- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: September 27 2019 September 27 2019
Many of us, if not all of us, have been the recipients and benefactors of amazing advances in modern medicine and technology over the years that have helped treat and correct various disease, injuries and prolong life. As Christians, we acknowledge that modern medicine and bio-technology is a gift from God. Used properly, these advances in medicine can be a blessing from God.
But where does biomedical technology cross the line and become an idol where mankind plays God using biotechnologies for self-serving purpose that are not God-pleasing? As technology rapidly advances, Christians today are faced with the challenge of discerning the proper and improper use of stem cell, cloning, genetic and reproductive technologies.
For instance, the advances in reproductive technology give couples and even individuals numerous ways to approach procreation or “assisted reproduction” (in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, etc.). But are these assisted reproductive technologies always God-pleasing?
What about genetic engineering or gene therapy? The process of genetic manipulation or gene-editing known as “CRISPR” has been used by agriculture to develop genetically modified crops and livestock with the goal of eliminating diseases and enhancing production. Last year, a Chinese researcher edited the DNA of human embryos and then implanted them into a woman who gave birth the first genetically-engineered twin girls. While this prompted an immediate outcry in the medical science community, some scientists have long hoped that CRISPR could be used to cure many diseases in humans. Four clinical trials are currently underway here in U.S. Are these trials ethical? Is there an echo here of the very first temptation to “be like God?”
What if you could use gene therapy to select the child of your choice with specific eye and hair color, IQ, athletic ability, etc.? Are “designer children” part of God's will? Where does our desire to direct and control our lives and chose the course of our “life plan” get in the way of our belonging to God and His plan for our life?
Biomedical technologies such as respirators, feeding tubes, kidney dialysis and pain-control therapies have long been used to sustain life. There are, however, limits to our attempt to relieve suffering and pain. Medicine and technology of any sort should never be used to destroy life. Colorado is now one of eight states in where physician assisted suicide is legal under the guise of “dying with dignity.” As our culture continues to devalue human life and the human body as God's gift, issues regarding gender identity, beginning- and end-of-life are increasing. How do we as Christians live, think through, respond to these issues, and make choices that are God-pleasing?
It is our great privilege to have Dr. Robert Weise, professor emeritus of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, with us October 4–5 to discuss the many issues surrounding biomedical technology. On Friday evening, Dr. Weise will give an overview of the many challenges facing us in the world of biomedical technology. On Saturday, Dr. Weise will go into more depth on particular topics and discuss what it means to be human according to God's Word in this topsy-turvy world of biotechnology. Saturday’s sessions include “Man and Woman in a Gender-Neutral Culture,” “Procreation to Reproduction: Marriage and Pregnancy Redefined,” “Dying Well in Jesus' Name: End of Life Issues,” and “Cloning Around: Stem Cell Research.”
I hope you can join us October 4 and 5 for “Human Life and Biomedical Technology: God's Gift of Playing God?”
God's Peace in Christ,
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.