The Sadness of “Octomom”

I haven’t commented on the Octomom yet, so even as the tragedy continues, I will write a couple comments about what makes me so sad…

Today there was the story on CNN that tells how the free nurses that were helping the mother were fired. The article continues:

Suleman — already a single mother with six young children — gave birth to the octuplets through in-vitro fertilization, fueling controversy. News of her collecting public assistance for some of her children also outraged many taxpayers.

She has not identified the father of the children, but spoke about him in a new video released on RadarOnline.com.

He is a foreign-born man who lives in California and is the father of all 14 of her children, Suleman said.

The man was angry when she told him that she was having eight more children, she said.

“He was angry at the doctor, like everyone else,” Suleman said. “He is a good friend — a platonic friend. We would not be very compatible. As far as I am concerned, I would never disclose who he is.”

At one point in the video, a child’s voice can be heard asking Suleman the man’s name.

She did not answer.

The first thing we need to note is that this situation is a demonstration of why the church is so deliberate on its stand against the way we “fool around” and manipulate life. Artificial insemination brings to the fore many issues such as:

1. artificially and purposely fertilizing eggs with the full knowledge that not all of them will have even a chance at development.
2. the separation of marriage from child rearing. This is SUCH a serious issue. God’s plan and will is that child rearing is to take place within the context of a marriage. “Octomom” is what happens when we disdain the will of God and act like we ourselves are God.
3. what we do with the mom and her children now – and how we as a society care for them. This is an ethical decision which has only one option: care for them as best we can! Some people would argue that we should just dump them all and that they don’t deserve anything. This is not an option. And no, it should not be the government that helps them (although that might help matters), but it is the CHURCH OF GOD that should rise up and show what it means to love beyond all measure.

I do just feel so very sorry for those poor children. We need to pray for them and the countless others who are growing up in such a destitute and desperate world. Our Lord Jesus loves them so very much!

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Divorcing Science from Politics?

The word games go on!

Yesterday President Obama rescinded the restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research. It was no real news, as this was what was expected. I am not going to spend a whole lot of time here on the issue of stem cells except to restate the church’s opposition to any human actions which violate the principle that Human Life is a gift from God – and that it is not our place to be “playing around with it”, manipulating it, and certainly not prematurely ending it. And frankly, it does NOT matter how exemplary the ends might be in terms of medical advances.

What I want to focus on is the FALSEHOOD that President Obama tried to convince us of in his explanation of his actions: that one can divorce science from politics – and that all we should be concerned about has to be the “facts”.

My objection is that it is common sense that EVERYTHING in life is influenced by “political” decisions. Science will NEVER be divorced from the political, and this is ESPECIALLY so when the science is funded by the government! If the government had unlimited resources and would fund EVERY scientific endeavor, then perhaps it could say that politics might not have to enter into the equation. However, such is not the case, and the government must make political decisions on which science to fund. There is most certainly a connection between science and politics. And in fact Obama revealed that very fact when he told everyone that the majority of Americans wanted this research to be funded! So it was essentially a POLITICAL reason that funds were being restored for stem cell research.

Further on this subject line, we must reject the idea that the President put forward that the stem cell research restrictions were all about “politics” – and had nothing to do with moral and ethical issues. When President Bush imposed the restrictions, he indicated that the reason for those restrictions was the MORAL principle that life was to be protected. I would appreciate an upfront statement from the President which would just simply state that he is basing this new policy on the understanding (or at least the guess) that life does NOT begin at conception and therefore there is no moral or ethical reason to keep funding from this research.

The fact is that moral and ethical principles MUST guide and govern scientific research (unless we want to follow the examples of Hitler’s famous “doctors”.) Unfortunately this means that “politics” must be the means by which we determine what those moral and ethical principles are going to be. Even as Obama tosses any inhibitions about stem cell research out the window of the East Wing of the White House, he in the same breath stated that, of course, there would be responsible guidelines to that research, and that human cloning would not be allowed! So there you have it: the BEST new double talk of the new Washington establishment! No matter WHAT he might be saying, the real truth is that politics and science really CANNOT be divorced!

Bishop Martino

Whether you like him or you hate him, Bishop Martino certainly can’t be called a wimp! Here in Scranton he is causing quite the commotion with his many public and forceful stances on important issues from Abortion to the closing of Catholic churches and schools and now, most recently, the occurrence of a gay rights speaker at a local “Catholic” university.

People often ask me “Well, what DO you think about Bishop Martino?”

Well, I certainly don’t know the bishop personally, so I can’t say much about that. I haven’t heard him speak or preach or been able to observe the demeanor of his delivery. In short, though, although I don’t think that the way he is going about his work is perhaps the best way to show and lead people to the Gospel, certainly people shouldn’t be so surprised at what he has to say on the issues per se. What he is saying is nothing new or especially controversial except among people who really haven’t sat down to think through things thoroughly from the viewpoint of scripture and the two millennia of Christian teaching.

The controversy that has erupted within the Roman Catholic membership is especially disheartening. What we are experiencing is the revelation that people really have no idea what the church is, nor who Jesus is, nor anything of what Christianity is. It isn’t that people have actually specifically denied their allegiance to Christ and His church, but the reality is that they have, little by little (without their realizing it), removed themselves from the church and aligned themselves to the teachings of the world. And so that now, all of a sudden when a Bishop is forceful and brash, it becomes clear that they have, in every regard except their paper membership, actually left the church. They have no common thought, no common understanding of the world or salvation.

Of course, the fault cannot be with the people only. Certainly the church has neglected to be clear about its message and strong in its teachings. It has desired to be attractive to the masses and tailored its message to them, watering down anything which might be in the least offensive.

But however tragic the above is, the main problem with the way Bishop Martino presents his teachings is that they do not do enough to point people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins. Although the shepherd does have a rod and staff which guides the sheep, the aim is to lead them to green pastures! As far as I can see, there is plenty of rod and staff, but no leading to the salvation of Jesus Christ. I have read a couple of his letters and I don’t have any quibble with what he says, but only with what he DOESN’T say! One of our main problems with the Catholic church is that ultimately much of their rhetoric reduces the Christian faith to moralism and the keeping of the law. Perhaps you will notice that when I preach about what God demands of us (and hopefully any other Lutheran pastor does the same), I preach it so that our failure to achieve this law leads us to the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus on the cross. (At least this is my AIM. Whether I achieve this or not, sometimes I am doubtful!)

So, unfortunately in the end, in all the letters of the bishop and the surrounding press coverage, the true Gospel message is completely lost – and the impression that people get is that the only thing that the church is concerned about is morality.

And the true Gospel? No one has yet heard it above the confusion and din of the controversy.

So this is why I am glad to be a Lutheran pastor! The Gospel is the Main Thing! I hope this is why you are glad to be a Lutheran as well!