Note: Few things feel as important today as our neighbors in Boston today. Prayers of peace lifted for them and the world.
In life and in death, we belong to God. Romans 14:8
Who owns our genes? The Supreme Court heard arguments between The Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics yesterday, which will result later this summer in a legal decision about whether or not a private company can patent human genes. The genes in question are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 — associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad says they created synthetic genes which should be patented. The US government says that some of Myriad’s “creations” are actually made from nature. Some of us might say that God made them.
In the Bible, the Levites were priestly people, descended from the third son of Jacob and Leah. One of their roles, among the Hebrew people, was to guard what is holy. The Supremes now have some semblance of this role in their Court.
My grandmother used to say “It’s amazing what the LORD has let us learn.” Just because we have figured something out doesn’t mean that God didn’t do it. I find it hard to imagine that a company can lay claim to certain genes that may or may not be in our bodies.
Culturally, we are thoroughly in need of a clearer understanding of whose we are. Our libertarian friends believe that each of us essentially owns ourselves and have the right to live any way we wish while respecting the rights of others. We all know women whose bodies are treated like the property of men.
But imagine if we truly believed that our bodies actually belonged to God. What if women and men shared their bodies knowing that all those parts we find tantalizing and pleasurable ultimately belong to God? What if we looked upon each other as God’s property? What if we claimed the priestly charge to protect what is holy in each other?
What if we considered even BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 to be something like Levi’s genes?
Image is an anonymous artist’s rendering of DNA.