Biotechnology introduces a sea of possibilities in modern science, each with a host of complexities and ethical mis/associations. Recently, a woman was cured of HIV using umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment, making her the third person to date.
The discovery of a potentially new treatment for HIV could be good news for the approximately 38 million people currently living with HIV.
In general, stem cell research is something considered controversial in Christian thinking, with people feeling strongly on both ends of the spectrum.
What is stem cell research and why is it controversial?
Though there are a number of reasons why someone might question the moral ethics of stem cell research, a main component is that stem cell research requires the use of human embryos. The question around when human life begins (like in the abortion debate) is what’s mainly under question.
Main questions to consider:
1. When does life begin?
2. If life begins at the embryonic fetus stage, does the embryo have the same moral status as a live-born child or adult?
Stem cell research has been used for years to find potential uses in medicine. Understanding the different complex elements of an embryo helps scientists to unlock a human’s predisposition to contracting diseases as well as regenerative healing.
This new approach that has been developed recently might be the key to unlocking new discoveries and cures for people living with HIV.
How should a Christian think about stem cell research?
Someone who is against stem cell research might argue that it’s because it questions the sanctity of life. Humans were created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), and the pattern of scripture shows God’s involvement in the formation of the unborn baby.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).
Still, there are Christian organizations that do condone “ethically acceptable” stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
The path forward in HIV research and stem cell medicine may continue to progress as more solutions and potential cures emerge.