by Mel Griffith
Senator Bill Frist recently came out in favor of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This is a wise decision, but it has upset some people who apparently do not understand the significance of this research and are concerned about the destruction of embryos. First, we should understand that the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway. They are left over embryos from fertility treatments. Of course they should be used to provide a potential benefit to people with health problems, rather than be wasted. That is certainly in keeping with Christ's teachings and actions. He always put helping people ahead of following abstract rules, which however well intended, were harmful instead of helpful. He healed a man on Sabbath, although the sick were supposed to be helped only if in danger. He also defended his followers for picking a little grain to eat on the Sabbath, something that made good sense but was technically harvesting grain that was forbidden on the Sabbath.
Those opposing this research aren't taking their example from Christ, but from the rule-minded Pharisees, whom Christ frequently condemned for their obsession with rules and lack of concern for others. Those opposed to stem cell research insist on considering a small blob of cells as a human being even though it isn't. True, it has the potential to become one eventually, if a long series of steps take place, but the same can be said for an ovum, which is only one step away from being an embryo. The anti-research crowd never seem to worry about the death of ova before they are fertilized, but once they divide a few times, they start thinking of them as a person. The left-over embryos used for stem cell research aren't on their way to becoming a person anyway, whether they are used or not and to insist that they be wasted instead of benefiting society shows a complete lack of Christian love. Of course, we don't really know what benefits might result from this research. That is why it is so important that it be done. None knows what may be discovered.
Sadly, religious establishments have had a history of opposing new information dating back to the time they insisted on believing that the sun revolved around the earth even though it had been proven to be the opposite. Since we are confident as Christians that God is in charge of the world we should be happy when more accurate information is discovered which replaces older ideas or when new opportunities to help our fellow man arise. However, some seem to believe that if everything ancient people thought isn't exactly right, it must mean there isn't a God. On the contrary, God is still revealing new information to mankind. To refuse to seek it because of some rule carried to absurd lengths is nonsense.