Bioethics is a study about life and is derived from a joining of the words “biology” and “ethics.”

In short, Bioethics is the study of issues involved in medicine and biological technology. Almost everyone will encounter bioethical issues at some point in their lives. They can range anywhere from infertility, abortion, cloning, contraception, stem cell research, gene editing, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, human subject research, animal research, care at the end-of-life, to management of health care resources and health care reform.

In our general Bioethics course (PHIL 350), which is required or strongly recommended by several of CUWAA’s health care programs, students examine how contemporary philosophers address bioethical issues. Even more significantly, students are enabled to articulate their perspectives and make informed decisions compatible with the Christian faith.

Bioethics has often been referred to as a study of life “at the margins.” From a Christian point of view, Bioethics is concerned with defending the defenseless. A secular perspective of Bioethics typically values personal autonomy as being the most important ethical standard—that “I will make decisions about my own body.” On the other hand, the Bible reminds us, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV). We must learn to be good stewards of what God has made, even of our own bodies, from the first, and to the last, moments of life.

For some, human embryos and fetuses are not persons and are only morally equivalent to a “glob of cells,” which do not deserve equal protection under the law as do born persons. In order to be a person from this perspective, a human being needs to have some sort of capability, such as the ability to communicate or to meaningfully interact with the world. In contrast, the traditional Christian Perspective is that all human beings are persons from the moment of conception. In other words, all human beings are full image-of-God-bearing persons.

Concordia University is the only institution of higher education in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod that has a center devoted to the study of Bioethics. The Concordia Center for Bioethics (CCB for short) applies God’s Word to issues involving biology and health care through teaching, service, and research. The CCB provides Christ-centered courses, conferences, seminars, information, and guidance to students, professionals, and the general public. Participants analyze and apply ethical principles grounded in a biblical understanding of the world and informed by contemporary scholarship.

The Concordia Center for Bioethics currently offers a minor in Bioethics and a Graduate Certificate in Health Care Ethics, both of which adhere to the slogan of the Center, “Decision making centered on Christ.” If you are interested in any of these programs or the work of the CCB, please contact me at

—Kevin Voss, PhD, Director of the Concordia Center for Bioethics

— Madelyne Arrigoni is a senior studying English, Mass Communications, and Photography. She plans to graduate in 2022.

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