by William Cutrer, MD, and Sandra Glahn, ThM
Today the number of news stories focusing on bio-ethical topics has skyrocketed. We hear about cloning, test tube babies, stem cell research, euthanasia, the Human Genome project, and even biotech stocks on the NASDAQ; and people want to know more about the hows and the whys. In this column we will explore from a Christian worldview the ethics associated with these complex medical and ethical concepts. Our goal here is not to tell readers how to think because godly men and women sometimes arrive at different conclusions. Rather, our hope is to stimulate deep thinking and appropriate action. Having experience in both the theological/ethical and medical elements of the discussion, we have sought to present a balanced, non-alarmist perspective.
In each column we’ll look at dilemmas created by bleeding-edge developments in science and technology with a view to applying some biblically based morality. And we’ll explore how biotech stuff affects you, giving you the chance to ask questions so we can address what you want to know.
Does the birth control pill cause abortion?
What do you do when you find yourself at the bedside of a terminally ill patient? What if he or she asks for your help to end the struggle? If you agree, does it make a difference if your involvement is voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary? That is, would you help facilitate the withdrawal of treatment or would you go so far as to encourage physician-assisted suicide?
Your friend finds out she’s pregnant after rape or incest and asks your advice. Or her doctor tells her that the baby has an abnormality. What will you do?
Are more people today infertile than in the past? Can Christian infertility patients work with in vitro clinics? If you respect life at the one-cell stage, what procedures can you use?
What about cloning? Can it be done, should it be done? Are there lines of experimentation that Christians can support?
In the process of exploring these issues, we’ll seek to demonstrate a Christian consensus in many key areas and learn to extend grace to others in cloudier issues. Ultimately, we will depend on God’s wisdom to guide us:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to everyone liberally” (James 1:5).
Although we will explore issues not specifically addressed in the Bible, we’ll frame our opinions through a scriptural grid. It’s the only way to walk the path of making informed, biblically based decisions at the edge of ethics in places where our generation is the first to go.