It is natural and God-pleasing for husbands and wives to desire to have children. But we cannot pursue having children simply by any means. Even good desires can become idolatrous if we desire them for the wrong reasons or pursue them in the wrong ways. In vitro fertilization (IVF), for example, is a procedure that presents ethical challenges because it ordinarily produces more embryos than is safe for a woman to bear. The unused embryos are then often cryogenically preserved. The estimated number of frozen embryos in the United States in 2013 was approximately 800,000. These people exist and their lives are in grave danger. Not all of them are available for adoption, but hundreds, if not thousands, might be.
In 2015, while serving as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), I took the opportunity in the annual presidential address to raise what I think are some of the most pressing issues facing the church today in medicine, particularly at the edges of life. What follows are thoughts adapted from my presentation.
In my experience, churches are undereducated when it comes to ethical issues raised by advances in medicine and technology, a neglect that is critical because these issues are not just academic ones but touch people’s lives in very tangible and deep ways.
People sometimes remark that churches are not very good at teaching and counseling their members concerning difficult bioethical issues. It is worth pondering why many faithful churches seem to fall short in this important area. Undoubtedly a variety of causes, rather than a single one, are to blame. These bioethical issues truly are challenging, some of them involve private and intimate matters, and many of them evoke memories of painful experiences—all of these factors can make churches hesitant to invest significant time in training their flocks to deal well with bioethical decisions.
Culture is so easily influenced by the entertainment industry. This is why I am sounding an alarm about a very dangerous message in a film released earlier this summer. It’s simply titled Me Before You.
I went to see Me Before You the first week it was out. I was curious because the story is about a young man named Will who became paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. The filmmakers did a great job of conveying his emotional struggles in facing a life without use of his hands or legs. As you might expect, Will falls into suicidal despair. That is, until his mother hires Louisa, an upbeat young woman who sees it as her job to cheer him up. In time, they fall in love.
Posts of this forum are reviewed by CBHD staff and an editorial committee, however, the views expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily endorsed by The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity or Trinity International University.