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]

Better than the Rules? Developing Virtue as a Guide for Making Bioethical Decisions

David VanDrunen, JD, PhD

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.

But I would like to focus upon another factor: the rule-focused approach to ethics dominant in many churches often does not seem particularly helpful when wrestling with the biggest questions in contemporary bioethics.