General Association of General Baptists

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Official Denominational Website: http://www.generalbaptist.com/


Beginning of Life

Abortion

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"In accordance with Biblical references and research by reliable authorities, we acknowledge the sanctity of unborn human life and believe that the act of deliberate abortion in the case of unwanted pregnancy to be an act of murder. Terms such as “zygote”, “embryo”, and “fetus” are helpful when describing the developmental stage of an unborn child, just as “early childhood” or “adolescence”, describe later stages of development. In general conversation, however, it is good to affirm the humanity of the unborn by using the language of the Bible and speaking of “the baby”, “the child”, and using personal pronouns. When giving to charitable organizations one should be diligent to find out whether any of the organizations’ funds provide for or support abortion.
The penalty and consequences of taking a human life rest upon the consenting parent or parents, the medical staff involved and any others who encourage or otherwise facilitate abortion. We are equally bound to acknowledge the sacredness of the life and well being of the mother to whom devastating damage or death may result from giving birth. We oppose comprehensive legalized abortion, whether by law or judicial mandate, but fully support medical ethics and laws that permit therapeutic abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. While recognizing the moral dilemma created, most of us are in troubled sympathy with medical ethics and laws that permit therapeutic abortion in cases of forcible rape (the forced creation of life) and incest (the unlawful creation of life). We also acknowledge that many wonderful children have come into the world through these unfortunate circumstances and respect those women who chose to make this sacrificial commitment. Many would add permanent damage to the mother’s physical health (perceived to be an unchosen and unexpected greater disaster) to the list of exceptions. We are well aware that the term “mental health” includes even the slightest emotional discomfort.
We, therefore, always avoid using this broad term as a justification for abortion. Some General Baptists would, however, support abortion in those rare cases when (supported by evidence upon which the majority of mental health professionals would agree) the pregnancy would result in permanent psychosis for the mother. Such cases would almost always include verifiable evidence of emotional problems that pre-dated the pregnancy. These exceptions provoke words of caution: Who has the ability or right to declare a continued pregnancy to be physically harmful to the mother? Indeed, as of this writing, research indicates that one in four women who had legal abortions became infertile. Moreover, rather than relieving mental illness, mental health professionals now speak of post-abortion stress syndrome. Evidence shows that many women who have abortions suffer from depression and/or feelings of guilt. Indeed, some women became suicidal after an abortion. Any exceptions to our opposition to abortion, including the “morning after pill,” are supported with grave reservations and with stipulations and qualifications pertinent to each case.
The physical or mental disability of the unborn child is never justification for abortion. The value of each life is not determined by one’s capacity to perform (works), but rather by the love of God (grace) for each individual who is made in His image from the moment he or she receives individual identity at conception. Indeed, it is worth noting that many physically limited and mentally handicapped individuals lead fulfilling and happy lives within the limits of their ability. Some who have good health and high intelligence lead miserable lives.
Under no circumstance can it be argued that because abuse might happen later, one is justified in committing the sure and ultimate abuse of killing the innocent unborn now. Also worthy of note is the fact that whether a pregnancy is initially wanted or unwanted is rarely if ever a factor in whether a child will later be neglected or abused.

Most unwanted pregnancies happen because two people exercised the right to choose and chose poorly. They could have abstained, but did not. They could have chosen effective birth control, but did not. The right to choose ends where the new child’s life begins.

The fact is that most abortions happen because the unborn child is perceived to be an emotional, social, or financial burden on others. We simply cannot solve these problems by killing people. It is incumbent upon Christian people to provide alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, parenting classes, and establishing mentoring friendships with young or struggling parents." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 16-17)[1]

Contraception

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The long controversy over the morality of birth control presents no small issue. Three very important factors must be considered: the health of the mother, the health and welfare of the expected child, and the ability of the parents to provide for this child. God’s institution of marriage provided fellowship and companionship between husband and wife, which involved physical gratification along with the power of reproduction. To consider whether birth control is right or wrong is also to determine the responsibilities God requires of the couple bringing a child into the world. The responsibilities include the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual development of the child to be born. God has planned for the “replenishing of the earth” to be a responsible act. Parenthood is a responsible act subject to the will and plan of God.
Each potential set of parents must make decisions relative to birth control, whether it is right or wrong in their particular situation. However, in whatever decision they make, they must be able to justify their choice in the sight of God. These considerations have a worldwide outreach. When we look at our over populated world and see the poverty stricken homes, the inherited deformities, the overly crowded conditions, and other critical conditions it appears that people have left God out of their plans for their family life. Our sympathy is with the millions who have come into this world only to be forced into trying to make the best of a bad situation. Our Christian love and concern should go out to all those who are disadvantaged by state of birth. A couple must not only choose whether to use birth control, but also choose morally acceptable means of birth control. To do this it is important to understand that conception (i.e., fertilization), the union of sperm and ova, happens in one of the fallopian tubes. This is the beginning of a unique human life. From this point on, no new genetic material is added. The resulting new life is then implanted in the lining of the uterus. A contraceptive prevents conception. This is morally acceptable. Post-contraceptive birth control either prevents the newly formed child from implanting in the uterus or dislodges it shortly after it has attached itself to the uterine wall. These latter methods are in effect abortion and are morally unacceptable." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 15)[2]


Infertility & Reproduction

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after unprotected intercourse for a period of at least one year or the inability to carry a conception past the first trimester of pregnancy. Infertility does not necessarily carry moral implications and may result from medical factors beyond the patient’s control. Many godly people in Scripture were infertile. On the other hand, some sexually transmitted diseases can cause infertility. Abortion can result in infertility. In these cases, spiritual restoration is always available whether fertility is or not. In all cases, grace and mercy dictate that all ethical and financially reasonable means to facilitate the bearing of children should be available. Remember, however, that ultimately the fruit of the womb is in the hand of God not technology." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 17)[3]

Reproductive Technologies

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"When the gamete (sperm and/or ova) donors are married to one another, in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) are ethically acceptable means of facilitating conception. The same holds true for artificial insemination when the donor and recipient are married to each other. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (CISI), assisted hatching and round spermatic nuclear injection (ROSNI) are also acceptable for married couples. They affirm the unitive (enjoyment and relationship building) purpose of sexual relations in marriage and facilitate the procreative (having children) purpose of sexual relations in marriage.
Gamete donation between persons who are not married to one another is ethically problematic. Granted, it could lessen the possibility of genetic disease in some cases. In the case of ova donation the child would be biologically related to the father and the mother might become emotionally linked through pregnancy. Sperm donation is considerably cheaper than many other technically aided methods. Nevertheless, the emotional issues involved when a third party (even an anonymous one) is involved in creating a child are complex. Difficult marital or parent/child bonding issues could arise. Gamete donation can carry with it at least the possibility of sexually transmitted disease. Some people believe that the Biblical teaching of a husband and wife procreating as a consequence of becoming one flesh could be considered a prohibition of this practice.
Fertility drugs as a means to restore one to a more healthy, functional state and improve fertility are good per se. There is, however, the possibility of multiple pregnancies and subsequent financial hardship and other stress for the family that must be considered before choosing some of these means of facilitating conception. Abortion as a means of reducing the number of children carried in a multiple pregnancy either to enhance the chances of survival for the remaining children or for the convenience of the family is morally unacceptable.
Surrogate pregnancy can be moral if the child produced has been conceived in vitro by the parents who will raise the child and transplanted into the uterus of the surrogate. A woman who volunteers her womb to save a frozen embryo from destruction should be commended not condemned. Indeed, all surrogacy must be done without desire for personal gain. The surrogate must not be a donor of the ova, thus bringing a third party into the one-flesh relationship of procreation. Neither should donor sperm from one other than the husband be used. The surrogate must not benefit financially. A womb should not be rented any more than an organ should be sold. This commercializes what should never be bought or sold. Impoverished women could be pressured to make their wombs available. Embryos, young people, could be bought. Buying people is slavery.
Having examined reproductive technologies per se, we must consider their cost. Some might be opposed, not in an absolute sense, but because they use resources that could be used for more needed treatments. More cost-effective solutions, such as adoption, are available. This position is debatable." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 17-19)[4]

Frozen Oocytes

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The freezing of any number of gametes presents no moral problem since human life has not been created. A couple should, however, never create or preserve more embryos than they are willing to have children since the embryos are living persons in embryonic form." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 18)[5]


Science & Technology

Biotechnology

Human Cloning

Official Position: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The possibility of being able to clone humans poses grave moral dangers. If this technology becomes feasible, can it be used to create organ donors, to replace people identical to those lost in death, or used to create a supposed “super race”?" (Social Principles of General Baptists, 19)[6]

Stem Cell Research

Official Position: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The destruction of embryos or fetuses to obtain tissue to benefit the health of another is immoral. Stem cell research (and perhaps some day treatment) that uses stem cells from the umbilical cord or from adults is acceptable." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 19)[7]

Genetic Ethics

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"Human genetic engineering is the new frontier of medical science. There are things that are acceptable in agriculture and animal husbandry that are unacceptable for humans, who are created in the image of God, having infinite worth and eternal significance." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 19)[8]

Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"Genetic engineering should never be used to create one normative genotype or phenotype. Determining intelligence, looks, and developing classes of people to perform certain tasks are unacceptable uses of medical science." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 19)[9]

Genetic Testing

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The genetic testing procedure amniocentesis should only be used for the benefit of the unborn child. Genetic abnormalities are no reason to destroy a person at any stage of life." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 18)[10]

Human Research Ethics

Experimentation on Human Embryos

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"Embryos or fetal tissue should never be used for research unless the benefit to the individual embryo or fetus is greater than the risk." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 18)[11]


End of Life

Extraordinary Measures

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"We reject efforts to prolong terminal illness merely because the technology is available to do so. At the same time we endorse the work and discoveries made by medical science through scientific experimentation based upon accepted procedures. However, the physician has the responsibility to insure that every precaution is taken so the patient is in no way victimized by such experimentation or its products." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 25)[12]

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"We believe life and death belong in the hands of God. Regardless of circumstances that befall people, they must know that God gave them existence and He holds them responsible for their stewardship of life. We are thankful to medical science for efforts and accomplishments made in preventing disease and illness and for the great advances in treatment which extend the life and usefulness of those affected.
It is of deep Christian concern, however, when people suffer from incurable diseases to the point where the wisdom of God is questioned in continuing life. Questions arise as to whether a person has the right to die if it means release from suffering. The truth is that people in extreme physical stress are incapable of making rational decisions. People who are clinically depressed are by definition incapable of a rational decision. Research shows that when these three conditions exist, terminally ill people almost universally want to live. First, when pain is controlled they want to live. Today pain can almost always be controlled. Most people remain lucid on pain control medicine. Unless one has a history of substance abuse, there is little risk of addiction with properly administered pain control medication. Physical dependence – not the same as addiction – is usually not a problem if one goes off medication gradually. Second, most people do not want to die when they have a support group. Christian fellowship is made for this role. Third, people usually do not want to die if they have faith in God. The deliberate termination of life is wrong, whether it is done by the person, a friend or by the physician. We affirm the right of every person to die with dignity. We reject efforts to prolong terminal illness merely because the technology is available to do so. At the same time we endorse the work and discoveries made by medical science through scientific experimentation based upon accepted procedures. However, the physician has the responsibility to insure that every precaution is taken so the patient is in no way victimized by such experimentation or its products." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 25)[13]


Issues of Human Dignity & Discrimination

Disability Ethics

Official Statement: from General Association of General Baptists, Social Principles of General Baptists (Poplar Bluff, MO: Stinson, 2014)

"The physical or mental disability of the unborn child is never justification for abortion. The value of each life is not determined by one’s capacity to perform (works), but rather by the love of God (grace) for each individual who is made in His image from the moment he or she receives individual identity at conception. Indeed, it is worth noting that many physically limited and mentally handicapped individuals lead fulfilling and happy lives within the limits of their ability. Some who have good health and high intelligence lead miserable lives." (Social Principles of General Baptists, 16-17)[14]


Notes

  1. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  2. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  3. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  4. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  5. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  6. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  7. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  8. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  9. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  10. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  11. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  12. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  13. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
  14. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.cloversites.com/3b/3b0b0f59-0a79-4e20-bcf8-943c18bc9ff5/documents/SocialPrinciples_screen_res.pdf
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