There is a cluster of highly dangerous changes for our society currently being pushed through Parliament: euthanasia, unlimited abortion, and the legalisation of recreational marijuana.
These initiatives will affect us all, and all generations to come. These matters are life and death issues. They transcend mere party politics. It is time the New Zealand public (including the Christian public) arouse themselves from their sleepiness and apathy.
The recent majority (69/51) vote by MPs to legalise euthanasia in New Zealand, subject to a referendum at the next election, is very disappointing. It appears that many MPs (along with much of the media and the general public) simply do not understand the extremely serious implications of legalising euthanasia in this country. For doctors and nurse practitioners to be authorised to actively end patients’ lives, even on request, is to cross a critical threshold. Euthanasia is an entirely different thing than ceasing treatment or turning off an artificial life-support machine when there is zero chance of survival. MPs have no moral right to legislate to allow anyone to kill.
The task of doctors has always been to help heal their patients, not to dispatch them. The inevitable outcomes of allowing “assisted dying” include a lessened societal respect for life, growing pressures to opt for death, and the undermining of doctor-patient trust, of palliative care, and of hospices. All this was very ably pointed out, in the outstanding speeches of some MPs.
The euthanasia debate is not over yet. In 11 months (or less) there will be a Referendum. Given widespread public misunderstanding, excellent anti-euthanasia information will be needed to be vigorously disseminated.
The very liberal abortion bill presently before Parliament is even more unethical. In the so-called Abortion Law Reform Bill none of those unborn babies whose killing is to be freely allowed are recognised as human, none are recognised as having any human rights, and none will be given any choice at all. How liberal and compassionate is that? Again, over 90% of public submissions are opposed to the Bill. But many MPs do not appear to be listening, and the select committee process is shamefully selective.
On a happier note, six of us Kiwis have just come back from the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance, in Indonesia. New Zealand Christian Network is one of national evangelical alliances in 130 countries all over the world, and 92 of those were represented at the Assembly. It was an inspiring time, and great to become better connected to that global community. We met delegates from some very hard places. We all came back determined to see NZCN flourish and grow, and to work for an increasingly effective and united Gospel witness in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Please spread the word
Do you believe the church in New Zealand needs to be built up, to work together better, and to have greater influence? Do you believe the Christian community needs to speak better into society, with both grace and truth? Do you believe we all need to guard and nurture the spiritual unity we have in Jesus?
If so, please help us get the NEW ZEALAND CHRISTIAN NETWORK to be better known. Help us get many more Christian people and churches connected with us, receiving our newsletter, following on FB, using the website, making contact, partnering with us.
The NZCN exists to gather (to help bring evangelical/charismatic/Pentecostal NZ Christians together in closer fellowship and a common Gospel cause), to build (to help resource, strengthen and build up the church in New Zealand and increase its constructive influence on society), and to speak (to speak into both church and society, with grace and truth).
Four issues currently facing the government and the citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand are outlined below.
We appreciate you doing whatever you can to strengthen NZCN’s connections with your church, friends and family.
Dr Stuart Lange (interim National Director)
Major issues we need to be informed about, to pray about, and to talk to our MP about
The critical second reading of this Bill, which would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand, is likely to take place very soon, possibly on June 20.
1. The End of Life Choice Bill
An overwhelming 91.8% of the submissions to the Justice Committee were opposed to the Bill (and 93.5% of submissions from medical personnel), the report of the Justice Committee identified major problems with the Bill, but there remains a risk that a majority of MPs may vote for the Bill.
Please be praying, and please seriously consider clearly (but courteously) communicating your concerns to your MP – and the same applies to the issues which follow.
2. Proposed abortion ‘reform
The Law Commission has considered proposals for changing the law around abortion, to reduce the stigma of abortion, to increase the freedom of women to make their own decisions, and to increase the accessibility of abortion. It is proposed to take abortion out of the Crimes Act, and that performing an abortion be regarded as simply a health procedure. The inclusion of abortion within the Crimes Act recognises that abortion involves bringing about the death of human foetus. Making abortion merely a health procedure implies that unborn babies are merely organic material, with no human rights.
At present, performing an abortion is illegal unless it falls within certain exceptions: abortion is legally permissible up to 20 weeks’ gestation if authorised by two certifying consultants, if there is (a) ‘serious danger to the life, or physical or mental health’ of the mother (including pregnancy as a result of sexual violation), or (b) serious foetal abnormality, or (c) if the pregnancy results from incest, or (d) the mother is ‘severely subnormal’ (has significant mental, physical or intellectual impairment). After 20 weeks’ gestation, abortion must be necessary to save the life of the woman or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.
All three proposed models involve further liberalisation of New Zealand’s abortion law, and would remove the requirement for two certifying consultants. Model A would make abortion available to any woman (in consultation with her doctor) for any reason, at any stage of pregnancy. Model B would make abortion available to any woman, subject to a statutory test: ‘If the health practitioner who intends to perform the abortion reasonably agrees the abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances, having regard to the woman’s physical and mental health and wellbeing’. Model C would apply Model A (abortion for any reason, at any stage, with no statutory test) to pregnancies up to 22 weeks’ gestation, and would apply Model B (statutory test and decision made by the doctor who intends to perform the abortion) to pregnancies after 22 weeks’ gestation.
None of the three proposals appear to demonstrate regard for the rights of unborn children. Surely a just and humane society, along with being concerned for the health and wellbeing of women, should be eager to protect those who are among its most vulnerable children, the unborn. All abortion ends a life, for whatever reason, but late-term abortion is especially abhorrent. Abortion can also often involve long-term consequences for the mothers. If abortion is to become a normal health procedure, there are also questions around whether doctors and nurses would be free on conscientious grounds to decline to participate in abortions. Does New Zealand really want or need these changes?
3. Proposals for ‘hate speech’ legislation
This is an issue full of complications and dangers.
While it is already a crime to incite hatred and violence against anyone (and rightly so), and there is no place for the sort of hatred which lies behind racism and terrorism, it could become a significant threat to freedoms of religion and of speech if ‘hate speech’ became defined or interpreted as expressing religious or moral views which some groups might complain are offensive and ‘hateful’ and thus a criminal offence.
Could it one day become illegal, for example, to publicly proclaim that Christ is the way, the truth and the life (something which may offend some atheists or members of another faith), or to admit the belief that God intended marriage as a union of one man and one woman? Could expressing such views lead to dismissal from one’s job or profession? Would it be illegal to quote certain parts of the Bible? Would such laws be applied equally: would atheists and members of minority faiths be equally at risk of breaking the law, or would Christians be subject to particular restrictions?
The recent dismissal in Australia of rugby star Israel Folau indicates how freedoms of religion and expression (whatever we may think about how wisely those rights were exercised) are now under threat in the public sphere.
4. The legalisation of marijuana
Making marijuana legal and freely available would have major negative effects on New Zealand society, not least in terms of health, mental health, road safety, and the safety of the workplace.
Why would we even consider this move? Have we not learned from the huge costs to society tobacco use and alcohol abuse? Do we really need another such harmful industry, peddling its products and enjoying the profits while downplaying the very significant social and health costs?