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Frequently Asked Questions - Practical Issues

FAQs - Practical Issues

There is nothing in the Scripture either in direct command or in principle that prohibits the use of contraceptives by married couples. The Roman Catholic Church takes a very strong position against birth control by artificial means, because the church teaches that the primary purpose of marriage is the generation of children. While we find no biblical grounds to take such a stand, we should be careful about which method of family planning we use. Any method that prevents conception from taking place is all right. But any method that terminates conception is morally sinful and it breaks the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill".

a. Artificial Insemination: There are two types -- Using the husband’s sperm does not violate the marriage bond, but using an unknown donor’s sperm does. Because the father is not involved at all in the process, he may not feel completely at ease about calling the baby his own. When the child grows up and learns that the one he called ‘father’ is not his real father at all and that his father is just a $50-dollar test-tube of sperm imagine the sense of insecurity he will feel.

b. In-Vitro Fertilization: Once again there are two types -- using husband’s sperm (no moral problems in this) or using donor’s sperm (this violates the marriage bond).

c. Surrogate Motherhood. For mothers who cannot conceive because of a defect in their womb and so rents someone else’s womb to bear her child. This still introduces a third party into the reproductive process. It reminds us of what Sarah did when she was not able to conceive, she got Hagar her handmaid to sleep with her husband and have a child on he behalf (same principle as surrogate). The fact that God did not accept the son that was born showed His disapproval of this method.

Our conclusion is that surrogate motherhood is not an option and neither are artificial insemination or IVF if a donor’s sperm or ovum is used. The only ethical means that an infertile Christian couple may use is artificial insemination or IVF with both sperm and ovum coming from the couple themselves.

Some claim that it is unethical for Christian couples to go for any artificial methods at all, because they say that if a couple is infertile, they should take it as God’s will for them not to have children at all. In answer to that, it must be stated that technological advances have enabled man to exercise dominion over things that he has never been able to control before. One could say, it is wrong to fly in an airplane. Why? If God had meant us to fly, He would have created us with wings. Since he did not give us wings, it is not His will for us to fly. Secondly, these methods are not 100 % successful. There is still a significant factor of uncertainty in them. E.g. IVF -- a couple may have to try many times before it works. Success still depends on God’s sovereign control. Besides these artificial methods which are still costly in terms of time and monry, there are also other options for those who are childless:

a. Adoption.
b. Trusting God to overcome the problem.
c. Accepting their childlessness as God’s purpose for them and using it to make themselves more available for God’s Kingdom.

It depends on the prognosis. If detected early, cancer can be cured, and it is my duty to seek treatment, just as we should seek treatment for any disease. But if the cancer has progressed to a stage when hope of being restored is very slim, and treatment is very costly, it would not be wrong for me to cast myself on the Lord to dispose my case according to His divine will, rather than to struggle on for some hope of healing.

If I am being kept alive by a machine, can I request that the machine be turned off? I believe it is not sinful if there are biblical motivations behind it. Further treatment would prolong my suffering of agony. I long to be with Jesus and Jesus is calling me home. Further treatment would burden my family with crushing financial loads. New advances in medicine have made it possible to keep terminally ill patients ‘alive’ for a long period of time, but often at great expense to the family -- we call this "extraordinary means".

The most difficult question is what if the person going through suffering is not ourselves but a loved one, who is in a coma, and cannot decide for himself? Does the family have the right to decide for them and withdraw treatment? If there is no hope that the person may ever regain consciousness, and if the condition is judged by several reliable doctors to be irreversible, incurable and hopeless those who are responsible for the dying person should feel no guilt if extraordinary life-sustaining efforts are withdrawn. Of course we would still want to continue ordinary treatment for the dying, that is treatment to make the patient’s death as painless and comfortable as possible, which includes providing food, water, warmth, pain-control, and normal care. But there is no moral obligation to prolong artificially a truly terminal patient’s irreversible and imminent process of dying. But if there is a possibility that the person may recover or regain consciousness such a decision should be withheld.

While we do not object to the cessation of extraordinary means of prolonging life under these carefully defined conditions, we must object to euthanasia for any reason. We reject active euthanasia because it is the same as killing a person. Even if person himself requests to be administered with a lethal drug to hasten death, it would violate the 6th commandment to comply. Any doctor who assists a patient to end his life at the patient’s own request is going against God’s law. The doctor would no longer be fulfilling his commitment to healing and curing, but would now function as an executioner.

There are those who hold that it is wrong for the Christian to participate in war because they claim that all war is wrong (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses). But the Bible speaks of God as a God of war, the Lord of armies (hosts). The New Testament tells us that the final great war will be waged by Christ Himself. Therefore waging war is not always immoral. In fact all believers are involved in spiritual warfare. Military officers always seem to appear in the Bible in a favorable light, e.g. Cornelius, and in instructions for them, never are they told to leave military service.

Though most wars are not justifed there are wars that are. When the nation calls upon a Christian to use military force to defend it in a just war, he should participate in it. These are wars fought only for defensive reasons. All aggressive or offensive wars are condemned, except perhaps for preventive aggression. God no longer has a chosen people whom He sends into war by direct revelation (c.f. Israel conquering Canaan). The only legitimate intention for war is to secure peace for all involved. Neither revenge nor conquest nor economic gain nor ideological supremacy are justified. War is to be a last resort, entered upon only when all negotiations and compromise have been tried and failed.

The gay movement claims that being a homosexual is not sinful because it is due to inborn genetic traits that one cannot be held responsible for. But medical research has failed to find any evidence for this. It is now known today that it is a socially learned response. The Scriptures give us the complete picture: it is the result of man’s depraved sinful nature interacting with a sinful social environment. Homosexuality violates God’s design in marriage: He made Adam and Eve, male and female, and married them. It undermines what God has ordained to be the basic unit of society: the family. It brought God’s fiery judgment upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). In the Mosaic law those guilty of homosexual sins were to be put to death. It is a sign of society’s turning away (apostasy) from God (Romans 1:26-27). There are no exceptions to this. All homosexuals who refuse to repent and change their ways are outside of God’s kingdom and under His great wrath.

What to do if you have been a homosexual and want to put things right? Repent. Choose to reverse your condition. It can be done, especially with the power of the Holy Spirit. Many have successfully changed after conversion, and become normal Christians with families.

Those who advocate such change say, "This is my body, this is my life: I have the right to do whatever I like with it." But if we are in Christ, the Bible says that our lives are no longer our own but God’s. Only He has the right to change us. And since He made us what we are now – male or female – it must be His intention for us to be that way and to remain that way. God never makes mistakes. To change one’s sex by an operation is in effect saying to God, "Oh God, you made a mistake, and now I have to correct it for you." Let us learn to be content with what God has endowed us with, and make the best use of it for His glory. Wanting to be what we are not given by God to be is also the sin of covetousness.

No, it is not all right if God is excluded from it and the motivation is just to get rich and prosperous. (Mat 6:31-34; James 4:13-15; see the Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:16-21). God hates the attitude of independent, self-glorifying ambitious planning and striving, to make a name for oneself -- cf. Tower of Babel.

But it is all right if our plans are made in submission to God’s master plan and has God’s glory as its ultimate goal. (Prov 3:5,6; Psa 37:4,5; Prov 16:9). Let God be the one to promote us up the corporate ladder, and not vie for it ourselves (Ps 75:6,7). E.g. Jabez (1 Chron 4:10).

Saving itself is a good habit that should be cultivated (Proverbs 30:25 - "The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer."). There is nothing immoral about putting money in the bank to collect interest. (Some say it is not earned by work, and so is wrong) In the parable of the Pounds, the nobleman rebuked the lazy servant: "Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?" (Luke 19:23)

But the extreme of hoarding (as a miser does) is wrong (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15). How do we draw the line? We must strike a good balance. Saving as a protection against future adversity is acting in unbelief, but saving as a provision for future known needs is acceptable. Savings or insurance for what might prove crippling loss through common accidents or fire can be made in faith, but any attempt to protect against all potential hazards in life is futile as well as unbelieving (Larry Burkett).

Remind him about the item. Perhaps the failure to return it is due to some careless negligence. If he still does not repay, do not bring him to court as this would be a bad testimony (1 Corinthians 6:1, 6-7 - "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? … But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers…") If the matter cannot be settled within the fellowship of believers, then don’t pursue the issue further. Permit yourself to be defrauded rather than to bring disrepute on Jesus’ name. Write off his debt and remember, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Litigation against an unbeliever or an impersonal corporation however, may be legitimate for believers, so long as the law of love for neighbour (Christian or non-Christian) is not violated and so long as justice is served with integrity.

In any war both sides recognize that deception is one of the best weapons of war, and a person takes a risk by trusting the enemy. One example of this is the soldier’s use of camouflage to deceive the enemy as to his whereabouts. Truth must always be given to whom it is due, but it may not be given to whom it is not due, such as an enemy who may plan to use that truth for evil purposes. In the wars that the Israelites fought against the Canaanites, Joshua was instructed by God to set up an ambush on the city of Ai, and this is one of the deadliest forms of deception.



However the deliberate telling of lies when one is questioned is never justified, even in war time. Hence, if a soldier is captured and interrogated as to the whereabouts of the rest of his batallion, it would not be right for him to give a false location to throw the enemy off the trail. He should rather keep silent and refuse to say anything rather than to tell the truth (which would jeopardise the lives of his fellow soldiers) or to tell a lie (which would jeopardise his testimony as a Christian, and the integrity of his conscience before God).

How about Rahab the harlot? Did she not lie to the men sent by the king of Jericho to search for the Israelite spies? (Joshua 2:1-6) Does the saving of the spies’ lives not make her lie necessary? Looking at the passage again, one will find that her lie may not have been needed at all, since she had already taken the precaution to hide the spies with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. The king’s men may not have bothered to search among the stalks of flax if they searched her house. But Rahab, fearing the worst and perhaps wavering in her infant faith in God to protect them, told a lie to ensure that the soldiers would not even begin to search her house. Even though the desired result was achieved, the end does not justify the means that she used. It is important to note that Rahab was praised by God not because of her lie but because of her faith in Him which worked by receiving the spies into her house (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).

A soldier who is a Christian need not worry about situations where it may be difficult to maintain his moral integrity without endangering innocent lives or the lives of his fellow soldiers. He can trust the Lord to give him the wisdom to answer or act at that moment. Jesus said in Mark 13:11 - "But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost." Some have testified of surprising results from doing that in a wartime situation - the danger was avoided without compromising moral integrity.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

November 19 & 26 - The End of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10