Opinion | Sexuality

How Much Do Our Stories Matter?

Christian theology makes clear both the limits and the necessity of stories for meaningful moral discourse.

In yesterday's post, I told three stories about people who used reproductive technologies to have babies: A mother became pregnant via IVF after her first three children were tragically killed. A couple turned to an Indian surrogate to bear the child they could not. A fictional character wanted a baby for many reasons, stemming from both self-protection and love.

I put people's stories (including my own) at the center of my study of and writing about reproductive ethics. There is a name for moral deliberation that gives significant weight to people's stories: narrative ethics. Traditional ethics uses a juridical process, in which experts consider the moral questions raised by a situation, explore those questions using established ethical principles, and render a judgment based on which principles are most applicable. Narrative ethics is less cut-and-dried. It allows room for amateurs to weigh and discuss the complexities of a particular person's story, acknowledging that such factors as ...

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