In vitro fertilization, Southern Baptists, and moral relativism

 By Dr, Jim Denison - Posted at Denison Forum:

Some stories in the news appeal only to a certain percentage of us. Stereophonic’s win for best play in last night’s Tony Awards is relevant to you if you happen to follow the American theater. Bryson DeChambeau’s dramatic victory yesterday in the US Open is primarily interesting to golf fans like me. The Hajj pilgrimage that began Friday is obviously a Muslim event.

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) typically falls into the same category. While the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in America, its membership comprises less than 4 percent of America’s population. And “resolutions” adopted at its annual meetings, since they have no binding authority on any Southern Baptist church, institution, or member, typically are even less newsworthy to the larger culture.

But such was not the case last week in Indianapolis, where “messengers” (the SBC’s term for those who vote at the annual meeting) adopted a resolution on in vitro fertilization (IVF). The vote was widely understood to “condemn” or “oppose” the practice, which combines eggs and sperm in a laboratory to produce embryos.

Full disclosure: I became a Christian in a church affiliated with the SBC, earned two graduate degrees from a Southern Baptist seminary, taught philosophy of religion on that seminary’s faculty, and pastored three churches connected in various ways to the SBC.

However, my purpose today is not to speak to or for Southern Baptists, but rather to explain the issues related to the SBC’s IVF resolution as they relate to those interested in the subject, some of whom are dealing personally with the pain of infertility. I will then offer biblical reflections on the larger cultural context of this debate.