Nigel M. de S. Cameron—Bethlehem’s Bioethics–Christmas in the early 21st century

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those who have followed the Korean soap opera need to remember what this is really all about. As the tale has unfolded of Dr. Hwang and the lies, frauds, and evasions that have plunged the scientific community into a tailspin, the baseline question is the question of Christmas. What are the bioethics of Bethlehem? In fact, the question breaks into two. Did God truly take human nature to himself in Jesus Christ? And, did he really take it at its beginning? Because for all the focus of our Christmas story on the stable and the baby in a manger, the truly startling event had taken place nine months before.

Behind Christmas lies what Christians in churches that still dare use long words know as the annunciation—the announcement of Gabriel to Mary that she would be with child of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-31).

While Christmas reveals the Incarnation to the rest of us, it had already happened back then. Mary was the first to know; and her cousin Elizabeth’s unborn baby John (the Baptist) was the first to bear witness. His leaping in the womb was the first act of Christian testimony, a fetal response to a gospel first preached by an embryonic Jesus (perhaps two or three weeks old). As we read this narrative of theology from the womb, our minds turn to a near contemporary who would in due time electrify the ancient pagan world and lay the foundations of its collapse: Saul of Tarsus, also set apart from his mother’s womb (Galatians 1:15). Three unborn children in whose hands lay the destiny of humankind. And one of them was not merely the tiniest of humans, he was the cosmic creator, the Word by whom the Godhead has spoken into existence the vastness of time and space. And the One who will one day be our Judge.

I often wonder how many people who hear the famous Bible text that begins “In the sixth month” are aware of what is going on (Luke 1:26). It does not refer to the month of June, or for that matter to Elul, the Hebrew sixth month of the year. The reference is gynecological: the dating is by Elizabeth’s pregnancy. And it focuses us on the design of God to use the weak things of the world to confound the strong. The divine conspiracy is hatched within the walls of the womb.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchLife EthicsReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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