Sadly, the title of this article is a typical response from those who have not been therapists and had to deal with tough cases, especially when helping those with a desire for more and more porn. Many Christians take this approach. My experience is that these people who love the Lord don’t know practical ways to help the person battling pornographic addiction.
My experience as a long-term therapist is that most people are out of their depths in offering practical help to those battling addiction, including pornography.
So, they brush it aside with unhelpful slogans like the title to this article. This is an unsupportive response as it prevents the person from travelling down the road to recovery. In counselling, I’ve heard people tell me that their friends say: ‘Hang in there mate. You’ll get over it one day. You’ll grow up and become a man who doesn’t need that kind of sexual junk’.
None of these clichés is a caring response like: ‘I’ve never had that problem, but I’ll seek some ways to find you help. It might mean going to a counsellor’.
1. Fundamental principles
With any of the emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, addiction, anger, worry, procrastination, and smoking, people tend to think that something causes the emotion: e.g.
‘I’m anxious about swimming in the ocean when large sharks have been seen in the water’.
‘My wife has left me and got into bed with a close friend’, so that has made me deeply depressed.
‘Watching that porn on my Tablet has caused me to go back and back to watch porn and become addicted. I don’t know how to get this out of my mind’.
‘I smoke because it relaxes me after a hard day at work’.
2. A basic approach
With all of the emotional disorders, I use Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). It’s a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Some of its core principles include:
· ‘For as people calculate in their souls, so are they’ (plural from footnote in Prov 23:7 ESV). ‘What he thinks is what he really is’ (GNT).
Albert Ellis, founder of REBT, often quoted the Greek philosopher, Epictetus who taught the same kind of thing: ‘Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them’ (The Enchiridion §5).
Both statements from the Bible and Epictetus agree with the fundamental of short-term REBT. Large sharks in the ocean cannot make anyone anxious. A wife committing adultery is not the cause of deep depression by the husband. Watching porn on a Tablet cannot cause anxiety about its danger and possible addiction.
How come? Things do not cause emotional disturbance. It’s our view of things (thoughts or beliefs about them) that bring on emotional issues.
Block every porn site on your PC, phone, Tablet and any other electronic device you access. If you don’t know how to do this, check it out with an IT geek.
If you try to get around this by using tricky ways to find other sites, you are not being honest with your thoughts for seeking help. Why are you doing this when you know pornography is harmful to you and your relationships?
That’s only the first step to deal with what your mind is doing. Here is a biblical and cognitive-behavioural way to overcome the problem. It will mean discipline by you and accountability to one other person who is serious about helping you. He or she can ask you nearly every day how your thoughts are changing. You have to be 100% honest with him or her.
Guidelines for the accountability person are in ‘Job description for accountability partner’ in the agreement below: ‘COMMITMENT TO CONTROL MY USE OF PORNOGRAPHY (contract)’.
Unless you conquer your porn addiction, you will take it into your marriage and your spouse will never be able to perform according to the porn actresses or actors.
2.2 The ABCDEF model to conquer porn addiction
This is the ABCD model of dealing with your emotions and pornography involves your emotions.
A Activating event for your anxiety (watching porn online or wherever);
B Beliefs about addiction and why you need to watch porn.
Remember, it is not the porn itself that causes you to go back again and again and to repeat it in your thought world. Porn has no power to make you an addict.
Something else does have that power. These are your thoughts about porn. You’ll need to fill these in, but many addicts believe …
I MUST view porn to bring satisfaction in masturbation.
I MUST use porn techniques in the sexual relationship; otherwise it will lack satisfaction;
My mates will think I am weak if I’m not into exciting pornography. They get sexual excitement that way and I need their approval.
I’m depriving myself if I flunk the porn test with friends.
What are your beliefs or thoughts about why you need to go back to porn, over and over?
2.3 Three MUSTs in your thinking
In this form of therapy, there generally are 3 basic MUSTs in your thinking. Applied to pornography, they are:
I must do well and win others’ approval (especially with the person who introduced me to porn) by continuing this addiction, otherwise I’m no good.
Others must treat me fairly and kindly and in the same way I want them to treat me – even though I’m battling pornography. If they do not treat me this way, they are not good people and deserve to be punished.
I must always get what I want, when I want it. I must beat porn addiction NOW. Also, I must never get what I don’t want. If I don’t get what I want (instant stopping of porn), I’m miserable. It’s awful when I can’t conquer the urge to watch and think about porn images.
If you don’t obtain MUST #1 you’ll probably feel anxious, depressed and perhaps guilty.
If you don’t achieve MUST #2, you are most likely to feel angry and act aggressively.
If MUST #3 is not fulfilled, you may procrastinate and feel self-pity.
Therefore, the key to dealing with porn is to change the thought patterns in the 3 MUSTs. Remember, things such as porn do not cause addiction. Your thoughts about porn DO.
C Consequences: emotions and behaviours associated with porn addiction.
Effects of thinking include emotions, behaviours and other thoughts. The behaviours for the person with problems with porn are the regular desire to pursue thoughts about current porn or porn seen in the past.
D Debate the beliefs at B.
How rational is it that you MUST bring porn into your mind when you masturbate? (Can I presume you masturbate? Most males do.)
How will you expect your spouse to perform in sex to compete with the sex actresses? What about you in comparison with the male actors?
Here are some helpful questions to help you dispute/debate the irrational beliefs at B:
“Where is holding on to this belief getting me?
“Is the belief helpful, or is it self-defeating?
“What do I get out of while holding on to this belief?
“Where is the evidence to support my belief?
Is my belief consistent with actuality?
“Is my belief rigid or flexible?
“What’s another way I could look at this?
“What other helpful belief can I use to replace this unhelpful belief?”
E Effective new thoughts replace old beliefs at B.
For the Christian, Philippians 4:8 (ERV) is a key in beating all kinds of anxiety, depression or addiction: ‘Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected’.
You will be successful in getting porn out of your thinking if you change (by your choice) your thinking to what is good, worthy of praise, true, honourable, right and pure, beautiful and respected.
Who will hold you accountable for putting off the old beliefs and putting on the new?
F New Feelings
I will make sensible decisions about pornography. I will not beat myself and have anxiety if I relapse for a time or two. I accept that battling temptation is a normal part of the Christian life.
So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure (James 4:7-8 ERV).
The difference between Christians and non-Christians who battle with pornography is that Christians know they battle on two fronts: (1) Against their irrational and ungodly thoughts, and (2) Against the devil, whom they must name and resist him. He will not give up easily in dragging you down.
To better understand the REBT model of cognitive-behavioural therapy for various counselling issues, I recommend Dr. Michael R Edelstein and Dr. David Ramsay Steele, Three Minute Therapy (lulu.com 2019).
3. How to be an effective accountability person
See the contract below for details:
COMMITMENT TO CONTROL MY USE OF PORNOGRAPHY (contract)
Because I care for myself, my family and others, I (write name), …………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………
commit myself to do the following things to control my use of pornography:
1. Block every pornographic site on whichever device I use to access the Internet or magazines.
2. Accountability to one person with whom I’ll be 100% honest about my use and images of porn.
3. To pursue the biblical therapy of, ‘For as people calculate in their souls, so are they’ (Prov 23:7 ESV). This is fleshed out in a REBT model of therapy (Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy), i.e. your actions will be determined by what you think about an issue.
4. Effective new feelings will come when you practise biblical thinking, ‘Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected (Phil 4:8 ERV).
I agree to the following person to hold me accountable to check on the above actions once per week:
(a) Ask the porn user what his/her thoughts have been since you last saw him/her.
(b) How much porn has he/she watched?
(c) What anxiety has he/she experienced from porn use?
(d) What did he/she do about the anxiety?
(e) Make sure you understand that what people think they become (Proverbs 23:7).
(f) Therefore, how is the porn user practising the ABCDEF model of therapy? You need to be clued up on this approach to cognitive-behavioural therapy. It’s a short-term method of therapy.
(g) Make sure to ask the user what he/she is finding the toughest area in which to change. Help the person in this area by using the ABCDEF model.
Often people have problems with identification of Beliefs. Some say to themselves: ‘I must never have a single relapse. Since I had a relapse that proves I’m powerless to beat this. Or, I must get these images out of my mind immediately or by the end of the month, otherwise I’m a failure’.
At D you will debate these statements with the user: Why must I not have a relapse? Where is the evidence for that? What evidence is written in God’s laws of the universe as to how long it will take for you to gain self-control of your porn? We know that one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control and that means as you grow in your Christian faith, the Holy Spirit will help you gain control (Gal. 5:22-23).
What Effective new thinking is needed? As long as you are a person, you will battle with your sinful nature (Gal. 6:1-5; 1 John 1:8-9). The Scriptures have given plenty of techniques on how to deal with sin.
In putting Philippians 4:8 (ERV) into practice, what has been your thinking in these areas?
‘Continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected’.
To change your thinking, these questions need to be answered in regard to things that have no relationship to thinking on porn:
What good thoughts have replaced the porn thoughts?
What are you praising God for, instead of thinking on porn images?
What are truthful and honourable things in your circumstances? What have you said to yourself about these?
What thoughts have you had about what is right?
What beauty surrounds you? What have you thought about this?
Remember to pray with the person being healed from porn involvement: ‘Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’ (James 5:16 NIV).
3. Porn user’s commitment
I will be absolutely honest, co-operative and share to the best of my ability with my accountability persons I will do this for the benefit of:
I understand that my behaviour has not happened suddenly and that the turn-around may take some time to correct. I commit myself to attend a minimum of 6 counselling sessions. I will not participate in anything dangerous or illegal.
Name of client: …………………………….……………………………….……………………………..
Signature of client: ……………………………………………………………………………………….
Name of accountability person: ………………………………………………….……………………………………………………….……….
Signature of accountability person: ………………………………………….……..
As I began writing this article, horrendous grief and anger are being poured out by family, friends and neighbours in Brisbane over the alleged murder and suicide of a family of four (mother and 3 children) burned to death in a car and the alleged DV perpetrator killing himself.
It is understood the wife, Hannah, was driving, husband Rowan was in the passenger seat. Three children aged 6, 4 and 2 were in the car. One witness of the event told The Guardian, ‘[Hannah] Baxter had run from the car screaming, “He’s poured petrol on me.” This was the result (see image):
(Police attend the scene of the car fire which claimed the lives four people in Brisbane. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP)
A flood of grief has burst upon this Australian nation along with a call to do something more about DV behaviour.
Australia is in the midst of a crisis of domestic violence. John Wren looked at DV statistics in this country:
Domestic violence is an epidemic in Australia. The statistics make sobering reading. On average, one woman a week is killed by their (sic) partner. The combined health, administration and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year with costs rising exponentially in the future.
The Morrison Government loves to trot out the mantra that they are “keeping Australians safe” as their excuse for ever more draconian migration laws, monitoring laws and encryption laws, but their inaction on domestic violence and, in many cases, actions that actually make it worse belie the hollowness of the marketing spin that the phrase really is.
The Abbott Government cut funding to domestic violence programs and the Turnbull and Morrison Governments have continued that trend. It was suggested that Hannah Clarke had sought help to escape her violent husband but was unable to secure support through facilities already denuded by year after year of defunding. If this is true, then the Morrison Government through its budget cuts must bear some culpability for the death of her and her children (Wren’s Week: The Australian domestic violence epidemic, 22 February 2020).
So far todaypolice in Australia would have dealt with on average 522 domestic violence matters.
Is the government open to ‘whatever has to be done’?
Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, stated after this Clarke/Baxter tragedy:
“Baxter’s fire attack on his family was “horrific”.
“No-one could imagine the sadistic and premeditated nature of this violence, and I think Governments of any persuasion will do whatever we can.
“It is not an issue of money for a lack of ability or desire to change the laws. I think all of us stand united and have done for a long time in whatever we can do to stamp out this violence”.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the issue was above politics.
“I think all of us are open to whatever needs to be done, and I agree with you. You know, whatever has been done up until now doesn’t seem to be working.
“This is a scourge within our society and somehow we need to address it and get rid of it, and whatever that requires, in terms of whatever that requires, in terms of whatever kind of inquiry – and Peter is right – it is not about – we will do whatever, in terms of laws, money – this has to be brought to an end.”
The Coalition’s Peter Dutton wants DV stamped out and governments will do whatever they can to make that happen.
Richard Marles agrees from the opposition bench. All will do whatever needs to be done to get rid of the scourge of DV. Marles thinks of an inquiry, change of laws and money.
However, are they sincere in being ‘open to whatever needs to be done’ and will carry out ‘whatever we can do to stamp out this violence’? I have my doubts.
I’ll suggest a solution below that I can’t see Dutton and Marles doing hand-stands to achieve the eradication of DV.
Governments throw money at the problem
The Guardian Australia Edition reported in March 2019 ‘the Coalition [government] has pledged an extra $328m over three years to fight domestic violence, with frontline services, safe places and prevention strategies to receive the biggest grants’.
In November 2019, the Queensland government (where I live) called for applications:
Apply now for a grant to help end domestic and family violence
Applications are now open for a share in $150,000 in grants for community organisations to host events during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May 2020.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said grants of up to $5,000 each were available for projects designed to raise awareness, encourage community participation, and support people affected by domestic and family violence.
In November 2019, the Federal government advised the ‘National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (NFVPLS) its $244,000-a-year funding would not be renewed past June 2020’. This organisation deals with DV among indigenous people. Labor’s Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney, said
the statistics showed a desperate need for more funding for domestic violence services, not less.
“When you look at the shocking statistics relating to Aboriginal women and family violence — 34 times more likely to be hospitalised, 10 times more likely to be murdered from violent assault — it beggars belief that this would happen,” she said.
I’m in favour of funding DV services and education programs. More are needed and governments need to invest more if they are serious about spreading the anti-DV message, ‘Stop it at the start’.
It’s not only a male issue
Police respond to a “serious domestic dispute” somewhere in the country every two minutes.
· One in six women and one in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence
· One in four women and one in six men have experienced emotional abuse
· One in five women and one in 20 men have experienced sexual violence
· One in six women and one in nine men were physically or sexually abused
· One in two women and one in four men have been sexually harassed
· One in six women and one in 15 men have experienced stalking
· One in four Australian children is exposed to family violence.
White Ribbon Australia acknowledged, ‘Sadly, both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men. Around 95% of all victims of violence, whether women or men, experience violence from a male perpetrator’.
The Australian Social Monitor (1999) reported that the usual belief is that the overwhelming amount of DV is perpetrated by men against women. However this study in 1996/97 found that
partnered men and women were questioned about committing or suffering physical domestic violence in the last 12 months,[and they] show that women and men were equally likely to suffer injuries of about the same severity. There was some evidence of intergenerational transmission of violent behaviour both from father to son and mother to daughter. However, most respondents who admitted violence did not claim to have had violent parents.
Lewis & Sarantakos (2001:2) claimed that over the last few decades, DV has been primarily defined as violence by men against women. Violence by women against their male partners was ‘considered to be either non-existent, or the fault of men, or has been trivalised and justified in a variety of ways’.
Their research challenged this notion and consider ‘the existence of this form of abuse is part of a fundamental disempowerment of men which has arisen from a tacit acceptance in society of the radical feminist agenda’. Lewis & Sarantakos concluded ‘that domestic violence is not an issue of gender, and that official policy should be directed to providing the kind of help for abused men which up until now has been available only to women’ (2001:2).
While acknowledging there is a major percentage of DV by men against women, the Australian Institute of Criminology identified a proportion of female DV perpetrators against men:
According to the findings of the ABS (2006) Personal Safety Survey, 78 percent of persons who reported being a victim of physical violence at the hands of a partner in the previous 12 months were female. Similarly, research by Access Economics (2004) found that 87 percent of all victims of domestic violence are women and that 98 percent of all perpetrators are men (Morgan & Chadwick 2009).
Is the real solution too religious?
There is a cure for the problem for both males and females who commit domestic violence (DV). However, the treatment is very Christian. Are you open to this Christian solution?
Reddit came close with its flair: ‘Male depravity’. It’s short of the mark because it misses half of the story. ‘Depravity’ hit the mark but applying it only to males is a biblical no-no!
Why? All people are depraved, male and female. The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, nailed the problem for those who commit (DV), but it has application to all people who commit evil, ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?’ (Jer 17:9 NLT)
All people are badly sick with a sinful disease that is grounded in the human heart.
“Heart” (Hebrew lebab/leb [b’bel], Greek. kardia [kardiva]) occurs over one thousand times in the Bible, making it the most common anthropological term in the Scripture. It denotes a person’s center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities; sometimes it is used figuratively for any inaccessible thing (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 1996. s.v. Heart).
I know of only one way to change the human heart from depravity to uprightness, from evil actions to freedom from the sin of DV. The cure comes from a changed inner person – a heart. It comes through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ who came to save sinners and make them righteous.
The apostle Paul stated it clearly in Scripture:
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life (1 Tim 1:15-16 NLT).
This wicked blasphemer and persecutor of the Christian church, the Pharisee Saul, was changed from doing violence to Christians to proclaiming Jesus Christ across the then known world. He experienced the change all DV perpetrators need.
What changed him? ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile’ (Rom 1:16 NIV). Proclamation of the gospel of salvation through Christ alone turned a wicked, Christ-blaspheming sinner into a firebrand for the proclamation of the Christian message.
How does this happen for Jewish persecutors of Christians in the first century, persecutors of Christians in the Western world, changing murderers to decent people, and changing DV perpetrators into righteous people?
Bob Thune explained it in another context:
Somewhere along the line, we have individualized the gospel. We said it was just about “you and Jesus.” We forgot that the gospel doesn’t just change eternal destinies; it changes everything. The gospel transforms societies, renews families, and heals relationships. That’s why Jesus called it “the gospel of the kingdom” (Luke 16:16).
The gospel is all about the rule and reign of Jesus. And where Jesus is rightly honored as Lord, there is more than just personal salvation; there is redemptive action! The gospel is holistic. For me to say that I cared about Ryan’s soul without caring about his relationship with his family would be the pinnacle of hypocrisy.
The answer wasn’t, “Get saved and then we’ll deal with your family relationships.” The answer was, “God wants to heal the wounds in your family. He is a redemptive God” (Thune 2010. The Gospel changes everything, emphasis added).
The treatment for the DV perpetrator is:
(1) Education about DV and anger-control strategies;
(2) Proclamation of the Gospel of salvation through Christ;
(3) A call to forgiveness of sins and repentance.
(4) If the person responds positively to the Gospel, the local church must provide discipleship to help the person grow as a Christian.
The new Christian and former DV perpetrator will not change only by giving up DV habits. It may take time for change to blossom into maturity (called Christian sanctification).
For lasting change to be established in a person’s life, bad practices need to be replaced with godly practices. This ‘Principle of Replacement’ is found in such Scripture as Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT):
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (emphasis added).
In growing up to be more like Jesus in their behaviours, DV perpetrators need to stop DV actions and replace them with righteous and holy behaviour. Stopping bad behaviour is inadequate to bring about radical change. The old way of living must change, thanks to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s fruit, God wants to see this change:
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Gal 5:22-23 NLT).
Can you imagine what your relationships would be like if these behaviours were demonstrated in your bonds with people, instead of DV?
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians what this means: ‘Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’ (2 Cor 5:17 NLT).
I cannot see any government programme, rally, advertising campaign, or Royal Commission to be effective ultimately in smashing the DV emergency in Australia when the core issue is not being addressed.
It’s time for the Christian churches that believe in the Gospel proclamation to step up and demonstrate a true DV solution – proclamation of the Gospel and salvation through Christ – that leads to changed hearts of people. We need to see a deluge of DV perpetrators becoming ‘new persons’ in Christ. This won’t happen without a strong Gospel message in the public square.
What are the holes in Whitaker’s arguments against Court and Court’s support for heterosexual marriage over Whitaker’s backing of modern Christian families that include gay couples? Here is what I found (In some places, I’ll address Dr Whitaker as ‘you’ and ‘your’).
Hole 1: It starts with Whitaker’s title that the Bible is not meant to be understood as literally as Margaret Court reads it.
Then she does exactly what she told Margaret not to do. She literally accept the fact that there are 66 books in the Bible; Abraham fathered children with his concubine as well as his wife.
Her literal interpretation continued: She accepted that David and Solomon had entire palaces full of wives and concubines and that polygamy was common. Slaves were used for concubines. There was no hint in her article that these were supposed to be interpreted metaphorically or symbolically.
Whitaker made self-defeating statements with her examples. She failed to meet her own standard of the Bible being read too literally. The article cannot live up to the criteria she set in the title.
So her self-refuting statements are of necessity false. She violated the law of non-contradiction. This states that A and non-A cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense. This promoted a contradiction when she accused Margaret Court of reading the Bible “that literally” when she did exactly the same with your reading of the Bible.
Hole 2: What is literal interpretation? She assumed we knew. When I was in high school in Qld, I learned that to understand a document literally meant to accept the plain meaning of the text. This includes the use of figures of speech and symbols.
My seminary text for biblical interpretation was Berkeley Mickelsen’s , Interpreting the Bible. He wrote that “literal” means the customarily acknowledged meaning of an expression in its particular context. For example, when Christ declared that he was the door, the metaphorical meaning of “door” would be obvious. Although metaphorical, this evident meaning is included in the literal interpretation.
Therefore, “by literal meaning the writer refers to the usual or customary sense conveyed by words or expressions” (Mickelsen 1963:17). So when I read Whitaker’s article online, I assumed that figures of speech were included in the literal meaning. That’s how I understood her statement that David’s and Solomon’s wives and concubines “served as symbols of their power and status”.
The Cambridge Dictionary (2018. s.v. literal) states the adjectival meaning of literal is, ‘having exactly the same meaning as the basic or original meaning of a word or expression’. e.g. a literal interpretation of the Australian Constitution.
Iain Provan summarised his view of ‘literal’. It harmonises with The Cambridge Dictionary definition: Literally means that Scripture is read with “its apparent communicative intentions as a collection of texts from the past, whether in respect to smaller or larger sections of text”.
This means readers “take full account of the nature of the language in which these intentions are embedded and revealed as components of Scripture’s unfolding covenantal Story – doing justice to such realities as literary convention, idiom, metaphor, and typology or figuration”.
To read Scripture (or any literature) literally is to try to understand “what Scripture is saying to us in just the ways in which we seek to understand what other people are saying to us – taking into account … their age, culture, customs, and language, as well as the verbal context within which individuals words and sentences are located. This is what it means to read “literally,” in pursuit of the communicative intent of God – in search of what to believe, how to live, and what to hope for” (Provan 2017:105).
I would be in strife if I didn’t read Whitaker’s “Note to Margaret Court” literally. Or, should I put a postmodern or allegorical spin on it and make it mean whatever I, the reader, determine?
Hole 3: You claim that Margaret Court was wrong in her open letter to Qantas and on Channel Ten’s “The Project” because she stated that the Bible confirms that marriage is a union of a man and a woman.
Which standard did you use to judge that Mrs Court’s analysis was wrong and yours was correct? Your article concluded that the Bible describes family life that is ancient, different, reflecting patriarchal structures or arranged marriages in early Christianity and is not for today.
In addition, you seem to have brought into your new concept of marriage something that you oppose – “culturally bound ideology”. For you, it includes gay couples and “Christian values of love, justice and inclusion found throughout the Bible and is why so many Christians support marriage equality”.
It is you who has promoted that last statement in your politically correct support of homosexual marriage. Again you make a self-defeating statement. You oppose the “culturally bound ideology” of the Bible’s structure of family life, but you promote your own culturally bound contemporary ideology of marriage equality and modern Christian families including gay couples.
If you were to agree with the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, you would have the same opinion as he had regarding marriage: “’A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:5-6).
Jesus was an enthusiastic supporter of heterosexual marriage. He did not state that a man should leave his parents and be joined with his male partner and become one flesh with him.
Margaret Court’s conclusion agrees with that of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t harmonise with your belief that progressives do not offend contemporary political sensibilities, including sexual orientation.
Therefore, your view is contrary to that of Jesus. Margaret Court’s stance on marriage agrees with that of the Saviour and yours is the one at odds with the Bible and the Master.
Hole 4: You have committed an historian’s fallacy in your claims against Margaret Court. This is how you promoted this fallacy:
1. Mrs Court claimed that in the Bible in the past, marriage was a union between a man and a woman.
2. Mrs Court, who makes this claim, did not take into consideration marriage equality that was not taught in biblical times.
3. Therefore, Margaret Court is wrong to claim that the Bible supports heterosexual marriage.
One of the problems with this erroneous reasoning is that it does not deal with the issues at hand, issues such as these:
The foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview is based on Old and New Testament Scriptures.
God decided who should be joined together in the beginning of time: ‘A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Heterosexuality was God’s design.
Jesus Christ confirmed this position (Matthew 19:5),
As did the apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:31).
Your support of marriage equality over heterosexual marriage is a politically correct line of reasoning and is fallacious because it doesn’t deal with a range of issues biblically, including the Scripture’s perspective on homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and the Bible’s support of heterosexual marriage in both Old and New Testaments. It also has been called a political correctness fallacy.
Hole 5: Margaret Court “is even more wrong” to suggest she is being persecuted for her views, you stated. The situation is more serious. She has been bullied. To bully is to “use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something” (Oxford Dictionary online 2017. s v bully). Mrs Court has been bullied and intimidated by the threat of tennis players to boycott Margaret Court Arena at the 2018 Australian Open Grand Slam tournament.
She has been bullied by the threat that the arena named in her honour at Melbourne Park should be changed for the 2018 Australian Open.
Then there was the ridicule by tennis super-brat and now commentator, John McEnroe, after Mrs Court’s statement that “tennis is full of lesbians”. McEnroe fired back, “This is true and who gives a f***? This is not true and who should give a f***? This is half true and should we really give a f***?” (AAP 2017)
Open lesbian and tennis great, Martina Navratilova, engaged in emotional abuse of Mrs Court in her “open letter from Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court Arena” when she stated:
“It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.
“And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community” (Navratilova 2017).
Navratilova supported the change of name of Margaret Court Arena: “I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it”. Would you endorse this?
Does Whitaker consider the former Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, should have had a name change between 2009-2018? It was sponsored by Etihad Airways, the national airline of the Islamic country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is now known as Docklands’ Stadium.
Was she an advocate to change name of Etihad Stadium during its sponsorship of the stadium?
What is the Islamic view on homosexuality? The Muslim commentary on the Quran, Hadith, states in al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152: [Muhammad said] “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver”. Another statement from the Hadith is: “Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done’ (Sunan Abu Dawud 38:4447).
Thus, Islam requires capital punishment for both the perpetrator and recipient of what the people of Sodom did.
What did the “people of Lot” do? Lot’s (Lut in Arabic) life is explained in Genesis, chapters 11-14, and 19. He lived in Sodom, a city of open homosexuality (see Genesis 19:4-9). What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Greg Koukl examined the options in depth and concluded:
We know the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were homosexual, “both young and old, all the people from every quarter” (19:4), to the point of disregarding available women (19:5-8). After they were struck sightless they still persisted (19:11). These men were totally given over to an overwhelming passion that did not abate even when they were supernaturally blinded by angels.
Homosexuality fits the biblical details. It was the sin that epitomized the gross wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah—the “grave,” “ungodly,” “lawless,” “sensual conduct of unprincipled men” that tormented Lot as he “saw and heard” it “day after day,” the “corrupt desire” of those that went after “strange flesh.”
Islam’s punishment for homosexuality is an extreme treatment compared with what Margaret Court advocated.
It seems inconsistent to me that she wanted to downgrade Mrs Court’s persecution and abuse for her statements on homosexuality but avoid dealing with a Muslim country’s airline’s sponsorship of Etihad Stadium in Australia.
Margaret Court has put up with persecution, abuse and ridicule from the tennis community, mass media, and now pro-LGBTIQ+ bias from Dr Whitaker, a woman representing the Christian community.
Hole 6: You cherry pick a Bible verse without bringing contextual understanding to try to oppose Mrs Court’s teaching ministry as a woman at Victory Life Centre, Perth.
You claim that if the literalism that Mrs Court applied to Genesis on marriage were applied to 1 Timothy 2:12, she would be in hot water because it forbids women to teach or have authority over men.
The facts are that “I am not permitting a woman to teach” focussed especially on the church where Timothy was located at Ephesus. However, in other churches women could prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5), give a teaching on occasions (1 Corinthians 14:26). Women were not excluded from teaching in Colossians 3:16, ‘Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely’ (NIRV), and the older women were to be good teachers of the younger women (Titus 2:3-4). One of the spiritual gifts is that of teachers (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28). Nothing in these verses indicates the teaching gift is exclusively for men to minister to a mixed gathering.
As a female teacher of males in a church college and university at which you work, and your affiliation with the Uniting Church, you should know that literal interpretation includes examining the use of plain language, figures of speech, literary context, and the cultural context. It is hypocritical, in my view, for you to challenge Margaret Court’s teaching as a minister while you are involved in a related kind of ministry as a female teacher.
Therefore, Margaret Court is not out of order by being a Christian teacher. Interpreting the Bible literally and in context does not lead to your conclusion of Mrs Court being in “hot water” as a female teacher. Rather, she is in the hot seat of being one of God’s gifts to the church and stating publicly exactly what Jesus taught in support of heterosexual marriage and thus rejecting homosexual relationships.
God’s grace as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection extends to all sinners as Paul illustrated, “Some of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made holy. You were made right with God. All of this was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also done by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:12). What they “used to do” included those who “practised homosexuality” and other sins.
Through Christ’s salvation there is hope for change among those who used to practise homosexuality and other sins.
Please be consistent with your biblical interpretation. You were the one who quoted Galatians 3:28 to affirm that there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female because “all of you are one in Christ Jesus”. That teaching is profoundly troublesome for your statement against Mrs Court as a Christian teacher.
Hole 7: There are holey Bible arguments in what you excluded as much as what you included. Your claim is that polygamy was common in the Old Testament (which is true) and that you don’t hear anyone advocating this as a “biblical view” of marriage.
That is only partially true. A cult group such as the Mormons historically practised polygamy. You fail to mention that this polygamy in the Old Testament was between a man and women and not male to male. It was heterosexual polygamy.
Hole 8: What was God’s view of polygamy? His original plan was one man for one woman from the beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-25).
That changed when sin entered the human race (Genesis 3) and Lamech had wives (Genesis 4:23). The Law of Moses was clear for the Israelites: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deuteronomy 17:17).
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). In that same chapter, there is a warning of the consequences of polygamy:
The Lord had warned Israel about women from other nations. He had said, ‘You must not marry them. If you do, you can be sure they will turn your hearts toward their gods.’ But Solomon continued to love them anyway. He wouldn’t give them up (1 Kings 11:2).
Hole 9: You declare the traditional nuclear family can be found in the Bible if we look for it, but it’s not the dominant model. The information given above makes it clear that the nuclear family (with aberrations such as polygamy) was found in the Bible in both New and Old Testaments.
You stated that the Bible doesn’t condemn “what we understand to be loving, mutual LGBTQI relationships today”. This is an imposition on the biblical text which states,
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, emphasis added).
Another translation of “men who have sex with men” is “male prostitutes, sodomites”.
Those who practise homosexuality are prevented from entering the kingdom of God – along with wrongdoers, deceivers, the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers.
The New Testament does not allow or stress homosexual relationships. Its statement is clear nonetheless: “Since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). It’s a serious violation of Scripture when you want to harmonise a verse like this with ”loving, mutual LGBTQI relationships today”.
Hole 10: You make a case for faith being what makes a person a Christian and not family structures or sexuality. That is not what Jesus taught: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). By the fruit of homosexual relationships, will you recognize Christians? The biblical evidence says, “No”.
Yes, faith in Christ alone for salvation is the primary requisite. However, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 declares the people with certain kinds of behaviour will not enter God’s kingdom. Homosexuality is one such activity. Faith needs to be demonstrated through God’s kind of works, not works defined by political correctness (see James 2).
Hole 11: You stated that Mrs Court’s “culturally bound ideology” is rejected by “biblical scholars and mainstream Christian churches”. Here you have committed the Appeal to Common Belief fallacy.
When you claim that a particular group of people – biblical scholars and mainstream Christian churches – accept the anti-literal interpretation as true, you have not presented evidence for the claim. It is erroneous reasoning.
This is careless thinking and is a dangerous way to accept information.
This is your faulty reasoning:
Many people (scholars and mainstream Church people) believe in a non-literal interpretation of what Margaret Court accepts literally.
Therefore, the non-literal interpretation is correct.
Hole 12: Your statement that “in the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce” is a diversion.
There was no need for Jesus to affirm same-sex relationships because his definition of marriage excluded them. He was not silent but defined the marriage union as between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:5).
Hole 13: Your assertion that many Christians are not represented by the views of Margaret Court or the “so-called Australian Christian Lobby”. This commits a Hasty Generalisation fallacy, also known as argument from small numbers. Ask Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau, about that!
You have drawn a conclusion from a small sample size (your estimate of “many Christians”), rather than examining statistics that are in line with the average situation. Your debunking of Mrs Court’s view and that of the Australian Christian Lobby because they do not line up with your “many Christians” of another view is deceptive reasoning.
A better solution would be to examine the statistics for the mainline churches versus the evangelical churches, including Pentecostal churches.
USA church growth expert, Ed Stetzer, has a particular interest in what is happening in the Australian church. He has analysed the Australian church scene and reported in the Bible Society Live Light, (12 May 2015) that too many churches are stagnant.
His observation of the Western world, including the Australian outlook, is that “mainline Protestantism” in the USA and its counterparts in the rest of the English speaking world are “rapidly declining”. He used the Uniting Church of Australia as a representative example, but this could be applied to other members of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCC). He expects this trend of progressive Protestant decline to continue.
By contrast, evangelicalism (represented by Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby) is growing in Australia. His view is that some of this may be partly related to those moving from NCC churches.
Stetzer said that the majority of Protestant Australians who attend church go to a conservative church. It may not call itself evangelical but is influenced by that movement.
A survey of 1,015 adults at Easter 2015 found that “just over half (52%) of Australian’s believe that God exists as the creator of the universe and Supreme Being. These findings have yielded similar results to the same question asked of the Australian public 6 years ago” (McCrindle Research).
According to the 2016 National Church Life Survey, the Pentecostals have overtaken Anglicans as Australia’s second largest religious group by attendance, behind the Catholic Church (https://wwrn.org/articles/46227/).
This should account for Stetzer’s comment that the large numbers of Protestant Australians attending church are conservative. He considered this represented the majority of Australian Protestants. I consider that a better assessment would be to state that a significant number of Protestant Australians attend conservative churches.
Therefore, Dr Whitaker, to dumb down the views of Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby on homosexuality as “not representative” of “many Christians” is to commit the Appeal to Popularity fallacy. This fallacy invokes the popularity of a proposition to provide evidence of its truthfulness.
Here you have committed this fallacy:
Many Christians promote modern Christian families that include gay couples and are not represented by Mrs Court’s or the Australian Christian Lobby’s views.
Therefore, the truth is that the modern Christian family includes gay couples.
This is invalid reasoning because it does not engage with a contextual interpretation of the biblical texts and the statistical divide between mainline Protestants and evangelical churches.
Hole 14: It is acceptable to send a player of rugby league, rugby union, ice hockey and basketball to the “sin bin” for certain offences against the rules of the games.
One of the largest holes in your agenda, Dr Whitaker, is your avoidance of the key factor – yes, the key factor – that has screwed up our worldviews. This is the problem of sin that has infiltrated every human being and our culture. “God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).
Sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12) but this sin not only screwed up human beings and their relationships, it also contaminated the universe.
God told Adam that because he listened to his wife (not his male partner) and ate from the tree from which God commanded him not to eat, then, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17).
However, you have been negligent in eliminating the problem of sin and its influence in Old Testament polygamy and other aberrations of marriage, including homosexual marriage, heterosexual adultery, and promiscuity (sleeping around).
The teaching on sin is central to Christianity. Sin consists of acts of offence against God and breaking his laws. “There is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-12).
However, the contamination of sin in relationships was missing from your article. There is no point in Jesus’ death and resurrection for redemption if there is no need to be liberated from the guilt of sin. Jesus Christ “gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14).
There was no need to be freed from the sin of homosexuality or polygamy in your presentation. The sin problem left a big hole in your argument.
There’s a huge gap between Dr Margaret Court’s holy Bible and Dr Robyn Whitaker’s holey Bible on the authority of Scripture that contains teaching on homosexuality, gay couples, marriage equality, polygamy, heterosexuality and sexual purity..
I found 14 holes in Dr Whitaker’s case against Dr Court. There are possibly more. It is a serious situation when Whitaker castigates Court’s views when heterosexual and not homosexual relationships are supported by Jesus Himself.
You have bought into the contemporary, pro-homosexual, politically correct agenda that receives vast mass media coverage. Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby have promoted the biblical mandate of heterosexual marriage, which was supported by Jesus, the apostle Paul and has been the norm since the beginning of time.
I recommend that you make an apology to Margaret Court and the Australian Christian Lobby for promoting your own views over those endorsed by Scripture – all in the name of your being a representative of Christianity.
This is a reply to Peter FitzSimons, ‘David Goodall leads the way with choice we should all get to have’ (Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 2018).
What a way to start an article! Where are the pro-lifers and fierce opponents of euthanasia?
Peter, we are in the cities, towns and streets across the nation. The mass media generally don’t seek us out to give the reasons why we oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia. Our views don’t get much air-play. They’re not accepted in an Australian culture where people do what is right in their own eyes.
FitzSimons promoted his pro-euthanasia view triumphantly, asking if Dr David Goodall got it right or wrong and whether we are on a slippery slope in our culture.‘David Goodall ended his life at 104 with a final powerful statement on euthanasia’.
If I accept this reasoning, I should have quit counselling suicidal youth and others through 30 years of counselling. Many considered life was pointless and they could be aged 14, 44 or 84.
I should have forgotten about my suicide awareness training programmes. Disregard referring suicidal people to Lifeline (ph 13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (ph 1300 22 4636) for counselling.
Why bother with trying to show there are better alternatives and providing compassionate support in making those decisions? Getting assistance in killing oneself is better! Right?
If they wanted to kill themselves, my advice should have been, ‘Go ahead and do it ASAP. That’s your choice. Good luck!’
Dr Goodall and those who promote assisted suicide set dangerous precedents. They place life and death decisions on the level of everyday choices.
Think of the ramifications!
FitzSimons asked: Where is the problem in any of the Swiss procedures and the way Goodall died?
Many! I will address only four of them:
1. World views make a world of difference
Worldviews have consequences.
FitzSimons promotes moral relativism. In his words, ‘It’s not your choice (opponents of the right-to-die). It’s our choice (euthanasia supporters)’.
What is a world view?
A world view is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality…. A world view is really a world and life view. That is, it includes within it value indicators or principles by which one makes value judgments…. One set of world view “glasses” can be exchanged for a different world view. In science this kind of major change is called a “paradigm shift.” In religion it is called a “conversion” (Geisler & Watkins 1984:11-12).
Fitzsimons’ reasons to support euthanasia provide an example of the world view of moral relativism in action. Ethical decisions and choices of right and wrong are determined by individuals or group choices in this world view.
2. The logical consequences of moral relativism
What are the logical consequences of such a view?
Dr Goodall and Exit International consider that euthanasia ‘supports an individual of sound mind’s right to choose and implement a peaceful death at a time of their choosing’.
The late Labor MLC of the NSW upper house, Paul O’Grady, maintained ‘voluntary euthanasia is a question of basic human rights. It is about the right of individuals to choose for themselves the quality of life they want and when they no longer enjoy that quality of life’. Should such a view be applied to people of any age, including teenagers who claim life has no meaning?
The University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba) published, ‘Business Ethics: boardroom pressures in an age of moral relativism’, affirming this world view in Australia.
Outside of the life/death sphere, history and contemporary experiences tell us that moral relativism has had serious or deadly repercussions, such as paedophilia, terrorism, the Nazi holocaust, Port Arthur massacre, alleged bribery and fraud of the financial sector, mayors unfit for office, cricket ball-tampering, etc.
3. There is a better way
Some will call this better way a choice because it is not forced on anybody. Australia was built on the moral ethics and government has its foundations in the absolutes of the Judeo-Christian world view.
Why do we need absolute standards of right or wrong in the euthanasia debate? Imagine living in an Australia where murdering anyone either voluntarily or involuntarily was considered right for the country.
We need standards that are beyond fickle human decisions. This does not require us to toe the line of the Judeo-Christian world view. It invites us to participate in upholding the absolute standards of all human beings who are made in the image of God.
So to kill such a person is to take over the sovereign God’s authority in life and death decisions. It is an attack on God’s sovereignty, in the name of human freedom.
John Piper summarised God’s view of life and death and whose right it is to take human life. ‘It seemed to him that in the euthanasia discussion, ‘Human life, which is distinct from all other earthly life in being created in the image of God and designed to exist forever, is the gift of God. And he owns it and may do with it as he please, take it any time he please without wronging anyone, and this is his unique prerogative’.
These verses of Scripture (from the ESV) support that view:
1 Tim 6:13, ‘[He] gives life to all things’.
Deut 32:39, ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god besides me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand’.
1 Sam 2:6, ‘The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up’.
James 4:15, ‘Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’.
He gained the understanding from these passages of Scripture ‘that giving and taking life is ultimately God’s right. Human life in its fullest sense is a miracle that only he can create and only he has the right to take, unless he has given the state the right to use the sword in various settings to take life. But as far as medical things are concerned, I think it is clear that God’s rights are at stake here and we dare not intrude on what he alone has the right to do’ (Piper 2016).
Why invoke the commands of the Deity, the Lord God? Put simply, it’s because He tells the truth about life and death decisions. The New Testament use of ‘truth’ not only means the difference between true and false facts, but also that which conforms to reality, as opposed to mere reality.
Read the Scriptures and see the diagnosis of truth (reality) for Australia. They fit like a hand in a glove. You will find the cause of the problems of sin, evil and disease (Genesis 3), the impact on creation and on human beings all around us. From where do crime and violence come? The solution to the moral madness is found through God’s absolute moral standards (10 commandments, Exodus 20; the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7).
TThe solution to the human sin dilemma for individuals is found through Jesus Christ’s salvation (John 3:16; Acts 4:12) and the ultimate end of the wretched condition on earth will come at Jesus Christ’s second coming (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7).
What about the diseases inflicted on human beings, the deformity in vegetation, and animals who suffer?
Chantal Sébire is an example of a beautiful looking French woman who became a picture of gross facial deformity when a cancer from her left eye spread to engulf her face. This could be used as an emotional example to support assisted suicide. However by doing that, I would commit an ‘Argument by Emotive Language’ (see below) and it is false reasoning. Why? It does not provide evidence of the benefits and disadvantages of assisted suicide in any society. I do not provide this example as a reason to promote euthanasia, but it is the type of example used to persuade people and governments to legalise assisted suicide. I oppose such irrational thinking.
‘Chantal Sébire was a French schoolteacher who developed a rare form of cancer which severely disfigured her eye-sockets and face. She also lost her senses of sight, taste and smell’. She died in 2008 from a drug overdose when the French government would not grant her the right to euthanasia’ (courtesy Ranker).
In the euthanasia debate, the Christian world view lays out the reality of life and death decisions, as opposed to mere appearances. It declares the truth of reality.
That’s not how euthanasia promoter, Philip Nitschke, sees it. He remonstrated with this insulting attack on religious freedom, ‘Just bugger off christian lobby’.
Our nation was built on the Judeo-Christian foundation of the 10 commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But euthanasia takes life and death decisions and places them in autonomous hands.
Former medical practitioner and now Presbyterian minister, Neil Chambers’ Christian response to euthanasia got to the more foundational issue: ‘Who rules: God or [people]? Who has the right to determine who lives and who dies?’
His assessment rocks the foundations of human freedom: ‘The euthanasia proposals being discussed in Australia and other parts of the world today seek to give to one group of humans—doctors—the right to end human life. They do this without reference to God, or to the circumstances under which God has said human life may be taken’.
They justify the morality of euthanasia by giving human beings ultimate authority and freedom, ‘accountable only to themselves and thus free to do as they wish with their own lives’ (Neil Chambers).
In a Quora forum, Ken Creten gave a typical objection to moral absolutes: ‘I agree with others here that there are no absolute moral values’. What did he do? He created his own absolute in trying to deny absolutes. This new absolute is, ‘There are no absolute moral values’. That is a self-defeating argument.
Where would Australia be if we stuck to God’s sovereign and absolute standards of right and wrong in life and death decisions?
4. Appeal to the use of emotive language is a fallacy
FitzSimons’ choice to promote euthanasia by an appeal to a 104-year-old scientist who considered life had no meaning, commits an ‘Argument by Emotive Language’.
It is faulty reasoning when he used an emotive example of an aged man euthanised in Switzerland and emotional language such as, ‘So where are you now, you fierce opponents of euthanasia and the right-to-die? How many of you, honestly, can look at the triumphant -you heard me – passing of the 104-year-old … and say that he got it wrong, that society is on a slippery slope, et cetera?’ .
This argument provided no logical reasons to support or reject euthanasia. He replaced reason with emotion to try to win the argument. ‘It is a type of manipulation used in place of valid logic’ (Dr Bo Bennett).
We know from countries with legal euthanasia, no matter the safeguards, they have moved from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia and many cases are not reported in the data.
FitzSimons asked what my choice would be regarding death and my farewell hymn. This article should make that obvious. I have asked my children to sing these songs at my funeral service: ‘How Great Thou Art’ and ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ (Jim Reeves), and ‘What a Day That Will Be’ (Jim Hill, the song’s composer).
Legalising euthanasia in Australia would have ramifications way beyond the apparent ‘goodness’ of such decisions.
Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).
Geisler, N L & Watkins, W 1984. Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s World Views. San Bernardino, California: Here’s Life, Publishers, Inc.
My friend Alan phoned me as he was watching the news on TV and saw the promotion for the upcoming story on Channel 9 news, Brisbane Qld. This dealt with the supposed link between diet drinks, stroke and dementia. I turned onto Channel 9 and waited for the item to come on. That item ended by stating that further research was needed.
That was also the information provided in an article in The Sun (UK). The emphasis was repeated that more research was needed. ‘But after accounting for all lifestyle factors, the researchers found the link to dementia was statistically insignificant’ in this British report (McDermott 2017).
The lead researcher of this study, Matthew Pase, said, ‘It’s important to note that the absolute risk for any one person who drinks diet pop is low. Of the 2,888 participants the study followed, there were only 97 cases of stroke and 81 cases of dementia’. The study warned: ‘That will need to be explored further in other studies…. We need more studies to confirm whether the association is true and causal or whether the association is caused by something else’ (CTVNews.ca Staff 2017).
What’s the truth in The Sun (UK’s) headline?
Coca killer ‘Just ONE Diet Coke or Pepsi Max a day can ‘TRIPLE the risk of a deadly stroke’ and dementia, researchers claim’
This Australian news item stated:
Drinking at least one artificially sweetened drink every day has been associated with a three times greater risk of having a stroke or developing dementia, according to a US study.
The researchers of the Boston University study, published in medical journal Stroke, caution that the findings only show an association, but say there is a need for further investigation (The Australian, 22 April 2017).
Do you remember a few years ago there was a lot of commotion about the supposed link between aspartame (artificial sweetener) and cancer? After further research, the American Cancer Society reported:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in the United States. In 2007, the FDA stated:
Considering results from the large number of studies on aspartame’s safety, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies, a recently reported large epidemiology study with negative associations between the use of aspartame and the occurrence of tumors, and negative findings from a series of three transgenic mouse assays, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food (U.S. Food & Drug Administration 2007).
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assesses the safety of sweeteners such as aspartame in the European Union. According to a 2009 report from its Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food:
Overall, the Panel concluded, on the basis of all the evidence currently available … that there is no indication of any genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of aspartame and that there is no reason to revise the previously established ADI for aspartame of 40 mg/kg [body weight].
Though research into a possible link between aspartame and cancer continues, these agencies agree that studies done so far have not found such a link (American Cancer Society, Aspartame).
I consider it is way too early to claim a link between diet drinks, strokes and dementia. There is much more of a possibility that I will get dementia from the deep anaesthesia I have been through in my 5 heart surgeries triggering a predisposition to dementia:
“We don’t think that anesthesia and surgery actually cause Alzheimer’s or cause dementia,” he adds. “We think that it interacts with individual vulnerabilities where if you’re already predisposed to getting something like this, this speeds it up.” Scientists are working on ways to identify populations that might be more susceptible to dementia via biomarkers and other tests, and eventually hope to use that information to make surgery safer for them (Scientific American, October 23, 2014).
If the research was certain of the link between aspartame, stroke and dementia, I’d be off diet Coke and Pepsi Max immediately. At this point, it’s more suitable for mass media hype to get our attention – as with Aspartame years ago. That’s how I see it and I drink about 3-4 cans per week.
Country music legend, Loretta Lynn (pictured here at left on her 1965 album, Blue Kentucky Girl. At age 85 in 2017, she suffered a stroke (but is expected to make a full recovery). The second photograph is Loretta performing at age 82.
If you wanted to euthanise someone with a drug or provide a drug for self-administered suicide, which drug would you recommend?
Pentobarbital (trade name Nembutal) is the lethal drug recommended and made available through Australia’s Dr Philip Nitschke of Exit International for euthanasia or assisted suicide. Nitschke is a former medical doctor who also has a PhD in laser physics.
What would you do if your national TV network, funded by tax payers’ dollars to the tune of approximately $1 billion Australian annually, deliberately promoted only one side of a highly emotional contemporary issue? ABC TV’s 7.30 programme in Australia did just that on Thursday, 20 October 2016, with its advocacy for assisted suicide. How could one possibly describe it other than pursuing the role of an activist promoter?
What did it do? It provided video of euthanasia advocate, Max Bromson’s, giving himself a lethal dose of Nembutal, obtained from Philip Nitschke’s Exit International, to end his life. This was from video that the family filmed of his taking this lethal dose and then released to the ABC and the public.
The ABC gave only one side of the euthanasia controversy (with a small exception). It was grossly imbalanced in its coverage.
Therefore, I considered the place to begin was to …
1. Lodged a complaint with the ABC
This was my online complaint sent on 21 October 2016:
I viewed your story in support of euthanasia on the 7.30 programme, Thursday 20 October 2016. The story is titled, Family releases video of euthanasia advocate’s final moments, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2016/s4560443.htm. It includes video and transcript. This shows the dark side of what Philip Nitschke will do illegally.
I protest at the way 7.30 did not provide balance in this story. As a $1 billion tax payer-funded broadcaster, we deserve balance in programming. That is not what I viewed last night.
In this entire story, the only words against euthanasia were from South Australian Labor MP, Tom Kenyon:
TOM KENYON, SA LABOR MP: Some of us are Christians in this Parliament and we have views that are formed and informed by our Christian upbringing and our faith.
There’s nothing wrong with that….
TOM KENYON: The idea that the state should assist in the deaths of people, to contribute financially through resources, the allocation of resources to the deaths of people, is not something I’m prepared to counter [the video said ‘countenance’].
This was an emotionally charged story to support euthanasia, even though it is illegal in Australia. There was not a word on issues such as:
These are the possible deleterious consequences for a nation that legalises the killing of people under any circumstances and assists in their suicides.
All human beings have a right to life and palliative care during their painful sicknesses and dying years.
The medical profession’s role is to help control the pain and not organise the death or killing.
Reasons why killing of human beings should not be legislated.
What a death culture of euthanasia and assisted suicide will do to the culture of the nation.
I am not writing as a theoretician. My wife is dying of leukaemia. I have two severe disabilities.
What will you do to bring balance to the 7.30 programme’s advocacy for euthanasia that was evident last night?
Spencer Gear PhD
I asked for a response via email but my experience with the ABC in the past is not to be hopeful of any lasting change in journalistic policy in obtaining balance in reporting. Unless the government demands such balance for funding and signs a contract with the ABC and SBS to that effect, it will not happen.
2. The mass media jumped on board with this story
Herald Sun front page 12 December 2005, reporting on the 2005 Cronulla riots (image courtesy Wikipedia).
Especially the News Corp media took the opportunity to challenge the content of this story. The Herald Sun on 21 October 2016 published, ‘ABC criticised for showing final moments of euthanasia advocate Max Bromson’s life. The article stated that its original edition was published as ‘ABC accused of “death voyeurism”’. ‘Death voyeurism’ was a term used by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in responding to the ABC story.
This Herald Sun article made these points:
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton accused the ABC of being “taken over” by political activists.
Tony Abbott: ‘Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there have to be standards of reporting. This is death voyeurism, not journalism’.
Neil Mitchell: ‘I strongly support voluntary euthanasia, but this was a blatant and irresponsible piece of attention-seeking by the ABC,’ the 3AW Mornings host said. He also called it ‘self-serving, self-indulgent journalism’.
(photo Philip Nitschke 2016, courtesy Wikipedia)
Bromson, a passionate and outspoken supporter of voluntary euthanasia, wanted to end his life his own way so he went to Philip Nitschke’s euthanasia advocacy group, Exit International, and secretly obtained the illegal euthanasia drug, Nembutal. Then at his chosen time when his bone cancer was severe, he asked family to take him to a motel room where he took the dose of Nembutal while his family filmed his last moments.
There are two bills before the South Australian parliament seeking to introduce voluntary euthanasia. This kind of political manoeuvring has been going on for two decades.
‘The latest bid for change was launched on Thursday with the 15th bill since 1995 put before the lower house by advocate and Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge…. Dr McFetridge said his Choices and Dignity at the End of Life bill had embraced previous concerns from many MPs, making voluntary euthanasia only available to people with a terminal illness whose suffering had become intolerable’.
McFetridge claimed of his euthanasia legislation that ‘it also provided for seven clear steps before voluntary euthanasia would become available and barred people with a disability or mental illness from seeking euthanasia on those grounds’.
‘This is a choice that is wanted by those few people for whom palliative care does not work,’ Dr McFetridge said.
The Sun Herald article continued: ‘Let’s give those people the democratic right to make the decision about how they leave this life’.
‘Labor MP Steph Key, who introduced the 14th bill [into the South Australian parliament] in February, said the new measures had tightened the eligibility and assessment processes. “We have continued to consult widely on the proposed voluntary euthanasia laws and this new Bill will encompass all the checks and safeguards sought by our colleagues,” she said’.
3. Responding to secular arguments favouring euthanasia
The Herald Sun’s article included a poll, ‘Should the ABC have shown footage of a euthanasia advocate ending their own life?’ Here it provided opportunity for comments. Two supporters of euthanasia responded:
3.1 Human beings compared with animals
This person compared euthanasia of human beings with what the RSPCA would do with animals that were suffering in a similar way. She compared animals found in poor state with people being prosecuted for euthanasia. However, we allow human beings to suffer, she said.
Those offended by the ABC 7.30 video should understand that ‘YOUR level of discomfort is nothing compared to what they are inflicting on these poor people. We need to stop and think for a minute about this. Making assisted suicide legal is different to making it compulsory! If YOU find the thought unpalatable, FINE don’t do it’.
She went down the standard line that ‘you do not have the right to impose your beliefs onto another human being. Making it legal will NOT result in more people dying, it will just help them die with dignity. We, collectively, as a society need to get OUR bloody noses out of other people’s business.
3.2 Pray to your mythical god
This fellow was in agreement with the animal comparison by Pat but he took the opportunity to give God a secular slam in the religious gut:
I agree with Pat. If Max was a animal his carers would be prosecuted. As for the Liberal Senator Knoll, you can pray to your mythical god and suffer if he wishes you to me. I will die with dignity at my own hand where I want and when I want.
3.3 I chose not to be silent
This support for euthanasia and assistance in suicide, comparing with animals, needs a response. This is how I countered:
The difference is that we are not animals. We are human beings. Promoting the killing of anyone is endorsing a mighty cultural shift.
There are important issues that need to be addressed before becoming gung-ho advocates of killing and assisted killing:
What are the possible deleterious consequences for a nation that legalises the killing of people under any circumstances and assists in their suicides? All human beings have a right to life and palliative care during their painful sicknesses and dying years. The medical profession’s role is to help control the pain and not organise the death. We need much more detailed discussion on the reasons why killing of human beings should not be legalised. What would a death culture of euthanasia and assisted suicide do to the culture of Australia, especially for those who are vulnerable?
I do not write as a theoretician. My wife is dying of leukaemia and I have 2 severe disabilities. I would never ever place my wife and me in the category of being animals that are so diseased and need to be put down. Life is given by God and he determines when our end should be.
Job 1:21 (NLT) reminds us: ‘He (Job) said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”’ Psalm 139:16 (NIV) confirms that ‘Your (God’s) eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’.
Ronald, in shaking your fist at God and declaring that ‘you can pray to your mythical god’ you have committed an appeal to ridicule logical fallacy. We cannot have a logical discussion on such an important topic as end of life issues when you resort to this fallacious reasoning.
3.4 We choose what is right for each other
It was interesting to see how a non-Christian, relativist and secularist would respond to my challenge. She came back with a predictable promotion of autonomous reason:
She understood ‘exactly’ what I said. Her point was ‘that your choices are right for you under your circumstances’. However, living in our ‘wonderful democracy’ means I have the right to make my choice and others have the right not to share my ideals and beliefs.
They have as much right to an opinion and choice as I do.
There is ‘a difference between making something legal and making it compulsory’.
If I’m opposed to assisted suicide, she was confident that ‘nothing will change if it is made legal’.
She is not optimistic about the level of palliative care in hour health care for pensioners, veterans and terminally ill.
Who’s at fault? The politicians drop the ball as there are not enough votes in them. We can’t rely on good care being available for these people.
She wished me well in dealing with the personal tribulations of my wife and me.
In spite of my opposition, she will remain steadfast in her beliefs as stated.
4. Logical consequences of ‘it’s right for you and not right for me’
What are the consequences of accepting Pat’s worldview and its values on euthanasia? This was my assessment of her use of autonomous reason in our democracy.
I also understand what Pat says and the values driving her statements. It means that since we live in this wonderful Australian democracy we can make choices that are right for you and right for me. What’s the logical conclusion of this worldview driven by autonomous reason?
Why stop with Pat choosing euthanasia and my opposing it because of choices in our democracy? There is no reason you can stop people making the right decision for them to break into your property and flog whatever they want. I don’t share that value, but who am I to stop them in a democratic society that allows choices?
Let’s press her worldview to another logical conclusion: Who am I to say that people should not murder human beings and lie about what they did when they are the choices they make? You may disagree in a democracy but neither of us should be forced to agree that stealing and murder are wrong if democratic values are maintained. Neither of us would have to agree that paedophilia and the rape of children is wrong. If it’s good for him to do that, who are we to oppose that value.
However, why are murder, theft, lying and rape illegal as absolute values in Australia? It’s because they are wrong, based on God’s transcendent standards in, say, the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17 NIV; Matthew 5-7 NIV). There are those who disagree and break the law in our democracy but they suffer just consequences.
She said, ‘If you are opposed to the concept of assisted suicide, then nothing will change if it is made legal.’ This is a false premise. Introducing voluntary killing of another person into our culture will change the very fabric of our society. There will be fear for the elderly, severely injured and others to enter hospital.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at what is happening in the Netherlands right now following legalisation in 2002. It started with Drs who could euthanise patients if they were competent, conscious, repeatedly asked for euthanasia, and were suffering unbearably as a result of an incurable disorder. What are they up to now? According to Reuters’ news agency of 12 October 2016, the Dutch government is drafting legislation to legalise assisted suicide for people who sense they have ‘completed life’ (the elderly) [Sterling 2016].
I agree that more money needs to be spent on palliative care. That is one value on which Pat and I agree. However, autonomous reason in a democracy leads to chaos because no reigns can be placed on any moral values. It’s the natural outcome of relativism in action.
What is relativism? ‘The term “ethical relativism” encompasses a number of different beliefs, but they all agree that there are no universal, permanent criteria to determine what may or may not be an ethical act. God granted no divine command, and human nature displays no common law. Consequences have no bearing because each person or society may interpret the “rightness” of each consequence differently. Ethical relativism teaches that a society’s ethics evolve over time and change to fit circumstances’ (Got Questions 2002-2016).
We need absolute standards of right and wrong: It is wrong to steal, kill and tell lies. God provides those standards in Scripture (see Ex 20:1-17; Matt 5-7). Without God’s unchanging standards, there is no way to objectively determine if murder is anything different to euthanasia. The Canadian Law Reform Commission got it right in 1983 when it concluded that mercy killing (euthanasia) should not be made a separate category to homicide (reference below).
5. Other issues from the secularists’ responses
The secular responses from Pat and Don raise some other disturbing concerns about euthanasia.
5.1 Dying with dignity at my own hand
Don stated: ‘I will die with dignity at my own hand where I want and when I want’.
As retired anaesthetist, Dr. Brian Pollard indicates, (see below), safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth. That Don wants to die with dignity at his own hand when he wants is a pleasing objective for a person using his or her autonomous reason. However, I have some questions:
(a) How does he know he will have a disease that will allow him to die with dignity at the end of life?
(b) History demonstrates that not all Drs can be trusted to implement the wishes of the patient.
(c) We know from the history of humanity that laws against murder, theft, rape and lying do not prevent those crimes from being committed. Therefore, to die with dignity could fall into the category of the Drs who lie about maintaining the law to euthanise human beings who voluntarily decide when they do it, without permission.
(d) A greater issue than the human side of dying is what lies beyond death. God has told us what that will be: ‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).
Don as a secularist wants to give God a kick out of his life by assigning him to this place of imagination: ‘You can pray to your mythical god’. One minute after his last breath he will know he is dead wrong. How do I know? Truth is that which matches reality. I take Scripture and examine its description of what is happening in our contemporary world and I see an exact description of reality. Truth is that which matches reality. God’s truth in Scripture lines up with the reality of human experience in our contemporary world.
It demonstrates why doctors and human beings in general want to violate God’s way of life. Romans 1:18 (NLT) states it clearly: ‘God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’. In practical terms in the euthanasia discussion, God will show his anger towards all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth about whose responsibility it is to take life. They suppress this truth because of their practices of wickedness – sinful actions that violate God’s truthful rule in people’s lives and in our society.
I recommend to Don that he deals with something more serious than ‘dying with dignity’ and choosing the time, place and manner of his own death.
Pat wrote some of the most provocative comments in her/his support of euthanasia. Here is another one:
Pat: ‘Anyone who took offense at the video should realize that YOUR level of discomfort is nothing compared to what they are inflicting on these poor people’.
Let’s get something clear. My opposition to euthanasia and my offense at the ABC 7.30 programme’s support of euthanasia with the film of Max Bromson’s death by assisted suicide, has zero to do with inflicting suffering on poor people in their distress.
Who gives and takes life – God – and that role should not be usurped by autonomous people who reason that killing or assistance in the killing of people is appropriate for a democratic culture. ‘The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up’ (1 Sam 2:6 NLT).
Many doctors cannot be trusted with obeying the euthanasia law (see below).
5.3 You don’t have right to impose your beliefs
Pat: ‘But you do not have the right to impose your beliefs onto another human being. Making it legal will NOT result in more people dying, it will just help them die with dignity’.
Notice the hypocrisy in this statement. I don’t have the right to impose my pro-life beliefs on another human being. What is she doing? She is imposing her pro-euthanasia views on Australian society and I am included. It is paradoxical that someone doesn’t want my values but is brazen enough to push her values on me without seeing the hypocrisy.
I have as much right to oppose euthanasia in this democracy as I have to oppose murder, theft, rape and lying. I have every right to uphold God’s absolute standards of justice for a just society. For the Old Testament people of Israel, moral standards were contained in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV). Since the time of Christ, they have been the commandments of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 NIV). I have every right to promote the Sermon on the Mount as God’s absolutes for a society that brings justice.
It is a furphy (untrue or absurd) statement to say that I don’t have the right to ‘impose’ beliefs. A better way to put it would be: In this democracy, I have the right to demonstrate that adhering to God’s absolute laws of right and wrong leads to a society where justice is practised.
There is a further dimension: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people’ (Proverbs 14:34 NIV). For the Hebrews, ‘righteousness’ was synonymous for ‘justice’. God’s justice will exalt Australia and breaking God’s law by sinning against his righteous standards will condemn Australia to chaos and destruction. If Australia legislates in favour of euthanasia, it will be promoting injustice and condemning the country to God’s punishments.
Pat’s view was that making euthanasia ‘legal will NOT result in more people dying; it will just help them die with dignity’. This has been demonstrated to be false in the Netherlands. Will that also happen in Canada which also legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016?
5.4 Keep OUR bloody noses out of another person’s business
Pat: ‘We, collectively, as a society need to get OUR bloody noses out of other people’s business’.
She writes with some anger with his capitalisation of OUR. There are many good reasons why people should have their noses in other people’s businesses. That’s the responsibility of living in a caring, compassionate society. If my neighbour’s house is on fire, I’ll stick my nose into his business and call 000. If a thief breaks into the house, I’ll go to help him and do the best I can to catch the thief and hold him down.
To my dying day I’ll violate Pat’s command. Why? It IS my business if somebody is being murdered, raped, assaulted, or theft is taking place on anyone’s property that I know about. I have a duty of care and love for my neighbour, based on my Christian worldview: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31 NIV). Therefore, rejecting the deliberate killing or assistance in killing of another person through euthanasia for assisted suicide IS my business. I’ll stand up for life and not for murder. The right to life is one of God’s absolutes. It is His responsibility to take like when He is ready and not when autonomous reason says so.
Counselling people has been my business for 34 years (until retirement). I will not change my language from, ‘I’ll be available to help you with your depression or suicidal ideation’ to ‘I’ll be here to assist you to know that life is not worth living and I’ll refer you to a euthanasia doctor’. That changes the ethics of a caring professional. I will not buy into butchering ethics in that manner.
The Canadians got it correct in their 1983 Law Reform Commission on euthanasia. It concluded, following an inquiry, that ‘the Commission recommends that mercy killing not be made an offence separate from homicide and that there be no formal provision for special modes of sentencing for this type of homicide other than what is already provided for homicide’ (Parliament of Canada 1995, emphasis added).
5.5 Lack of good palliative care
Pat: ‘As for your reference to palliative care, I, sadly, do not share your optimistic view. In a perfect world, we would have excellent health care for our pensioners, veterans and terminally ill. The sad reality of it is, we do not. Our politicians continually drop the ball on these issues, guess there just aren’t many votes in it for them, so we cannot rely on the fact that good care will be readily available’.
This is one area where I agree with Pat. If politicians continue to oppose euthanasia (and I pray that they will), I ask them to pump more medical dollars into better palliative care and hospices for the suffering and dying.
6. We cannot trust all doctors to obey euthanasia laws
If we cannot accept that Australians will abide by laws against murder, lies and theft, why should we expect doctors to obey the parameters of euthanasia in any legislation that is passed into law?
I do not reject euthanasia because of the results it is likely to cause. We have international evidence that doctors cannot be trusted to abide by a euthanasia law.
Steven Pleiter is the director of the Levenseindekliniek – End of Life clinic – in The Hague, The Netherlands. Angela Neustatter (2015) reported for The Guardian that in spite of his Christian upbringing, he wished he could have helped his mother to die after she suffered a stroke. He’s aware of the arguments that people need to be protected from the chance they may improve in the future. However, to those who are really suffering and want help to die, he considers it morally right to give help in that situation.
Where does this lead? Neustatter (2015) reported that this kind of thinking extends to anyone over the age of 18 who fits the criteria. Pleiter told of a 22-year-old male who was paralysed from the neck down in a sporting accident and considered life unbearable as he began to go blind. ‘At this point, he was adamant he did not want to go on. We agreed to help and his parents were utterly supportive’. However, it was more controversial when a 47-year-old woman with incurable tinnitus (like train brakes constantly shrieking in her head) who convinced the clinic ‘her suffering was unbearable’.
The Levenseindekliniek clinic does not charge because it receives funding from the Holland government’s health system. Pleiter acknowledged that ‘we go to the borders of the law, but never outside. We are a professional organisation but one that believes you look at the fact that some people want to die as enabling them to accept responsibility for their choice. It is about using compassion to give them the dignity to go when they wish’ (Neustatter 2015).
Luke Gormally, director of London’s Linacre Bio-Ethics Centre (now called Anscombe Bioethics Centre), when in Australia warned of the message sent to youth with legalisation of euthanasia:
Legalizing euthanasia in Australia would send a ‘wholly negative message’ to young people and might even encourage teenagers to consider suicide, a British bioethics expert warned. Luke Gormally, director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics in London, told a Sydney news conference Friday night that new research has shown that lobbying to legalize euthanasia generally occurs during economic slumps. The government of Northern Territory has already legalized euthanasia, and Australian philosophers Peter Singer and Helga Kuhse have called for the legalization of so-called mercy killing. Gormally said Singer and Kuhse had ‘no coherent concept of justice,’ and said the underlying philosophical reason for legalizing euthanasia is the judgment that certain lives were not worthwhile. ‘Not only is that concept subversive of the foundations of justice in society, but it would be an educational message of the kind Australian society just does not need,’ he said. He said legalizing euthanasia would send young people the message that suicide is an acceptable solution to problems. ‘Now it seems to me that a society that, through the law, is underwriting the notion that certain lives are not worthwhile is positively validating a perception that young people can lapse into at critical moments in their lives,’ he said. ‘It’s sending a wholly negative message about human life and human worth,’ Gormally said. He added, ‘I gather that the rate of teenage suicide in Australia is rather high,’ although he did not provide statistics. Gormally, in Australia to give public lectures in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, said a study by U.S. researchers had shown that calls to legalize euthanasia increase during times of economic depression (Anderson 1995).
The British Medical Association’s report against legalising euthanasia has been reviewed by Luke Gormally. These are the main points he makes (Gormally n d):
Euthanasia must not be supported because of the value of the individual;
It is important to have an unambiguous rule against euthanasia’s killing in order to maintain the true character of the doctor’s commitment to patient care.
The insensitivity of euthanasia needs to be acknowledged.
Which human beings are of `inestimable value’ and why are they?
What counts as intentional killing?
It creates limits of the duty to treat.
We know that when we support voluntary euthanasia, it can go beyond the person’s choice. Holland is the most evident, contemporary example for which we have clear evidence. That country has permitted voluntary, active euthanasia as far back as 1973 and made it legal in 2002.
Dutch medical doctor, Dr. Karel Gunning, on his 1992 visit to Australia said: ‘Holland has indeed become a very dangerous country, as patients may have their lives ended without their request and without knowledge of the authorities. The doctor thus has become a powerful man, able to decide on life or death’. Dr Gunning wrote that ‘whatever our own position, we have to admit that euthanasia in the Netherlands is completely out of control. If you define euthanasia, as the Dutch Physicians’ League does, as “Consciously causing a patient’s death,” then it occurred in some 20,000 cases in the Netherlands in one year. Of a total annual mortality of 129,000, this amounts to over 15 percent of all deaths’ (Gunning n.d.).
[Photograph of 91-one-year old, Nel Bolten, showing her tattoo on her chest that says: ‘Do not reanimate, I am 91+’. It was taken on Nov. 15, 2014 in The Hague, The Netherlands (Ross 2015)].
At a special presentation, Dr Gunning stated:
The government-installed Remmelink Committee, which issued a report on the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands in the year 1991, speaks of 2,300 cases of euthanasia, that is 1.8 percent of all deaths! They used another definition of euthanasia, to wit “life-ending treatment at the patient’s explicit request.”
Using our own definition we have to include, besides the 2,300 cases called euthanasia by the Committee, the 400 cases of assisted suicide and the 1,000 cases of ending a patient’s life without his request, also mentioned in the report. That makes together nearly 4,000 cases. But the report speaks also of cases where high doses of medicine for pain and symptom control were given or where treatment was omitted with the implied or explicit intention to hasten the patient’s death. And these cases are called “normal medical practice”. That is most frightening. Refraining from treatment which burdens the patient and cannot prevent his death is, of course, very good medical practice. But if it is done with the intention to end life, then it is not medical practice at all, but consciously causing a patient’s death, which we call euthanasia. On the basis of the numbers given in the Remmelink report the Dutch Physicians’ League had estimated the number of these cases at 16,000. Together, the League estimated the number of cases where the doctor had the intention (implied or explicit) to end the patient’s life at nearly 20,000 per year, that is over 15 percent of all deaths. These are huge numbers.
Now these conclusions and estimates of the Physicians’ League have been hotly contested. But in a recent letter to the editor of Medisch Contact (MC, April 29,1994), the official organ of the Royal Dutch Medical Association, the investigators of the Remmelink Committee themselves say that abstaining from treatment was done with the explicit intention to hasten the end of life in 11,000 cases. And high doses for pain and symptom control were given with the implied or explicit intention to hasten the end of a patient’s life in 6,500 cases. So, according to their estimates there must have been over 21,000 cases where the doctor had the intention (implied or explicit) to end the patient’s life, which is over 16.4 percent of all deaths, even more than the estimates of the Physicians’ League.
I mention these facts as a warning, because they show that we have no reason at all to tell the world to follow our example. They show how rapidly the Netherlands has slipped down the slippery slope. They show that, once you accept killing as a solution for one problem, you soon find a hundred problems for which killing can be regarded as a solution. First you kill at the patient’s request, then without request, a comatose patient or a handicapped newborn baby, then you help a healthy but depressed person to commit suicide, etc. (Gunning n.d.).
Dr K F Gunning is president of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life; Board Nederlands Artsenverbond – Dutch Physicians’ League (Gunning n.d.).
Of Holland, ‘We have no reason at all to tell the world to follow our example. They show how rapidly the Netherlands has slipped down the slippery slope’.
The New Scientist magazine (20 June 1992) confirmed this alarming situation in an article titled, ‘The Dutch way of death’ (Rachel Nowak). It stated that ‘doctors and nurses in the Netherlands can practise euthanasia if they stick to certain guidelines. Yet many patients receive lethal injections without giving their consent’. It went on to say:
In some hospitals, doctors routinely approach patients who are terminally ill, offering to inject them with lethal doses of barbiturates and curare. But Dutch euthanasia has its sinister side, too. Involuntary euthanasia of sick and elderly people is commonplace in the Netherlands, and that when patients do opt for euthanasia, it is frequently out of fear of being a nuisance rather than to avoid unnecessary physical suffering.
The details are alarming. At least a third of the 5000 or so Dutch patients who each year receive lethal doses of drugs from their doctors do not give their unequivocal consent. About 400 of these patients never even raise the issue of euthanasia with their doctors. Moreover, of those who willingly opt for euthanasia, only about 5 per cent do so solely because of unbearable pain.
New Scientist concluded that ‘these revelations strike a blow at the two central canons of the worldwide euthanasia lobby: that euthanasia should be used only as a means to end pointless physical suffering, and that the patient alone should make the decision’. As one Dutch doctor put it: ‘Everywhere doctors are terminating lives. The only difference in Holland is that here we talk about it’.
6.1 Latest news out of Europe
As I was writing this article on 22 October 2016, , I was alerted to an article in The Washington Post of 19 October 2016 (Lane 2016). Its title was, ‘Europe’s morality crisis: Euthanizing the mentally ill’, and contained this disturbing information:
Once prohibited — indeed, unthinkable — the euthanasia of people with mental illnesses or cognitive disorders, including dementia, is now a common occurrence in Belgium and the Netherlands.
This profoundly troubling fact of modern European life is confirmed by the latest biennial report from Belgium’s Federal Commission on the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia, presented to Parliament on Oct. 7.
Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for patients suffering “unbearably” from any “untreatable” medical condition, terminal or non-terminal, including psychiatric ones.
In the 2014-2015 period, the report says, 124 of the 3,950 euthanasia cases in Belgium involved persons diagnosed with a “mental and behavioral disorder,” four more than in the previous two years. Tiny Belgium’s population is 11.4 million; 124 euthanasias over two years there is the equivalent of about 3,500 in the United States.
The figure represents 3.1 percent of all 2014-2015 euthanasia cases — and a remarkable 20.8 percent of the (also remarkable) 594 non-terminal patients to whom Belgian doctors administered lethal injections in that period.
What’s a bit different about this Belgian report, however, is that it’s the first to appear since journalists and psychiatric professionals, inside Belgium and outside, began to take notice of what’s going on — and to raise questions about it.
Recent newspaper articles and documentaries focused on cases in which psychiatrists euthanized or offered to euthanize people with mental illnesses, some still in their 20s or 30s, under dubious circumstances.
Seemingly stung by these criticisms, the commission spends two of its report’s pages defending the system, explaining that all is well and that no one is being euthanized except in strict accordance with the law (Lane 2016).
This article again confirms the slippery slop with euthanasia legislation and how voluntary eventually becomes involuntary with euthanasia – even to killing young people with mental illnesses.
7. Why voluntary euthanasia cannot be controlled: Dr Brian Pollard speaks
Dr Brian Pollard is a retired Australian anaesthetist and palliative care physician, who founded and directed the first full-time palliative care service in a teaching hospital in Sydney at Concord Hospital in 1982 and directed it for five years. He is author of The Challenge of Euthanasia (Pollard 1994). In this article, Pollard demonstrates why ‘every law to permit euthanasia will be inherently and unavoidably unsafe’ (Pollard 2011). These are some of his reasons:
‘I believe that MPs, who have sole responsibility for making safe laws, should direct their attention to ensuring that draft euthanasia bills cannot imperil the lives of innocent people who do not wish to die’
‘A common feature of those who advocate euthanasia bills is their touching faith that certain things will happen, just because the draft prescribes them. If that were true, no crime would ever be committed because all crime is currently forbidden by some law’.
He cited Yale Kamisar, an American professor of law in this field, who wrote a ‘seminal paper’ in 1958 in which ‘he listed these basic difficulties [with euthanasia laws]: ensuring that the person’s choice was free and adequately informed; physician error or abuse; difficult relationships between patients and their families and between doctors and their patients; difficulty in quarantining voluntary euthanasia from non-voluntary; and risks resulting from this overt breach of the traditional universal law protecting all innocent human life’.
Pollard observed that all of these problems ‘still exist and others have been added, such as the critical role of depression in decision-making and the evolution in the moral basis for requesting death from the relief of severe suffering in the terminally ill to reliance on respect for personal autonomy’.
Pollard observed that definitions are often vague or at odds with ordinary meanings. What about pain and suffering? He rightly pointed out that ‘both highly subjective experiences; neither can be measured or compared between persons’. He added that according to draft euthanasia bills, they ‘have to be simply accepted as the person describes them, even when this may raise serious doubt. And, as most now allow, if the symptoms are said to make life “intolerable”, even though it is recognised that what one person finds intolerable others can bear’,
There are many other factors he raises that need to be taken on board by legislators.
Voluntary euthanasia cannot be practised with integrity (my word) because:
‘Wherever voluntary euthanasia is practised, legally or not, non-voluntary is also found, including in Australia. Many find this difficult to credit because, whatever their failings, doctors surely would not take life without any request. In fact, they do it because it seems logical’.
This happened in Holland. See my comments now on the Dutch Remmelink Report of 1991.
8. Doctors killing without explicit request in Holland: The Remmelink Report
What has been happening in The Netherlands where euthanasia has been practised since 1973 but only legal since 2002?
By eliminating the prosecutorial review of all cases, the government hopes to lessen doctors’ fears of possible prosecutions and encourage more doctors to actually report induced deaths. Reporting noncompliance is a major problem for the government. A Dutch study, published in 1996, found that the majority of Dutch doctors (59%) do not report voluntary euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths, and cases of involuntary euthanasia (without patients’ knowledge or consent) are rarely if ever reported. [van der Wal et al., “Evaluation of the Notification Procedure for Physician-Assisted Death in the Netherlands,” New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 11/28/96:1706-1707]….
In a more recent Dutch study, researchers found that 55% of the Dutch doctors interviewed in 1995 indicated that “they had ended a patient’s life without his or her explicit request” or “they had never done so but that they could conceive of a situation in which they would.” [van der Maas et al., “Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Other Medical Practices Involving the End of Life in the Netherlands, 1990-1995,” NEJM, 11/28/96:1701] (Patients Rights Council 2013).
An earlier official Dutch Government report (The Remmelink Report, 1991) gave conclusive evidence of abuse. The report showed clearly that doctors are killing without the explicit request of the patient. Doctors have violated the ‘strict medical guidelines’ provided by the Dutch courts (in Fleming 1992). See also Fleming (2003), ‘Euthanasia by omission in Australia: What the parliament does not allow, the courts allow’.
8.1 EUTHANASIA IN HOLLAND: CRITERIA LAID DOWN BY THE COURTS
(Although officially illegal at the time of the Remmelink Report in 1991), the courts provided these criteria:
1. The request for euthanasia must come only from the patient and must be entirely free and voluntary.
2. The patient’s request must be well considered, durable and persistent.
3. The patient must be experiencing intolerable (not necessarily physical) suffering, with no prospect of improvement.
4. Euthanasia must be a last resort. Other alternatives to alleviate the patient’s situation must have been considered and found wanting.
5. Euthanasia must be performed by a physician.
6. The physician must consult with an independent physician colleague who has experience in the field.
8.2 BUT WHAT WERE THE RESULTS IN HOLLAND?
The Dutch report in the British medical journal, The Lancet, stated that ‘in cases of euthanasia the physician often declares that the patient died a natural death” (p. 669). This report indicated that 0.8% of the 38.0% of all deaths involving euthanasia were ‘life-terminating acts without explicit and persistent request’ (p. 670) [van der Maas, et al 1991:669). The abstract of this article stated that it:
presents the first results of the Dutch nationwide study on euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life (MDEL). The study was done at the request of the Dutch government in preparation for a discussion about legislation on euthanasia. Three studies were undertaken: detailed interviews with 405 physicians, the mailing of questionnaires to the physicians of a sample of 7000 deceased persons, and the collecting of information about 2250 deaths by a prospective survey among the respondents to the interviews. The alleviation of pain and symptoms with such high dosages of opioids that the patient’s life might be shortened was the most important MDEL in 17·5% of all deaths. In another 17·5% a non-treatment decision was the most important MDEL. Euthanasia by administering lethal drugs at the patient’s request seems to have been done in 1 ·8% of all deaths. Since MDEL were taken in 38% of all deaths (and in 54% of all non-acute deaths) we conclude that these decisions are common medical practice and should get more attention in research, teaching, and public debate (van der Maas et al 1991:669).
This means that the deaths of about 1,000 Dutch people in a single year were caused by a doctor who hastened the death of a patient without the patient’s explicit request and consent.
But there is more. Another assessment is that the real number of physician assisted deaths, estimated by the Remmelink Committee Report is, in reality 25,306 which is made up of (they’re on the overhead projector for you to see):
2,300 euthanasia on request (Remmelink Report, 13),
400 assisted suicide (ibid.15),
1,000 life-ending treatments without explicit request (ibid.),
4,756 died after request for non-treatment or the cessation of treatment with the intention to accelerate the end of life. cf, ibid, 15; there were 5,800 such cases but only 82% (i.e. 4,756) of these patients actually died. (cf Dutch Euthanasia Survey Report, 63ff).
8,750 life prolonging treatment was withdrawn or withheld without the request of the patient either with the implicit intention (4,750) or with the explicit intention (4,000) to terminate life.[ibid., 69; There were 25,000 such cases but only 35% (i.e. 8,750) were done with the intention to terminate life. Cf ibid., 72; cf also Remmelink Report, 16).
8,100 morphine overdose with the implicit intention (6,750) or explicit intention (1,350) to terminate life. Of these, 61% were carried out without consultation with the patient, i.e. non-voluntary euthanasia.
There were 22,500 patients who received overdoses of morphine, [cf Remmelink Report, 16. 36% were done with the intention to terminate life, cf Dutch Euthanasia Survey Report, 58. See ibid., 61, Tabel 7.7 (“Besluit niet besproken”)].
8.3 THIS TOTAL OF 25,306 PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED DEATHS AMOUNTED TO 19.61% OF TOTAL DEATHS [129,000] IN THE NETHERLANDS IN 1990.
‘To this should be added the unspecified numbers of handicapped newborns, sick children, psychiatric patients, and patients with AIDS whose lives were terminated by doctors according to the Remmelink Report’ (pp. 17-19).
The Dutch programme of euthanasia has moved quickly to go beyond the adult parameters of the law and legalisation. In fact, while there was no legislation but legal protocol for adult euthanasia, killing of children was happening.
This demonstrates that, like with laws against murder, theft, lying and rape, no legislation can curtail the boundaries when autonomous human reason, freedom, and sinful human beings are involved in determining the values of a culture.
‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard’ (Rom 3:23 NLT). What is sin? ‘Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God’’ (1 John 3:4 NLT). So anyone who breaks God’s law, ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13: Matt 5:21 NIV) is sinning. This latter verse states, ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’’’. God’s view is that anyone who commits murder through euthanasia is violating His law and also will be subject to God’s judgment. We are not told explicitly in this verse what that will be but warning about judgment from God should be given to everyone promoting euthanasia. They may not believe in God but will come under his judgment whether they accept it or not, just as a person will face judgment in Australia for breaking the law against perjury.
The following is an example of euthanasia of infants in Holland. It was done at what was formerly the Academic Hospital, Groningen, but is now associated with The University Medical Center, Groningen:The Weekly Standard report stated:
IN 2004, Groningen University Medical Center [The Netherlands] made international headlines when it admitted to permitting pediatric euthanasia and published the “Groningen Protocol,” infanticide guidelines the hospital followed when killing 22 disabled newborns between 1997 and 2004. The media reacted as if killing disabled babies in the Netherlands was something new. But Dutch doctors have engaged in infanticide for more than 15 years. (A Dutch government-supported documentary justifying infant euthanasia played on PBS [Public Broadcasting System USA] in 1993. Moreover, a study published in 1997 in the Lancet determined that in 1995, about 8 percent of all infants who died in the Netherlands—some 80 babies—were euthanized by doctors, and not all with parental consent; this figure was reproduced in a subsequent study covering the year 2001.)
As far back as 1990, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) published a report intended to govern “life-terminating actions” taken against incompetent patients, including severely disabled newborns. The KNMG approved of pediatric euthanasia if the baby is deemed to have an “unlivable life,” a concept disturbingly close to Binding and Hoche’s “life unworthy of life” (Smith 2006).
In 1984 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled voluntary euthanasia was acceptable, provided doctors followed strict guidelines. But, under Dutch criminal law, physicians could still face prosecution.
In 2002, the Dutch parliament voted to formally legalise the practice, making the Netherlands the first nation in the world to do so. Belgium did it in that year as well. However, examine what has happened in the Netherlands:
Originally when The Netherlands legalised euthanasia , it was for adults. Doctors could kill a patient if that person ‘was competent and conscious, had repeatedly asked for euthanasia, and was suffering unbearably as a result of an incurable disorder’ (Murray 2016).
Although Belgium had legalised euthanasia in 2002,‘in 2014, the Belgian parliament passed a bill that allows the euthanizing of children, no matter how young, so long as they are terminally ill. In Holland, the lower age limit for euthanasia is currently twelve with parental consent, though euthanasia advocates are pushing to eliminate any age limit’ (Murray 2016).
‘In Holland today, it is accepted that people who are suffering unbearably from mental illness may be killed’ (Murray 2016).
On October 12, 2016, Reuters newsagency reported: ‘The Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalize assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life,” but are not necessarily terminally ill, it said on Wednesday (12 October 2016)…. Health Minister Edith Schippers wrote in the letter that “because the wish for a self-chosen end of life primarily occurs in the elderly, the new system will be limited to” them. She did not define a threshold age’ (Sterling 2016).
The slippery slope has happened in Holland. Euthanasia and assisted suicide cannot be contained.
10. Case studies of euthanasia
A Belgian physician and euthanasia activist, Wim Distelmans, has released details of what he has done in Belgium:
In September , the 60-year-old physician gave a lethal injection to Nathan Verhelst, 44, depressed over a failed sex-change operation. Last year , he oversaw the double euthanasia of Marc and Eddy Verbessem, 45-year-old deaf twins who chose to die after learning they would lose their eyesight. Also last year , he euthanized a despondent Godelieva De Troyer, 64, whose children learned of her death after the fact. And he acknowledges there are many more “borderline” cases that the public never hears about.
To some, Dr. Distelmans has come to embody the dangers of legalized euthanasia. “What is he? Is he God or something?” Ms. De Troyer’s son, Tom Mortier, asked in a recent interview (Hamilton 2013).
Charles Lane reported another case by Dr. Distelmans:
Frank van den Bleeken, imprisoned for 30 years for rape and murder, sought euthanasia from Distelmans, citing his incurable violent impulses and the misery of life behind bars. Belgian officials and Distelmans initially agreed; a lethal injection the murderer might have gotten as punishment in the United States would be supplied as therapy in anti-death penalty Europe.
Dr Karel Gunning was a medical doctor in Holland. He gave examples of how doctors violated the Dutch euthanasia law:
An internist, called to see a lady with lung cancer who breathed with great distress, told her that he could help her, but that he would prefer to admit her to his hospital. The patient refused, as she feared to be euthanized. But the doctor told her that he would be on duty during the weekend and would admit her himself. She did go on Saturday. On Sunday night, she was breathing normally. On Monday morning the doctor was off duty. In the afternoon, he came back to the hospital but the patient was dead. A colleague had come in that morning and said, “We need that bed for another case. It makes no difference for her whether she dies today or after a fortnight! So, the patient was euthanized against her explicit will.
I, myself, had a discussion with a colleague about administering morphine. I maintained that large [doses] are needed to kill a patient. At first he denied this, but suddenly said, “You are right. I remember a case of an old man who could die any day. His son came to see me. He was booked for a holiday and did not want to come home for his father’s funeral. He wanted the funeral to be over with before he left. So I went to see the old man and gave him a huge dose of morphine. In the evening I came back to declare death, but the patient was happily sitting on the edge of his bed. At last, he had gotten enough morphine to kill his pain.” My colleague told this story as if it were the most normal thing to do: to kill a patient in order to please the family (Gunning n.d.).
These examples from people in the medical profession demonstrate that some doctors cannot be trusted to obey the law, whether that relates to laws enacted by parliament or by court decisions. Voluntary, active euthanasia becomes involuntary killing of people who have not agreed to this killing.
Gunning (n.d.) rightly pointed out that two kinds of ethics are being promoted in the medical fraternity:
10.1 Humanitarian ethic
This ethic adheres to the universal principle in the Hippocratic Oath (formulated by Hippocrates in 400 BC). He was not a Christian but believed that doctors were powerful people who could decide on life and death issues for humanity. By this ethic, medical doctors swear that they will not use their knowledge or expertise to kill a person, before or after birth, not even with the patient’s own request. With the humanitarian ethic, the well being of the individual person is central (Gunning n d).
The classic version of the Hippocratic Oath contains this affirmation: ‘I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art’ (MedicineNet.com 2016).
The Christian-informed humanitarian ethic is practised by doctors and others who are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide and promote palliative care instead. They love their neighbour as themselves – as human beings made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7).
10.2 Utilitarian ethic
Act and rule utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. It deals with the consequences of actions,
Its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects….
Utilitarians believe that the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the amount of good things (such as pleasure and happiness) in the world and decreasing the amount of bad things (such as pain and unhappiness). They reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings. Instead, utilitarians think that what makes a morality be true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human (and perhaps non-human) beings (Nathanson n.d.)
Apply this to the euthanasia and assisted suicide debate and what do we get? It does not commit to the patient’s well being but to the well being (consequences) of others. Who judges whether the patient’s life is going to be a burden or of benefit to society? The doctor does!
Dr Gunning explained how this was captured in an article in California Medicine (September 1970, ‘New Ethic for Medicine and Society, pp, 67-68) which showed that historically the lives of all human beings had equal value. That cannot be maintained now with over population and people were no longer accepting the quality of life ethic (humanitarianism) for all people. Doctors were now making medical evaluations. Intentional killing of adults was too abhorrent so they started with abortion and have now moved to voluntary euthanasia. Gunning’s assessment was that ‘in the end, we would have death control as well as birth control, and we doctors should prepare ourselves for this new task’ (Gunning n.d.).
That’s the utilitarian ethic in action, all in the name of voluntary euthanasia that has moved to involuntary euthanasia or assisted suicide in a number of countries.
11. Where is euthanasia legal?
BBC News (Lewis 2015) reported that these were the countries and USA states that have legalised assisted dying:
The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg permit euthanasia and assisted suicide
Switzerland permits assisted suicide if the person assisting acts unselfishly
Canada permits euthanasia and assisted suicide from February 2016 (slightly earlier in the province of Quebec)
At the time of writing this article in October 2016, euthanasia and assisted suicide were illegal in Australia. However, there is advocacy by groups involved in university departments such as Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Australian Centre for Health Law Research. See its activist site, End of Life Law in Australia, at: https://end-of-life.qut.edu.au/. Within the next month, I hope to prepare a review of this site and note its ideological emphases. However, a brief overview seems to indicate that it is pushing for the reform of Australian law to accommodate euthanasia and assisted suicide. There also are activist groups such as Dying with Dignity Queensland (my home state). Its theme is, ‘My life, my voice, my choice’. I have critiqued that worldview of autonomous reason above and its harmful consequences.
This also was indicated by this Law School’s invitation to Canadian Professor Jocelyn Downie to deliver the lecture, ‘The legalisation of medical assistance in dying – Lessons from Canada’ at the Gardens Theatre, QUT Gardens Point Campus, Brisbane, 19 October 2016, 6pm. I attended this lecture. This was an enthusiastic promotion of the Canadian law that has legalised euthanasia and to recommend a similar procedure in Australia. Professor Downie is Professor of Law at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
She was not a neutral person on the euthanasia issue at this lecture. Some Canadians have described her as a ‘pro-euthanasia prof’ and a ‘long-time advocate for the legalization of euthanasia’ (LifeSite News 2015). After the lecture, I spoke with one of the QUT professors, Professor Ben White, who promoted this lecture. I challenged the QUT censorship of the opposing view in this public presentation. He brushed the objection aside and considered the opposing view was covered adequately at Q&A at the end of the lecture and they have had other panel presentations that included a pro-life person. The Q&A at the lecture on 19 October 2016 was not an opportune forum to present a counter proposal, as there was not opportunity to challenge Downie’s responses and there were few who opposed Downie. It is an unfair imbalance to have a Professor of Law make a public presentation (with PPTs) in support of euthanasia in Canada and expect people in the audience to present the alternate view in the Q&A. That is destined to lead to an unfair exposure for euthanasia at the expense of the anti-euthanasia view.
At the lecture, I heard Prof. Downie state that ‘the feared slippery slope didn’t eventuate [in Canada]’. At Q&A after the lecture, I challenged her on this, providing evidence from Holland and Belgium. She resorted to denying this and using a genetic logical fallacy with her sprouting the superiority of peer-reviewed journals to my information from mass media sources. I had no right of reply to challenge her genetic fallacy. I hope I’ve presented enough information in this article from Dutch, Belgium and other medical sources to demonstrate that there definitely has been a slippery slope in euthanasia legislation in Holland from the legal system prior to 2002 and in legislation from 2002 to 2016.
12. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) on end of life care
The AMA’s ‘Position Statement on the Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care 2007 (amended 2014)’ states that ‘The AMA believes that while medical practitioners have an ethical obligation to preserve life, death should be allowed to occur with dignity and comfort when death is inevitable and when treatment that might prolong life will not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or will impose an unacceptable burden on the patient’ (10.1).
In section 10.5 of this Position Statement, it is stated: ‘The AMA recognises that there are divergent views regarding euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The AMA believes that medical practitioners should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life. This does not include the discontinuation of futile treatment’.
What should an Australian doctor do if euthanasia or assisted suicide is requested by a patient? The AMA’s Position Statement is:
Patient requests for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide should be fully explored by the medical practitioner in order to determine the basis for such a request. Such requests may be associated with conditions such as a depressive or other mental disorder, dementia, reduced decision-making capacity, and/or poorly controlled clinical symptoms such as pain. Understanding and addressing the reasons for such a request will allow the medical practitioner to adjust the patient’s clinical management accordingly or seek specialist assistance (10.6).
Therefore, the Australian Medical Association’s current policy is against the practice of medical doctors’ involvement in euthanasia and assisted suicide, with the view of ending a person’s life. However, as of 06 October 2015, the AMA was engaged in a ‘Review of AMA Policy on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide’. This is ‘part of a five year position statement review cycle’.
Two of Australia’s major institutions are actively promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide, even though it is illegal. They are: (a) ABC TV’s 7.30 programme, and (b) Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research. However, other mass media (e.g. the Herald Sun) exposed the ABC’s ‘death voyeurism’ by showing film of the assisted suicide of a client.
In responding to secular arguments favouring euthanasia, it was shown that human beings are not animals and to choose what’s right for me must allow me to allow you to choose what’s right for you in the breadth of ethical issues, including murder, theft, lying, rape and euthanasia. One person’s assault on the Christian’s ‘mythical god’ was an appeal to ridicule fallacy. Pushing these secularists to the logical conclusions of their ethical relativism demonstrates the chaos that results when God’s ethical absolutes are abandoned
If I don’t have the right to impose my Christian beliefs, why are they imposing their secularist values? It’s a hypocritical value system that wants to censor Christian beliefs while promoting secular beliefs. If I’m to keep my nose out of another person’s business, then it will tear the fork out of altruistic values of caring for one another in a democratic society.
Illustrations were given of how medical doctors violate euthanasia laws when euthanasia is illegal or legal. Some doctors cannot be trusted to obey the law and voluntary euthanasia becomes involuntary euthanasia for unfortunate individuals who are killed without their permission. Retired Australian anaesthetist and palliative care specialist, Dr Brian Pollard, has provided evidence to demonstrate that any effort to achieve safe voluntary euthanasia is a myth. Euthanising infants is already taking place, outside of the law.
Several case studies were provided to demonstrate that euthanasia cannot be controlled by legislation or the legal profession. Dr Karel Gunning, a Dutch medical doctor, showed how this demonstrated two contrasting ethics in action: (a) The humanitarian ethic of caring for patients and valuing life, and (b) A utilitarian ethic where the end justifies the means.
The Australian Medical Association has affirmed that it does not support euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, it is examining this policy in light of its customary 5-year review.
The position demonstrated and advocated in this paper is that God gives life and it is his responsibility to end life in His time. It is not for autonomous human beings to decide when time is up and to murder them or assist in their committing suicide. This is how it is with God and human life: ‘You [God] saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed’ (Psalm 139:16 NLT).
There are sound biblical, practical and philosophical reasons for demonstrating that the relativistic, utilitarian ethic of euthanasia and assisted suicide is wrong for individuals and societies. Australia will be exalted as long as it promotes God’s absolutes of justice in its ethics. As soon as it promotes the sinful evil of euthanasia and assisted suicide it will bring disgrace and God’s judgment on Australia.
‘Justice exalts a nation, but sin is a people’s disgrace’ (Proverbs 14:34 NAB).
Fleming, J 1992. Euthanasia, The Netherlands, and the slippery slopes. Bioethics Research Notes Occasional Paper No.1, June. Published by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, PO Box 206, Plympton SA 5038, Australia. It is now associated with the Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture at: http://www.bioethics.org.au/index.html (Accessed 24 October 2016).
 The 2016-17 budget for the ABC (post-efficiencies) is $1.009 billion. Then add the SBS budget (post-efficiencies) for the same year of $274.5 million and we see that approx. $1.27 billion is given to the ABC/SBS consortium by tax payers to present a one-sided euthanasia story (as an example). For these budgetary figures see, Malcolm Turnbull MP, ‘FAQs on the ABC and SBS’, 19 December 2014. Available at: http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/faqs-on-the-abc-and-sbs#budget (Accessed 22 October 2016).
 Wikipedia 2016. Philip Nitschke, 23 October. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Nitschke (Accessed 23 October 2016). Nitschke set fire to his medical certificate, rejecting the Medical Board of Australia’s conditions placed on him. ABC News Brisbane, Qld., reported Nitschke’s statement: ‘Today, and with considerable sadness, I announce the end of [my] medical career,’ he said. He maintained that ‘the conditions the board has sought to impose on me … amount to a heavy handed and clumsy attempt to restrict the free flow of information on end-of-life choice’ (Breen 2015).
 Her name was Pat and I’m unsure if this person was female but her writing style seemed to fit more for a female than a male in the caring way she responded to me, but that is only a ‘seemed so’ as my subjective interpretation.
 Pat, 21 October 2016. Available at: (Accessed 22 October 2016).
New Scientist, June 20; 1992. vol 134 (1826): 28-30.
 Accessed 2 January 2010. However, on 22 October 2016 this article was available only by subscription.
 These biographical details are from Pollard (2011).
 Summarised by Mrs. Borst-Eilers, Vice-President of the Health Council (a body which provides scientific advice to the Dutch government on health issues). In I.J. Keown, “The Law and Practice of Euthanasia in The Netherlands”, The Law Quarterly Review, Vol. 108, January 1992, p. 56.
 Source: Dutch-speaking Dr. Daniel Ch Overduin, Vita, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 1992, pp. 2-3].
 Perjury is ‘The offence of wilfully telling an untruth or making a misrepresentation under oath’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2016. s v perjury).
 At this point in this ‘AMA Position Statement’, there was the footnote, ‘Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient for the purpose of ending intolerable pain and/or suffering. Physician assisted suicide is where the assistance of the medical practitioner is intentionally directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life’.
I know this Christian couple. This is a wife’s first-hand account of living with her husband’s recently diagnosed and developing dementia. The names have been changed, along with a few details, to protect their identity. Barbara is the wife and Doug is her husband.
I hope you don’t skip over the lead-in to this story because it shows how a person can move from normal living to experience dementia. For Doug, there was a small beginning of memory loss, then dementia began and it is accelerating.
The first person (I, me and my) is Barbara speaking.
Doug and Barbara’s previous lives
Doug’s first wife, Kay, suffered for 7 years with ovarian cancer. This meant that little housework was done inside or outside the house as Doug supported Kay in his own way. Towards the end of her life, Doug did not cope well with the situation. He continued his regular job for 5 days a week, starting at 6am and until late. It was one of those jobs with unpredictable hours of finishing.
Doug was a Christian and the women from the church and neighbours brought meals for them, did ironing, house cleaning, and other jobs around the house. Kay passed away in 2008.
Doug has 3 children, a girl & 2 boys. Barbara has 2 girls to her first husband. They were together for 31years and Barbara was living alone for 20 years before marrying Doug.
Now let’s hear the story from Barbara’s point of view.
Doug’s new life
Doug made contact with me in January 2009. Although he was 72 years of age, he visited me on Monday weekly for morning tea. This eventually extended to lunch. If his work took him near my area, he would drop in for a cuppa. We went to the movies occasionally and he went to church with me on Sundays.
Elvis helped promote polio vaccinations for the March of Dimes (MOD). He was photographed with the organisation’s poster girl, Joanne Wilson
Barbara said: I contracted poliomyelitis (polio) when I was 12 years old. This left me paralysed from the waist down. I was unable to walk for the next 2 years and then returned to school.
This has led to these consequences in recent years – rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. In 2010, I had an operation on my left foot to have pins put in 3 of my toes and a plate inserted in the ball of my foot under the big toe. The consequence of this surgery was that I was unable to walk or put my foot on the ground for 8 weeks.
During this time, Doug was a great help to me. He mowed the lawns and the gardens were kept in order. He brought me fruit and took me shopping with a wheelie walker. I was now able to move about inside the house, doing the basics on an office chair.
Movement at the station
In January 2012, after we had been friends for 3 years, keeping company, attending church, going to family function, movies, plays and other things in working together in the houses and gardens, Doug popped the question to me on 3 occasions: Will you marry me? But I was not ready for that kind of commitment.
In March of that year, my arthritis had flared again and I found it difficult to cope with my driveway, terraced gardens, lawns and other things around the house. Doug and I discussed again the prospect of getting together on a permanent basis.
Up to this time Doug was very much of a sound mind.
We thought at first that we could sell Doug’s house and live in mine. We considered Doug’s age, upkeep of my house, and decided to sell both houses and look into moving into a retirement village. This would give us opportunity of making a completely new start for friendship, security, companionship, and confidence for the future.
In May 2012, the decision was made to go ahead. It took us 3 months to clean up one of the houses for sale. This involved a lot of work; we had to scrub walls and clean until our hands bled. To give some idea of what we had to do to clean the house, Doug took 11 heaped trailer loads of goods to the dump. He had been a hoarder, worked on church properties and a large Christian camp facility. He kept everything he thought might come in handy in the future. This clean-up was a mammoth job for a not-so-young couple.
In August and September 2012, we had 2 monster open house garage sales. We did all of the preparation, pricing and presentation ourselves. This was a particularly difficult time for Doug as he had lived and worked in his house for over 50 years. He had built beds, cabinets, made house extensions, and did other things to improve the house.
Doug put his house on the market and it sold in 6 weeks. We had already spent time looking at retirement villages and decided to move to one in an outer, north side Brisbane suburb. Doug moved into this village in October 2012.
1. An incident
There was one situation when we were taking an old oval glass cabinet to his grand-daughter’s place that should have alerted me that something untoward was happening. She lived not far from Doug’s house. It was about 6pm and we had been working all day on sorting and other household things. He became confused about where he was going. I had lived in the area myself for 5 years, so I was aware he was going around in circles. We got back on track and I knew he was tired and worn out, so I put the incident down to stress.
The relationship moves along
We were engaged to be married on Christmas Day 2012. Meanwhile, I had further surgery on my right foot with pins placed in my 3 toes. I was able to walk with a special boot on that foot.
It was time for me to sell my house. We prepared for 2 mammoth garage sales in June and July 2013. Doug and I worked hand in hand, preparing so all would be ready for the sales.
This was a huge task as trailer loads of furniture were transferred to our unit at the retirement village.
We put my house on the market in August 2013 and it was sold in 2 days.
We planned our wedding for 2013, inviting 160 guests. After a lot of work, we were married in September 2013, with my house sale being finalised 2 weeks before the wedding.
In the course of 16 months, we had sold 2 houses, bought a unit, and were married by November 2013.
Now it began: Memory problems
I was aware that Doug was having some memory problems so I visited his doctor and then we took him to Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Brisbane where Doug had a head scan.
He had a minor stroke in 2000 when Kay became ill, but with no obvious side effects. His speech was slightly affected but it repaired quickly.
The result of this latest head scan showed a shaded area of the brain (the memory area) and it was spreading. After he was tested, he was discharged as having minimal dementia.
Six months later in May 2014, the damaged area was spreading and the deterioration of memory was accelerating.
In August 2014, Doug and I took a 6-week overseas trip. This did not help Doug’s condition as he had periods of disorientation and confusion when he felt lost. This was a difficult time for me.
It was in November 2014 that Doug was diagnosed with dementia because of a cerebral episode (stroke) and no drugs are available for this type of dementia and its effects. The consequences are not only short term memory loss but also memory as a whole.
In February 2015, after a thorough medical examination, it was recorded that Doug was experiencing a marked deterioration since his last testing. He had not only lost 2kg in weight, but he had a very slow response to all cues and physical movement.
Comparison of a normal aged brain (left) and the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s (right) (courtesy Wikipedia)
During 2015, from February to August, the dementia progressed. In August 2015, they took a river cruise which they had booked over 12 months prior. This trip of 13 days was a disaster for both Doug and me. He was so disoriented that did not know where he was or where he was going.
Any kind of change does not help a person with dementia. Change seems to accelerate the disease. Doug has had many changes since 2008. He lost his wife in 2008, sold his house in 2012, bought into a retirement village in 2012, finalised his employment in 2013 and married a second time in 2013.
Some days there seems to be a light at the end of a tunnel or a window will open. But there is no cure for dementia. Everyday the situation progresses to something worse.
Doug does not always know what day it is. He has no comprehension of what he is reading or watching. He is unable to communicate – finds it hard to choose adequate words to express himself. He has difficulty in speaking; he’s unable to name objects and is unable to do simple tasks. He cannot follow instructions or understand what is said.
He forgets some personal hygiene. All clothing items have to be laid out for him. He is unable to shop or handle finances. He does things in reverse, leaves doors open or unlocked; he switches off power points (e.g. for the deep freezer), leaves lights and TV on. He does not know where he and I are going or why or when to get out of the car. Everything has to be written down if I want him to do something.
Wife as carer
As a carer, I find my life is not on. I have to organise and prepare for 2 people. I have to follow up and check out every situation. I have to attend to all necessities in the house. This includes cooking, cleaning and finances. I am on duty all hours of the day and night.
I have no personal, social life or time to enjoy a social outing with a friend. There is no communication or understanding of another’s need from Doug.
With this kind of burden, how does this affect me? I get tired, frustrated and stressed. I need a friend, a hug, someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on.
The person with dementia is unaware of most situations. They are not affected by their condition.
I spoke with John, another person with a spouse who has dementia, and John said that no-one really understands or realises what spouse carers have to cope with – unless they are in the same situation.
The challenge to Christians and the church
Barbara’s story is tragic in that here we find a lonely, tired and frustrated Christian woman who desperately needs a Christian friend – a female friend – to talk with and cry on her shoulder.
To enable this to happen, we need Christian women to be available and Christian men who will care for the man with dementia while his wife is taking a breather and being engaged socially with others.
Surely this is the time for Christians to put up their hands and put these Scriptures into action:
‘But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds’ (James 2:18 NIV).
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25: 31-40 NIV).
How would you respond to this comment? ‘I’ve never heard of any Christian teacher teaching people it’s just perfectly fine to go on sinning all you want. Everyone teaches repentance. And I’ve never met anyone, much less a Christian, who was a thief or an adulterer and didn’t know it was wrong’.
Thom Miller, 60, is now building a massive home for his two brides — 44-year-old Belinda Miller and 19-year-old Reba Kerfootruba — in the US state of Ohio.
Thom splits his time between the women, although the trio plans to raise Thom and Reba’s child together as a family.
“I don’t preach about polygamy but I feel it is a very Christian lifestyle,” Thom told Barcroft TV. “I have no problem with homosexuals but I think it’s wrong that their marriage is now recognised by the state, but my second marriage is not. I’m going to try and fight the bigotry of that. This is America and my wives and I have the right to live anyway we please, providing we’re not hurting anybody.”
Bigamy by pastor in Mansfield, Ohio
Another article in the British newspaper, The Independent, stated, ‘Having discussed polygamy after Mrs Miller suggested finding another woman to be part of the family, the pair from Mansfield, Ohio, decided to welcome 19-year-old Reba Kerfootruba into their relationship’ (Henderson 2015).
The Mansfield News Journal in Ohio reported that
Miller is a licensed minister with United Christian Ministries International at 840 Koogle Road in Mansfield, according to records from the Ohio Secretary of State. He also is affiliated with Special Visit Ministry, which lists its address at 287 N. Diamond St. He told the News Journal earlier this year he is affiliated with Hope Ohio, which he called an outreach of the Restoration Network.
Richland County Probate Court records show Thomas Nicholas Miller is married to 44-year-old, Belinda Miller, but the records neither confirm nor disprove his marriage to 19-year-old Reba Kerfoot, who the video states is pregnant with Miller’s child….
Though polygamy is illegal in Ohio and Richland County has not issued a marriage license to Thom Miller and Kerfoot, probate court staff say it is possible the pair were issued a marriage license by another county or in another state.
Miller did not respond to calls from the News Journal Monday and Tuesday (Day 2015).
What kind of denomination is United Christian Ministries International? Premier Christian Radio reported that
the 60-year-old pastor at United Christian Ministries International has married Reba, 19, but he says his congregation do not support his decision.
He runs a ministry which visits prisons and also has his own church in Mansfield.
Revd Miller admits that he does not have the full support of his congregation in Mansfield, but makes no secret of his alternative lifestyle….
The pair married at his church seven years after Thom married Belinda.
The pastor is now fighting for the state to acknowledge his marriage.
The trio have decided to raise the baby as a three (Tooley 2015).
I emailed the Pastor of the United Christian Ministries International, Rev. Kwasi Alex Adu-Boffour, at the email address on the website, firstname.lastname@example.org, but it timed out over a few days, so I was unable to contact him by email. Since I live overseas I was unable to complete the online form at its website as it would not accept my phone number. Therefore, I was unable to receive an explanation of the acceptance of a bigamist pastor by that denomination. This is what I wrote to Pastor Adu-Boffour:
I’m an Australian living in Brisbane, Qld., and I write to you out of deep concern over what your minister in Mansfield, OH, Thom Miller, has done to darken the name of Jesus and the reputation of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity with the story that was published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, ‘Pastor, 60, marries his pregnant teenage girlfriend — and his wife doesn’t mind‘, December 1.
This story has gone around the world. See also:
I have read your Statement of Faith online, with which I agree. I find it impossible to harmonise what Pastor Thom Miller has done in Mansfield OH with orthodox, charismatic Christianity. His witness is a blight on the name of Christ and I’m embarrassed that he is allowed to continue as a bigamist with your denomination.
Would you please let me know what you are doing to deal with the sin of Pastor Thom and what he has done? ‘Alternative lifestyle’ is not an example, in this case, of biblical Christianity.
Sincerely in Christ.
Rev Spencer Gear
How is it possible for a man to be married to two women in the USA when none of the 50 USA states allows polygamy/bigamy? Lawyers.com explained:
Polygamy and bigamy are illegal in the US, but as the Utah “sister wives” show, it goes on anyway. Essentially they mean the same thing – someone has more than one spouse. More often than not, it’s when a man has more than one wife. In some states, the law uses the terms interchangeably. There are some legal differences, though:
Bigamy is when someone legally marries more than one person. That means they go through the hoops set out by state law, such as getting a marriage license, etc. It may happen on purpose, or by mistake, like not having a proper, legal divorce before getting remarried
Polygamy is when someone has one legal spouse and one or more co-spouses he married through some sort of spiritual marriage that’s not legally recognized by the state….
Often, polygamists are left alone by the police, and the few states that have anti-cohabitation laws generally don’t enforce them. There are a few reasons for this, such as the respect for freedom of choice – the freedom to choose your own lifestyle. Freedom of religion also plays a role. Polygamy is acceptable in some religions, from the mainstream, like Islam, to the not-so-mainstream, like certain cults. (‘I do, I do, I do: Is polygamy legal?’ Lawyers.com, 2015, emphasis in original).
Theology of The United Christian Ministries International
The denomination’s headquarters are in Bronx, NY and its Statement of Faith is orthodox Pentecostal-charismatic with a high view of the Trinitarian God and the Scriptures. Its ministries include:
We are the church that thrives to reach out to the dying world with the full gospel of our Lord Jesus to minister to the needs of our community, individuals and the family. Our ministries in the church are tailored to educate our members and the community to develop strong relationships with the Lord Jesus (About Us).
The founder and international director of the denomination is Rev. Kwasi Alex Adu-Boffour. In discussing ‘our pastor’, the homepage stated: ‘He has endured many trials in his life and has come out victorious by the power of God. He has an incredible testimony of the dynamic redeeming work of Jesus Christ. He believe and teaches that regardless of a person’s background or past mistakes, God can restore them to the right place and can help and lead them to enjoying every day life’.
What is this denomination going to do to deal with a pastor who commits adultery in his bigamy? It does not matter if he has his wife’s permission. Fornication or adultery is sin. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV).
Why didn’t Scripture condemn polygamy/bigamy?
In response to my post with the link to this 60-year-old pastor committing bigamy, there was this comeback on the Christian Forum. Part of it read:
If he is guilty of adultery or bigamy in God’s eyes, why in scripture didn’t God condemn people of the Bible who did the same thing, but in fact supported those people as if they were doing nothing wrong? I know there is a lot of speculation as to why this is true. But what are the cold facts from in context scripture to prove these people of the Bible were committing adultery and/or bigamy?
And just to be clear, I’m not supporting or recommending things like polygamy, but I’m trying to point out how different people from different backgrounds can have different ideas of what scripture says is sin and doesn’t say is sin.
This is a tough issue because there are a number of instances in the OT where leading men of God had multiple marriages and partners/concubines. Was God putting his stamp of approval on polygamy and so endorsing what Pastor Thom Miller has done in Mansfield, Ohio?
There is some clear biblical evidence that we must not ignore.
polyamory is the practice where a ‘committed’ couple openly engage in dating and having a sexual relationship with others.
How do we deal with some of these dimensions? Is it a widespread opinion that God approved polygamy in the OT? This is not the case. We know that ‘the Bible does speak strongly against polygamy in both the Old and New Testaments’ (Geisler 1989:281). We know this from direct statements in Scripture and precedent in the OT. These are some examples:
Adam had only one wife, thus this was a pattern for the entire human race (Gen 2:7, 20-24).
In the moral law taught in Ex 20:17, we are told, ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife’, where ‘wife’ is singular. This is suggestive of monogamy but not definitive because in context, the verse continues, ‘Or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s’. One could not assume that the neighbour only has one servant, ox, donkey or anything else. One unit is given as an example, but it may not be absolutely one in all of these examples.
In the laws concerning each of Israel’s kings, Deut 17:17 states, ‘And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away’ (ESV).
If we look at the proportion of women vs. men in the world’s population, they are approximately equal in numbers. If polygamy was God’s design for marriage, there should be many more women than men in a population. According to the World Bank figures for 2011-2015, the percentage of females in each of the countries listed hovers around 50% (deviating from, say, 46.3% in Bhutan to 53.5% in Belarus). In my home country of Australia it is 50% female population. Notice the countries with lower female population: (1) Oman 34.2%; (2) United Arab Emirates 26.3%; (3) Saudi Arabia 43.4%; (4) Bahrain 37.9%; (5) Kuwait 43.8%; (6) Qatar 26.8% (World Bank, Population, female (% of total), 2015).
(Prince Manga Bell and favorite wives, courtesy Wikipedia). Prince Manga Bell (1873-1941)was a Duala king and resistance leader in the African nation of Cameroon when it was a German colony. He was hanged for alleged high treason in 1914 (Wikipedia 2015. S v Rudolf Duala Manga Bell).
China is a clear example of what happens when a nation tries to manipulate the male vs female balance with its forced one-child policy. In 2015, it was reported that this will change to a 2-child policy from 2016.
The reason China is doing this right now is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a result of the one-child policy. And if people don’t start having more children, they’re going to have a vastly diminished workforce to support a huge aging population. Right now the ratio is about five working adults supporting one retiree. That’s why they have ended a policy that should actually never have been started in the first place….
One of the results of the policy is that there is a dramatic gender imbalance with millions of men predicted to never find wives….The lack of women in rural China resurrected the old, feudal practice of a bride price, or cai li. In the ’90s, cai li prices shot up to the point where it was the equivalent of a decade’s worth of farming income. If a man wanted to marry someone, his whole family had to beg and borrow from all the relatives. And that created a whole scam market (Worrall 2015).
These verses from the Book of Proverbs seem to be driven by a presupposition of monogamy:
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love. 20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
Here the evidence states she is the wife, singular, of his youth. One should not be ‘intoxicated’ with a forbidden woman or embrace an adulteress. So, the statement is that another woman’s embrace is that of an adulteress.
Proverbs 18:22 (ESV), ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord’.
It is important to understand that this teaches that the one (a man) who finds a wife (singular) obtains the Lord’s favour. This is not an endorsement of polygamy or polyandry.
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
Throughout this proverb, the emphasis is on the one (singular) wife and her one husband (singular). Note especially, ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’ (v. 29). This one wife is compared to the rest of the excellent women but she goes beyond all of the others. She is a woman, a singular wife, who fears the Lord. There is no hint of polygamy here.
Dr Norman Geisler has provided this summary evidence of God’s view of polygamy:
There is ample evidence, even within the Old Testament, that polygamy was not God’s ideal for man. That monogamy was His ideal for man is obvious from several perspectives.
(1) God made only one wife for Adam, thus setting the ideal precedent for the race.
(2) Polygamy is first mentioned as part of the wicked Cainite civilization (Gen. 4:23).
(3) God clearly forbade the kings of Israel (leaders were the persons who became polygamists) saying, ‘And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away again’ (Deut. 17:17).
(4) The saints who became polygamists paid for their sins. 1 Kings 11:1, 3 says, ‘Now King Solomon loved many foreign women . . . and his wives turned away his heart’….
(5) Polygamy is usually situated in the context of sin in the O.T. Abraham’s marriage of Hagar was clearly a carnal act of unbelief (Gen. 16:1-16). David was not at a spiritual peak when he added Abigail and Ahinoam as his wives (1 Sam. 25:42-43), nor was Jacob when he married Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:23, 28).
(6) The polygamous relation was less than ideal. It was one of jealousy among wives. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (Gen. 29:31). Elkanah’s one wife was considered a ‘rival’ or adversary by the other, who ‘used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her….’ (1 Sam. 1:6).
(7) When polygamy is referred to, the conditional, not the imperative, is used. ‘If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights’ (Ex. 21:10). ‘Polygamy is not the moral ideal, but the polygamist must be moral’ (Geisler 1971:204-205).?
In another edition of this publication, Geisler gave this perceptive insight: ‘The fact that God permitted polygamy no more proves he prescribed it than the fact God permitted divorce indicates that he desired it. What Jesus said of divorce is true also of polygamy; it was “permitted … because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning”’ (Matt. 19:8)’ (Geisler 1989:281).
Polygamy allowed but within boundaries
While monogamy was God’s best arrangement for marriage and the family, polygamy was permitted as an inferior option in a sinful world. We see this:
1. When men took concubines who had fewer rights than a wife, concubines were treated as little better than slaves. See Exodus 21:7-11.
It is of note that some of the above biblical emphases have influenced the contemporary organisation, BiblicalPolygamy.com, which has the slogan: ‘Polygamy really is Biblical’. On this website it provides links to polygamists in the Bible (by direct statement or inference). Copyright restrictions prevent my incorporating the table of biblical polygamists. You can locate the table HERE.
Peter Toon observed that
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 protects the rights of a female captive in war who is taken as wife (second wife?), and the inheritance law (vv. 15-17) recognizes that the primary moral criticism of bigamy is that one man cannot love two women equally. Hence this law protects an unloved wife and her son. The story of Elkanah and his wives is a comment on the moral dangers of polygamy (1 Sam. 1) (Toon 1987:314).
Those Mormon promoters of polygamy
(Brigham Young’s 12 widows lament. Caricature in a newspaper about Mormon polygamy. Text:” In memoriam Brigham Young. And the place which knew him once shall know him no more”. It references the apocryphal “long bed” story (and illustration) found in chapter 15 of Mark Twain‘s 1872 book Roughing It, courtesy Wikimedia Commons).
John Turner, as Brigham Young’s biographer, discovered that Young, who was Joseph Smith’s successor as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had ‘55 well-documented marriages’.
“He married – was sealed to, in Mormon parlance – young (Clarissa Decker, 15) and old (Hannah Tapfield King, 65). He married single women and widows. Perhaps most unusually, he was sealed to his first two mothers-in-law. Perhaps most controversially, he married women who were already married, some to Mormon men in good standing’ (Turner 2012).
Why did Young pursue polygamy? Turner discovered that ‘Young sought a second wife because Joseph Smith instructed him that plural marriage was a divine commandment that would bring a select number of righteous men tremendous blessings for eternity’ (Turner 2012).
However, plural marriages ceased in late nineteenth century Mormonism. lds.org explains that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach monogamy as God’s standard, ‘except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise’. This online document affirms that plural marriages came through a revelation to Joseph Smith recorded in Doctrine and Covenants (Section 132) and was instituted among the LDS people in the early 1840s and only the Church President could authorise the performing of new plural marriages.
In 1890, the Lord inspired Church President Wilford Woodruff to issue a statement that led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church. In this statement, known as the Manifesto, President Woodruff declared his intention to abide by U.S. law forbidding plural marriage and to use his influence to convince members of the Church to do likewise.3
After the Manifesto, monogamy was advocated in the Church both over the pulpit and through the press. On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years. In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church (‘Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah’, lds.org 2015).
What does a church leader or missionary do when a polygamist in a polygamous-friendly nation becomes a Christian? Some of us have read of sad stories like that raised in this Christianity Today article:
Earlier Western missionaries felt a need to confront polygamy at the point of conversion. During colonial days in mission churches, Christians in good standing would give up the status symbol and send away all but one wife…. Such a painful decision often meant that men would choose family or social standing over church. Medical missionary David Livingstone’s single convert abandoned the faith to return to polygamy.
Many African church leaders regret zero-tolerance policies for polygamous families of converts, saying that treating those marriages as invalid raises a number of problems. Besides absolving fathers of their responsibilities and leaving many economically dependent women out in the cold, it’s theologically questionable to force new converts to divorce, said Sunday Agang, an ethics professor at Jos ecwa Theological Seminary in Nigeria and a John Stott Ministries scholar (Wunderink 2009).
It is my considered view that, since polygamy is in a similar league to divorce (Matt 19:8) in terms of biblical understanding (because of the hardness of people’s hearts), it needs to be allowed to continue when a polygamous man or woman comes to know Christ in a polygamous-friendly nation. He should not be forced to renounce polygamy. Instead, he should be supported in maintaining his present situation with husband, wives and family. The husband should not be encouraged to get rid of all his wives except one, as that leaves the other wives with negative consequences financially, socially and in the family.
In a polygamous culture, such as in many nations in Africa, it should be taught that a Christian should not seek to become a polygamist. However, the convert who is already in a polygamous relationship at the time of conversion should choose the lesser evil – continue as a polygamist, supporting the wives, and he should not be sending away the wives and children. Way too much heartache has been caused by well-meaning missionaries with a narrow view of dealing with existing polygamous relationships. It could be that missionaries will be church planting in areas where there will be a number of polygamous families, newly converted, in the congregation.
For church leaders in a polygamous society, the standards are higher than for general membership in a congregation. This is the biblical standard, whether an elder/overseer is in Australia, Kenya, Germany or Qatar : ‘Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach’ (1 Tim 3:2 ESV, emphasis added). The same standard applies to deacons (see 1 Tim 3:12 ESV).
Which countries accept or have legalised polygamy? Oliver Wheaton for Metro.co.uk, 22 June 2015, ‘Where exactly is polygamy legal?’ has provided a helpful diagram to explain this on an international basis:
Pastor Thom Miller’s bigamous situation in Mansfield OH has hit the news headlines around the world. This has caused me to examine the biblical position on polygamy and other multiple marriage situations. I have discovered that:
1. The theology of the denomination of which Thom Miller is a bigamist and pastor does not support polygamy.
2. From the beginning of creation, God’s design has been monogamy. However, with the introduction of sin into the world, there are examples of leaders in the OT who committed the sin of polygamy and concubinage . God had stated that he did not approve of polygamy and there were dangers inherent in this sinful practice. For those OT leaders, their wives sometimes turned their hearts away from following the Lord.
3. God did place parameters around the practice of polygamy for the protection of the polygamists, particularly the wives. It was suggested that polygamy is like divorce; God permitted it because of the hardness of people’s hearts.
4. One unashamed example of the promotion of polygamy was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), that originated through a ‘revelation’ to Joseph Smith in the early 1940s. It was practised by Brigham Young and others until the Manifesto to cease it in 1890. Mormons today forbid the practice of polygamy.
5. Some recent and contemporary Christian missionaries have created additional problems on the mission fields when they have required polygamists who became Christians to put away all wives except one. It was suggested by me that this is an unwise strategy and that polygamist relationships should be allowed to continue in the church – but not in leadership positions as elders and deacons.
6. How is a person like Thom Miller and his two wives allowed to practise bigamy in the USA which forbids polygamy? Lawyers have indicated that this is allowed because legal authorities turn a blind eye to it.
7. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this article: Is polygamy promoted by the Bible? No, it isn’t. Examples are given of its practice, even by leaders of Israel and Judah, but God’s design is monogamy. Polygamy is an example of sinful practice which God allowed and did not promote. Because of the hardness of people’s hearts, God permitted it, but did not endorse or promote it.
 Concubinage is ‘the enduring state or practice of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman not bound to each other by legitimate marriage’ (encyclopedia.com 2015. S v concubinage). There are many examples of concubinage in the OT Scriptures.
 The following dot points were suggested by Geisler (1989:281).
 Here the ESV footnote stated, ‘Hebrew be led astray; also verse 20’.
 The ESV footnote at this point stated, ‘Hebrew a foreign woman’.
 The ESV footnote here was, ‘Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet’.
 The ESV footnote is, ‘Hebrew She girds her loins’.
 The ESV footnote stated, ‘Or in double thickness’.
 Some of these emphases were suggested by Toon (1987:314).
I wrote to the Queensland Senators to provide evidence why they should not support homosexual marriage. I wrote as a Queensland elector, one who has been a counsellor and/or counselling manager for 34 years, and someone who is not a homophobe.
Reasons not to support homosexual marriage
I urged the Senators not to support or promote this legislation for these reasons:
1. While there have been widows and single parents since the beginning of time, the marriage of a man and woman has been the norm to have the potential to produce children naturally. To change this is to change a necessary fundamental of society.
2. To go down the road of same-sex marriage would be a potentially dangerous social experiment in Australia for the following reasons:
One of those is the impact on children born to surrogates and then parented by a same-sex couple. Too often, the man who donated the sperm or the woman who donated the ovum is not known to the child. Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states: ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents’. All children, wherever possible, have the right to know and they need both mother and father. Such is not possible with many homosexual couples where there are children.
“I’m writing to you because I’m letting myself out of the closet: I don’t support gay marriage. But it might not be for the reasons that you think. It’s not because you’re gay. I love you, so much. It’s because of the nature of the same-sex relationship itself,” she said. “Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mum’s partner, but another mum could never have replaced the father I lost.”
‘Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognise the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me,” she said. “It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting”.
(Male same-sex couple with a child, courtesy Wikipedia)
A new study of children raised by homosexual parents by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin reverses the conventional academic understanding that such children are not at a disadvantage when compared to children raised by a married mother and father. The article in the journal, Social Science Research, has found that ‘the children of homosexuals did worse (or, in the case of their own sexual orientation, were more likely to deviate from the societal norm) on 77 out of 80 outcome measures. (The only exceptions: children of “gay fathers” were more likely to vote; children of lesbians used alcohol less frequently; and children of “gay fathers” used alcohol at the same rate as those in intact biological families)’.
Therefore, the same-sex relationship, even in marriage, does not have the same dynamics as those for the man-woman relationship and may have detrimental consequences on children and our society as the following points illustrate.
4. The rectum is not designed for sexual penetration; the vagina is. Anal sex is a high risk sexual activity. One of the many hazards is the vulnerability of the tissues to tearing and bleeding. Damage can be done to the sphincter muscles that may lead to incontinence and rectal prolapse. There is a high level of organisms that may cause disease in the rectum. Do you want these medical issues to be added to the already overloaded Medicare system?
7. The anal cancer problem. ‘For HIV-positive Gay Men, the risk is even further elevated. In a recent meta-analysis of all studies describing anal cancer incidence in Gay Men living with HIV, it was reported that anal cancer incidence increased to 78-100 per 100,000 per year in reports published after 1996. These data demonstrate that the incidence of anal cancer is increasing in HIV-positive men, despite the improved general health associated with effective HIV therapies.
So, the occurrence in anal cancer for homosexual men is 4-5 times higher than for heterosexual men and women. Marriage is not likely to stop this incidence in the homosexual population, but Senators should be promoting the message in Parliament and to the mass media that the homosexual lifestyle has some deleterious medical consequences.
Another report on anal cancer indicated that ‘in the general population, anal cancer is a rare disease…. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), the incidence of anal cancer is significantly more prevalent and increasing annually’ (National lgbt Cancer Network, ‘Anal Cancer, HIV and Gay/Bisexual Men’, 2013).
8. The foundation of Australia’s healthy democracy and laws has been built on a Christian world view that promotes heterosexual marriage for the health of the nation, which states that ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Jesus Christ affirmed heterosexuality for the norm of society when he repeated the Genesis mandate, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matthew 19:5). Paul promoted it in Ephesians 5:31. If Australia moves away from this foundational law for a just and fair family, it will be violating a fundamental of Australia’s national cultural health.
In light of these details, I urge all politicians not to vote for any Bill that legalises homosexual marriage.
AN ADVERTISEMENT critical of same-sex marriage was pulled by SBS management ahead of their telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Sunday night, the ad’s sponsors say.
The Australian Marriage Forum said in a statement that the ad was booked and scheduled for broadcast during a Sunday night Mardi Gras special.
Dr van Gend says the ad was booked and paid for before he received an email on Friday to inform him it had been pulled from the Sunday night schedule. “I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast,” the email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, said….
Dr van Gend said: “It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage.”
“SBS is funded by taxpayers on both sides of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate”, Dr van Gend said.
Dr van Gend called the cancellation of the ad a “suppression of free speech on a matter of public importance”.
An SBS spokesperson told Fairfax Media that it reserved the right “to determine what advertisements it broadcasts” (emphasis in original).
I object strongly to what SBS, a publicly funded broadcaster, did to an advertisement by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) on SBS on Saturday evening, 7 March, when SBS was telecasting the Gay Mardi Gras.
The AMF advertisement was booked and paid for to be shown on Saturday night, 7 March, during the SBS delayed broadcast of the Parade – but only on Friday 6 March did the AMF agent receive this message from SBS management: ‘We choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast’.
No explanation was given. This is disgusting discrimination against the heterosexual community and traditional marriage. It is censorship to be condemned.
Please advise me why your publicly funded network engaged in this kind of discriminatory censorship of an advt that had been paid for and scheduled to be telecast?
Mr S Gear
On 11 March 2015, SBS replied:
Thank you for contacting SBS.
SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts.
Regardless, I have passed on your comments to our relevant departments as viewer feedback.
SBS Audience Relations
In other words, SBS continues to promote its censorship with ‘SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts’. That’s not how Sam McLean of The Drum saw it.
‘SBS should have run this offensive ad’
Sam McLean of ABC’s, The Drum, even though he objected to the content of the advertisement, complained that SBS should have telecast the ad:
I was offended by the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV ad, but we shouldn’t censor any one side of a political debate, writes Sam McLean.
The ad, which the AMF pitched for a provocative first run on the night of Sydney Mardi Gras, implies same-sex marriage poses a danger to children. I was offended by the ad, but frankly, so too by SBS refusing to run it.
Yes, the ad is incendiary. Yes, it is wrong. But yes, the AMF has absolutely every right to run it – and no broadcaster should be able to deny them that. An email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, reads:
Our review board has instructed that SBS has the right to choose what ads we run, and I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast (Mclean 2015, emphasis in original).
The following represents a summary of the ABC and SBS funding from the Australian government over the next 5 years (Turnbull 2014):
Therefore, for the 2014-2015 financial year, $287,023 was funded from government proceeds to run this operation. The conclusion is that ‘80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government through triennial funding arrangements. Funding is legislated annually through the Budget Appropriation Bills…. The remainder of SBS revenue is derived from independent sources. These include advertising and sponsorship, production services and sale of programs and merchandise’ (Jolly 2007).
Several issues are playing out in our Australian culture and the promotion of homosexual marriage:
The promotion of heterosexual marriage in the language of anti-marriage equality, is deconstructing language to make heterosexual marriage mean something else.
SBS has censored one side of the debate, the discussion that supports traditional marriage. That is abhorrent for a public broadcaster that receives 80% of its funding from the Australian government. It is supposed to represent ALL Australians and not just the homosexual community and its supporters.
Those who support ‘marriage equality’ are ‘fellow progressives’ (Sam McLean). This again is deconstructing language. In an era of political correctness, to be conservative and supporting traditional marriage is to be radical in a mass media environment that wants to silence the traditional marriage voice.
Sam McLean rightly concluded, ‘The anti marriage equality lobbyists said it was unfair for SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage, and I agree’ (McLean 2015). I would have stated it this way: Those promoting traditional marriage consider the censorship of their advertisement was unfair for SBS to withdraw the advertising.
It’s impossible or extremely difficult to get through to public mass media with an alternate message to their allegedly progressive, anti-conservative views. Penetrating the barrier is like pounding a brick wall with a foam hammer.