Disappointment. Encouragement.

I've arrived home from The Image Of God - Its Meaning and Implication: Bioethics Conference. A great deal of the conference was just incredible -dealing with stem cell research, ebmryonic and cloning issues, end-of-life-issues, and ending-of-life issues.

The breakout session Implications of Hormonal Birth Control in Family Life and Pastoral Care was as I feared misnamed (read post from 11.7.05). Instead it became just one more meandering discussion that would have been more honestly titled Are there Implications of Hormonal Birth Control? The answers from the panelists on this question included awkward silence, no - not until a scientific study is published saying so, and possibly. Noticeably absent from the panel was a reputable, qualified person (such individuals exist a-plenty in St. Louis within the medical community!) representing a very real group of concerned Christians - and a very real group of Lutherans at that - who believe that there are grave life-taking implications of Hormonal Birth Control. This group is certainly not unknown which makes the absence of their representation all the more troubling.

Yet even as I sat there during this panel discussion worked up, frustrated, and disappointed that the discussion had been reframed and that representation did not run the spectrum, there was also encouragement to be taken. Others in the room apparently were experiencing some of the same frustration and disappointment. Ad it wasn't just a group of overly zealous buddies from sem days past. There were women, students, wives, pastors, mothers and more who by their thoughtful questions and comments demonstrated that concern over the implications of Hormonal Birth Control is real and widespread throughout the LC-MS even if it is grass-roots. It won't do to simply dismiss these concerns - equating the risks involved to the risks you and I take every day when we hop in a car (an analogy that was used by one member of the panel - and a false analogy at that). It won't do to suggest that our pastoral or parental response simply be to label these as "gray areas" and commend or young people to "let your soul be your guide" (as espoused by the theologian STING). No, as a Synod, as the people of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we walk together in the Gospel - joyously walking in the light and avoiding the gray areas when they can be avoided as they certainly can here!

Christ Be Our Leader...

I would more than welcome further comments, concerns, thoughts from othes who were in attendance.


rmgc said...

Dave, which panelist took which position (or non-position)? rmgc

Christopher Gillespie said...

We fear discussing the grey areas for fears of being antinomian and in the process don't discuss them AT ALL. I recall growing up in an LC-MS church where discussing birth control and other sexual issues in the church in a bible class, youth group and certainly the pulpit was taboo. We certainly should be concerned about shrouding the gospel with a big negative cloud of birth control. But even though these issues did not challenge the church of the apostles in the same way does not mean they aren't relevant or even fundamental to faith today. Let the dialogue begin!


Tina said...

Pastor Rufner, happy to hear you made it home safely. I, too, was in the panel discussion and had similar thoughts to you. (I'm the one who had the last question)

I guess I posted too soon, though. LOL. I responded with some of my thoughts in the other post where you talked about going to the conference.

In some ways, the panel reminded me of a political debate, in which the candidate has a pre-determined agenda they wish to advance, and use the opportunity to speak not to the question, but to wander off into another subject entirely.

Overall, I feel the conference was well done and thoughtful. I'm still processing a lot of the info, and am looking forward to hearing other's thoughts.

Andrew said...

This is a great blog. I am a single guy so I can't say that I know a lot about birth control. But I am definately a pro-life guy. To me it makes sense that if there is that possibility of a "micro-abortion" proven or not by science it shouldn't matter. If we want to look to science on this issue then we might as well say we started as some random organism millions of years ago. Science is not always are proof and we all should know that. I'm glad this kind of information is being brought up and discussed here. Thanks.