Friday, March 22, 2013

Nimrods in the World

      There is a growing chasm in our culture. On one side are those who hold that life and marriage are sacred.   On the other side are the Nimrods. 
      Nimrod is used to refer to someone as a fool.  The term comes from Nimrod, the king of Shina.  According to the Book of Genesis and Chronicles, Nimrod was the son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah.  He  was prideful and Godless and commissioned the building of the tower of Babel to reach heaven.  Seeing their pride and independence, God confounded the people’s speech so that they could no longer work together on the project.

     The Nimrods of today are also prideful and set on building as if creation is their own apart from God. This has taken many forms, the latest of which is building babies made from three parents.  According to a BBC News Health article “Three-person IVF moves closer in the UK” soon, babies might be put together in a petri dish with two eggs from different women and one sperm. 
     “The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised the government that there is no evidence the advanced forms of IVF were unsafe,” the article says.  They believe the benefits outweighed the risks. That is, it seems, if you leave God out of it. As Nimrod once did.
     The government is pondering whether to allow such mixing and matching of human creation to switch out DNA with the goal to avoid incurable genetic diseases. If officials say it’s okay, Britain would become the first country to spruce up the DNA of embryos with a little help from a donor egg.
     What’s the big deal?  After all, it’s only an egg and women are born with 400,000 of them. We are already making babies outside of the sex act between a man and a woman, so what harm would it do to borrow a part or two from an egg no one is using?  With in vitro fertilization, children are produced through a technical process.  The Catholic Church loves babies, they are prolife extraordinaire, but the Church teaches that creation through human technology is against God’s plan.
     This is not to make light of the pain of infertility. Since I have not suffered through either infertility or genetic diseases, I hesitated to address this situation of 3-parent children. But then, I have accepted Church teachings on all matters and do not pick and choose which ones I will follow.
     Dr. Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Boston, MA and a consultant to the NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activites, wrote an article explaining Catholic teaching on this, Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology. He explained that in 1987, the morality of fertility procedures were addressed by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Donum Vitae ("The Gift of Life").  According to him, the Congregation determined that some methods are moral, while others are immoral and against the dignity of the person and the institution of marriage. Treatments to enhance and improve a couple’s fertility can be acceptable, but there is an obligation to protect all human life in the process.
     “Donum Vitae teaches that if a given medical intervention helps or assists the marriage act to achieve pregnancy, it may be considered moral,” Dr. Haas said, “if the intervention replaces the marriage act in order to engender life, it is not moral.”
     However, the Church has clearly and unequivocally judged in vitro fertilization or IVF, as immoral. “Unfortunately, most Catholics are not aware of the Church's teaching, do not know that IVF is immoral, and some have used it in attempting to have children,” he said.  In such a case, Dr. Haas said that couples unaware that the procedure is immoral are not subjectively guilty of sin. “Children conceived through this procedure are children of God and are loved by their parents, as they should be.”
     He acknowledged that the reason IVF is wrong is hard to understand for some people and explained some of the problems.  “In vitro fertilization brings about new life in a petri dish… The egg and sperm are ultimately joined in a glass dish…. The new life is not engendered through an act of love between husband and wife, but by a laboratory procedure performed by doctors or technicians. Not infrequently, "donor" eggs or sperm are used….
     “But even if the egg and sperm come from husband and wife, serious moral problems arise. Invariably several embryos are brought into existence; only those which show the greatest promise of growing to term are implanted in the womb. The others are simply discarded or used for experiments. This is a terrible offense against human life. While a little baby may ultimately be born because of this procedure, other lives are usually snuffed out in the process.”
     Many in our culture have discarded Church teaching and treat babies like commodities to be made. Abnormalities are cause for terminating the life and now it is cause for trying to fix it up by changing out parts.  But we are human, not commodities, not used cars, not anything less than a sacred creation with eternal value. 
     No doubt, some might liken this a 3-parent embryo to organ transplants or artificial parts. But the difference is that in one case there is healing and repair in the other it is creating a human being.
     Some say it’s a Brave New World. I say it’s a world full of Nimrods.  Again, I am not making light of the yearning and pain of desiring children, or the pain of genetic diseases. But this is not the way.
     What do you think?

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