The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The genetics challenge

Our role in stewarding God's gift of life

At Thanksgiving Day dinner our daughter and son-in-law were excited to show us ultrasound images of their baby, which is due in early April. The advances in health care amaze and humble me, but they also make me grateful: A similar test eight years ago determined that our granddaughter would need corrective surgery soon after birth. Without such diagnostic tools, she would not be the vibrant, healthy child she is today.

Recent advances in science make the decisions we face ever more complex and daunting. As a lay person with little training in the sciences, I am astounded that the genetic inheritance of all species on earth, including human beings, is governed by the molecule known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The growing understanding of how different parts of DNA affect different characteristics of living beings gives us as humans unprecedented knowledge, power and responsibility.

It is tempting to conclude that genetics is too complicated and overwhelming for our consideration. If, however, we leave the discussions to scientists, the decisions to others and the debates to politicians, we may forget that each of us is called to be a steward of God’s gift of life.

The greater likelihood is that we are already impacted by what genetic research and engineering make possible. Perhaps you or a family member has struggled with infertility and the question of in vitro fertilization (see "Thinking ethically").

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February issue


Embracing diversity