based on the particular need and comfort level that you have with your pre-teens. In general, use the wisdom you gained from your past to help formulate your approach in communicating with your children. Share any experiences that truly benefit your teenagers, but don’t think that you need to provide full disclosure about every mistake you made. Remember that the first guideline for sanctified living is provided in God’s Word, so teach those truths with full confidence.

Here are a few points that should make these discussions more comfortable and effective:

  • Don’t feel you need to tell them everything in one setting. Discuss these issues over time and in many settings.
  • Share God’s Word, but don’t be preachy.
  • Base the level of your discussion on your child’s questions. The questions can reveal a lot about your child’s thoughts.
  • Rather than fear these discussions, use the opportunities to open the lines of communication.
  • Reassure your teens that these feelings are natural, but they must also be controlled.

QUESTION: Our elderly neighbors have lived next door to us for ten years. Last week the husband died, and his widow is rather lonely. What suggestions can you share to help her get through her grief?

ANSWER: Compassionate people see suffering and want to take it away. The truth is that you cannot remove her suffering, but you can help her through the grieving process.

God’s Word tells us that suffering is a part of living in a sinful world (Romans 8:22; Acts 14:22). We know that suffering can serve as a means to strengthen faith (Romans 5:3). We also know that suffering can be an outlet for a Christian to demonstrate faith (Luke 10:33).

Here are some tips to guide you in helping your neighbor:

  • Pray for her continually. Pray that she leans on her Savior for true comfort. Pray that you are able to help her when necessary. Pray that the Holy Spirit provides the spiritual strength to deal with each new challenge.
  • Offer to help her in specific ways. People commonly say, “If there is anything I can do, just ask.” The problem with that statement is that an additional burden is placed on the grieving spouse who is now required to ask for help. It is better to provide a specific offer such as mowing the grass for the summer, making a meal once a week, or assisting with household chores that require the lifting of heavy objects.
  • Be a willing and patient listener. At times, she may simply want a listening ear to recall a favorite memory. Feel free to share your own wonderful memories.
  • Don’t feel pressured to find the right words to comfort her. You won’t find words to remove her grief. Too many people avoid conversations for fear of not knowing what to say. That attitude leads the survivor to feel even greater loneliness.
  • Allow her to grieve in her own way. In spite of her grief, she will have days of happiness, and even after many months, she will still have days of sadness.
  • Record the date of her husband’s death, as well as other important milestones such as his birthday or their anniversary.Provide notes or cards on the anniversaries of those days. Write a simple note that says you remember him and are thinking of her.
  • Use the situation to offer a Christian witness. Let her know that you are praying for her. Share a favorite Bible passage of comfort. Knowing her spiritual background will help you customize your efforts.

QUESTION: Many of my daughter’s friends are wearing outfits that I feel are inappropriate. I am very disappointed that my daughter is now wearing some of the same styles. How can I address this with her so she understands the seriousness of her decisions?

ANSWER: You have raised a number of questions that are typical of pre-teen and teenage parents. Allow us to address these questions separately.

The first issue is peer pressure. There are many practical tips for parents and teens on our website – search under the topic, “Peer Pressure.”

The second issue is your determination that her outfits are not appropriate. That determination can mean a number of things depending on your personal standards. You did not specify the exact concern, but her clothing might be too revealing, they might reflect a Gothic style, they might be too baggy and loose, or they might be too tight. Regardless of the reason you feel they are inappropriate, it is important to discuss this situation with your daughter. Your question seems to indicate she was one of the last in her group to dress in this style. It is likely that she has had a good influence from you in the past. Use this situation to build your relationship even further in future decisions.

You are also encouraged to do a little Bible study with your daughter. You can start with 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 which reads, Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. In your discussion, find out the real reasons she is making these decisions. Keep your comments focused on the clothing styles and your daughter’s choices, and stay away from condemning her friends. As she struggles in her maturing process she is confronted with the desire to fit in with her friends, as well as her desire to follow the principles that you have taught her. Use this situation to help your daughter make a decision that is truly mature and can be used as a positive example for future decisions that most certainly will be more difficult and impacting.

QUESTION: I know CLR offers advice on many end-of-life issues. Do you have some general procedures that should be followed when making these difficult decisions?

ANSWER: Many end-of-life decisions are difficult and often very emotional. Our role at CLR is to provide appropriate applications of Biblical principles and to encourage people to use these issues to give a Christian witness.

Here are three basic questions that help guide your decision-making process:

    • 1. God alone has the right to initiate and terminate life (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). Man has the responsibility to preserve and protect life (Genesis 9:5-6).

Will my decision try to assume authority from God?

    • 2. As a Christian steward, I am responsible for managing my blessings appropriately (1 Peter 4:10). This includes the provision of care for human life (Luke 10:30-37).

Will my decision use my earthly blessings to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

    • 3. According to God’s will all people will die. At those times, it is an act of faith to accept God’s decision and provide comfort care until the time of death (Psalm 31:15; Romans 14:8).

Does my decision demonstrate that I accept God’s will when death is imminent?

Wrestling with these questions begins the process of making God-pleasing decisions on end-of-life issues. As many have experienced, the clearest counsel from God may become hard to apply when one is faced with physical and/or emotional hardships. The above questions address the foundational elements that lead Christians to make decisions which truly place God’s will first.


Clearly Caring Magazine, Sept/Oct 2006, Vol. 26, No. 5

UESTION: I’ve heard conflicting stories about the morning-after pill possibly causing abortions. Now an effort is underway to make it available without a prescription. Can you please clarify?

[CLR UPDATE: On April 22, 2009, the U.S. FDA announced plans to follow a previous month’s ruling by a federal judge and make the morning-after pill available to 17-year-olds without a prescription.]

ANSWER: The morning-after pill, also marketed as Plan B, is similar to typical birth control pills but contains a higher level of synthetic hormones. Despite its name as a “morning-after” form of emergency contraception, the literature indicates it is “effective” even up to 72 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse.

The debate continues regarding the morning-after pill’s classification as an abortifacient (meaning it causes an abortion) or a contraceptive (meaning it prevents conception). Evidence suggests it can serve in both capacities. The morning-after pill is designed to suppress ovulation. When that occurs it works as a contraceptive. In some situations, however, the timing is such that the morning-after pill is taken after ovulation so the hormones are unable to prevent the release of an ovum. Evidence shows that the morning-after pill can also alter the uterine lining which might prevent the implantation of an embryo. If an embryo is unable to implant, then the morning-after pill acts as an abortifacient.

In addition to the potential abortifacient nature of the morning-after pill, Christian Life Resources is also concerned that this medication is specifically marketed to single women who want sexual freedom without the “risk” of a pregnancy. For example, a number of college newspaper advertisements recently reminded coeds to get their morning-after pills in preparation for spring break. We cannot condone a method of birth control that is intended to promote “safe sinning.”

Over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill is also a practice that we believe is unwise. Even if we were to set aside the abortifacient potential and the use of the drug outside of marriage, one could argue that since regular birth control is not available without a prescription, the more powerful morning-after pill should not become more easily available. Over-the-counter availability means pre-teen and teenage girls can purchase this form of birth control without a parent’s knowledge or approval, and it communicates a message that a potential pregnancy is not very serious.

In spite of many concerns, the movement to allow over-the-counter sale of the morning-after pill is advancing. A federal law would mandate this change throughout the country. Currently*, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington State allow some pharmacies to provide emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) without requiring a woman to see anyone except the pharmacist. In addition, Vermont pharmacists will soon be able to provide ECPs without a prescription as soon as the newly-enacted state law is implemented.

* NOTE: This information was current through May 2006.


Clearly Caring Magazine, July/August 2006, Vol. 26, No. 4

QUESTION: Friends of ours have been married for a number of years and continue having miscarriages. Why doesn’t God bless them with children? I’m sure they would be excellent parents, and they are strong and faithful Christians.

ANSWER: Let’s handle the second part of this question first. The consequences of sin affect all of us regardless of our faith or character. God certainly knows the strengths and abilities of this couple and is working with them out of love. That should never be questioned. Although you cannot understand why they are still childless, trust that there is a reason and that God has not stopped loving them because of it.

For the first part of the question, have your friends talked with a doctor about the reasons for the miscarriages? Sometimes there are relatively simple procedures that can be followed which will remedy the situation. Also, remember that blessings are not granted to all people. We do not deserve blessings, but God gives them to us out of love and mercy. Our role, as Christians, is to serve and obey our heavenly Father regardless of the blessings that we do or do not receive.

As your friends suffer with this situation, be supportive and encouraging to them as they seek comfort or solutions.

QUESTION: As a pro-life Christian, I am very excited about South Dakota’s law to ban most abortions. Yet, I hear that some pro-life organizations are not as excited as I am. Why not?

ANSWER: South Dakota is just one of many states to have taken action against legalized abortion. Many others have passed laws to help reduce the number of abortions in their jurisdiction. Examples of these laws include: parental consent, a mandatory waiting period, and informed consent. These are all positive actions, and we encourage states to do even more to show true compassion for women facing an unwanted pregnancy and to protect their unborn children.

South Dakota’s action in March 2006 to ban virtually all abortions in the state was designed to challenge the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wadeabortion case. Its supporters hope that a court challenge to the law will result in the U.S. Supreme Court revisiting its decision.

Two schools of thought exist with regard to the reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision. (The reality is that the power rests with the U.S. Supreme Court since individual states or lower courts have no authority to overturn Roe.) On the one hand, some pro-lifers are waiting for a clear majority of Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe. Since the Court presently has five solid votes to uphold Roe v. Wade, there is little chance that a change is likely. These pro-lifers fear that if the South Dakota law is turned over by the U.S. Supreme Court, it will hurt the chances of another challenge getting to the Court when a majority of the Justices might be present to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

A second camp of pro-life people argues the Supreme Court needs to see that individual states have a right to determine their own abortion laws, and Roe won’t be overturned until that evidence is presented to them.

Christian Life Resources has always been opposed to abortion and has worked for decades as a pro-life ministry. God’s Word is very clear that we do not have the right to intentionally take human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Deuteronomy 32:39). The Bible also tells us that human life exists already at conception (Psalm 51:5) and develops in the womb (Psalm 139:13). For these reasons, we focus on caring for the women who face these critical decisions. In the end, whether abortion is legal or not, our prayer is that women choose life for their babies because it is the option that reflects God’s will, and because they receive the love and support needed to make such a life-affirming decision. We also pray that we not only save the baby’s life, but we share the message of salvation so both the mother and the baby can enjoy eternal life in heaven.

Mr. Paul Snamiska, Program Adminsitrator, Christian Life Resources


QUESTION: Does CLR counsel women who are in despair because they’ve had abortions in the past, or do you just work with women who are considering an abortion?

ANSWER: Your question deals with a special issue called Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) and is becoming more common among people who have experienced an abortion in their past. We also recognize that PAS is not limited to women but also includes many men who have seen their wives or girlfriends abort their baby. When we consider the millions of aborted babies, it is no wonder that many people struggle with PAS.

For this kind of counseling, however, we usually direct people to one of our local pregnancy counseling centers. Many of the local centers have specially-trained people who work with post-abortion syndrome. You can access a listing of our pregnancy counseling centers through our website (click here) and also locate those centers offering PAS counseling.

Post-abortion syndrome is a serious issue and needs to be addressed. The best way to deal with PAS is through a study of God’s Word. Christian Life Resources developed a special Bible Study titled Free to Flourish that helps a person work through their pain and find true healing through Jesus Christ. Free to Flourish is available here or by calling the national office.


Clearly Caring Magazine, March/April 2006, Vol. 26, No. 2

Post-abortion syndrome (PAS) is a psychological state characterized by symptoms that fall under the broader “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) category. PTSD is a condition recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. It is a disorder best known by the psychological dysfunction many veterans of the Vietnam War have experienced. [SOURCE: Joy Comes in the Mourning — Leader’s Guide, page 1, Aderman & Johnson]

Mr. Paul Snamiska, Program Administrator, Christian Life Resources


QUESTION: A friend of mine faced an unwanted pregnancy but didn’t want to abort her baby. She didn’t know all of her options, and I&rsquom not sure she made the right decision. Does CLR help with available options for these kinds of situations?

ANSWER: Yes, we do. CLR offers information on a variety of options, as well as help and positive alternatives that fit a woman’s specific needs. People who face an unwanted pregnancy are easily led to hasty decisions that might be regretted in the future, so we help them evaluate the situation and make decisions that are good for them and their babies.

God’s Word gives some clear direction that life exists at conception and is not meant to be intentionally terminated, even before birth (Psalm 51:5; 1 Samuel 2:6; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 139). The Bible also records situations in which people cared for those who were not their children. King David’s decision to care for Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9) is an excellent example. Applying these truths, we offer options such as New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers, information on pregnancy and birth, and unbiased material on adoption.

Of particular note is our Independent Adoption Network. This is a free service that helps a birth mother find potential adoptive couples if she is considering the placement of her child for adoption. All of the potential adoptive couples are WELS/ELS and have already completed their home study and other legal requirements. This offers some positive choices for the birth mom as she considers her options.

At this time, we have a full listing of potential adoptive couples, but we always have an ability to work with more birth moms who are considering adoption. If someone you know wants further information on adoption, or the Independent Adoption Network, contact the National Office.


Clearly Caring Magazine, March/April 2006, Vol. 26, No. 2

New Begininings – A Home for Mothers
http://www.homeformothers.com

QUESTION: I’ve been reading news reports about the South Korean research team found to have lied about their research. Is this God’s way of telling us that embryonic stem cell research is wrong?

ANSWER: You are correct that the work of Hwang woo-Suk, a Korean scientist, was determined to be unethical. Unfortunately, this is not the first case in which a prominent leader has been found guilty of illegal behavior. We must be careful, however, not to jump to conclusions about God’s will.

Embryonic stem cell research, as it is currently practiced, requires the intentional destruction of young lives. That act violates God’s commands to preserve and protect human life (1 Samuel 2:6, Exodus 20:13). So, research that ignores God’s commands is unethical regardless of whether it violates the laws of man.

There are some circumstances in which people prosper from sinfulness (Psalm 73). There are also circumstances clearly identified as the result of sin (sickness, hardship, death, etc.). Other circumstances exist in which the cause of hardship can be misleading (John 9:1ff). When God’s Word does not clearly state the cause or effect, we simply trust in His promises to work things out for our good and seek to consistently do His will.

In conclusion, God’s Word has already provided all the information we need to live godly lives. The apparent success or failure of people does not change the Biblical principles that are provided to guide a Christian’s decisions.


Clearly Caring Magazine, May/June 2006, Vol. 26, No. 3

Paul Snamiska, Program Administrator, Christian Life Resources


Q: I’ve heard many different terms describing the positions of those who either oppose or favor abortion and euthanasia (pro-life, pro-choice, anti-abortion, death with dignity, etc.). What is CLR’s position on all of these terms?

A: The position of CLR is always rooted in Gods Word. This means we value human life because Jesus gave us absolute value through His death and resurrection (John 3:16). We believe that God alone holds authority over life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). We believe that man is responsible for the preservation and protection of human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Luke 10:27). We also believe that the right attitude is critical in making godly decisions (Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

The terms you mentioned have certain connotations. We consider ourselves “pro-life” but that doesnt mean we endorse bombing abortion clinics nor hurting or killing abortionists. Some abortion advocates call us “anti-abortion” because it connotes a damaging image for our opposition to a perceived freedom. Many people use the term “pro-choice” but seldom define the “choices” they promote. The latest story comes from right-to-die groups who say they want to reference “assisted suicide” in terms that are more palatable. They contend that “right to die” or “death with dignity” are neutral terms that more accurately portray their position.

Labels are continually used to identify various agencies and beliefs. CLRs pro-life label is likely to endure for many years. Yet our real label is that we are Christian, and therefore we teach that all deeds and decisions should be made out of love for God and respect for our neighbor.


Clearing Caring Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006, Vol. 26. No. 1

Paul W. Snamiska, Program Administrator, Christian Life Resources


Q: Is hospice good or bad? I’ve heard that it is actually a part of the euthanasia movement.

A: This topic has come up before and leads to a variety of emotions. To give a concise answer, hospice can serve a valuable role and is not necessarily connected to the euthanasia movement. There is, however, more to the issue.

Hospice care is meant to provide palliative, or comfort, care to patients who are terminally ill and expected to live less than six months. The primary intent of hospice care is to make patients comfortable by providing for their physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs. In this regard, hospice can be a wonderful option for families.

We have heard from hospice care workers who give excellent reports of appropriate care while others tell us that their facilities promote a philosophy that is more in line with right-to-die groups. Any hospice that works to intentionally take a human life by either active or passive means is in violation of God’s commands (Exodus 20:13; 1 John 3:17-18).

So, the best conclusion to make is that, although hospice care is not part of any formal euthanasia movement, a word of caution is in order before placing a loved one into a hospice program. If the hospice shares your Christian values then it can be a positive choice. If the administration does not share your Christian values regarding life, seek a different hospice option.


Clearly Caring Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006, Vol. 26, No. 1

Paul Snamiska, CLR Program Administrator


QUESTION: I know a WELS member who is actively supportive of abortion rights and am greatly concerned. What should I do?

ANSWER: You have reasons to be concerned and should address this issue with an attitude of Christian love and concern. Some WELS members may favor abortion rights, but most of them remain quiet about it. When you don’t know a person’s stance on an issue, it is hard to address it directly. Yet, when a person is outspoken about a belief, then it becomes a public matter and needs attention.

Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a clear direction for dealing with a brother who is unrepentant. Using that guide, it is best to talk to this person privately. Convey your concern about his or her position and explain the danger that is present when a person promotes the intentional killing of preborn children. Also take time to listen attentively to the reasons given for the person’s support of abortion rights and address each argument with God’s Word. If that does not work, then take one or two others with you and communicate the seriousness of your concerns. One of those other people might be his or her pastor.

Throughout the process, maintain a level of patience and Christian love for this person. Your goal is not to get this person to simply admit that abortion is wrong, but rather to encourage a stronger faith in Jesus Christ and a lifestyle consistent with that faith.


Clearly Caring, Vol. 25, No. 6, Nov/Dec 2005

QUESTION: A number of students at my high school are “cutters.” Why do they do that?

ANSWER: “Cutting” has become a popular behavior among some of today’s youth, but few adults know much about it or understand it. “Cutting” is just one method of self-injury that is practiced today. Other methods include eating disorders, burning, beating, or alcohol/drug abuse.

A cutter often uses razor blades or a sharp knife to cut parts of the body in areas that are not readily noticed. Areas commonly cut are arms and thighs, but virtually all parts of the body, other than the face, could be cut. The cuts are deep enough to draw blood and often leave some scarring.

There are two reasons for most cutting: 1) A depressed or frustrated person might feel they have no control over their lives, or their pain. Cutters can control their own pain when they cut. 2) Cutting becomes addictive. The sense of relief or even euphoria leads to repeat cutting.

Unfortunately, cutting is becoming a fad in many middle and high schools. It is good to talk to your adolescent child about this behavior and watch for any signs of cutting. In particular, watch for those who wear long sleeves or pants even during hot weather.

In most cases, cutting is not meant as a method of suicide. Rather it is a way to deal with emotional pain. Cutting, therefore, should not be ignored. It is a sign that a person is calling out for help. If you realize someone is cutting, or practicing some other form of self-injury, encourage them to seek professional counseling.


Clearly Caring, Vol. 25, No. 6, Nov/Dec 2005

QUESTION: I am very upset that Terri Schiavo’s faith was not seriously considered before her feeding tube was pulled. Why didn’t the doctors follow her strong Catholic belief?

ANSWER: Sadly, you are correct. Medical decisions do not always reflect the teachings of the church – for a very basic reason. Many people who belong to a church body don’t agree fully with the teachings of that church. A rather public example of this truth is evident in politicians, who, though members of churches in opposition of abortion or assisted suicide, vote contrary to their church’s teachings.

Here is a suggestion. Don’t assume your doctor is going to make decisions that reflect your church’s teachings. Rather, clearly state your wishes and use the opportunity to express your faith through your decisions. Your church can help you understand God’s Word on these issues, but you are responsible to make decisions that reflect your faith.


Clearly Caring Magazine, July/August 2005, Vol. 25. No. 4

QUESTION: For years I’ve been rather quietly pro-life, but now I am more concerned about the abuse of human life. What can I do to help make a difference?

ANSWER: You are not alone in your feelings. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Volunteer at a local pregnancy counseling center. You can help in a variety of ways that match your particular interests and talents.
  • Participate in the “Change for Life” program to benefit the CLR maternity ministry of New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers.
  • Become a CLR Life Witness. You serve as a liaison in your congregation to promote life and family issues.
  • Volunteer at a nursing home or hospice. Many residents are alone and need personal encouragement.
  • Share your beliefs in daily conversations. Be confident in discussing your Christian values when talking about life issues.
  • Help a single mom or a caregiver. Your support of those who demonstrate a caring attitude gives a strong message about the value of human life.
  • Write letters. Your local newspaper as well as your state and federal legislators appreciate hearing from the community.
  • Promote a Life Observance Sunday at your church. This gives the opportunity to address life issues in the light of God’s Word.

For more ideas, check out our “Take Action” section by clicking here.


Clearly Caring Magazine, July/August 2005, Vol. 25, No. 4

Life Witness Website
http://www.lifewitness.com

 

Question: Many recent medical discoveries lead me to wonder if they are acceptable for Christians. Where do we draw the line in use of discovered technologies to enhance human life?

Answer: Many medical discoveries are ethically acceptable, but discoveries that violate Gods authority over life and death (1 Samuel 2:6) are not acceptable. Technology is rightly used when it helps us preserve and protect human life (Genesis 9:5-6, Luke 10). Your question specifically asks about enhancing life, and that becomes a more complicated issue. Enhancements such as pain relief are a very acceptable application of technology. Other enhancements might provide a more enjoyable or productive life, but must be weighed within the overall blessings that God has provided to you. To help guide your decision, consider these questions:

  • Does this technology acknowledge Gods authority over life and death?
  • Does the use of this technology help protect or preserve human life?
  • Is this enhancement primarily meant to glorify God?
  • Do I have the earthly blessings (money, time, health, etc.) to use this technology without distracting from my first responsibilities as a Christian?

The answers to these questions should help you draw the ethical line between acceptable and unacceptable technologies.


Clearly Caring, May/June 2005, Vol. 25, No. 3

Question: I know CLR opposes embryonic stem cell research, but what if one embryo could be used to save hundreds of thousands of people?

Answer: The weight of this argument is in the numbers. This hypothetical argument states that only one life is sacrificed to save many others. The truth is that thousands, and perhaps millions, of embryos are needed to conduct the research, yet no successes are documented in treating humans with embryonic stem cells.

CLR is primarily opposed to embryonic stem cell research because it involves the intentional destruction of human life. The weight of the evidence makes one ask why such a procedure could be supported that destroys many lives and provides no evidence of saving even one.


Clearly Caring, May/June 2005, Vol. 25, No. 3

Q: Thank you for your sincere concern, and brutally frank appraisal of the utter contempt and disdain modern society shows for God’s precious gift of life. First Terri Schiavo, next it will be the elderly who are exhibitng senility or Alzheimer’s symptoms?

A: What you are describing is what has long been called the “slippery slope” of medical ethics. Giving a little ground here and there begins a landslide of abuse. As Scripture talks about the growing nature of sin (James 1:14-15) from thought into action, so also do we see sinful actions begetting more alarming sinful actions. It is a slippery slope. … Click here for complete answer


Q: What is the church’s position on Living Wills? If I am ever injured, sick, or hurt without any hope of recovery, I don’t want to be kept alive by artificial means. Is a statement like this within the scope of Lutheran doctrine? Is it OK to create such a will?.

A: Living Wills were originally created by the “Society for the Right to Die” a number of years ago and generally have a strong predisposition toward death rather than toward life. While “Living Wills” have been around for a while and were distributed generously at one time, most medical professionals have been critical of them for being so vague and general in their instructions. States are now promoting medical directive statements which designate a health care agent or surrogate … Click here for complete answer


Q: With the Schiavo case bringing attention to end of life health care directives, a close relative (WELS) decided to get in writing what was wished for her end of life care. I was named a health care agent because she trusts me, as the document states, to “implement his/her health care wishes even if you disagree with those decisions.” Well, in looking over the choices, I see that the choice regarding tube feeding that says, “Yes, my Health Care Agent has authority to have a feeding tube and IV hydration withheld or withdrawn from me subject to any limits I have set forth in this document,” was checked, with no limits indicated. I could not in good conscience, based on what I’ve read on the WELS website and elsewhere, do as she directed.

A: Your predicament is not uncommon. Many people have politely agreed to serve as health care agents only to later discover that they seriously disagree with some of the wishes presented in the document. You took the appropriate action in asking … Click here for complete answer


Q: I must admit that I was absolutely AMAZED that a physician who identified himself as both “a lifelong WELS member” and an “elder in my local congregation” could write in saying he didn’t believe it was sinful to remove the feeding tube that provided food and fluids to Terri Schiavo–not heroics–but simple nourishment, to sustain her life. Suddenly I no longer feel safe myself, knowing that if I ever ended up in a similar state, even a WELS doctor might consider my life worthy of death (nothing short of murder). How can he give credence to the false language of “vegetative” to describe a human being created in the likeness of his/her Creator?!

A: The dialog that is possible through a Q & A forum such as this is valuable for providing a candid look at broad spectrum of issues. In the process erroneous ideas may arise now and then. Such is the nature of working with sinful people. None of us is perfect. It is troubling to be reminded that there is not … Click here for complete answer


Q: The Christian community looks for shortcut ways to solve the social ills of our society. While we desperately needs laws to protect the disabled, the dying, and the unborn, we more greatly need changed hearts that makes harming others instinctively offensive. We need hearts that beat to the mantra of “thy will be done” in its obedience to God. If I might restate what I think you are saying, it sounds as though your point is that it is more important to change hearts than to change laws.

A: It would be an error to focus on changed hearts but to then neglect the Christian living that should follow. It is not … Click here for complete answer


Q: Who murdered Terri Schiavo? Was it her husband? Was it the court systems? Was it the guards and security who were merely “following orders”? Was it the Governor of the State of Florida or the President of the United States, … or does the responsibility go to every citizen of the U.S.A., as ours is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”? Should the country as a whole repent?

A: The case of Terri Schiavo is full of heartache and disappointment. There are obviously sins of commission on behalf of all who acted to end Terri’s life. If Terri truly wished … Click here for complete answer


Q: I was just wondering what it says in the Bible about a person who has been on life support for many years and her/his partner wants to take them off and the parents do not.

A: A review of this WELSNET Q & A section on the case of Terri Schiavo will provide the necessary references for the biblical position on caring for Terri as it relates to taking action to cause her death. This question addresses the sticky subject of who had the Scriptural right to make decisions for Terri. Terri’s predicament was not just a physical tragedy but a tragedy of … Click here for complete answer


Q: I am a physician, lifelong WELS member, and elder in my local congregation. Although I am not privy to all the info about Terri, I do believe she was in a persistent vegetative state and I do not believe it was sinful to remove her feeding tube. I get the sense from the WELS Q and A staff that there really is no situation where treatment can be removed or withheld. I am completely against all forms of euthanasia. However, I believe there are a number of situations where treatment is futile, and in some cases, absurd.

A: There have been questions as to the appropriateness and value of a diagnosis that a patient is in a “persistent vegetative state (PVS).” See a related article on this matter at … Click here for complete answer


Q: Will we start ending people’s time of grace simply because they don’t measure up to societal standards?
A:
 What you are describing is what has long been called the “slippery slope” of medical ethics. Giving a little ground here and there begins a landslide of abuse. As Scripture talks about the growing nature of sin (James 1:14-15) from thought into action, so also do we see sinful actions begetting more alarming sinful actions. It is a slippery slope. … Click here for complete answer


Q: With all the news about Terri Schiavo, I have been thinking about writing a living will. Can you help?
A:
 In 1981 the medical community adopted a Uniform Determination of Death. It continues to serve quite well. It describes being dead as … Click here for complete answer


Q: Does WELS believe that administering food and hydration belong in the realm of ordinary care?
A:
 WELS has made only one “official” statement on a social issue and that was on abortion in 1979. The WELS has never made an “official” statement on individual cases. That does not mean, however, that WELS is silent on these issues. It is the practice … Click here for complete answer


Q: I read your recent Q and A on the Terry Schiavo case. I think that you are missing the point. People who are in a persistent vegetative state, as Schiavo is, would have died natural deaths a long time ago if it was not for the ability of modern medicine to keep almost anyone alive indefinitely through artificial means.
A:
 Your observations concerning Schiavo and the information relating to her condition are not completely accurate and represent much of the misinformation being disseminated by the media and those advocating her death. Despite the fact that … Click here for complete answer


Q: As Christians who are citizens of the U.S.A., what courses of action might you recommend to protest the murder of Terri, and have our voices actually heard?
A:
 The case of Terri Schiavo spotlights a serious moral decline in our country and in our people. The mantra of individual rights has evolved … Click here for complete answer


Q: My question is, what happens if my brother is advised by his pastor that it would allright to take himself off of life support?
A:
 As you might imagine, it is very difficult to talk about specific treatment and care options in a Q & A forum. There are too many presumptions that have to be made without knowing all of the facts. At best, we can offer some general guidelines. Within the … Click here for complete answer


Q: Which one as a Lutheran do we practice: sanctity of life or quality of life? Where do we draw the line on feeding tubes and ventilators?
A:
 Scripture teaches us that life has what is called an intrinsic or inherent value. That definition would be: “Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing. Inherent is perhaps the more comfortable term because life extracts its value from the outside, namely from the Creator and Redeemer. When we talk about … Click here for complete answer


Q: Is it illegal to keep a patient considered brain dead by particular criteria on life support?
A:
 This is a question you have to ask a lawyer in the state in which you reside. There isn’t any biblical answer to this question. Criteria are set by … Click here for complete answer


Q: A question was raised concerning the limits of pain God will permit a person to endure.
A:
 I believe the passage you have in mind is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” This passage is speaking of … Click here for complete answer


Q: How do you know when it is okay to stop prolonging suffering? When is it okay to stop the machines that keep them breathing, or the feeding tubes that keep them alive? Are there any passages in the Bible that talk about this?
A:
 When dealing with care at the end of life it is helpful to distinguish between preserving life and postponing death. Preserving life means to “provide the comfort, care, and sustenance needed to sustain life, regardless of the quality of life.” Postponing death is … Click here for complete answer


Q: My husband and I are in the process of making living wills and want to be sure that the way we have them made out is pleasing to God.
A:
 So much depends upon terminology today. So much of what you write about is in legal flux today. Recent well-publicized court cases have brought the issues to … Click here for complete answer


Q: I was told WELS has a sample health living will and power of attorney to assist their members in writing their advance health directives. Who do I contact to get this information.
A:
 You can find the documents you are looking for online at the web site for Christian Life Resources … Click here for complete answer


Q: Is euthanasia whether ‘active’ or ‘passive’ in general wrong? Should the most expensive methods be used to try to prevent that a person dies?
A:
 Euthanasia, actively or passively, has as its prime intent to terminate life. Doing such usurps the authority of God (Deuteronomy 31:39) and violates his strict directive not to take life … Click here for complete answer

QUESTION: If frozen embryos are going to be destroyed anyway, isn’t it better to donate them to science so some good can come from their destruction?

ANSWER: An “end justifies the means” philosophy is not consistent with the principles of Scripture. God’s Word teaches that life is already present at conception (Psalm 51:5), therefore these frozen embryos are human beings in a very early stage of life. The fact that some of them are not going to survive to birth and beyond does not give us license to intentionally destroy them, even for the “benefit” of science.

There are two considerations when dealing with this question. The first is that there are organizations (such as snowflakes.org) that arrange for these frozen embryos to be adopted by infertile couples who have not been able to adopt through other channels. The second is that a supply of embryonic stem cells already exists which is available for researchers seeking benefits for mankind.

The embryos that were “created” in these clinics were meant to bring children into the lives of infertile couples. Rather than willingly destroying these young lives, even in the name of science, a more positive and godly response is to allow them the opportunity to continue their lives within a loving family.


Clearly Caring Magazine, March/April 2005

Question: What is terminal sedation? Is it the same as physician-assisted suicide?

Answer: Physician-assisted suicide is defined as a physicians act that is meant to intentionally end the life of a patient. Terminal sedation is practiced when a patient is drugged into unconsciousness and kept that way until death.

Although physician-assisted suicide is illegal in most parts of the world, terminal sedation is quietly allowed in most medical institutions. There seems to be an attitude that terminal sedation is acceptable because the practice does not immediately kill the patient, as is done with physician-assisted suicide. Terminal sedation allows the patient to die more naturally and gradually. Supporters of terminal sedation also note that death is accomplished with the use of legal pain medications that are simply given in larger doses.

In applying this issue with the Christian ethic, there are two considerations. Scripture teaches us that God alone has the authority over life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39). We also know that our responsibility is to proved care as we preserve and protect human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Luke 10). Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and terminal sedation are all meant to end a life prematurely, usually for the purpose of alleviating suffering. When these acts assume authority over life and death, they go beyond the responsibility God grants to man. The second issue deals with the provision of comfort and care for others. When a loved one is suffering, he or she needs to be kept as comfortable as possible. That means medication can rightly be administered for the purpose of relieving pain.

In conclusion, the use of pain medication is acceptable when the purpose is to alleviate pain and to keep the patient relatively comfortable. Once the intent goes beyond the suppression of pain and becomes an intentional termination of human life, then it is an act that presumes an authority over life and death that God does not give to mankind.

QUESTION: My mother has multiple sclerosis and has been given only a few years to live. Our family is concerned about Mom spending the last few years of her life suffering. What can we do?

ANSWER: The fear of pain affects many decisions in life. As a loving family, you certainly want to protect your mother from pain, and there is nothing wrong with keeping a loved one comfortable. Medical science has developed and refined pain medication to the point that patients should never have to unduly suffer. If your mother’s doctors are not able to control her pain at any point in her illness, seek another doctor or a pain specialist.

Also realize there are various kinds of pain that your mother could suffer. Physical pain is an obvious concern, but you also need to be aware of spiritual and emotional pain. I encourage you to spend time with your mother on a regular basis throughout her last years. Share God’s Word with her, even if you get to the point when she can’t give a response. Pray with her, sing songs to her, and read devotions to her. Physical pain can be controlled with medication, but loved ones need to provide for her spiritual needs as well.

You are wise in considering this issue now rather than waiting until the later stages of her illness. Make a plan and share it with your mother. Talk openly about the illness, its effects, and the challenges that are going to confront all of you. Addressing the situation up-front will not be easy, but it will help prepare all of you for her last days here on earth and prepare her for her pain-free eternity in heaven.

Question: I have followed the legislative and judicial process surrounding the Partial-Birth Abortion ban. Everyone says this is a horrific procedure, yet banning it hasn’t become law yet. What is causing the delay?

Answer: You are right that it is a horrific procedure, but not everyone agrees with that fact. There are still people who feel the rights of the mother are always more important than the life of the baby.

The delay in the court system is currently due to a clause that refers to the “health of the mother.” Ever since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions [Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton], abortion has been legal for any reason and at any time in a woman’s pregnancy. The “health exception” states that a woman can justify her abortion for her own health reasons, including mental health. Since partial-birth abortions are not done to preserve the life of a mother, and in most cases the procedure creates great risk to the mother’s health, the bill does not include the misleading “health” clause. The courts’ rulings so far have cited the need for a health exception in the law and concluded that, without the exception, the law is unconstitutional. Until the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a health exception is not required in every abortion-related legislation, it is doubtful that a lower court will rule otherwise. This case is most certainly headed for the U.S. Supreme Court in this next session.


CLR UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled April 18, 2007 to uphold the partial-birth ban with no health exception. The decision emphasized the value of unborn life. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing for the court, said the government may use its regulatory power “to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.”



 

Medical Illustrations of Partial-Birth Abortion
http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/diagram.html

QUESTION: Do you really consider “pulling the plug” to be euthanasia?

ANSWER: Deuteronomy 32:39 tells us that God alone has the right to begin or end life. Exodus 20:13 and Genesis 9:5-6 command that we preserve and protect human life. We do not have the right to terminate life prematurely. Conversely, we do not have the responsibility to prolong the dying process either. Out of faith, we care for loved ones who are sick, and we accept death when God calls them from this world.

Applying this to your question, “pulling the plug” is euthanasia if it is done to terminate a life in a person’s time frame rather than God’s. Withholding or withdrawing treatment or care is acceptable when that decision is made with full acceptance of God’s authority over life. In general, there are three examples when care could rightfully be withheld or withdrawn. They are: (1) the treatment is futile; (2) death is imminent; or (3) the treatment has accomplished its purpose.

The decision to “pull the plug’ is not an easy one, because it is filled with many emotions and struggles. The withholding or withdrawal of treatment must be done with the right motive and in situations where it does not lead to the direct termination of human life.

QUESTION: Do you provide any help or support for women who have had abortions?

ANSWER: Proverbs 31:8 tells us, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” so we defend the lives of the pre-born who are targeted by elements of our society. Yet we also care about the men and women who struggle with an unwanted pregnancy and those who made the decision to abort their baby.

It is clear that millions of women have had abortions and are dealing with the effects of their decision. We truly care for the mothers, and fathers, of those aborted babies. We also know that true healing is found in the Gospel. For these reasons, Christian Life Resources developed materials to help women and men through the healing process. Our Scripturally-based, post-abortion materials confront the sin of abortion, deal with the feelings of anger and guilt, and provide the comfort of the love of Christ.

Many of our resources are available free online on this website, and others are sold through our online CLR Store. Of special interest is our post-abortion Bible study, Free to Flourish.


 

Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources


QUESTION: Do you really consider “pulling the plug” to be euthanasia?

ANSWER: Deuteronomy 32:39 tells us that God alone has the right to begin or end life. Exodus 20:13 and Genesis 9:5-6 command that we preserve and protect human life. We do not have the right to terminate life prematurely. Conversely, we do not have the responsibility to prolong the dying process either. Out of faith, we care for loved ones who are sick, and we accept death when God calls them from this world.

Applying this to your question, “pulling the plug” is euthanasia if it is done to terminate a life in a person’s time frame rather than God’s. Withholding or withdrawing treatment or care is acceptable when that decision is made with full acceptance of God’s authority over life. In general, there are three examples when care could rightfully be withheld or withdrawn. They are: (1) the treatment is futile; (2) death is imminent; or (3) the treatment has accomplished its purpose.

The decision to “pull the plug’ is not an easy one, because it is filled with many emotions and struggles. The withholding or withdrawal of treatment must be done with the right motive and in situations where it does not lead to the direct termination of human life.

QUESTION: A friend of mine just had a miscarriage. She seems okay on the outside, but I know she is hurting. What can I do to help her?

ANSWER: Miscarriage is often overlooked as a painful event. You are very considerate and observant to recognize the loss and pain your friend is experiencing. The best thing you can do is show your concern for her by giving your time and attention. Don’t pressure her, but allow her the comfort level to talk about her pain. Be a good listener. Acknowledge the life that was lost. You will not be able to remove her pain, but you can help her through the grieving process.

NOTE: CLR has a number of brochures available dealing with the pain of miscarriage. Go to the CLR Store to obtain these materials.

Question: Is there any hope of overturning Roe v. Wade?

Answer: Roe v. Wade was the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion across the nation. Many feel we are nearing the necessary majority margin on the Supreme Court to reverse that decision. If that were to happen it would, once again, become a “states rights” issues – meaning that all 50 states and the U.S. territories would decide for themselves whether abortion should be legal in their states and, if so, to what degree. In other words, overturning Roe v. Wade does not abolish abortion. It simply turns the single national debate into 50-state debates.

The battle to protect unborn children is not a political or legislative one but a spiritual one. It is the spiritual instruction of a nation, person by person, in the supremacy of God. His authorship over life and the responsibility of all of us to protect and care for all lives. It is important to remember that outlawing abortion even in all 50 states, without changing heart is a hollow victory. Our prime concern is for the souls of mothers and their children in the abortion issue. A desire to abort is also sinful. It is the sinful actions and desires of people that can only be addressed by the clear proclamation of God full counsel fo Law and Gospel, Judgment and Deliverance in Jesus Christ. So, we strive for the political and legislative victories, but our work hardly stops there.

QUESTION: What do you say to the person who says that abortion on demand reduces child abuse?

ANSWER: In response to pro-choice advocates, we can with Biblical conviction say to those who feel abortion on demand reduces child abuse: How very wrong they are, for abortion is the deadliest form of child abuse! It is inexcusable violence against innocent, helpless infants and is the Big American Holocaust right here – even here in our midst.

Moreover, statistics demonstrate that abortion has not reduced child abuse among children after birth.

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, child abuse has risen dramatically in the United States. A case can be made that easy abortions promote a mind-set throughout the country which fosters child abuse. Mass abortions cheapen the dignity of human life. They encourage people to take the easy way out. If it’s OK to murder the unborn child, what’s so bad about a little physical or verbal abuse if it helps the parent relieve his tensions or seems to control the child more effectively?

One study revealed that of 674 battered children, 91 percent were planned pregnancies and 90 percent were legitimate births. Apparently, even according to human reason, abortions would prevent child abuse in only nine percent of the cases.

What is needed is more Bible reading, spiritual counseling and the support of caring Christians – not more abortions.


Appleton WI’s Beginnings, August 1988, Vol. 8, No. 2

Rev. Paul E. Kelm


QUESTION: It seems that an increasing number of our young people see nothing wrong with suicide. What can we tell them?

ANSWER: We can tell them the truth. Suicide is murder; “and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him” (1 John 3:15). Suicide is the defiant denial of not only the Fifth Commandment, but of the First as well. It is the refusal to trust God’s providential wisdom and love, to acknowledge that He is the Lord of life. Worse, it is terminal rejection of God which allows the Holy Spirit no opportunity to lead the sinner to repentance. Scripture places Judas in hell to warn all who would contemplate suicide as an option amid problems. While we can hope that those whose suicide was an unwitting act of severe mental illness will yet experience God’s grace, the calculated suicide of people who’ve bought the irrational philosophy of pop culture must be judged what it is – self-inflicted damnation.

We can tell young people more than the truth of God’s law, however. A weak faith in desperate straits needs to hear the truth of God’s love. Forgiveness, not suicide, is the solution to guilt; and that forgiveness has already been earned and spoken. Creation and redemption are God’s answer of priceless worth to people who feel worthless (Psalm 139; Isaiah 43). The Christian mission of discipleship and disciple-making as an indispensable member of the body of Christ counters the argument that one’s life has no purpose or meaning. The presence, power and promise of God address the despair of humanly insurmountable problems.

The “peace of God that surpasses understanding,” the joy in Christ that transcends circumstance, the everlasting glory that makes temporal affliction bearable – these are gospel truths that inspire faith.

We can do more than tell young people the truth. We can model it. We can listen and love. We can share our own experience of God’s promises kept when there was no light but Jesus at the end of the tunnel. We can be and do what they need.

Youth has always been a difficult time for appropriating and employing the will and promises of God. Today’s culture has only made this transitional period of life more difficult. God help us to level with young people and love them through their crises!


Northwestern Lutheran, Reprinted with permission

Question: I am glad to see our federal government finally taking steps to eliminate partial-birth abortions, but now I hear about concerns regarding the “health exception” of the law. What does that mean?

Answer: It seems that everyone knows about the court case, Roe v. Wade, that legalized abortion in this country. Few people know about the companion case that was also decided on January 22, 1973, called Doe v. Bolton. The Doe case dictated that abortions could be performed to protect the life or health of the mother. Although this sounds reasonable, the term “health” was defined as virtually any health problem, including mental health. This translated into abortion on demand with essentially no limits.

Over the years, pro-lifers have exposed this “health exception” and how it misleads the general public. The truth is that a partial-birth abortion is never done to protect the physical health of the mother. In fact, most doctors agree that the procedure is actually more dangerous for the mother than a live birth.

The bottom line is that the “health exception” issue is really a smokescreen to keep abortion fully legal with no limits. Those with full awareness and more common sense realize this procedure, called partial-birth abortion, is truly among the most violent of all abortion procedures and should no longer be legal in this country..


CLR UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled April 18, 2007, to uphold the partial-birth ban with no health exception. The decision emphasized the value of unborn life. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing for the court, said the government may use its regulatory power “to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.”



Clearly Caring, January/February 2004, Vol. 24, No. 1

Background:

The U.S. Senate took up the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) the week of July 12, 2004. The U.S. Senate voted on July 14, 2004 to kill the amendment by a 48-50 procedural vote which halted debate. Another attempt has been launched on Capitol Hill to protect traditional marriage. The proposed legislation, offered by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., defines marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman and overrides any contrary state and local laws or rulings, meaning the definition can only be handled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1. What is the FMA?

The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) was a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

2. What does the FMA do?

The amendment would have provided a clear and unified definition of marriage, which could not be changed by individual states. It would also have required marital benefits be provided only to those couples who legally meet the definition of marriage.

The FMA would not overturn State laws that have granted specific rights for civil unions or domestic partnerships. Individual states retain the authority to grant certain benefits or privileges in those situations.

3. Why is FMA needed?

There is current disagreement throughout the country as to a clear definition of marriage, but there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Throughout the past decade, 38 states and the federal government have passed laws that protect traditional marriage. These laws, called Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs), were created through the established and appropriate legislative process. This means over three-fourths of our states and our federal government have spoken through their representatives and stated their belief about the definition of marriage. Yet, just one federal judge could overturn all these laws with one case. This could be done, because legally, states must recognize licenses or contracts from other states. So, if one state legalizes gay marriage, then by law, it is possible that all the other states would be required to accept gay marriage in their states too. FMA would limit liberal justices from creating such a situation.

4. If marriage and its related rights and limits has always been an issue for individual states, why is it necessary to now have a federal amendment?

It is true that states have always set and maintained their own regulations over marriage such as the age of consent or requirements for licensing. No state, however, has ever changed the definition of marriage to be anything other than the union of one man and one woman. FMA would have ensured states still have authority over laws and regulations of marriage, but not the definition of marriage.

5. Wouldn’t FMA attempt to create a unity regarding a definition of marriage that just is not realistic?

It is true that Americans are not 100% united on this issue. In fact few issues, if any, are supported by 100% of U.S. citizens. Our government is run by majority rule. In most cases, a simple majority of 50% is required for action or change, but in certain situations, a larger, two-thirds majority is required. In the debate over the definition of marriage, the majority who support a traditional definition is even greater than two-thirds. As stated previously 38 states (76%) have passed DOMAs, and recent polls have shown that over 70 percent of Americans are in favor of a traditional definition of marriage. Even traditionally liberal states such as Hawaii and California have defeated same-sex marriage bills. FMA would not have created a unity of thought on this issue, but it would have clarified the definition, and it would have been in accord with the strong majority of Americans.

6. So what is the real issue?

Gay-rights activists have fought long and hard for their “right” to marry. Civil unions are acceptable in this country, but they don’t grant the same level of acceptance in society as marriage. The FMA would have set them back in their battle for full recognition and acceptance of their life style. In their opinion, defeating the FMA is a major step forward in a full legalization of gay marriage, and all related rights and benefits, in the United States.

Those who are in favor of FMA feel that marriage always has been, and always should be, defined as a union of one man and one woman. Whether they support or reject the gay lifestyle, they feel that homosexual unions do not deserve special rights or recognition that has been reserved for married couples. They also fear the voice of a small minority will determine the law of the land rather than the votes of an overwhelming majority.

7. What does God’s Word have to say about this?

Many passages in Scripture deal with marriage and a number also deal with homosexuality. Here are just a few examples:

Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Romans 1:26-27 – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committee indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – “It is God’s will that you should be holy; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”


 

Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link
http://www.family.org/cforum/extras/a0032482.cfm
American Family Association
http://www.afa.net

QUESTION: What is the God-pleasing attitude I should have as I approach the final days of my life or that of a loved one?

ANSWER: You have asked the right question when you ask about attitude. Even though God reveals his will in many specific ways in his Law, he also emphasizes the attitude in the heart. Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Similarly the writer to the Hebrews told his readers, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

St. Paul reveals what the attitude will be in the heart of a Christian as he lives his life, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:32) Everything we do in life from the greatest endeavors to the smallest daily activities are to have as their purpose the glory of the God who has created and redeemed us. “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (I Corinthians 19-20), St. Paul reminds his people. Christ lived, died and rose again that you might belong to him for time and eternity. Show to whom you belong by the way you live.

Does this mean that we can do anything we want to as long as we claim that we are attempting to glorify God? Certainly not! The Psalmist prays, “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. (Psalm 119:33-34) We glorify God by doing his will. The only way to know that will is to study what God has revealed to us in his Word. Our approach to Christian obedience is clear then. We seek to glorify and praise our Savior God according to the commands he has revealed in his Word.

Sometimes, however, God does not speak directly to all situations. For instance in different circumstances at the end of life he does not indicate whether we should be striving to preserve our lives or preparing for our deaths. Both are part of God’s revealed will, but a Christian is going to have to study both principles and apply them as best he can to the glory of God. No matter what specific action a Christian takes at the end of his life or the life of someone for whom he is responsible, his attitude should always be, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)

QUESTION: What are the God-given principles that should guide a Christian in end-of-life decisions?

ANSWER: Although there may be many factors involved in these complex situations, there are chiefly two principles that must always be kept in mind. They are hinted at already in the answer to Question #1.

The first principle is that human life is a sacred gift of God. Only God can create it, “he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25) He protects it, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6), and he devotes one of his commandments to that protection, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God has redeemed all human life, “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) All human life, no matter what its condition or situation, whether it belongs to the newly conceived fetus in its mother’s womb, or to the severely impaired (mentally or physically), or to the person nearing the end of life, is a gracious life of God. We are to preserve it and care for it as best we can. Only God can begin human life, and only he has the right to take it away as he claims in His Word, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life.” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

The second principle is that God does put his right to end life into practice. He does call his people home. Moses proclaims, “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’ ” (Psalm 90:3). To fight against the time God has determined as the end of your life would be to fight against his will. Jesus warns, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)

There are other principles that also come into consideration in end-of-life situations. The principle of stewardship is one example. Although we are not going to put a price on human life, saying that if it costs a certain amount to preserve it, the price is too high. But we will recognize that God has given us a certain amount of financial resources and specific responsibilities to meet with those resources. The amount of those resources will sometimes influence the end-of-life decisions we make. We must remember, however, that decisions made out of greed are not decisions that glorify God.

QUESTION: How do I know which principle applies in any given situation?

ANSWER: The Christian always has the Psalmist’s confession on his lips, “my times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) This is a statement of his acceptance of the two principles mentioned in Question #2. He then studies the situation and asks the question, “What is the Lord doing here? Is my condition or that of the person for whom I am responsible terminal, i.e. it will cause my death at some future time? If the condition is terminal, is death imminent, i.e. death with come in a short time, several days at most, no matter what treatment or care is given?” Of course, the advise of doctors and other medical personnel, pastors, family members, friends and other trusted people will be sought to help make these determinations.

Knowing that no decisions we make are ever pure, all are tainted with selfishness and ignorance, the Christian will pray with the Psalmist, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” (Psalm 19:12,13) With such an attitude, seeking to be free of sins corrupting effects and focused on glorifying the Lord of life, the child of God may proceed with his decision-making.

We should recognize that we will not all make the same decisions in what may appear to be similar circumstances. In chapter 14 of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans he advised the Jews in the congregation to continue refraining from eating meat sold in the marketplaces of the heathen because they were glorifying God by not eating what had been dedicated to idols. To the Gentiles, however, he said that they could continue eating such meat as long as they did not offend their Jewish brothers because they were glorifying the only God who gave them all their food, even that from the meat shops of idol-worshipers. He summarized his teaching by saying, “He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6) To put Paul’s words into the context of our discussion we could say of the Christian who wishes to glorify God according to the principles revealed in his Word, “He who continues medical treatment does so to the Lord who has entrusted him with the sacred gift of life, and he who refuses medical treatment does so to the Lord who is calling him out of this life to himself in heaven.” Or to again turn to St. Paul’s words, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. (Romans 14:8)

QUESTION: What if I make the wrong decision?

ANSWER: As you can see from the discussion above, there really is no wrong decision that a Christian can make. He can make a decision for the wrong reason, for some sinful consideration, but when he seeks to glorify God according to God’s revealed truth, no decision will be wrong.

Several points should be noted, however. A Christian should not act against his own conscience. Such an action would not glorify God because the person thinks he might be breaking God’s Law. If a person thinks that he is killing what God wants preserved, he should not refuse medical treatment. If a person thinks that he is trying to lengthen what God wants ended, he should refuse to have treatment continued. St. Paul warns, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

We also ought to look at the Psalmist’s words again, “My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) These are more than a guide to direct the Christian’s actions. They also are a confession of confidence that the Lord’s will is going to be done. God does not lose control because we make one decision or another to glorify him. We will die only when our Lord sees fit to call us home, no sooner and no later. Remember Jesus’ comforting words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

QUESTION: Must my life be unnecessarily extended by medical treatment?

ANSWER: The answer to this question must first of all include another question, “Why are we asking this?” If by the words “unnecessarily extended” we mean fighting against the inevitable, putting off death for a few hours or days by surgery or extraordinary techniques and equipment, then the answer must be “No!” However, if by these words we are asking why we cannot hurry up the dying process when we are sure to die anyway, then the answer must be “yes” because we are not extending, but maintaining. Our treatments are not unnecessary, but modern gifts of God to continue our lives.

The prayer of every Christian, no doubt, is that when the time comes, the Lord would grant him a swift death. We all would like to die suddenly in our sleep with little pain and no lingering illness. But God has not promised this to us. He may give us a period of suffering before dying. St. Paul says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Physical suffering before death may be among these hardships.

There are several reasons why God might will such suffering. One group of reasons benefit us. Suffering produces patience, a quiet waiting on the Lord to carry out his will in his time. St. Paul didn’t pray for a life of suffering, but if it came, he rejoiced in it because he knew how he would benefit spiritually. He says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3) Furthermore, a slow journey toward death gives us more of a chance to prepare. Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) When death comes quickly, it is not so easy to number our days and prepare for the end. Another group of reasons allows us time to be of service to our neighbor. The way we die or the way our fellow Christians care for us when we die can serve as a strong witness of our faith to those around us. Think of the Roman soldier at the foot of Jesus’ cross. When he saw Jesus die, he exclaimed, “Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47) The man may have come to faith as a result of what he saw. We also may have the opportunity to pray for others. Jesus was very busy and heavily burdened in the final hours of his earthly life, but he still had time to assure his disciple Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31)

Finally, if we have a time of suffering or lingering before dying, God may be giving other Christians an opportunity to perform works of faith as they care for us. Faith needs to be exercised. Love wants a chance to work. The Lord has placed a spiritual life in our hearts and he provides times for that life to go into action. St. Paul tells us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Supplying our needs may be the works that God has prepared in advance for others to do.

QUESTION: Is death ever a better option for a Christian than continued living?

ANSWER: A Christian thinking of the eternal life he has in Christ might answer, “Yes.” But notice that the question does not speak of life, but death. Death is an unnatural end to life. It is present in our world because of sin. St. Paul says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) For those people who die in their sins without faith in Christ there are only the words of Christ on Judgment Day, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This is hardly a better option than life on earth no matter how hard it may be.

A Christian is not afraid to die because the risen Christ has conquered death. Now death is not easier to take, it is vanquished! Jesus assured his friend Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) The Christian’s death is a celebration of life. For that reason he will never hasten the end of this life to enter the next. The time for that is in the Lord’s hands.

QUESTION: What medical treatment may I in good conscience refuse?

ANSWER: We should never refuse any medical treatment for the purpose of hastening our death. The time of death is God’s to choose. Under most circumstances we should not refuse treatment for conditions easily and commonly treated like pneumonia, which if left untreated may kill us, for the purpose of hastening our death from a terminal condition like some forms of cancer. We also should not refuse food and water even when given artificially if the purpose is to hasten our death by malnutrition or dehydration so that we do not have to die naturally of some other condition over a period of months or even years.

Major surgery or other costly medical treatment of our modern age whose only purpose is to extend what God will take away very soon may in good conscience be refused. Limited resources may not make these treatments possible, and the knowledge that our times are in God’s hands does not make them necessary.

QUESTION: Are living wills of any benefit to a Christian?

ANSWER: Please understand that living wills are the creation of the American Euthanasia Society, now called the Society for the Right to Die. Their original purpose was not to give people the right to refuse treatment, a right they have always had, but to give them the right to decide to die when they saw fit, in other words, to commit suicide. These documents adopted by the legislatures of individual states focus on the right to die that may include the purposeful hastening of death by refusing even food and water. For such a purpose a Christian cannot use a living will.

Although living wills can be used by Christians to declare the limits to which medical treatment should be used in cases of imminent death, a far more useful document for confessing Christians is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – Christian Version, prepared by Christian Life Resources. Such a document weaves the Christian’s viewpoint into a document that indicates a person’s wishes at the end of his or her life that is pleasing to God. A copy of your state’s version can be downloaded from this website at no cost! Or you can place an order at the CLR Store. See the web page for current costs.

CONCLUSION: Our times are in the hands of our gracious Lord. He will care for us in every condition for our eternal good. But let the way we care for our lives and those of others be a strong witness to a world sinking into unbelief and wickedness that human life is a precious gift of God that he gives and takes. May our words and actions proclaim as patient Job once did, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

QUESTION: What is the God-pleasing attitude I should have as I approach the final days of my life or that of a loved one?

ANSWER: You have asked the right question when you ask about attitude. Even though God reveals his will in many specific ways in his Law, he also emphasizes the attitude in the heart. Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Similarly the writer to the Hebrews told his readers, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

St. Paul reveals what the attitude will be in the heart of a Christian as he lives his life, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:32) Everything we do in life from the greatest endeavors to the smallest daily activities are to have as their purpose the glory of the God who has created and redeemed us. “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Corinthians 19-20) St. Paul reminds his people. Christ lived, died and rose again that you might belong to him for time and eternity. Show to whom you belong by the way you live.

Does this mean that we can do anything we want to as long as we claim that we are attempting to glorify God? Certainly not! The Psalmist prays, “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. (Psalm 119:33-34) We glorify God by doing his will. The only way to know that will is to study what God has revealed to us in his Word. Our approach to Christian obedience is clear then. We seek to glorify and praise our Savior God according to the commands he has revealed in his Word.

Sometimes, however, God does not speak directly to all situations. For instance in different circumstances at the end of life he does not indicate whether we should be striving to preserve our lives or preparing for our deaths. Both are part of God’s revealed will, but a Christian is going to have to study both principles and apply them as best he can to the glory of God. No matter what specific action a Christian takes at the end of his life or the life of someone for whom he is responsible, his attitude should always be, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)

QUESTION: What are the God-given principles that should guide a Christian in end-of-life decisions?

ANSWER: Although there may be many factors involved in these complex situations, there are chiefly two principles that must always be kept in mind. They are hinted at already in the answer to Question #1.

The first principle is that human life is a sacred gift of God. Only God can create it, “he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25) He protects it, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” (Genesis 9:6), and he devotes one of his commandments to that protection, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) God has redeemed all human life, “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:2) All human life, no matter what its condition or situation, whether it belongs to the newly conceived fetus in its mother’s womb, or to the severely impaired (mentally or physically), or to the person nearing the end of life, is a gracious life of God. We are to preserve it and care for it as best we can. Only God can begin human life, and only he has the right to take it away as he claims in His Word, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)

The second principle is that God does put his right to end life into practice. He does call his people home. Moses proclaims, “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.'” (Psalm 90:3) To fight against the time God has determined as the end of your life would be to fight against his will. Jesus warns, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)

There are other principles that also come into consideration in end-of-life situations. The principle of stewardship is one example. Although we are not going to put a price on human life, saying that if it costs a certain amount to preserve it, the price is too high. But we will recognize that God has given us a certain amount of financial resources and specific responsibilities to meet with those resources. The amount of those resources will sometimes influence the end-of-life decisions we make. We must remember, however, that decisions made out of greed are not decisions that glorify God.

QUESTION: How do I know which principle applies in any given situation?

ANSWER: The Christian always has the Psalmist’s confession on his lips, “my times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) This is a statement of his acceptance of the two principles mentioned in Question #2. He then studies the situation and asks the question, “What is the Lord doing here? Is my condition or that of the person for whom I am responsible terminal, i.e. it will cause my death at some future time? If the condition is terminal, is death imminent, i.e. death with come in a short time, several days at most, no matter what treatment or care is given?” Of course, the advise of doctors and other medical personnel, pastors, family members, friends and other trusted people will be sought to help make these determinations.

Knowing that no decisions we make are ever pure, all are tainted with selfishness and ignorance, the Christian will pray with the Psalmist, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” (Psalm 19:12-13) With such an attitude, seeking to be free of sins corrupting effects and focused on glorifying the Lord of life, the child of God may proceed with his decision-making.

We should recognize that we will not all make the same decisions in what may appear to be similar circumstances. In chapter 14 of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans he advised the Jews in the congregation to continue refraining from eating meat sold in the marketplaces of the heathen because they were glorifying God by not eating what had been dedicated to idols. To the Gentiles, however, he said that they could continue eating such meat as long as they did not offend their Jewish brothers because they were glorifying the only God who gave them all their food, even that from the meat shops of idol-worshipers. He summarized his teaching by saying, “He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6) To put Paul’s words into the context of our discussion we could say of the Christian who wishes to glorify God according to the principles revealed in his Word, “He who continues medical treatment does so to the Lord who has entrusted him with the sacred gift of life, and he who refuses medical treatment does so to the Lord who is calling him out of this life to himself in heaven.” Or to again turn to St. Paul’s words, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. (Romans 14:8)

QUESTION: What if I make the wrong decision?

ANSWER: As you can see from the discussion above, there really is no wrong decision that a Christian can make. He can make a decision for the wrong reason, for some sinful consideration, but when he seeks to glorify God according to God’s revealed truth, no decision will be wrong.

Several points should be noted, however. A Christian should not act against his own conscience. Such an action would not glorify God because the person thinks he might be breaking God’s Law. If a person thinks that he is killing what God wants preserved, he should not refuse medical treatment. If a person thinks that he is trying to lengthen what God wants ended, he should refuse to have treatment continued. St. Paul warns, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

We also ought to look at the Psalmist’s words again, “My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) These are more than a guide to direct the Christian’s actions. They also are a confession of confidence that the Lord’s will is going to be done. God does not lose control because we make one decision or another to glorify him. We will die only when our Lord sees fit to call us home, no sooner and no later. Remember Jesus’ comforting words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

QUESTION: Must my life be unnecessarily extended by medical treatment?

ANSWER: The answer to this question must first of all include another question, “Why are we asking this?” If by the words “unnecessarily extended” we mean fighting against the inevitable, putting off death for a few hours or days by surgery or extraordinary techniques and equipment, then the answer must be “No!” However, if by these words we are asking why we cannot hurry up the dying process when we are sure to die anyway, then the answer must be “yes” because we are not extending, but maintaining. Our treatments are not unnecessary, but modern gifts of God to continue our lives.

The prayer of every Christian, no doubt, is that when the time comes, the Lord would grant him a swift death. We all would like to die suddenly in our sleep with little pain and no lingering illness. But God has not promised this to us. He may give us a period of suffering before dying. St. Paul says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Physical suffering before death may be among these hardships.

There are several reasons why God might will such suffering. One group of reasons benefit us. Suffering produces patience, a quiet waiting on the Lord to carry out his will in his time. St. Paul didn’t pray for a life of suffering, but if it came, he rejoiced in it because he knew how he would benefit spiritually. He says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3) Furthermore, a slow journey toward death gives us more of a chance to prepare. Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) When death comes quickly, it is not so easy to number our days and prepare for the end. Another group of reasons allows us time to be of service to our neighbor. The way we die or the way our fellow Christians care for us when we die can serve as a strong witness of our faith to those around us. Think of the Roman soldier at the foot of Jesus’ cross. When he saw Jesus die, he exclaimed, “Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47) The man may have come to faith as a result of what he saw. We also may have the opportunity to pray for others. Jesus was very busy and heavily burdened in the final hours of his earthly life, but he still had time to assure his disciple Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31)

Finally, if we have a time of suffering or lingering before dying, God may be giving other Christians an opportunity to perform works of faith as they care for us. Faith needs to be exercised. Love wants a chance to work. The Lord has placed a spiritual life in our hearts and he provides times for that life to go into action. St. Paul tells us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Supplying our needs may be the works that God has prepared in advance for others to do.

QUESTION: Is death ever a better option for a Christian than continued living?

ANSWER: A Christian thinking of the eternal life he has in Christ might answer, “Yes.” But notice that the question does not speak of life, but death. Death is an unnatural end to life. It is present in our world because of sin. St. Paul says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) For those people who die in their sins without faith in Christ there are only the words of Christ on Judgment Day, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) This is hardly a better option than life on earth no matter how hard it may be.

A Christian is not afraid to die because the risen Christ has conquered death. Now death is not easier to take, it is vanquished! Jesus assured his friend Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) The Christian’s death is a celebration of life. For that reason he will never hasten the end of this life to enter the next. The time for that is in the Lord’s hands.

QUESTION: What medical treatment may I in good conscience refuse?

ANSWER: We should never refuse any medical treatment for the purpose of hastening our death. The time of death is God’s to choose. Under most circumstances we should not refuse treatment for conditions easily and commonly treated like pneumonia, which if left untreated may kill us, for the purpose of hastening our death from a terminal condition like some forms of cancer. We also should not refuse food and water even when given artificially if the purpose is to hasten our death by malnutrition or dehydration so that we do not have to die naturally of some other condition over a period of months or even years.

Major surgery or other costly medical treatment of our modern age whose only purpose is to extend what God will take away very soon may in good conscience be refused. Limited resources may not make these treatments possible, and the knowledge that our times are in God’s hands does not make them necessary.

QUESTION: Are living wills of any benefit to a Christian?

ANSWER: Please understand that living wills are the creation of the American Euthanasia Society, now called the Society for the Right to Die. Their original purpose was not to give people the right to refuse treatment, a right they have always had, but to give them the right to decide to die when they saw fit, in other words, to commit suicide. These documents adopted by the legislatures of individual states focus on the right to die that may include the purposeful hastening of death by refusing even food and water. For such a purpose a Christian cannot use a living will.

Although living wills can be used by Christians to declare the limits to which medical treatment should be used in cases of imminent death, a far more useful document for confessing Christians is a Durable Power of Attorney for HealthCare – Christian Version, which is available from Christian Life Resources’ website (www.christianliferesources.com). Such a document gives a Christian the chance to declare in writing what God’s Word has taught him about his life and its care even in the face of death. It also serves as a good tool to use in making his beliefs known to his family, friends, pastor and doctor long before the need arrives to use it.

CONCLUSION: Our times are in the hands of our gracious Lord. He will care for us in every condition for our eternal good. But let the way we care for our lives and those of others be a strong witness to a world sinking into unbelief and wickedness that human life is a precious gift of God that he gives and takes. May our words and actions proclaim as patient Job once did, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

QUESTION: My little girl was killed by a drunk driver a few months ago. I have continued suffering in the agony of the loss and can’t understand this whole situation. Why did a loving God allow my innocent little girl to die?

ANSWER: The question that haunts many grieving people is “Why?” Although every individual will word it a little differently, the same issues come to the surface. Why did God allow this to happen? Why do I have to live the rest of my life with this pain? Why didn’t God protect my daughter? Why didn’t the drunk kill himself rather than my little girl? Why didn’t my daughter have the opportunity to grow up and live a full life?

Before anything else, it is critical to remember that sin is the cause of all suffering and trouble. God created humans to be perfect, thereby avoiding pain and grief. Only through sin did the world face the cruel reality of sin and its consequences. For some reason, people tend to think that God will shield us from all suffering. The false conclusion then is that if we do suffer, it must be because God does not love us.

A better approach is to avoid the “why” questions? We don’t know or understand God’s every move. We simply know that God is both loving and just. Therefore, out of faith, we need to accept these events as consequences of a sinful world. We also gain confidence that our heavenly Father always does the right thing whether we understand it or not. The book of Hebrews states that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Place your trust in Him, ask for comfort from your suffering, and move forward in your life of service to God. The devil’s interest is keeping you mired in the past and incapable of living your faith. Realize the source of your doubts and questions and put your full faith in Christ.

On a different note, seek support groups which are geared toward the kind of loss you have faced. After you have received encouragement and support, you will likely be able to also reach out and help others.

QUESTION: After reading all the news about Terri Schiavo, I am nervous about people making medical decisions for me. How can I avoid getting into a situation like Mrs. Schiavo?

ANSWER: Although Terri Schiavo’s story appeared in news headlines, many other similar cases take place that never reach the public. In other words, the need for medical directives is greater than many people realize.

To answer your question, you need to fill out a medical directive statement. The two most familiar statements are living wills and Power of Attorney for Health Care documents. These legal documents allow you to make choices regarding your health care. They are easy to complete and grant you the opportunity to communicate your health care desires in advance of a terminal illness. However, living wills are becoming increasingly obsolete.

Christian Life Resources recommends that you sign a Power of Attorney for Health Care, and we offer a Christian version by clicking here.

One strong word of advice: please talk to your family about your desires either before or after you sign a health care document. Without open discussion among your family, ugly arguments may develop regarding the level or kinds of treatment you receive. Making end-of-life decisions is difficult enough without the added burden of family disputes. Good communication, in advance of medical situations, can go a long way in eliminating these unfortunate disagreements.

Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources


QUESTION: What has become of the souls of the millions of babies that have died through miscarriage and abortion?

ANSWER: The fate of an unborn child’s soul is always in question. The reason for that is because God defines the criteria for salvation to be faith in His Son as the Savior. All Scriptural references relating to this matter speak about born children and adults. The Bible, however, is silent on the fate of an unborn child’s soul.

To fill this void some denominations talk of a pleasant type of “limbo” for the souls of miscarried and aborted children. It is not heaven, hell or purgatory but literally a pleasant “limbo.”

Other church bodies and well-meaning Christians have counseled the distressed mother who miscarried or aborted her child to now imagine seeing her child in the arms of Jesus. It is certainly a desirable thought although a search of Scripture does not back that notion as absolute fact.

Still others say that aborted children are in hell. Again, a study of Scripture does not back that statement up as undisputed fact.

The bottom line is this: Scripture is silent on the fate of an aborted or miscarried child. We do not know for certain that they are in heaven or in hell. Nor do we know for certain that they are not in heaven or in hell. Where, then, is the comfort? The comfort is letting God be God.

God reminds us to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). He also promises to work all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even sinful acts are used by God to accomplish His will. God is perfect and has done what is perfectly right for an unborn child lost through miscarriage or abortion. The compassionate side of me wants to consider the baby in heaven. My heart of faith, however, tells me that in the absence of clear testimony, the one thing I can be sure of is that God makes no mistakes and He has done what is perfectly right for that baby.

For those who have had an abortion or caused a miscarriage by something they did, they can move forward in life with the assurance that through faith they have God’s forgiveness through Christ. This knowledge, however, still finds some struggling to shed the feelings of guilt and sham over the loss of their child’s life. We attempt to alleviate our shame and guilt by grasping for any indication that the damages from our sins are minimal. It is natural for everyone to do that. I counsel you, however, to seek closure on this matter – but not from the emotional comfort or pain of knowing or imagining the fate of your unborn child. Rather, lean on what you know is certain. God forgives, and He works things out perfectly. Trust in God’s forgiveness, learn from the mistakes of the past, and proceed confidently in life that all is well because God is in charge.


Beginnings, May/June 2002

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