Image: Cryonics institute. Photo by Dan. commons.wikimedia.org
My great-grandmother is 103. She lives at home, in Melbourne, with her daughter, as healthy as one could hope to be at 103. Each time I visit her I wonder if it will be the last. I am very thankful for the miracles God has worked through modern medicine in keeping her well and healing her when she is ill. Yet, as modern medicine continues to advance, Christians may face a complex question, how long should we live for?
On the drive from Sydney to Melbourne to visit Great Grandma, we always stop at Holbrook, soon to become the home of the first cryonics facility in the southern hemisphere. The Southern Cryonics website claims, ‘Cryonics is the best option left when medicine can no longer help. Cryonics patients are stored at very low temperature until medical science advances enough to be able to heal them, however long that takes, and they can resume their lives.’ The idea is simple: medicine can’t yet keep you alive forever, why not freeze yourself until it can! You can’t say the goal is not noble—as Southern Cryonics states, ‘A cryonics facility is designed to do one thing: save lives’.
Christians have always been on the side of life—a precious gift from God and associated with right relationship with him— whereas death is the awful result of humanity’s sin (Genesis 2-3).
Given this, is cryonics something Christians should get on board with?
In many ways, cryonics seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist for the Christian. While we still die, we no longer need fear death or what comes after it (1 Corinthians 15:12ff). Even if cryonics can extend life, Jesus saves us to something far better than just more life on this flawed earth. Even if cryonics can alleviate the fear of death, Jesus has disarmed death completely, opening the path to eternal life after death, through his own death and resurrection. Ultimately, cryonics is a band-aid solution to the devastating problem of death. The most it can do is give people a few more years and hold off God’s judgement until Jesus returns.
Is it, then, wrong for a Christian to consider cryonics in any circumstance?
As much as cryonics attempts to solve problems that don’t exist for the Christian, it can potentially offer more time in this life, which can be a good thing. Paul famously argues in Philippians 1 that although ‘dying is gain’, he wishes to remain on account of the Philippian believers whom he wishes to serve and build up in Christ. In the following chapter he thanks God for his mercy in sparing the life of Epaphroditus, and so sparing his friends the grief of losing him at that time. We use the technology of medicine to extend life and restore health without question, and cryonics may stall death until we can do both more effectively. If we knew the gamble of cryonics would pay off (and had the resources), why not choose to stay, like Paul, and serve the church? Why not spend more time evangelising unbelievers? At the same time, I know that no matter how hard I strive for the church, or proclaim Jesus to others, this is ultimately God’s work not mine. We should be wary of considering ourselves indispensable to God’s plans. And perhaps that place in the cryonics facility should be reserved for someone who has not yet found life in Jesus.
Our friends at the Holbrook facility admit they ‘can’t be sure cryonics will work’. Personally, I am keen to place my hope for my future in the secure love of Jesus, rather than the shaky foundations of the new facility in Holbrook. And my great-grandmother, at 103, is rightly waiting expectantly and joyfully for the day when Jesus calls her home.
Ryan is a young Christian data scientist currently attending St Matthias in Sydney's East.
 https://southerncryonics.com/ (accessed August 2021).
 Costs are currently expected to be $150K up front, plus a $350 annual fee (ibid.).
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