Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Legal Battle over Frozen Embryos shows our Dehumanization of the Unborn

An actress and her ex-boyfriend are in a legal battle over two of their frozen embryos. She wants the embryos destroyed. Her boyfriend believes life begins at conception and thus views these embryos as his children (and rightly so). Thus, he wants to protect these human lives and give them a chance to be born. He has even said that he will assume all financial obligations and parental responsibility for the children and will not hold his ex-girlfriend responsible in any way.

The problem is that, due to abortion laws, embryos are not recognized as human beings. They aren't legal persons. Thus, an embryo is only considered property. Instead of prioritizing the life of these two little girls (they're female embryos) and giving them to the parent who wishes to care for them instead of kill them, the courts will most likely resolve the case based on property laws.

There are few things we can learn from this.

1. Don't create children with someone you're not married to or someone who doesn't value unborn life. In this case, the man believed life begins at fertilization and is against abortion. But he made the very bad choice to create children with a woman who disagrees with him. If she were pregnant with the children, he would have no recourse at all and it would be completely her choice whether or not to kill his children. So, men, if you don't want your children killed, don't make babies with pro-choice women.

Because the babies are not in the woman's body, the father has some chance of saving their lives, but the fact that this argument is even taking place is evidence that this was a very bad choice of a woman to breed with. His children may yet be killed because their mother does not want them to exist.

2. Abortion laws have not only allowed the killing of millions of innocent children, but they have caused us to reduce unborn human lives to mere property. Think of the dehumanization of two people arguing over possession of these two children as if they were arguing over the furniture after a break-up. And the law sees these children as property and will rule accordingly. The needs of the children are never considered. The lives of the children are never seen as worth saving.

3. You know, this case reminds me of a similar legal battle that once happened in the Bible. Only in that case, there were two women fighting over a child they both claimed. The wise king Solomon offered to divide the "property" in half by killing the child and cutting his body in two to give half to each woman. The real mother stood up and pleaded with the king to spare the child, even if she had to give him to the other woman. King Solomon knew the real mother would care about her child and save his life above all else and thus he determined which woman had the rightful claim. The woman who held the child's life sacred was the one who should have him.

In this case, the issue is similarly clear. One parent wishes to destroy the frozen embryos while the other wants to save their lives and care for them. Let us hope the judge will be as wise as Solomon and give the children into the custody of their father.

Unfortunately, because of the legality of abortion, the law dictates that the judge should not be wise in protecting the lives of the unborn children, but that he should treat the children as property to be evenly divided, even at the expense of their lives. This is a deep flaw in our law that we must address in order to protect the lives of children.

4. It is a sad state of affairs when we have a culture that rightly hates slavery and looks back upon our history of enslaving an entire people group with revulsion and horror and yet, apparently, cannot see that we are doing the exact same thing with a different group of people. We have dehumanized the unborn and turned them into legal property to be kept or discarded at the whim of the "owner" just as we did for blacks in the days of slavery. It was a shame then and it is a shame now. It must stop. We have to recognize and protect the inherent human rights of all human beings, regardless of race, age, gender, disability, or location.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No, Sperm are not People (and Stop Using that Bad Argument)

When I debate pro-aborts, I often hear some version of this argument: "But aren’t sperm and eggs alive? Does masturbation kill children? Or are there children on used tampons?" It’s a really bad argument, but I hear it a lot. The idea seems to be to ridicule Christians and try to throw out life at conception arguments by pretending that sperm are people too (or at least that Christians think so).

The root of this idea, that Christians think it is murder to kill a sperm cell, seems to come from a passage in Genesis 38:8-10 where a man named Onan is killed by God after engaging in coitus interruptus.

King James Version
“And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.”

The argument that Onan's sin was ejaculating outside a woman is a Catholic interpretation that is not consistent with the rest of the Biblical text or an understanding of Bible times. Furthermore, this is one of the ideas that has put ammunition in the hands of pro-choicers to claim that Christians think sperm are human beings and shouldn't be "killed” – either in an attempt to ridicule Christian beliefs or to argue that life doesn’t begin at fertilization.

In interpreting this passage, it’s important to look at the context, the rest of the Bible, and also to have an idea of the culture at the time. Onan's actual sin was marrying a woman (Tamar) and then flat out refusing to provide for her. The problem wasn't that he "spilled his seed on the ground," but that he didn't ever plan to get her pregnant at all. The text even says that was his motivation.

Onan only married Tamar, his dead brother's wife, because it was his duty to provide an heir for his brother and a child to care for Tamar in her old age. Refusing to give her a child meant that Onan would inherit more (his brother would have no heir to get a share of the family inheritance), so he planned never to get her pregnant, even though that would mean Tamar would be left alone with no child one day.

Other translations make this even more clear.

English Standard Version
"But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother."

Note that it says "whenever" he had sex with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground. This indicates, not just one contraceptive act, but a pattern intended to deprive her and his dead brother of an heir. The wording in the King James version is vague as to whether it was one time or a pattern. It could be either, although the phrase "and it came to pass" usually indicates the passage of a period of time and thus suggests multiple instances. Most translations, however, use wording that indicates an on-going pattern of refusal to produce a child. Thus, the sin of Onan is made more clear in being a refusal to produce a child out of selfishness, not a one time act of placing sperm outside a woman's vagina.

Also, given that the sin of Onan was serious enough to cause God to strike him dead, one would think it would be clearly spelled out elsewhere in Scripture. If the sin was putting sperm somewhere besides a woman's vagina, there is no mention anywhere else in Scripture that this is forbidden. On the other hand, if the sin was refusing to provide a child to his wife and thus to fail to provide for her old age as well, there is other Scripture that is consistent with this. For example, the Bible tells us in I Timothy 5:8 that a man who fails to provide for his family is “worse than an infidel” (i.e. an unbeliever). So, apparently, God does consider it a grave sin for a man to fail to provide for His family.

So the Bible does not teach that sperm are sacred or that they can only be placed inside a woman. And it certainly does not teach that they are human beings.

My position makes much more sense of the Bible as a whole, I think, but it also makes sense of the science involved in human reproduction in which sperm die naturally every day. Sperm die and are reabsorbed in the male reproductive tracts if they aren't ejaculated. Sometimes sperm are released during nocturnal emissions (i.e. "wet dreams"), which is perfectly natural. Of the millions of sperm that are ejaculated at any one time, the vast majority never even reach the egg (assuming there is even an egg there), and of those who do, only one (at most) will actually fertilize it. Human biology sure doesn’t seem designed to keep sperm from dying. The design of the human reproductive system doesn't seem to indicate any principle that sperm are anything more than just cells or that the death of a sperm cell is cause for alarm or that sperm must be conserved and only released inside a woman.

Most importantly, we know from science that only after a sperm and egg fuse is there a separate human being. Sperm and eggs by themselves are just cells - no different than a skin cell or blood cell in that regard. They're part of the body they came from, but broken off, as it were. They aren't separate living organisms.

Of course, there are Christians who disagree with me on the topic of contraception and do think it is a sin. However, even these people agree that contraception does not kill a human being. Nobody is claiming that sperm are human children.

Killing sperm is not the same thing as killing a human individual. That's biological fact, regardless of anyone's position on contraception. Sperm are not human beings.