Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Children are not things

Many of you have heard the story of Sean and Carolyn Savage, the couple who, having participated once in the evil of IVF, decided to try to manufacture another child in this way--only to learn after the human child in his embryonic stage had successfully implanted in Carolyn that the child she was carrying was the wrong product of the IVF clinic's manufacturing process--or, in other words, the child she was carrying belonged to someone else. Carolyn then carried the baby to term and gave him to his real mother, which was a laudable thing to do despite the evil of the acts that led there.

Today, though, I learned via Deacon Greg Kandra's blog that the Savages consider themselves Catholics. And since they are once again expecting IVF babies, they are naturally hurt and upset that the Church has spoken out forcefully to condemn the evil of IVF:

When a fertility center made a critical error by transferring another couple's embryos to my wife, we were thrust into an unusual pregnancy and eventually found ourselves at the center of an intense media storm. On September 24, 2009, the day Carolyn gave birth to a very loved baby boy, who was immediately turned over to his genetic parents, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo released a statement to The Toledo Blade condemning IVF as "morally unacceptable."

Because we were the focus of the news, we felt as though the diocese was really condemning us.

The statement hurt Carolyn and me tremendously. We had hoped for the church's support and prayer on one of the hardest days we've ever faced. [...]

Instead of support, the church branded us in a very public way with the apparently shameful letters IVF. Why couldn't the church recognize our journey for what it was - an affirmation of the sanctity of life? Their negative response motivated me to look closer at the issue. [...]

Now for the ironic in Donum Vitae: "Scientists are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born."

So although there are solutions for sterile couples today, those should not be sought because they are outside of the conjugal act? If Carolyn and I were to wait until the scientific advances described in this statement before pursuing additional children, we would not have our daughter - or the opportunity to welcome two more children into this world this August.

If science can advance to the point that all procreation can happen within the confines of the conjugal act, that would be incredible. But what do couples do while waiting the years and probable decades before these advances come to fruition?

I have written many times about the evil of IVF (see here, here, here, and here for some of the posts on that subject). I don't want to go over too much old ground, but in essence: IVF is evil because it treats the child as a commodity, a "thing" to be manufactured on demand instead of a gift from the loving God who blesses the marital union with fruitfulness in His due season. Children born after IVF are no more at fault than the children of rape or incest, and should be loved for their own sake--but parents who use IVF to manufacture children have participated in a grave evil and a very serious sin, and must repent and turn back to the loving God Whom they have turned against by this evil.

One of the evil effects of IVF can be seen in Sean Savage's writing, above: IVF creates in parents a sense of entitlement, a belief that children are things which are somehow owed to them by virtue of their marriage, not an understanding that children are persons created and brought into being by a loving God Who knows and sees what we cannot know and can never see. The same view of children as property lies behind the fearful use of artificial contraception and abortion; the same lack of trust in God to determine our family size is responsible for artificial birth control and for IVF.

Embracing God's will in terms of our families is a hard thing to do. One family may be blessed with abundant fertility that laughs at the very notion of nursing amenorrhea; another family may have several children in the first few years of marriage--and then one, or no, more--still another family may wish fervently for a large family and have God send them only one or two or three before secondary infertility or illness or other matters interfere; and hardest of all is the cross carried by the infertile, who wish for even one child, but are denied this wish's fulfillment. The world sees these matters and says: Easy! Use artificial contraception to keep from having too many children, and use IVF to keep from having too few, or none. Forget all this superstitious nonsense about people being gifts from God with immortal souls, part of His divine plan: we're just animated carbon racing toward oblivion, so make as many--or as few--as you like, provided you can pay for it all!

But Christians aren't supposed to live according to the selfish values of the world. Nowhere is the contrast between Church teaching and worldly values more clear than in matters pertaining to human sexuality, to the welcoming of children, and to the adherence to moral means of family planning and fertility enhancement. Mr. Savage's article seems to miss the point of Christian living entirely, as he expresses the desire for the Church to support him in the evil he has chosen, complains that the Church won't change her teachings to suit him, and asks what he's supposed to do about it all?

What the Savages are supposed to do is exactly what every Catholic is supposed to do: follow God's will as expressed through Church teaching. What they are not supposed to do is to thwart Church teaching, willfully participate in gravely evil acts, and then ask for a blessing for having done so. But that distinction is lost on people who have decided to be their own gods, because what they want is more important to them than what He wills and commands.

43 comments:

John E. said...

Well, that's people for you, I guess - going ahead and practicing IVF just because they want to propagate their own genes instead of reconciling themselves to the teachings of The Church.

I guess they think they are Autonomous Individuals who can do what they want with their own lives, or something.

Red Cardigan said...

Problem is, John E., they're not playing with their *own* lives.

You could use the same rationale to justify murder, theft, or any number of other things--why should anybody oppose any of those things, if not for religious reasons?

Geoff G. said...

I'm trying to reconcile the idea that using IVF to conceive are somehow different from a married couple who deliberately tries to conceive in other ways.

If I'm reading you correctly, the sin is in the fact that the parents are taking actions (like going to a fertility clinic) for the express purpose of creating a child in order to satisfy their own desires.

Well what about people who use less drastic but still artificial means to increase the odds of conception? For instance, you can track a woman's fertile period and have sex when she's most fertile, using the rhythm method in reverse, as it were.

If it's the "commodification" of the child, surely the means used is irrelevant and it's the intent of the parents that matters, right? (One reason I've always had a bit of a problem swallowing the rhythm method loophole when it comes to the ban on contraception).

In other words, it seems like anyone who's not just having sex (within marriage, of course) at random and as the mood strikes and simply accepting however many children may or may not come is on a dangerous path.

Have I got that right?

John E. said...

Problem is, John E., they're not playing with their *own* lives.

So would it be better if those IVF conceived children had not existed at all?

You could use the same rationale to justify murder, theft, or any number of other things--why should anybody oppose any of those things, if not for religious reasons?

Why, except for religious reasons, could I oppose murder or theft?

Well....because I like my stuff and don't want anyone taking it from me? Because I enjoy living and don't want anyone to end my life?

c matt said...

Those would be reasons to oppose murder or theft against you, but not in general. Why should the guy murdering or robbing you care about your "personal" belief that stealing form or killing you is wrong, if that's what he wants to do? Aren't you imposing your morality on him by saying his free choice to rob you is wrong? Aren't you denying him the right to be an Autonomous Individual who can do what he wants with his own life, or something?

c matt said...

Come to think of it, the Church did not prevent the Savages from being Autonomous Individuals. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth - by calling themselves Catholic and demanding that the Church support their decision, they are seeking to prevent the Church from being autonmous. All the Chruch did was point out that their actions are a grave sin with the attendant consequences. I did not see that they were physically restrained or preventd from doing as they please.

Dymphna said...

I saw their book at Borders a few days ago. I suspect this is promotion.

John E. said...

cmatt:

Why should the guy murdering or robbing you care about your "personal" belief that stealing form or killing you is wrong, if that's what he wants to do?

Because I'll do my best to kill him if he tries.


Aren't you imposing your morality on him by saying his free choice to rob you is wrong?

I'm not saying it is wrong, and I'm not imposing my morality on him. I'm saying I will oppose his actions by use of lethal force, if necessary.

Aren't you denying him the right to be an Autonomous Individual who can do what he wants with his own life, or something?

Not at all - I'm simply making that option as unattractive as possible.

All the Chruch did was point out that their actions are a grave sin with the attendant consequences.

What consequences would those be?



I did not see that they were physically restrained or preventd from doing as they please.

Well, I should hope not!

Red Cardigan said...

John E., are you saying that theft and murder are only "wrong" in that the thief and/or murderer might be thwarted by the self-defense of his target?

If that's the case, then it's fine to steal from the powerless or to kill those who can't fight back. Like...human embryos, for example. But we'll have to add the elderly, the infirm, and anybody else who can't defend themselves...

I've challenged people before to tell me why theft, in particular, is wrong without referring to any religious values. I've never received a convincing answer.

Red Cardigan said...

Geoff, there's a great deal of difference between trying to learn the natural process of a woman's fertility cycle in order to plan one's marital actions accordingly, and removing a woman's eggs through a painful and difficult, highly unnatural chemical-induced process, mixing them with sperm obtained via a husband's self-pleasuring acts (also gravely sinful, according to Church law), creating a dozen or so embryos to be implanted, and then surgically implanting them a few at a time in the hopes that the chemicals etc. being used to trick the woman's body into accepting this sudden "pregnancy" (which is devoid of the natural hormonal signals the developing embryo gives her body to keep it from shedding the uterine lining, and so forth) will work.

Not only is there a high failure rate, but also there is the likelihood that, in the event more than one or two embryos actually implant, the woman will then turn to a reduction abortion in order not to give birth to multiple babies.

IVF is not even remotely natural, and when the natural desire for children is warped into a determination to pursue such an unnatural manufacturing process to obtain the desired "product," the objectification of the child is already well underway.

IVF deprives children of their birthright: their right to be born as the direct result of their parents' marital embrace. Other evils, such as rape or incest, also deny children this birthright, and are also intrinsically evil.

pat said...

"I've challenged people before to tell me why theft, in particular, is wrong without referring to any religious values. I've never received a convincing answer."

Erin, don't be surprised if only you find that statement a compelling standard of proof.

Defining "wrong" universally, for everyone, without reference to your religious values is easy, Kant did it long ago.

But if you yourself cannot define "wrong" universally, for everyone, without reference to your religious values, then your questioning becomes disingenuous, because your never receiving a convincing answer is already a foregone conclusion.

But you already knew that, and this exercise was only intended to fill blog space anyway, so I hope I helped a little in the real quest, if not in your question about theft.

John E. said...

Hey Red, what I'm doing is answering the very specific questions put to me. In your original case, you asked why anyone should oppose theft.

I answered, quite reasonably, I thought, that I oppose theft because I like my stuff.

c matt asked me the why the other guy should care about my desires - I gave an answer that made sense to me.

You've now asked another sort of question, whether it is fine to steal from those who can't fight back.

Well, first point is that you are framing your question in terms of an abstract morality - is it right to do this or wrong to do that - whereas I am framing my argument in utilitarian terms.

Before I answer your question as to the sick and infirm, let me address your last question:

I've challenged people before to tell me why theft, in particular, is wrong without referring to any religious values. I've never received a convincing answer.

A society in which theft is common is much less stable than a society in which theft is discouraged.

For this reason, we have social structures that act to discourage people from stealing from the sick, weak, and infirm and to punish those who do.

I'll add that many of the sick, weak, and infirm are capable of using a gun to defend themselves.

So, to answer your last question in full, theft is 'wrong' because it tends to de-stabilize society.

You might rightly ask me why it is wrong to de-stabilize society - to which my only answer is that a large number of people prefer a stable society and will use force to keep it stable.

You might recall that I've had this discussion before over at Rod's blog, back in the day.

John E. said...

pat posted while I was posting...

I'm sure that we all recognize that

A society in which theft is common is much less stable than a society in which theft is discouraged.

is simply a specific case of the Kantian categorical imperative.

John E. said...

IVF deprives children of their birthright: their right to be born as the direct result of their parents' marital embrace.

Whereas forbidding IVF deprives children of the opportunity to be born in the first place.

Red Cardigan said...

John, does forbidding rape deprive the children conceived in rape of the opportunity to be born? Should we end laws against rape?

Red Cardigan said...

Pat, I don't want to get too far off-topic here, but there's a difference between accepting philosophical underpinnings of morality and virtue (which are never quite universal--is the exposure and death of deformed infants morally good or morally evil? for example) and internalizing right and wrong for one's own self.

John, I've said it before: were I not a Catholic, I would have a very hard time *not* committing any act of theft, backstabbing (not literally, for the most part) or other criminal or morally dubious action that would provide direct benefit (largely financial, but other benefit as well) to myself, provided I could get away with those acts. Why should I care if society is destabilized? I'm not society.

And if I'm nothing but an organic pain collector racing toward oblivion, then why the hell wouldn't I want to accumulate as much wealth and power by any means possible--moral, legal, or not--as I possibly could in the extremely short time I have here on earth?

Mark Shea, today, shares a Chesterton poem that makes the same point:

http://tinyurl.com/3hes34l

John E. said...

The difference between rape and IVF is that rape involves a non-consensual assault upon a person, whereas IVF does not.

Insert obligatory "a society where rape is frequent is less stable than one in which rape is rare, and a large number of people prefer a stable society and will use force to keep it stable," here...

John E. said...

Why should I care if society is destabilized? I'm not society.

Red, I can only answer that with an appeal to force - the rest of us prefer a stable society and we will act to prevent you from taking those actions and will inflict damage upon your person in the form of fines, imprisonment, or death if we find that you have taken those actions in the past.

So, while you might not care if society is destabilized, you would do well to take our reactions to your actions into consideration.

Red Cardigan said...

IVF involves a non-consensual assault on humans in the embryonic stage--but I already know they count only as "non-persons" to you, John.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, and the vast majority of those embryos end up dead, discarded, or frozen to be used in ESCR research. So, yes, I did mean "assault."

Red Cardigan said...

One more thing: if I were amoral and thus determined to enrich myself at any cost, society's frowning wouldn't bother me much. As it hasn't bothered the CEOs of corporations who took bailouts, etc.

Patrick said...

@ John E.

"...rape involves a non-consensual assault upon a person."

Why does a person's consent matter? Is there any proof that child rape "de-stabilizes society"?

There are several Islamic countries where female genital mutilation is quite common, as is spousal rape and frankly, "honor killings" of people who have had the unfortunate "dishonor" of being a rape victims. These societies are quite stable (so long as they're not being bombed by the U.S.). This suggests either no correlation between rape and stability or a slight *positive* correlation between rape and stability.

If one could prove that there was a positive correlation between rape and stability, would rape be ok? You say "consent"; why is it important to have the person's consent? That argument (as well as the "categorical imperative", to my knowledge) relies on an argument of individual dignity that neither Kant, you, nor pat above has proven. I know why I believe consent matters; but I'm a mainstream Catholic.

Controlling for societal stability, why does consent matter at all?

John E. said...

Red, those embryos never developed a brain. There was never any self-awareness involved. There was no person there yet.

Patrick:
If one could prove that there was a positive correlation between rape and stability, would rape be ok?

Prove it first, then get back to me.

Red Cardigan said...

So, anencephalic babies are not people, John E.? We can smother any who don't happen to be aborted?

Patrick said...

@ John E:

Sorry, John E. The burden of proof falls on the fellow who can't say why it's important to consent to sex, and then says, "stability stability stability" without any evidence.

Done with this thread unless you've got something.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

You could all have saved yourselves a lot of mutual utilitarianism, of the honest variety and of the variety that comes cloaked in spiritual polemics, with this simple answer to cmatt's first point:

"Those would be reasons to oppose murder or theft against you, but not in general."

Add "the golden rule" to John E.'s statement of opposition to theft, murder, etc., and we have an answer.

I don't want people stealing my stuff, you don't want people stealing your stuff, so we make a pact that neither of us will steal from the other, and we will collectively apprehend, if necessary kill, otherwise inflict discouraging penalties upon, anyone who breaks this mutually agreeable pact.

For those who believe in God, this is also in accordance with His Will. However, one does not have to believe in God to adhere to this social pact. As Screwtape observed, the emergence of anything like a just society would be a disaster to the adherents of Our Father Below, that is, if there are such things.

Getting back to IVF, the Savages make the best case for IVF I can imagine. I would prefer that IVF, like abortion, be used sparingly, and as a last resort. I appreciate that cmatt is not trying to invoke the coercive powers of the state to prevent the Savages from turning to IVF, merely trying to make a case that they should voluntarily CHOOSE not to attempt it. There are many reasons to prefer the natural method of conception, not least, the higher rate of genetic defects with IVF, probably because the natural process sorts out and discards both genetically defective ova and sperm, and some portion of genetically defective zygotes.

Taking as a given the Roman Catholic teaching on IVF, it seems the church could indeed have been more compassionate, perhaps responding to the unfortunate media play with an affirmation of what said church believes, but also acknowledging that the Savage's unfortunate choice had resulted in a dilemma which they handled with grace and propriety. IF their priest felt compelled to advise them not to try it again, well, they have to decide what it means to them to be Catholic. They could choose to be Lutheran, or Unitarian, or Jewish, or...

cations -- chemistry in Word Verification

John E. said...

Well Patrick, here's why rape might promote social instability - it could lead to blood feuds as family members seek revenge. It could lead to murder as the person rape seeks revenge on the rapist.



This suggests either no correlation between rape and stability or a slight *positive* correlation between rape and stability.

Correlation is not causation.


So now that I've put forth some reasons why rape might de-stabilize a society, would you put forth some speculation on how rape might lead to social stability?

...who can't say why it's important to consent to sex

I don't know where you got that from. I just explained above why it is important - so that the person raped and/or their associates don't go out seeking revenge.


Red - No, it isn't a person because it lacks the parts of the brain the create self-awareness.

And that is a different question than whether or not smothering the baby is okay.

We as a society have decided that children born alive are not to be killed. So, under the laws governing conduct here in the US, no it would not be okay.

Red Cardigan said...

I dare you to meet any parents of an anencephalic baby who loved that child until he or she died and announce to them that their child was never a person, John.

John E. said...

Well, Red - that would be pointlessly cruel, so I wouldn't do that.

Geoff G. said...

I certainly don't know much about the subject, so I'll defer to your greater expertise about the problems with IVF in particular.

But where, precisely, do we draw the line? Suppose the husband requires artificial hormones in order to increase his sperm count. Is that acceptable? And if so, then why can't a woman use hormones to prevent a pregnancy (which is how birth control pills work)?

Or perhaps it's OK to use "natural" methods of affecting hormone levels (say diet and exercise) but not OK to inject those hormones directly, even though the end result is exactly the same.

I'm trying to get a sense of where the bright line is being drawn here.

Bathilda said...

Jeez, get off the rape arguments, gents. It's NEVER okay. Child rape destablizes society because those children (MANY of them) end up with addictions and/or serious psychological problems, then becoming burdens on society in general. The societies in which rape, honor killings, bride kidnappings, etc are Okay, are hardly what I would call stable. They can exist, and they have without anyone fighting them about it, but those "stable" societies exist in vacuums and not without considerable misery and pain by both sides of the infliction. They are also on the decline as women find their voice in many places. Remember, it's relatively new for women to not be considered property. IN THIS COUNTRY, let alone in some less "modern" cultures.

Red, would you really be a thief and murderer if you didn't have the Church? wow. I wonder what the rapist priests would get up to without the Church. My father is an Atheist, and he has never even considered stealing, lying or cheating. He is painfully honest, and I daresay more moral than many Christians I have met.

Erin said...

Geoff: The line is drawn here: It's OK to promote (what most people would call) normal, healthy human functioning.

I think it would be OK to use hormones (natural or synthetic) to restore a man's sperm count to a fertile level. That would be a restoration of health.

Since a fertile woman's body is working properly--with the appropriate levels of hormones at the right times--there is no need to mess with it by adding any sorts of hormones. To prevent pregnancy, you simply need to abstain at the appropriate times.

In the man's case, there is a disorder that is being addressed. In the woman's case, there is no disorder with her functioning.

Erin said...

Also, I kind of wish we could avoid using the word "natural" when talking about these issues, since I think Catholics and non-Catholics use it in different ways, so it's easily misunderstood.

The church doesn't oppose hormonal contraception because it's "unnatural"--after all, plenty of medical interventions (like antibiotics) are "unnatural" and the church is OK with them.

Likewise, the withdrawal method of birth control is perfectly "natural," but the Church does NOT approve of it.

When Catholics use the word "natural," I think they mean "in keeping with human nature as designed by God," but when non-Catholics use it, they often mean something like "organic" or "unartificial."

Red Cardigan said...

Bathilda, my point in those sorts of comments is this: we are all shaped by the values of Christianity, even as we experience the moral decay of living in a post-Christian society.

The ancient Romans thought it was no big deal to expose infants to die. They also didn't care much about rape, provided you weren't raping a girl of good family and means; slave girls, poor women, etc. were perfectly fair "targets" for the distinguished classes. Of course there were plenty of cases of male rape, too, also involving the young, the weak, and the powerless.

In some ancient cultures, stealing was perfectly fine, so long as you stole from enemies and not from anyone whose hospitality you'd accepted. It only "destabilized society" if you stole from a friend; outsiders, foreigners, and members of rival tribes were fair game.

So when I say I'd likely be, at least, a thief (though today you'd be a fool to steal without first enlisting the government as an accomplice; no mere private thief can steal on the magnitude of a simple Senator or Congressman these days) if not for Christianity I'm just being realistic about what the world would look like without it. The moral atheists of our world have been formed under the shadow of the Ten Commandments, so to speak, and our societal approval of those--and now that that approval is disappearing, I expect that even moral atheists will find it hard to condemn such abstract things as pornography or certain types of theft in the age to come.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I think the purpose of the Blogger outage was to delete every comment I ever posted. I know I typed this before, AND saw it appear in this column. Well, one more time:

Between John E's second comment, and cmatt's first, add "the Golden Rule" and the dilemma is solved.

I don't want you stealing my stuff. You don't want me stealing your stuff. So, we agree that neither of us will steal each other's stuff (nor kill each other, even when we are very passionate about some issue we take opposite sides of). Expanding this pragmatic rule, we agree to apprehend, if necessary kill, if that is avoidable, discourage with significant pains and penalties, anyone else who tries to steal my stuff OR your stuff.

To those who believe in God, this social compact is manifestly in accordance with God's will, but you can be an atheist and still agree it makes sense. Also, people who profess faith in God have, at some point in history, violated such pacts with impunity, in the name of God.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

See, there it is, its posted. I know I posted something specifically about the Savages too. Maybe I'll try that again tomorrow, that is, if this comment is still visible.

John E. said...

Looks like the Ministry of Truth has been busy putting posts down the Memory Hole...

melanie said...

The golden rule or the idea of you don't steal from me I won't steal from you, only works if as a first principle individuals accept that all of humanity has said fundamental rights. It does not work if we continue to be able to classify some of humanity as sub- human and not part of our little "agreement". The "agreement" assumes too many things prior to it's being enforceable.
That being said, if embryos have the fundamental dignity and rights, than IVF becomes problematic IF it assumes that some embryos must die in the process. ( I am not sure about Erin's argument that children must come from the conjugal act, have to look at that more closely ). Because all embryos must under the "agreement" have equal rights and opportunity to life. If you do not agree on the first principle the "agreement" is fundamentally flawed because morality still remains totally subjective and therefore ultimately unenforceable.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

You are right Melanie. Social compacts only work if we don't exclude people from the compact.

There have been times and places when children were considered the property of their fathers, who could even kill them if they displeased him, and nobody interfered. There is a general consensus in our culture that children, while not entitled to full legal rights as adults, and subject to parental supervision and discipline of some sort, are entitled to protection from homicide, torture, prostitution.

We do not, in this country, or in most cultures, have an overwhelming consensus that an embryo is a human being. I'm a relatively conservative pro-choice person: I believe LEGAL protection begins with cognition and/or clear evidence that pain is felt and recognized, probably around week 20.

The agreement works perfectly well without embryos. For one thing, embryos are not capable of stealing my stuff or killing me, so it doesn't undermine my security that they are excluded. By contrast, Jews, Africans, Muslims, are all quite capable of stealing from my or killing me, and if excluded from the compact, are more likely to do so.

We COULD extend the compact to include embryos. But more people than not are not presently inclined to do so. That isn't strictly a matter of believe in God either. There is godlessatheistsfor life, and there are Christians who are pro-choice.

melanie said...

I guess I was trying to argue two separate but related points.The first, against the idea of a social contract as a way of solving moral relativism without bases on anything but human agreement. Because, in truth, it presupposes certain absolutes in order to "work". Just one of those absolutes would be human dignity of all persons. Others would be that stealing is harmful to a persons well being, again, it presupposes a definition of what that means. Defined probably by some sort societal peace as discussed above, which in turn would need its own definition. All of this is difficult to do if we, finally, don't admit some absolute
"good" that we perceive as valuable to attain. Which,
again, would need a definition- a relation to some thing
outside of subjectivism. Ultimately, these "absolutes" depend on a common definition, a common defining principle that comes from something outside of ourselves.
Anyway, second argument related to IVF specifically. The church, at least, argues that from conception embryos have human dignity and therefore equal right to life. You cannot manufacture embryos with the knowledge that some will not survive just for the sake of upping the chances that at least one will. I completely understand how that is problematic for some people- embryos being fully human. But that's a whole different argument. At least different than John E's original objection that we don't need God to help us with moral law. Therefore who is He to tell someone they can't use IVF.

melanie said...

ps all of that may have already been said and much better than I said it but blogger ate half the comments before I could read them!

John E. said...

At least different than John E's original objection that we don't need God to help us with moral law. Therefore who is He to tell someone they can't use IVF.


If God came down from the heavens and made that pronouncement, that would be one thing.

But as it is, He, if He exists, seems to be silent on this and other matters.

What we have is a bunch of guys claiming to speak for Him telling people what to do.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

John E. neatly hits on the problem with translating moral Absolutes into enforceable human law.

Stable government and the approximate consensus required to make laws effective is ultimately based on pragmatism, not on agreement as to what moral law is. Those participating as citizens ARE guided by their own sense of moral law (including those who choose obedience to a church canon as their yardstick).

Simply relying on the golden rule produces pragmatic, enforceable, law that does establish a framework of dignity for each person.

For most of human history, that has not been true. Some very pious cultures and civilizations were based on the assumption that the inferior were the property of the superior, and that victory in battle was a sign of God's favor, entitling the victor to enslave the vanquished.