Neuroethics is a subdivision of bioethics that specifically addresses emerging ethical issues surrounding developments in neuroscience and neurotechnology, as well as reflections in the philosophy of mind. Ethical issues specific to neuroethics include among others neuroimaging, brain implants and brain-computer interfaces, cognitive and moral enhancement, and memory alteration. The role cognition plays in our understanding of human personhood is also explored within the realm of neuroethics.
In this short article I will present a way of thinking that might help us avoid such temptations and discover ways in which the church and the mental health professions can come together with mutual understanding and shared healing practices.
For a field that previously prioritized perception and mere verbal exchange, this increasing focus on the lived body is promising. But, for the professional Christian counselor, as well as pastoral counselors, the importance of embodiment in care and counseling should also be fundamentally informed by biblical and theological narratives—not just the scientific or therapeutic.
“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 are we to make of the claims that a person’s gender identity conflicts with his or her body? Should someone undergo gender-reassignment surgery to match one’s sense of identity, or should it be the other way around? Answers to such questions will depend fundamentally on our understanding of what it means to be a human being, an understanding that derives its intelligibility from the larger story (or metanarrative) in which it is situated. For Christians, this metanarrative is informed by Scripture, which attests to the creative, redemptive, and restorative activity of God as revealed in Christ Jesus.