Over the last two weeks I have been reflecting on how Christmas relates to bioethics. My thoughts were focused on how Jesus’ incarnation helps us understand the inherent moral value of every human life and particularly the value of unborn human beings. But I think there is another way that Christmas relates to ethics that may be even more significant.
One of the problems with ethics in general and bioethics in particular is that none of us lives up to even our own ethical standards. All of us, whether Christian or not, understand that there are ethical standards that we ought to live up to, but we are not able to do it. Ethics by itself raises the problem of our being unable to live up to ethical standards, but it doesn’t give us a good solution. One way to respond to our inability to live up to ethical standards would be to give up in despair. Jesus’ incarnation gives another alternative, hope.
When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem, the message was “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NIV) The joy in that message is based on the hope it provides. The angel gave us the answer to the problem raised by ethics. Since we all fall short of both our own standards and God’s, we need help. The angel announced that the help we need is the Messiah who has come to be our savior. Instead of despair at our inability to live up to moral standards there is hope, hope that begins with the arrival of God in the form of a baby born in a stable and lying in a manger.
Glory to God in the highest!