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Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine

Vol. 7, No. 6 (42) 

Contents:


First of All, Do No Harm

vs. 

Better to Harm Magnificently

Something had long bothered me about Biblical medical ethics. While I have argued long and hard to get the state (all levels of civil government) out of the welfare and medical business, the thought of "Who helps the poor, if the state gets out of the welfare business?" nagged at me. Or, more directly for our concern, "Who provides medical care for the poor and unfortunate if Medicaid and Medicare are gone?"

Spare me the platitudes. Yes, taxation for welfare and the provision of medical care for the "poor," "elderly," and "disenfranchised" is immoral, and even illegal under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (through a federal income tax). Licensure is immoral and unbiblical and prevents competition in the market place. And so on. 

What little conscience and concern that I have about people beyond my family and close friends, nevertheless tugged at me over the plight of these individuals. Yes, the Church, institutions, and individuals are supposed to take over the responsibility to "feed the hungry," "heal the sick," "clothe the naked," etc. But, honest conservatives, and certainly liberals, know that groups and individuals will not provide all that is needed for the "poor" any time soon, if ever.

So, on solid ethical ground and three decades of failure, I could stand against the state with its hand-outs. Still, my conscience tugged, "Many unfortunates will go unhelped."

The Answer Comes

I have a gift subscription to First Things. It is a marvelous publication intended to place religion as the building block (first things or foundational principles) for society. I read it varyingly, primarily because of time. (If I read everything that I wanted to read or comes across my desk, I would never write.)

Somehow, "The Problem of Liberalism" by J. Budziszewski (March 1996 -- OK, so I was behind!) caught my eye. He named nine problems with liberalism, but it is the ninth on which I want to focus, the fallacy of desperate gestures. He nailed me, "The desperationist acts to relieve his own pain: the pain of pity, the pain of impotence, the pain of indignation."

The desperationist looks at thirty years and five trillion dollars of failure and says, "We have to do something," even though it doesn't work. But, it is not only that it does not work, it is harmful. Budziszewski sums up, "Do no harm, and help where possible." The tender-hearted states, "Better to harm magnificently in the name of help, than to help but a little."

Wow! I thought, that's the answer to my conscience. I am not helping, but harming with government programs. Helping is a myth. 

God Is One -- His Ways Are Unified

Properly understood, God's (Biblical) system of ethics is non-contradictory. For me, with Budziszewski's simple statements, my conscience fell into the unity that is possible only with God's design.

Perhaps, you did not struggle with the consequences of our struggle against socialism. And really, I did not either. I knew that right often seems harsh, but regardless of the consequences, right must be carried out. But, occasionally, the plight of some unfortunates in the system for which I was fighting did tug at my heart strings. No more!

Application to Medicine

When I started this essay, I intended to stop with the paragraph above. However, the application within medicine is too apparent not to note. The first rule of medicine is primum non nocere, "First of all, do no harm." Today, the first rule of medicine is that of the liberal, "First of all, do something, regardless of long-term harm." Some examples.

1) Antibiotics. The patient is sick. The patient has a cold. Antibiotics don't help colds. However, the patient has paid to see me, and therefore I am obligated to "help" him. Rx - an antibiotic. The long term consequences are an ever-increasing army of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

2) Anti-depressants. The patient is "depressed." (Whatever that means) She obviously has a messed up life which I can't do anything about, but I can prescribe anti-depressant medication. I know that it is not supposed to work for "situational depression," but I must help a little. The long-term consequences are a woman and society looking for salvation in drugs: both legal and illegal.

3) Testing, testing, testing. The patient is tired. The medical history is inconsistent with most disease patterns, and there are no apparent bodily dysfunctions on physical exam. I am sure that the patient has a "functional" problem which is short-lived and non-life-threatening, even though I am not able to define it completely. However, there is the remote chance of an occult disease, so I must order a few tests. One test leads to another, and thousands of dollars. The long-term consequences are one cause of run-away medical costs. Or worse, one of the tests produces a falsely positive result and the physician is stuck like Br'er Rabbit to the Tar Baby.

What will you do? "Do no harm, and help where possible." Or, "Better to harm magnificently in the name of help, than to help but a little." My conscience is now clear, I will continue to "first of all, do no harm," but now I will do it with a smile on my face, and a sword at my side for the first liberal heart that challenges me!

Bob's Banter

Memo of the (not too distant) future.

To: All Hospital Staff
From: Administration/Groundskeeping
Subject: New cost-cutting measures, as directed by our HMOs

Effective August 1, this hospital will no longer provide security. Each charge nurse will be issued a .38 caliber revolver and 12 rounds of ammunition. Charge nurses will rotate the patrolling of hospital grounds. In light of the similarity of monitoring equipment, ICU will now take over the security surveillance duties. The unit secretary will be responsible for watching cardiac and security monitors, as well as continuing previous secretarial duties.

Food service will be discontinued. Patients wishing to be fed will need to let their families know to bring something or make arrangements with Subway, Dominos, etc., before mealtime. Coin-operated telephones will be available in patient rooms.

Housekeeping and Physical Therapy are being combined. Mops will be issued to those patients who are ambulatory, thus providing range-of-motion exercises. Families and ambulatory patients may sign up to clean the rooms of non-ambulatory patients for special discounts from their final bill. 

As you can see on the "from" line above, administration is assuming ground-skeeping duties. If an administrator cannot be reached by calling his/her office, it is suggested that you walk outside and listen for the sound of a lawn mower, weed-whacker, or hedge clipper,

Cutbacks in the phlebotomy and laboratory staff will be accommodated by performing blood tests only on patients who are already bleeding.

The Radiology staff is being reduced, and physicians will be informed that they may order no more than two x-rays per patient per stay. This is due to the turnaround time required by Smith's photo lab. Two prints will be provided for the price of one. Physicians are being advised to clip coupons from the Sunday paper if they want extra sets. Smith's will honor competitors' coupons for one-hour processing in emergency situations. An alternative to x-ray will be available via a very bright light in the foyer for finger bones and thin wrists.

In light of the extreme heat this summer, the electric company has been asked to install individual meters in each patient room, office, etc., so that electricity consumption can be monitored and properly billed. Fans will be available for sale or rental in the hospital gift shop.

In addition to the paper recycling program, a bin for the collection of unused fruit and bread will soon be provided on each floor. Families, patients, and the few remaining employees are encouraged to contribute discarded produce. The resulting moldy compost will be utilized by the pharmacy for nosocomial production of antibiotics. These antibiotics will also be available for purchase through the hospital pharmacy, and will coincidentally, soon be the only antibiotics listed on the HMOs' formulary.

Abridged and edited by Ed from original version. 

Tyranny in those Child-Resistant Bottle Caps

Hilton P. Terrell, Ph.D., M.D.

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

The tyranny of persons with deep but narrow knowledge bases is one of the more striking features of modern life, once we begin to notice it. It is especially evident in medicine. While economic advantages of specialization are well-recognized, some disadvantages are overlooked. The knowledge of the specialist is too often not properly placed into a wider information context. The wider context can modify or even overturn erroneous applications urged by the specialist. Medical journals regularly contain examples of such errors.

A recent case in point came in the June 5, 1996, issue of JAMA, entitled "The Safety Effects of Child-Resistant Packaging for Oral Prescription Drugs: Two Decades of Experience." The author reports that the annual death rates for children under 5 years of age who were accidentally poisoned with prescription drugs has declined over a nineteen-year period. An estimated death rate from the same causes was extrapolated from the immediately preceding ten-year period. The nineteen-year period marks the time since a federal regulation required the use of child-resistant caps on prescription drugs meant to be taken by mouth. The difference between the actual death rate from this cause and the extrapolated one was 45%.

First of all, the use of relative reductions in mortality is intuitively misleading. The author provides the absolute number. It is a reduction of about 1.4 deaths per million children under age 5 per year. This would make the reduction less than 1% of all the current deaths in children in that age group from all unintentional injuries taken together. The absolute effect is, therefore, very small indeed. The usual rejoinder to such an observation as this is, "But, if it is your child, that's all that matters to you." Let me attempt a rejoinder to the rejoinder by stepping back to look at a wider context.

Of necessity, scientific researchers have to focus on certain measures and "control" from some others by such maneuvers as matched groups and the use of large numbers of subjects. The intention is to even out variations caused by other factors, "isolating" the factors of interest. Then statistical tests are applied to the numbers to estimate how likely it is that the differences found are due to chance variation. Discussion of the numerous assumptions and vagaries of this process are beyond the scope of this comment. In general, I accept this kind of scientific reasoning and do not wish to assert all of the well-known weaknesses of it. Look, rather, at the problem that occurs when the information is transported into the world of applications. The world does not operate by isolating certain things the way we try to do in experiments. In the world many things are operative, interacting constantly. That is why care in the transport of experimental information into the world of application is crucial. Only omniscience can comprehend all that is going on in the real world of myriad connections. Therefore, humility and caution are in order when applying scientific information. Scientific knowledge is useful, but never true in the sense that revelation from God is true.

The author of the article in question was careful to state that child-resistant packaging reduces the deadly poisoning of children. Some could fail to see the effects that might be caused in other groups than children by those pesky little medicine vials. The clearest example is that of elderly, weak, clumsy, arthritic, or otherwise debilitated persons who have their medicine in "child-resistant packaging. I don't believe that I yet fit any category of debilitation, but I have been bested by some "child-resistant" drug packaging. Many times in doing medication checks with my patients, I find that they have removed their medicines from the federally-mandated protective devices and placed them into other containers. To the extent that they do this to avoid child-resistant packaging, the packaging increases the chances of an error in dosing. Primary care doctors know that patients mix up pills, confuse dosing intervals, and make other errors related to removal from the original vial. Who knows what the net effect of this practice is? Before mandatory application of child-resistant packaging, wouldn't it be best to know what the net effect is on the health and deaths of all, not just child deaths?

Admittedly, the net effect on the debilitated population from child-resistant packaging might be small. My rejoinder is, "But, if it is your elderly parent, that's all that matters to you." The net effect on the debilitated would not have to be very large to equal or exceed the 1.4 per million per year found in this study. The author of the study is well-aware of these features, and ably discusses future changes in the ruling with just these kinds of considerations in mind. The federal tests of child-resistant packaging are to be revised in a few years, with more consideration given to the debilitated.

There is a better approach, however, than refinements of federal mandates regarding consumer packaging. The better approach enlarges its scope of information even beyond the debilities of the elderly. It expands to include such things as the Constitution of the United States and the limited mandate given by God to civil government. Neither the lesser authority of the Constitution nor the greater of the Bible allot to the federal civil ruler any authority over how public market products are to be packaged. For a civil ruler to exceed his authority has many nefarious effects, including adverse effects on health. Studies that would even consider such adverse effects of government micromanagement from afar are rare if they exist at all. Attempts to measure extremely infrequent events and calculate net effects in complex systems are pretenses to omniscience and omnipresence. Only God can do that, and He has not left us without guidelines in these matters.

The Bible contains numerous principles by which we may navigate, even through the shoals of bottle caps, themselves unmentioned in the Bible. In the case at hand we have those biblical passages that set forth the boundaries of legitimate authority of civil rulers. Civil rulers are to punish evildoers, reward those who do good, and maintain order that the Gospel may go forth. Is the dispenser of little plastic pill bottles an evildoer simply because children on rare occasions plunder the bottles and die? If so, then is the dispenser of a child-resistant bottle an evildoer because a debilitated person was hindered in the use of life-preserving medicine? We are indeed morally required by God to take thought for obvious potential dangers which we create (Exodus 21:33,34;22:6). We are not required to have prescience regarding minute potential dangers of everything we do. My foot impressions in muddy terrain, now dried and hardened, could be the cause of a serious fall for the next person passing by. Or, the same footprints may serve to guide the next person to safety. In which way am I accountable for my footprints? In neither way!

There is another problem with the way we use information in medicine (and other specialized fields) which goes beyond the matter of the Biblical authority of the person using this information. The problem is that we have let narrowly focused empirical information alone determine how we should live. Living by empirical evidence alone is a form of living by bread alone. By empirical evidence we manage the physical and chemical aspects of our life -- the bread. Satisfaction of the bread issues is essential for life, but not sufficient. In addition to broadly based empirical evidence we need revelational information for right use of it. We need every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Scientific evidence may give us some information about what exists, but it is incapable of telling us what ought to be done with what exists. Outside of the context of God's revelation, empirical evidence alone can be more deadly than it is life-promoting.

That a central government can mandate consumer packaging and thereby reduce one known adverse effect does not mean that it has proven whether it should do so. Power is not authority. God has lodged earthly authority in divided spheres, of which civil rulers are only one. A civil ruler who mandates myriad details of daily life has divested the legitimate holders of authority from their positions. The more a ruler usurps other authority not rightfully his, the more he becomes a terror to those who do good and a rewarder of those who do evil. The people he rules have the obligation to set over themselves a ruler who rules justly.

Prescription caps are, of course, an infinitesimal matter in the world, in themselves not worth challenging Caesar. Caesar has in our time, however, gathered many such molecules and compounded of them a great and deadly tyranny. Through his grip on medicine alone he controls nearly one-seventh of the U.S. economy and is oppressing people by central management of the market-place. Through his grip on medicine he fully opened the gates of Hell on the unborn 23 years ago, reducing average human life expectancy in this nation to a level not seen since the 1800's. Colonial Christians understood the matter principlely rather empirically and atomistically, and they understood their duty before God in this matter. Speaking of their response to "a long train of abuses and usurpations...[which] evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism," the signers of the Declaration of Independence stated that "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Today, we are prone to apprehend all matters empirically and atomistically. We try to live by bread alone. Concerns based on a principle such as the present one receive an incredulous, "You're all worked up over bottle caps? Get real!" That there is a reality beyond the physical design of bottle caps -- the reality of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God -- is not often considered by moderns, including doctors. That this revelatory reality given by God is of core significance for medicine we ignore, preferring to let the empirical information determine all we do. Christian physicians, of course, sprinkle a spattering of Scripture over empirical results as if it were holy water, but we don't consider the principles of the Word of God. Our medical practices barely differ from those of pagans, since we let empiricism rule everywhere as do they. Perhaps not over bottle caps, but we need to get all worked up over what bottle caps represent -- an overthrow of God's Word. Disregard of God's Word is never healthy, whatever the empirical data might seem to show. We have a duty toward a government that usurps what is not its own. 

Vote Fraud

Although only remotely related to medical issues, the November issue of Chronicles has an article, "A House Without Doors," by James J. Condit, Jr., that describes virtually complete fraudulent vote counting in the United States! The media does control our country!

All votes, local and national, are reported to one source, Voter News Service (VNS) in New York City, which then gives numbers on elections to the media. Those numbers have been documented to be fraudulent in more than one instance! From this story, Pat Buchanan may have won the Republican primary, but VNS could not allow that. VNS has been operating since 1992.

For more information, write Cincinnatus PAC, P. O. Box 11339, Cincinnati, OH 45211. For the article in Chronicles, write The Rockford Institute, 934 North Main St., Rockford, IL 61103-7061.

Brief Reports with Commentary

Better Off at Home: Medicine Harms -- Again

Right heart catheterization has been a mainstay for monitoring critically ill patients for almost two decades. Now, "Its use has not been shown to decrease patient morbidity or mortality. To the contrary, there is evidence that it may increase morbidity and mortality." (American Medical News, September 23/30, 1996, p. 31)

Commentary: "First of all, do no harm." That seems to be a recurring theme in Reflections for me in recent issues. This one is no exception.Dear readers, this procedure to monitor "central venous pressure" and other parameters has been the sine qua non of the care of critical patients. Few procedures were more highly regarded in all of medicine than this one. Now, it turns out to be harmful. 

I will repeat once more, "The great obstacle to reducing the cost of medicine and Biblical medical ethics is the myth of the effectiveness of modern medicine" -- a voice shouting in the wilderness.

True Medical Progress -- Leprosy

If a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La) is passed, the country's last institution (Gillis W. Long Hansen's Disease Center, Carville, LA) for patients with leprosy will be changed into a training center for "at-risk" youths. Anti-leprosy drugs now allow infected patients to live virtually normal lives. At one time, almost 1000 patients lived there. Now, there are only 130. Stipends and temporary resident status will allow a gradual transition for these residents. (Chicago Tribune, September 29, 1996, p. 7E, Section 16)

Commentary: Modern medicine may legitimately claim a cure for leprosy. I rejoice in that triumph for a disease that is physically debilitating and disfiguring and is socially anathema. 

More AMA Hypocrisy -- Blood on Their Hands

This title appeared in a recent AMA News article: "AMA: We're saving families, saving kids." The subjects of the article were a shelter for "domestic abuse" victims and the effect of media violence on children. (AMA News, October 7, 1996, p. 4)

Commentary: I cannot find the words. Heinous hypocrisy? Saving kids -- what about 1.5 million "kids" aborted every year? For almost 30 years, the AMA has championed unrestricted abortion -- 36 million since 1973. And they have the unmitigated gall to say that they're "saving families and kids?" Please, God, don't stay your judgment from these murderers!

Michigan State University "Researches" Euthanasia

On April 10, 1996, a patent was awarded to Michigan State University by the European Patent Office for "Euthanasia solutions which use gamma-hydroxybutramide (embutramide) as a basis for formulating the composition." An MSU spokesman stated that "the existing licensing agreement between the university and the unnamed company permitted only animal use." 

However, a challenge of the patent office to MSU included this statement: "The Examining Division notices that the subject matter of the claims is not limited to the provision of euthanasia in lower mammals. The attention of the Applicant (MSU) is drawn to the fact that humans are a mammalian species, and that as a result of the wording of the claims the Applicant is seeking protection for an agent for committing euthanasia on humans as well." (Detroit News, September 22, 1996, Editorial page)

Commentary: So, Michigan has its Dr. Kevorkian and its state university researches drugs for euthanasia. Anyone want to move there? From there?

Gambling: In Increasingly Serious Problem

"According to the National Council on Compulsive Gambling, between 3 and 5 percent of the population suffers from pathological, or excessive, gambling.... More people are involved in gambling than go to movies or baseball games. Americans now spend $500 billion a year on casino and state lottery wagering alone." (The Church Around the World, Vol. 26, No. 11)

Commentary: We have state-supported alcoholism and drug addiction (Social Security, Medicaid, free needle programs, methadone clinics, etc.), homosexuality, abortion, theft through taxation, and gambling. The state has become the opposite of what it ought to be, a rewarder of good and prosecutor of evil (Romans 13:4). Now, it rewards evil and punishes good (Christian influence). Has the state lost its legitimacy? Many are beginning to say so!

Don't You Try to Kill Your Baby... Let Your Doctor Do It!

A judge plans to prosecute a woman who was trying to kill herself and her unborn baby by drinking alcohol, saying that "the weapon of choice was every bit as deadly as a gun or knife (or suction currette? -- Ed). The baby, delivered by Caesarean section under court order, had a blood alcohol on delivery of 0.199 percent (legally drunk is 0.10 percent in many places). The mother's blood was 0.30 percent at the same time. (Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1996, Section 1, p. 3)

Commentary: This account is another in the ongoing legal schizophrenia of the legal status of the unborn child. The mother could have legally had a "partial birth abortion" at any later stage of pregnancy and Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, and hundreds of liberal judges would have applauded. But, one just does not kill one's baby with alcohol. It's just not done, and it is not legal.

On Teenage Pregnancy and Fornication 

In an editorial accompanying an article describing research on trends in adolescent pregnancy and birth rates, Dr. Iris Litt rehashes the same liberal errors. After noting that the article describes variable adolescent birth rates over the last 10 years, she turns for comprehension mainly to psychological and material (physical) concepts. "Poor self-image," "self-esteem," and "depression" are mentioned. She writes that adolescents "need to postpone initiation of sexual experimentation." (The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 3, 1996, p. 1030)

Commentary: There is none so blind as she who will not see. A small portion of the Biblical message has been heard, but not the main part. If one stopped at "postponement of sexual experimentation," it would be okay, though incomplete. Her completion of the thought, however, shows that there is no Biblical comprehension. The postponement is only "until psychosocial maturity guides protective behaviors." The evil, you see, is not fornication. It is only the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy that matter.

She does mention "religious" organizations as having importance in solving the problem of adolescent pregnancy. She then nullifies Biblical teaching by asserting that teenagers need to have "improved access to protective methods." Read that as condoms, birth control pills, and Norplant-type drugs. Improved access to right teaching, to parents unhindered by an intrusive civil government and its crushing taxation of families are not part of the problem. She advocates school-based clinics and universal health insurance without apparent consideration that the former undermines parental and religious authority and the latter undermines family finances. (Hilton Terrell)

Subliminal Messages and the Unconscious Debunked

"Anthony Greenwald, a University of Washington psychologist, said he found that subliminal communications.... can work, but not very well. The power of subliminal messages lasts only for a tenth of a second, making them useless as advertising or political tools.... The findings also call into question the validity of Freudian psychoanalysis.... that the subconscious mind is capable of powerful and complex mental operations." (Chicago Tribune, September 20, 1996, pp. 1, 20, Section 1, reporting on article in Science of the issue closest to that date)

Commentary: Funny coincidence! I just debunked the subconscious mind in the last issue of the Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine (Vol. 9, No. 1) on Biblical and logical grounds. While Biblical truth and logic do not require science for corroboration, this study is the best science on this subject to date and agrees with my conclusions.

The "mainstream" of Christians in psychology and psychiatry believe in a powerful unconscious as well. No doubt they will cling to their theories in spite of this evidence to the contrary. They have too much at stake to admit otherwise, and their premises will not allow them truly Biblical conclusions.

This study fits with related concepts, as well. Other studies have shown that memory under hypnosis is no better than "natural" memory, as though there were some unconscious reservoir of infallible memory to be tapped. 

Is Research More Important Than Your Consent?

The federal government is expected to give approval for the testing of a blood substitute without patients' consent. This move is a "radical departure" from past and current research. These patients will be victims of trauma who present to the Cook County Emergency Room (Chicago) whose chance of dying "exceeds 30 percent." That is, they have severe loss of blood and could die before tests could be run to determine the compatibility of their blood with donor blood. The reason for "no consent" is that the patients would be unconscious or semi-conscious, unable to give their consent, and usually without a relative to proxy for them. (Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1996, Section 1, pp. 1, 20)

Commentary: This scenario is frightening. I am not sure that a blood substitute would be all that valuable. Life-saving measures in emergency rooms are already incredible. With those already in place and the side effects of the blood substitute (there are some), will the net benefit be that great?

More worrisome is the precedent for involuntary consent. Modern society and its society are starry-eyed over "research" -- that almighty ability to create and craft new and amazing "things." They think, "Damn ethics, just do the research!" 

Research in medicine rarely achieves great "things." Usually, it shaves a few percentage points and gives a few persons in a hundred a better chance to fight a disease, get over an injury, progress in rehabilitation, avoid further disease progress, etc. So, I wonder whether the glitter over a long-sought blood substitute is worth over-riding ethical restraints. I am not sure, but I wonder. Similarly....

Where Will Demand for Organ Donation Lead Us?

Dr. Stuart J. Youngner, professor of medicine and psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, states that "The driving force for using 'brain death' as a legal definition of death is the ever-growing demand for transplant organs." (Family Practice News, May 1, 1996)

Commentary: Two points should be noted. First, a psychiatrist is sought for ethical opinions. That is natural in modern society. They are the priests, and since ethics (as well a definition of death) is ultimately and unavoidably religious, the cultural priest is sought. 

Second, the blind belief in medical science, regardless of ethics, is evident. Again, "Damn individual rights, we must have organs." Anyone who has worked in emergency rooms already knows that legal and ethical lines are crossed with trauma patients to justify "harvesting their organs." These lines will be pushed further and further back. 

Some already believe that your organs are not your own. The proposal has already been made that unless you carry a card to the contrary, emergency personnel ought to consider anyone an organ donor! Do you see "science" and "progress" ever pushing back individual rights? This approach is nothing more than "the end justifies the means" and "we are all the family of man."

Is There Anything That Physicians Won't Do?

"To the general public, the New York State Dept. of Health says it is "exploring options" for dealing with a recent court decision (New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals) that found the state's ban on assisted suicide unconstitutional.

"Barbara DeBuono, M.D., state commissioner of health, told attendees at the Medical Society of New York's annual meeting that the state was planning to draft guidelines for assisted suicide, so they'll be ready if the practice is legalized there." (AMN News, May 20, 1996, p. 1, 69)

Commentary: The facile manner in which bureaucrats and most physicians seem to bow before the law and court decisions smacks of Nazi Germany. I want to scream, "Legality does not determine morality!" I begin to wonder if there are any who will stand and say, "This is not right. I will not be an accomplice to it." 

My lead article in the last Reflections (September 1996) describes Christians in "power" positions who are silent. Indeed, we have adopted Francis Schaeffer's label of "personal peace and affluence" above all else. I wonder if "personal evangelism" is not part of this "personal peace and affluence." Who in America cannot hear the Gospel several times a day, if they want to? Perhaps, just perhaps, a Christian standing in the public arena, about to be devoured by the media lions, standing against an evil in modern medicine and society, would have more Gospel appeal than a glut of evangelism. (Blasphemy -- I wonder.)

Soon, if not already, we will not be allowed a voice, but will be told what to do. The Communist strategy of dialectic has captured us. "Compromise won't hurt here... and here... and here... Whoa! How was this choice forced upon me? (Kill others or be killed by the ruling elite.) But, I did not intend to let it get this far-r-r-r....." (Silence.)

AIDS: Issues and Answers

Vol. 10, No. 6 (67) November 1996

The Numbers

There have been 548,102 cases of AIDS reported to the Centers for Disease Control through June 30, 1996. This number represents an increase of 34, 616 since December 31, 1995. Projected over 12 months, there would be a decline of 4,948 (6.7%) cases from 1995 to 1996. The numbers continue to decline. For more information on trends and total numbers, see Reflections, May 1996, p. 7). (HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, Midyear edition, 1996, p. 3)

AIDS in the Elderly

"At least 3,991 Floridians" age 50 and older have AIDS. Sixty percent of AIDS cases in this age group occur through "sexual contact" -- heterosexual contact is the "most common method" of exposure. Nationally, in 1994, there was an 11 percent increase in reported AIDS cases in the over-50 age group while there was a 2 percent increase in the under-20 age group. (Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1996, pp. 1, 26, Section 1)

Commentary: Most physicians are aware that those over 50, and even those over 65, are quite sexually active, often outside of marriage. (The lay public may not have this awareness.) Deaths of spouses and loneliness contribute to this activity. Thus, AIDS would be expected in this age group, as well.

That "heterosexual contact is "the most common method" of exposure is somewhat misleading. "Experts" are always trying to downplay gay exposure. Most gays do not live past 50 years of age, as their average age of death is 42 years excluding AIDS, and 39 years if AIDS is included. Neither this article, nor the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report gave categories of exposure in these age groups.

Interestingly, the patient with AIDS who was the personal focus of the article had had "wild, unprotected sex with men and women" after he divorced his wife of 28 years (Ed's emphasis). I wonder how many men become homosexual or bisexual in these lonely years? I would not think that many would, given the "set ways" of this age group, but loneliness, sexual desire, and perhaps isolated homosexual trysts over the years might cause new behaviors.

A Cover Without Art

Some form of art, usually a painting, appears on the cover of the weekly issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. However, the July 10, 1996, cover was blank.

"A Cover Without Art is designed to highlight the toll the virus has taken among artists and other creative persons who have died prematurely because of AIDS. But there is another, incalculable cost as well -- the loss to all those whose lives would have been touched, even changed, but were not, by books not read because they were never written, by paintings not seen because they were never painted, by performances never heard because the song was not sung."

Commentary: Would one dare to suggest that they might be creating still, if they had not chosen immoral and illegal activities? There is something perverse about a society that worships the victims of such vile and abominable behaviors. (I know, a few contracted AIDS from blood transfusions, mother-to-baby, etc.) In addition, many of their creations were abominable in themselves, supported by taxpayer dollars. More perversity overlooked. But, then, the "religious," including many "conservative" Christians, also worship at this altar...

Religious Correctness

"The Council of National Religious AIDS Networks is a coalition of 13 national AIDS ministries representing many different faith groups" (my emphasis). The members of this Council are African-American Churches, The Buddhist AIDS Network, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Reform(sic) Judaism, the Roman Catholic Church, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. The combined membership of these religious groups is "108 million." (HIV/AIDS Prevention, August 1996, p. 16)

Commentary: I am still waiting for a "religious" network for patients with cancer, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other severe, chronically debilitating, and life-threatening diseases. The irony is that more than 90 percent of AIDS cases are transmitted by immoral and illegal activity. The Apostle Paul warned against "doing evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8). This majority of AIDS patients, however, have "done evil" that partiality ("good") is shown to them by the "religious." 

So, today you are not "religiously correct" unless you have a special ministry for evil-doers -- whoops, AIDS sufferers. Like so much thinking, is this situation not backward from what it ought to be?

In the beginning...

                            God...

Do You Want Confidentiality?

Hilton P. Terrell, Ph.D., M.D.

The practice of "auricular confession" (confessions to priests) is Biblically indefensible. Confessions are made to those offended: 1) God and 2) the person offended.

Why would a pastor, priest, counselor, or physician want to be a party after-the-fact to a sin? The "benefits" of making the confession while holding it back from the parties (above) entitled to hear it are morally zero. Psychological relief may be attained, but there is no remission of sin known as sin and yet confessed. The rupture remains.

The idea that refusal to allow confidentiality is bad because it inhibits confession misrepresents real confession. Real confessions confess properly -- to the offended ones. 

What Problems Threaten America

Franklin Sanders

Ed's Note: While I often discuss "problems that threaten America" on these pages, the listing of so many in one paragraph by Mr. Sanders struck me forcefully.

"What problems threaten American? All are rooted in rebellion against the law of God. Abortion, euthanasia, feminism and the degradation of womanhood, insane sexual immorality, AIDS, homosexuality, blood-lust and violence, government-sanctioned rooting out of Christianity, arbitrary government, destruction of the family, corrupt courts, annihilation of basic freedoms, including the right to travel, to own and bear arms, to contract freely, to earn a living, to worship, the right to raise your own children, as well as the right to privacy, to receive justice and a fair trial, to honest money, to own and use property, to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, and even the right to preach the Gospel. These are the only accidental modern battlegrounds of the ancient warfare, rebellious man against the sovereign God." (Moneychanger, October 1996, p. 2)

2nd note: Franklin Sanders publishes the Moneychanger monthly. It is one of the publications that I immediately sit down and read when it arrives. It receives my highest recommendations. Not only is his worldview worth the money, you will likely make money (in the long term) on his investment recommendations! Subscription is $95.00 (a bargain) at P. O. Box 341753, Memphis,  TN 38184-1753.

In the beginning...

                              the Word...


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