Future Resurrection and the Right to Die: Using Strong Theology in Response to Shifting Societal Values

Joel Pacyna, MA, MA (Bioethics)

Efforts to legalize physician aid-in-dying (PAD) are slowly gaining traction in state legislatures.[1] This traction is due, in large part, to the increasingly broad appeal of mantras like “compassion and choices” and the “right to die.” This rhetoric is frustrating, to say the least. “Compassion” and “rights” are meaningful Christian virtues that have been misused by proponents of PAD to legitimize something the church has historically rejected as immoral.[2]

However, if Christian leaders articulate only frustration at the manipulative rhetoric of proponents of PAD, is that sufficient pastoral engagement of the issue? Will it equip believers to see through the rhetorical appeals to “values” and “virtues” in arguments for PAD? In times of vulnerability, will our church members share our pastoral distaste for rhetorical impropriety, and will that distaste effectively disarm the rhetorical appeal of “compassion” in the face of terminal illness?

Taking & Keeping vs. Receiving & Giving: A Kingdom Framework

Susan M. Haack, MD, MA, MDiv, FACOG

In 2013, Google announced the launch of a new company, Calico, “whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan . . . us[ing] that knowledge to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.”[1] In the words of Business Insider: “Google Is Launching A Company That Hopes To Cure Death.”[2] While on the surface this may appear to be a laudable goal, it is illustrative of the attitude of “taking and keeping,” one that is prevalent in our world and that guides much secular bioethical thinking.

Frozen Embryos: Forgotten Humans

Scott Stiegemeyer, MDiv, MA

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.[1] 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. I would argue not only is it morally permissible to adopt an embryo; it is praiseworthy. We should condemn the process that results in this conundrum, but that does nothing to help the human beings that already exist.

Educating the Church at the Edges of Life

Scott B. Rae, PhD

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.[1]