By Don Ruhl
The basis for this article is Romans 3.8, “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.” I will show you the significance of that shortly.
Why have people wanted to use embryonic stem cells?
Those cells can be used to make other kinds of cells, which can then be used to help people medically. Is helping people medically a good thing? Of course, it is a very good thing. However, shall we intentionally hurt someone else to help one in need of medical help? Shall we hurt you that I might be helped? Shall we kill you that your neighbor might live? Using embryonic stem cells means that they are using aborted babies to help people medically. Is it right to kill unborn babies to help people with Alzheimer’s, for example? This is one of the uses claimed for embryonic stem cells.
Here is a crucial point: Even as God provides a way of escape when we are tempted to do evil, so He provides a way to do good when we have an opportunity to do good. He would not make the only way of helping someone to do another person evil or harm. The question then becomes whether fetuses are human.
Is it justifiable to do evil that good may result?
In Romans 3, Paul reveals that some people were misrepresenting his teaching, believing that he thought we should do evil that good may come. What do you think Paul’s view is on the matter? “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just” (Rom 3.8). Paul refutes the idea that we should do evil that good may come. In the same way, we should not kill unborn babies to help medical patients.
In Romans 6, he dealt with the issue again. In the previous chapter, he argued that when sin abounds grace abounds much more, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5.20, 21).
Does that mean we should sin more so that we can have more grace? Paul answered, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom 6.1, 2).
What shall we conclude based on Romans 3.8 and 6.1, 2? Can we do evil to others that we might have good? Paul would say that those who argue such are condemned (3.8). He would say, “May it never happen!” (6.1, 2).
If we cannot see a way to do good, does that mean there is not a way and that we are then free to do evil that good may come? No, for if we stay on the path of doing good, God will make the means available. As it is written, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work…Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God” (2Co. 9.8, 10, 11).
Is an embryo human?
Those supporting embryonic stem cell research offer arguments that an embryo is not human. They argue: An embryo cannot survive on its own, so it is not human; and lacks self-awareness. If it cannot survive on its own, does that mean it is not human? Can six-month old babies survive on their own? What about older people who cannot survive on their own? Does lack of self-awareness prevent it from being human? Is a six-month old baby self-aware? Are adults lacking self-awareness not human?
The hope of stem cell research
I believe that this shows that the real issue is not medical breakthroughs, but another argument for abortion. Even as the spotted owl controversy in the American Pacific Northwest was not truly about the owl, but the forests, so, embryonic stem cell research is not truly about healing diseases, but another justification for abortion. Therefore, many of the arguments for and against abortion, can also be made about this issue.
The subtitle to a December 17, 1999 Science article said, “In 1999, researchers recognized the extraordinary potential of stem cells, immature cells with the ability to become different kinds of tissue—and perhaps to heal many kinds of illness.”
The article says, “In defiance of decades of accepted wisdom, researchers in 1999 found that stem cells from adults retain the youthful ability to become several different kinds of tissues: Brain cells can become blood cells, and cells from bone marrow can become liver.”
Now note that those statements were made in 1999!
Stem cells can also be harvested from other sources: umbilical cord blood, liposuctioned fat, and bone marrow.
In that article, Markus C. Grompe, a professor of molecular medical genetics at Oregon Health Sciences University says, “This would suggest that maybe you don’t need any type of fetal stem cell at all…that our adult bodies continue to have stem cells that can do this stuff.”
A Major Breakthrough: November 20th, 2007!
The Daily Courier (Grants Pass, Oregon) carried an article, “Skin cells made to mimic stem cells.” Here are some quotes,
NEW YORK — Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy…The “direct reprogramming” technique avoids the swarm of ethical, political and practical obstacles that have stymied attempts to produce human stem cells by cloning embryos…“This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone — the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane,” said Dr. Robert Lanza, chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technology…“It’s a bit like learning how to turn lead into gold,” said Lanza…“It’s a huge deal,” agreed Rudolf Jaenisch, a prominent stem cell scientist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. “You have the proof of principle that you can do it.”
The next day, November 21st, The Daily Courier carried another article, this time with a chart, “Stem cell breakthrough defuses debate,”
NEW YORK — Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embryo cloning…“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” said the Rev. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute…At the White House, President Bush, who vetoed two bills to allow federal funding for stemcell research, was described as “very pleased.” “The president believes medical problems can be solved without compromising either the high aims of science or the sanctity of human life,” said a statement from his press secretary…The scientists themselves were startled by their success. “I was surprised when we achieved our results with the mouse,” Yamanaka said. “But proving what we could do with human cells really bowled me over.” Thomson said he was surprised it didn’t take longer to discover how to reprogram ordinary cells. The technique, he said, is so simple that “thousands of labs in the United States can do this, basically tomorrow.” In contrast, the cloning approach is so complex and expensive that many scientists say it couldn’t be used routinely to supply stem cells for therapy.
This is a major breakthrough. Time Magazine (December 24, 2007), called this the number one scientific discovery of 2007 and the number nine medical breakthrough of 2007!
Never fear to take the side of righteousness, for in time, God shall maintain your cause
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts will be established.