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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Male and female He created them – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity – Päivi Räsänen

Rev. Pohjola, Mrs. Päivi Räsänen, and family
Photo credit: Thomas M. Winger

The Luther Foundation Finland (Suomen Luther-säätiö), the legal entity behind the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, is being investigated for incitement against a protected group.,,

The author of the pamphlet, Member of Parliament and former Minister of the Interior Mrs Päivi Räsänen, is also being investigated for incitement, a crime punishable by a fine or up to two years of imprisonment. Dr. (MD) Räsänen is well known in the country for promoting Christian ethical stances on marriage and the beginning and the end of life, for instance. The pamphlet in question addresses the issue of sexuality and marriage in its biblical and societal context.

This beautiful pamphlet has been translated into English and is available in HTML and PDF here.


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Christian Culture: Jesus Wept Twice


The first time Jesus wept, it was over the death of his friend, Lazarus. They showed Him the place where he lay. Jesus wept. It was an exhibition of His true humanity—raw emotion at the wrongful intrusion of death into human life. 

The second time Jesus wept also exhibited His humanity. He wept over the city of Jerusalem—a piece of real estate, a political subdivision. This time, instead of weeping silently, He wept out loud. It was a raw display at the wrongful intrusion of war, fire, slaughter and wholesale destruction that soon would come upon the city.

“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace.” The city of peace refused to receive her Creator, the King of Peace. The temporal consequences of such rebellion are dire. “We have deserved both temporal and eternal punishments.” So Jesus addresses her as a person—as an entity of His own creation—because she is.

Continue reading at: Christian Culture, Spring 2021



Saturday, June 5, 2021

CrossTalk: God is about to act.


About 615 years before Jesus was crucified and had risen from the dead, God appeared to the prophet Ezekiel in a vision. Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon (modern day Iraq)—along with his fellow Israelites. Nevertheless, God gave him an amazing word to proclaim: “Say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name’” (Ezekiel 36:22).

In hindsight, history records that God miraculously rescued the people of Israel from their captivity to the Babylonians only 70 years later. History also records that 615 years later God sent His only-begotten Son to rescue the entire world from its captivity to sin, death, and the devil. But nobody knew that history as Ezekiel was delivering God’s words. They only had the promise: “I am about to act.”

We, too, have God’s promise that “I am about to act.” The Lord of the Church, the crucified and ascended Jesus, is biding His time. He’s waiting for the appointed moment. We have no idea when. We only know that, “He will come again with glory, to judge both the living and the dead.”

Even before Judgment Day, he could act at any time to redress the evils of our day. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there” (Psalm 37:7-10).

As we slog our way from day to day, we need to be reminded constantly of this. It is a great and terrible temptation to slip into thinking that God cares not about our struggles and has abandoned us to the evil of this world. 

St. Peter plainly warns us to avoid this mindset. “…[Y]ou should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:2-4).

Thanks be to God, his determination to act is not deterred by our sins. “Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name” (Ezekiel 36:22). It is for Christ’s sake, that God will act. He will vindicate Himself. He does not depend on your holiness or your strength. All depends on His power and His grace. 

This does not mean that we should join in the wickedness of the world. We should live our lives avoiding sin because when God acts, it will be against all wickedness, unbelief, and pride. Cling to God’s Word. Repent of your sins. Pray that you may be numbered with the faithful when He comes to judge the wicked. Like the people of Ezekiel’s day, be certain that God will vindicate His name. We don’t know when or how, but we live in the certainty that He will do it.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Christian in Vocation: Ethical Consequences of In-vitro Fertilization

Amber Easton

Current Ethical Issue

There are many ethical dilemmas surrounding the protection of human life, and this protection must be established for all stages of them.  The issue arises due to the debate over when human life begins, but this information has been well known for over 75 years.  Human life begins at conception, from the moment the sperm meets the egg.  This fact is established in the 23 Carnegie Stages written by a branch of the National Institute of Health.  These embryonic stages are reviewed and verified annually by a global committee of expert human embryologists, known as the Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology (FIPAT) (Funk, 2028), and for over 75 years these stages have remained unchanged. Therefore, the same protection that is justly given to the most maturely developed individual, should also be given to the most delicate and youngest of humans.  Artificial reproductive technologies have been the cause of a growing ethical issue regarding the protection of hundreds of thousands of the most delicate of humankind.

 In Vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a successful alternative option for families and individuals who wish to have a child of their own but are experiencing infertility issues.  IVF is a procedure that is done by taking eggs from a woman and fertilizing the egg with a sperm cell in a petri dish.  This fertilization creates an embryo which is allowed to grow and develop in the dish for about 5 days, at which time it is either implanted into the mother’s uterus where it can continue to develop and grow or it is frozen in a process called cryopreserving (Boys and Walsh, 2017). According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 there were 306,197 assistive reproductive cycles performed.  This resulted in 73,831 live births and 103,078 eggs or embryos cryopreserved for later use. It is estimated to be well over one million embryos currently frozen in the United States today (National Embryo Donation Center, n.d.). This number of frozen embryos is steadily growing with approximately one third of these being abandoned (Pflum, 2019).  This has created an ethical dilemma on what to do with the large number of abandoned embryos. 

There are several reasons for the large number of frozen embryos.  One, is that during the IVF process, the woman takes medications that cause her body to ovulate.  This stimulation of ovulation produces many eggs.  According to Staphanie Boys and Julie Walsh, the numbers  produced can range on average anywhere from 10 - 40 eggs. Due to the high cost of the medication to produce additional eggs and the uncertainty of the expensive procedures, many of the eggs are fertilized for use. This results in many embryos being left over from IVF procedures.  The parents of these embryos must then make decisions about what to do with the remaining embryos.  Their choices range from implanting them and having a larger family than first intended, keeping them cryopreserved indefinitely, adopting them to another family, donating them to research (stem cell, or training purposes), or thawing them (preventing further development and disposing of them) (Boys and Walsh, 2017).  Another option is known as “compassionate transferring” (Riggan and Allyse, 2019) this is a procedure in which the embryo is implanted into the mother’s infertile uterus or vagina which will lead to an intentional miscarriage of the embryo.

Reasons for abandonment of embryos range greatly due to family situations.   One scenario is that once a family has their desired number of children, the embryos that are not being used are frozen.  This costs patients anywhere from $500.00 and upwards to $1,200 annually to keep their embryos cryopreserved (Boys and Walsh, 2017).  Clients either choose to stop paying or can’t afford to continue to pay for the storage of their embryos leaving them abandoned. Others parents might move and neglect to forward their mailing address, so they no longer receive bills and information from the fertility clinics where their embryos are being stored.  These growing numbers of abandoned embryos leaves ethical decisions up to fertility clinics and healthcare workers.

So the ethical questions are; what to do with this high number of cryopreserved embryos? Whose decision is it to make when it comes to abandoned embryos?  What is the ethical action to take with them, and finally how to prevent these numbers from continuing to grow?

Relation to Nursing Code of Ethics Provisions 

American Nurses Association Code of Ethics provision 1 pertains greatly to this ethical dilemma.  Through showing compassion, respect and dignity to all patients from the very youngest to the oldest.  Nurses will be able to anticipate issues that may arise from certain decisions.  By having a knowledge base of what the client is dealing with, and the current situation of the great number of cryopreserved embryos, nursing staff will be able to better educate their patients on considerations for the future.  Through the expression of dignity and respect to the client, the client will feel as though they are being well cared for and will have more success in dealing with difficult decisions (American Nurses Association, 2015).

Additionally, the nursing code of ethics provision 8 also relates to this ethical concept.  It is imperative that nurses maintain universal rights of health for all (American Nurses Association, 2015).  Nurses and healthcare workers must practice by the non-malfeasance principle, which means to do no harm. By respecting the right of all humans, regardless of their developmental state, it will ensure that appropriate care is provided for all patients.  This includes the care for both the parents and the children, even if those children are immaturely developed and in an embryonic phase. It is important that nurses who are dealing with clients who are undergoing IVF consider the consequences of poorly educating patients resulting in further complications to families and the healthcare industry.

Impact on Nursing and Patient Care 

There is great debate over when human life begins, and for individuals who understand that life begins at conception this is a terrible injustice to hundreds of thousands of individuals.  This will impact many patients who have IVF after they discover that they have to make an incredibly difficult moral decision with their remaining children. These decisions will impact these families for the remainder of their lives, either by increasing their family members or by choosing other fates for their children.  The decision may cause incredible joy, guilt or sadness for the parents of these embryos.

This may also impact nurses, through the care for families who have fertility problems. This ethical impact will be greatest for nurses who deal with women's health and fertility the most.  This is because they will be most responsible for properly informing their patients about these difficult choices, and it may cause great moral conflicts for nurses who feel a responsibility for the lives of the embryos.  For those families who get to adopt children through this process of IVF surplus. Nurses and families get the great privilege of aiding in the rescue of children who might have otherwise bleak endings, as well as being able to help with the correction of this growing ethical dilemma. 

Factors that Impact this Dilemma

The main factors that impact this dilemma are the views of when human life begins. These differing views and understandings will be the deciding factor of life or death for hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos.  Another important factor is how healthcare workers educate patients on future decision making and how to prevent this issue from growing.

Possible Solutions

Some possible solutions for this issue are better education for patients prior to the IVF process.  This will help clients to be better prepared in the event that they have to make a decision regarding a surplus of embryos. Embryonic adoption needs to be part of the education and options for  patients considering this alternative reproduction. Another solution is to limit the number of embryos created for clients and make it mandatory that all embryos that are created are implanted and given the right to full development. This would elicit more thought from parents and doctors who are undergoing or performing artificial reproductive technologies. As for the hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos, a time limit should be set on how long individuals may keep them frozen, indefinitely should not be an option.  This indefinite cryopreservation of embryos only passes the responsibility of care and decisions making onto the future generation. Once the allotted time for this is up, the embryos should be placed up for adoption. 

Impact on My Future Nursing Practice 

Before studying this ethical dilemma, I believed that artificial reproductive technologies were 100%  innocent and without any ethical fault.  Now that I have studied this it has come to my attention that even through the joy of becoming a parent, this procedure can leave individuals with feelings of loss and guilt.  This will impact my future nursing practice through better understanding of the loss and moral guilt that parents may experience through IVF.  It will also impact me to become more educated on technologies that seem to be completely innocent and without any negative consequences, so that I can make sure that if I am responsible for educating on that particular technology I have the ability to fully inform my patients about that procedure.

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References

American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nursing-excellence/ethics/code-of-ethics-for-nurses/coe-view-only/

Boys, S.  and Walsh, J. (2017). The dilemma of spare embryos after IVF success: Social workers’ in helping clients consider disposition options, 18(2). 583-594. DOI:10.18060/21551 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Assisted reproductive technology (ART). https://www.cdc.gov/art/artdata/index.html#:~:text=Based%20on%20CDC's%202018%20Fertility,and%2081%2C478%20live%20born%20infants

Funk, C. (2018). Nonprofit works to fill the knowledge gap on human embryology.  https://lozierinstitute.org/nonprofit-works-to-fill-the-knowledge-gap-on-human-embryology/ 

National Embryo Donation Center. (n.d.) What we do. https://www.embryodonation.org/#:~:text=That%20surplus%20is%20estimated%20at,do%20with%20their%20remaining%20embryos

Pflum, M. (2019).  Nation’s fertility clinics struggle with a growing number of abandoned embryos.  https://www.nbcnews.com/health/features/nation-s-fertility-clinics-struggle-growing-number-abandoned-embryos-n1040806 

Riggan, K. A., Allyse, M. (2019).  ‘Compassionate transfer’: an alternative option for surplus embryo disposition.  Human Reproduction, 34(5), 791–794. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dez038 

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Amber Easton  April 10, 2021

Nursing Program, Western Wyoming Community College

Ethics Paper--Nursing 1200


Sunday, April 11, 2021

June 17-19 Lutheran Family Retreat in the Uintas

Headwaters Family Retreat

Date: 2pm June 17 through noon June 19

Place: Uinta County Youth Camp – southwest of Robertson, WY (Directions)


Theme: “Baptized for this Moment”

4 teaching sessions – aimed at all, including children

  1. What is worldview and what does it matter?
  2. Secular Humanist/Evolutionist worldview
  3. Christian worldview
  4. Where do we go from here?

Activities: hiking, fishing the camp pond, shooting (on a range with a certified range master), canoeing on Meeks Cabin Reservoir, campfire, horseshoes, playground,  basketball, volleyball, stargazing, and watching the clouds roll by...

Cost: $100.00 per family regardless of size and inclusive of lodging and food

Lodging: 12 cabins are reserved. Each contains 6 bunk beds. The cabins are rustic, toilet and shower facility are in a separate but close building. People will need to bring their own bedding – sleeping bag, pillow, blankets etc. Families will share cabins to accommodate the number of people in attendance. 

Go here to register: https://www.wylcms.org/familyretreat/


Schedule: 

Thursday 6/17

2:00pm Check in

2:30pm Welcome & Opening devotion

3:00pm Session 1 - Rev. Patrick Baldwin

4:00pm Family time

5:30pm Supper hour

6:30pm Session 2 - Rev. Kevin Rose

7:30pm Family time

9:00pm Campfire devotions

Friday 6/18

8:00am Breakfast

9:00am Matins - Rev. Jonathan Lange

10:00am Session 3 - Rev. Jim Martin

11:00am Break

11:15am Session 4 - Rev. David Bott

12:15noon Lunch hour

1:15pm Family time

5:30pm Supper hour

6:30pm Family time

9:00pm Campfire devotions

Saturday 6/19

8:00am Breakfast

9:00am Panel discussion / Closing Devotion - Rev. Mark Mumme

10:30am Check out (reservation expires at noon)

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Lutheran Laymen’s Declaration and Petition


This document, authored by Lutheran Church-Canada (LC-C) laymen from Waterloo, Ontario, requests our spiritual fathers to continue to celebrate weekly Divine Services uninterrupted during the pandemic. We believe that the weekly physical gathering of God’s people around His Word and Sacrament is crucial at all times. Our petition is chiefly supported by a series of theological statements, but we also present supporting scientific and sociopolitical statements.

This document has been sent to LC-C churches and to our Synodical leaders. Because there are sharp divisions among us regarding these issues, we hope to foster biblically-based unity within our Synod.

We ask that you prayerfully consider this document and cause it to be circulated among the laymen in your congregation. We encourage laymen to support the petition by signing their names to it at the following website (the document is also available for download at the website): www.sdnp2020.com

Your Brothers in Christ,

Paul Gyger, Bruno Korst, Topias Nieminen, Daniel Smilek, Marinus Veenman, 

Sine Dominico Non Possumus / (Advent 2020 AD) 

Read the document here.

Friday, February 26, 2021

CrossTalk: In the cross of Christ I glory


Crosses are everywhere you look. You see them not only on and in church buildings. You see them at hospitals, in cemeteries, on bumper stickers, tattoos, billboards, and jewelry. Crosses are so ubiquitous that we hardly even notice them.

But a visitor from ancient Rome would be aghast. In pre-Christian Rome, references to crucifixion were vulgarities of the highest order. The cross was not referenced in polite company. Among the most disgusting insults a foul-mouthed Roman could hurl was, “go get yourself crucified.”

Against this backdrop, St. Paul, the apostle to the gentiles and first missionary to the Roman world, must have struck his hearers as some sort of kook. He said things like, “far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). To the Corinthians he wrote, “I decided to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in the history of the world. It changed everything—absolutely everything. Unless God Himself became a man and suffered the penalty for all sins, the penalty would still remain unpaid. But God the Father did offer up His only begotten Son. The only begotten Son of God did give His life for the sins of the world. As a result, everyone who repents can truly be forgiven every sin he has ever committed. The blood of Christ does that!

Jesus’ death was the one human sacrifice that counts. But it was not just a sacrifice by any means at all. Jesus was not thrown off a cliff—although they tried (Luke 4:29-30). He was not stabbed with knives, like Julius Caesar, or poisoned like Socrates. He wasn’t even stoned to death—although they tried that, too (John 8:59). 

God Himself tells us the reason why He wasn’t stoned. “This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death Jesus would die” (John 18:32). On multiple occasions Jesus had said, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 20:18-19). 

There is something so special about this kind of death that God wanted to accomplish the single sacrifice for the sins of the world in that way and in that way only.

That is why the cross—and no other symbol—has become synonymous with Christianity from ancient times. Let us ponder that fact. Let us appreciate that God specifically chose it. Let us learn to rejoice in the cross of Christ like St. Paul and all the apostles did.

Jesus’ passion on the cross does not only refer to the pain that he endured. It also refers to the fact that it happened to him. “Passion” is derived from the word, “passive.” It is the opposite of active doing. It is passive receiving. 

From this we learn a great truth: Unless God Himself is actively working, we can accomplish nothing. Unless we are passively receiving the gifts of God, we are not being saved. That’s why St. Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In the cross of Christ I glory, 

Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time. 

All the light of sacred story 

Gathers round its head sublime.