We've Moved!!!

The Religious Politic was moved over to a dedicated site, now located at: http://ReligiousPolitic.com

Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama's fetal stem cell policy.

[This post can be found at the new site, here]

Hooray! The Religious Politic is on track for a monthly release, starting with an introductory article concerning Obama's recent change to previous stem cell legislation. Comments on the first article especially would be appreciated.

Obama's fetal stem cell policy.
By Tobias Davis
April 10, 2009

On Tuesday, March 9th, Obama rescinded Bush's policy which banned federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and at the same time rescinded Executive Order 13435, which required funding for alternate methods of stem cell research.

These alternate methods included the "induced pluripotent stem cells" (IPSC), which can be retrieved from living adults, from skin, fat, and even some of the tissue hiding in the nose. The IPSC research has been the most promising, and avoids the ethical and moral issue of embryo destruction.

Obama's annulment of the federal ban on embryonic stem cell research has been met with a great deal of anger from the pro-life community, for understandable reasons, since the harvesting of embryonic stem cells almost always comes at the cost of the death of the still-forming baby.

Additionally, adult stem cell research has made huge contributions to medicine, contributing to significant and serious potential cures for things ranging from sickle cell anemia to fibromyalgia and paralysis. Many in the scientific community are presumably upset over the removal of federal funding, although the few I attempted to contact could not respond in time for this writing.

Overall, the annoyance of the pro-life party is focused on two things, namely, the approval of actual embryonic stem cell research, and the removal of funding for other alternate studies in stem cell uses: Adult stem cell research should be funded, they argue, because it is less ethically dangerous than embryonic stem cell research.

It is not my intention to disparage the pro-life movement, I support them in their mission of removing the abortion industry. However, while I am fully in agreement with the dispute against allowing and funding embryonic stem cell research at the cost of a human life, I am also against the governmental funding of adult stem cell research. The government has no authority to take my money to fund such research in the first place, and we as Christians should be pushing to remove federal funding from both embryonic and adult stem cell research.

The Bible does not give the government unlimited authority over it's citizens, in fact the role of the government is quite clear in many verses--the most-used verse being Romans 13 which says that the purpose of a ruler is to be a "terror ... to the evil" and that if you do evil you should "be afraid; for he bears no the sword in vain."

That is, the governments role is not of a provider, but of an enforcer. Enforcing the law of the Bible, laid out in the first five books, was the role of the government in the Old Testament and it is still the role of government, although it is monumentally failing at this role.

Many people oppose the idea of the Old Testament government system as a model for an ideal government, so let me explain a few details and thoughts concerning the subject.

Most Christians recognize that the Bible is a source of guidelines for our behavior, but question it's use in forming governmental decisions. The main question which I would have is, if the Bible cannot direct our political views, what should? Will it be the latest opinion of the political scientists? My point, which I hope is clear, is that if we do not rest our political views on true Biblical arguments our views will never last, and are often detrimental.

Throughout the entire Old Testament, from the very founding of civil government starting in 1 Samuel 14, through Israel's entire history, the government had a specific limited role and was not allowed to step out of that role. Quite clearly, the government stepped out of it's role at times, but always was required ultimately to answer to God. The establishment of the king was a planned even; 1 Samuel 12:14 says that if the people and the king follow God's Law they will be blessed.

When we in America, or in any other country, want the government to fund things such as medical research, we are yielding more authority than they should have. It is not the duty of the government to work for the physical health of the citizen, and every country that has tried this has failed to do so. It is, instead, the duty of the government to punish evil by using just punishment described in the Bible.

In my personal conversations with many pro-life individuals I have found that the goal of stopping abortion comes first, even before understanding or following any of God's laws concerning government authority. For example, while a majority of pro-lifers are Christian, they would be hard pressed to present a solid Biblical argument for or against the death penalty, in fact many would be hard pressed to present a solid Biblical argument on why abortion, the very thing they are fighting, is wrong.

I don't say all this to be hyper-critical, or to assume myself better, but rather as a calling out to the Christian pro-life movement. I have heard many an argument against abortion that boils down to "just being wrong", but if that is the strongest argument we pro-lifers can make we are very bad off. Even further, if we can only apply the Bible to our personal lives and not to guiding governmental policies, we don't have a leg to stand on when we argue things like homosexual marriages not being legally allowed.

Summary: Read your Bible with a view of politics as well. Know why laws and governmental actions are allowed or restricted, from a strictly Biblical sense.

Extra: My eyes were opened up to the very practical way the Bible guides government policy when I read R.J. Rushdoony's book, "Law and Liberty". If the ideas of Biblical government intrigue you, try reading this book as a primer to the subject. Each chapter is roughly 4-8 pages long, and can be read in a twenty minute stretch, twice that if you have to look up words in the dictionary.


Stephen Harris October 13, 2009 at 1:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Harris October 13, 2009 at 1:20 AM  

I have just been thinking of the relation of the church to the state. I'm glad I'm not the only one :).

I agree that the government's primary role is to restrain evil, but I'm not completely convinced that it cannot aid in the support of good.

I do lean toward you position, though. Do you provide more specific biblical support for your thesis elsewhere? I would enjoy reading what you have to say on the topic.

Tobias Davis October 13, 2009 at 1:38 AM  

The government's role of "supporting good" can only be done within the tight constrains of Biblical Law.

I am still working on modifying the format of the site, but my goals are: One "news review" style article per day, and one more complete writing on a particular subject once every other week. I am looking into hosting this on a private server, which would make things a little easier.

Thanks for your interest!

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