Friday, October 6th, 2006


If a church member commits adultery, and the elders enact church discipline via informing the congregation of their sin, is that an invasion of privacy? That’s the issue a couple of churches in Texas are facing since they have been sued by their congregants for doing just this.

Andy and Seni, I’d be interested to get your legal take on this.

This brings up an important matter: the proper interpretation of I Timothy 5:20–“Those guilty of sin must be rebuked before all, as a warning to the rest.” Many pastors understand this passage to mean they are to publicly rebuke saints for personal moral failure. Many use this passage as an excuse to publicly rebuke saints for violating certain pastoral standards as well. Does this verse give them authority to do either? The answer is a resounding NO! The context makes it abundantly clear that those to be rebuked are elders who sin. Consider the preceding verses:

Elders who provide effective leadership must be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching. 5:18 For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The worker deserves his pay.” 5:19 Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. (5:17-19)

The reason elders are to be rebuked is because of their leadership role. Others are following them as they follow Christ. If they are not following Christ, those following them need to know. Furthermore, if the sin is hidden rather than publicly dealt with it opens the church up to the charge of mishandling and cover-up. Just ask the Catholic Church! But when it comes to non-elders it is a different story. According to Proverbs 10:12 “love covers all sins.” I Peter 4:8 says “love covers a multitude of sins.” Love seeks to hide the moral failures of the repentant, not make them public.

Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures (MCSCRC), a cloning and embryonic stem cell research advocacy group, uses misinformation to persuade the Michigan public towards their agenda. For example, on their FAQ page for somatic cell nuclear transfer they responded as follows to the question, “What is somatic cell nuclear transfer?”:

 

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a laboratory procedure that creates embryos for use in stem cell research; sometimes referred to as “therapeutic cloning.” In SCNT, nuclear transfer is used for medical treatment or research. For example, nuclear transfer could be used to create a line of embryonic stem cells genetically identical to the donor. These embryonic stem cells could then be used to generate specialized cells that are transplanted into the patient to replace cells lost to injury or disease. When used in a medical treatment, this would ensure that the new cells would not face rejection by the patient’s immune system. Nuclear transfer also gives researchers the ability to create stem cell lines that carry genetic defects that cause inherited human diseases, allowing them to study the origin of these diseases and potentially to develop new treatments.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>

This is simply not true. SCNT is a laboratory procedure that creates human embryos, period. What scientists intend to do with the embryos created by SCNT is irrelevant. The MCSCRC is illegitimately incorporating scientists’ intentions into the definition of SCNT itself.

 

They are a little more honest when answering the question, “How does SCNT work?”

 

SCNT substitutes the nucleus of a somatic cell (which contains all the genetic information of the patient) for the nucleus of a donated egg that has not been fertilized. In cell culture, this customized egg is then coaxed with an electronic or chemical catalyst to develop into a zygote as if it had been fertilized. The zygote begins cell division and develops into a ball of cells called the morula and then into the blastocyst at approximately five days. The inner cell mass of the blastocyst is then removed to generate a pluripotent stem cell line. After the inner cell mass is removed, the blastocyst is no longer capable of further development.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]<!–[endif]–>

At least they indicate what the product is (zygote). Unfortunately, most people will not know what that is. And rather than calling it an embryo after the one-cell stage, they refer to it as a morula. It appears that they are trying to avoid the word “human” and “embryo” at all costs.

 

And don’t miss the euphemism for killing: “no longer capable of further development.”

 

The most disingenuous quote is when answering the question, “Can SCNT be used to clone humans?” They answer:

 

No. The purpose of SCNT is to find cures and therapies to treat human disease. SCNT awakens the natural capacity for self-repair that resides in a person’s genes. While SCNT has been the technique used to clone animals like “Dolly” the sheep, there is no evidence that it could also successfully clone a human due to the increased complexity of the human organism. The overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical communities in the United States is that human reproductive cloning should be banned.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[3]<!–[endif]–>

What a mess of a statement! In one sense they are right. Current technology has not advanced to the point where a human has been successfully cloned, but people all over the world are trying to do this very thing! But they contradict themselves. They say SCNT can’t be used to clone humans, and yet they say cloning humans should be banned. Why do so if SCNT is incapable of doing so? Obviously it can.

 

To say the purpose of SCNT is to find cures is absolutely false. The purpose of SCNT is to create new human beings asexually. What the creator of those human beings does with them afterwards is irrelevant to what the purpose of SCNT is in itself.

 

On their “Facts & Myth page” they answer the supposed myth that “cloning is cloning is cloning. It’s all the same.”

 

FACT: Not all cloning is the same. According to the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), scientists do many kinds of cloning every day, most of which is commonly accepted. Cloning has allowed scientists to develop powerful new drugs and to produce insulin and useful bacteria in the lab. It also allows researchers to track the origins of biological weapons, catch criminals, and free innocent people. There’s a world of difference between reproductive cloning- something that should be banned right away – and therapeutic cloning, also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Therapeutic cloning is the transplanting of a patient’s own DNA into an unfertilized egg in order to grow stem cells that could cure devastating diseases. Reproductive cloning is the use of cloning technology to create a child. GPI, along with leading scientists and most Americans, oppose reproductive cloning.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[4]<!–[endif]–>

What exactly is the “world of difference” between reproductive and therapeutic cloning? There is none! It’s the same process, the same result. The only difference is what the scientist does with the clone once SCNT is complete.

 

They go on to tackle this supposed myth: “Therapeutic cloning is a slippery slope that leads to reproductive cloning. There is no dividing line between the two forms of cloning.”

FACT: Therapeutic cloning produces stem cells, not babies. With therapeutic cloning, there is no fertilization of the egg by sperm, no implantation in the uterus and no pregnancy. Dr. Harold Varmus, the former head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a Nobel laureate, says there is a profound distinction between cloning with the intent of making a human being and research cloning to help understand and treat life-threatening diseases and conditions. Implantation into a womb is the clear, bright line that divides reproductive and non-reproductive technologies. Without implantation, no new human life is possible. This is where society can and must draw the line.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[5]<!–[endif]–>

This is laughable! There are so many word games being played here I don’t know where to begin. The MCSCRC recognizes that most people use “baby” to refer to a post-natal human being. By choosing to use that word they can say cloning does not produce babies. But they know that’s now what people are concerned with. People are concerned that cloning produces a new human being. And they should be because it does! Besides, therapeutic cloning does not produce stem cells. It produces human zygotes who begin to develop in the same way every one of us developed at that stage in our lives.

 

The fact that there is no fertilization involved in cloning (by definition) is irrelevant. Both fertilization and cloning produce the exact same product: a human zygote. The fact that scientists fail to implant the clone into a uterus does not change what it is. And to say “without implantation no new human life is possible” is simply false. Obviously the embryo from which the scientists are extracting stem cells are alive, and their genetic signature identifies them as human. In fact, that’s why scientists are interested in their stem cells.

 

 

 

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>1<!–[endif]–>Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, “Facts &amp; Myth”; available from http://www.stemcellresearchformichigan.com/faq-somatic.html; Internet; accessed 22 September 2006.

2Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, “Facts &amp; Myth”; available from http://www.stemcellresearchformichigan.com/faq-somatic.html; Internet; accessed 22 September 2006.

3Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, “Facts &amp; Myth”; available from http://www.stemcellresearchformichigan.com/faq-somatic.html; Internet; accessed 22 September 2006.

4Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, “Facts &amp; Myth”; available from http://www.stemcellresearchformichigan.com/factsmyths.html; Internet; accessed 22 September 2006.

5Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, “Facts &amp; Myth”; available from http://www.stemcellresearchformichigan.com/factsmyths.html; Internet; accessed 22 September 2006.


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