Life and Death
On the surface of things, it all seems so simple. People are born, and people die. This is the circle of life.
But in the 21st century, things are anything but. In the past 100 years, increased birth control (contraceptive devices) and the legalisation of abortion under certain circumstances has impacted on the birth rate as people choose whether or not to have children. In 1978, the first ‘test tube baby’ was born, marking a medical milestone. Scientists regularly assist in the conception process, helping couples for whom having a baby was an impossible dream to create a new life.
At the other end of the spectrum, advances in medicine and medical technology mean that people are living longer than previously, raising questions about when and how death can and should occur. Life support machines keep the body alive when the mind has shut down, blurring the distinction between life and death. And even now a debate rages over whether people themselves should have the right to choose their moment of death. Taking one’s own life is still illegal in the UK, as is causing the death of another, either intentionally or through negligence. Yet many people are campaigning to allow exceptions for those wishing to be spared – or to spare others – the pain or indignity caused by terminal illness.
The Bible is an ancient text, written at a time when many of the medical advances we now enjoy could never have even been imagined. But Christians believe that it is able to speak into any and every situation, and offers perspectives on the ethics of all of these practices. This section looks at some of the ethical considerations around abortion, contraception, fertility treatments and euthanasia, and how different Christians apply ideas found in the Bible to judge on the morality of each.Bookmark