November 2022: Intersections, our forum on the Christian life and our MedTech world, recently celebrated its sixth anniversary. With the launch of CBHD’s all new website, we wanted to revisit one of the original Intersections pieces as a timely reminder of the forum's purposes. The following piece was written in 2016 by then Managing Director and Research Scholar, Michael Sleasman, along with 2016 Robert D. Orr Fellow, Michael Cox. While the MedTech questions to be asked may have changed, the core question remains the same: How now shall we live? Our hope is that Intersections can remain a relevant resource for the church, bringing clarity to complex questions while remaining a faithful Christian witness.
We also recommend Dr. Sleasman’s “Bioethics Past, Present, and Future: Important Signposts in Human Dignity,” which provides a helpful introduction to bioethics.
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). Many of us sense that these developments are not wholly the good solutions and the perfect progress that they are often heralded to be.
Each of us has greater access to more information than at any point in human history, and yet we feel the pressures of information overload. In all of the white noise we struggle to discern credible and reliable voices to address significant questions. We have greater control over our reproductive capacities and futures, but with this know-how do we risk turning future generations into products of our making rather than gifts from our creator? We have extended life-spans and made significant strides in combatting a host of medical ailments, but what does it mean to die well? And, practically, how should we navigate complex end-of-life decisions for our loved ones?
These questions are part of a larger question: How now shall we live?
Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have faced their own “How now shall we live?” moments. Ours is thoroughly enmeshed in an age of advanced medicine, science, and technology. For too many of us, our existence in this MedTech age is a form of unquestioning consumption. Too often we promote and adopt all dimensions of these developments without a second thought for how a Christian worldview might offer guidance or assessment of these developments—applauding some things and critiquing others.
Intersections is a space to explore the question for our age: How shall we live now, in our MedTech age?
Here at The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity (CBHD) we talk a lot about engaging issues at the nexus of medicine, technology, and our common humanity. We propose that “intersections” evokes at least three images.
First, it communicates the touch points between these diverse areas (medicine, technology, and the Christian life) converging in our contemporary lives. We find ourselves—as individuals, as families, as churches, and as larger communities—intersecting with MedTech with increasing frequency.
Second, it evokes the image of crossroads and interconnected pathways, illustrating decision-making in the real world. As we travel along in life, we encounter crossroads and must decide which path to take among all of the exciting capabilities and opportunities to promote human well-being and flourishing. These decisions, regardless of whether we’re aware of their import, raise fundamental concerns about what it means to live a faithful Christian life in our MedTech age.
This doesn’t mean the answers are necessarily easy or simple ones. In some cases of life and death, Scripture may offer more direct guidance, but in other areas where the biblical texts are silent, it may be more of a challenge to discern how one might responsibly live out Christian faithfulness. Think, for example, of the menu of genetic testing and various technological interventions on offer. For many of these areas, the importance of cultivating Christian wisdom is clear, but it is not always obvious how to promote that in our everyday lives and in the life of our local congregations.
Intersections is a place where these various paths intersect. Here we host conversations led by and directed toward pastors, Christian leaders, and others interested in how these issues connect with the lives of everyday people in their congregations. We are convinced that the Church has something essential to contribute to such questions as, “What does it mean to be human?” and “How can we flourish in a technological age?” Yet, to be a credible voice, individual Christians and local congregations need to be more clear than ever in articulating how a Christian worldview can and should guide the paths we take.
Finally, the image of Intersections illustrates the multiple traditions of confessional Christianity coming together for charitable dialogue. Because the complexity of these issues resists simplistic solutions or trite responses, it is no surprise that genuine Christian disagreement exists. We hope to provide a forum where these various voices intersect, each reflecting distinct ecclesial and theological nuances—and in some cases profound differences—in how to approach and how best to respond to these pressing issues of our day. Where moral choices are clear, we are confident consensus in shared convictions and guidance on issues will emerge; and where there is genuine disagreement within the Church, there is room for charity and conscience. Whenever appropriate, as the editors we’ll also highlight resources from The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity and others to supplement posts for further inquiry or to offer specific guidance or analysis on select issues.
Our hope in these coming days is that you will find new insights, along with biblical and theological resources and frameworks, practical advice for the pulpit, Bible study, or counseling session, and even encouragement from knowing that others are also struggling to faithfully work through these complex questions.
Cox, Michael, and Michael J. Sleasman, "Why Intersections? Revisited" Intersections, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, November 25, 2022, www.cbhd.org/intersections/why-intersections-revisited.