BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney 26 March 2008


A matter of Conscience



Well, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has caused a bit of a stir. Roman Catholic Church leaders and members of other churches and other faiths have come out strongly against some of its provisions. And belatedly, the government is allowing its members a conscientious free vote for parts of the bill.


The bill, say its supporters, is designed to bring existing laws on fertility treatment and embryo research into line with scientific advances. In other words, we can do something but the present law prevents us. The question is, should we?


The critics object to three things:

1.     The downgrading of the present law on IVF treatment from requiring consideration of "the need for a father", to the woolly "need for supportive parenting" for the child.

2.     Creating a child with particular genetic characteristics primarily to provide replacement tissues for a sick brother or sister.

3.     Creating so-called hybrid animal/human embryos to aid stem cell research, which it is hoped might eventually lead to cures for currently untreatable diseases.


Why makes Christians uneasy about this? It's because the Christian faith is all about life. The bible tells us that God personally created human beings[1]. So the creation of life is in the hands of God, not of man. And He commanded us not to murder one another, for life is not ours to take away. So that's why Christians worry about manipulating that little clump of cells that is the start of a human life.


This is one of those occasions when our MPs have to earn their pay and really think about the consequences of their vote. They need our understanding - and our prayers.


[1] the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. [Genesis 2:7, NIV]