A Study Guide for Holy People Holy Lives: People, Law and Gospel in Bioethics

By Richard C. Eyer

Study Guide by Andrew Packer

How to Use This Study Guide This study guide will be used in Sunday School class as we study Holy People, Holy Lives: Law and Gospel in Bioethics by Richard C. Eyer. This will be a 12 week study. There are 10 chapters in the book so this gives us two additional weeks which allows us some flexibility as we discuss issues in the book. Along with Eyer’s book you will need your Bible, your LSB hymnal, and Luther’s Small Catechism. Each lesson begins with a hymn stanza that is connected to some of the topics and themes that are in the chapter to be studied. Next there is a collect to begin the study of each lesson. Then there is an introduction to each chapter to prepare you for what is in the lesson. Then there are the questions. This study guide contains two sets of questions for the introduction and every chapter. The first set of questions are review questions which are designed to help you focus in on key points and terms from each chapter. These are included to help guide you through the reading so that you do not “lose the forest for the trees”. The second set of questions are intended to stimulate more in depth thinking and spark discussion. In particular, we want to see how different concepts and ideas from each chapter relate to our foundational beliefs as expressed in Luther’s Small Catechism. Finally, there is a section with some concluding thoughts on the chapter. This book will certainly get you thinking about a lot issues that are being discussed every day in the news. The book and this study guide should help you think through many of these issues and give you the tools to think through other bioethical issues that come up.


Introduction and Chapter 1 Hymn for the Lesson So use it well! You are made new - / In Christ a new creation!/ As faithful Christians live and do/ Within your own vocation,/ Until that day when you possess/ His glorious robe of righteousness/ Bestowed on you forever! (LSB 596 “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” stanza 6) Collect for the Lesson Almighty and everlasting God, you have made us holy in our baptisms. Grant that we who are baptized would gain a deeper understanding of these difficult bioethical issues, so that we who are your holy people may lead holy lives in all things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Introduction for the Lesson Bioethics is a topic that is in the news nearly every day. There is a constant battle in our culture over the meaning of life, death, suffering, over what is ethical or moral versus what is legal. It is easy for anyone to become confused by the debates that are out there. Eyer’s Introduction will help you understand why you should be studying this topic and also get you think about what it means to be holy. In chapter 1 you will see begin to see what has become the foundation for the ethical decision making of people in our time and why this is so dangerous. Introduction Review Questions 1. What is bioethics and why should Christians study it? (7) 2. The Bible does not directly address the issue of new technologies. What does it address? (8) 3. What does human nature do in times of suffering? What is our “new perspective”? (8) 4. What makes us as Christians holy? (9) Chapter 1 Review Questions 1. How do many families make ethical decisions? (11-12) 2. What is missing from their decision process? (12) 3. What does it mean that medical ethics has been reduced to the measure of its utilitarian and emotive values? (13) 4. What leads to naïveté and sentimentality? (13) 5. What is the single most important factor in decision making in our generation? (14) 6. What happens when objective moral standards are removed from the discussion? (15)

Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Why is it important to keep in mind what makes us holy as we look into questions surrounding bioethics? 2. Explain the phrase “Christians are not called to success in convincing the world to think differently. We are only called to be faithful…” (18) What does this mean for you in your various vocations? How does the Table of Duties in the Small Catechism help you understand how you do this in your vocations? 3. Review The Ten Commandments, The Creed, and The Lord’s Prayer and their explanations in the Small Catechism. Explain how these form an objective standard for us and how we view the ethical decision making process in light of them. Concluding Thoughts on the Lesson All of us have been or will be confronted with having to make a tough decision regarding bioethics. It is important that we remember that for the Christian ethics is always seen in light of what God has already done for us in His Son. Keep this central truth in mind as you continue this study.

Chapter 2 Hymn for the Lesson You have this Law to see therein/ That you have not been free from sin/ But also that you clearly see/ How pure toward God life should be./ Have mercy, Lord! Our works cannot salvation gain;/ They merit only endless pain./ Forgive us, Lord! To Christ we flee,/ Who pleads for us endlessly./ Have mercy, Lord! (LSB 581 “These Are the Holy Ten Commands” stanzas 11 and 12) Collect for the Lesson Gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have given us your Holy Word. Grant us wisdom and understanding that we may rightly distinguish your Law and Gospel, so that we may study these ethical dilemmas with clarity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Introduction to Lesson You have heard the quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Chapter 2 traces the history of ethical decision making to show you how we have gotten

where we are today. This is extremely important for understanding not only understanding why our culture views ethics the way it does, but also to see how even your own views have been influenced by these different trends in ethics. Review Questions 1. What approaches to ethics are covered in this chapter? (20) 2. What approach do the vast majority in our country follow? (20) 3. What was the foundation for Plato’s ethics? (21) 4. What does Plato mean by “absolutes”? (22) 5. According to Aristotle what do all people look for in this life? How is it achieved? (24) 6. What distinguishes modern from classical ethics? (28) 7. What have we inherited from Kant? (28) 8. What did Hume mean when he said morality was more properly felt than judged? (29) 9. What did Hume say was the only thing that could be trusted? (29) 10. What was Kierkegaard’s focus in ethics? (32) 11. How did Nietzsche view ethics? (34) 12. How does Nietzsche divide morality between public and private spheres? (34) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Compare and contrast the approaches to ethics covered in this chapter and which aspects you see evident in people you come in contact with regularly. 2. Luther saw all the commandments as flowing out of the First Commandment. How do the rest of the commandments flow out of the First Commandment? How does leaving the First Commandment out of the discussion negatively impact the ethical views discussed in this chapter? 3. How does the truth that Jesus Christ has redeemed you a lost and condemned creature impact your thinking concerning ethics? (See Small Catechism on the 2nd Article of the Creed) Concluding Thoughts It should be clear by now that none of these ethical positions can be foundational for the Christian. Understanding these views is important though as we seek to live as Christians in this fallen world. Many of your family members, neighbors, coworkers, will hold one or more of these positions (knowingly or even unknowingly), hopefully this chapter has better equipped you to lovingly help them work through these issues as well.


Chapter 3

Hymn for the Lesson We all believe in Jesus Christ,/ His own Son, our Lord, possessing/ An equal Godhead, throne, and might,/ Source of ev’ry grace and blessing./ Born of Mary, virgin mother,/ By the power of the Spirit,/ Word made flesh, our elder Brother,/ That the lost might life inherit;/ Was crucified for all our sin/ And raised by God to life again. (LSB 954 “We All Believe in One True God” stanza 2) Collect for the Lesson Heavenly Father, you have given us the Bible as Your story and through our baptisms made us part of that story. We thank you and praise you for this and ask that we would understand more and more what this means for us who have been called to live as your holy people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Introduction to Lesson Chapter 2 showed the problems with various positions on ethics that have been influential in our society. It also showed that all of these are lacking in one way or another. Chapter 3 will show how the story of the Bible is our foundation for ethics. Review Questions 1. What truth does the marriage analogy illustrate? (38-39) 2. In what sense does the author speak of the “Bible as story”? (40) 3. What is the difference between a mystery and a secret? (41) 4. How does the author summarize the story of the Old Testament? The New Testament? (42) 5. Explain the how the Divine Service relates to ethics? (44-45) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Explain how justification by faith is central to the story of the Bible and why this is important for any discussion of ethics. 2. It is often said that the Small Catechism provides a map to the story of the Bible. How does the Small Catechism do this? 3. Look through Divine Setting Three in LSB. In what ways do you see the story of the Bible evident in the liturgy? How does the liturgy equip you for service to the neighbor?


Concluding Thoughts You were brought into God’s story in your baptism and in the Divine Service the Lord gives you His good gifts week after week. And week after week we pray that He would strengthen us through these gifts in faith toward Him and fervent love toward one another. This gives us our framework for ethics, for living holy lives as His holy people.

Chapter 4 Hymn for the Lesson O Christian, firmly hold this gift/ And give God thanks forever!/ It gives the power to uplift/ In all that you endeavor./ When nothing else revives your soul,/ Your Baptism stands and makes you whole/ And then in death completes you. (LSB 596 “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” stanza 5) Collect for the Lesson Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your onlybegotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen. (From the Pastoral Care Companion 629) Introduction to Lesson Chapter 4 is a pivotal chapter in this book. For in this chapter we begin to really understand how we as Christians are to understand ethics. You will learn the importance of the question “What is man?’ and the importance of a proper understanding of what holiness is. Review Questions 1. What is the question that determines how we think about ethics? (48) 2. How do Catholics and Protestants answer the question from question 1? (49) 3. How do Matthew 12:33 and 5:8 relate to the question of who man is and ethics? (49) 4. How does the Bible define holiness? How are you made holy? (51-52) 5. How does a human’s being become meaningful? (52) 6. Explain what the Bible means by “goodness”? (53) 7. How has a loss of confession and absolution hurt medical ethics? (54) 8. Why are people so hesitant to make moral judgments today? (55) 9. Explain how understanding original sin helps in discussions of ethics? (56ff.)


Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read Psalm 8 and Luther’s explanation to the First and Second Article of the Creed as you think about the question “What is man?” 2. Review the Small Catechism on Baptism. How being baptized relate to holiness as discussed in this chapter? 3. Review the 1st and 2nd petitions of the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism. Explain how these relate to holiness and ethics. 4. Review the section on Confession and Absolution in the Small Catechism. The book discussed how a loss of confession and absolution has hurt medical ethics. After reading the Small Catechism, discuss how this understanding of confession and absolution impacts medical ethics. Concluding Thoughts Original sin often has consequences we don’t think about. One of those consequences is a distorted view of the ethical decision making process. Sins are the product of Sin. A good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit. The fruit does not make the tree, but the tree produces the fruit. This truth that Christ gave us is often ignored in the discussion of ethics, and has devastating consequences. Understanding the difference between Sin and sins helps us see the root of the problem.

Chapter 5 Hymn for the Lesson The law of God is good and wise,/ And sets His will before our eyes,/ Shows us the way of righteousness,/ And dooms to death when we transgress. (LSB 579 “The Law of God is Good and Wise stanza 1) Collect for the Lesson Almighty and Everlasting God, You speak to us in the Law that kills and the Gospel that makes us alive. Grant us Your Holy Spirit who writes the Word into our hearts to that we may receive it and believe it, and be gladdened and comforted by it in eternity. By Your power fulfill the Word, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen (modified from Luther’s prayer to receive the Word) Introduction to Lesson Building on the last chapter 4, chapter 5 lays out the distinction between Law and Gospel and what that distinction means for ethics. This chapter puts the last piece into place so that chapters 6 - 10 can discuss specific ethical issues.

Review Questions 1.What does it mean that “we are all by nature conscientious Pharisees”? (62) 2. Explain what it means for the Law to function as a curb, mirror, and guide. (65) 3.What is ethics primarily about for the Christian? (69) 4. What is our ethic in light of the Gospel? (69) 5. How is faith active? (70) 6. Explain the tension that comes from living this life as sinner and saint? (73) 7. Is spiritual self improvement possible for the Christian? (74) 8. How do Christians make ethical decisions? (75) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read Romans 7:1-13. In what sense is a Christian dead to the law? 2. One of the problems with relying on feelings is that we still live out life in our sinful flesh. Read Romans 7:14-25 and explain how this passage relates to how Christians make ethical decisions. 3. How does Luther’s last question and answer in the section on the Ten Commandments help is in our understanding of the Law’s functions? 4. The morning and evening prayers and the mealtime prayers in the Small Catechism form a framework for the Christian’s day. How do these prayers help form a framework for working through these difficult bioethical decisions? Concluding Thoughts As a Christian you live out your life as both sinner and saint. The Christian’s life is one of daily contrition and repentance. This means you continually live out your life in confession and absolution. This also means that the Christian knows that the Old Adam within still plagues all of our decision making, and so live their lives in humility trusting in the grace of God alone.

Chapter 6

Hymn for the Lesson Though he will shed My precious blood,/ Me of My life bereaving./ All this I suffer for your good;/ Be steadfast and believing./ Life shall from death the vict’ry win,/ My innocence shall bear your sin;/ So you are blest forever. (LSB 556 “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” stanza 8)


Collect for the Lesson Heavenly Father, You sent Your beloved Son to suffer all things on our behalf. Grant that we may view all of our suffering in the light of His holy, innocent suffering and death upon the cross for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Introduction to Lesson Suffering to one degree or another is something we all experience. Chapter 6 explores the meaning of suffering in light of the cross of Christ. This chapter also lays out the important distinction between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. Review Questions 1. How do alarmists deal with suffering? (79) 2. How should the Christian view suffering? (79) 3. What is suffering the result of? Is suffering inevitable? (81) 4. Explain the difference between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. (82ff.) 5. How does the theology of the cross relate to ethics? (84-86) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read Hebrews 12:1-3. How does the author of Hebrews understand Jesus’ attitude as he went to suffer on your behalf? How does he relate this to your present sufferings? 2. Read Hebrews 2:18. What is another way in which Christ’s sufferings help us in our suffering? 3. Review the 6th and 7th petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. How is the theology of the cross evident in these petitions? How does this further shape your view of suffering and the cross? 4. Discuss suffering in light of Romans 5:1-5. Concluding Thoughts A Christian view of suffering is desperately needed in our culture today. As Christians we take great comfort knowing that in the midst of our suffering there is present the Savior who suffered and died because of our sin so that we may have forgiveness, life, and salvation.


Chapter 7 Hymn for the Lesson To God the Holy Spirit let us pray/ Most of all for faith upon our way/ That He may defend us when life is ending/ And from exile home we are wending./ Lord, have mercy! (LSB 768 “To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray” stanza 1) Collect for the Lesson Transcendent Comfort in our every need,/ Help us neither scorn nor death to heed/ That we may not falter nor courage fail us/ When the foe shall taunt and assail us./ Lord, have mercy! (LSB 768 stanza 3) Introduction to Lesson Chapter 7 is all about death and dying. While there are many debates surrounding endof-life decision making, this chapter clearly and succinctly walks you through the difficult issues that confront us all. Review Questions 1. What is the difference between a Living Will and Durable Power-of-Attorney? (87-88) 2. What are three problems with medical directives? (88ff.) 3. What are some of the problems with the phrase “quality of life”? (89) 4. In what ways are medical directive unrealistic? (90) 5. Explain our obsession with control. (90) 6. What is the difference between withholding care and withdrawing care? (91) 7. Explain the concept of something being “burdensome”. (91) 8. What is THE practical question Christians need to ask? (92) 9. What is death? Is it a friend? (94-95) 10. Explain direct fear of death vs. indirect fear of death. (95) 11. What is the difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia? (97) 12. What is the difference between an aim and a goal in this discussion? (97) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read I Corinthians 15:51-58. How does this view of death impact your understanding of ethical decisions related to end-of-life decisions? 2. In the Creed you confess the resurrection of the dead that is that the Holy Spirit will raise you and all the dead (see Small Catechism). How does this confession give you hope and comfort in the midst of end-of-life decisions? 3. Review the 7th petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism. What are you praying for in this petition that relates to end-of-life decisions?

4. Read Romans 14:7-9 and Job 1:21. What does these say about both death and life? Concluding Thoughts Death is our enemy, but death has been defeated in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “The Gospel addresses our Sin so that we Christians do not need to grasp at suicide or euthanasia. The Gospel is the Good news that although we are helpless and without control over our lives before God, this is not bad.” (100)

Chapter 8 Hymn for the Lesson In this union I have joined you/ Husband and wife/ Now, My children live together/ As heirs of life:/ Each the other’s gladness sharing,/ Each the other’s burden’s bearing,/ Now, my children, live together/ As heirs of life. (LSB 922 “Go, My Children, with my Blessing” alt. stanza) Collect for the Lesson O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of your love, and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home with You through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (From the Rite of Holy Matrimony) Introduction to Lesson The estate of marriage is constantly under attack in our culture. The womb is not a safe place for unborn children in our country. What is a Christian to do? Chapter 8 covers the important topics of marriage and conception focusing on what the “one flesh” union of marriage means for the issues facing us today. Review Questions 1. Define marriage. (104) 2. What is the “mystery of marriage”? (105ff.) 3. What is the difference between equality and complementarity? Why does it matter? (107) 4. How is the one flesh union expressed in marriage? (108) 5. Why is abortion in the case of rape wrong? (112) 6. How does Christ’s birth impact the way we think about abortion? (111) 7. Explain how abortion is a spiritual issue. (113)

Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read Genesis 2:25-31 and Ephesians 5:28-33. Explain what this “one flesh union” is and how it shows forth Christ’s relationship with the Church. 2. Read Ephesians 5:21-28 and explain how this passage relates to the idea of complementarity. 3. Read the Fifth Commandment and explanation in the Small Catechism. In what ways can you help and support your neighbor that is still in the womb? Can you think of any other verses that speak about life in the womb?

Concluding Thoughts Understanding what it means that God has made a couple “one flesh” has far reaching ramifications on many ethical decisions. This “one flesh” union also reveals the great mystery that is Christ and His Church. It is also important to see that the incarnation of Christ, that He became man, and was born of the Virgin Mary should shape the way we view life at all stages from womb to tomb.

Chapter 9 Hymn for the Lesson Gracious Savior, grant Your blessing/ To this husband and this wife,/ That in peace the live together/ In Your love throughout their life./ Christ, defend them from the tempter/ And from all that would destroy/ Love’s foundation You have laid here,/ And its threshold paved with joy. (LSB 860 “Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing” stanza 1) Collect for the Lesson Almighty and merciful God, You are the giver and creator of all life. Grant that we may learn to see and value all life through the Life, Your Son, whom You have given us in the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Introduction to Lesson Procreation has been and will continue to be a debated issue in our culture. Reproductive technology has continued to advance with very few people asking whether or not what is being done is good and right. Chapter 9 will show how virtually all of the reproductive technologies violate the “one flesh” union covered in chapter 8.


Review Questions 1. What are the problems with artificial insemination? (118) 2. What are the problems with in vitro fertilization? (119ff.) 3. What are the problems with surrogate motherhood? (121ff.) 4. Why is procreation a better term than reproduction? (123) 5. How is the one flesh relationship defiled by reproductive technologies? (123-125) 6. Why is their unholiness with a demand for a child? (126-127) 7. How should we view children born of reproductive technology? (127)

Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Chapter 7 discussed our obsession with control. How is this evident with these various “reproductive” technologies? How is this a First Commandment issue? 2. Look at Psalm 78:18 - 35. What is revealed about us when we demand God to give us something to satisfy our desires? What is the real issue when we demand such things? 3. How do the First Article of the Creed and the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer (and their explanations) help us understand what it means for God to give us all things versus us demanding them from Him? 4. What do these reproductive technologies reveal about our culture’s view of life? How are the terms reproduction and procreation related to this issue? Concluding Thoughts As embryos and unborn children increasingly are viewed as property with no value as a person it is important that Christians speak clearly and with one voice on these issues. We must set forth with clarity the difference between demanding a child, and receiving one joyfully from the Lord as well as explaining how the one flesh union of husband and wife is violated by such practices.

Chapter 10 Hymn for the Lesson Ah, Lord, who hast created all,/ How weak You are, so poor and small/ That You should choose to lay Your head/ Where lowly cattle lately fed! (LSB 358 “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” stanza 9)


Collect for the Lesson O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for First Sunday after Christmas) Introduction to Lesson Eugenics and cloning are issues that used to be relegated the world of science fiction. Now as these issues are debated and discussed on the nightly news it is important for Christians to wrestle with what the morality of these issues. Chapter 10 gives a brief overview of eugenics and cloning as seen in the light of the Gospel. Review Questions 1. Discuss the benefits and problems with eugenics. (130ff.) 2. What does being created in the image of God say about what it means to be human? (134) 3. What is genetic engineering trying to offer that only the Gospel? (136) 4. What are the problems with any kind of embryo research? (137) 5. What are the problems with cloning? (138ff.) Further Reflection and Discussion Questions 1. Read Genesis 1:26-31 and discuss what it means to be created in God’s image. 2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. What does it mean to be a new creation in Christ? How does understanding this help address some of the problems evident with the various issues covered in this chapter? 3. Now that you have finished this book discuss how the Small Catechism helps shape your bioethical decision making. 4. What kind of tensions are always going to be present as you make bioethical decisions in this life? 5. How has this book helped you work through these various bioethical questions? Concluding Thoughts The ethics of a Christian should not be formed by the world or by a majority vote. The ethics of a Christian should be shaped by God’s Holy Word, and especially by the Gospel. These issues are too important for us to ignore. This study of these issues is just the beginning. As medical technology continues to improve there will be more and more issues that need to be addressed. May the Lord grant you the wisdom and grace necessary to work through all the ethical decisions you are faced with.


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