Chapter 1 – Questioning Medical Technologies: Compassion and Asking Important Questions

Author: Greg Kenyon, Mitchell, Ontario, Canada
Before reading -Please note

–This is a chapter from an online version of a book I am writing with the purpose of providing true information about organ donation and invitro fertilization (IVF) as well as raising some of the questions that should be asked.

–This book is written from a Biblical-Christian perspective.  To learn more about what this means feel free to read some of the other material on my blog at  You may also read my attempt to describe my beliefs at http://greg.kenyonspage/i- Believe/.

–This is a work in progress.  If you are reading from a printed version or coped material, rather than directly from my website,,   then you may not have the most up-to-date draft of this book.  Please do not copy it or pass it on to others.  Instead, go to the book on my website at , technologies/.

The following chapter was last updated in Jan 2014 – this means that the foot notes of websites refer to how the websites were at that time.

Chapter 1


Questioning Medical Technologies: Compassion and Asking Important Questions


Medical Technologies have advanced dramatically over the past 20 years.   Some of these medical technologies have especially challenged Christians to consider the ethical implications.    Medicine offers help with infertility that in biblical times could only be managed with a wife giving her husband children through her handmaiden.   Medicine offers help with crippling genetic diseases, that in Biblical times left one a beggar. Medicine offers cures from illness by organ transplants to treat illnesses that in biblical times meant certain death. Aspects of these technologies can be used rightly within God’s prescription for life, but many of the paths these technologies take one down disregard the law of the Lord. Reproductive technologies allow homosexuals to have babies. They have allowed the mixing up of families, with children coming from the womb genetically related to only one of their parents. They have promoted the selection of the “perfect” child, which includes the destruction of those that are considered defective. Organ transplantation, needs a source of living organs. Living organs generally are found in living people.   Increasingly, organs are taken, knowing that the result of this will be the death of the donor.   In a world willing to use and develop these technologies in perverse ways, can we use these technologies in a morally right way? If so, how do we determine what is right or wrong?


Somehow, there is direction in Christ, who gives to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Our approach to having babies and dealing with illnesses certainly is part of life.   Help comes “through the knowledge of Christ, [the word,] from whom we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these promises we may be partakers of His divine nature.” Through Christ, we will be able to escape the corruption that is in the world. (2Peter 1:3-4)   It is the world’s lust that leads the world to use these technologies in sinful ways. Somehow, in the Lord, we can find our way. Trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding and the Lord will direct our path. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Advances in these technologies have occurred so quickly that it has been difficult for non-medical people to keep up with what is actually happening. Some people end up naively travelling down unethical paths.   As society moves further away from Biblical foundations, the law of the Lord is increasingly ignored. Killing of the weak and defenceless is becoming more acceptable. As medical experts move away from biblical foundations, their guidance and advice become less trustable. Many Christians, today, when promised what seems good, such as a baby of their own or the sparing of a loved one’s life, are inclined to accept these technologies as being good without carefully considering the depth of what is happening.   Yet, if we let ourselves, we do not have to look far to find there is a lot of collateral damage associated with these technologies. Given these problems, is our task not far greater than just discovering how we may use these technologies in a right way? Do we not also have a responsibility to expose the immorality that frequently accompanies their use? We are to “walk as children of the light….finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Eph 5:8-12)


As we delve into these topics, we do so knowing that some close to us, in our own churches and in our families, have gone down some of these technological paths. If in our consideration of these technologies it is discovered those close to us have somehow used technology in an unethical way, then what we are doing may be perceived as an attack or as being judgmental. We need to be careful. Those who have travelled down such paths have likely not done so on a whim. It has been on the heels of great suffering and hardship, such as the distress of waiting years for children, or having a precious child become seriously ill near to death. Likely, much prayer has gone up to God. These are not small things. Those of us who have, so far, been spared such suffering, to a certain extent, may not appreciate the power of the promise of these technologies.


So, let us begin with excerpts from an essay by David B Biebel called The Riddle of Suffering.[1] One of David’s children died from a genetic disease. The disease David faced is different but I suspect the depth of the struggle is similar. He says,

On a purely human level, to experience genetic disease [or other serious medical life and death issues] in one’s children is to be immersed in a boiling cauldron of almost pure pain, with a generous helping of surprise, confusion, disappointment, anger, and guilt thrown in….In the beginning, this experience may act like glue, uniting a couple or family….In the end, it often becomes a wedge, driving people apart….People need help…. First, we must keep our focus on the people involved….people who once had [or have] hopes and dreams much like our own – people who need understanding, support, encouragement, and compassion. Compassion entails holding their pain in our hearts. Even when there is nothing we can do in terms of ‘treatment’, our hearts can share their pain.

He suggests that we consider what Jesus would do?

He would validate the pain, for he was a man of sorrows….He would weep with those who weep….He would comfort those who mourn by helping them, for he is ‘Immanuel, God with us….He would carry the pain: a sorrow shared is a sorrow diminished….He would bind up the hurt, fill the void with himself, and nurture the hurting child in us toward maturity, showing us how to use the pain for good, as he did….He would not scold, judge, give a lot of advice, or offer pious platitudes or pat answers to questions nobody is asking.

In David’s case, because he was the good shepherd, he went out into the wilderness and found this lost lamb, picked him up, and carried him home. David says,

Had I known ahead of time the agony that genetic illness could bring us, I would have preferred to avoid it. So I understand why people who approach this issue on a purely human level using secular values and reasoning may choose to kill unborn, genetically deficient children in an effort to avoid the kind of pain I have just described.

So too, we should understand how our fellow Christians can travel down paths that may concern us. David says,

there is a more than the purely human dimension of life….Would I have rather my children had not been born? Absolutely not….Looking back, I can see that the experience with all its wondering and wandering has made me: stronger because it showed me my weakness, wiser because it showed the foolishness of centring my life on anything other than God, more dependent because as the master of my own destiny I utterly failed, it has made me closer to God…

In his conclusion, David points out that

life is a riddle, which God wants me to experience, but not necessarily solve….By keeping us in our riddle, God is helping us to learn about walking by faith and not by sight.


So, as we consider issues related to these Technologies let us not forget the people affected. Let us attempt to walk in their shoes. Let us not be proud and think, somehow, if we had to walk the path that the Lord had them walk, that we would have naturally done the right thing, the thing that we think agrees with the word of the Lord. Another essay in the same book on Genetic Ethics, suggest that we try to follow the commitment “to promote life, not death; health, not sickness, to suffer and counsel with those who suffer, to care compassionately when one cannot cure, and to be part of God’s presence in the valley of the shadow of death….in short to search for shalom.”[2] As a person who naturally is quick to tell others how I believe things ought to be, I pray that God will help me to respond with this commitment. Also, as we consider truth, I pray that we can compassionately approach those who are affected.


With issues like invitro fertilization, vital organ transplantation, and genetic manipulation, it is tempting to focus on the outcome, a beautiful healthy baby, a child revived to life or avoiding having a child with life long illness. In spite of questions about these technologies, along with the use of these technologies has not the Lord answered much prayer. Is it not the Lord, the author of life, is one who has given life to our beautiful baby. Is it not the Lord, in whom we live and have our being, certainly, who sustains the life of our child and overcomes trials such as the struggle with genetic illness.   These things are true, but does this mean that we can ignore the questions presented by the technological paths that resulted in these great outcomes?


Consider the healthy child, in our midst, who was conceived out of wedlock.   In spite of the fact that they were conceived out of wedlock, we rejoice in the child and see the life of the child as a good thing. We see the child as a gift from our Lord, but we do not say that the sex out of wedlock was a good thing. We rejoice all the more when the parents acknowledge and confess their sin. If the parents have not yet seen their sin, we work at educating them and help them to come to the point of seeing it. We believe that through their confession, they will grow in freedom and relationship with the Lord. Given the direction our world is going, where living common law is the norm, it is not inconceivable that some Christians might naively believe that sex and conception out of wedlock are not really a concern.   Some churches have not, yet, gone this far down the path of following the ways of the world. Yet, most of us would agree that we ought to search out what the Lord has to say about marriage and the having of children. We would agree we ought to teach about these things in our midst, and if some find, even naively, that they have not walked according to the right way of the Lord, we ought to encourage them in the way of repentance. Likewise, we should consider the paths that these technologies ask us to follow.


So, faced with problems these medical technologies promise to solve, what questions should we ask? Where should we look for the answers? First, do we need to ask questions?   Do we dare ask? What if we discover that we, or those we care about, have travelled down a path that should not have been travelled? What if the beautiful child that the Lord has given us finds out that they were conceived through a sinful act? Facing such questions may come with new pain. Are such questions best left unanswered or, at least, best left for the involved families to answer and better kept out of the public square?


There are significant concerns about the use of these technologies.   Their use often involves sin.   Should we not bring these concerns to light? Especially, if there is a tendency for Christians to accept their use assuming that there is no is nothing to be concerned about. Acting in ignorance does not make it right. Leviticus chapter 4 describes offerings prescribed for unintentional sins. These offerings point to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. This means that Jesus died for unintentional sins committed in ignorance. We should battle these sins. By considering the possibilities of sinning through use of medical technologies, we may keep others from, naively, entering into sin. Some Christians may realize that there are significant concerns, but are so desperate to achieve what the technology promises that they set aside their concerns afraid that the hope of achieving a pregnancy or avoiding death might be taken away. It is possible that some suffer guilt silently over what they have done, unable to openly repent and confess. Looking into the questions about these things ought to lead to freedom from such guilt.   If we learn that we have sinned and we confess our sin, our Lord is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) On the other hand, if we find out that the technology can be used in a way that grows out of God’s created good, rather than a result of brokenness and sin, then we can rejoice all the more and possibly should promote such use of technology.


So far, I hope that you have been encouraged to show compassion for those who live with the pain of infertility, or those facing the agonizing decision about what to do when faced with things like organ transplantation.   I hope that we can compassionately and gently help them to explore the difficult questions that arise, trusting that the Lord holds even these answers in His good plan for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28)


Answering all of the questions is beyond the scope of this series of essays. In this introductory chapter, I hope that we can begin to think about the asking of questions and consider what questions we should be asking. For those unfamiliar with the details of technologies such as invitro fertilization and vital organ transplantation it may be difficult to even begin to ask questions. So, I will delve briefly into both of these issues. We will consider each in more depth in the following chapters.

Why would some be concerned about IVF? We will limit our consideration of IVF to married couples using the husband’s sperm, the wife’s eggs and with the wife carrying the pregnancy.   In each cycle of natural egg production that a woman goes through, her ovaries begin to produce many eggs.   God’s design usually results in one egg surpassing the rest while the other eggs regress. In IVF, drugs are given to the wife which interrupt this process and cause multiple eggs to mature at the same time. Questions remain about the long term safety of these drugs.   Also, eggs that would normally regress according to God’s design are now available to use. These eggs are surgically harvested. A sample of sperm is taken from the husband. The egg and sperm are allowed to unite in a petri dish outside the body. Sometimes the doctors, rather than letting the egg and sperm unite on their own, inject the sperm into the egg. This allows eggs and sperm to unite that would not ordinarily unite if left to God’s design. Since the chance of a single fertilized egg successfully implanting in the uterus is quite low, several eggs are fertilized and allowed to begin to grow into tiny new human beings. The ones that the doctors think look the healthiest are chosen. Usually, at least three of these are put in the uterus, in hopes that one will implant and survive. The fertilized eggs not selected to be put into the uterus are either discarded or frozen for possible use later. The patient has to trust integrity of the doctors, that they will promote life and not do anything that might minimize the chance of one of their new children surviving. Unfortunately, the loss of life along the way in IVF research is so high, that a true Christian doctor, once their eyes were opened to the truth, could not continue as an IVF doctor. This means to pursue IVF you, necessarily, have to trust a doctor who has been involved in much destruction of human life. If we are to use IVF, what is permissible and what things should be avoided?   All cases of IVF, involve mankind redirecting the pathway of conceiving children and establishing pregnancy. Is it permissible for us to change God’s design, rather than just trying to repair a broken part, such as a blocked fallopian tube? As we can see, IVF raises lots of possible concerns. If care is taken can IVF be used? If so, what steps need to be taken to make this possible?[3]


Next, why would some people be concerned about vital organ transplantation?   For organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, bowels and kidneys to be useful for transplant they have to be alive when taken from the donor. This means that the body must be alive. Our society claims to have a dead donor rule. This says that vital organs cannot be removed from a person until that person is dead. This means that donors who have been declared dead must also have organs that are alive and functioning properly for theses organs to be useful in transplantation.   For example, a heart must be beating and pumping blood to be considered useful for transplantation. This basically means the donor’s body needs to be alive. After preparing to remove the organ, before the blood vessels are cut, the blood is cooled and replace by a special solution to prolong the time the organ will survive once the blood supply is cut off. If the blood flow stops before this is done, the blood will, very soon, begin to clot and make organ donation impossible. With these donors, there is no intent that the donor be alive after the organ is removed. Currently, it is illegal to do this in someone who has not been declared dead.   So, in 1968 we stared defining death by death of the brain while the rest of the body is still alive.   This provides a source of living organs for transplantation. There remains significant controversy over the definition and use of brain death as a determinant of death. Some, likely, use the criteria loosely in order to obtain more organs. Also, there are examples of people declared dead who have recovered and lived. Some tests for brain death may increase brain damage and thus the likelihood of meeting brain death criteria. Brain death by rigorous use of the criteria is not common and does not satisfy the desire for organs, so some have proposed loosening the criteria to the loss of only higher brain functions.   This is essentially a state of deep unconsciousness. Of course, this loss of brain function is supposed to be irreversible to declare brain death but how do we really know that this is irreversible?   The public has not been ready for such loosening of the definition of death, so we have moved to what we call non-beating heart donors. With non-beating heart donors, all is made ready to begin the operation to remove the organs and then drugs and devices that are aiding the heart are withdrawn.   As soon as the heart has stopped beating for two minutes, the surgery to retrieve the organ is started. To keep the organs alive some form of artificial circulation of blood is started but the main blood vessel, the aorta, is often cross clamped to prevent blood flow to the brain and heart muscle. If the aorta is not cross clamped, the person may come back to life. Also, it is important to minimize the time from organ removal to implanting the organ in the recipient. So, the recipients of the organs are selected and have their surgery preparation underway before the organs are retrieved from the donor. This means that at the time someone agrees to accept a vital organ that the donor’s heart is still beating and the life blood still flowing.   Considering all of these things, can the obtaining of the living organs, necessary to do transplantation, be done ethically, in a way that honours the commands of the Lord such as not killing?   I have yet to see clear evidence that it is possible to remove vital organs from a person without being involved in taking the donors life.[4]


By presenting these questions and the title of this series, Questioning Technologies, I do not mean to imply that all medical technology is wrong but that we need to consider all medical technology that is developed in our broken sinful world in the light of what the Creator, the Lord God, teaches us through His Word. We live in a broken world. Everything good has a not good counterpart. This began in the Garden of Eden. Just as the devil deceived Eve in the garden by perverting the truth and presenting as good what is not good, The Devil, the father of lies, attempts to draw us into sin by perverting what is good and presenting this perversion to us as good. The world, blind to the deceptions of the devil, tends to accept as good what is not good. We, with our deceitful hearts and our desire to be in control of life, tend to overlook these perversions and accept as good what is not good. One significant technique of deception is to tell only part of what really happens. I will try to tell you some important things about what really happens, especially those things that tend to be overlooked or down played by some who promote these technologies. Hopefully, armed with facts of what happens when one enters into the use of these technologies, we can begin to ask the right questions, questions that will help us carefully evaluate what we accept in the light of Scripture.   To do this we often need more than a superficial explanation of what happens.   In following chapters I will go into more depth in the areas of invitro fertilization and organ donation.


In conclusion, you may have been expecting me to look at which aspects of these technologies we can use and which we cannot. I suspect that you can understand based on the information presented that there are significant concerns with the use of much of what these technologies offer. You may want to be able to answer the question, “how far can we go?” Is this the most important question? Is it even a question that we should ask? What questions does the Lord want us to seek answers to? If we are in the midst of facing the prospect of IVF or the doctors are telling us that we may need an organ donation then finding out what is ethically allowed is more pressing. But these are not likely the most significant things to question for most of us. How do we help those around us? What can we do to help our children and others to be more able to face these issues when the doctors of our society present such options?   Let us begin by helping each other to consider the questions that we may be afraid to ask or not want to face.   Let us honestly consider all of the facts that surround the use of these technologies with their potential to take, as well as promote, life.
Return to Book page.


[1] David B. Biebel, The Riddle of Suffering, in Genetic Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Genes ed. by John F. Kilner et al. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1997.   p3-6.

[2] Hessel Bouma, III, PhD, The Seach for Shalom in Genetic Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Genes ed. by John F. Kilner et al. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1997.   p21

[3] Supportive documentation for comments in this paragraph made can be found in chapter one titled, “IVF: Questions We Should Ask.”

[4] Supportive documentation for comments made in this paragraph can be found in chapter three titled, “Organ Donation: Questions We Should Ask.

Return to Book page.

Author: Greg Kenyon, Mitchell, Ontario, Canada
–This is a chapter from an online version of a book I am writing with the purpose of providing true information about organ donation and invitro fertilization (IVF) as well as raising some of the questions that should be asked.
–This book is written from a Biblical-Christian perspective. To learn more about what this means feel free to read some of the other material on my blog at You may also read my attempt to describe my beliefs at http://greg.kenyonspage/i- Believe/.
–This is a work in progress. If you are reading from a printed version or coped material, rather than directly from my website,, then you may not have the most up-to-date draft of this book. Please do not copy it or pass it on to others. Instead, go to the book on my website at , technologies/.


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