A couple of weeks ago I went to a Forum on "Genetics and Faith" led by my bishop Steven Ullestad who is on the task force that put together the ELCA Social Statement on Genetics Faith and Responsibility.
So I've been meaning to write about this and then Clint Schnekloth over at Lutheran Confessions has to go and beat me to it. Good thing he did because I started writing a LONG comment on his page and thought "Hey - why not save all this for MY blog!"
So my first comment is to answer the what I think is dumb criticism from people who say the the church has no business sticking it's nose in this and stick to religion. Um. Well the only problem with that is that there are Christian scientists and geneticists. Yes really! Bishop Ullestad told of hearing from people of faith who work in this field saying "Why does God let me see what I see and give me no one to talk about it?" One woman was scolded by her pastor for being in the field of genetic work and then derided by her co-workers for being involved in church.
Look at the people on this task force, it's not just about of pastors sticking their nose in something they know nothing about. There are brilliant scientists who are highly regarded in their field on this task force. There are also farmers and people schooled in agriculture. This is not about ivory tower theologians telling people what to do, these are real people, grappling with real issues of science and faith, some of whom for the first time have had an opportunity to talk about this with other Christians. If you don't know that there are people out there facing these issues then you are up in a tower somewhere.
Pastor Schnekloth wonders why there embrionic stem cell research is not addressed. Well apparently that is old news. They have found other ways of getting those cells wihout using embryos and so it's no longer an issue. The question they are asking now is "At what point to you inject so much human genetic material into a pig (to harvest organs) that it is no longer a pig?"
Yes friends, we have been so busy worrying about who loves what gender that we have ignored some REAL moral dilemmas growing up around us.
The study comes out against cloning human beings. But says something very intersting.
However, if individuals are cloned despite societal and ELCA rejection, this church will respect their God-given dignity and will welcome them to the baptismal font, like any other child of God
You know why they put that in there don't you? They believe it is going to happen. Whether the church approves of it or not. Wake up and smell the coffee people!
There is some very good stuff on creation and care of creation and what I think is a very provocative statement:
Today, the meaning of “common good” or “good of all” must include the community of all living creatures. The meaning also should extend beyond the present to include consideration for the future of the web of life. The sphere of moral consideration is no longer limited to human beings alone.
But lest PETA (an organization for which I, an animal lover have NO respect) get too excited - there is this
The pursuit of genetic knowledge and its applications will rightfully give priority to serving the needs of existing individuals and the human community, with particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable. These efforts, however, must not compromise the integrity of future human generations and should consider the integrity of the rest of the biosphere—animals, plants, soils and the ecosystem as a whole, including the water and air on which it depends.
A measured, Lutheran middle of the road position. Humans first, but concern for the rest of creation.
I think it is an EXCELLENT EXCELLENT study and you should have your folk read it. Because this stuff is going to effect all of us.