Morality as politics

The Pew Research Center has conducted a study finding that 64% of church goers heard political issues being preached from the pulpit.  Those “political issues” included abortion, homosexuality, religious liberty, the environment, and economic inequality.

Now those are mostly moral–not political–issues.  Churches have always taught about sexual morality and respect for human life.  They have also addressed issues of social morality.  That is not being political.  The Pew study found that only 14% heard political candidates being promoted or criticized.

What’s interesting here is that the researchers consider moral beliefs to be nothing more than political positions.  To be sure, government dictates about morality gives them a political dimension they normally would not have.  This is especially true when the government requirements run counter to the church’s traditional moral teachings.  Of course the church must push back against that.

But the problem isn’t churches meddling into politics.  It is the government meddling into morality.

[Read more…]

A pig with a human brain

The ethical issues involved in combining human DNA with animal DNA are so great–and so obvious–that the federal government at first refused to fund those kinds of experiments.  But now, reports Timothy Willard,  the National Institute for Health has rescinded the ban.

Willard reports on the kind of experimentation your tax dollars will be going towards:  A researcher from the University of California, Davis, that is planning to inject human embryonic stem cells into a pig embryo.  The fetus will then be implanted into the womb of a pig, who will give birth to the human/pig organism (known as a “chimera” for the mythological monsters who are combinations of various animals).

The researcher says he is doing this for the universal excuse of some day curing disease and making more compatible organs to transplant.  But he openly acknowledges what can go wrong.

Since he can’t really control what those human stem cells might turn into, if two adult chimeras mate, the result might be a a human baby with a pig as his or her parents.  Or we might have a pig with a human brain and human consciousness.

But don’t worry, he says.  If anything goes wrong, he will abort the fetus.  This is apparently what convinced the NIH that the experiments can be ethical.

[Read more…]

Trump’s knee-jerk retaliations

Donald Trump has the pathological habit of responding to every criticism by lashing out with vicious personal ad hominem attacks against the critic and, if possible, his or her family.  He did it in the primary campaign, most notably by mocking the appearance of Ted Cruz’s wife and accusing his father of complicity in the Kennedy assassination.

Now he has struck out at a father whose son was killed fighting in Iraq for criticizing him at the Democratic convention.  Also at the fallen soldier’s mother, even though she never said anything.

But it keeps going:  The two Republicans who most took him to task for insulting the grieving family were House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain.  So Trump is retaliating against them by refusing to support them in their re-election primary campaigns!

These men, professional Republicans that they are, have swallowed their misgivings and said that they are supporting Trump.  But he won’t support them.  So much for party unity.

Imagine the retaliations that would be possible for President Trump! [Read more…]

The Christian case for Trump?

Wayne Grudem is a conservative evangelical theologian who has written an article entitled Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.  I excerpt it after the jump, along with some attempts to answer the article.

Read both sides.  What do you think about the arguments?  Can you provide further “answers” to either position? [Read more…]

Traditional sexual ethics vs. Christian morality

I happened upon a book by a former student of mine, Matthew Rueger, now a pastor in Iowa with a Ph.D.  The book, just out from CPH, is Sexual Morality in a Christless World.   Matt (if I can still call him that) tells about being put in the position of defending Christian morality in an Iowa State college classroom, whose professor was teaching pretty much the opposite.  He became a regular guest lecturer, up against great opposition, but his input grew to be respected, if not appreciated.  Those experiences became the basis of this book.

The Rev. Dr. Rueger includes a fascinating treatment of sexual morality in the Greco-Roman world.  The wide practice of homosexuality in that classical culture–specifically, pederasty, the sexual use of young boys–is particularly illuminating.  He also treats sexual morality in the ancient Hebrew world, which was not without problems of its own (such as easy divorce).   The Christian perspective on sexual morality, he shows, has always been counter-cultural.  It took its shape from consideration of our identity in Christ.   [Read more…]

Ban Russia from the Olympics?

An arbitration court confirmed that Russia’s track and field team, which was caught in a major doping and cover-up scandal, can be banned from the Olympics.  The ruling also opened the door to banning the entire Russian delegation, if the International Olympics Committee so decides.

Do you think Russia should be banned from the competition? [Read more…]