Sunday, March 30, 2008


I've just been watching a current affairs show about artificial insemination by donor. Australian women are having to access donations from the U.S. because of the shortage of donors in Australia. It was quite soulless! The intending mother can get information from a sperm bank about the profiles of the available donors. They can decide for example if the want a 'father' for their child who has a PhD or some attribute like being athletic. It is Eugenics. It's like a 1984 scenario in which humans are treated as breeding stock. I know I can't judge everybody else by myself, but does it seem to any other person out there that this is a grotesque parody of what child conception is supposed to be? It represents a relationship between two people who have committed to nurture and care for each other, not an exercise in acquiring designer accessories. Sure, I can see why people might hope their child might not have congenital diseases or be born with severe intellectual disadvantages. But there is something gross about using a human male as a stud service. I keep wondering: it's not for me to judge, but will God bring down judgement on this? It seems He has done that on promiscuous sex, with the epidemic of STD. It seems God's judgement falls on abortion, the killing of the helpless unborn, because it is recognised that women who have aborted may reduce their chances of future pregnancy. And reports persist that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.
So you can say who am I to judge. But are we humans offending God by assuming the right to do things in a way which abandons His way? Some of the women having AI by donor said they cannot find a relationship. I can't comment on that except to say, that people who I know who remain partnerless may be too fussy. Some men I've heard seem to want a woman who's a cross between Cleopatra, Lady Guinevere and the most glamorous film star they can think of. Some women want a man who combines Sir Lancelot, Adonis and the Rockefellers, so he's got money. Any one less than that is not good enough, and they complain they can't find any one right for them. It's a feature of the age, the people of the western world demand perfection or they'll sue someone. Or at least try and get a benefit without doing what is normally required in turn.
The Bible has been called an owner's manual for living. We get our lives and we receive God's directions for living them. And the more we try to improve on the way God does things, the more of a mess we make.
Perhaps the Second Coming is not far away. But then, we can never actually know.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why I would not be a sperm donor.

This may cause controversy if anyone reads it, but I feel strongly enough to go on the record saying this. The subject may be distasteful to some people, and if so, I apologize, but I feel a need for this to be said.
I will never be a sperm donor. According to news reports, the number of willing donors is falling, since a child born of a donor is now entitled to find out the identity of their natural, biological father. Some men who would otherwise donate will not do so if they can be tracked down and identified by their children. I can only say, that leaves me cold. I would WANT to know the identity of any person I was father too. In fact it was always my hope that any child of mine would grow up in the same home that their mother and I lived in together. Even before I became a Christian, it seemed bizarre to make possible the birth of a child and not want to know that child, and be there for them.
That feeling is not unique to me, either. Several years ago now, I heard a young woman quoted as saying, she did not know how her natural father could just walk away and abandon her - that is, make a donation and not take any interest in who the resulting child or children were. She had a sense of abandonment about not being wanted by her natural male parent.
Right, I've heard the arguments. I know there is great heartbreak for some people because they cannot have children naturally, and donor reproductive material makes this possible. I'm very grateful that my wife and I did not have this problem. We have five children, all born without any difficulty about the conception at all. Other people wish that could happen to them. I can only say that there are problems in the world I can't help. Take it up with God! How do you know WHAT He might do for you if you turned to Him instead of denying His existence or at least denying that He had anything to do with your life.
There's another issue here, too. I know some women, without even knowing me, would reject the idea of a relationship with me if I was single. The just don't like rather chubby looking white men.Some women (not all) like some men (not all) can be very judgemental in their view of the opposite gender. If you're not rich, super glamorous or world-class talented, you are not good enough for them. And if that is their attitude, I do not feel that they deserve the use of my reproductive material in having a child. God brings children into the world, and it is not, I insist, a thing which should be treated as a commodity.
Without over romantisising about, a child is LITERALLY a union of their two parents. They receive genetic input from each. They really do represent a uniting of the man and woman they have as parents. Given that, the existence of a child stands for something more than a transaction of convenience. There are reasons why Christians consider it sacred.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Home schooling.

It's interesting to see the extent of interest in home schooling in the U.S. and the debate happening in California: Who has a right to home school? I've read that a court decision stated, that parents have no constitutional right to home-school their children. I sincerely hope that the right to home-schooling is upheld, because despite having worked as a teacher for twenty five years I can see good reasons why some families chose to educate their children outside the school system.
There are some things to be kept in mind when this issue is discussed. Historically, making school compulsory was a child welfare measure. It was intended to stop child labour. If children had to be at school until they were nine years old, which was once the school leaving age, then they could not be sent down mines or put to work in factories. The reformers who campaigned for compulsory school attendance wanted to prevent child slavery, to protect children against being sent to work virtually as soon as they could speak and walk.
There is a comment on record by a Prussian Army general, in the nineteenth century, complaining that he could not find enough fit young men for the army because so many working class men were disabled. They were sent to work for long hours and under hard conditions at an early age and it injured many of them. They were left with physical disabilities, like back problems. They were so wrecked from child labour that they were not medically fit for army service, and the kingdom could not be defended. For that reason, the general argued, school should be compulsory for the young. It is horrifyingly cynical to see compulsory school attendance in that light, but that was one of the reasons for it.
To be fair, some of the Christian and other humanitarian reformers saw the need for all children to be taught to read and write, and other things that made it easier for them to lead their lives. School could do that where parents might not be able to.
The intention may have been good, but it laid down the tradition that all children should go to a school outside their home. That was once a new idea; and it may have overlooked the right of parents to decide what sort of upbringing they believed was right. And sometimes, politicians have come to see school as the means of disseminating whatever views they want children to have. Instead of pure education, schools have sometimes been used for social and political indoctrination.
Ironically, it causes huge problems for schools and teachers if they are regarded as youth containment centres day-care facilities. If kids have to be at school, no-one except the teachers have to worry about them. Parents are free to do other things, and pass the responsibility on to someone else. And schools become unpleasant places full of angry rebellious kids who do not want to be there.I've seen violent kids in a school who ruined the place for everybody else, but the school could do nothing about it because the kids had to be at school just to keep them off the streets. It makes a mockery of the school as a safe learning place. But it happens because of the view that all kids should go to school, as long as possible. Compulsory education can ruin schools! Ironic!
Some parents want their children sent to faith based schools because they see their faith as an essential part of life, and it should be part of their education.
We are all entitled to our beliefs. By the same token some parents believe in schools as a way of integrating children with the rest of society. That is their choice. And some parents may see good reason to avoid formal schools altogether. For one thing, some individual children are non-assertive, gentle types and can be vulnerable to bullying if the school staff are not vigilant.
And it is important to remember that the state does not own children. That idea exists in corporate totalitarian states, like the former Soviet Union, Communist China or Nazi Germany. But in a free society the state, the government, has no such claim over the individual, including children.
Since freedom of belief is a vital part of a free society, the school has no right to impose on a student any ideology of the government's choosing. But this can happen when, in the name of teaching 'tolerance', students are told they have no right rejecting such things as homosexual 'marriage'. Freedom of belief means that you have to respect other peoples' beliefs but NOT that you have to agree with them. You have to accept a person's right to choose to be homosexual, or atheist, or any thing else, but you still have the right to personally disagree with their beliefs and live by your own. Sometimes a person who rejects the idea of gay marriage in a personal way can be accused of homophobic persecution because they will not endorse gay marriage. That is attacking their freedom of belief. This is where the school can compromise the rights of a family to pass their own culture on to their children.
It is obviously important to make sure that children are educated adequately. There needs to be some regulation of home schooling. That does not necessarily mean a parent or family member has to be a qualified teacher. Teacher training does not guarantee that a person is a competent teacher. Not having it does not mean a person cannot teach competently.
I hate to admit it, but some teachers I've known and worked with believed they had a right to teach their own personal politics and beliefs to children, in violation of the parents' views if need be. This can be dangerous. Teachers do not have the right to decide what children should believe and be taught.
I suggest that parents should have the right to homeschool because they have the greatest responsibility to children, and the greatest authority to decide what their children should be taught.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The greatest moment in history

Today is the anniversary of the day when, over 2000 years ago, Jesus ascended from the dead. I believe this as Christianity teaches it. The Bible teaches it. So the resurrection from the dead was made possible from that time onward. Death is not a condition which we enter into, it is a process that each human being passes through. It looks like a condition, because the body is the only hard evidence we have of a person's existence. And the body stays dead, to the hurt of those who mourn them. A minister at a funeral I went to years ago said: "We don't weep for the deceased, their troubles are over; but we weep for ourselves because we miss them."
Good thought! And it was not meant to be a reproach, even if some people might take it that way. It was pointing out that death is an end to suffering for the believer (not for the unbeliever, regretably) and the beginning of blessedness. But those of us still in the physical body miss the departed one. That's only human!
John Donne put it beautifully: "Then death shall be no more,
Death, thou shalt die."
When the resurrection comes shall be the death of death. It shall cease to exist!
Have a blessed Easter!

Cries for help

Reading some peoples' blogs has done wonders for my prayer life, and done a bit for my bible study, too. For obvious reasons I don't name names, but sometimes when I read the posts from people who are suffering hurt and going through trials, I just have to stop and pray for them. And there are times when I have to find a message from the Word to pass on. That's one of the things the Bible is there for, and I've found myself leafing through it finding a passage to type into someone's blog to try and help them when they're suffering. Sometimes I even wonder if I'm intruding on their privacy, until I recall that the blog is accessible unless they take steps to prevent it being so. It makes you think! Troubles shared are sometimes troubles halved; or perhaps when you share your troubles God will send someone to aid and comfort you. Certainly, when you hear what some people are suffering, it reminds you that you are well off.
Apart from that, the radiant witness that some people make of their blog posts leaves me feeling quite humble. I will learn by their example: let anyone who wants to know, see what you believe and where you are coming from. It is an incredible experience contacting some of the people that you do, reading their posts and hearing what they have to say. But of course any blogger knows that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday: an infinite understatement.

The English are considered the world's masters of understatement. Here's one: calling the day of Jesus' crucifiction "Good" is rather like calling the end of the wordl "a problem". To those of us who believe, who accept and are convinced of Biblical teaching, it is the critical moment when the process of our salvation was put into effect. Jesus became THE ULTIMATE Sacrificial Lamb, to take away all our sins and culpability. People sometimes try to put the Christian Gospel into modern language. Perhaps this is one way: we get to swap rap sheets with Jesus. To get into the Kingdom of Heaven, to avoid permanent banishment to Hell,we have to be perfect in our record of conduct. No human being is -except the human identity that was Jesus when He was on Earth. So to get us into the Kingdom, He allows each of us who believes in Him as our Saviour to present a copy of His record, which is without wrong-doing, and to be admitted to God's Kingdom. He takes ours, and takes the penalty for them. He suffered the utter horrors of physical crucifiction. Medical opinion has it that no form of death could be more agonizing. And then He went down to Hell. Satan must have been all over the place with glee. Then a problem arose. Because Jesus was without crime or wrong doing, Hell could not keep Him in. He broke out of it and rose to His rightful place in the Kingdom. Utter defeat for the Devil and serves it right. Utter triumph for the Lord God and well deserved. And we the believers get to go along with Him to Heaven. Praise the Lord. I do not really fully get the impact of that or I would be too speechless to write this blog.
It is interesting to read some of the other things recorded as happening. One of the Gospels, Matthew, recounts this, when Jesus died gave up His spirit and died:
"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke opne and the boides of many holy people were raised to life. They come out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." (NIV)
It must have been awesome and terrifying. And it is rarely covered by any of the film dramatizations made about Jesus' life. If any one had some doubt about what was going on, they must have known nothing at all.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God gives all

I've got really involved in blogging in the last few weeks and it fascinates me to find some of the sites I have. I'm encouraged to make a bolder stand on one issue. I am a Christian, and anyone is welcome people to know the fact. If they prejudge me because of it, so be it. If they find me more approachable because of it, better still. I'm really humbled by the dignified way some Christians declare their faith by posting psalms, Christian testimony and topical discussion of the subject. I find myself praying for people I've never met and may never meet in this world, but will know in the hereafter as it is sometimes called: the Kingdom of God. Perhaps one reason God let humanity develop the technology that makes the internet possible is because praying Christians can find and reach out to each other in a way not possible before. One thing I know: it is fascinating discovering and sharing with people in this way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let history show...

Reading some of the blogs I've encountered is a real learning experience. One blogger described some of the hard-core feminists she encountered among academics, as rejecting the idea that a woman should ever love a man. It gets me thinking: if SEXISM is just as obnoxious as RACISM, then it is one of the blind spots of our age that such sexism is tolerated, when racism is so widely condemned. But then, look at the past. In the early and middle Twentieth Century, people could make racist statements and hold racist views, and still keep their social and intellectual respectability. Politicians and commentators could suggest and make laws that differentiated between members of different races. In Australia we once had the "White Australia Policy" and people talked about the "Yellow Peril", a quite unpleasant way to refer to Asian human beings. And in the U.S. the Ku Klux Klan had considerable support. Nowadays history has condemned such attitudes, and some people have a less complimentary place in history than they might have liked. In the U.S. I wonder how many people admire Nathan Bedfore Forrest, founder of the Ku Klux Klan? Hopefully we reject racist views. And yet we still permit people with grossly sexist views to keep their academic and social standing. There are women who say that "All men are rapists." There are women who want to have children by artificial means to avoid contact with a man. There are women who suggest that there is no injustice in a man being jailed for a rape he did not commit, because all men are rapists and deserve it. There are women who say that a woman's word alone should be enough for a man to be convicted of sexual assault! There should be no testing of proof! These people still get a place in the media, hold university posts even though they show to same type of attitudes that the Ku Klux Klan do; that is, for belonging to a certain biological category, a human should be rejected and condemned. When is the Western world going to realize: vicious sexism, including hostile female chauvinism, is an evil that damaged the world; and the advocate of such views compromises their own humanity by their own thinking becoming so jaundiced and prejudiced. I HOPE, that in the same way we now reject racist attitudes, we will also reject sexist attitudes - not only from men but from women as well!