Monday, January 31, 2022

Easy Salmon Patties

Salmon patties are an old-fashioned, Southern food. These salmon patties are flavorful and super easy to make. They're also a great source of omega-3's. Add cornbread and beans for a complete meal.





10 minutes prep time
8 minutes cook time
Makes about 6 servings

1 (14.75 oz) can of cooked salmon
1 egg
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Pinch of salt

Drain the liquid from the salmon and place meat in a mixing bowl. Remove vertebrae and skin, if desired. You can leave these in and eat them, but I prefer not to. Flake the salmon with a fork. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until fully blended. You can also add a little chopped onion, if you want. Form into thin patties, about 3/8 inch thick and 3-4 inches in diameter. Add an extra tablespoon of mayo, if needed to form patties that will stick together.

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin layer of olive oil or canola oil and preheat on medium high heat until a drop of water will sizzle in it. This can be an iron skillet (recommended) or any skillet that can be preheated while empty. Bonus points if it has a lid. I have a large anodized aluminum non-stick pan that works great for this. Do NOT use teflon-type non-stick pans. They are unsafe to preheat or use with higher heat.

Place the salmon patties gently in the pan, laying them away from you so that any splashing of the oil will not splash toward you. Cover with a lid. Fry for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom side is golden brown, and turn over. Fry an addition 3-4 minutes on the second side, until browned. Drain on a warmed plate covered in dry paper towels.

Serve the salmon patties with buttered cornbread and your choice of beans (pinto, great northern, navy, red, etc). Garnish with a little mayo, if desired. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Playing God with Human Reproduction: The Immorality of IVF Technologies

Humans are sacred. The creation of humans is sacred. Children are designed to be formed from the act of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. When you take the conception of the child outside the marital union and involve third parties (doctors, technicians, etc), you are separating things that God designed and intended to be kept together - sex, marriage, and children. Creating a child in a lab is as much a deviation from God's plan as creating that child through fornication or rape. The child, of course, is just as valuable, regardless of the circumstances of their conception. But we should recognize that an injustice has been done to the child in these cases. 

Every child is made in the image of God and has natural rights. But we violate the natural law when we take conception outside the marital sexual union. It is unfair to children, it treats them as property, and it misuses the sexual design God gave us.

Killing Children

The most serious and obvious problem with in-vitro fertilization is that it commonly results in the intentional killing of human children. We see a lot of dehumanization of embryos created through IVF. They only get implanted if they're judged to be healthy enough. Clinics discard embryos that have genetic defects or "extra" embryos. If too many embryos implant, the babies are "reduced" (i.e. some are killed). These are human children we are talking about, and it is common practice to create more than can be implanted or carried and kill the rest. It's not okay to kill a few babies to get one to hold.

The IVF process also provides opportunity for eugenics and further dehumanization of children. If you want a boy, they can discard the girls for you, or vice versa. "Extra" embryos are commonly frozen for later use (notice the wording - they are there to be used), which increases their risk of damage or death. So we are placing human children in dangerous situations for the convenience of adults, so they can be used as their parents see fit.

Freezing embryos is a risky process. Not only can the freezing itself cause damage or death to a human child in this way, but there's no guarantee that the parents will be able to gestate the child later or that they will choose to, even if they can. People most often freeze embryos in case their current IVF cycle fails, but it if doesn't fail, they may or may not ever implant those frozen embryos. There are currently nearly a million frozen embryos in storage. The vast majority will likely never be given a chance to develop and be born. Many are donated to science, to be experimented on as if they were not living human beings. Others are discarded directly. Some are "donated" like unwanted clothes or trinkets at a thrift shop. At least they get to live. But what are we doing to their psyche when they find out their own parents gave them away?

Eugenics

There has also been talk of genetic tampering with embryos to fix genetic defects or imperfections. This is currently something science is capable of. This is not decades down the road. We can do this now, with technology available today. In the very near future we may have designer babies that have been genetically modified to the parents' specifications. You may be able to pick your child's height, eye and hair color, athletic ability, intelligence, and so on. It will certainly be possible to eliminate children with genetic conditions like Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Celiac disease, Autism or even just nearsightedness or hearing impairment. After all, if children are products designed to fulfill the desires of adults, the customer should be happy with their purchase, right? Nobody wants to spend all that money and get a broken child. This is the mentality that IVF leads to, and we are already seeing it today.

We have to remember that children are people, not a collection of traits designed to make their parents feel good. Treating them as products to be manufactured to specification or discarded when they are not wanted is dehumanizing. It's not a coincidence that people tend to dehumanize human children when they play God in creating them. None of this is possible without IVF first being accepted and normalized. 

Destroying the Family

IVF also allows for any number of further deviations from God's design for families. The biological parents need not be the parents who intend to raise the child, for example. The biological parents may not have even met one another, much less had love or a marriage covenant. With sperm or egg donation, the child is being deprived of their biological heritage on purpose. Homosexual couples use IVF in order to create custom children since their unions are naturally infertile. Surrogacy depends on IVF. 

Sperm and egg donation is immoral. Children have a right to know their biological parents. It actively harms children when we deprive them of their biological heritage. They need to know such things as whether diabetes or heart disease or cancer runs in the family because that's important to their own health care. They need to know whether the person they're dating might be a lost sibling with the same donor father or mother. But more than that, they need to know where they came from and who their parents are. They deserve to be loved by the people who gave them their nose and eyes and whose smile they bear. They need to hear how they look like their grandma or how they have daddy's chin when they are growing up. This gives children a vital understanding of who they are that is missing when their biological parents have been stripped from them. Many adopted and donor-conceived children feel this loss as an ache inside them to know where they came from and who their biological parents are. It is a tragedy when a child loses their parents to accident or disease or abandonment. Why would we impose that tragedy on them on purpose? We don't have that right. 

Surrogacy 

Let's talk a little bit more about surrogacy as well. Surrogacy compounds the dehumanization of the child by also treating women as mere incubators for growing a child. It is bad for both women and children. Gestation is not just a biological process. It is highly emotional and spiritual as well. The bond between mother and child that develops during gestation is completely ignored in surrogacy. At birth, a baby already knows the mother's voice and heartbeat and needs her specifically. I have seen this for myself at the births of my own children who knew and were soothed by the sound of my voice, above the voices of others in the room, when they were mere minutes old. They knew me. They wanted me. No one else would do. Studies have shown that babies learn in the womb. There's a sacred bond between mother and child that develops during gestation. Yet with surrogacy, the child is taken from the only mother she knows at birth. This is highly traumatic for an infant. It has been termed "the primal wound." We should not be intentionally causing trauma to babies so that adults can obtain a child on demand.

There is also a very serious problem that no one wants to talk about when we give children to people who are not their natural parents. There's a certain connection and investment that happens with natural parents that tends to help prevent child abuse. While it is certainly possible for natural parents to abuse their children, it is actually fairly rare. Most abused children are abused by boyfriends or girlfriends of their parents, step-parents, more distant relatives, or unrelated caretakers, not their natural parents. In fact, the mere fact of biological relatedness is not necessarily protective if the child was not created in the natural way and raised by those biological parents. This is a major reason that we carefully screen foster parents and adoptive parents (or at least try to) to be sure they are capable of caring for the child properly and will not be abusive. We don't generally just hand children to strangers without any sort of vetting process. One major exception to this is with surrogacy.

As it stands now, almost anyone can buy a child through surrogacy, with no one checking to be sure they aren't neglecting or abusing that child. There have been a number of cases in recent years where children were being harmed after being obtained through surrogacy. In one notable case, a mentally handicapped man who was not married and was already caring for elderly parents alone had obtained several infants within a short period of time through surrogacy and could not care for them adequately, but little was done since he was their biological father. In another case, a disabled child who had been obtained via surrogate was being denied life-saving medical care by the biological parents who did not want to raise the child while the surrogate who carried him wanted him and was being denied the chance to save his life. There have been multiple cases of biological parents demanding that surrogates abort a disabled child before birth or abandoning them once they are born. Again, we see dehumanization because they're treating the child as a product to be manufactured to specification and they want a product that is not defective. It is also common practice to hand children over to homosexual couples or single parents through surrogacy and thus intentionally deprive them of a home with a mother and father.

There is also the problem of the rights of surrogates being trampled. Many are poor women in countries like India who carry a child for money. This womb-for-hire commerce has some serious problems. If a natural mother plans to give up her infant for adoption, she has every right to change her mind after the birth. Women often change their mind when their child is born because there is a strong emotional bonding that takes place during childbirth. Yet a surrogate is usually not given this option. She can be strongly bonded to the child, yet the child will be taken from her to be given to people she often does not know and cannot be sure will care for the child properly. In several cases, surrogates have been pressured to abort a child for developmental problems and refused and then are required to hand that child over to the same parents who wanted that child dead. In some cases, the intended parents refuse the child due to developmental problems and leave an impoverished surrogate with a child she can't afford to raise, but yet she hates to give up to a foster system. If a surrogate accidentally becomes pregnant with her own child during the surrogacy process, this may not be realized or, if it is, she may be forced to hand her own biological child over to the commissioning parents until the legal issues are worked out.

Clinic Mistakes

There are so many serious problems with surrogacy and other uses of IVF technology. Even when a married couple intends to produce and gestate their own biological child and they don't kill extra embryos, mistakes can occur and the wrong egg or sperm can be used. What do you do when your wife is carrying another man's child because of a mistake like this? You don't have this problem with the natural delivery method.

Health Problems

There is also the issue of health concerns for children. Babies produced by IVF also have a higher rate of embryo death and a higher rate of birth defects or other health problems. More than half of IVF cycles fail. So they're creating and implanting babies that we don't know can be carried successfully. They may be implanting those babies in a womb that cannot care for them. Of course, babies can also die from natural causes when IVF is not used. Some couples have repeated miscarriages, for example. But that's not something we humans are causing. It's a natural outcome. When we take it on ourselves to control the process of conception and implantation, we also own the outcomes in ways that don't apply to natural processes.

Financial Concerns

In addition to the above concerns, there is the issue of money. Not only is IVF extremely expensive (and therefore difficult to justify given the number of existing children who need homes), but that money is given to doctors and reproductive clinics who are discarding embryos, sending them to be experimented on, or freezing them until some future date that may never come. Even if a couple does not discard their extra embryos and does not freeze their children for a later date, they're still funding an entity that does. The money they pay for their "ethical" IVF is keeping the doors open for clinics that mistreat other embryos.

The Root of the Problem

The problems of IVF go beyond these more obvious issues into the depths of what sex and procreation mean. I don't think God ever intended for us to separate the creation of children from the marital act and involve third parties like doctors and technicians. I understand that it is a natural and good desire to want your own biological children, but good desires cannot be rightfully fulfilled outside God's rightful means. It's a good desire to want sex, but we have to fulfill that good desire only in marriage because that is the proper way. It is the same with bearing children. We have to stick to God's way. The tragedy of infertility does not justify taking matters into our own hands or inflicting harm on children. Children are a gift from God, not an entitlement. 

Sex and Reproduction are Sacred

Sex, marriage, and childbearing are all an interconnected web by God's design. They are sacred because they mean something more than just the sheer biological facts. Sex isn't just a pleasurable rubbing together of body parts as our society claims. It has meaning. A sacred meaning. Similarly, the creation of a new life is not just a matter of two cells merging to start a new life. It has sacred meaning. We tamper with that at our peril.

Part of the sacredness of procreation is the mystery and symbolism that God gave us in sex itself and how it is meant to bring husband and wife together to become one flesh and through that union to create new life. The union of husband and wife symbolizes Christ and the church, as we know, but I think we often fail to understand how deep the imagery goes. During the marital act, the husband gives, emptying himself into the wife, and she takes what is given and gives back the fruit nine months later. Similarly, Christ emptied Himself, pouring out His life on the cross. We, the church, take what is given, and bear fruit - not only in our own lives, but in others we bring to Christ. Our biology means something much deeper than we realize. Christ creates new life that will last forever by unity with us just as we create new lives that will last forever through our marital unity.

When we create children in a petri dish, without sex and that union between husband and wife, we are destroying the pattern God gave us which points to Him. We are taking that which is sacred and treating it as if we could re-design and re-purpose it for our own ends, in violation of the Creator. We are treating the physical as the only reality, and ignoring what it means.

The Tragic Results of Violating God's Plan

It's no surprise that when start playing God with our reproduction, lots of evil results. That's why we have hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos - human children - stored in freezers around the country with little hope of ever having a life. That's why we have embryos discarded as "extras" with no regard for their intrinsic value as human beings who bear the image of God. That's why doctors can so casually suggest a "reduction" if too many embryos implant. That's why it's such a mess when doctors inadvertently use the wrong sperm or mix donor eggs with donor sperm and create a child with biological parents who have never even met and who will not be raising the child together. That's why we have children born from donor sperm who will always wrestle with the heart-rending question of "Why did daddy not want to know me?" That's why we have people commissioning a child through surrogacy who think nothing of aborting or abandoning their biological child when he's "defective."

Ignoring the sacredness of reproduction means denying the sacredness of our humanity and treating the physical as all there is. When we deny that we are more than physical beings and think we can manipulate human creation to our own ends, we deny the intrinsic value of ourselves and our children. This leads to many abuses, but most commonly the children are the ones most harmed. Keeping the God-given connections between sex, marriage, and children means valuing humans as made in the image of God and therefore designed to be created according to God's plan. The mentality of IVF is that humans are not sacred, but only flesh that can be manipulated and repurposed as we desire.

These many serious problems I have outlined arise, not as occasional, unrelated bugs in the process, but as intrinsic features because of the wrong worldview. There are systemic problems with IVF technologies because the underlying worldview is false. The fruit of IVF is rotten because the tree is rotten.