HANNIBAL – Especially in this high-tech society, families are often faced with serious questions about the beginning of life and about dying—questions that C. Ben Mitchell, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University, addressed during two presentations at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Worldview Conference, April 14.
Churches are all-too-often unprepared for one beginning-of-life issue facing families in their own congregation: namely, infertility.
“Infertility is like any other human loss,” Mitchell said. In fact, the grieving process experienced by infertile couples is similar to the grief people experience when they lose a loved one. Yet church members often are experiencing this grief without anyone ever knowing it.
Churches must be prepared to console families hurting because of infertility, while also helping them to wade through the ethical questions raised by the high-tech fertility industry. There are at least 38 ways to “make a baby” because of modern technology, but not every way for doing so is consistent with a biblical ethic. In-vitro fertilization, for example, often involves the death of numerous unused human, living embryos.
Dicey ethical questions also exist at the end of life, Mitchell said: How do Christians respond to euthanasia? How should families help their loved ones die with dignity?
Mitchell addressed such issues during his presentation, and emphasized the Christian’s role in providing care for those suffering and preparing to die.
“There is a difference in treatment and care,” he said. “Treatment is medication, machines. Patients want care. We can care. To push back on assisted suicide, we need to help them die.”
Medication treats physical pain, but Christians have the ability to console and comfort their family members amid the emotional and spiritual suffering that accompanies pain. No one should die alone, he said.