A couple with two sets of twins asked me what they should do with their remaining frozen embryos. I don't even understand this technology. How can I counsel them?
Before his stroke, a member of our congregation said he did not want to be kept alive by machines. He is no longer responsive. Is it okay to withdraw the feeding tube?
After she had breast cancer, a member's doctor strongly recommended that the two daughters, 7 and 10 years old, have genetic tests. Is this advisable?
I feel like the church is always playing catch-up on ethical issues in medicine and science.
Church leaders frequently come to us with questions and comments like these. We are also aware that many pastors and Christians in general often don't think about these questions first and foremost as "bioethical" issues, rather just everyday dilemmas of the Christian life. As a result, many often don't know where to turn for help with dilemmas that don't fit our familiar frameworks. Church leaders want to give biblical guidance, but often are unclear how to proceed when there are few, if any, scriptural passages that directly apply to the situation. This raises even more fundamental questions about how to prepare our congregations to engage moral questions that arise with developments in medicine and technology.
We've launched Intersections to draw attention to these issues and conversations that are happening in the midst of our congregations as well as in society at large. We hope Intersections is a place to interact with the ideas of pastors and other Christian leaders on these important issues, not in the formal language of academic bioethics, but in the language of theology and Church ministry.
Our hope for this forum is that it will foster a conversation on behalf of our congregations to discuss, equip, and inspire pastors, ministry leaders, and laypeople regarding the real life issues people are experiencing and seeking Christian guidance on at the intersection of medicine, technology, and the Christian life.
Intersections is a conversation, not a megaphone for one particular viewpoint. It reflects the diversity of confessional Christianity about some of the knottiest bioethical issues of our time. Many of these issues are not obviously black-and-white, and therefore not clearly settled. (Discussions about the use of costly experimental treatments come to mind.) Intersections does not presume to settle such issues in one thousand words or less. Rather, it offers a space to have the conversation within the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy and guided by charitable regard for individual perspectives.
As an editorial team we are committed to:
Intersections is part of the Bioethics for the Church initiative of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity (CBHD). For more than twenty years CBHD has engaged in rigorous academic research and theological analysis at the nexus of medicine, technology, and human dignity. CBHD fosters a distinctly Christian conception of bioethics that is both academically rigorous and broadly accessible.
We are also committed to facilitating reflection on these issues for the church through initiatives such as the Everyday Bioethics and the Christian Biowiki websites, translating academic conversations for pastors, ministry leaders, and people in the pews.
You can read more about CBHD and our other initiatives here.
"Bioethics" is a confusing and often mystifying word. There are as many definitions as there are bioethicists. A definition should be helpful for the intended audience. For the purposes of Intersections, we can think of bioethics as "the ethical use of medicine and technology and the impact of such developments for us as individuals, as a society, and as part of a global community." For an overview of bioethics, please click here.