Insight on the News
The commercialization of religion has led to “corruption, immorality and other forms of indiscipline in our churches,” declared the patriarch of the Methodist Church of Nigeria. He admitted, according to Nigeria’s Daily Times, that the church contributed to a wave of crime in Nigerian society by “soliciting and receiving gifts from criminals and corrupt public officers.” He also said that the misbehavior of religious leaders and members had turned the church into “a place for mischief-makers, cheats, and immoral acts.”
Femi Abbas, a commentator on Islamic affairs, likewise associated the increased rate of crime with the influx of people into highly commercialized religious groups. Writing in the National Concord of Nigeria, he observed that leaders of these groups gained their following through a “sweet tongue, smartness and the ability to outwit others,” and he commented that they only “masquerade under the cloak of faith.”
Such bad fruits are to be expected when religion focuses on material things. They prove the accuracy of the Bible’s prophecy that “in the last days” people would be “lovers of money, . . . having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” “They will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled.” On the other hand, true religion can be expected to emphasize spiritual rather than material things. It would thus motivate people whose honorable lives make them better citizens as well as faithful servants of God.—2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3; Matthew 6:19-21, 33; 7:16-21.
Treating the Symptoms, Not the Disease
“British Girls Can Get Pill Without Consent,” read a headline in The New York Times. The article revealed: “By a 3-to-2 vote, the House of Lords’ law lords said that parents do not have absolute authority over their children and that the law must keep pace with changing social attitudes.” As a result of this decision, British doctors are now legally able to prescribe contraceptives to girls under 16 without consulting their parents. This ruling by the upper house of the British Parliament was praised by the Labor Party, the British Medical Association, and various family-planning associations.
The purpose of this law is said to be ‘control of unwanted teenage pregnancies and abortions.’ But does not such an approach to a difficult and growing problem amount to treating only the “symptoms”? Is it not a measure of our times that lawmakers, backed by doctors and social organizations in a country proud of its Christian traditions, should pass a law that indirectly promotes the “disease” of teenage immorality?
Surely the best way to protect teenage girls from manifesting the “symptoms” of unwanted pregnancies and abortions is to teach them moral values that safeguard them from sexual misconduct. A proved repository of such values is the Bible, which also puts the treatment of this “disease” where it belongs—with parents who are made responsible for the conduct of their children.—Ephesians 5:5; 6:1-4.
Life Before Birth
“Earlier than we had before assumed, the senses of the unborn begin displaying themselves; and much earlier than recently believed, fine structures and abilities of the brain begin developing.” So write the authors of the booklet Life Before Birth, published in 1984 in the Federal Republic of Germany by the Federal Minister of Youth, Family and Health. They speak of unborn life as being life in its “frailest form,” pointing out that “the child’s first bonds to its parents are already formed in the womb.” They say that although many scientists formerly believed that unborn life goes through an evolutionary process, developing from a cell into a fish and then into an amphibian before becoming human, this theory has now been rejected because “science has made advances.” They concede that ‘no one seriously contends anymore that unborn life is not personal human life. A human does not become a human first at birth.’
These findings agree with the way the Creator of life views the unborn—as a living entity. Addressing his Creator, God’s servant David wrote: “You kept me screened off in the belly of my mother. I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made . . . Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing.”—Psalm 139:13, 14, 16.