Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Applied Christian Bioethics: Counseling on the Moral Edge

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Applied Christian Bioethics: Counseling on the Moral Edge

Article excerpt

Biotechnological developments have brought critical moral decisions into the everyday lives of ordinary people. Christian bioethicists are increasing awareness of value conflicts embedded in health care but fastened to worldview. Yet, to who can earnest Christians turn for assistance in discerning direction in the midst of complex options and intense personal agendas? A service gap between the medical and pastoral is initially identified. Furthermore, mental health professionals (MHPs) are in a prime position to apply clinical skills to the process of uncovering wisdom. Through case scenarios, counselors will consider how to enter conversational territory that physicians and pastors may be reluctant or unable to breech. Counselors are equipped to listen to how the bioethical dilemma is heard inside a client's personal narrative and within the motivational grid flowing from a personality style. In conjunction with pastors and physicians, Christian counselors have much to contribute to those wrestling with decisions on the edge of morality. "When helping professionals engage bioethical concerns, careful examination of one's role, function and code of ethics is required. The intent is to consider use of therapeutic process to explore - at the personal decision level - how to apply bio-technological advancements as acts of God honoring stewardship and affirmation of Christian identity.

Extraordinary and precedent-setting medical human interest stories consistently break into the news. Media commentators and bioethicists labored over the birthing account of Sharon Duchesneau and Candy McCullough. Both women are deaf. When they determined to become parents, having a deaf child was highly valued. In their community, deafness is not considered a disease or disability that provokes remorse; it is simply a different way of life. Being a lesbian couple, Sharon and Candy sought a sperm donor with five generations of deafness in his family. They were eventually 'successful', as their son, Gauvin, was born deaf. As this family story circulated, it raised multiple questions regarding eugenic definitions, limitations, and choices. Should medical technology be applied to design human beings? Who speaks for the human being created? Should patient autonomy rule in setting the parameters for the usage of available biotechnology (Sandel, 2007)?

On Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, 18-year-old Stephanie Kuleba, known as "Sunshine," a blond-haired, outgoing, high school cheerleader with a near perfect grade point average tragically and suddenly died. Sunshine was undergoing elective breast augmentation surgery. The year prior in 2007, 347,500 women of all ages had done the same. The decision to medically conect perceived imperfections accounted for her assuming the risk of anesthesia. A rare reaction called malignant hyperthermia resulted in her death. Is there reason to reflect on what drove this woman with so much potential to pursue this enhancement with its indisputable threats (www. TO DAYShow .com)?

Newsworthy scenarios receive media attention, while everyday bioethical conclusions contain elements common to the dramatic ones. Specifically, the intersection of personal stories, wishes, dreams, expectations, and motivational forces all combine within the fabric of a social community to form a unique context where determinations are made on the use of biotechnology. Ethics is the identification of the parameters utilized to guide decisions regarding right and wrong (KiIner & Mitchell, 2003). Preface the word 'ethics' with only three letters, B-I-O, to signify that which is alive, and the decisions encompass the weighty matters of life - along with its inevitable partner, death. Bioethics has arisen over the past fifty years as a distinct interdisciplinary field out of medical ethics as health care determinations impacting human lives are no longer exclusively within the professional domain of physicians.

Christian bioethics is the theological and philosophical sub-specialty that explores the implication of health care practice in light of traditional Judeo-Christian medical praxis, expanding technology, legal/medical policy, biblical interpretation, theoretical assumptions and theological definitions of human personhood. …

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