Despite the difficulties we may have considering what it means to have a body, the Bible has much to teach us about our physical nature in God’s creation. Using the framework of creation, fall, redemption, and re-creation, let us consider what it teaches about our nature as embodied creatures.
We live at an exciting time in human history, when our medical interventions and technological innovations can do amazing, even seemingly miraculous, things. Yet, amidst all of this there is also a growing discontent with these marvels of our medically and technologically sophisticated age (or what we’ve shorthanded as the MedTech age).
“Disability” is a word tossed about easily in our world. Yet the sheer spectrum of disabilities makes the term ambiguous and even artificial. It is helpful to conceive of disability as a term that points to a limitation due to an involuntary bodily impairment, social role expectation, or external physical/social obstruction impacting participation in communal life. Beyond this definition, the church is faced with a deeper challenge to define disability while wrestling with various theological implications of over-simplifying the term.
What comes to mind at the mention of the word ethics? The most common answers we, the authors, receive to this question involve some aspect of right versus wrong or good versus evil. More religiously minded people will sometimes respond with references to the Ten Commandments or other moral codes derived from sacred texts. While such responses are not necessarily wrong, we believe ethics is much more than abiding by a list of rules in order to choose right over wrong or good over evil. We believe ethics is an expression of worship to the God who created us.
At bioethics.com, I curate and post articles from the media that deal with bioethics issues. A typical post at bioethics.com is a title, link, and short blurb from an article in the mainstream media, such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, or the Associated Press. Over the past year, one bioethics.com post received more views in a single day than any other post, and it won by a large margin: “The Twitching Generation” by Helen Lewis at The Atlantic (See post here). I posted “The Twitching Generation” on Monday February 28, 2022. On Saturday alone it received 2,512 views, and as of April 2022, it had 5,338 views. Those numbers are just for the bioethics.com post which serves as a thoroughfare to the actual article. The topic is apparently of interest to our bioethics readers, so let’s look at what we can learn from Helen Lewis’s article about teens and technology.
With his book, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians, Gilbert Meilaender has given to the church a great gift. As a pastor of a church within an evangelical denomination who gets to walk beside members of my congregation as they wrestle with the ever-changing issues pertaining to real life bioethical questions, I am grateful to have access to a book like Meilaender’s.
Ministry leaders who foster vital congregational community can constructively address the adverse trends in the growing national crisis regarding the upturn in mental illness. In the previous piece on ministry along the mental health continuum, the charge to ministry leaders was to be part of the solution: faith communities serve a stabilizing function that increase disease resistance by reversing isolation. Here, that challenge will be expanded. Ministry leaders can indeed be part of a larger social movement that promotes mental health and fulfills our Gospel calling. Awareness of trends in mental health care can assist clergy to customize and deepen the support offered to struggling parishioners.
Is the clamor regarding an uptick in untreated mental health cases an absurd prophecy or another conspiracy theory? The data would suggest otherwise. There is reputable evidence that increasing numbers of people are inwardly perturbed and exhibit symptoms such as sleep disturbance, suicidal ideation, and addictive behaviors. The COVID-19 pandemic itself brought evidence-based epidemiology -the data driven study of patterns in health and disease- into the public spotlight.
Although RT no longer garners many headlines, this does not mean that it is free of controversial ethical issues, many of which challenge religious beliefs regarding marriage, family, and more broadly what it means to be human. Consequently, it is incumbent upon Christians to evaluate RT in light of their most deeply held theological and moral convictions, especially those considering using RT and those providing pastoral care and guidance in the discernment process.