Healthcare is a topic that speaks broadly to the values and institutions that any society sets in place for the administration and care of its population. Issues raised in this area range across a wide spectrum of discussions that include reflection on the common good, definitions of health, the ends of medicine, the Judeo-Christian Hippocratic tradition, economics, and paradigms of healthcare allocation and management, along with systems of administration.
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.
This moment in time has created a unique opportunity for pastors and church leaders who are concerned with bioethics. Now more than ever before, people are interested in the questions that bioethics seeks to address. While it would be easy to leave teaching on these matters to experts and news outlets or to focus any teaching on COVID-19 specifically, I believe this misses the opportunity this moment offers. COVID-19 has provided an opening for broadening congregants’ thinking on bioethical issues beyond the current pandemic, and to do so from a distinctly Christian perspective. This chance should not be wasted.
Throughout the last century, the spirit of the age exhibited a voracious appetite for human life. Medicine became the source for myriad racial enmities and immoral projects catalyzed by ascendant science and reckless medical research that was completely oblivious to the dignity of human life. The contingent bioethical lapses reflected the impact of social Darwinism on an age of physicians who primarily acted as scientists, not healers.
Now, an increasing amount of information can be derived through various tests, screenings, and monitoring of the child through its earliest days. For example, genetic tests have become a standard aspect of pregnancy care in medically advanced countries such as the United States. Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is one such test, and it continues to grow in popularity. Much as going to college is often the assumed next step following high school graduation, prenatal testing is generally accepted as “what you do” when a woman is expecting. It might be prudent, therefore, for Christians to honestly grapple with some of the ethical considerations these tests raise.