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Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative


Bioethics is an independent discipline and a system of moral principles and values that serve as a point of reference in case a medical practitioner is confronted with a moral dilemma. Often, the scale of a problem supersedes the limits of what is healthy and embarks on what is moral and right. In its pursuit of good, bioethics may overlap with religious teachings that also deal with the issues of health and well-being. One may argue that with the rise of the secular state, religion lost its influence over science. However, a considerable number of medical practitioners (MPs) are religious and seek to find a middle ground between what their profession requires them to do and their convictions. Moreover, many patients practice religious beliefs and take them into account when making health decisions. This paper examines a case of a family with a deceased child that tries to balance their interest in his well-being and trust in God.

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Christianity and Bioethics: Pressing Issues

Recently, a debate around doing biomedical ethics from a Christian perspective has been gaining traction. Secular biomedical ethics provide a framework but do not offer any definite answers. Despite its traditional diversity, Christianity, on the other hand, has more potential of prescribing its adherents what they should do, and James’ parents may be seeking relief in faith. Second, according to Saunders (2017), medical advancements are now allowing people to accomplish more than ever. A religious person may be wondering whether the new technologies are interfering with God’s design and His plan. For instance, Mike and Joanne face a dilemma whether they should be obedient to God’s will and let Him decide if James survives or they should rely on modern medicine. The question also arises as to whether organ donation is compatible with Christian convictions; furthermore, one should examine the plight of a Christian dealing with sickness.

Physician Perspective

In the case under examination, the physician is torn between letting the parents be true to themselves and following secular medical principles. According to Truog et al. (2015), a doctor’s job is to “elicit the patient’s core values and help the patient translate them into the medical context” (13). However, allowing Mike and Joanne to forgo treatment is contradictory to one of the basic principles in bioethics, and namely, beneficence. Beneficence is a moral imperative that requires an MP to favor the well-being of a patient. The physician, in this case, is obliged to conduct all necessary procedures to make sure James survives the infection and kidney failure. As a professional, he can foresee the consequences of dismissing the complexity of the condition. All in all, he should not let Mike and Joanne do what they plan to do; however, to be convincing, he may need to involve a religious authority or refer to the Scripture.

Christian Narrative

Treatment Refusal

Medical treatment is a basic human need; however, for some people, their interpretation of Christian values means forgoing necessary medication and procedures. Many believe that obedience to God’s commandments guarantees good health. Moreover, faith and prayers are the only healing methods needed, namely, “they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:2 New International Version). Hence, Western medicine may be deemed unnecessary or even harmful as it interferes with God’s plan for a sick person’s life.

Patient Autonomy

Within the secular concept of patient autonomy, the patient has a right to self-determination that is to be respected by medical practitioners. The Bible also acknowledges that all people naturally have free will and thus, the ability to determine their plans, medical treatment included. However, in the Biblical sense, freedom is not limitless, and an individual cannot merely lean on their understanding and be a moral agent of their own. The Scripture calls for humility and states that although physical well-being is precious, “godliness has value for all things” (Timothy 4:8 New International Version). Thus, in taking care of their health, Christians should not forget their place under God’s authority nor dismiss spirituality.

Organ Donation

Organ donation is seen as an act of charity in the Christian community. In all branches of Christianity, it is established that it takes a great deal of bravery and compassion for one’s neighbors to proceed with undergoing such a serious invasion (Abdeldayem et al., 2016). In some cases, the surgery may lead to complications or compromise the donor’s health; thus, at that, the donor is being selfless and making a sacrifice. When displaying these traits, he or she strives to be more like Christ who sacrificed his body for the good of humankind.

Sickness and Health

One may be perplexed as to how Christians can claim that God loves humankind when the world is ridden with disease and suffering. However, the Bible offers an explanation that disposes of such a controversy. Suffering helps an individual conform to Christ’s image who experienced much pain. Through following Christ’s example, a Christian matures in his faith, to which distress may contribute as it strengthens their spirit. Lastly, an individual who dealt with sickness, grief, and loss grows more compassionate and finds a well of love for his nearest and dearest within themselves.

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Mike’s Actions

The moral dilemma with which Mike is currently confronted is not intractable; moreover, he can take action in the interests of his sick child and still comply with what the Christian faith prescribes him to do. First, he should reconsider his notion of God’s will, for God has the power to overrule whatever a human does. It means that regardless of whether Mike lets the physician conduct all the prescribed procedures or stands by his initial decision, God will have the final say. Furthermore, in the Gospel of James, one learns that “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin” (James 4:17 New International Version). Therefore, Mike should exercise his free will under God and lean on what is scientifically reasonable and benefits his child. The retreat was detrimental to James’ health, and hence, by continuing it, Mike will “withhold good from those to whom it is due” (Proverbs 3:27 New International Version). All in all, in choosing appropriate medical treatment, the child’s father will not go against his beliefs and God’s will.


In this day and age, there is no easy way to incorporate the Christian narrative into modern medical practices. To an individual, scientific advancements may appear to be compromising their faith and religious convictions. For instance, a parent of a sick child may be wondering if he is “playing God” by radically intervening and influencing health outcomes instead of unconditionally trusting the Lord. The moral dilemma does not let medical practitioners stand aloof as they are guided by the ethical principles and supposed to convince the parent to proceed with the treatment of the sick child. However, the problem is not unresolvable, as both the physician and the parent may find the area where their views overlap. The religious parent may conclude that in compliance with God’s will, he should do everything in his power to assist his sick son and firmly believe that loving God will help him accomplish that.


Abdeldayem, H., El-Kased, A. F., Elshaarawy, A., Hammad, E. S., Al-Haddad, O., Sobhi, G., & Allam, N. (2016). Religious concepts in organ transplantation, frontiers in transplantology. Web.

Orr, R. D. (2015). Incorporating spirituality into patient care. American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 17(5), 409-415. Web.

Saunders, J. (2015). Doing good medical ethics: A Christian perspective. Journal of Medical Ethics, 41, 117-120. Web.

Truog, R. D., Brown, S. D., Browning, D., Hundert, E. M., Rider, E. A., Bell, S. K., & Meyer, E. C. (2015). Microethics: The ethics of everyday clinical practice. Hastings Center Report, 45(1), 11–17. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative." December 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative." December 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative'. 27 December.

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