Alabama Embryos and Christian Responsibility
The Alabama State Supreme Court ruling has national implications but also has an impact on how Christians should think about assisted reproductive technologies.
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 Hello friends. Welcome to the Case for Life podcast. I’m your host, Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute. Hey, before your day gets away from you, please visit us at scottklusendorf. com. I’d like to draw your attention to something today that I think would really help you in this post Roe v.

Wade world we live in. And that is, we have a course there, 10 sessions. Content that is aimed at equipping you not only to gain an overview of the pro life issue But help you master it so you can communicate it to others and equip them to be pro life apologists for the sake of the unborn so Please go to scottklusendorf.

com. Look at that case. It is worth it for you to invest in the course. If you want to be effective in today’s post row world, you need training and that training won’t happen by accident. You need to be intentional. going after it. We’ve got the course there. We think it’s the best thing you can get on equipping yourself to defend life, not just because I’m in it, but because I believe the content we cover is exactly what’s going on at the worldview level in our culture today.

And you need to be up to date on that. So again, please visit us on our social media sites. Look into the course I mentioned called the Case for Life course. There’s a link on the sites there to it. I hope you’ll take advantage of it. Now, a lot of buzz has been created in the last oh 10 days over what happened in the state of Alabama.

I’m going to give you my initial thoughts on this and I’m going to say initial because we’re not quite sure what all this is going to mean but boy has it fired up our opponents. You see nothing but abject terror coming out of the minds of abortion advocates. When you look at What happened in Alabama?

Here is a brief sketch of what happened. The Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that couples can sue fertility clinics for wrongful death if their embryos are harmed or killed. And, uh, this ruling has sent shockwaves through the culture for this reason. In order to rule that it’s wrongful death, you’ve got a presupposition there that what was killed was, in fact, a living thing that, in this case, is a human embryo.

So there are, there are people on the other side of this issue, on the side of abortion advocacy, who are rightly concerned that if this gets pushed up to the Supreme Court, it could result in a situation where the court is forced to rule on the status of the unborn. In the Dobbs decision, the court did not rule on the legal or moral status of the unborn.

In fact, what it did is simply say the states are going to decide abortion policy. Roe v. Wade has no constitutional foundation behind it. Neither does Planned Parenthood versus Casey. And both cases were tossed as not having constitutional merit, which kicked them back to the states. Now, again, that’s a good thing because we no longer have the federal courts determining alone.

what abortion policy will be. Now the legislative and executive branches of government get to weigh in on this. That’s a good thing. However, in this case in Alabama, what’s happening is people fear those that support abortion, that if the Supreme Court takes this case on, it’s quite possible, in other words, that a federal judge somewhere is going to enjoin the state Supreme Court case that was just handed down in Alabama and say, this case or this ruling is not constitutional.

And that will then force it up the, the ladder of the federal court system. And it would eventually arrive at the Supreme Court. And when it does, the justices will I think inescapably have to make a ruling on the status of the unborn. If they uphold the Alabama case, which as conservative justices, I think they’d rather keep the federal government out of this as much as possible.

They’re going to have to rule that the case in Alabama was rightly decided based on the humanity of these children that are being held on ice, that are in fertility clinics. And if there can be a wrongful death lawsuit, that can’t happen without a human being that was wronged in the process. So you can see where this is pointing to.

And that’s what has a lot of pro abortion is very nervous right now. But that does raise a question for us as Christians that I want to get into for just a moment. What about reproductive technologies? What we call assisted reproductive technologies aimed at helping couples. overcome infertility.

There’s IVF, which involves in vitro fertilization. That’s where we put sperm and egg together in a test tube in the lab, if you will. Then there’s a technology called GIFT, where we put sperm and egg together in close proximity to each other. in the fallopian tube. So conception still happens in the woman’s body, not in the tube like with IVF.

There are some Christians, who I understand why they think this way, who believe that all assisted reproductive technologies are by definition intrinsically evil. For example, there are some people like our Catholic friends who believe that if you separate the unitive and procreative aspects of marital sex, you have a structural break that is immoral in the act of marriage.

Then there are even some Protestants, some evangelicals that think anything that assists Reproduction is going to have too much liability to be worth it in the end. And I understand that view. I don’t agree with those who say these things are intrinsically wrong. And here’s why. What makes them wrong is not the action themselves in most cases, but how we treat the resulting embryo.

So that the wrong that’s done is a contingent wrong more than an intrinsic wrong. You could have a couple, I believe, who uses reproductive technologies in a way that is biblically permissible. And I think it’s important we talk through what that looks like. So here are a couple of biblical fence posts to keep in mind with any assisted reproductive technology.

A couple struggling with infertility should keep in mind as they approach using these technologies. First of all, everyone listening to me, please hear me. Do not. Treat glibly the pain of infertility. I have heard church members say to other church members that are struggling with infertility, hey man, why don’t you just adopt?

Or, well, maybe this just isn’t God’s plan for you. Try something else. That is like a cold slap in the face. The pain of infertility is real. If you don’t know anybody who’s walked through it, can I kindly suggest that you tread carefully? That’s, you don’t want to go to people and just say, off the cuff, things you don’t really have any right to say.

Just adopt. Oh, well, you know, God has something else. Trust his sovereignty. Those are all things we may end up arriving at at some point, but they shouldn’t be the first things out of your mouth. Here’s where I think the biblical fence posts lie. when it comes to the use of these assisted reproductive technologies.

Number one, any assisted reproductive technology that discards or puts at risk the lives of human embryos is out of bounds for the Christian, for the same reason abortion should be out of bounds. You are intentionally killing an image bearer. That cannot be justified. This is an example of the shedding of innocent blood that’s That scripture speaks very strongly against so any technology that’s going to end the life of an embryo is going to be out of bounds.

Secondly, any technology that allows you to do a search and destroy and pick out embryos. that are not up to snuff in terms of their perfection would also be out of bounds for the Christian. And what tends to happen is, doctors at these fertility clinics encourage couples to create multiple embryos that are kept on ice for the purpose of keeping costs down.

Well, you can see the risks that go with this. You could end up with a couple that let’s say they hit their early to mid 40s and they’re like, you know, we’re done being able to have kids the wife’s body really isn’t in the best shape for handling that anymore and We’re at a point in our lives where the thought of taking on more kids is not a good option for us The problem is they may have a dozen or maybe 20 embryos still on ice Now what what do we do with those embryos?

So A Christian couple is going to make sure they don’t let doctors try to screen those embryos for defects. Because what they’ll do is, the doctors will say, Listen, we’ll run genetic testing on all these embryos, and if any of them have any defects, we’ll discard them, and that’ll reduce down the number of embryos you have left over.

And couples think, Okay, well that’s good, then I won’t have as many left over that I feel badly about not bringing to birth. The problem is, That would be no different than destroying a handicapped fetus because it’s not living up to your standard of perfection. We can’t let the perfect get in the way of honoring biblical truth that all human beings have value regardless their perfections or imperfections.

They are still image bearers and we ought not intentionally destroy them. That’s the biblical teaching that needs to be kept in mind. There’s a third principle though, that I think we can derive from scripture. And that is couples should only create embryos that they take personal responsibility for. I know that’s going to cost money.

That means couples are going to spend a lot of money. In fact, one friend of mine said, I practically had to sell my house to do it, and he wasn’t kidding. It is expensive. However If you create more embryos than you can take responsibility for, meaning bring to birth, you’re going to face that problem of having leftover embryos and that means these embryos will be at risk of being discarded or just as bad being treated as research objects.

that we cut up and destroy so we can study medicine. That’s not good either way. Um, a fourth principle to keep in mind is that we need to ask ourselves, how is this technology informing how we think about children? You know, it’s easy to think that technology is neutral. It’s not. And let me give you some examples of this.

Think about television. I know for some of us that seems like ages ago, but how did television change how we think about the world. Well, here’s how it taught us to put all kinds of disconnected things together and not think it’s strange that there’s no contextual overlap between any of it. If you lived in the 18 sixties, for example, you had a tremendous attention span.

You could follow speeches that went on for hours. In fact, when crowds listened to Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln debate slavery, These debates were often eight hours in length. Now think about this. Each speaker is giving a three and a half hour opening speech followed by an hour of cross examination and rebuttal and closing statements that were an hour in length and the audience was standing listening to this.

And they thought of it as entertainment. We would think of it as torture, right? Why? Because television and media have trained us to have very short attention spans, and if it’s not done in a minute or two, we just lose the ability to track with the line of thought that’s being put forward. That audience, which learned about the world through books, was used to following an argument through, and they could follow a line of thought without any difficulty at all.

Now we turn on the evening news, and we hear, Oh, the situation in the Middle East is getting dangerously close to a crisis situation. I don’t know if we have ever seen anything so dangerous as what is going on with Israel and Hamas, for example. And then we hear these words, and now this, and we get a commercial from Burger King, right in the middle of just being told that the world is on the crisis of collapsing into an international foreign policy disaster.

And now we’re going to have a word about a Burger King Whopper. Really? I mean, imagine reading your book and right in the middle of the paragraph, and now a word about a Big Mac. Would you find that a little strange? I think you would, but in media, we get this all the time and think nothing of it. And basically it undermines the technology of television has undermined our ability to see the world as a coherent, serious.

Now, add to that our phones. Think about what our phones have done to us. And, uh, now we look at our phones and we look at quick little 10 second TikTok videos. We learn about the world through a medium that gives us decontextualized information so that we’re unable to think long term, over time. And, and process, um, serious arguments and law, logical thought, because we’re not trained to think that way because of the technology we use.

Well, think about what assisted reproductive technologies teach parents. And here’s what I fear it teaches them. It’s not neutral, because if we’re not careful, the lesson we’ll get from these assisted reproductive technologies is this. Children are something we construct. for parental fulfillment, not gifts we receive from God as something we’re to love as is.

So we end up seeing children as things we construct to satisfy the desires of parents, not gifts we receive. of Children who are in their own right, image bearers, we ought to nurture and protect. That’s how technology can affect how we think about assisted reproductive technologies again. I don’t think they’re wrong intrinsically, but we’ve got to be very careful how we think about them.

And while it would be nice if the Supreme Court were to take up the question of the status of the embryo. embryos in question in the Alabama case. I hope they will. That would be a very helpful step forward. Even if the court rules in our favor and says, yes, these are human beings. The problem is this.

Christian couples may still be harming image bearers if they don’t think carefully about how the technology of assisted reproduction impacts how they see these Children. We need to be very careful. We always care and never harm. That’s our duty as Christians. And we harm unborn humans when we intentionally create them and destroy them for medical research, or we create them with no responsibility for bringing them to birth within the loving confines of a family.

These are biblical perimeters we need to keep in mind and make sure. We are honoring God’s image bearers, whatever their status of development. Until next time I’m Scott Klosendorf. I’ll look forward to seeing you then.