by Rev. David M. Virkler
The February 19, 2001 cover of Time magazine declared "Human Cloning Is Closer Than You Think the unthinkable may soon be possible. But here are the perils."
In those few phrases, this expanding and perplexing issue is distilled. While it is impossible to completely cover the issue in a few pages, we will focus on the central issues as they relate to troubling developments, prophetic insight and Christian response.
Human Reproduction There is an amazing list of concepts and accomplishments in the field of fertility and producing children. We won't debate the morality of these issues here. You can do that on your own and make your own conclusions.
* Artificial Insemination
The sperm of her husband or a donor is placed in a woman artificially. It is estimated that over 20,000 babies in our country have been conceived in this fashion.
* Sperm Bank
Men anonymously "deposit" sperm for use by married or single women. Neither the woman nor her child knows who the father is.
* Egg Donor
As with men and sperm, women donate their eggs for use by infertile women.
* In vitro Fertilization ("test tube babies")
Fertilization takes place in a laboratory and the ovum is implanted in the woman's uterus.
* Frozen Ovum
After in vitro fertilization, an ovum is frozen for later implantation. This could be called a "human on ice." Some ova are kept frozen for years before being thawed and implanted.
* Surrogate Mother
A woman becomes pregnant and carries a child for another woman or couple or even a single man. The child may or may not be her own biologically.
* Ovum Transfer
A fertilized egg is transferred from one woman to another.
* Frozen Sperm
Sperm that is frozen while a man is alive can be used by the surviving wife in order to become pregnant by him long after he is gone.
* Amniocentesis & Ultrasound
Determination can be made prior to birth of a baby's sex or a defect or abnormality. Babies are being aborted as the result of a real or imagined problem.
All this leads to tangled moral enigmas without precedent in human history. Issues including adoption rights, inheritance rights, "property" rights, custody and parental responsibility are involved. In one instance, a custody case involved a girl who arguably had six parents: the sperm donor, the egg donor, the surrogate mother and her husband, and the couple who arranged for her birth. Other cases have involved whether frozen embryos are considered "property" in divorce cases.
There are other issues to consider related to producing a human being:
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that new laboratory life forms can be patented. GE was the first to receive this. At one point several years ago, there were over 20 other companies who had patented new life forms.
Genetic engineering (also called eugenics, meaning "good genes") involves artificial alteration of the human gene pool. In the early 1900s, almost every college in America had a course called Eugenics. The courses were suspended when Adolph Hitler was doing this in his own way to create a master race. What Hitler was doing is now being reinstated in laboratories around the world.
And now we have cloning, the relatively new method of potentially replicating human beings with precise genetic duplication. Cloning is unique in that it creates a human being without the normal means of egg and sperm. It has already been done with animals.
The History of Cloning By its original definition, cloning means "cutting." An example of this is grafting, taking part of one plant and inserting it into another. Modern cloning involves removing the nucleus of an egg and replacing it with DNA from another cell, which can be any cell of the body. Or the DNA material can be placed next to the egg. An electric shock fuses them and the rebuilt egg begins to divide and develop as an exact genetic duplicate of the DNA source.
In the 1950s, scientists succeeded in making clones of frogs. In 1975, failed attempts were made at cloning rabbits.
In the late 1970s, science fiction author David Rorvik wrote a book entitled In His Image: The Cloning of a Man. The story line was that a wealthy, aging, childless millionaire wanted to have someone "in his image"a child with his exact genetic make-up. He hired out the womb of a 16-year old girl and engaged doctors to create his exact genetic duplicate. The book was mostly the laughing stock of the scientific community.
But word began to seep out that there were phone calls being made in the scientific community about the possibility of this procedure we now know as cloning. Dr. Landrum Shettles claimed that the millionaire in question requested his help with the procedure. Shettles also clamed to have produced the first human "clones," although he destroyed them before they went beyond the earliest stage of development.
Over the years, I have collected various headlines on the topics of frozen embryos, surrogate mothers, donor eggs, etc., and finally cloning. When a headline in 1981 announced "Three Cloned Mice," the scientific community declared it a major step in cloning mammals. They began to inch closer and closer to human cloning.
Headlines from 1993 read, "Intact Genetic Material Extracted From An Ancient Egyptian Mummy" and "Could Dinosaurs Return?" In theory, cloning would make it possible to recreate a body that had long been dead. The older generation says, "What?!" but the younger generation says, "What are you concerned about? We grew up with this. We saw it in Jurassic Park." In that film, dinosaurs were created from preserved genetic material. We will have a generation for whom the idea of human cloning is acceptable.
In 1993, a Time magazine cover story on human cloning asked, "The first laboratory duplication of a human embryo raises the question,
'Where do we draw the line?'" And then in March of 1996, scientists announced that they had produced a cloned sheep.
Recent debates and hearings have been held regarding whether human cloning is ethical. The most prominent proponent is a group called Rael. Their leader is Frenchman Claude Vorilohn, who claims that in December, 1973 he was visited by an alien who renamed him Rael and gave him a message for mankind. According to Rael, life on earth was created through cloning by these scientifically advanced people, who came to Earth because their ethics committee banned such experiments from being done on their planet. Now, apparently, human beings are ready to continue the process begun by the aliens in order to bring about world peace.
Rael claims that they have the DNA, the eggs, the lab, the scientists and even the surrogates. According to Time magazine (2/19/01), they expected to implant the first embryo in March, 2001. If they are not permitted to do this in the United States, they will do it in Europe or, of all places, Caesarea in Israel!
Issues to Consider We are moving closer and closer to a fascinating, disturbing potential. Consider these crucial issues in human cloning.
Is a clone considered property? Is it an object? A mass of cells? A person?
* Age and aging
There is debate over whether a clone begins aging from the day it is born or if it is the age of the donated DNA material. Scientists have found that the cells of the first sheep clone show signs of being older than their chronological age.
* The soul
Will cloning produce human beings that do not have souls? If so, would they then be susceptible to demonic spirit invasion? I frankly don't know. But we could be on the threshold of a vast new era.
* Moral issues of motive
Some people want to replace children or other loved ones who have died. Others want themselves cloned in order to obtain "spare parts"
for their diseased bodies. Cloning of animals could also be done for the purpose of transplanting organs. But eventually, everyone must die and face God and the record of their lives and whether or not they've received Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Man has a grand plan in the laboratory to try and circumvent the fact that "it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
* Family relationships and inheritance
Is a person's clone considered to be a child or a sibling? What about inheritance rights? Wait till that hits the courts in a few years!
* Pro-life implications
The latest information indicates that it could take up to 400 donated eggs and 50 surrogate mothers to get only nine or 10 viable pregnancies. And only one of those pregnancies would continue to full term. What are the moral implications regarding the other 399 if they are human beings at conception?
* Liability for degeneracy
There is great potential for handicapped or deformed clones to come to maturity. Will people sue for being given faulty genetic material?
* Homosexual reproduction
Cloning neutralizes the argument that the homosexual lifestyle is unnatural because they cannot reproduce. Lesbians could give birth with no maleone woman provides the egg and the other provides the DNA. A gay man could have his own DNA inserted into a donor egg and hire a surrogate to carry the child.
* Challenging God's established reproductive laws
Cloning defies God's plan for human reproduction and opens up the door for mixing in demons and zombies.
The Biblical Precedent In God's Word, there are four legitimate ways of producing a human being.
* From the dust
When God created Adam, He reached down using soil to create a male body. "And the Lord God formed a man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man
became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7) This was unique.
* From a human male body
God put Adam into a deep sleep, took a part of his body, and fashioned a female bodyEve. (Gen. 2:21) This was also unique.
* From a human male and female
Procreation through a sperm and egg is God's standard way. Since Cain, all human beings have been created this wayexcept for one unique Man.
* A fourth way is found in Matthew 1:23. "The virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us." The body of the Lord Jesus Christ was brought into existence without the agency of any human male. It was a divine virgin conception, and then the virgin birth. This was also unique!
Now, a new way to produce a human beingapart from God's established standardis here. With cloning, human beings can be made from a human egg and another cell's DNA. This method is also unique; it has not been done in all of human history.
Just Like Noah's Days? In Matthew 24:37 & 38, Jesus Christ made an amazing statement. "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man." What Christ was saying is that pre-Flood times will be duplicated somehow in the days prior to Christ's return; whatever was prevailing there will prevail again. Some have said, "Noah's days are nowadays." This is no longer just a catchy phrase!
Before the Flood, "There were giants on the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bore children to them." (Genesis 6:4) The word translated as "giants" is the Hebrew word "nephilim," which can also be translated "fallen ones." In Isaiah 14:12, a different form of the same word is translated "fallen" in speaking of Lucifer.
The same Hebrew word is also translated "giants" in Numbers 13:33 in speaking of the inhabitants of Canaan. One of the leftover giants from Canaan is Goliath (I Sam. 17:4), who stood about 9 ½ to 10 feet tall. One of Goliath's four sons had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (II Sam. 21:20), indicating genetic degeneracy in the family. I believe that what David faced was a demon-possessed giant of a man!
There has been debate over what the phrase "the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men" means. If you study it carefully, you find that it actually says the sons of Elohim came in unto the daughters of Adam.
There are four uses of the term "son(s) of God" in the Bible. 1) Adam is called the son of God in Luke 3:38. 2) Christ is called the Son of God in Luke 1:35. 3) Christians, because we stand with our Lord Jesus Christ, we in Him and He in us, are called the sons (children) of God in I John 3:2.
A fourth use of this phrase is applied to angelic beings. In Job 1:6, Satan came among the "sons of God" to obtain rights to persecute Job. I believe these "sons of God" are unfallen angels. In Job 38:7, the term is again used for unfallen angels.
Since "sons of God" in Genesis 6:4 is not talking about Adam, Christ, Christians or unfallen angels, my conclusion is that the verse is speaking of fallen angelsdemonic beings who were tinkering with the gene pool of the human race. The result was a race of people who were genetically degenerate and probably demon possessed. And it got so bad that God put a stop to it with the Flood.
Contemporary developments indicate a significant connection. Elizabeth-Kubler Ross, noted for her epic work On Death And Dying, got into an occult relationship with a Jay Barham, who introduced her to her spirit guides. A November, 1976 Time article reported that Barham claimed to be a psychic and conducted seances that included "sexual intercourse between participants and entities from the spirit world."
If Kubler-Ross is looking for fallen spirits, they are readily available. Rev. 5:11 indicates that there are at least one hundred million unfallen angels. If one third of the total angelic host fell, as Rev. 12:4 suggests, then fifty million fallen angels, or demons, are likely on the loose attempting interaction or influence of some sort with humans.
Ruth Montgomery, a confessed occultist who regularly consults her spirit guides, made a startling statement about walk-ins (people taken over by spirit entities from space) in her book Aliens Among Us. She claimed that "the Guides have reiterated their previous prediction that in the decade of the '90s, the American people will elect a walk-in president."
In her biography of Jeanne Dixon, Montgomery records a night vision in which a huge snake entwined Dixon in bed. Gazing into his eyes, Jeanne Dixon reportedly saw "the light of the almighty power, the wisdom of the ages."
The October 17, 1983 Time magazine featured an article on zombies, people whose minds have been blown out with chemicals. Evidently, their bodies can be buried and later dug up to become permanent automatons to their slave masters.
So now, with occultism, drugs and more recently cloning, or a combination of these, all of which may bring about bodies without souls, we may have human beings who are particularly susceptible to demon interaction. This trend may be a solemn indicator of moving toward the Tribulation with its rampant demon and human involvement. "As it was in the days of Noah"
Prophetic Implications Cloning may be the method for fulfilling mysterious prophecies related to Antichrist, who will stand in a rebuilt Jewish Temple and pose as the world's messiah. Cloning could simulate the virgin birth and the resurrection and could lead us to the person in the Tribulation who will be the world dominator. What more would you need to be an antichrist?
In I John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3 and II John 7 are found the uses of the term "antichrist." This should actually be translated antechrist. Most of us think of antichrist as being depicted "fist to fist" or "against Christ." But the term actually means one who is depicted "palm to palm" or as a duplicate. Antechrist means "in the place of Christ."
We know that Antichrist will be anti-Christ (against Christ), but he won't pose that way at first. He will pose as the world's messiahthe final good that men have hoped for throughout all of human history. If we refuse Christ in the flesh, it allows for one to come and take His place and for us to be deceived.
According to Daniel 9:27 (compare John 5:43), the Jewish people will accept someone who is a fraudan antechrist. They missed Him the first time, and they are perfectly set up now to receive this one who is not the real Christ. Someone will arrive on the scene and announce, "I was not conceived as other men. I had a miracle conception." Cloning can now bring about a simulated virgin birth.
In Rev. 13:3 & 12, Antichrist dies and rises againor so it seems. Rev. 13:3 describes a deadly wound that is healed. Antichrist will stand before the world and die and then appear to rise from the dead. How can this occur? Genetic material obtained when this man is born could be used to create a second human who is an exact duplicate of Antichrist. All that would be required to simulate a resurrection is to switch the bodies in the casket. Because the bodies are genetically identical, no one will be able to tell the difference, and the "dead" person comes back to life.
Twenty or thirty years ago, people would have declared me crazy to talk about this possibility. Now the technology is available in our laboratories. And that technology may be setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy!
Our Response In light of all this, how should Christians respond to the issue of cloning?
* Allow the Holy Spirit to restrain and give understanding. "only he who now hindereth will continue to hinder until he be taken out of the way." (II Thess. 2:7) The one who hinders is the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of believers. God will not allow this to get out of hand as long as His Church is still here. Hebrews 5:14 speaks of mature Christians "who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Through the Holy Spirit, we can discern the important distinctions between legitimate research and out-of-bounds technology.
* Pray for our children and prepare them with a solid biblical foundation. One of the saddest verses in the Bible reads, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me; seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6) But the contrast is found in Isaiah 54:13. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children."
* Express caution to, and pray for, our legislators. As of this writing, United States legislators have indicated that human cloning will not be permitted within our borders. That is not the case in other countries, nor does it prevent work from going forward in some secret laboratory somewhere. Make your thoughts known, and pray for "... all in authority (anyone in influence), that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (I Tim. 2:2)
* Witness for Christ. In their pursuit of personal fulfillment and peace, people believe that they need the fruits of cloning. What they really need is to know and serve Christ. Witnessing brings about the completion of the church. And the completed church means a raptured church. (Acts 1:6-11; 15:14-16)
The Bible presents us with the contrast between the real Christ and Antichrist. "And he (Antichrist) shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and he will think to change the times and laws." (Dan. 7:25) Careful study of this verse reveals that it really says Antichrist will think to change time and law. He will change the concept of time and the concept of law. He will not alter a few things here or there, but radically change what has been established as the law and order of God-ordained society.
But compare the eternal power of the true Christ. "And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to those who know understanding. He revealeth the deep and secret things, he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him." (Dan. 2:21 & 22)
A Final Word The newly discovered technology in cloning is both boon and burden. It reveals the incredible capacity of man to plumb the depths of human reproduction, in itself a stunning reflection of the intelligence of the Creator who planned it all. But if it is harnessed by unprincipled practitioners merely "playing God" for selfish or unprincipled ends, our technology has created an undisciplined genetic monster.
As the end times progress, we should expect formerly mysterious prophetic Scriptures to leap to unexpected fulfillment. What was technologically impossible a few years ago and was assumed to be mere figurative insights is now the reality of the latest newscast. Believers can only wonder how long it will be before Christ returns for His Bride, the completed New Testament church. The Church's departure and the consequent removal of the restraining Holy Spirit will allow man to pursue whatever he wishes.
Peter's word in II Peter 3:17 & 18 is an adequate concluding exhortation, "seeing that ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
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This commentary is based on a message presented by David Virkler using overheads and handout materials. The message is one of twenty-five prophetic themes Dave presents in churches and conferences. Dedication Evangelism was founded in 1961 for the purpose of Challenging Reapers and Harvesting Souls. This goal is accomplished through: * Special meetings and series in churches, at camps, conferences and other events * The Word and The World, a weekly radio broadcast that presents current issues and events in a biblical perspective and is heard on over 60 outlets across the country * Internet website featuring The Word and The World in Real Audio, NEWSpoint commentaries, a Gospel presentation and ministry information