Friday, September 30, 2016

Does Life Really Matter?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Everywhere you look it seems people are talking about how life matters. Black Lives Matter claims that their entire existence is dedicated to proclaiming that the lives of black people matter, and shouldn’t be devalued by society. White people counter with, “All lives matter,” and the politicians, activists and Facebook fanatics scream at each other about which statement makes you a more patriotic American, and which makes you a racist. Black, blue, white, or all…is there really any evidence that American society, as a whole, thinks that any lives matter? American secular society seems to have adopted a culture which, if it doesn’t officially worship death, certainly seems to have befriended it, and uses it to achieve its own ends. Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, violent crime, and terrorism are just several ways in which we worship at the altar of death, all the while giving lip-service to the idea that we think anyone’s life matters.

In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control records that there were 699,202 legal induced abortions in the US (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016). This is a procedure, lauded by those on the secular political left as a constitutional right and ignored by the secular political right (if they could get away with it), which extinguishes a human life based on how convenient it is to those who would have to care for it. Abortion advocates say that women have the right to choose this “reproductive health option” since women have a right to do with their bodies as they please. Men tend to cop out on this issue, saying that they shouldn’t have an opinion, since women are the ones who have to carry the baby. I suspect, however, that a more accurate reason is that most men secretly support abortion on-demand as they benefit from it. With abortion on-demand sex is divorced from procreation, and men get all of the pleasure with none of the responsibility. All through the debate we know that abortion takes a human life, whether we’ll admit it or not. Do those lives matter?

Organizations such as the Hemlock society, Final Exit, Death with Dignity, and Compassion and Choices advocate the so-called “right to die.” These groups believe, in the words of the Hemlock Society of San Diego:

“…that every competent adult has the incontestable right to humankind’s ultimate civil and personal liberty – the right to die in a manner and at a time of their own choosing (Hemlock Society of San Diego n.d.).”

And, they say, since suicide is no longer a crime, it is logical that society shouldn’t punish those who assist those who wish to commit suicide. No matter what sort of gentile language they use one cannot escape the fact that they advocate murder. The grounds are simple – selfishness. I am in pain, so I should be allowed to kill myself. I want to die with dignity (whatever that means). I have a poor quality of life, so I should be able to kill myself. Those who are burdened with an elderly relative may empathize, but how long will it be before we start making these “compassionate” choices for those not-so-competent adults who just don’t have a good quality of life? 

According to Peter Singer, personhood is defined, in some capacity, by the ability to reason and self-awareness. He’s the chair bioethics at Princeton! How long before our selfish society accepts the premise, as it has with babies in the womb, that people are no longer people once they lose their mind, and can be killed for convenience? There are many in our societies who are working to see that, when people stop being convenient and productive, their lives stop mattering. But perhaps I’m trying too hard to make my case. It isn’t as though people are any different than they used to be. Ever since the Fall, mankind is completely self-centered and sinful. And, from that beginning man’s sinfulness has manifested as death. Since Cain killed Abel we have been killing each other and rationalizing it however we could. What we need to do is repent.

But, we can’t. We are, as the corporate confession says, “…by nature, sinful and unclean.” Left on our own, we fall back on that which we know and understand – killing and death. We hate God, and we who are governed by the sinful mind are enemies of God, and God cannot tolerate sin. Rather than toss humanity into the cosmic waste bin, however, God took on human flesh, and entered his creation in order to bear our sin and be our savior in the person of Jesus. So, ultimately, it’s Christ’s life that matters. He calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with his gifts, and sanctifies and keeps us in the faith. By Jesus’ holy, precious blood, and his innocent suffering and death on the cross he bore not only the guilt of our sin but also its punishment – separation from God the Father, and death. Through his means of word and sacrament, by the working of the Holy Spirit, He grants us faith, repentance, and life-everlasting.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reproductive Health. August 24, 2016. (accessed September 18, 2016).

Hemlock Society of San Diego. "Hemlock Society of San Diego." About. (accessed September 18, 2016).