For the Love of Children: Genetic Technology and the Future of the Family

Peters, Ted. For the Love of Children: Genetic Technology and the Future of the Family. The Family, Religion, and Culture Series. Don S. Browning and Ian S. Evison, eds. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Ted Peters’ book, For the Love of Children, surveys the field of reproductive technology and the ethical challenges which this technology poses for today’s families and concludes that ethical decisions regarding human reproduction and the family must make the love of children primary. In six chapters Peters deals with such issues as the disintegration of the family, along with a critique of sociobiology and “the inheritance myth”; the ethical challenges posed by the advances in genetic science, and the libertarian and egalitarian perspectives on procreation; the positives and negatives of surrogate motherhood; the possible discrimination in employment and insurance due to “presymptomatic genetic testing” and its connection to selective abortion; the debate concerning sexuality and procreation in the Christian tradition; and the basis and orientation of a proper Christian ethic related to the family, children and human reproduction. <p> Throughout the book Peters contends that, in today’s culture and society, not choosing is not an option. We cannot sidestep choice in order to base a response to the problems of the family and human reproduction on pre-modern cultural or biological constraints. For this reason, he rejects sociobiology and kin altruism wrapped up in the inheritance myth as an adequate approach to the disintegration of families and the neglect of children. Extending the thought of Russian Orthodox theologian Vladimir Solovyev, Peters positions the love of children as independent from sexual love, making it intrinsic in itself. This drives Peters to advocate the construction of an ethic based on informed and compassionate choice for the well-being of children. He calls his ethic a “proleptic ethic of dignity,” an ethic expressing the love of children which confers dignity on children today in anticipation of and dependence upon God’s confirmation tomorrow in the promised (eschatological) Kingdom of God.