It is the year 2020. Darren and Kylie are a young couple married for two years. Darren works for a large insurance company in Sydney, Australia and Kylie is a kindergarten teacher. They attend an independent evangelical community church,where they lead a Bible study and fellowship group. Kylie and Darren have decided it is time to start a family, so they visit their local Reproductive Clinic for the preliminary tests, which routinely include genetic testing. At their interview with the doctor, she tells them that if any genetically transmitted disease is found in either of them, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) will enable them to make sure they do not pass the disease on to their children. This technique involves producing a number of embryos in the laboratory using their own sperm and eggs. The embryos are then tested to identify whether or not they carry the disease gene and only disease-free ones are implanted.
The doctor also mentions that if they wish, they can select either male or female embryos for implantation. In addition (since they have private health insurance) they could use gene modification on their selected embryo to enhance qualities such as intelligence or athletic ability. ‘For instance’ she says, ‘I couldn’t help noticing both of you are on the short side and a bit overweight. Why not help your children avoid these challenges?’
Darren and Kylie go home with lots of thoughts and questions, as well as some worries about what they might be doing. The next evening Kylie raises the topic of sex selection and genetic enhancement at her book club group. Most are very enthusiastic and encourage them to ‘do the best for your children.’ But they are still confused and doubtful whether this is the sort of thing Christians should do. They visit their pastor, but when they explain the situation, he admits it is not an issue he knows anything about and he has no idea where they can get any material from a Christian perspective. ‘Why doesn’t the church have any resources about this?’ they ask.
What issues does this story raise?
What will you do?