Seventh-Day Adventist Church

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Official Denominational Website: https://adventist.org/


Beginning of Life

Abortion

Official Statement: from General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Guidelines on Abortion" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Many contemporary societies have faced conflict over the morality of abortion. Such conflict also has affected large numbers within Christianity who want to accept responsibility for the protection of prenatal human life while also preserving the personal liberty of women. Seventh-day Adventists want to relate to the question of abortion in ways that reveal faith in God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life and in ways that reflect Christian responsibility and freedom.
1) Prenatal human life is a magnificent gift of God. God's ideal for human beings affirms the sanctity of human life, in God's image, and requires respect for prenatal life. However, decisions about life must be made in the context of a fallen world. Abortion is never an action of little moral consequence. Thus prenatal life must not be thoughtlessly destroyed. Abortion should be performed only for the most serious reasons.
2) Abortion is one of the tragic dilemmas of human fallenness. The Church should offer gracious support to those who personally face the decision concerning an abortion. Attitudes of condemnation are inappropriate in those who have accepted the gospel. Christians are commissioned to become a loving, caring community of faith that assists those in crisis as alternatives are considered.
3) In practical, tangible ways the Church as a supportive community should express its commitment to the value of human life. These ways should include:
a. strengthening family relationships
b. educating both genders concerning Christian principles of human sexuality
c. emphasizing responsibility of both male and female for family planning
d. calling both to be responsible for the consequences of behaviors that are inconsistent with Christian principles
e. creating a safe climate for ongoing discussion of the moral questions associated with abortion
f. offering support and assistance to women who choose to complete crisis pregnancies
g. encouraging and assisting fathers to participate responsibly in the parenting of their children.
The Church also should commit itself to assist in alleviating the unfortunate social, economic, and psychological factors that add to abortion and to care redemptively for those suffering the consequences of individual decisions on this issue."
4) The Church does not serve as conscience for individuals; however, it should provide moral guidance. Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church. Women, at times however, may face exceptional circumstances that present serious moral or medical dilemmas, such as significant threats to the pregnant woman's life, serious jeopardy to her health, severe congenital defects carefully diagnosed in the fetus, and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. The final decision whether to terminate the pregnancy or not should be made by the pregnant woman after appropriate consultation. She should be aided in her decision by accurate information, biblical principles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, these decisions are best made within the context of healthy family relationships.
5) Christians acknowledge as first and foremost their accountability to God. They seek balance between the exercise of individual liberty and their accountability to the faith community and the larger society and its laws. They make their choices according to scripture and the laws of God rather than the norms of society. Therefore, any attempts to coerce women either to remain pregnant or to terminate pregnancy should be rejected as infringements of personal freedom.
6) Church institutions should be provided with guidelines for developing their own institutional policies in harmony with this statement. Persons having a religious or ethical objection to abortion should not be required to participate in the performance of abortions.
7) Church members should be encouraged to participate in the ongoing consideration of their moral responsibilities with regard to abortion in light of the teaching of scripture. ("Guidelines on Abortion")[1]

Contraception

Official Statement: from "Birth Control" (1999)

"A statement of moral considerations regarding birth control must be set in the broader context of biblical teachings about sexuality, marriage, parenthood, and the value of children--and an understanding of the interconnectedness between these issues. With an awareness of the diversity of opinion within the Church, the following biblically based principles are set forth to educate and to guide in decision making.
1. Responsible stewardship. God created human beings in His own image, male and female, with capacities to think and to make decisions. God gave human beings dominion over the earth. This dominion requires overseeing and caring for nature. Christian stewardship also requires taking responsibility for human procreation. Sexuality, as one of the aspects of human nature over which the individual has stewardship, is to be expressed in harmony with God’s will.
2. Procreative purpose: “The perpetuation of the human family is one of God’s purposes for human sexuality. Though it may be inferred that marriages are generally intended to yield offspring, Scripture never presents procreation as an obligation of every couple in order to please God. However, divine revelation places a high value on children and expresses the joy to be found in parenting.
3. Unifying purpose: Sexuality serves a unifying purpose in marriage that is God-ordained and distinguishable from the procreative purpose. Sexuality in marriage is intended to include joy, pleasure, and delight. God intends that couples may have ongoing sexual communion apart from procreation, a communion that forges strong bonds and protects a marriage partner from an inappropriate relationship with someone other than his or her spouse. In God's design, sexual intimacy is not only for the purpose of conception. Scripture does not prohibit married couples from enjoying the delights of conjugal relations while taking measures to prevent pregnancy.
4. Freedom to choose. Married partners should be considerate of each other in making decisions about birth control, being willing to consider the needs of the other as well as one's own. For those who choose to bear children, the procreative choice is not without limits. Several factors must inform their choice, including the ability to provide for the needs of children; the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of the mother and other care givers; the social and political circumstances into which children will be born; and the quality of life and the global resources available. We are stewards of God's creation and therefore must look beyond our own happiness and desires to consider the needs of others.
5. Appropriate means of birth control. A variety of methods of birth control--including barrier methods, spermicides, and sterilization--prevent conception and are morally acceptable. Some other birth-control methods may prevent the release of the egg (ovulation), may prevent the union of egg and sperm (fertilization), or may prevent attachment of the already fertilized egg (implantation). Because of uncertainty about how they will function in any given instance, they may be morally suspect for people who believe that protectable human life begins at fertilization. However, since the majority of fertilized ova naturally fail to implant or are lost after implantation, even when birth control methods are not being used, hormonal methods of birth control and IUDs, which represent a similar process, may be viewed as morally acceptable. Abortion, the intentional termination of an established pregnancy, is not morally acceptable for purposes of birth control.
6. Misuse of birth control. Though the increased ability to manage fertility and protect against sexually transmitted disease may be useful to many married couples, birth control can be misused. For example, those who would engage in premarital and extramarital sexual relations may more readily indulge in such behaviors because of the availability of birth control methods. The use of such methods to protect sex outside of marriage may reduce the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy. Sex outside of marriage, however, is both harmful and immoral, whether or not these risks have been diminished.
7. A redemptive approach. The availability of birth-control methods makes education about sexuality and morality even more imperative. Less effort should be put forth in condemnation and more in education and redemptive approaches that seek to allow each individual to be persuaded by the deep movings of the Holy Spirit.” ("Birth Control")[2]


Official Statement: from General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Guidelines on Abortion" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church." ("Guidelines on Abortion")[3]


Infertility & Reproduction

Reproductive Technologies

Official Statement: from General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee, "Considerations on Assisted Human Reproduction" (Silver Spring, MA, 1994)

"Developments in medical technology have led to a number of interventions designed to assist human procreation. Procedures such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, embryo transfer, and cloning increasingly provide new options in human reproduction. Such interventions raise serious ethical questions for Christians seeking God's will on these issues.
The hope of having children is generally powerful. When this hope is frustrated by problems of infertility, the disappointment of childlessness weighs heavily on many couples. Their sorrow deserves understanding and compassion. It is not surprising that many who suffer sadness because of infertility turn to new reproductive technologies to restore hope. However, with the power of such technologies comes the responsibility to decide whether and when they should be used.
Because of their conviction that God is concerned with all dimensions of human life, Seventh-day Adventists are committed to discovering and following God's principles for human reproduction. The power of procreation is God's gift, and should be used to glorify God and bless humanity. Through a careful study of the Bible and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the community of faith can identify fundamental principles that guide in decision making regarding assisted reproduction. Among the most important of these are:
  1. Human reproduction is part of God's plan, and children are a blessing from the Lord. Medical technologies that aid infertile couples, when practiced in harmony with biblical principles, may be accepted in good conscience.
  2. Childlessness should bear no social or moral stigma, and no one should be pressured to have children with or without medical assistance. Decisions to use or not use reproductive technologies are a deeply personal matter to be settled mutually by a wife and husband, without coercion. There are many acceptable reasons, including health and the special demands of some forms of Christian service, that may lead people to refrain from or limit procreation.
  3. God's ideal is for children to have the benefits of a stable family with active participation of both mother and father. For this reason, Christians may seek medically assisted reproduction only within the bounds of the fidelity and permanence of marriage. The use of third parties, such as sperm donors, ovum donors, and surrogates, introduces a number of medical and moral problems that are best avoided. Moreover, family and genetic identity are significant to individual well-being. Decisions regarding assisted reproduction must take into consideration the impact on family heritage.
  4. Human life should be treated with respect at all stages of development. Assisted reproduction calls for sensitivity to the value of human life. Procedures such as in vitro fertilization require prior decisions about the number of ova to be fertilized and the moral issues regarding the disposition of any remaining preembryos.
  5. Decisions regarding procreation should be based on complete and accurate information. Couples considering assisted reproduction should seek such information. Health Care professionals should disclose fully the nature of the procedures, emotional and physical risks, costs, and documented successes and limited probabilities.
  6. The principles of Christian stewardship are relevant to decisions concerning assisted reproduction. Some forms of technology are very costly. Couples seeking reproductive assistance should give responsible consideration to the expenses involved." ("Considerations on Assisted Human Reproduction")[4]


Healthcare & Medicine

Official Statement: from "Operating Principles for Health-Care Institutions"

"Health-care institutions function as an integral part of the total ministry of the Church and follow church standards including maintaining the sacredness of the Sabbath by promoting a Sabbath atmosphere for staff and patients, avoiding routine business, elective diagnostic services, and elective therapies on Sabbath."
Seventh-day Adventist health-care institutions give high priority to personal dignity and human relationships. This includes appropriate diagnosis and treatment by competent personnel; a safe, caring environment conducive to the healing of mind, body, and spirit; and education in healthful habits of living."
Health-care policies and medical procedures must always reflect a high regard and concern for the value of human life as well as individual dignity."
("Operating Principles for Health-Care Institutions")[5]

Official Statement: from General Conference Christian View of Human Life Committee, "Female Genital Mutilation" (2000)

"As part of their mission to the entire world, Seventh-day Adventists have a firm commitment to provide health care that preserves and restores human wholeness. By wholeness we mean the harmonious development of the physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions of a person's life, unified through a loving relationship with God and expressed in generous service to others. Because Adventists believe that each human being is created in God's image as a unified person, rather than as a duality of body and soul, we believe in a ministry of grace that affects all aspects of human life, including physical and emotional well-being." ("Female Genital Mutilation")[6]

Access to Healthcare

Official Statement: from "Seventh-day Adventist Call to Commitment to Health and Healing"

"The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists reiterates its commitment to the principles of human dignity and equity, social justice, freedom, self-determination, access to clean food and water, and non-discriminatory universal access to available health care."
Regarded globally as teaching a wholistic model of evidence based healthful living in primary health care."
Seen at all times as a trusted, transparent ally of organizations with compatible goals and vision, in alleviating suffering and addressing basic health and well-being."
Recognized for the unconditional scope of its embrace of all persons seeking this basic health and well-being."
Involved not only administratively but also functionally at every level including each congregation and church member in this ministry of health and healing." ("Seventh-day Adventist Call to Commitment to Health and Healing")[7]

Privacy of Healthcare Information

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"Information about a person’s genetic constitution should be kept confidential unless the person elects to share the knowledge with others."
The protection of personal privacy and confidentiality is one of the major concerns associated with the new possibilities for genetic testing. . . . At stake is the protection of persons from stigma and unfair discrimination on the basis of their genetic makeup. Another cluster of concerns related to human dignity stems from the possibility of intentionally altering the human gene pool. . . . What are the implications for the meaning of being human, for example, if interventions aimed at enhancing human intelligence or physique become available?" ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[8]


Science & Technology

Biotechnology

Human Cloning

Official Position: from General Conference Executive Committee, "Ethical Considerations Regarding Human Cloning" (Iguacu Falls, Brazil, 1998)

"However, the same technological capacity [somatic cell nuclear transfer] could be used for human reproduction and thus raises serious ethical concern. First among these concerns is medical safety. If the current technique of somatic cell nuclear transfer were to be used in humans, ova would need to be obtained from donors. Most of these would perish because of cellular manipulations during early embryonic growth in the laboratory. Others would be lost after implantation, spontaneously aborted at various stages of fetal development. In this respect, sensitivity to the value of embryonic and fetal life would be similar to the development of other methods of assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization. There would likely be an increased risk of birth defects in children brought to term. At present, concern about physical harm to developing human lives is sufficient to rule out the use of this technology.
However, even if the success rates of cloning were to improve and the medical risks were diminished, a number of major concerns would remain. For example, is there anything intrinsically problematic with creating an individual who is not produced through fertilization of an egg by a sperm? Further study is needed to resolve questions regarding the essential nature of procreation in God's design.
Another of the most often expressed concerns is that the dignity and uniqueness of a cloned person may be jeopardized. This risk includes the psychological harm that might be experienced by an individual who would be what some have called the "delayed identical twin" of the individual who provided the initial cell. Do existing persons have the right to exercise such a level of control over the genetic destiny of a new individual?
Concern also exists that human cloning might undermine family relationships. Commitments to both the unitive and the procreative functions of human sexual relationships might be diminished. For example, the questionable practice of using a gestational surrogate may, at times, be considered. The use of a donor cell from an individual other than the married couple may introduce problems of relationships and responsibilities.
An additional major risk is that cloning could lead to expedient uses of those who are cloned, with their value assigned primarily on the basis of their utility. For example, there could be a temptation to clone individuals to serve as sources of transplantable organs. Others have worried about the deliberate creation of subservient individuals whose autonomy would be violated. Egotistical or narcissistic individuals might be inclined to use the technology in order to "duplicate" themselves.
Finally, the financial costs of cloning would likely be considerable even after significant technological improvements. If human cloning were commercialized, conflicting interests might add to the risk of abuse.
While this is only a partial list of potential risks and misuses of human cloning, it should be sufficient to give pause to Christians who wish to apply the moral principles of their faith to the matter of human cloning. Still, it is important that concerns about the abuses of a technology not blind us to be possibilities of using it to meet genuine human needs. The possibility of human cloning, even if remote, motivates this statement of relevant Christian principles.
The following ethical principles are intended to apply to somatic cell nuclear transfer if that technology is ever applied to human beings. The rapid pace of progress in this field will require periodic review of these principles in light of new developments.
  1. Protection of vulnerable human life. . . . The biological technology of cloning is ethically unacceptable whenever it poses disproportionate risk of harm to human life.
  2. Protection of human dignity. . . . Any use of this technology that undermines or diminishes the personal dignity or autonomy of human beings must be rejected. This moral prohibition applies to all human cloning that would value human life primarily for its utilitarian function or commercial value.
  3. Alleviating human suffering. . . . If it is possible to prevent genetic disease through the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer, the use of this technology may be in keeping with the goal of preventing avoidable suffering.
  4. Family support. God's ideal plan is for children to develop in the context of a loving family with the presence, participation, and support of both mother and father. Any use of somatic cell nuclear transfer as a means of assisting human reproduction should thus be within the context of the fidelity of marriage and support of stable family life. As with other forms of assisted reproduction, the involvement of third parties, such as surrogates, introduces moral problems that are best avoided.
  5. Stewardship. The principles of Christian stewardship are important for all types of assisted human reproduction including the possibility of somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is likely to be very costly. Married couples seeking such assistance should consider the expenses involved in terms of their exercise of faithful stewardship.
  6. Truthfulness. . . . Any proposed use of cloning should be informed by the most accurate information available, including the nature of the procedure, its potential risks, and its costs.
  7. Understanding God’s creation. God intends for human beings to grow in their appreciation and understanding of His creation, which includes knowledge regarding the human body. For this reason, efforts to understand the biological structures of life through ethical research should be encouraged.
Given our present state of knowledge and the current refinement of somatic cell nuclear transfer, the use of this technique for human cloning is deemed unacceptable by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Given our responsibility to alleviate disease and to enhance the quality of human life, continued appropriate research with animals is deemed acceptable." ("Ethical Considerations Regarding Human Cloning")[9]


Genetic Ethics

Gender Selection

Official Statement: from General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Guidelines on Abortion" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church." ("Guidelines on Abortion")[10]

Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"From the standpoint of Christian faith, we are accountable for the use of this power not only to global humanity, but also to every realm of created life that God has entrusted to our stewardship. Ultimately we are accountable to the Maker of the universe who holds us responsible for the care of each other and of the earth."
In restoring the human genome to a healthier condition, modern health sciences may attempt to recover more of creation's original condition. To the extent that helpful genetic interventions can be conducted in harmony with Christian principles, they are to be welcomed as cooperation with the divine intention of alleviating the painful results of sin."
Should society develop policies designed to encourage either positive or negative eugenics? Should individuals with serious genetic disorders be given full procreative liberty? Another area of social concern has to do with the use of society’s resources. Questions can be raised about the amount of social resources that should be spent for interventions in human genetics when more basic health care is not fully available."
Stewardship of God’s creation: "What limits to genetic change, if any, should be accepted?"
The exploitation of other life forms for purposes of military security or economic gain should call forth careful, moral scrutiny.
Principles
Confidentiality: “Information about a person’ genetic constitution should be kept confidential unless the person elects to share the knowledge with others.”
Truthfulness: “The Christian obligation to be truthful requires that the result of genetic testing be honestly reported to the person tested or to responsible family member if the person is incapable of understanding the information.”
Honoring God’s image: "The Christian acknowledgement of God’s wisdom and power in creation should lead to caution in attempts to alter permanently the gene pool. Given current knowledge, genetic interventions should be limited to treatment of individuals with genetic disorders and should not include attempts to change human reproductive cells that could affect the image of God in future generations.”
Prevention of suffering: “The primary purpose of human genetic intervention should be the treatment or prevention of disease and the alleviation of pain and suffering."
Freedom of choice: “People who are capable of making their own decisions should be free to decide whether or not to be tested genetically.”
Stewardship of creation: “Exploitations and manipulations that would destroy natural balance or degrade God’s created world should be prohibited.”
Nonviolence: “It is morally unacceptable to abuse God’s creation by changing life forms into weapons of destruction.”
Fairness: “The benefits of genetic research should be accessible to people in need without unfair discrimination.”
Human dignity: “Human dignity should not be reduced to genetic mechanisms. People should be treated with dignity and respect for their individual qualities, and not be stereotyped on the basis of their genetic heritage.”
Healthfulness: “Christians should avoid that which is likely to be genetically destructive to themselves or to their children, such as drug abuse and excessive radiation.”
("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[11]

Official Statement from General Conference Christian View of Human Life Committee, "Human Gene Therapy" (2000)

"Beyond the fundamental issue of safety, germline therapy raises serious ethical concerns. These include the problem of informed consent from individuals not yet born, assessing the long-term consequences of genetic alterations, the possible reduction of human diversity by systematic elimination of specific traits, genetic determinism imposed by the choices of the original patient and genetic therapists, the prospect that germline therapy may be used in eugenics programs, and the problematic issue of using it to engineer cosmetic enhancements. Because of the unresolved safety and ethical issues, germline therapy is widely discouraged or prohibited.
While gene therapy is still in its infancy, it is our moral responsibility as thoughtful Christians to become aware of its potential to meet human needs, to understand the biological and genetic risks that it entails, and to avoid its misuse. Decisions in this complex and evolving area should be in harmony with the following biblical principles:
  1. Alleviating suffering and preserving life. . . . To the extent that gene therapy can prevent genetic disease and restore health, it should be welcomed as a means for cooperating with the divine initiative to relieve avoidable suffering.
  2. Safety, protection from harm. . . . Where disease or genetic disorder is not life-threatening, genetic intervention may be considered only when a high level of safety has been achieved and life is protected at all stages of development. Even in situations where life is at stake, the risks involved in genetic intervention must be amply balanced by the prospects for healing.
  3. Honoring God's image. Human beings, created in the image of God, are distinct in kind and degree from all other earthly creatures, with God-given abilities to reason, appreciate spiritual values, and make moral decisions. Great caution must attend any action that would permanently change the human genome in ways that affect these capacities.
  4. Protecting human autonomy. . . . Genetic alterations that would limit an individual's abilities, restrict participation in society, reduce autonomy, or undermine personal freedom must be rejected.
  5. Understanding God's creation. Since God endowed human beings with intelligence and creativity, He intends for them to take responsibility over His creation (Gen 1:28) and to grow in their understanding of the principles of life, including the function of their bodies. Ethical research and examination can only increase our appreciation of God's wisdom and goodness." ("Human Gene Therapy")[12]

Genetic Screening

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"If genetic determinism reduces the meaning of humanhood to the mechanistic out workings of molecular biology, there is serious potential for devaluing human life. For example, new capacities for prenatal genetic testing, including the examination of human pre-embryos prior to implantation, generate questions about the value of human life when it is genetically defective.
The protection of personal privacy and confidentiality is one of the major concerns associated with the new possibilities for genetic testing. . . . At stake is the protection of persons from stigma and unfair discrimination on the basis of their genetic makeup. Another cluster of concerns related to human dignity stems from the possibility of intentionally altering the human gene pool. . . . What are the implications for the meaning of being human, for example, if interventions aimed at enhancing human intelligence or physique become available?" ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[13]

Genetic Testing

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

“The Christian obligation to be truthful requires that the result of genetic testing be honestly reported to the person tested or to responsible family member if the person is incapable of understanding the information.” ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[14]


Human Enhancement

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"Should society develop policies designed to encourage either positive or negative eugenics? Should individuals with serious genetic disorders be given full procreative liberty? Another area of social concern has to do with the use of society’s resources. Questions can be raised about the amount of social resources that should be spent for interventions in human genetics when more basic health care is not fully available.
Stewardship of God’s creation: "What limits to genetic change, if any, should be accepted?"
The Christian acknowledgement of God’s wisdom and power in creation should lead to caution in attempts to alter permanently the gene pool. Given current knowledge, genetic interventions should be limited to treatment of individuals with genetic disorders and should not include attempts to change human reproductive cells that could affect the image of God in future generations.
The primary purpose of human genetic intervention should be the treatment or prevention of disease and the alleviation of pain and suffering." ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[15]


Human Research Ethics

Official Statement: from General Conference Executive Committee, "Ethical Considerations Regarding Human Cloning" (Iguacu Falls, Brazil, 1998)

"God intends for human beings to grow in their appreciation and understanding of His creation, which includes knowledge regarding the human body. For this reason, efforts to understand the biological structures of life through ethical research should be encouraged." ("Ethical Considerations Regarding Human Cloning")[16]


End of Life

Official Statement: from Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Care for the Dying" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Seventh-day Adventists seek to address the ethical issues at the end of life in ways that demonstrate their faith in God as the Creator and Redeemer of life and that reveal how God's grace has empowered them for acts of neighbor love. Seventh-day Adventists affirm God's creation of human life, a wonderful gift worthy of being protected and sustained (Genesis 1-2). They also affirm God's wonderful gift of redemption that provides eternal life for those who believe. Thus they support the use of modern medicine to extend human life in this world. However, this power should be used in compassionate ways that reveal God's grace by minimizing suffering. Since we have God's promise of eternal life in the earth made new, Christians need not cling anxiously to the last vestiges of life on this earth. Nor is it necessary to accept or offer all possible medical treatments that merely prolong the process of dying.
Because of their commitment to care for the whole person, Seventh-day Adventists are concerned about the physical, emotional, and spiritual care of the dying. To this end, they offer the following biblically based principles:
  1. A person who is approaching the end of life, and is capable of understanding, deserves to know the truth about his or her condition, the treatment choices and the possible outcomes. The truth should not be withheld but shared with Christian love and with sensitivity to the patient's personal and cultural circumstances.
  2. God has given human beings freedom of choice and asks them to use their freedom responsibly. Seventh-day Adventists believe that this freedom extends to decisions about medical care. After seeking divine guidance and considering the interests of those affected by the decision (Romans 14:7) as well as medical advice, a person who is capable of deciding should determine whether to accept or reject life-extending medical interventions. Such persons should not be forced to submit to medical treatment that they find unacceptable.
  3. God's plan is for people to be nourished within a family and a faith community. Decisions about human life are best made within the context of healthy family relationships after considering medical advice. When a dying person is unable to give consent or express preferences regarding medical intervention, such decisions should be made by someone chosen by the dying person. If no one has been chosen, someone close to the dying person should make the determination. Except in extraordinary circumstances, medical or legal professionals should defer decisions about medical interventions for a dying person to those closest to that individual. Wishes or decisions of the individual are best made in writing and should be in agreement with existing legal requirements.
  4. Christian love is practical and responsible. Such love does not deny faith nor obligate us to offer or to accept medical interventions whose burdens outweigh the probable benefits. Such love does not deny faith nor obligate us to offer or to accept medical interventions whose burdens outweigh the probable benefits. For example, when medical care merely preserves bodily functions, without hope of returning a patient to mental awareness, it is futile and may, in good conscience, be withheld or withdrawn. Similarly, life-extending medical treatments may be omitted or stopped if they only add to the patient's suffering or needlessly prolong the process of dying. Any action taken should be in harmony with legal mandates.
  5. While Christian love may lead to the withholding or withdrawing of medical interventions that only increase suffering or prolong dying, Seventh-day Adventists do not practice "mercy killing" or assist in suicide. They are opposed to active euthanasia, the intentional taking of the life of a suffering or dying person.
  6. Christian compassion calls for the alleviation of suffering (Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 10:29-37). In caring for the dying, it is a Christian responsibility to relieve pain and suffering, to the fullest extent possible, not to include active euthanasia. When it is clear that medical intervention will not cure a patient, the primary goal of care should shift to relief from suffering.
  7. The biblical principle of justice prescribes that added care be given the needs of those who are defenseless and dependent. Because of their vulnerable condition, special care should be taken to ensure that dying persons are treated with respect for their dignity and without unfair discrimination. Care for the dying should be based on their spiritual and medical needs and their expressed choices rather than on perceptions of their social worthiness." ("Care for the Dying")[17]

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

Official Statement: from Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Care for the Dying" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Often euthanasia refers to "mercy killing," or intentionally taking the life of a patient in order to avoid painful dying or in order to alleviate burdens for a patient's family or society. (This is so called active euthanasia.) However, euthanasia is also used, inappropriately in the Seventh-day Adventist view, to refer to the withholding or withdrawal of medical interventions that artificially extend human life, thus allowing a person to die naturally. (This is so called passive euthanasia.) Seventh-day Adventists believe that allowing a patient to die by foregoing medical interventions that only prolong suffering and postpone the moment of death is morally different from actions that have as their primary intention the direct taking of a life.
While Christian love may lead to the withholding or withdrawing of medical interventions that only increase suffering or prolong dying, Seventh-day Adventists do not practice "mercy killing" or assist in suicide. They are opposed to active euthanasia, the intentional taking of the life of a suffering or dying person." ("Care for the Dying")[18]

Withholding & Withdrawing Treatment

Official Statement: from Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Care for the Dying" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"Often euthanasia refers to "mercy killing," or intentionally taking the life of a patient in order to avoid painful dying or in order to alleviate burdens for a patient's family or society. (This is so called active euthanasia.) However, euthanasia is also used, inappropriately in the Seventh-day Adventist view, to refer to the withholding or withdrawal of medical interventions that artificially extend human life, thus allowing a person to die naturally. (This is so called passive euthanasia.) Seventh-day Adventists believe that allowing a patient to die by foregoing medical interventions that only prolong suffering and postpone the moment of death is morally different from actions that have as their primary intention the direct taking of a life.
When medical care merely preserves bodily functions, without hope of returning a patient to mental awareness, it is futile and may, in good conscience, be withheld or withdrawn. Similarly, life-extending medical treatments may be omitted or stopped if they only add to the patient's suffering or needlessly prolong the process of dying. Any action taken should be in harmony with legal mandates." ("Care for the Dying")[19]


Issues of Human Dignity & Discrimination

Disability Ethics

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"The Christian acknowledgement of God’s wisdom and power in creation should lead to caution in attempts to alter permanently the gene pool. Given current knowledge, genetic interventions should be limited to treatment of individuals with genetic disorders and should not include attempts to change human reproductive cells that could affect the image of God in future generations.”
"The primary purpose of human genetic intervention should be the treatment or prevention of disease and the alleviation of pain and suffering." ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"[20])


Official Statement: from Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee, "Care for the Dying" (Silver Spring, MA, 1992)

"The biblical principle of justice prescribes that added care be given the needs of those who are defenseless and dependent. Because of their vulnerable condition, special care should be taken to ensure that dying persons are treated with respect for their dignity and without unfair discrimination. Care for the dying should be based on their spiritual and medical needs and their expressed choices rather than on perceptions of their social worthiness." ("Care for the Dying")[21]


Eugenics

Official Statement: from "Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions"

"Should society develop policies designed to encourage either positive or negative eugenics? Should individuals with serious genetic disorders be given full procreative liberty? Another area of social concern has to do with the use of society’s resources. Questions can be raised about the amount of social resources that should be spent for interventions in human genetics when more basic health care is not fully available.
Stewardship of God’s creation: "What limits to genetic change, if any, should be accepted?
"The Christian acknowledgement of God’s wisdom and power in creation should lead to caution in attempts to alter permanently the gene pool. Given current knowledge, genetic interventions should be limited to treatment of individuals with genetic disorders and should not include attempts to change human reproductive cells that could affect the image of God in future generations.”
"The primary purpose of human genetic intervention should be the treatment or prevention of disease and the alleviation of pain and suffering."
"The benefits of genetic research should be accessible to people in need without unfair discrimination."
"Human dignity should not be reduced to genetic mechanisms. People should be treated with dignity and respect for their individual qualities, and not be stereotyped on the basis of their genetic heritage." ("Christian Principles for Genetic Interventions")[22]


Official Statement from General Conference Christian View of Human Life Committee, "Human Gene Therapy" (2000)

"Beyond the fundamental issue of safety, germline therapy raises serious ethical concerns. These include the problem of informed consent from individuals not yet born, assessing the long-term consequences of genetic alterations, the possible reduction of human diversity by systematic elimination of specific traits, genetic determinism imposed by the choices of the original patient and genetic therapists, the prospect that germline therapy may be used in eugenics programs, and the problematic issue of using it to engineer cosmetic enhancements. Because of the unresolved safety and ethical issues, germline therapy is widely discouraged or prohibited." ("Human Gene Therapy")[23]


Notes

  1. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/guidelines/article/go/0/abortion/
  2. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/birth-control/
  3. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/guidelines/article/go/0/abortion/
  4. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/considerations-on-assisted-human-reproduction/
  5. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/operating-principles-for-health-care-institutions/
  6. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/-/female-genital-mutilation/
  7. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/commitment-to-health-and-healing/
  8. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  9. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/ethical-considerations-regarding-human-cloning/
  10. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/guidelines/article/go/0/abortion/
  11. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  12. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/human-gene-therapy/
  13. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  14. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  15. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  16. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/ethical-considerations-regarding-human-cloning/
  17. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/care-for-the-dying/
  18. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/care-for-the-dying/
  19. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/care-for-the-dying/
  20. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  21. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/care-for-the-dying/
  22. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/christian-principles-for-genetic-interventions/
  23. https://www.adventist.org/en/information/official-statements/documents/article/go/0/human-gene-therapy/
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