Cloning: Where Will It All End?
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
On February 24, 1997, it rocked the scientific community and stimulated the exaggerated imaginations of sci-fi enthusiasts. Scottish scientists cloned a sheep and named it “Dolly.” Fantasies fostered in fiction and played out on the silver screen now seemed closer than ever.
Could we have another Abraham Lincoln or John Wayne? Maybe we could spawn a genetic line of warriors to defend the country, or doctors to discover new cures. Perhaps this is a way to pass down to succeeding generations that one favorite preacher or teacher. OK, I know, that’s pushing it!
Seriously, representatives from the National Institutes of Health say that there is a BIG difference between cloning sheep and cloning the far more complex human. But Dolly surely has people talking and calling. A number of people have contacted the national office of Christian Life Resources concerning the ethical issues surrounding the cloning issue. Is it OK to clone? Is it playing God? Would the human clone have a soul? Invariable someone asks, “Where will it end?”
In the pursuit of knowledge, the human race has an insatiable appetite. With each intellectual mountain climbed, there is a bigger, more inviting one ahead. Where will it end? Maybe the real question to be asked is also the one that helps us keep our focus: WHEN will it end?
Admittedly, each generation has had to wrestle with the ethical implications of change and advancement. I remember hearing about when women began wearing their hair in a top knot. A zealous preacher, fearing the moral tide of society was heading us straight to hell, searched the Scriptures, and found the passage he needed to make his point. He went to Matthew 24:17, which in the King James Version read: “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house.” To make his point he spliced out the words: “top not come down.” To his hearers the point was clear, wearing your hair in a top knot was wrong!
Now, that is an extreme example but it illustrates how difficult change is for some people. Without a doubt, the changes brought on by medical advancements are complex and far-reaching. It is important for us to wrestle with ethical implications. But when we do that wrestling, we must be careful not to say less or more than what God’s Word says.
That is why when I face a new ethical challenge I first of all seek what I call a “timeframe” perspective. I wrestle with the issue within the wider context that despite all of our advancements, all things on earth come to an end.
It is nice to make strides in various fields of discipline but when people forget that it will all end, they stand to lose themselves in the pursuit of earthly gains. The day may come when humans are cloned. That, in and of itself, invites a deep discussion of ethical ramifications. And, given enough time, there will probably be other astounding discoveries and advancements. But first, consider the timeframe. It will end!
Although science may sometimes step on and over the lines of ethical propriety, it cannot change certain absolutes. One such absolute is that everyone must face the END. It is the day of judgment in which progress is measured not in discoveries but by faith. It is the day when every scientist, homemaker, businessman, child, homeless person, and yes, every clone (should that occur), will be asked, “Why should you be able to come into heaven?”
There is still only one answer, “It is because Jesus died for my sins that I stake a claim to heaven.”
All the Dollies in the world will not reveal this important fact. It is known to us only through the pages of Scripture. Christians need to use issues, such as cloning, as another forum to tell this message of salvation through Christ. That is what WELS Lutherans for Life seeks to do in its ministry.
I want to issue the caution that as you wrestle with the ethics of human cloning, be careful that what you say does not compromise Scripture. Learn to divide between personal philosophy and divine revelation. But I especially want to encourage you not to pass up the opportunity to use the progress of mankind to remind others of mankind’s greatest need the Savior. Until the day he comes, who knows where it will all end? One certainly exists: it will end, and it is our privilege and responsibility to prepare everyone for that moment.
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