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Ethics of the beginning and end of life - Weekly SNAC (7th July 2013)

“The foetus has Spina Bifida.” “It won’t survive outside of the womb.” “It would be best to ter- minate...there’s no other option.” “We can ar- range it for you in the next couple of days if you like.”
Read that again.
Let the gravity of the situation weigh on you for a moment.
“It would be best to terminate...there’s no other option.” “We can arrange it for you in the next couple of days if you like.”
How would you respond to that? You could formulate a reasoned response, couldn’t you? Carefully wading through argument and coun- ter argument until you reach a solid Biblical po- sition. That seems sensible. But you’re not in a reasonable state when the doctor suddenly stops talking about ‘your baby’ and instead starts talking about ‘the foetus’ who is terribly ill and the only course of action available is abor- tion. Far from it. There’s not much time to think through all that kind of stuff when the lull in con- versation is expecting your voice to break it...
When the question isn’t, “How would you re- spond?” but, “How will you respond?”, things are different. Reason goes from being an en- gaging dinner guest to a distant acquaintance whose face you remember but can’t quite place their name. New guests take their place at the table: Sorrow. Grief. Anxiety. Lost. Stuck. You lose your appetite, and dinner goes cold. You go cold...and numb. You try to speak, but noth- ing comes. You try to think. Nothing. How will
you respond?
Dr Megan Best, author of Fearfully and Wonder- fully Made - Ethics and the Beginning of Life, was our guest for the ‘Conversation Hour’ at Church in the Bank last week. Throughout the night she presented theologically astute, medi- cally informed and pastorally sensitive views on abortion, IVF, foetal screening for disabilities and euthanasia. As she spoke of people who faced their own “What will you do?” situation, it became clear that we need to think through these issues before we face them. Unsure, ill- equipped and confused, many people followed the advice of the doctor. The phrase, “I wasn’t aware of any other options,” came up again and again.
As she spoke, I realised that it was through people like her that I was able to respond. Not just on that day sitting in the radiographer’s of- fice, but on the many days before and after it where I found myself negotiating the real world of bio-ethics surrounding the beginning and end of life. As I look at 17 month-old Finn sitting next to me saying, ‘Dadda,’ I’m grateful that I was prepared to deal with the conversation that hap- pened in that room just under two years ago. Six years of theological training meant that I had been given a solid framework to begin dealing with the issues. More than that, it meant that I was even aware of the key issues involved in the first place. I knew people who I could talk to to find out more. I didn’t know if there were other options, but I knew I needed to at least look for them and how to look for them.
As we seek to be a community of disciples who glorify God at SNAC, let me encourage you todo four things:
1. Start thinking about what you believe as a Christian when it comes to the ethics surrounding beginning and end of life. In particular, what is it that constitutes life and why is that life valuable? Listen to Luther’s sermon series from CITB. He does a great job of laying the foundations for thinking theologically on these issues. Make sure you listen to the Conversation Hour with Dr Best too.
2. Read Dr Best’s book. It’s big, but it’s worth it. Trust me, it’s better to try and think about it now. 3. One of Dr Best’s key points was the need for the Christian community to support people who do the difficult thing and make decisions to hon- our God when it’s unpopular. In many cases there will be a long term need for support, or at least ongoing seasons of need. Be the support for them. Pray for them. Tell them you’re praying for them. Do stuff to help them, no matter how small. It makes a big difference to know that God is pro- viding for you through his people.
4.Pray. Pray that you would grow in love and knowledge of God and his will for us in Christ Jesus. Pray that your Christian brothers and sisters would do the same.
-- Brendan Moar

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