Insight on the News
“Untroubled by War, Babylon Sleeps”
Under that title The New York Times recently discussed the ruins of ancient Babylon in modern-day Iraq. While a relentless Iraq/Iran war rages nearby, “all is quiet in Babylon . . . There are no guides, no guards, hardly a visitor.” Since some ancient cities—Rome, Athens, Alexandria—are still bustling, why is Babylon only a heap of ruins without inhabitants? And what lesson can you learn from this?
Bible students call to mind Jeremiah 50:38 and Jer 51:64 where Babylon’s fall into everlasting ruin was foretold. We read: “There is a devastation upon her waters, and they must be dried up. For it is a land of graven images.” “Babylon will sink down and never rise up because of the calamity that I [Jehovah] am bringing in upon her.”
Babylon had been the center of man’s first political empire, being founded by Nimrod. Later it became a world power, from 632 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E. Not long before its end Nebuchadnezzar II boasted of the city’s glory: “Is not this Babylon the Great, that I myself have built?” (Daniel 4:30) Its hanging gardens are considered to have been one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a very religious city, having at least 53 temples. Though its walls were considered impregnable, neither they nor its false gods and temples could save it from conquest by the Medes and the Persians in 539 B.C.E. In time it fell into complete ruin, as foretold in God’s Word and as it remains today.
Many false religious teachings that originated in Babylon have been carried over into religions of Christendom and of non-Christian nations. All these religions are appropriately termed “Babylon the Great,” which Revelation 18:21 says will be “hurled down, and she will never be found again.” Thus, even though the actual city of ancient Babylon is in ruins, we do well to heed the command regarding the religious empire of modern Babylon the Great: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Revelation 18:2-4.
A case of human artificial insemination was recorded as long ago as 1799. But in recent years this has come to be more widely practiced. According to The New York Times, a woman who is artificially inseminated and bears a child for another woman, as a substitute for her, is called a surrogate mother. The infertile wife and her husband agree to this arrangement, and when the surrogate mother gives birth the baby is adopted by the couple. The sperm in this case could be from the husband of the couple or from another donor.
Although such an arrangement may be approved by many in the world, the Christian rightfully asks whether it is in harmony with God’s laws. The Bible, at Leviticus 18:20, is clear on this point when it says: “You must not give your emission as semen to the wife of your associate to become unclean by it.” Artificial insemination of a woman by a donor other than her legal husband, makes her guilty of adultery, a sin against God. (Deuteronomy 5:18) The sperm donor and the surrogate woman have not been yoked together by God in matrimony.—Matthew 19:4-6.
Blind Religious Faith
“The chief motivation of war is no longer greed but religion,” said columnist H. Gordon Green, writing in The Toronto Star. Green went on to cite what is behind the wars in Iran, Ireland and the Middle East. He holds that the gutters run with blood “because men are everlastingly convinced that the faith one has inherited from one’s forefathers is the one true faith and all else is error and the work of Satan.”
This religious concept drives men to kill others who believe differently, says Green. In some cases, young men who do much of the killing are taught by their religious leaders that such killing is God’s will, and their reward for doing so will be eternal happiness in heaven. Ayatollah Khomeini, says Green, describes the young martyrs who fight for their faith as “warriors of God,” and to each one of them he “has given a small metal key to take into the fray—a key which will surely unlock the portals of that heaven.”
However, is such “faith” the kind that will lead men in the way to everlasting blessings from God? Remember, Jesus said to religious leaders of his day: “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Jesus warned: “Let them be.” (Matthew 15:14) Accurate Bible knowledge helps us to avoid blind religious faith and to serve Jehovah God with clean hands and a pure heart.—Psalm 24:3, 4.