Cloning is a controversial topic that raises many ethical and moral questions for Christians. As cloning technology continues to advance rapidly, it’s important for believers to understand what the Bible teaches about this issue. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine the key biblical principles related to cloning and present an overview of the Evangelical and Charismatic Christian perspective on this complex subject.
Human cloning involves creating a genetically identical copy of an existing human being. There are two main types of cloning currently under development:
- Therapeutic cloning involves cloning human embryos to harvest stem cells for medical research and possible treatments. The embryos are destroyed in the process.
- Reproductive cloning aims to implant a cloned embryo into a woman’s uterus to achieve a live birth of a cloned human.
Cloning raises fundamental questions about the value of human life, the nature of procreation, and the appropriate limits of science. As Christians, we need to think carefully about cloning technology through the lens of God’s truth revealed in Scripture.
While the Bible does not explicitly mention cloning, it provides us with theological and moral principles that can guide our perspective. As we explore what the Bible teaches, we will consider three key questions:
- What is human life and personhood?
- What is God’s design for marriage and procreation?
- How should we pursue scientific advances?
After examining these biblical themes, we will summarize the predominant Evangelical and Charismatic Christian viewpoints on therapeutic and reproductive cloning. We will also offer some concluding thoughts on how believers can respond to this issue with wisdom, grace and truth.
What is Human Life and Personhood?
To properly evaluate cloning, we must first understand what constitutes human life and personhood from a biblical perspective. Scripture teaches that human beings are unique among all creation because we are made in God’s image:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 NKJV)
Bearing God’s image distinguishes humans from the rest of earthly creation. This fundamental truth holds radical implications for bioethics. As image bearers, all human life possesses sacred value and dignity from conception to natural death.
The Bible views preborn life in the womb as fully human. Psalm 139:13-16 (NKJV) poetically describes God’s intimate involvement in forming each child in the womb:
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
Other passages denounce those who destroy the unborn as shedding innocent blood (e.g. Proverbs 6:16-17).
This affirms the personhood of the preborn child. From the moment of conception, a distinct human being with inherent worth exists. Although tiny in form, an embryo or fetus is fully human and made in God’s image.
Therefore, a biblical view of personhood grants moral status to human embryos used in cloning research. Destroying embryos to harvest cells treats precious human life as a mere means to an end.
What is God’s Design for Marriage and Procreation?
A second important theme is God’s plan for procreation through the covenant of marriage. Scripture presents children as a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3-5). God instituted marriage as the only morally permissible means for bearing children.
The creation account in Genesis 1-2 reveals God’s design for marital procreation:
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27-28 NKJV)
God created humanity in two genders so they could join in one flesh union and “be fruitful and multiply.” Jesus affirmed this genesis of marriage in Matthew 19:4-6 (NKJV). Bearing offspring is integral to God’s intention for marriage.
Cloning departs radically from God’s design. Asexual reproduction severs the critical connection between marital love and creating new life. Theologian Gilbert Meilaender explains it like this:
“What the cloner must disrupt and, in a sense, destroy is precisely that tie – established within the loving union of the spouses – between the beginnings of a new human life and its nurture within that union.”
Reproductive cloning purposely conceives a child apart from a marital union. This ruptures the covenant bond God intended to create families.
How Should We Pursue Scientific Advances?
A final biblical theme relates to how we pursue scientific discoveries. God blessed humanity with the ability to develop culture and technology (Genesis 1:28). Medical advances can glorify God when pursued ethically to improve human flourishing.
However, we must reject scientific research that destroys human dignity. Knowledge itself is morally neutral – the morality depends on how it is employed. Scripture contains many warnings against unrestrained human pride and godless philosophies that can accompany scientific progress (1 Timothy 6:20-21). Technological capabilities do not determine moral boundaries – God’s word is the compass.
Augustine offered important guidance here:
“Better to have a truthful account of things than a beautifully poetic false account.” We should not abandon truth and moral principles in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
This principle proves extremely relevant to cloning technology. We cannot sacrifice foundational biblical ethics to make scientific headway. The ends do not automatically justify the means if the means violate human dignity.
Evangelical and Charismatic Perspectives on Cloning
With this biblical foundation laid, we can now summarize the predominant Evangelical and Charismatic Christian position on cloning. While opinions vary on some details, most leaders in these faith traditions oppose both therapeutic and reproductive cloning.
Therapeutic cloning research involves creating and destroying cloned human embryos for medical experimentation. Most evangelical and charismatic Christians strongly oppose this practice for the following reasons:
- It destroys innocent embryonic life.
- Embryos deserve the protection of personhood.
- Alternative stem cell options avoid embryo destruction.
In 2001, the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Evangelical Protestant denomination, passed a resolution opposing therapeutic cloning, stating:
“We call upon governmental leaders not to authorize or fund scientific research predicated on the destruction of human embryos or fetuses.”
Charismatic leaders hold similar views. Well-known pastor Bill Johnson wrote:
“To use embryonic stem cells for the purpose of attempting to improve life is contradictory – it necessitates taking life.”
Most evangelicals and charismatics advocate instead for ethical stem cell research using adult cells and other alternatives that don’t harm embryos.
Evangelical and charismatic Christians also reject reproductive cloning to produce cloned human babies for the following reasons:
- It violates God’s design for marriage and procreation.
- It represents an unethical manufacturing process.
- It subjects developing life to research harm.
- It risks physical dangers to children and mothers.
The National Association of Evangelicals, representing over 45,000 churches, has denounced reproductive cloning and called for laws banning it. They view cloning as morally illegitimate, dangerous science contrary to God’s will.
Charismatic leaders also oppose reproductive cloning. Pastor John Lindell declares:
“Attempting to clone humans is a clear violation of God’s will concerning the sanctity of human life and ignores God’s plan for marriage and the family.”
Conclusion: A Biblical Response
In conclusion, while Scripture does not directly mention cloning, there are coherent biblical principles that should guide Christian perspectives:
- Human life and personhood begin at conception.
- God designed marital union for procreation.
- Scientific advances must uphold human dignity.
In light of these truths, Evangelical and Charismatic Christians oppose both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Biblical ethics preclude destroying embryos or developing cloned babies in the lab.
How should Christians respond to this issue with grace and truth? We must value embryonic life while supporting ethical stem cell advances. We should advocate banning reproductive cloning legally while offering compassion to families facing infertility. Believers must engage this issue as informed citizens and biblical thinkers.
Above all, we need wisdom from God’s Spirit to apply unchanging truth to changing times. Only by clinging to the rock of God’s word can we navigate the ethics of cloning and emerging technologies in a manner pleasing to the Lord. While the technical details may be complex, God’s simple call remains the same: uphold the sacred dignity of all human life created to bear his image.