Thursday, July 14, 2011

Frozen Embryos & the Gospel: Is It Time to Consider Embryo Adoption?

Yesterday we talked about adoption and I mentioned the challenge and the need to start thinking about adopting embryos. Here is the article I referenced.

The question of bioethics continues to be a challenge in our culture.  Everyday, new issues arise that force us to think seriously about the implications of our worldview and what ethical conclusions are best guidelines for our culture.  Ongoing medical and technological advances force us to go beyond abortion and euthanasia but also to consider issues like cloning, infertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization, embryonic and adult stem-cell research, genetic testing, chimeras, and many other countless ethical and moral issues.

A few months ago, the world of biotechnology forced the world to heighten its ongoing debate regarding frozen embryos.  An unnamed 42-year old woman recently gave birth to an embryo that had been frozen for 20 years setting a new record for the oldest baby born.  The mother adopted the embryo that had been created by another couple that created multiple embryo's as they went through in-vitro fertilization treatments.  When that couple had successful with other embryos and unwilling to birth their other frozen embryonic-children, they simply allowed the clinic to put the remaining embryos up for adoption for similar couples struggling with infertility (or we might add feminists and lesbians unwilling to conceive the more traditional way).

This all means that the boy born in May of this year has a full-blooded sibling conceived at about the same time as he was, but technically, 20 years older than him.

The issue of frozen embryos is a serious issues that needs to be taken more seriously.  In a culture that considers the embryo a commodity or as "potential" life, such barracks of unplanted embryos is not that big of a deal.  But to those who consider an embryo to be human life ought to be shocked to think that humans are literally being frozen in time.  How Western nations have legally responded to this issue makes it only more frightening.  According to new British Laws, a frozen embryo cannot be stored for more than 55 years.  Thus, the far majority of embryo's (read:  human life) is either destroyed (I'm guessing to make more room for other frozen embryos) or donated for research (in which the embryo will be destroyed).  Either way, human life becomes an experiment or a second-thought.  The world in which we live in is a frightening thought.

At this point perhaps we should begin discussing how Christians ought to respond.  With anger?  Rightly so.  With concern?  How could we not?  With a call to action in defense of innocent human life being stored and oftentimes destroyed?  No doubt.  But is it not time for us to consider, especially as Christians, another option in addition to each of these?  If we are truly pro-life and want to defend the lives of those not given the chance of life and oftentimes encourage scared mothers to give their children up for adoption at birth, perhaps it is time for Christians to more seriously consider embryo adoption.

Unfortunately most Christians have not given this any thought.  With millions of experimental frozen lives sitting on shelves soon to be destroyed, how can we not intervene?  And while we continue to fight for their life through cultural debate and legislative action, why don't we also focus on something more powerful:  the gospel and adoption.  Christians are grounded in the gospel.  We are redeemed and have our faith, hope, and identity in the gospel.  The gospel ought to be everything in our lives.  All that we say, do, believe, and fight for ought to be driven by that fundamental doctrine of the gospel  So why not apply the gospel to a world that considers human life to be nothing more than an experiment or a commodity?

So what does the gospel have to do with frozen embryos and embryo adoption?  Everything.  The gospel begins with God's holiness and our depravity.  The gospel humbles us and exalts our Father.  Our God is bigger than the pockets we try to fit Him in.  At the same time, we are rebels.  We have spit in God's eye (so to speak).  However, in spite of such angry vitriol against our Creator, God has not only loved us, but has offered His love through the sacrificial gift of His Son.  And through the cross and resurrection, we are not just given a clean slate, but declared and made righteous and adopted as sons of God - heirs with Christ.

Adoption is central to the gospel.

How can we who have been adopted by God not give serious consideration to the adoption of others?  Certainly there are serious issues and questions to raise and consider prior to making a decision to adopt either an already born child, a soon-to-be born child, or a frozen embryo, but I believe it is time for Christians to take this more seriously.  At the same time, it is necessary for Christians to see that the gospel goes beyond walking the aisle but has real-life implications.  Do we see the gospel in the lives of the unwanted and the frozen?  In our confused world, Christians must respond with more than just legislative action, but with gospel evangelism and gospel-saturated action.  Until we go beyond the voting booth, the many ethical and moral issues we face today will not go away.  It is time for Christians to do more than just vote and debate.  It is time we act.  It is time we do what God has done for us:  show mercy, love the stranger, liberate, redeem, and yes, adopt.

Telegraph - Baby born from embryo frozen 20 years ago 
My Fox NY - Baby Born From Embryo Frozen For 20 Years 

For more:
Blogizomai - The Challenge of Frozen Embryos:  South Korea Undefines Human Life  
Blogizomai - Whose the Daddy?:  Biological Truth and Moral Ideology 

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