A Dog in the Fight
Contrary “opinions” from people like me might be rejected by supporters of Missouri Amendment 2. After all, I suffer from none of the afflictions they claim might be cured by experimentation upon the cells of human embryos. In matters of personal health, I have, as the saying goes, no “dog in the fight.” Yes, my mother suffers from some form of senile dementia — I know not if it’s Alzheimer’s Disease or something else — but she cannot fully speak for herself and I might be accused of putting words into her mouth.
With this in mind, I contacted a recently retired pastor from my area to see if he’d share his personal thoughts on embryonic stem cell research and the upcoming vote here in Missouri. Not only do I respect him as a man and as a wise “old” pastor, I know him as one who has battled Parkinson’s Disease for a number of years.
Actually, my first look at Michael J. Fox’s video supporting the McCaskill campaign and ESCR made me immediately think of this brother, so I wrote him, “I’m curious as a brother pastor, a friend who enjoys your personality and insight, a Christian, and a voter what your personal thoughts are on Amendment 2 and the arguments surrounding it from both sides.”
He replied as follows and graciously gave me permission to use his private thoughts in this most public forum of blogging:
I was going to give you the quick answer: Of course! I’m voting no on Amendment 2. Isn’t everyone? We even have the sign in our yard. Aren’t I the noble one? But then, what does it cost me? Slim chance of embryo stem cells doing me any good! They just want to do the research, and maybe some day ... besides they already have adult stem cells, placental cells.
But then, John Danforth, whose brother has ALS, writes in his book that the embryos they plan to use for research are no larger than the period at the end of this sentence, and that he cares more about his brother than about the clump of cells.
Is that microscopic group of cells a human being? Is Psalm 51:5 entirely clear on that? Psalm 139? Jer. 1? Etc., etc.? One could argue that they area kind of poetry and are outweighed by the serious life-and-death issues involved in finding cures for so many people.
On the other hand, if that tiny clump of cells is not a human being, at what point does it become one? Then it becomes a matter for anyone’s self-serving arbitrary determination.
How would I choose if it were a matter of sacrificing this tiny embryo for my quality of life? I a poor miserable sinner? I can know what is right but ... well, I sure hope I could do it. And today I affirm that I would! But wretched man that I am!
So these are my remarks for your brotherly consideration and whatever other use you may have for them.
I hope you take to heart these words of a man who knows that he is simil iustus et peccator. I ask that you would appreciate this Christian’s ongoing struggle to submit himself to the will of God in difficult circumstances without expressing false humility, shameful bravado, or a sense of self-imposed martyrdom. And I invite you to pray for him and all others who patiently await deliverance from “this body of death (Romans 7:24)” that God would “sustain [them] to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8)”
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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