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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Israelis Find a Way to Offend God Without Breaking the Law

First, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for Jewish believers, particularly those of the orthodox varieties. And I was recently delighted to hear of an organization called Jews Against Anti-Christian definition.

However, as a Christian, I obviously believe our differences remain quite substantial. And over the millennia, even as many things have changed, many more have stayed the same.

On one occasion, Jesus said to a group of Jewish Pharisees:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!"
There seems to have always been a strain within Judaism that is so concerned about obeying the letter of the law, that the spirit of the thing is overlooked.

Now I read this story in the Telegraph. Apparently, the parliament of Israel has decreed that euthanasia is permissible only if performed by a machine. In other words, they still assert that it is wrong for a man to euthanize another man. But a man can invent a machine to do it for him and thus remain within the law.

Now listen, if I invent a machine that will automatically, on a timer, rape and kill my neighbor, am I accountable for that or not? I did not rape or kill anyone. The machine did it. Uh huh. The Sanhedrin is still alive and well.

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E. Twist said...

What is the purpose of this post? Are you scolding Judaism?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi E.Twist,

Am I scolding Judaism? I hadn't thought of it that way. I guess it depends on what you mean by Judaism. If you mean the pseudo-religiosity of the pharisees, the white-washed sepulchers, then you betcha.

Bob Waters said...

Harry Turtledove- himself a Jew, though not a very observant one, I believe- did a rather good short story about a rabbi confronted with the challenge of a genetically engineered pig which chewed its cud. Since it could not reproduce with a natural pig, it was held not to be a pig at all- and hence, a source of kosher pork.

An amusing story. But this particular law is not amusing. It is obscene- and, I agree, the perfect contemporary example of our Lord's indictment of causuastic hypocrisy.

E. Twist said...

Well, I guess that's my problem. The transition from paragraph one to paragraph two in the post seems to lump all Jews into the Pharisaical camp. I don't think this is what you intended, but I'm not sure.

Your quote of Matthew's redactions of the scribes and Pharisees would seem to suggest (as I think Matthew was suggesting throughout his gospel) that there is a stark difference between the Judaism you find represented in the religious authorities in Jerusalem and that of, say, Galilee.

What the Parliament of Israel does can hardly be said to be a fair representation biblical Judaism. Just as the Presidency of Bill Clinton can hardly be said to be a fair representation of Southern Baptist theology.

Joseph said...

If God did not want us to use loopholes, He would not have put them into the Law in the first place.

At first sight, this looks like a standard application of Talmudic hairsplitting, except ... there's a common type of equally indirect suicide that's strictly forbidden in Jewish law: Jewish law does not accept a confession in a capital case on the grounds that it is suicide. If indirect suicide were permitted, such confessions would be accepted. There's a loophole in the apparent loophole.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to comment based on one news article, but to do so is not wise. We as pro-lifers know that at times reports omit information that otherwise would help our understanding. There is no "euthanasia by machine" taking place. I cannot believe some of the commentary from ignorance I have read on this subject. As a pro-life advocate, I humbly suggest that the new law may have been misrepresented. After looking into the questions considered, how the law developed, and the expertise of those involved, you may become less cynical. Or maybe not. One thing is for certain: anti-Jewish diatribes are unnecessary when commenting on social or legal issues.

John said...

I would not consider Pastor Scott's post an anti-Jewish diatribe. First it is not anti-Jewish it is anti-Pharisee, or stated another way it is against legalism that misses the spirit of the law. Second I do not see anything that is abusive in what was said, especially when the truth was spoken.

Chana, I have read what is posted on you blog and the items that you link to. The "euthanasia by machine" does not need to be a machine that will poison some one with a lethal injection, a respirator with a timer that needs to be reset will work just as well to euthanize the patient by suffocation. A machine that feeds a person could be made to do the same thing it would just take longer.

I read that cyclical treatments do not need to be continued according to the law, which would mean Chemotherapy, antibiotics, etc. (this I can agree with), but that nourishment and hydration must be continued. Normally nourishment and hydration are cyclical treatments, so why single these items out and say we cannot withhold these items, but then say that now breathing is cyclical so we can withhold it. Of the items that a person needs to live that are supplied from outside the body, air is them most important (you will live the shortest time without it), second is water and last is food. I would say that breathing is the least cyclical of all life support because air needs to be continuously supplied (but legally I guess you could consider each breath a cycle). Therefore I do not see how this particular distinction for respirators is valid.

Next if the patient is coherent enough to make the decision to not reset the respirator (it was stated several places in the information I saw that the patient must approve the respirator being turned off), it means we are not talking about the case where someone is brain dead or in a coma, which means that the person is consciously making the decision to take their own life. If the person has a terminal disease and the doctors say they only have x number of months to live then let them live it out, doctors are not always right and miracles do happen. I am not against a DNR order for when someone actually dies, but causing death prematurely either through an overt act or through inaction are both murder if you go by the spirit of the law especially since the patient was placed in the state where inaction would kill them, through the action of putting them on a respirator with a timer on it in the first place.

Setting it up as legal to use a respirator with a timer is just trying to force man's desire to eliminate things from our lives that are hard, uncomfortable and burdensome. Yes I know of the emotions that go along with these issues, maybe better than most, but no life is worthless, we are all created in God's image, which give us our intrinsic value. If we move away from this standard then how do you define a worthwhile life? No one is perfect, where would you draw the line? This leads you down the path to justify eliminating people for convenience sake, which we have many examples of in the last century and they continue into this century. For example the 13 million that died in the Nazi death camps or the estimated 527 million to 863 million abortions worldwide 1920-2000.

It sickens and saddens me to see how far the human race has fallen due to sin. That is why knowing that Jesus died to pay the price for my sins and the sins of the world is comforting and joyful, because I know that all is not lost, but because our sins have been paid for does not mean that we should not still despise sin when we see it, just look at how much sin has cost, and the priceless treasure God had to use to pay for it.

Love life, despise sin and death. Death is not natural, it is only a consequence of sin.

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary