By / Oct 29

Recently The New York Times published an article looking at the potential ramifications of an event that millions of Catholics, evangelicals, and human dignity advocates have been working toward for almost 50 years: the reversal of Roe v. Wade. As you might assume, the article was occasioned by the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. 

Prior to her tenure as a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the newly appointed Associate Supreme Court Justice had been vocal about her personal opposition to abortion. During her hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, Barrett was asked at numerous points about a newspaper advertisement she had signed which read, “We, the following citizens of Michiana, oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death. Please continue to pray to end abortion.”

Overturning Roe

It is well known that the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortions in the first, and in many cases the second trimesters of pregnancy in the United States. Lesser known is the fact that in 1992 the court issued a decision in another case involving abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe’s “essential holding” about a woman’s right to an abortion before viability and established a new basis from which to measure abortion restrictions known as the “undue burden” standard. Though the pro-life movement is more of a mosaic than a monolith in terms of the persons, organizations, and activities of which it is comprised, a common goal that animates the entire movement is the reversal of these two Supreme Court rulings. 

The reason for this is simple. According to the Times article, abortions in the United States would almost immediately decrease by roughly 14% if Roe were overturned. That comes out to roughly 100,000 less abortions every year. Or to put it more accurately, it means that a single decision from the Supreme Court has the ability to save 100,000 human lives per year in one fell swoop. By themselves these statistics are staggering, but the reversal of these precedents would represent a major, if preliminary, step in the fight to rid America of the scourge of abortion.

Next steps

Though the pro-life movement is united in its opposition to Roe, the aims of the movement go far beyond achieving the destruction of this abhorrent legal precedent. If Roe were overturned, abortion would not become illegal across the country. Instead, the authority to restrict or expand access to abortions would once again be determined by individual states. Ten states currently have “trigger laws” on the books that would immediately ban most abortions without Roe in place. Another dozen states are either working toward or likely to pass similar laws to restrict abortions “in a new legal environment.” 

In an America after Roe, almost half of the 50 states would likely have protections for unborn human beings secured by law. Even so, under such circumstances the fight to end abortion would shift from a national campaign to targeted efforts to end or further restrict abortions in the remaining states. One of the reasons that the reversal of Roe is so critical is that many states have struggled to implement even the most common sense efforts to reduce the number of abortions because of successful legal challenges to these laws citing Roe and Casey as precedent. As recently as this summer, the Supreme Court blocked a Louisiana law that would have required “abortion providers to meet the same medical standards as all other ambulatory surgical centers, which includes securing admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.”

Beyond making abortion illegal, our goal is to make abortion unthinkable.

The pro-life movement has already made remarkable progress in fighting against abortion at the state level. But as long as Roe remains intact, pro-life laws passed by state legislatures will continue to be subject to legal challenges to prevent their implementation. Pro-life advocates are sometimes criticized for focusing so much attention on achieving a victory at the Supreme Court, but the reality is that the reversal of Roe is essential to the ultimate success of their cause. Short of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion—presently a near impossibilty—the Supreme Court charting a new course on abortion is the only viable path forward.

The goal

Make no mistake, overturning Roe is an absolute necessity for the pro-life movement. But this is not because the aim of the movement is to secure some long-sought legal victory. Instead, it is because the goal of the pro-life movement is to save lives. Since Roe was handed down in 1973, more that 50 million children have been lost to abortion in the United States. Fifty million brothers and sisters and sons and daughters whose names and faces and potential we will never know. It is a tragedy on a scale that is nearly beyond comprehension. In a very real sense, fighting to end Roe is itself an effort to end a culture of death.

In contrast to the bleak reality of abortion is the hope and optimism of the pro-life movement. Rooted in human dignity, the pro-life movement is pro-baby and pro-woman, because the pro-life movement is pro-people. Our aim is to change hearts and minds. Our aim is to support mothers and to ensure families, especially those in difficult situations, receive the care they need and deserve. 

Beyond making abortion illegal, our goal is to make abortion unthinkable. But there is no escaping the fact that the reversal of Roe is critical to these efforts. Even if Roe is never overturned, the pro-life movement will never cease fighting to advance the cause of life. But with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the court, there is a renewed sense of hope that now, after almost 50 years, we might see the end of Roe.

May it be so.

By / Feb 27

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 27, 2020—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has long played an active role in advocating for the protection of religious freedom and standing for human dignity in the international context. While the ERLC remains committed to American pro-life work, the organization recognizes an urgent need that it cannot ignore in Northern Ireland.

“Without seeking the views of the people of Northern Ireland, the government has unilaterally decriminalised abortion, a place many have previously viewed as one the of last remaining pro-life countries,” said Brent Leatherwood, ERLC’s director of strategic partnerships. “Now, Christians there find themselves thrust into a new reality where the state will officially sanction this assault on human dignity for the first time. As an American, I can’t help but imagine going back in time in our own history when abortion was legalized in the states. In effect, it’s now 1973 in Northern Ireland.”

First, as part of the effort to save preborn lives that are now in jeopardy, the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project has pledged to fund the placement of at least one ultrasound machine with a Christian, pro-life ministry in Northern Ireland. These machines have proven to be life-saving tools for organizations dedicated to serving both vulnerable mothers and their preborn children. This will be the first international placement by the ERLC. 

Through the funds raised by Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC has been able to place 21 machines across the United States. Every dollar raised by Psalm 139 goes towards the purchase of a new ultrasound machine and the training needed for local staff to operate the machine, a claim few non-profit organizations can make. 

Beyond that, the ERLC is forming new partnerships with local organizations on the ground in Northern Ireland in order to come alongside and equip Christians to navigate the looming abortion crisis.

The partnering pro-life entities, in addition to the ERLC, focused on Northern Ireland, include:

  • Both Lives Matter, an organization that advocates for both the mother and preborn child;
  • Evangelical Alliance, a group that unites Christians from across the wider United Kingdom on issues important to believers.

Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, responded to the initiative:

“The church of Jesus Christ always has and always will stand for life at every age. That’s why the ERLC feels called to respond to this urgent international threat to preborn children. Our hope is that our long and tragic experience with abortion in the United States might give us a unique ability to help equip and serve alongside the church in Northern Ireland in this moment. We are not going there with all the answers. Instead, we hope to communicate to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we will be alongside them for prayer and to help the reborn stand for the preborn.”

These partnerships will engage Christians in two unique ways. A two-day conference, Stand for Life: Belfast, will take place June 19-20 in Belfast. The event will seek to equip leaders to think biblically about issues of life and human dignity and will provide training and development for pro-life ministries. Additionally, pro-life curriculum will be developed for churches across the islands to equip their staff, lead their congregations, and be a witness for life in the communities they serve.

“We’re entering a new phase in the history of Northern Ireland,” stated Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter. “We will continue to help people re-imagine, advocate, and model a better story about the dignity of both mother and unborn child as abortion becomes more widely available here. Both Lives Matter has support across the community in Northern Ireland and we recognize that the church has a vital role to play in shaping a true culture of life.” 

David Smyth, the Evangelical Alliance’s Head of Northern Ireland, said, “This is an important moment for the Church in Northern Ireland to speak with one united voice about the dignity of both mother and child. We must navigate all of this wisely. We are committed to making sure the church is ready for this moment and Stand for Life: Belfast is a hopeful and proactive response to the specific context of Northern Ireland.”

Additional details about Stand for Life: Belfast will be announced on the initiative’s website: standforlife.uk

By / Dec 10

HOPE is a pregnancy resource center that provides service including ultrasounds, well women care, and mentoring, among others. HOPE also provides roughly 50 to 60 baby showers every single year. These showers are a consistent highlight to our year as we get to experience the love of a mother for her child, the outpouring of support from our community, and the impact love has on broken situations.

Local groups show up, decorate, and prepare food as we celebrate the gift of life. It’s truly an amazing time as we share wonderful moments with our patients. One of our patients, however, was unable to make it to her shower last year because her water broke. This patient actually took the time to call us in the middle of going into labor to let us know that she would not be able to make it.

The news did not stop our staff. One of our Nurse Practitioners, Christy, loaded up her car and took the gifts to the hospital so this patient could experience her baby shower. Upon arriving at the hospital, Christy noticed that the patient was all alone and realized that her work wasn’t done. She wasn’t going to just quickly stop by and drop off gifts. She was prepared to be there for this young mom and her baby.

Your prayers, gifts, and volunteer hours at pregnancy resource centers continue to transform and save lives.

Christy did, in fact, stay for the delivery, but she wasn’t the only HOPE representative in the room. This baby was actually delivered by one of our Medical Executive Committee members.

Some of the nurses at the hospital were unaware of HOPE and the work we do. They didn’t understand who these strangers were caring for this patient in her time of need. This gave Christy an opportunity to share our story and love for our patients. When one of the nurses asked this new mom if she had a car seat, Christy was able to speak up and say, “We have that taken care of along with a pack-n-play, a stocked diaper bag, and some clothes!”

This makeshift baby shower inside the delivery room was made possible because of churches and organizations made up of people like you. This young mom felt love during a very stressful time. She felt encouraged and supported because we took the time to notice her—not just her baby, but her. She is just as much an image-bearer as her baby.

HOPE’s story was further advanced in that hospital room later on. We had a patient in need, and we, just like we have for 20 years, desired to meet that need. This young mom was scared and alone, but someone showed up in that darkness and fear to bring HOPE. This was made possible by the thousands of people that stand with us. This young mom might have only seen the faces of a few, but the reality is far greater than that. Thousands of strangers stood with her on that day and continue to stand with her today.

Your prayers, gifts, and volunteer hours at pregnancy resource centers continue to transform and save lives. I mean that from the deepest parts of my heart. Partnering with you to serve this city, in particular, brings us to tears on a regular basis. It’s the love and support of people like you that allows us—and other resource centers—to see the light in some of the darkest places. There are families here today because of you.

This post originally appeared on HOPE’s site. You can hear about another story of hope by watching this video.

By / Oct 13

DALLAS, Texas, Oct. 13, 2018—The Psalm 139 Project has placed an ultrasound machine at the Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas, Daniel Darling announced Saturday during the fifth annual ERLC National Conference on “The Cross-Shaped Family.” 

The machine was placed at the Dallas pregnancy center this summer by Focus on the Family and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission through their Evangelicals for Life partnership. 

Last month, the Psalm 139 Project placed an ultrasound machine at the Liberty Women’s Clinic in Liberty, Mo., which will allow the clinic to increase their capacity for appointments by 37% in 2019. 

“We are thrilled to work with the heroic staff and volunteers at the Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas as they serve women all across the metroplex,” said Darling, vice-president of communications at the ERLC. “We are thankful for our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters who have invested and given sacrificially to care for unborn children and serve women in crisis. I am excited to see how God will use this ultrasound machine and Downtown Pregnancy Center in Dallas to continue Gospel work and further the church’s mission to stand alongside the most vulnerable in society.

The Psalm 139 Project is a ministry of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention focused on aiding pregnancy resource centers in securing ultrasound machines. In addition to the Missouri and Dallas placements, The Psalm 139 Project also plans to place a machine in New Orleans this year as well. 

“When women come to our center contemplating abortion, we desire to educate them not only about abortion, but also fetal development,” said Carolyn Cline, president and CEO of Downtown Pregnancy Center. “When sharing this medically accurate information, 62 percent of women counseled choose life. But, when we’re able to provide key medical services, especially ultrasounds, 85 percent of women choose life! We call the sonogram machine the ‘God machine’ because it reveals God’s handiwork in its most vulnerable and delicate state, allowing mothers to bond with the baby in their womb.”

Since 2004, the Psalm 139 Project has provided ultrasound equipment for pregnancy care centers in Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Mississippi, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee. 

One hundred percent of financial contributions donated to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchasing sonogram machines and providing training for workers. Tax-deductible gifts may be made to ERLC, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203. Learn more at psalm139project.com.

By / Jan 24

Southern Baptists affirm that every human is created in the image of God. As stated in a 2015 resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Bible “clearly and consistently affirms that human life is formed by God in His image and is therefore worthy of honor and dignity.” Further, the Convention’s Baptist Faith & Message affirms that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and calls us to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

Legal protection for unborn humans is a justice issue. Medical science confirms that a new human life begins from the moment of fertilization, one that is genetically unique of both parents. Babies do not magically become human upon birth. The fetal development stage is most accurately understood as one among other stages of human development, like pre-adolescence and late adulthood. Medical research shows that an unborn child can feel intense pain at 20 weeks gestation, if not earlier. Yet, in many states it remains legal to kill babies at and beyond this stage of gestation.

It is a proper use of government authority to protect unique, vulnerable human beings who feel pain. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is an important step toward recognizing the dignity of every human life. Protecting the right to life should be a top priority of any just government. Eliminating elective abortion of human beings who feel pain is a necessary step in cultivating a culture of life in our nation. Government’s basic duty is to protect human life from bodily harm and provide justice for victims of violence. Such justice ought to extend to our unborn neighbors.

ERLC urges Congress to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill, currently introduced in both the House and the Senate, is a tested legislative vehicle with similar legislation already passed in at least 20 states. Co-sponsors include the majority of the Republican conference and its leadership in both chambers, one Independent member, and two Democrats in the House. The bill also maintains support from President Trump, from a commitment in 2016 to his 2020 State of the Union address. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) sent the bill directly to the floor to receive a full Senate vote.

By / Nov 27

In the last few years, I have had the great privilege of discipling a few younger women in my church. Their joyful and eager spirits have been life giving to me, and our relationships have provided a new ministry purpose in my current home-oriented season of raising small children. Now, these friendships are adding a new chapter: motherhood. Today, almost all of these dear girls are either expecting their first child or enjoying that precious first year.

There is much preparation for all that happens between the positive pregnancy test to the first birthday. Yet, the experience of motherhood is unique to each mother and child, and nearly impossible to predict. A recent Time magazine article, “Motherhood Is Hard to Get Wrong. So Why Do So Many Moms Feel So Bad About Themselves?”, featured an extensive survey of new mothers and dove deep into the decision-making processes that mothers face during those days. It also discussed the emotional, and I would add spiritual, difficulties of motherhood as more than 70 percent responded that they feel societal pressures about those choices. The survey found that “half of all new mothers had experienced regret, shame, guilt or anger, mostly due to unexpected complications and lack of support.”  

I empathized with many of their stories and the guilt the women had experienced. As my friends are preparing for motherhood, we talk regularly about pregnancy symptoms, labor and delivery, and sleep schedules, but I also want to be sure to discuss the spiritual challenges of bringing a baby into a home.

Some of these lessons were shared by those ahead of me, and some of them I learned by doing it completely wrong or being caught unaware by temptation. All of these words are covered in prayer and given with grace for those early, sleepless, and hormonal days. With that in mind, I want you to know:

  1. This is your calling. Ladies, this is it. If God gives you children, this is the primary calling of your life. You will have many other important callings and ministries, but the call to your family is one only you can fulfill. Every call of Scripture, every word of encouragement, every expression of the biblical community will be cast in a new light as you become a parent. God has planned this for you (Ps. 139:16), and he will equip you for this (Heb.13:21). Yet, you will be tempted to look for purpose, identity, and fulfillment in other, more visible or seemingly more exciting ministries as the years pass by. Never let the call to love and serve your family fall in line behind something else. The triumphant mark of a life well lived in Proverbs 31 is that her children call her “blessed,” and her husband praises her. The family watches all the good works of this woman, and those relationships matter unlike anything else.
  2. Everyone does it differently. Each tribe of mothers (and fathers) has a book or a parenting philosophy that is shared as if it were the gospel. It’s not. I love to share things that were helpful to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to raise your child. No two families have the exact same set of circumstances. Whether it’s sleep-training methods or preferences on childcare, understand that everyone does it differently. Let that free you and your husband to make decisions about what is best for your family as God guides you (2 Cor. 13:7).
  3. You are not the exception. Beware of the temptation of resentment, which is so powerful and so dangerous. It is easy to play the comparison game with other mothers, other children, and even other husbands. Job 5:2 says it plainly, “Resentment kills a fool” (NIV). The apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you” (1 Pet. 4:12). Parenting is not always a fiery trial, but Peter understands that we are encouraged by the commonality of difficulty in the Christian experience. So many families have difficult circumstances, such as a parent with an unusual schedule or demanding job. Even in the most difficult days or seasons, God will always provide what you need (2 Pet. 1:3).
  4. Your baby can become your idol. You will be doing one of the most honorable and noble works of your life in caring for an infant. Feeling successful at keeping that little person alive and growing is thrilling. Feeling like a failure can be devastating. Your highs and lows will be unlike any previous experience. Hello hormones! It will be so easy for your identity, purpose, and joy to be found in him or her, allowing the baby into spaces of your heart that only God should occupy. When the baby becomes your idol, many other parts of your life become distorted—your marriage, your emotional health, your participation in the Christian community, and more. Talking about how you are feeling, spending time in the Scriptures, and making time for a spiritual life are your best defenses.

When the baby becomes your idol, many other parts of your life become distorted.

But, the best advice I can give is to cling to Jesus, even if it’s just by whispering that you trust him as you hold your child. My heart is thrilled to think of this love that you will know. You will be given an opportunity like never before to see God’s goodness. It will be in your heart, and it will be in your arms. The common grace for every mother is palpable, but as a believer, you can use this time to worship God with a new understanding of who he is and how he loves you. Don’t let the worries or chaos of the season get in the way of the joy. God will use the journey of parenting to change you—for the better.

By / Sep 21

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a monthly series on what Christians should know about bioethics.

From the time of Adam and Eve until the late 1970s, there was—with one notable exception—only one way to make a baby: the sexual bonding of a man and a woman. The number of baby-making methods increased to two in 1978 after the birth of Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby.” Today, there are about 40 ways to make a baby, almost all of which can be accomplished without sexual intercourse.

Until the 1970s, “reproductive technologies” focused almost exclusively on helping a couple prevent conception. Although the tools ranged from the benign (thermometers) to the controversial (the Pill), most people understood both how they worked and whether their use could be considered ethical. Now that we have methods which sound like acronyms for U.N. agencies — IH, AID, ICSI, IUI, GIFT, ZIFT, IV — few people understand what they are, and even fewer know whether they are morally acceptable.

The rapidity by which the baby-making process has evolved has outpaced our moral reflection. However, there are few considerations, ranging from the personal to the linguistic, which should guide our thinking about reproductive technologies.

Love Your Infertile Neighbor

Our moral reflection has been outpaced by the new baby-making technologies.

The first is the duty to our neighbor. No matter what we think of the new methods for making babies, we should never dismiss the reason that they were created: to alleviate the pain and suffering caused by infertility, a curse that has plagued couples throughout our history. The Bible frequently mentions the problem of infertility and of the seven women mentioned by name who were barren (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, Michal, and Samson’s mother), six later bore a child. In each of these situations, Scripture implies God was directly responsible for delivering them from infertility. Today, the 2.5 million couples affected by infertility feel the same strain and longing, though they have the option of turning to technology, rather than God alone, for deliverance.

The number of people affected is humbling: After one year of sexual relations, approximately 15 percent of American couples are unable to conceive a child. This inability can become emotionally trying and leads many couples to seek out medical solutions to overcome their affliction. Every year couples spend millions of dollars on reproductive technologies for the mere chance of conceiving a child.

For Christians, medical intervention to overcome infertility may be acceptable, providing we do not violate established biblical principles or our consciences in the process. This consideration will necessarily limit the types of options that are available, but there are a number of methods, such as the use of fertility drugs, that do not lead to the most morally repugnant outcome: the production of multiple embryos that must be discarded or frozen and placed in storage.

Don’t Destroy Your Children

Whether out of ignorance or oversight, the pro-life community has until recently tended to overlook embryo destruction that occurs outside the womb. Unfortunately, though it has now caught our attention, we tend to oppose those who would destroy embryos for speculative scientific research while giving a pass to our fellow citizens who create “extra” or “spare” embryos out of the desire to have a child.

But while the motives may differ, all created embryos have the same moral status and deserve the same level of protection from harm. The pain of infertility does not provide an exemption to this obligation.

Fortunately, the first options that most physicians would consider are the least objectionable. Methods such as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), or in vitro fertilization can be approached in a way that is respectful of human life. Whether they are completely acceptable for Christians is a question worthy of debate. In the absence of clear scriptural guidelines, there are bound to be disagreements (I would almost always advise against their use, though I respect those who do not share my qualms). However, there are some methods and approaches that are indisputably unethical and temptations to act immorally abound.

A prime example is the routine practice of creating “excess embryos”, a practice that is common, though not essential, to the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). The IVF procedure is inherently expensive, often costing between $10,000 and $30,000 per treatment and the likelihood of success is dismally low. Even the best of techniques offers less than a 50 percent chance that a live birth will occur. Because of these obstacles, couples are often tempted to set aside ethical concerns in order to increase the chances of fulfilling their desire for a child.

Christian couples, however, should never be willing to unnecessarily sacrifice an innocent human life. The extra expense required to avoid moral wrongdoing may be substantial or even prohibitive. But the cost of destroying the embryo is even higher. It is never God’s will that we kill one child in order to give life to another. If it cannot be done morally, then it must not be done at all.

In welcoming Louise Brown—the world’s first “test-tube baby”—into the world we ushered in an era of new ethical dilemmas, a Pandora’s box that includes human cloning, the creation of “designer” babies and the eugenics of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Whether we create a dystopian future for ourselves will depend on whether we humbly accept our limits and fully understand our obligations. We may have dozens of new ways to make a baby, but the purpose of baby-making remains the same: to bring into the world a human being created in the image of God.

Other articles in the Basic Bioethics series:

Why Christians should care about bioethics

How Christians should think about bioethics

How Christians should think about bioethics (part 2)

How to illuminate the Christian perspective

By / Oct 12

Recently, it was announced that a controversial technique that uses the DNA from three persons has resulted in the first birth of a child.[1] The birth of the baby boy occurred five months ago, yet scientists are just now publicizing their success. For embryology, this is truly groundbreaking in the sense that it has never been done before.[2] However, for those ascribing to a Christian worldview, many questions persist.

What was done?

In this particular case, the Jordanian couple approached the U.S.-based team who performed the procedure after experiencing the death of two children. The mother is a carrier for Leigh syndrome, a disorder that affects the central nervous system and is typically fatal within the first three years of life. After consultation with the medical team, it was decided that a technique known as spindle nuclear transfer would be utilized. The physician, Dr. John Zhang, of the New Hope Fertility Center in NYC, first removed the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and inserted it into a donor egg that had had its own nucleus removed. This resulting egg (which had the nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor) was then fertilized with the father’s sperm, resulting in three unique DNA contributions for the child.

It is important to note that this technique has only been approved by the UK Parliament, which permitted the technology in early 2015.[3] The U.S.-based team had to travel to Mexico to actually perform the procedure in order to evade FDA oversight and capitalize on loose regulations south of the border.

What are the problems?

Pragmatically, such legal restrictions are in place for good reason, for there are too many unanswered ethical and medical questions. It is simply not readily known what type of adverse effects such a procedure may have on progeny. Recent research has suggested that mitochondrial DNA plays a role in some personality traits.[4] Hence, vital traits will no longer be inherited by only two parents, but rather three, which is completely novel for human beings.

During the UK debates on this technology, Dr. Trevor Stammers, programme director in Bioethics and Medical Law at St Mary's University of London, stated: “Even if these babies are born they will have to be monitored all their lives, and their children will have to be as well. We do not yet know the interaction between the mitochondria and nuclear DNA. To say that it is the same as changing a battery is facile. It’s an extremely complex thing.”

Further, Dr. Rhiannon Lloyd from the Zoological Society of London similarly cautioned that in more than 50 percent of animal studies, faulty mitochondrial DNA was transferred over during the procedure. Moreover, in March 2014, the chair of the FDA’s Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, looking into the issue of mitochondrial DNA transfer wrote to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (part of the UK’s Department of Health) to warn that their panel had decided the science of mitochondrial donation was not safe.[5] Hence, from a safety and public health perspective, there is simply not enough evidence to show that such procedures are safe. It is imprudent to trod down a road of uncertainty when the stakes are as high as this. As one commentator put it, this is science by press release.[6]

However, even if the safety of the procedure for the resulting children could be guaranteed, there remain many theological considerations for reproductive technologies in general, and three-genetic-parent embryos, in particular. The issue of human dignity must be at the forefront of this discussion. Human beings are not engineered creations to be tinkered with for the sake of novelty and innovation. Human beings, who bear the image of the Creator God, are good gifts to be received, rather than objects to be produced. The production of three-genetic-parent children points to a minimization of the sacredness of the human creation as unique gifts from God. As Albert Mohler has pointed out, once we see children as objects to be customized, ordered and configured to our liking and specifications, this changes the inherent relationship between a parent and child. This also has the ability of altering our thinking of what it means to be human.[7]

We must realistically note that one advance in technology inevitably leads to others. Once a technology like this becomes publicized and available, then it naturally leads to a widening of the application, and additional questionable biomedical activities and technologies are sure to follow. Once a society recognizes the moral worth of one genetic technology, then it predictably leads to the moral acceptance of other technologies. This is not so much a slippery slope argument as it is a statement based upon past history. Once this doorway is opened, further experimentation in the realm of designer children will not be far removed.

Let’s be clear: The desire for children is a good desire. There is a clear pattern throughout Scripture of God desiring for people to have children (Gen. 1:28) and for children being a blessing to their parents (Ps. 127:3-5). As churches and Christians, we must show compassion and tenderness toward those who have suffered infertility and disorders that have prevented the natural bearing of healthy children. Surely this is the result of a world gone awry by the effects of sin. However, the pursuit of children by any and every means is not something we should applaud, for it sets dangerous precedents from which it is difficult to backpedal.

By / Jun 28

Garrett Kell, a pastor in Alexandria, Va., gives advice on how a pastor can build a pro-life culture in his church.

Join the ERLC at Evanglicals for Life January 26-27, 2017. Learn more here.

By / Jun 7