What Does Religion Have to do with Bioethics?

Joanna Meyer

Modern medical practice collides with faith at life’s critical moments — in the delivery room as a premature infant struggles to take her first breath, at an aging patient’s bedside as his family weighs options for end-of-life care, and in a consulting room as an oncologist discusses treatment options when chemotherapy has failed to stop a woman’s breast cancer. In those moments, a doctor’s religious convictions may play as significant a role in the counsel they offer as their knowledge of the latest medical technology.

So is it appropriate for health care providers to allow their spiritual beliefs to shape the treatment they offer?

How are medical schools preparing future doctors, nurses, and therapists to understand patients’ religious convictions and incorporate these convictions into the healing process?

Dr. Farr Curlin, a featured presenter at next month’s “Reimagining Medicine” conference, considers these questions in this video What Does Religion Have to Do With Bioethics?

As you watch the video, consider:

  • When have your faith convictions shaped personal health care decisions, or decisions you’ve made on behalf of a loved one? 
  • If you’re a health care provider, in what ways do your beliefs shape your daily practice? Where might your personal convictions conflict with commonly accepted treatment methods?
  • What steps do you take to fully understand a patients’ religious beliefs — and assess how these beliefs shape the decisions they make regarding medical treatment?

To hear more from Dr. Curlin, join us April 6-7 at “Reimagining Medicine” or delve into his recommended reading list:

The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus by Allen Verhay
Bioethical Dilemmas: A Jewish Perspective by Rabbi J. David Bleich
The Christian Virtues in Medical Practice by Edmund Pellegrino and David Thomas
The Theology of Illness by Jean Claude Larchet


Joanna Meyer

Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.

She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).