Reformed Church in America

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Official Denominational Website: https://www.rca.org/


Beginning of Life

Abortion

The Reformed Church in America generally opposes abortion.

Official Statement: from General Synod, "General Synod Statements: Abortion"

"We believe the Bible teaches the sanctity of human life. [We] are given the precious gift of life from God and are created in the image of God. Therefore, we believe, in principle, that abortion ought not to be practiced at all. However, in this complex society, where many times one form of evil is pitted against another form of evil, there could be exceptions. It is our Christian conviction that abortion performed for personal reasons to insure individual convenience ought not to be permitted.
We call on all who counsel those with problem pregnancies, especially youth workers, campus pastors and staff members of our church colleges, to uphold the Christian alternatives to abortion.
We call on our churches to expand their efforts to support agencies providing a ministry of mercy to those seeking alternatives to abortion.
We call on our members to support efforts for constitutional changes to provide legal protection for the unborn. (MSG 1973: 106)
"In light of prior General Synod decisions, the committee believes it is inappropriate for the Reformed Church in America to advocate any kind of governmental support for abortion. (MGS 1984: 257-258)
"although a society may accept abortion legally, abortion is not thereby morally responsible... Only in theory and in science-fiction can one imagine human life so totally individualistic that child-bearing can be a matter of parental convenience. (MGS 1990: 101) (General Synod Statements: Abortion)[1])


Science & Technology

Biotechnology

Human Cloning

The Reformed Church in America opposes human cloning.

Official Statement: from General Synod, "General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering

“At this time, human reproductive cloning is morally and theologically unacceptable. The risks of harm outweigh possible benefits of the technology. Cloning threatens to diminish genetic diversity... A number of dubious motivations seem to inspire human cloning. A perspective that increasingly seeks to control and manage life in a way that distances humanity from its Creator makes for a decisive verdict against this technology. The church must faithfully resist participation in and support of human reproductive cloning. (MGS 2004: 295)” (General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering, Human Cloning to Produce Children[2])

Stem Cell Research

The Reformed Church in America recognizes ambiguity in the sources of stem cells and recommends different approaches depending on their source. Official Statement:

“The 2002 General Synod concluded that “the questions surrounding stem cell technology are complex and clouded. There are a variety of views within the Christian community. The various sources of embryonic stem cells warrant different moral evaluations.” There are four major sources of stem cells:
  • From miscarriages: There is some possibility of developing stem cells from miscarried fetuses. With parental consent, this source for stem cells seems the least ethically ambiguous.
  • Existing lines of stem cells: United States federal funding is currently restricted to the roughly 60 lines of stem cells already in existence; the intention of the restriction is to discourage the destruction of additional embryos while still allowing research on the existing lines. The RCA’s Commission on Christian Action generally supported the continued use of existing stem cell lines for research.
  • Disposal and freezing of surplus embryos: Declining to view embryos, even those that are to be discarded, as a source for stem cells may inhibit the development of an outlook that views human beings as things and spare parts. Resisting the use of embryonic stem cells could greatly encourage research to focus on developing stem cells from alternate sources, such as adult bone marrow.
  • Production of embryos for stem cells: Creating embryos solely for scientific purposes, such as cloning and developing stem cells, promotes a perspective that views embryos and potentially all life as a commodity or resource. The RCA’s Commission on Christian Action strongly opposed any production of embryos solely for stem cell research. (MGS 2002: 98-99)" (General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering, Stem Cell Research)[3]

Genetic Ethics

Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering

Official Statement: from General Synod, "General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering"

“Genetic testing is never a neutral act. Once information from genetic testing is acquired, there is no avoiding some response. Inaction is no less a response than action. The church needs to stand with, support, and share the love of Christ with our brothers and sisters responding to information received from genetic testing.
The church has an important role to play in providing a biblical perspective on disease, suffering, and wholeness. A deeper, more holistic perspective will offer a word of caution to society, which seems so eager to seize on the hope of perfection through technology. We must remind our fellow humanity that technological advances, no matter how marvelous, will not save us. Salvation and wholeness finally come only through Jesus Christ.
The church is always predisposed toward efforts both to alleviate suffering and value life, although neither is finally our ultimate loyalty. As we encounter issues surrounding genetic testing and screening, we proceed with caution, with accurate scientific information, and as prayerful, humble creatures. (MGS 2001: 381)" (General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering, Genetic Testing and Screening)[4]

Genetic Screening

The Reformed Church in America is ambiguous in its support for genetic testing and screening.

Official Statement: from General Synod, "General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering"

“Genetic testing is never a neutral act. Once information from genetic testing is acquired, there is no avoiding some response. Inaction is no less a response than action. The church needs to stand with, support, and share the love of Christ with our brothers and sisters responding to information received from genetic testing.
The church has an important role to play in providing a biblical perspective on disease, suffering, and wholeness. A deeper, more holistic perspective will offer a word of caution to society, which seems so eager to seize on the hope of perfection through technology. We must remind our fellow humanity that technological advances, no matter how marvelous, will not save us. Salvation and wholeness finally come only through Jesus Christ.
The church is always predisposed toward efforts both to alleviate suffering and value life, although neither is finally our ultimate loyalty. As we encounter issues surrounding genetic testing and screening, we proceed with caution, with accurate scientific information, and as prayerful, humble creatures. (MGS 2001: 381)" (General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering, Genetic Testing and Screening)[5]

Genetic Testing

Official Statement: from General Synod, "General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering"

“Genetic testing is never a neutral act. Once information from genetic testing is acquired, there is no avoiding some response. Inaction is no less a response than action. The church needs to stand with, support, and share the love of Christ with our brothers and sisters responding to information received from genetic testing.
The church has an important role to play in providing a biblical perspective on disease, suffering, and wholeness. A deeper, more holistic perspective will offer a word of caution to society, which seems so eager to seize on the hope of perfection through technology. We must remind our fellow humanity that technological advances, no matter how marvelous, will not save us. Salvation and wholeness finally come only through Jesus Christ.
The church is always predisposed toward efforts both to alleviate suffering and value life, although neither is finally our ultimate loyalty. As we encounter issues surrounding genetic testing and screening, we proceed with caution, with accurate scientific information, and as prayerful, humble creatures. (MGS 2001: 381)" (General Synod Statements: Genetic Engineering, Genetic Testing and Screening)[6]


End of Life

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

The Reformed Church in America opposes physician-assisted suicide.

Official Statements:

"A fundamental conviction Christians have is that they do not belong to themselves. Life, despite its circumstances, is a gift from God, and each individual is its steward... Contemporary arguments for the “right” to assistance to commit suicide are based on ideas of each individual’s autonomy over his or her life. Christians cannot claim such autonomy; Christians acknowledge that they belong to God... A decision to take one’s own life thus appears to be a denial that one belongs to God.
A second conviction is that God does not abandon people in times of suffering…Christians express their faith in God’s love by trusting in God’s care for them. A decision to end one’s life would appear to be a cessation of that trust... Suffering calls upon people to trust God even in the valley of the shadow of death. It calls on people to let God, and not suffering, determine the agenda of their life and their death.
A third conviction is that in the community of God’s people, caring for those who are dying is a burden Christians are willing to share. Both living and dying should occur within a caring community, and in the context of death, Christian discipleship takes the form of caring for those who are dying.
This is an era when many people find legislating morality a questionable practice. Should Christians promote legislation which embodies their conclusions about the morality of physician-assisted suicide?...If Christians are to be involved in debating laws regulating assisted suicide, it will be out of a concern for the health and well-being of society…As a society, there is no common understanding that gives any universal meaning to “detrimental.” In humility, Christians can simply acknowledge this, and proceed…to share our own unique perspectives, inviting others to consider them and the faith that gives them meaning. (MGS 1994: 70-71, 74-75)" (General Synod Statements: Physician-Assisted Suicide)[7]


Notes

  1. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  2. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  3. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  4. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  5. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  6. https://www.rca.org/geneticengineering
  7. https://www.rca.org/physicianassistedsuicide
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