Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine
Vol. 6, No. 5 (35)
Robert E. Wells
Note: The following article came with a letter from Mr. Wells. While I do not agree with every point that he makes, I sometimes attempt to provoke readers both to expand their views and to get their feedback. Letters from readers that advance this discussion, as well as my own opinions, will appear in the November issue.
The horrible practice of killing unborn children in America, and across the world, has become one of the most controversial and explosive issues of our century. Not only has abortion been controversial but divisive in terms of separating the Church from the world, but more significantly, separating various segments within the Church.
It is quite understandable and expected that the traditional Church would have viewpoints which differ significantly from the world, just as Jesus, the quintessential Church, stood out as a marvel of perfection and purity against the sin-stained world into which He was born. His parables of the Kingdom continually contradicted the traditional ways of thinking and living, e.g., "the first shall be last" and "the least shall be the greatest."
The real phenomenon accompanying the issue of abortion is that it is so widely contested among Christians! There are so many varying viewpoints regarding the morality of abortion that all logical explanation is defied. How can so many Christians, supposedly guided by the same standard of right vs. wrong (the Holy Word of God) be so diverse in the application of this standard regarding abortion?
Most Christians will agree that abortion breaches our basic morality and should be opposed by the Church. However, few are willing to stand firm on the ground that, regardless of extenuating circumstances, abortion is a sin at all times and should be declared unequivocally immoral and illegal.
Many would say that abortion is wrong except for..., giving room for a variety of exclusions such as pregnancy by rape, potential birth defects, or danger to the life of the mother. Some Christians have even taken the completely opposite extreme that abortion is individually justifiable and should not be legislated against. The confusion grows!
It appears that one of the primary reasons for the confusion regarding abortion's rightness or wrongness is people's inability to determine the grounds upon which the judgment should be made. The current prevailing philosophy is that of "pro-life." This position holds that all human life is sacred and thereby has the unalienable right to continue. "Pro-life" advocates often will attempt to justify this position through the Holy Scriptures, citing its many varied references to "life," e.g., breath of life - Genesis 2:7, springs of life - Proverbs 4:23, eternal life - John 3:16, death into life - 2 Cor 3:6, walk in the newness of life - Romans 6:4, the law of the Spirit of life - Romans 8:2, and receive the crown of life - James 1:12. Another defense for this position is that in the beginning, man was created in God's image, and thus, all mankind is sacred.
The begging question with this viewpoint is this, "Is God 'pro-life?'" The answer to this question may appear to be simply, "Yes," in view of the above Scripture. However, a careful look at the whole of Scripture may cause this position to become muddled. If God is "pro-life," how could He destroy so many human beings, including His own Son? A brief look into the Old Testament reveals an almost overwhelming picture of human lives taken either as a result of God's commands to His people or through His own supernatural intervention.
A short list includes the flood - Genesis 7, Sodom and Gomorrah - Genesis 19, the first-born of Egypt - Exodus 12:29-30, Mt. Sinai - Exodus 32:1-28, Korah and his rebels - Numbers 16:28-35, grumbling Israelites - Numbers 16:41-49, Jericho - Joshua 6:15-21, Achan and others - Joshua 7:1-12, Uzzah and the Ark - II Samuel 6:7, and the house of Ahab - II Kings 10:1-30. Either we have been misled about God's "pro-life" position or we must believe that God has called us to a different standard!
The major dilemma that we face is a definition of terms. In order to justify a "pro-life" position, we must be able to define "life." Can it be defined from a purely humanistic viewpoint in terms of heartbeats, breathing, and brain waves? Or must our definition coincide with God's, who says life apart from His Spirit is no life at all. It is death!
I personally like the sound of the "pro-life" theology because in the midst of a negative and pessimistic world it sounds so positive and refreshing. However, I am far from convinced that it is a defensible Biblical position. To say that God is "pro-life" without some clear and concise qualifications on that "life" is risky and misleading.
My point is simply that we must qualify "life" or we run the risk of disqualifying the Gospel message of redemption from death through Jesus Christ into life. A close look at any of the above Scripture references to life clearly indicates a connection to the spiritual intervention of God in order to obtain this life. For example, Romans 6:4 says we walk in the newness of life because we have been baptized into Jesus Christ. In II Corinthians 3:6, we are clearly told that the Spirit gives life. Romans 8:1-2 shows us that the Spirit of Life is in reference to the benefits derived from those "who are in Christ Jesus."
If, therefore, a spiritual process is necessary for life, what then can be said about the general populace of unregenerate mankind? The Bible, of course, answers this question. They are "dead"! "For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" - Genesis 2:17. "You were dead in your trespasses and sins" - Ephesians 2:1. "He who hears my word, and believes ... has passed from death into life" - John 5:24. "For the wages of sin is death" - Romans 6:23. These references hardly sound like those of sacred individuals! Sacred, yes, in the respect that all human life exists and is set apart for God's own use and disposal as He sees fit, but not in the respect of having some basic holy intrinsic value as "pro-life" seems to claim.
This particular point is of crucial importance in this discussion. For you see, if we as Christians cannot draw a clear distinction between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), then there is no grounds for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If there is sanctity or value in all human life apart from the intervention of God Himself, then we have nothing further to offer this world past this exercise in "self-esteem" building! Our message of "a new creation" and "born again" become superfluous principles.
The Bible instructs that our message to the world is simply this: "Your heart is continually evil" (Genesis 6:5-6). "There is no good in you" (Romans 7:18). "Your heart is deceitful and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). Apart from God's sovereign intervention in your life you are dead and destined to eternal judgment and damnation. This is the only message which makes the "good news" of the Gospel truly meaningful and wondrous.
I have attempted to give clear evidence that the Bible gives no support to God is being "pro-life." If this is true, what then shall we do regarding abortion. Should we shrug our shoulders and give up the fight? As Saint Paul would say, "May it never be!" We have been called to defend and uphold the righteous standards our God has given us, and to do otherwise would be grossly irresponsible. But we must fight on His terms and His terms alone.
The only real and totally defensible argument against abortion is that it is the sin and crime of murder. The Sixth Commandment says "Thou shalt not murder." It is crucial here to note that it did not say thou shalt not kill. The Bible draws a clear distinction between killing and murder. Murder is specifically the premeditated, unjustifiable taking of human life. The Scriptures show that God has set forth certain sins known as "capital offenses" which demand the death sentence. (See Exodus 21:12-17.) In these cases the taking of an individual's life (by the designated authorities) is justified because it is God's directive. Therefore the justification for killing is determined by one standard, God's word. With this background, we conclude that taking the life of an unborn child is murder because it is unjustified by the Word of God, therefore it is sin...a sin punishable by death.
The real question now becomes, "Can we stand before the world and proclaim that the reason abortion is wrong is plain and simply because God said so?"! Time and time again, when Jesus was confronted with the lies of the enemy, His reply was always the same: "It is written...." Brothers and sisters, can we afford to adopt a different prosecution? Is this too extreme or too radical? I contend that anything less will be a dangerous compromise of the truth. Have we not fallen on the ways of the world by attempting to rationalize or reason a defense for righteous behavior?
In conclusion, we have seen that "pro-life" is a Biblically indefensible position. It will only bring confusion and lack of clarity within the Church and a false sense of self-worth to those in the world. Let us, therefore, abandon "pro-life" rhetoric and adopt the Word of God as our defense. Abortion is murder, a sin and crime punishable by death. This can be our only platform. We are not "pro-life", we are "pro-Jesus.*" Therefore, we stand fast on every word that proceeds from His mouth.
* Ed's note: I would have preferred that Mr. Wells have said, "pro-Scripture," here, but more on that next month.
Hilton P. Terrell, M.D.
One of the leading British medical journals, Lancet , recently published a fascinating study in its typical laconic fashion (June 10, 1995, pp 1469-73). The study analyzed the ability of Pap smears to detect abnormalities in a quarter million women in Bristol, England. The coverage of the screening was quite good, with 88% of the target population getting at least one Pap smear in a five-year period, a rate that many U.S. areas would drool to achieve.
For almost two decades the screening program has used computer tracking to invite women back regularly. The screening program in some form has been present for 29 years. Alas! Despite enviable organization and long effort the death rate from cancer of the cervix - the target disease for Pap smears - did not decline. The authors concluded, "The effect of screening on death rates in Bristol is too small to detect." Not only that, but the number of "false positives" is high, with 15,000 women out of 225,000 being told that they are "at risk" to the deadly disease.
Fifteen thousand frightened women, of whom at most 150 will later die, a 100 to 1 ratio. It would be worth it, if some of the 150 could be saved, but the evidence in this study is lacking. Furthermore, of the 15,000, over five thousand are sent on for the more expensive and invasive diagnostic procedure of colposcopy. Even with that, the deaths are not being prevented.
The authors had the honesty, or temerity, to conclude that the reason they do Pap smears now in Bristol is to limit the harm they (the doctors) do to women and to protect themselves from lawsuits when a few women die anyway of cervical cancer that the screening program did not find. They go on to observe that Pap smears are now too ingrained to test ethically their true effectiveness by doing randomized trials. "... We must simply live with the fact that we can never know for certain what contribution screening has made." They caution that in the future such preventive programs should not be allowed to advance to such acceptance from which there is no retreat before the data are there to substantiate it.
In summary, we do Pap smears because we have been doing them for a long time. No one now could dare to find out whether it is worthwhile. Our best efforts in doing it are devoted to avoiding harm in the doing of it and to protect ourselves from lawsuits.
There are, of course, no experiments which are so crucial as to settle matters completely by themselves. This study, and others like it which exist, can be and are riven with criticism from the larger tribe of true believers in preventive medicine in general, and the sacrosanct Pap smear in particular. For example, it is possible that the Pap smear program in Bristol blunted what would have been an increase in cervical cancer deaths. The studies which are offered in support of Pap smears, and they are by far the more numerous, also can be criticized.
For example, many of them use substitute measures instead of the actual desired end-point of decreasing the death rates from cervical cancer. Some say that failure to prove an effect is not the same as proving no effect. Any program, however, which commands such respect and resources should be unequivocal in its net benefits.
The areas from which medical care smelts its benefits are covered by a thick overburden of expensive and unproven practices. If the Pap smear has no significant net benefit, it will ultimately go the way of the dodo, along with all the other useless or harmful practices that are the twentieth-century equivalents of medical blood-letting. The sad thing is that it may require a calamitous collapse of the present system to take out the overburden, in which the good and the bad will fall together.
In another example of overburden, the Journal of Family Practice in July 1995 (pp. 42-50), published a report by some physicians in Michigan who were curious as to the kinds of investigations that were likely to disqualify adolescents from participation in organized sports. They reviewed over 2,500 "preparticipation physical examinations" and found that the physical examination was not as likely to lead to a decision to disqualify an adolescent, as the medical history was. In other words, careful questioning of the athlete was more revealing of his medical status than an examination by the physician.
Again in a statement of honesty or temerity they stated that "sports physicals" have been unable to identify ahead of time those would-be participants who are actually going to have physical trouble or danger while playing their sport. In other words, though millions of these examinations are done yearly in the U.S., no one can show that they improve playing safety!
Yet, the ritual is now so ingrained that few schools or other institutions would dare take the legal risk to place an adolescent into sports without the insurance policy of a piece of paper from a doctor or nurse practitioner saying that it was safe for the child to do so, even though the actual "insurance" is not known to be of any real value. The extremely rare adolescent with a berry aneurysm lurking in the base of the brain or the abnormally formed heart muscle or nerve conduction pathway is the one whose sudden death is feared and lamented. Yet, no one can show that such can be discerned and consequences prevented.
Thus, these millions of physicals constitute another deadweight on the medical care and economic system, providing little or nothing of value but costing time and resources. The Michigan doctors were at least trying to reduce the cost of these physicals. An almost identical statement could be made, then, to that of the Bristol, England, Pap smear researchers. The doctors were trying to reduce the harm of the exam to the patients and protect themselves in a procedure that is now so ingrained as to be unlikely to be abandoned. Exams are harmful when they frighten a patient, plant a notion of fragility where none exists, sideline a would-be and could-be athlete, and divert money from a really productive use.
Pap smears and sports physicals are but two "standard" procedures in medicine that have unproven value but substantial costs. The total burden of all such is immense. The caterwauling that is in progress regarding how to pay for medical care gives too little attention to the lack of effectiveness of what medical care is accomplishing.
It is sad that Christians are so wont to leave these matters unquestioned, despite the poor stewardship they represent. Like pagans, Christians ordinarily cannot imagine a nation which could get along very well without tax-paid medical care or private insurance policies that cover every trifle. Rather than leading, we are packed into the herd, acting as though being a Christian sets us apart only in matters that are outwardly "religious." (See Briefs with Commentary, "Physicians Substituting for Christ."
Hilton P. Terrell, M.D.
The advance of regulators and price-fixers into the practice of (licensed) orthodox outpatient medicine will stimulate the growth of the already-thriving "alternative medicine." One of the chief attractions of alternative medicine is the freedom enjoyed by the practitioners.
As long as the practitioners are willing to stay outside the fence of conventional respectability, big organization, and big bucks, they will be free. Their patients feel free. Is this the reason for the recent moves by organized medicine to establish a beachhead in alternative medicine? Does organized medicine want to court, corral, and then control the freedom-lovers in alternative medicine?
This possible tactic reminds me of the matter of government-paid vouchers for use in private education. If the statists were smart, they would support the idea. Once they had control of the money, they could dictate curriculum. Rather than building private education, private education would be transformed into public education.
Though I am conventional enough to have a low view of the general effectiveness of alternative medicine, I support the desirability of having some kind of competition on the field for the mainstream. The flight to alternatives reminds the monied insiders that they are not God, reminds the patients of the desirability of freedom, and even threatens the hegemony of the Food and Drug Administration over "what works." If the proponents of alternative medicine (many of whom are Christians) are smart, they will resist overtures by conventional medicine to become part of the in-group.
In the May 1995 issue of Reflections, I applauded the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia as having a conservative editor (Dr. Miguel Faria) who was given free reign to discuss conservative (truthful) issues. He has been forced to resign by the power structure of the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG). One key issue that brought his downfall was a forthright discussion of the guns-don't-cause-crime issue.
My membership with was equally short-lived. I re-joined to support Dr. Faria but with his dismissal, I have resigned from MAG. The glimmer of hope for the medical profession has been extinguished with a pile of rotten fruit.
Reluctantly, I must comment on the medical ethics conference held July 13-15, 1995 at Trinity International University (formerly Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Seminary) and sponsored primarily by The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. My reticence is that they paid for most of my expenses, gave me a table for literature, and sold some of my books.
The heat was generated by the weather. I left a hot, humid 98 degrees in Augusta to arrive at an all-time record of 106 humid degrees in Chicago! (Tragically, more than 500 Chicagoans -- not familiar with the rapid dehydration that occurs with such heat -- died from it.)
The meeting was lukewarm. There were some bright stars, such as Francis Beckwith (Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and Al Howseppian (resident in Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco). There were some interesting medical perspectives given. For example, in some patients with terminal illnesses food and water are contraindicated because they are rapidly absorbed into the extracellular spaces of the body, making the patient bloated and increasing his discomfort.
However, as a whole, the center and the conference was too ecumenical for me. Perhaps, this approach is exemplified by their request for speakers for 1996: "Please keep in mind the desirability of gender, racial, and occupational diversity." Excuse me, but I thought evangelicalism was about wisdom and truth in whomever they might be found.
The booktable at the conference was laden with medical ethics and related books. I remember 10 years ago when there were maybe a half-dozen. However, even among the "laden," there still may not be many more than a half-dozen that are Biblically substantive.
I could write a scathing critique of the conference and the center. However, I did so in my May 1994 Reflections and indirectly in July 1995 on a re-statement of the Hippocratic Oath (they strongly support it).
The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity at first glance appears to be a Godsend to combat the secularism of medical ethics today. On closer look, however, it rests on the shifting sands of an eclectic theology. Only the future and God's judgment will reveal its true identity.
While editing the Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine as a bound book, I came across this introduction to an article by Randall Crenshaw (Volume 5, page 49). It is food for thought.
Commentary: "A substitute for Christ" is a powerfully focused phrase for what Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine and our other related works are all about. I could suggest examples of how this idolatry works itself out practically, but I will not here. This edition of Reflections and all the other works are proliferative with examples. You only need to apply them. All of us are thorough-going idolaters. Is there any wonder that the First Commandment concerns idolatry? How are you idolizing medicine today?
I noted in the brochure for the rather large American Association of Family Physicians' (AAFP) meeting (in Anaheim later this month) a section on "Other Information." Among those listed were "Women in Family Medicine," "Minority Physician/Patient Interests," and "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physician/Patient Interests."
There is no doubt in my mind that a meeting entitled "Evangelical (or Charismatic or Reformed or Fundamental) Christians" would not be allowed to be listed there.
Make no mistake about it. The official stance of modern medicine is not just unfavorable toward the God of the Bible and His people: we are profane to those institutions. Now, that's a very strong statement, but I don't want the point missed. I am weary of Christians who think they can reform medicine without confronting the reality of its godlessness.
Dr. Larry Crabb has had a profound change in his thinking.
Commentary: Psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb is now anti-psychology and believes that "therapy belongs back in the churches." Ummmm. Let me see. Twenty-five years of "therapy" for others, thousands of books sold, and hundreds of lectures given, yet, he "hasn't a clue." Well, I have some clues.
First, in the article he never repents. Second, he has not pulled his books off the market. Third, he is living on pure emotions ("I feel").
I am truly baffled by the delusions of modern Christians and psychology. It is destroyed by the most basic of Biblical teachings (conversion, repentance, sanctification, faith, hope, etc. etc.). It is destroyed by those such as Dr. Crabb who finally see its dangers.
Maybe, just maybe, the Bible has something to say to "psychological" sufferers? Can you imagine Paul the Apostle saying at the end of his life what Dr. Crabb said? Instead, Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7).
Christians, make your choice: psychological babble or Biblical bedrock. You cannot worship two masters. You cannot live by two opposing guideposts. And...
The extension of psychobabble into everyday life continues. Joseph Sobran writes:
Commentary: I have cited only about one-sixth of this article. I will write for permission to print the remainder. On these pages and elsewhere, I and others have written of the false and perverse nature of psychology and psychiatry in counseling and medicine. However, as Sobran writes, its vocabulary undermines and invades common as well as political thought. It does indeed threaten "the abolition of discussion."
Yet, the Crabbs of Christendom continue to promote its lies and distortion to the detriment of souls and culture. Our society is not sick; it is perverse and sinful. And, most individuals are not sick, but in rebellion against God and His ways. God's truth has indeed been replaced by a false religion of man's making.
Some 300 parents signed a petition to stop their children's medical histories from being entered into a school computer and from there collected in a state-wide (Massachusetts) pilot programs to "measure the health of school-age children." A committee of educators, school nurses, and parents will address their concerns. (The Blumenfeld Education Letter, June 1995, pp. 6-7)
Commentary: Uh, excuse me! Where has previous concern about computer records of hospitals, insurance companies, employers, etc., etc. been? Third (and fourth and fifth) parties have had access to individuals' health information for years. It is good that one group has called a halt somewhere, but that is only a drop in the ocean of the larger problem.
Wake up people! Big brother and all his siblings are recording your every move. It may be too late for privacy concerns. We have let -- nay, asked -- the state and allied institutions into our most private lives. And, now we get upset? Oh, well, seeds planted sometimes sprout. However, the plant that can reverse the intrusion of third parties would be gargantuan. But, then, kudzu* just might stem the tide!
* Kudzu is a vine that was imported to the South to stop erosion. It is inedible by any living creature and grows faster than the most invasive cancer, covering trees, houses, barns, and anything else in its path. Awake Yankees, it is coming your way!
A study in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area reviewed what happened in situations of potential organ donors. From February 1991 to September 1992, the researchers identified 841 potential donors of "organs, tissues, or corneas." In 73 percent of the cases, families had been asked for permission to transplant the patients' organs. However, only 46.5 percent of families consented to organ donation and just 34.5 percent to tissue donation. Some 23.5 percent agreed to cornea donation. (Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1995, Section 1, p. 4)
Commentary: This study contrasts with the heroic stories in the news media where families saddened by the sudden death of one of their own see that person "live on" as organs in the bodies of others!
I am not sure what to make of this data either. No reasons are given for families' reluctance in these situations. Perhaps, sudden grief blurs their judgment. Perhaps, the thought of organ donation and tissue transplants from their relative is too grisly. Perhaps, there is the lingering doubt that organ donation is not ethical.
I oppose the concept of "brain death" and the taking of major organs (heart, lungs, and liver). A person is either alive or he is dead. There is no in-between area of brain death. Besides, few patients fit the rather narrow (and usually inaccurately applied) criteria of brain death. Further, the cause of the death of the organ donor is the taking of his major organs. That he will die anyway of his injuries does not negate the fact that it is the taking of his organs that causes his death.
I have no opposition to the donation of organs and tissues after the person is actually dead, that is, irreversible failure of interdependent functioning of the heart, lungs, and brain. I have said much more on this subject in the past, so I don't want to be laborious here. However, it may be getting close to the time to review this subject more completely again.
The Bible bump. What physicians have called a "ganglion" (a cyst that forms from the joint lining, usually on the wrist) used to be called "a Bible bump." One treatment (not recommended any longer) is to take a heavy book (often a Bible) and smack the bump. Well, this is not really funny, but it is banter and an interesting tidbit.
Watch out in the ER for clients of a low-rent fish house whose menu is:
Catch of the Day: $9.95
Adapted from Cordlandt Forum, August 1995.
What do you call an inflatable fish toy in Canada?
A plastic sturgeon!
Adapted from Cordlandt Forum, August 1995.
Vol. 9, No. 5 (60) September 1995
Congratulations to Joni and Friends!
In 1993, Campbell University (Baptist) of Buies Creek, NC, fired a physical education student when they discovered that he had AIDS. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), however, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the teacher, citing discrimination under the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act. This case was one of the first to apply the ADA to a person with AIDS.
Of course, the case went against Campbell University. They were forced to re-hire the teacher and pay him $325,000 for "emotional damages." "AIDS-awareness and sensitivity training" to employees involved in personnel decisions was also required. (Christianity Today [CT], July 17, 1995, p. 62)
Commentary: There are several ethical concerns here. First, and perhaps least, Campbell University should not have fired the teacher because he had AIDS. A disease is not an ethical reason to fired someone unless it prevents him from doing his job for which he was hired, or the disease is casually transmissible to others. However, I suspect that the man was fired for homosexuality and CT did not report that fact. Homosexuality would be ethical grounds to fire someone.
More pernicious is CT's condemnation of Campbell University. The article begins with a statement that Campbell University violated its own aim to help students develop "a sensitive awareness of the world and society in which they live and work with persons" -- a snide, holier-than-thou attitude.
More pernicious still is the ADA and costly psychobabble (see elsewhere this newsletter). Joni Erickson-Tada and many other Christians strongly supported passage of the ADA. They didn't care about the cost to businesses or to Christian organizations and churches where the strong arm of the state would be extended (not to mention the loss of tithes and offerings in fighting these suits). Throw in the psychobabble of "emotional distress" and you have the financial costs to Campbell University.
Now, as I said, Campbell University may have fired the teacher for the wrong reasons. If so, simple reinstatement of the teacher with back salary and perhaps incidental costs should have been possible. Further, the matter ought to have been handled among Christians without resort to the state (Matthew 18, I Corinthians 6, etc.). I suspect that the "AIDS-awareness and sensitivity training" will be "homosexuality and other deviant training."
Christians face many critical issues today. No less among them is their Biblical concept of the role of the state. Joni and other Christians who supported passage of the ADA furthered the tyranny of the state and its invasion of the Church. It is no small matter for God's people to advance the forces against their own. Thus, it is no small matter not to have a comprehensive, coherent Biblical worldview.
Drug companies are rapidly abandoning their attempts to research new medications for AIDS because they see few profits. The National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development is recommending tax credits and "market exclusivity" to entice these companies to develop AIDS drugs. (Chicago Tribune, June 30, 1995, p. 19)
Commentary: The strength of even a semi-free market is formidable, as is the reality here. I suspect that the reticence of these drug companies is not only the limited market, but also the limited efficacy of AIDS drugs. There are just no drugs with any substantial efficacy against AIDS, in spite of the millions already spent on research.
Of 51 HIV-infected health-care workers who have exposed 22,171 patients, there are no cases of HIV transmission. The only exceptions are the six patients infected by Dr. David Acer, a Florida dentist. (From the Centers for Disease Control, reported in the Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1995, Section 2, p. 3)
Commentary: I trust this data. Even when a health-care worker has a needle-stick exposure to HIV, he has only a 1/250 chance of becoming infected with HIV. The case of Dr. Acer, however, confirms that such transmission is possible under what were likely extraordinary circumstances.
While black women comprise (approximately) 13% of the female population of the United States, they accounted for 57% (8,016) of the AIDS cases in women in 1994. White women, who comprise 75% of the female population, accounted for 23% (3,148). Hispanic women at 6% of the population accounted for 20% (2,814) of AIDS cases in women. (HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Volume 6, Number 2, p. 12)
Commentary: While one must be "sensitive" with this data, I'll bet that you have not seen it before. The ratio of the percent of AIDS cases to percent of population in black women is 4.4:1 (57:13), in Hispanic women is 3.3:1 (20:6), and in white women 0.3:1 (23:75). These ratios mean that AIDS occurs 15 times (4.4/0.3) more frequently in black women than in white women and 11 times more frequently in Hispanic women than white women.
A news story that is running rampant in Christian periodicals concerns "thumb-sized" fetuses as an edible delicacy in China. I urge caution about this report.
There is no doubt that China is a totalitarian state that has no qualms about crushing human lives as one might crush cockroaches. There is no doubt about their practices of forced sterilizations and abortions of women. (That a women's conference would be held there is incredible.)
However, I doubt the story on human fetuses because of practical considerations. The acquisition of an intact human "thumb-sized" fetus (6 weeks gestation) is quite difficult. Most first-trimester abortions are vacuum extractions where the fetuses are shredded -- no intact fetus there. Prostaglandins and other drugs could be used to induce uterine contractions that would expel an intact fetus, but until RU-486 was available, there were no consistently reliable drugs for first trimester abortions. Further, a drug-induced abortion to produce an intact fetus requires that women come in early during their pregnancy.
And, more nursing and medical supervision is needed to monitor the patient during the several hours that expulsion takes place and catch the intact fetus once it is expelled. Vacuum extractions require much less time and are more consistent with high volume abortion clinics.
Of course, such abortions to produce intact fetuses are possible, but I am skeptical that the medical means and the patient supervision necessary is widely available in China to produce the reportedly widespread practice of whole fetuses as an edible delicacy. Sometimes, we too-readily believe what is reported to be true without asking whether it could be true.
You may have heard or read about the "angry white male." In fact, several Christian periodicals have had one or more articles about him. However, the ones I read missed the focus entirely from what is the myth of the "angry white male."
The angry white male is a caricature of Biblical Christianity. I have tried to simplify on these pages and in the minds of readers that in the whole scheme of the philosophies of men, there are only two competitive and categorical ideologies: Biblical Christianity and humanism which is man trying to create his own reality, i.e., "be like God" (Genesis 3:5).
While the angry white male may be only superficially related to Biblical Christianity, all that is good about him is clearly based upon those tenets. What the supposed white male is angry about are traditional values: the family, religious freedom, decency, and justice (at all levels civil -- and criminal).
Where do these value come from? From the growth and spread of Christianity in the West. So, the attack on the history of Western civilization is also an attack on Biblical Christianity. Multiculturalism is an attack on the unity that Christianity brings as well as truth in history. And so on.Dear readers, understanding cultural, political, and legal issues is so much simpler when one realizes that only these two competing systems exist. All one has to do is identify which is Biblical and which is not. Most of the time, it is not that difficult for anyone with a modicum of a Biblically trained mind.
And, for all the enthusiasm that I have for Rush Limbaugh, that competition is his Achilles' heel is the truth. While I believe that the battles that he fights at his level are necessary for our times, his is only a stop-gap and piece-meal approach.
Even in the competing theologies of Christianity, the battle is "for the Bible" (as stated by the title of Harold Lindsell's book). Of course, arguments from the Bible fail because of man's fallen intellect. Therefore, we disagree. But at least that level of disagreement is Bible against Bible and redeemed spirit against redeemed spirit. But, I digress.
Whatever ideology the media presents, discern its roots in man or in the Bible. You will be closer to the truth and better able to act accordingly.
My goal is to get Reflections in the mail by mid-month of the alternate months that it is published: January, March, May, July, September, and November. As you can see, I did not make that goal for September.
Conflicts have included three speaking engagements, including travel to the West Coast. Since I am a "Pop" (as in "Mom and Pop") operation, publication gets delayed.
I apologize for this delay, but it is also a good time to remind readers of publication months, since Reflections is not published every month.
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