The Culture of Life:
Ten Essential Principles for Christian Bioethics
By Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.
Designed for both individual and group study, this book outlines the culture of life in sharp contrast to the culture of death. Grounded in Holy Scripture, oriented by the forgiving love of Jesus Christ, and motivated by compassion for people in all of life’s stages, The Culture of Life guides readers through today’s most controversial topics in bioethics, including:
- abortion and infanticide
- euthanasia (“mercy killing”) and physician-assisted suicide
- chastity, marriage, parenting, and elder care
12 chapters plus a bonus section:
- Introduction: “There are two ways: one of life and one of death.”
- Principle 1: “The culture of life cherishes God’s creation.”
- Principle 2: “The culture of life celebrates marital procreation.”
- Principle 3: “The culture of life flows from marriage.”
- Principle 4: “The culture of life honors parents.”
- Principle 5: “The culture of life respects the elderly.”
- Principle 6: “The culture of life provides for widows and orphans.”
- Principle 7: “The culture of life nurtures the rising generation.”
- Principle 8: “The culture of life fosters a free and just society.”
- Principle 9: “The culture of life appears doomed to extinction.”
- Principle 10: “The culture of life heralds the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- Conclusion: “The culture of life looks to Christ alone.”
- Bonus Section:
- God’s Life-Giving Gospel Is Active at Conception
- Will You Forgive Her, as God Has Forgiven Her?
- “Return to Me”: The Perfect Marriage Is Founded on Forgiveness in Christ
- How a Christian Child’s Love Won Jane Roe’s Heart
- Study Questions
- Scripture Index
- Lutheran Confessions Index
- General Index
The Culture of Life is available for:
- individual purchases at $6.95 per copy (via Amazon.com and other reputable booksellers); and,
- bulk purchases for as low as $3.00 per copy (contact us to request a price quote for your congregation or school; tax exempt ID required)
(The author receives no royalties; all net proceeds support the nonprofit mission of the Hausvater Project. To assist the Hausvater Project in providing quality publications at a low cost, please prayerfully consider making a charitable contribution.)
James I. Lamb, M.Div., D.Min., Executive Director, Lutherans For Life (Nevada, Iowa):
Positive, biblical, confessional, Christ-centered—all the things I love to see from Lutherans on these issues. ... Writing ‘ten principles’ about anything without moralizing is a difficult and rarely accomplished task. But Dr. MacPherson does so in The Culture of Life. This book does not rant against the culture of death, but rather is for ‘promoting the culture of life’ (p. 2)—centered in the Gospel of Jesus. I recommend it highly for it provides a much needed, Bible-based foundation for dealing with the issues of life.
Rev. Dr. Kevin E. Voss, Director, Concordia Bioethics Institute of Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wisconsin):
Dr. MacPherson has done a wonderful job of gleaning ten vital bioethical principles from the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. This book should be an important resource for pastors, teachers, and Bible class leaders who need a content-rich resource to help them instruct others about life issues from a traditional, Christian perspective.
Anthony Horvath, President of Wisconsin Lutherans for Life and Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries (La Crosse, Wisconsin):
Dr. MacPherson eloquently lays out ten principles for Christian bioethics that are timely and courageously defended. By showing that the ‘culture of life’ transcends the issue of abortion and is rooted in God’s plan for the family, Dr. MacPherson connects the dots between the Gospel of Christ and how we then should live. Moreover, he puts us on guard against the principles of the world which are, as they always have been, perpetually at war against God and His children.
Professor Michael J. Crowe, Cavanaugh Professor Emeritus in the Program of Liberal Studies, University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana):
Professor Ryan MacPherson’s Culture of Life: Ten Essential Principles for Christian Bioethics is an engagingly written document that is both sensitive and sensible. Its ecumenical character and careful formulations of issues ensure that it will inform and influence persons from many denominations and backgrounds. I enthusiastically endorse it.
Walt Larimore, M.D., Medical Director, Mission Medical Clinic (Colorado Springs, Colorado); Best-selling author of Bryson City Tales: Stories of a Doctor’s First Year of Practice in the Smoky Mountains; 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and Staying Highly Healthy; and, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook:
In ten succinct principles, Dr. MacPherson expertly outlines the necessary considerations for a distinctively Christian approach to bioethics. Seeing beyond the scientific conundrums that so often cloud contemporary bioethical debates, the author focuses our attention on the Bible’s enduring truths. We learn again to value life as God’s gift viewed through the prism of His views and values as presented in His Word, the Bible.
The arguments of medical ethicists can seem shallow and superficial if they do not consider the spirit, soul, and personhood of each individual patient, not only from conception/fertilization to natural death, but even beyond death. While most books on this topic emphasize scientific rigor, The Culture of Life steps boldly forward to concisely examine the full picture of a person’s body, mind/emotions, social relations, and spiritual nature, while at the same time revealing God’s wonderful plan for each person in Christ.
As a medical doctor, I’ve come to understand that a person’s physical health is intricately connected to their emotional/mental health, their social/relational health, and their spiritual health. What patients need the very most is a physician willing to care for their bodies, their souls, and their spirits. In presenting a Christ-centered vision for how each of us should treat others, from the womb to the tomb, this book turns the conversation to what really matters: God’s redemptive love for the whole person.
“There are two ways,” taught the early Christians, “one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways.” So began the Didache, a discipleship tract circulated within a century or so after Christ’s resurrection. ... The culture of life traces its origin to the Holy and Most Blessed Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who said:
‘Let Us make man in Our image.’ ... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26–27) ... Just as the culture of life cherishes God’s work of creation, so also the culture of life celebrates the special work to which God calls a husband and wife: procreation, the begetting of offspring. ...
The culture of life flows from marriage as God instituted it: a lifelong union of a man and a woman that celebrates sexual complementarity, children, and chastity. The culture of life proclaims that marriage establishes and defines society, not the other way around. And marriage truly is—not merely is thought by some people to be, but rather marriage is—the divinely established lifelong union of a man and a woman, a union that celebrates sexual complementarity, children, and chastity. ...
In, with, and under fatherhood and motherhood, God the Heavenly Father distributes His blessings of daily bread, both physical and spiritual. Amazingly, God blesses people even through inadequate earthly parents. God calls upon us, therefore, to respect the office of parenthood and to recognize, even in the quirky personalities of some parents, the divine office of parental blessings—what Luther called “a majesty there hidden” (Large Catechism I, 106). Recognizing God’s special callings for both fathers and mothers, the culture of life honors parents. ...
The culture of life respects human life at all its stages, recognizing that those who have lived long and well have much to offer those who are just beginning their journeys on this earth. Not only should the young respect the aging, but the elderly should also respect themselves with the honor God says is due them. If Grandpa is too weak to work, he is not too weak to pray. Let us cherish our parents and grandparents as they intercede on our behalf and pass down to their children’s children the wisdom of the Lord. ...
The culture of life does not lose hope, not even on the gloomiest of days. The culture of life stands atop the dark mountain of Calvary on Holy Friday confident that in the midst of suffering there will be healing, that in the midst of death there will be life. The culture of life prays in vigil for the first signs of dawn on Easter morning, eager to discover—and ready to proclaim to others—that Christ has triumphed over the grave. ...
The culture of life is the culture of repentance and forgiveness. ... The culture of life looks to Christ alone.
Sample Study Questions
- What is the difference between the “way of life” and the “way of death”? See Deuteronomy 30:15–20.
- What does it mean to be a new creation in Christ? See Romans 6:3–4 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- In what sense is the marital union a life-giving union? See Genesis 1:28, 49:25.
- What responsibilities does God assign to wives and mothers? See Titus 2:1–5; 2 Timothy 1:5; 1 Peter 3:1–6.
- How does the world’s attitude concerning elderly people differ from the Bible’s teaching? See Proverbs 16:31, 20:29.
- What is the Bible’s attitude toward widows and orphans? See Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27.
- What is the chief spiritual duty of fathers, and how should this be exercised? See Deuteronomy 6:4–7 and Ephesians 6:4.
- Is it moral for a Christian to serve in the armed forces? Explain. See Matthew 8:5–13 and Luke 3:7–14.
- What are the limits of proper government authority? See Daniel 3 and 6, and Acts 5:29.
- What role does the Lord’s Supper play in nourishing the culture of life? See Matthew 26:26–28.