Tag Archives: Ethics & Morality

Sex Education on the BBC

27 Feb

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Somehow I’ve managed to get myself onto the BBC1 Big Questions show this Sunday morning. The debate will focus on whether it is right for parents to give moral guidance to their children when it comes to sex education. This is in response to a new government policy reported here. Should they just give the biological facts or is it ok to tell their children that sex is wrong in some situations? The question seems pretty flawed to be honest – I’m sure almost everyone would agree that sex is wrong in some situations. Anyway, the beeb wants to know what I was taught by my parents and whether I’m happy about it:

I was brought up with a Christian worldview i.e. that we were created by a loving God for relationship with him and that as creator and designer, he knows what is best for us as people and as a society. Sex is a gift from God for two people to enjoy one another in the context of heterosexual marriage and any sexual activity outside of that is contrary to God’s plans for his people. It’s clear that society’s values today are vastly different from God’s and we are reaping the consequences as we can see from the still rising rates of STIs and teenage pregnancies. I am grateful that I was brought up with these values by parents who didn’t just say “don’t have sex” but who showed how it was both for my good and the glory of God.

The idea that abstinance is impossible in today’s society is simply ridiculous, demonstrated by absinance programmes in the States which have reported up to 36% decreases in teenage birth rates. In today’s society, that can only be a good thing.

CCFON gives selected highlights of the debate here.

Adam & Eve or Adam & Steve?

20 Feb

Here‘s a quote from an interesting article from my friend Hugh Bourne’s blog by Xander Coomber on a recent debate organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM).

…after the debate I chatted to Clive [Gardner] about celibacy outside of marriage or a civil partnership. His response was to say that he would not confront a couple in his church that were sleeping together before marriage/civil partnership, because given our culture it’s an unrealistic to ask people to be celibate. But the Bible wouldn’t agree with this position, rather we are shown that in intercourse and marriage a man and a woman become ‘one flesh’ (Gen 2:24). Clive told me that he would however confront incest, or underage sex because these acts are illegal. Surely we cannot say that God’s standards for holiness change with our culture or are dependant on the laws of the land. The culture in Corinth said that sexual impurity was great, but God, through the Apostle Paul told them otherwise. To say that sex outside of marriage is acceptable because the culture says it’s acceptable is a typical post-modern perspective and goes against what the Bible says, it is to say that the perfection we see in Eden and God’s order within creation is no longer relevant to us now.

So I would like to ask Mr. Gardner in response, if creation is how God intended this world to be then why did He create Adam and Eve, and not Adam and Steve? Why did God create His perfect world with females as the males’ companion? (Gen 2:18-24) If God had meant for Adam and Steve, then why would He not have made it this way? So why Adam and Eve, and not Adam and Steve?

Potential New Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

20 Feb

With a family interest in PD, the recent publication of this study makes for encouraging reading. It’s still early days, but it’s exciting to see new ethically robust research which may hold some promise for the future.

Scientists have published a paper in a medical journal describing the results of the world’s first clinical trial using autologous neural stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A leading bioethics watchdog says the results show more money should be put behind adult stem cells.

UCLA researchers published their results in February issue of the Bentham Open Stem Cell Journal which outlines the long term results of the trial.

“We have documented the first successful adult neural stem cell transplantation to reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease and demonstrated the long term safety and therapeutic effects of this approach,” says lead author Dr. Michel Levesque.

The paper describes how Levesque’s team was able to isolate patient-derived neural stem cells, multiply them in vitro and ultimately differentiate them to produce mature neurons before they are reintroduced into the brain.
The team was able to inject the adult stem cells without the need for immunosuppressants. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cell injections don’t cause a patient’s immune system to reject the cells. The adult stem cells were highly beneficial for the patient involved in the study. “Of particular note are the striking results this study yielded — for the five years following the procedure the patient’s motor scales improved by over 80% for at least 36 months,” Levesque wrote. He said he hoped a larger clinical trial would replicate the findings. (Click here for full article)

Gair Rhydd and spiritual care

16 Feb

In response to this article in the Cardiff Student Newspaper this week, I think its author Rhys Howell has ignored the wealth of evidence suggesting that good care of patients’ spiritual needs is not only helpful but necessary. The NHS recommends that the spiritual needs of its patients need to be met as part of a holistic approach to medicine. Whether or not you believe that God hears and answers prayers in a miraculous way, several reports have found a link between faith and faster recovery times or more satisfactory outcomes .

One London doctor I spoke to reported that in 25 years of general practice, he has asked many patients if they would like him to pray for them, and his question has never been met with offence. Sure, some people declined the offer but many accepted and later were grateful for the manner in which they had been treated. Peter Saunders, general secretary of the UK Christian Medical Fellowship said that “Suspension simply for inquiring about the appropriateness of prayer is not only an act of religious discrimination but will undermine the proper provision of spiritual care in the NHS”. Last week the Daily Telegraph printed a letter (3 Feb) by GP Trevor Stammers in which he asked whether the GMC would now investigate him and the thousands of other doctors and health professionals who both offer to pray for, and with their patients.

In a further interview with the Telegraph (4 Feb), Stammers continues: “There is a difference between making an inquiry about prayer and suggesting that someone does it… It cannot be unprofessional in the right context, particularly when patients have a serious illness, to ask if a patient has a faith or an ideology that supports them… In my view, not asking about someone’s faith is showing an inadequate level of care. Patients will be poorer off as a result.”

As a Christian medical student, I do believe that God can miraculously answer prayer and heal people as he chooses. However, I also believe that God heals through clinical medicine; otherwise I would have no reason to be a student. Those families who have lost children by praying round them in circles rather than making the most of available medical care are misguided in their understanding of how God promises in the Bible to work for the good of his people.

Mr Howell rightly says that “the NHS is a public service, and as such, should remain completely neutral when it comes to religion.” However it should also provide holistic services for all those who require them, of all faiths and none. There is no suggestion that Mrs Petrie, the suspended nurse, was trying to spend all her time praying for people instead of carrying out her medical duties, nor was she trying to proselytise her patients.

There seems to be confusion on this issue even within the NHS, as some trusts employ a spiritual care team while other trusts have very little provision for spiritual care beyond the hospital chaplain. NHS Scotland guidance states that “while it is important that the patient’s right to confidentiality is respected, it is also important to ensure this does not result in a failure to provide patients with the available spiritual or religious care”.

We seem to be in a position where aggressive atheism has become quite intolerant of the expression of religious faith in a professional setting. In a society which prides itself on values of respect and tolerance, that is a very sad thing indeed.

Obama and Abortion

31 Jan

Have a look at this good but very depressing post from Justin Taylor:

It was interesting that at the Saddleback Presidential Forum, Rick Warren asked a very good and specific question: “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?” He did not ask a theological question (e.g., when does the baby begin to have a soul?) or a scientific question (when does human life begin?), but a purely legal question (when do babies begin to have rights?).

Obama either misunderstood or misrepresented:

“Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.”