Babies Made To Order

by Tom Wacaster

The news continues to give attention to genetic engineering, especially when it benefits a couple seeking to either have a baby, or to give birth to a child that is free from diseases that plague both parents. There were at least two items in the news this past week that caught my attention. One was a segment on NBC news in which it was reported that a couple seeking to conceive a child free from a genetic disorder that plagued both of the parents used the process known as in-vitro fertilization to conceive. After conception of a "suitable" embryo, the defective "gene" was successfully isolated and removed, and their child, now five years of age, is free of the defective gene they sought to eliminate. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with conception in a test tube, it is what happens along the way that frightens me. The child they finally got was not the only embryo produced. Numerous embryos were conceived, and the one embryo that met all the conditions was selected for genetic engineering. The others were discarded.

A separate story revisited the case of Lisa and Jack Nash. This couple announced some time back that their new baby had been conceived solely to be a donor of cells for his older sister. The story of how and why Adam Nash came into the world is the story of how even the best of intentions can result in the worst of evils. The story begins when the Nash's oldest daughter, Molly, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia -- a hereditary and always fatal form of the disease. Doctors determined that the best hope for Molly was a cell transplant, from a relative whose cells matched Molly's, but without anemia. Since they had no other children, the Nashes decided to have one to save Molly. But unlike the California couple who gave birth to a child to provide their daughter with a bone marrow transplant a few years ago, the Nashes weren't taking any chances. Any child conceived naturally would be unlikely to provide Molly with the cells she needed. So, by in-vitro fertilization, they produced fifteen embryos, which they sent to a genetic testing facility. Only one of the embryos had the right genetic material. It was implanted in Mrs. Nash, who, in August of 2000, gave birth to Adam. Adam's stem cells were taken from his umbilical cord and implanted in his sister. Naturally, the Nashes are pleased at the outcome of what they call an "awesome" and "monumental" experience. But thoughtful Christians should respond differently to what has happened here. Despite all the celebration and the medical justification, the fact remains that Adam was, in the words of columnist Ellen Goodman, "conceived ..... not just to be a son, but a medical treatment." But what would have happened if Adam had not possessed the needed genetic makeup acceptable to this medical experiment? Why, he would have been rejected, and discarded like the other fourteen embryos.

When I think upon these two cases of babies made to order," I wonder, "What's next?" This newfound technology and present "world-view" that produced Adam will not be limited to such "noble" purposes like preserving life. As one writer put it, "We're fast approaching a world where kids will be seen to exist merely to enhance their parents' sense of fulfillment. And even if they aren't conceived as merely a source of spare parts, they will still -- through genetic manipulation - - be made to embody their parents' ideas of an ideal child. Parents creating the personality of their kids fits our narcissistic culture, but it is dehumanizing in the extreme." But it is MORE than simply dehumanizing. It is sinful because it is based upon a disrespect for life itself and the loss of the same. I fear that our medical and science community has turned the corner toward a dark and bleak future that will result in a repeat of what the world witnessed half a century ago. When our Supreme Court made abortion legal they opened a door to the proverbial Pandora's box, the consequences of which are frightening. Euthanasia, doctor assisted suicide, and now the discarding of unwanted embryos are but a glimpse of what lies down the road. I fear that as soon as technology permits, parents are going to be screening more and more embryos for those desirable and undesirable genetic traits. And if an embryo does not fulfill the parents' "wish list," then what? And the thought is too horrible to contemplate.

An Empty Wagon Going No Where

by Tom Wacaster
This past week has been a week of festivity in honor of the Hindu God. Worship services to that idol occur daily, extending into the late hours of the night during this week long festivity. It is sad to see such devotion to a false god. In contrast it is rewarding to see those who hear the truth and turn away from that false system of worship to serve the true and living God. There is one interesting feature of this week long festivity that caught my interest. During the week gifts are given to this false Hindu god, and at the end of the week’s festivity, the idol is placed on a wagon, and taken to the river and thrown in the river, along with the treasures and gifts that were given by the devotees of the idol. Many people die attempting to recover some of the treasures that are cast into the river with the idol. Every town has a number of these idols, and so when these false gods are put on the wagons, the procession can be quite lengthy. We were returning from a late night preaching appointment and passed one of those wagons that had evidently made its way to the river and was now returning to town. The decorations still draped the wagon, but the idol was gone. Gone too were the merrymaking, singing and dancing, and loud musical procession that accompanied the wagon on its way to the river. And I thought to myself, “An empty wagon going nowhere.” That adequately describes the essence of the Hindu religion. While it may carry a colorful idol, and be draped with ribbons, and surrounded with singing and dancing, it is really an empty wagon going nowhere. It is empty, vain, and futile, whether it is going to or coming from the river. Many a life can be described with the same words. All of us are on the road to eternity. Some travel the narrow way; while others march with the multitudes down that broad path that leads to eternal ruin. Some, like the Hindu idol, are surrounded with wealth, merriment, and pleasure. Some are devotees to false religion; others to no religion at all. Multitudes are marching in the long dark night of spiritual darkness to eternal separation from God. With no awareness of their lost condition, they march on. Like that idolatrous procession going to the river, the masses of humanity are marching toward the river that will forever separate them from the God Who created them and loves them. And so many of them could easily have the epitaph engraved upon their tombstone: “An empty wagon going nowhere.” How sad!

"Another Testament"?

by Tom Wacaster
They were very well dressed, and when they knocked on my door they asked if they could tell me of “another testament” that Jesus gave to men. Their offer puzzled me, since I did not recall any mention of “another testament” promised by either Jesus or the apostles. In fact, my Bible clearly teaches that the “faith” that was delivered to that first century church through the hands of the apostles was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). A little study helped me to understand that Jude actually told us that “the faith” (the Gospel) was “once and for all delivered to the saints.” In like manner Peter has told us that God’s “divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Jesus told the twelve apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all the truth (John 16:13). Why, then, would we need “another testament” such as that offered by these two “elders” now standing at my door? The answer is simple. We DON’T need “another testament.” In fact, if any man, or even an angel, were to “preach unto you any gospel other than that which we [the apostles, TW] preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). If their “other testament” contains MORE than my New Testament, it contains too much. If it contains any LESS than my New Testament, it contains too little. If it contains EXACTLY what my New Testament contains, then why would I need it? Beware friends. It may be “another testament” they bring, but it is NOT the testament of Jesus Christ!