Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine
Vol. 7, No. 1 (37)
- Milestones: A Brief History of Biblical Medical Ethics
“Come Over to Macedonia and Help Us!”
- Terrell’s Treatises
“Report Cards,” Outpatient Medicine, and Alternative Medicine
- Prevention: Just What Is Health?
- On Truth and the Scientific Method
- Letters to Ed
- Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
A Principle of Hermeneutics
- Bob’s Banter
- Brief Reports with Commentary
- AIDS: Issues and Answers
- The 2nd Bound Journal Volumes Are In!
Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine begins its 7th year – 37th issue. The story, however, begins much earlier and goes far beyond this newsletter. In 1978, I received a phone call from Dr. Hilton Terrell, who was interested in meeting me because he had heard that I was involved in nouthetic counseling.
We met and had a delightful discussion comparing thoughts and debating ideas. I will never forget the quizzical look that he kept giving me. It said, “Are you for real? Is there actually anyone else who believes so closely to what I believe?” Now, 17 years later we still have delightful discussions and debates, but we have also found others of like mind and produced many valuable materials.
The next major step was my book, Biblical/Medical Ethics. Over the July 4th weekend, 1981, I wrote an outline for that book. Over the next 2 1/2 years, the outline was filled in and the book was finally published in 1985. It was a product of my thoughts and the helpful review of Drs. Jay Adams, Harold O. J. Brown, and Terrell.
In 1986, Dr. Andy White joined Dr. Terrell and me to begin publishing the Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine. For 8 years, this journal provided a forum with the contribution of more than 50 authors. In 1995, all these journals were re-printed in bound volumes.
In 1987, I started the newsletter Monthly AIDS Update. (See page 7 herein for more details.) Seeing a need for a newsletter that supplemented the Journal and encompassed the whole field of medical ethics, I started Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine. Along the way, three other books were published: Making Biblical Decisions (1989, reproductive and genetic issues), What Every Christian Should Know About the AIDS Epidemic (1991), and Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine (1993).
The last issue of the Journal was Summer 1994, one issue short of 8 years. The major limiting factor for the Journal has always been a lack of articles (quantity not quality). The decision was made to discontinue the Journal, although we would re-publish the Journal as bound volumes. Some faithful souls just would not let the Journal die! No one else is, or ever has, done a similar (Biblical) work. Where there was once a dearth of writing on medical ethics by Christians, there is now a plethora of books and a few periodicals. However, most of these are of the same (Biblical) quality as most Christian publications today: long on pagan culture and short on consistent, coherent Biblical truth.
So, those souls pestered me until I relented from Jeremiah’s pit where I had gone to opine the fortunes of Biblical medical ethics. We are going to give the Journal another try. We hope to publish one issue early in 1996, and thereafter publish only as sufficient articles are available to fill an issue. Everyone receiving this newsletter will receive a notice of actual publication.
Biblical medical ethics steers a narrow course. We obviously do not have company with theological and social moderates or liberals. Less obviously, we differ with temporizing evangelicals who are writing the most publications about medical ethics today. We differ with strong advocates of alternative medicine in which many conservative Christians believe. We differ with those who believe in the general efficacy of modern medicine. We differ with the pentecostals who believe in predictable, miraculous healing (their “entitlement?”). We differ with most Christians in psychology and psychiatry.
We do believe in biblical ethics and in biblical (nouthetic) counseling. We have indeed chosen a “narrow way” that just might be consistent with Matthew 7:13. For professing Christians who want to “reach out,” “be broad-minded,” be “ecumenical,” or “seek consensus,” Christ’s words here ought to scare the Hell out of them. (That’s the intent of the passage after all!) There are even anti-God voices who warn of compromise.
“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong (or both are wrong – Ed), but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent, or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise, between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.” (Ayn Rand, somewhere in Atlas Shrugged, presented as the AAPS President’s Address at the 52nd Annual Meeting of AAPS, 10/13/95, Falls Church, VA)
I am not a fan of Ayn Rand as she is no friend of the Gospel. However, even atheists can speak words that illustrate truth. In this case, she reflects God’s attitude toward compromise of His Word. “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23, NASB). “He who is not with Me is against Me (Matthew 12:30, NASB). “I will spit (vomit) you out of My mouth” (The Revelation 3:16, NASB).
Our “narrow” approach does not “win friends and influence people.” We are excluded from most evangelical endeavors that focus on or include medical ethics. And, I am not so naive to think that being “narrow” automatically makes one right nor that what we have done is not without (major or minor) errors. However, I am willing to stand before God for judgment with our understanding of the truth based upon His Word. He requires no more of us.
We need help! Our efforts in Biblical medical ethics started with two people: Dr. Terrell and myself. Then, Andy White made three. Then, in 1992 we added a 9-member board of governors and formed a 501(c)3 tax-deductible, non-profit organization. Over the years, numerous others have identified with us. I know some of you personally and others by prompt, repeated renewals. Early on, we knew medical care was in trouble, but we did not expect that medical care (as nationalized health care) would become the most major issue of this country in 1994 and the center of the Great Budget Debate of 1995.
As the Macedonian appealed to Paul in a dream (Acts 16:9), I appeal in reality to you. Someone has said that the average person knows 2,000 others. If we had 100 people who reached all the others that they could, that would be exposure to at least 100,000 people (allowing for names common to more than one person). Perhaps, more importantly, some readers know influential people to whom they could introduce our materials personally.
Marketing experts say that getting the word (or, in our case, The Word) out requires considerable time or money. I have time to write articles and ads, but making contacts and income for expansion are limited.
Gideon started with a large group. Through testing, he went into battle with only 300 men. I am sure that you are deluged with Christian publications and requests for donations. However, our work may have touched the hearts of a few of you – those who are willing to make biblical medical ethics a priority.
There is no longer a question of what we are about or what we can produce. With 8 years of the Journal, 14 years of newsletters (combined), almost 100 tapes from conferences, and 4 books, the evidence is bountiful. One group in Washington (state) has caused the re-birth of the Journal. With a few more such groups, many efforts could be launched. The question is, “Do you have a place in your heart for biblical medical ethics? Frankly, I am looking for those who would place such work high on their priority list. Not one of those activities that is good (or even very good) and I will get to it when I can. But, one of those endeavors that I must get done if I have to move other priorities back.
If you are one of these, let me know. Don’t let me know right away. If you are one of the people to whom I reference, then make a note, and write me or call in a few weeks. If biblical medical ethics is important, you will remember, as our friends in Washington did. We can discuss ways that you can help.
Honestly, I am not sure how long I will endure. The work is difficult in its narrowness. We step on almost everyone’s toes. With only a few exceptions has any Christian group identified with us. My “flesh” wants recognition while my spirit says “don’t become weary in well doing.” Pray for us and help us in any way that you can. I hope that we will have many other milestones with you and our work.
Hilton P. Terrell, Ph.D., M.D.
“Report Cards,” Outpatient Medicine, and Alternative Medicine
I am receiving more and more “report cards” from payers for medical services. The enclosed one was a novelty. It appears that the state of South Carolina is trying to raise physician awareness of the costs of home health services expended on Medicare patients. I have a few observations on the matter:
(1) They listed me as having only ordered one set of services in the form of 19 visits for speech therapy. I have no recollection of this and a very low view of the general proven effectiveness of speech therapy. I can find little in the way of evidence for its usefulness. Point: the report cards I receive are full of enormous holes in accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness. They often miss the point. I nearly always look very “good,” i.e., cheap, on these reports. Nevertheless, I am aware of the many assumptions that underlie comparisons of this kind.
(2) The state recently notified primary care physicians that we could bill for our supposed oversight of home health services we are authorizing. the accompanying explanation of what was required to substantiate a bill and the limitations on what could be billed for, as well as the amounts they paid, took away with the left hand what the right hand gave. To establish what they wanted for billing would consume in billing costs what they would pay, leaving the physician still unpaid for the oversight.
(3) One of the selling points of home health is that it costs less than hospitalization or nursing home care. One of the reasons that it does cost less, however, is that nursing home care and hospitalizations carry a burden of regulatory review and the like that enormously raises the expense. Now, we may see the regulators extending their scope to home health and office practice, such as they did with CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act). The costs for provision of care in outpatient settings is rising. Point: the problem is not the particular regulations or the administration of them, it is the whole idea of regulation by others than the recipients of the services. It is the king’s horsemen riding through the marketplace, overturning tables, pulling down the awnings, seizing the scales, and breaking open the animal pens. It is a struggle for power. The regulators push to usurp power over simple, personal, economic decisions. The sheer volume of these transactions, the private nature of them, and the uncertainties as to value and benefit require that these transactions be determined between the physician and patient. For regulators to strive for it to be otherwise is for them to strive to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. They want to be God (Ed’s emphasis).
Attending to a comatose patient in the hospital, my attention was caught by a familiar voice emanating from the ever-present television attached to the wall behind my head. It seems that none of our patients are too much in a coma to have the one-eyed monster invade their final illness with Oprah or the like. It’s enough to make you sick. I turned and was startled to see a man I’ll call Brandon on the tube. Brandon was, or had been, my patient. He had been dead for a couple of years. The television was tuned to an in-hospital channel which provides an array of information and hype regarding hospital services and procedures. Brandon had been taped promoting the hospital’s stop smoking program. Indeed, I had heard that he had quit smoking prior to his death. Rarely one to visit physicians, Brandon had switched his episodic care to another doctor a year or so before he died. He had no symptomatic warnings of his death, I had heard. He just “woke up” dead one morning. There was no autopsy, and the death was presumptively ascribed to heart disease, a quite reasonable guess for the region and the situation. So, here was a man quite thoroughly dead doing a post-mortem health promotion, still in his early 50’s and very hale and handsome — a kind of electronic necromancy.
There was, however, a larger incongruity than having a dead man advise his fellow smokers about health promotion. Brandon was not only a smoker. He was a heavy drinker. He had lost interest in his job years before, turning in a perfunctory performance. He communicated little with his family. He neglected his wife — conversing in grunts, refusing sexual intercourse, and participating minimally in the lives of their children. Two years before his death he was discovered to have been keeping a series of mistresses. The discovery, as always, uncovered a pattern of lies he used to conceal his adulteries. There was a divorce, he married his current mistress, and died within a year.
Can it be that lying, adultery, neglect of one’s wife and children, and neglect of one’s vocational calling are any less related to health and longevity than smoking? The medical profession has focused on certain behaviors which are linked to disease and early death. Smoking is certainly one of them.
But, the medical profession will not venture into other areas which are linked to disease and early death. The Bible makes it clear that Godly living promotes health and longevity, and epidemiology data illustrate it. Yet, medicine shies away from adultery, lying, slothfulness, covetousness, and other sins. It majors in the mechanisms and minutiae of health and pointedly neglects the weightier matters of godliness. I don’t believe I have ever read the word “adultery” in any medical textbook. The watchword is to be “nonjudgmental.”
Medical nonjudgmentalism does not mean mere avoidance of a censorious spirit, which is legitimate, but is extended to mean avoidance of any mention of the judgment God has placed upon certain behaviors. All sorts of excuses are trotted out to justify this lethal omission: you can’t tell other people how they should live (we do it all the time), you can’t meddle in “personal” matters (in the treatment of persons we cannot do otherwise), they won’t pay us any attention (they don’t in a number of other areas, such as diet, and that doesn’t stop us).
When we practice medicine without any reference to the beliefs, attitudes, and doctrines of our patients, we are treating them as less than a person, cleaving off the spirit, and depriving them of some exposure to the potentially salutary effects of God’s Word on their lives. We are not their pastor, for sure, but Christian physicians in our general office as believer have opportunities to offer a glimpse of God’s law as it relates to health. Witnessing is not necessarily something tacked onto the end of an episode of medical treatment, but can be made an integral part of treatment if we dare to touch the untouchable topics inside the censorious fence of nonjudgmentalism. Do you love your wife? Are you treating her that way? Tell me about your time with your children? Do you enjoy your work? Have you neglected the joy of giving something to someone in need? Have you thought about where your life is going? “Questions like these in a medical history?,” some ask. “Get real!” But, it is real, more so than many things we do, and having value not only for this life, but for the life to come.
I’m afraid Brandon is smoking again….
For those who are wont to trust scientific knowledge as a guide to truth and correct behavior, an article by Michael Klein in the November 1995 issue of the Journal of Family Practice is instructive. Dr. Klein relates his experience with the scientific apparatus in North America when he proposed and, finally, published a study challenging a piece of received obstetrical wisdom – the lowly episiotomy. While Dr. Klein ultimately retained his confidence in the system of getting research approval and publication of results, it required a decade and persistent battles. He was thwarted at many turns by those who were defending the status quo, which is that episiotomies are helpful. He writes of “the paradigm of birth as a pathological state.” He clearly wants to see a paradigm shift in obstetrics in which “episiotomy is a marker for a range of other procedures, approaches, and attitudes that have been characterized as ‘modern’ maternity care.”
Science is not independent of beliefs, but necessarily dependent. What one believes about reality determines what questions one asks and structures the type of inquiry. If one believes that the basic reproductive capacities of women are ordinarily competent to the task, one tends to defend non-intervention during childbirth. If one believes that the basic capacities are very often not competent, then one is prone to intervene with episiotomies, forceps, C-sections, or the like. The view of proposed research leans in the direction of the preceding beliefs.
In their book, Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, Peter Duesberg and Bryan Ellison’s thesis regarding the etiology of AIDS is less interesting and convincing than their display of how medical research is conceived, funded, and reported. It is sinful human nature written in scientific notation. In the field of obstetrics, Dr. Klein’s article reveals the same sinful human nature. In the science of medicine, irrelevant questions get asked and sometimes receive exquisitely beautiful answers, like gilding the underside of the lid to your toilet tank. Relevant questions get asked and receive deceptive answers. Sometimes relevant questions get asked, receive good answers, but then are blocked in their dissemination by editors.
Since science is dependent, not independent of beliefs, the scientist needs some other ultimate source of beliefs outside of science itself. Only revelation can provide such a basis. Only God’s revelation is reliable. Hence, those scientists whose belief are biblical will be the ones whose research contains the most relevant and useful truth.
Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine arrived today. I have a few comments.
Paul Bero is laying an impossible guilt trip on us when he says, “It is our choice to allow these people to starve.” We aren’t God. The causes of starvation are many, but mostly man’s inhumanity to man. Gifts to Somalia, India, etc. discourage local food producers. The creation of wealth has been very poorly studied and taught, especially where Marxists are involved in intentionally distorting it. The creation of wealth starts with adequate food production (Ed’s emphasis).
All the countries of the world could have gotten together to feed Bangladesh, or Somalia, or Eritriea, but would the governments have allowed it? Lords of Poverty says that the average is about 6 months for international relief agencies to get the chow on the table. This comment was written by an Englishman who was on the scene. The agencies are filled with inertia and bungling.
Poverty is not the phenomenon – abundance is.
If I had the attitude of Mr. Bero, I would buy a farm and plunge to the bottom of the economic ladder. Ecology rules in the U.S. could put every farmer in the nation out of business and may yet.
Mr. Robinson is correct. While today’s media portray arid conditions as the primary cause of famine in the world, the truth is that culture, war, willful destruction of crops, defective agricultural methods, and (perhaps greatest) government regulation of everything from size of plots to crops to taxation. Further, most charitable food sent to areas of famine never gets to those who most need it because of inefficient distribution, lack of transportation, and theft and corruption by government “officials.”
There is hardly any country in the world (including Japan) that could not feed itself adequately and nutritionally and export food with the right technology and private enterprise in a free market. If you don’t understand these realities, you are (as Mr. Robinson says) a supporter of Marxism, one the most powerful forces of poverty in the history of mankind. If you need resources that give you facts and figures, write me.
A Principle of Hermeneutics
The false ideas that we carry around are both amazing and distressing. That I am my brother’s keeper is one of those ideas.
Hermeneutics are the principles that govern interpretation of Scripture. For example, the best interpreter of Scripture is other Scripture that concerns the same subject of study. Another principle is that historical record is not truth or principle. That applies here.
When God asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). How often have we heard, then, from both conservatives and liberals that everyone of us is our brother’s keeper.
Now, there is an element of truth in that statement. We do have certain responsibilities toward our brothers and sisters (loosely) in the human race and brothers and sisters (accurately) in the faith. For example, as fellow humans, we are to be charitable and to promote justice. Among Christians, we have many detailed obligations of mutual support and discipline.
However, in neither case are we our brother’s keeper. The meaning of the word, even in other passages of Scripture, is clear. “Keeping” is close and continual supervision and control. Shepherds keep sheep. Mothers keep children. Banks keep money. We are not our brother’s keeper!
The error lies in that the passage in Genesis 4 is historical. It was never meant to be a principle. Cain’s answer intended to deflect God’s question to him. Had he not been guilty of Abel’s murder, “I don’t know” or “I haven’t seen him lately” would have been sufficient.
In today’s context, clear thinking of this issue is necessary. The whole welfare state (including Medicare and Medicaid) is founded on our being the “family of man” (our brother and sister’s keeper). We are not their keeper. (Actually, we are not their brother or sister either.) We do have obligations (some) to those without and within (many) the household of faith, but those duties are not those of a “keeper.”
Note: “Bob’s Banter” has become a lighter side of this newsletter. The name originates from Bob Robinson whose notes to me always contain some levity. A recent example follows.
“A beard doesn’t impart wisdom. It is just the mark of a graybeard or an old goat, however, one looks at it.”
“I installed doorbells in the house. I want to catch up with the 20th century before the 21st gets here.”
“In November, I got my official diagnosis of diabetes, so I will have to find another use for the cookie jar that we have had since 1937. The odds are now that I will get done in by fat instead of sugar, for the slight consolation that substitute is. The doctors tell me that I have a condition to watch for the rest of my life, and they give me a two-weeks supply of pills. No use being wasteful!”
“Random Ax of Kindness: Hearing that a relative needed water for his home, I sent a “Get Well Soon” card. It worked! They got water after drilling 520 feet.”
“Late November is the birthday of Celsius of alternate thermometer fame. He would have been 294 years old… or 561 Fahrenheit.”
With kindest personal regards,
(hopeless but not serious)
He who is enthroned in the heavens
laughs… Psalm 2:4.
“Five medical schools won $10,000 Templeton Foundation grants to support courses that explore the relationship of medicine and faith…. Course topics include links between spirituality and addiction; the role of clergy and prayer in health care; the relationships between religious beliefs and organ donation, autopsy, euthanasia, chronic illness, abortion, fetal rights, and reproductive technology; alternative healing methods; strategies for using the patient’s spiritual resources to aid treatment; inclusion of a patient’s spiritual history as part of medical diagnosis; and the effects on patient care of a physicians ideas about spirituality.” (National and International Religion Report, November 27, 1995, p. 6)
Commentary: A breakthrough for the spiritual side of medicine? Excuse me if I remain a skeptic! First, $10,000 for the variety of “topics” listed are like drops in the ocean. Second, “faith” must be carefully defined. It will not be. The variety of “faiths” in today’s world precludes any “scientific analysis.”
Third, and perhaps more serious, such “research” is vigorously supported by some Christians who believe that if we can only show them that Christianity works, they will accept Christian practices as part of a sound medical practice. Several studies on prayer already show that it “works” to help patients get well.
Such hopes reflect both naivete and ignorance about both medical science and truth. Every medical student has heard some professor discard a well-researched conclusion with a simple, “I don’t believe that study. I think…” It is naive to believe that medical research will cause acceptance of the Christian faith where it is not accepted now.
The problem lies with the nature of truth. We already have the truth in God’s Word. It ought to be proclaimed or debated presupposition against presupposition. To try to prove God’s truth by research is to shift from the solid rock of truth proclaimed to the shifting sands of empiricism.
“Ask your Senators and Representatives to support the Administration’s proposed regulation of tobacco. America’s children are not for sale to the powerful tobacco lobby.” (NAE Washington Insight [Church edition] December 1995)
Commentary: The tobacco issue is a good test of the coherence of your Biblical worldview. “Coherence” is one test of truth. That is, does every principle fit with every other principle? If your Biblical worldview calls for limited government and personal freedom, to call for government action against cigarettes is inconsistent.
Don’t get me wrong. I castigate patients who smoke. Insurance companies ought to be free to charge higher rates to smokers (and even to conduct tests to determine their clients’ truthfulness). I know the studies show that smoking, chewing, and dipping tobacco are generally harmful to one’s health (at least to the population that does it).
But, dear readers, state restriction of freedom in one area is growing government. As was said of the Nazis in Germany, “When they came for others, I did not protest. When they came for me, there was no one to protest.” Cigarette bans are a severe encroachment on personal choices and an open door to ban/regulate whatever those in power choose. Now, “How is increasing government regulation in this area consistent with reducing government spending?”
Hundreds of studies (that weak empirical evidence again!) show that the way to keep children off drugs as adults is for them to have a solid family life. The National Association of Evangelicals is missing its calling. To call for the increased preaching of the gospel and rescinding of the numerous laws that tear families apart (taxation, liberal divorce, abortion, etc., etc.) will do far more to prohibit smoking (and other damaging behavior) in children than specific laws against tobacco.
Coherence (consistency) is a great test of one’s principles. Besides, I didn’t know that the slave trade (“children for sale”) existed in America and that “the powerful tobacco lobby” was buying. I thought that we still had a great deal of freedom to raise our children “in the way that they should go, when they are old, they will not depart from it.”
The issue of childhood vaccinations continues to surface. I marvel at the misplaced priorities of Christian parents. There seems to be only two choices in the decision about immunizations. 1) Read everything available and make your own decision — a process that involves a great deal of time and one about which final and definitive decisions cannot be made. 2) Accept another person’s conclusions and all the consequences therein associated. Those conclusions may be well reasoned or virtually pure emotional reaction.
The greatest threat to your children is an automobile accident. It poses a far, far greater risk of severe injury and death than do immunizations. However, I have yet to read a diatribe from an evangelical banning cars or some other solution to this threatening problem.
Is there a link between the dumbing down of theology and an over-concern by Christians with health? The Bible has a great many do’s and don’t’s. Just perhaps if we ingrained those in our children (and ourselves), that knowledge might be the path to greatest health? Just perhaps God knew what we needed to know that was best for us? Just perhaps those parents who give so much attention to immunizations might also give the same time to catechizing their children?
As I study medicine and medical ethics, I increasingly believe that God (in the Bible) has indeed given us everything that we need for both godliness and happiness, including health. The shining light of modern medicine is its ability to manage trauma (including that produced by disease) and rehabilitate from those effects. Modern medicine really has little to say in the area of prevention that goes beyond the Apostle Paul’s admonition for “all things in moderation.”
A recent article in one of the major medical journals discusses and then advocates a national registry of childhood immunizations. However, their intent goes far beyond immunizations.
“Sustained improvement in child health requires that all children have the opportunity to receive a full range of prevention and treatment services, including maternal and child health care, nutrition, injury prevention, and family health education. Because they are vulnerable and lack the capacity and political voice to obtain services, children hold a special claim for health protection and promotion” (Ed’s emphasis). (The Journal of the American Medical Association, December 13, 1995, pp. 1793-1799)
Commentary: Frankly, I am frightened at what may be enacted “to protect the children.” The above quote is full of lies. First, children don’t lack a “political voice”; they have their parents! Second, any increase in child health by these measures is doubtful by the measures alone. Numerous studies show that there is no correlation between accessibility to a full range of medical services and health. Add unintended harm caused by these “services,” such as, increased taxation as a burden to all families, investigations and prosecutions because of parental failure to access these services, and actual harm by the “services” themselves (wrong lab tests, morbidity and mortality from these and other procedures, etc.).
My fear is increased at past and present actions of evangelical Chris-tians. The Americans with Disabilities Act was championed by prominent “leaders,” and they have championed other socialistic legislation as well. I want to scream, “Does anyone believe that parents are responsible for their children? Does anyone believe that Biblical justice and charity are the solutions to evil and irresponsible people? Etc., etc.
You know, even Jesus believed that “evil” parents give “good gifts” to their children (Matthew 7:9-11). I am convinced that the government at all levels now causes far more harm to children and their families than their well-intended programs provide good. Growing up, I heard adults cite a proverb about good intentions!
A child, now 4 1/2 years old, was conceived by artificial insemination with frozen sperm from the husband of her mother. Edward William Hart, Jr., was dying of cancer and had sperm frozen so that “There could always be a child for you” (Nancy, his wife). A Social Security panel in Louisiana has ruled that the child, Judith Christine, is not entitled to survivor’s benefits.
Commentary: This case illustrates that there are difficult answers, if any right answer, to situations caused by unethical decisions. Freezing sperm is unethical because it intentionally brings a child into a fatherless family. Once the child is a reality, however, its parentage is clear: the child is the descendent of the husband who provided the sperm.
Thus, legally, the child has every right to survivor’s benefits. However, morally, the whole concept of Social Security is wrong. It is forced taxation from some to pay for supposed rights of others. So, a legal decision based upon unethical laws can result in an unethical decision. As Christians in a legal system that is far removed from Biblical standards, this situation occurs by the thousands every day!
Vol. 10, No. 1 (62) January 1996
In November 1987, I wrote my first newsletter on AIDS. It was called Monthly AIDS Updatewith only one issue in Volume 1. For the next 2 years, it was monthly (24 issues). Then, for 3 1/2 years, it was bimonthly (21 issues) with a necessary name change to AIDS: Issues and Answers. In June 1993, the issue of AIDS as a separate newsletter stopped. In July 1993, my commentary on AIDS continued with this page in Reflections (16 issues, including the current one).
From those earlier newsletters, I published a book, What Every Christian Should Know About the AIDS Epidemic (1991). (A few copies are still available from us for $7.00.)
As far as I know, no other Christian has had a regular, continuous commentary on AIDS for anywhere near that period of time. AIDS is truly an epidemic borne out of our sexually preoccupied and hedonistic culture. Only the Bible provides a true understanding of its cause and prevention.
Repeatedly, I have said that the truth about AIDS would have its effect. For example, the spread of AIDS would be limited. AIDS was not (and not likely to become) casually transmitted (including mosquito). Heterosexual transmission (one step removed from homosexuality and IV-drug abuse) would not become epidemic. AIDS patients should not be quarantined. All those predictions have happened.
Now, another AIDS myth perpetrated by the Centers for Disease Control and other “officials” has fallen: that condoms are the only means of prevention of AIDS. At first, we had silly (but obscene) commercials for condoms to prevent AIDS. But, have you noticed the most recent commercials for AIDS prevention? The ads now include abstinence! From the beginning, the argument that condoms were prevention was as full of, and prone to, holes as the condoms themselves.
Advocating condoms to prevent AIDS is one of the blackest eyes that modern medicine will ever experience. By 1970, early in my medical career, condoms were laughed at as contraception for pregnancy and given little credit to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (“venereal diseases,” as they were called back then). Fifteen years into the future with the occurrence of AIDS, they were suddenly paraded forth (literally) as medical saviors and barriers against a virus hundreds of times smaller than a human sperm in the context of a more sexually promiscuous society. Future generations of physicians will laugh at us. Some of us have already been laughing.
Additional note: After I wrote the above, the following was sent to me:
“For years, the American Red Cross has produced AIDS materials full of misinformation. Condoms have been emphasized instead of behavioral change. Recently, however, Red Cross officials reversed course, calling for abstinence, HIV-testing, partner notification, and discouragement of illegal behavior.” (Family Research Council Washington Watch, October 27, 1995, p. 2)
“Backcalculation” results estimate that in January 1993, 630,000 to 897,000 adults and adolescents in the United States were infected with HIV, including 107,000 to 150,000 women. However, while HIV declined markedly among white males, it has remained relatively constant among women and minorities. “An estimated 3 percent of black men and 1 percent of black women in their thirties were living with HIV infection. (Science, November 24, 1995, pp. 1372-1375)
Commentary: I had speculated in the last Reflections that the “pool” of HIV-infected people who eventually become AIDS statistics had declined. Through this “backcalculation” model, my suspicions are confirmed. While the epidemic is over in terms of increasing numbers, HIV/AIDS has become established as a disease that is, and will likely always be, a part of the world of medicine.
“More than 40% of people with AIDS are enrolled in Medicaid” which includes not only payment for medical services but Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While AIDS patients represent 0.02% of Medicaid beneficiaries, they account for 2% (2.6 billion in 1994) of that total budget. “On average, public hospitals lose more than $92,000 a year from AIDS care.” (American Medical News, October 23/30, 1995, pp. 1, 30)
Commentary: This article referred to AIDS patients as “society’s most vulnerable members.” I wonder at the contrast between how our “officials” treat cigarette smokers and AIDS patients. The former are increasingly ostracized and even legislated against. AIDS patients are virtually sacred. Both activities that result in disease are destructive behaviors (with AIDS, mostly illegal behaviors).
Could there be some link here with temple prostitutes of old? Man will worship something — it is his nature. With candlelight vigils being held where God’s name would be anathema, the link is not too far-fetched. As much as modern man wants to be anti-religious, he is unable to be otherwise.
Dr. Eugene Felmar wrote a letter to the Editor that contrasted 9 actions of the Centers for Disease Control concerning the recent Ebola Virus outbreak with HIV/AIDS. He concluded that “It is time for our public health agencies and political leaders to be held accountable for their roles in the current HIV epidemic.” (American Family Physician, Volume 52, Number 6, p. 1682)
Commentary: While such information has been known since the early years of the AIDS epidemic, this letter is perhaps the first time that the failings of the CDC have been published in a widely distributed medical publication. This printing is further evidence that all the AIDS “official” myths are being destroyed.
Another major project delayed the printing of the 2nd bound volume of the Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, originally planned to be completed several months earlier. However, they are now in and being mailed to those who have pre-paid them. If you do not receive yours by February 1, 1996, please let me know.
If you haven’t ordered yet, send $34.00 for each volume ($68.00 for both) to the address on the front of this newsletter or call 1 (800) 766-7042.