How should Christians view stem cell research?
There is a lot of fuss in the world over stem cell research and especially among the Christian community. Churches are speaking out against the research saying it’s unethical and against God’s will. This argument is based on interpretations of scripture, there is nothing in the Bible that states directly that stem cell research is bad. Harvesting embryos for research and then destroying them is another topic all together.
I think if you break this down to the possible discoveries that could be made from the research you will find that it aligns with most Christian values. The end goal here is to help people, save lives, and find cures for those suffering. Sounds like something Jesus would do, doesn’t it? Those that set out to cure disease and help the less fortunate are following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Didn’t Jesus cure a man with leprosy? Wasn’t healing the sick part of his mission? The Bible tells many tales of heroic healing efforts from Jesus and his disciples. There is scripture in the book of Matthew (4:23-24) that clearly emphasizes that a major part of Jesus’ ministry was his healing.
The issue many Christians have with the research is how the stem cells are being harvested. While some believe this process is immoral, others believe that it is needed to move the research forward until we can find other means of harvesting the cells. This research is very promising and has advanced medical science in a new direction that will change the way the world treats and cures diseases.
The moral dilemma is about the harvesting of stem cells from embryos. This process requires a live embryo that will then be destroyed in the process. A live embryo is considered human at the moment of conception. The Bible teaches that human existence begins at conception and the international consensus of embryologists agrees that the beginning stages of life do start at fertilization. Therefore, a human embryo is considered to be 100% human and consists of the 46 chromosomes that living humans are made up of. The actual size of the living organism doesn’t determine if it’s a human or not. Meaning that there is no difference between a microscopic life form and a grown man as far as the Bible is concerned. They are both human.
Because this process literally involves the killing of another human being it is considered to go against God’s will. The potential benefit of the research doesn’t outweigh the fact that humans are dying during the research. Biblically speaking, stem cell research through the harvesting of embryos is unethical and Christians should oppose any such scientific research.
Currently, the moral means of harvesting stem cells comes from adult donors. There are no objections to this from a Christian perspective. This is something that is done on a volunteer basis by bone marrow transplant donors. This research has proven to be effective in treating cancer, leukemia, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. These stem cells are harvested from adult donors and are extracted from healthy living bone marrow. There are other process for extracting stem cells from other parts of the body, but bone marrow donors have become the most popular. This research does not cost a human life and is performed on volunteer donors that have a say in the matter.
In conclusion, we find that embryonic research is unethical and goes against Christian values. The harvesting of stem cells from adult donors aligns with Christian values and should be embraced as an opportunity to help save lives.