Is Life Valuable?
Assuming that rank and file pro-lifers sincerely hold such views to be self-evident, I would like to challenge the basic premise: that life is valuable in and of it’self and ought to be protected without question. Moreover, the intrinsic value of life supercedes even the one that owns said life. Such would also apply to the life support system for an unborn fetus, namely its mother.
Agreed. That is how I view it.
In that I have a working knowledge of the Bible, I will attempt to use scripture to counter the foundational claims of those for whom life is an end in and of itself.
I had never seen this before, and was quite intrigued.
There are 66 total “books” in the Christian Bible-39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. This is a comprehensive volume to be sure, so I’ll not recite every relevant passage. Thank goodness. I will however, select one potent bit from each section.
I would have to assume that any passage not cited but known is built upon the same assumptions and postulates as these. On we go!
First, from the older, which is well known for God’s dispensing of punishment for iniquity. But there’s the unique account of Job, about whom God declared “that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Such a claim has not been attributed to Mrs. Schiavo, saintly though she may have been. Back to Job. The aforementioned conversation purportedly takes place between God and Satan, no less. Even a cursory reading of his trials reveals that God “sacrificed” his children, his servants, his cattle and indeed all of his possessions. To add insult to injury, his wife and his closest friends heaped criticism upon him, as though he had somehow earned such treatment. Oh, and there were those painful “boils” that afflicted his skin. The end of the tale shows that “life” was subordinate to the larger plan of the creator of it.
Right away I have an issue with this postulate. First, Robert leaves out a critical statement by God himself - (Job 2:6) "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life." That kind of undercuts the idea, doesn't it? Job's life was so valuable, that Satan was allowed to destroy everything that Job owned and afflict his body, but not to kill Job.
Of course, Robert would (rightly so) bring us back to the point he mentioned - others were killed. Job's family and employees were killed, for, as Robert honestly puts it, "the larger plan of the creator".
The problem with this premise, that "life [is] subordinate to the larger pan of the creator" is that we are assuming that the actions of man are the moral equivalent of the actions of God. Just because God allows death to occur does not make it a just action for a man to take, hence the commandment to not murder. God can kill does not mean that man can kill.
Now a portion from the newer testament. Paul, the Apostle that is reputed to have penned 2/3 of the New Testament, wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth, concerning the importance of terrestrial existence: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:6-8).
The question to the house is: why do “Christians” maintain that mortal life is the most valuable aspect of existence, when the Bible clearly teaches the opposite?
I was hoping for more in this section, because it is theologically plentiful, but we'll address what we have. Robert's point here seems to be, "since mortal life is not what is most important, why do pro-lifers say it is?"
This section of St. Paul's letter was an explanation - an explanation why they were not to quit when afflicted, because they have a greater reward to come. Christians agree with Robert that mortal life is not the "most valuable aspect of existence", because the eternal spiritual salvation is. I'm not sure that it is 'opposite' of that, but what has to be clear to the reader is that this maxim only applies to those who are headed for eternal salvation. Those who are not saved are to fear death, indeed.
I would present that life is important (in this aspect) for one of two simple reasons: 1) If a person's life ends before they are saved, they go to hell. Hence, we should keep people alive as long as we are able until that is certain. 2) Those who are saved are to be at the work of getting others saved, which requires them to be alive. Hence, we should keep saved people alive as long as we can.
Some will point to Levitical Law in general and the 6th Commandment (murder not) in particular. To this I say that the failure to act (provide sustenance) cannot be reasonably construed as an action. There is no such commandment that demands the force feeding of one that is incapable of swallowing. Note that while “feeding tubes” and respirators were nonexistent in ancient times, God’s power to resurrect was…according to Biblical accounts.
I doubt Robert believes it is not murder to starve a child to death. That is exactly, "failure to act (provide sustenance)". There is also no commandment to do thousands of good things and neutral things. The fallacy of the Argument of Silence, is never a true premise.
I'm not sure how technology and God's power to resurrect fit into what is assumed by Christians to be a moral precept. Moral precepts involve the actions of men and are timeless.
The open secret really, is about abortion. Those opposed to euthanasia invariably say that it is a byproduct of Roe vs. Wade. If one were to remove the emotional component and look at the facts dispassionately, perhaps there would be less tension. Many cite the innocent nature of the “unborn” as a justification to ban all abortion. Again, the Bible contains an example of God’s dealings with innocents. [He] made a distinction between Hebrew children and the first born of Egypt on the night of Passover. Untold thousands of kids were slaughtered by the “death angel” that passed over Moses’ people (Exodus 11). Whatever Pharaoh may have been guilty of, the children had no part of it. The fact is that
God’s plan took precedence over “human life”.
This is the same argument as above - that God killed, so man can do the same. The same response as above applies.
Personally, I'm not sure that "the innocent nature of the unborn" has anything to do with it. I would never use that, myself.
In glaring contrast, pro-lifers by-and-large support the “death penalty” for those that are considered “guilty”. Quite simply, the justification for such a position flows from Levitical Law. “…you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23-24). Fairly straight forward huh?...not exactly. With the death and resurrection of Christ, came a paradigm shift. The New Testament reveals that Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13). Therefore, the law is of no effect for Christians.
My personal support for the death penalty has nothing to do with the Bible. I had a post on it some time ago, as well as the post two below this one. Essentially, my argument is from a human justice perspective. If prison sucked as bad as it does in Maricopa County, AZ, I'd oppose the death penalty.
Robert ends his Bible-based section here. Stop by and read the rest. A last line:
This may well offend the moral sensibilities of some, but I would suggest that [they] bear in mind that not everyone excepts a universal code of morality.
One's belief or acceptance of a law does not change the existence of that law. Hence, I must do what I can within my purview to ensure the laws are kept - even if that means making someone keep them who doesn't like them - no matter where they come from.