Are we as churches preparing men and women to make theologically informed decisions about reproductive technologies? That is the question Dr. Russell Moore discussed on the Jul. 16 broadcast of the Albert Mohler radio show. I say no.
Most Christians decry abortion. We also decry China’s “One Child Policy”, not just because they have forced women to have abortions but because we believe it is wrong for the institution of the state to impose such a restriction on the institution of the family. These are issues that don’t need to be addressed frequently or directly by the church because they are already given plenty of attention from prominent media sources.
However, issues such as contraceptives (all forms of the pill and I.U.D.’s) which may have the ability to induce abortion by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg (read baby) or fertility therapies that rely on selective reduction (read abortion) are not addressed by the media in the same regard. So who should be responsible for informing Christians to make theologically informed reproductive choices? I would say the church is, but my bet is you would be hard pressed to find a church that is actually working to clarify these issues. Why not? My guesses are as follows.
- There are a number of people within the church who have already or currently are taking part in *at best* questionable reproductive practices.
- These people have not refrained from telling others within the church about their choices, so to some extent who did and does what is public knowledge. Dealing with this will upset a large number of people.
- It is difficult to generate the same sense of concern for these issues as with abortion. In regards to the use of contraceptives, the abortive effects are known by the companies that sell them but the effects are not detectable by the women who use them. In regards to fertility therapies there is great sympathy for couples who are struggling to have children.
These are good reasons to deal with these topics gently but not to disregard them all together.
I come to my last point. I hear a lot about the need for the church to live in “community” or to be a true “community”. Churches are trying different things to achieve the stated goal (I am not convinced that this is possible given the nature of American culture, but that is beside the point). I must admit that I struggle to sense community with those that live lives that are disconnected theologically from the book our community purports to live by. I am not talking about those that are unaware of the dangers of contraceptives or fertility therapy, but those that are and still speak openly of their practices. We applaud when a state enacts a waiting period or requires the use of a sonogram before having an abortion. We say we want women to be more informed. Does the desire to be informed stop with us? We lack consistency within the church on the issue of life and we are quite content to not know what we don’t know.