Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Idol of Life

It is strange to think that in a country where abortion is legal and euthanasia is accepted that we may actually be guilty of idolizing life. As I have pondered this odd notion, I have become more convinced that it is precisely our worldly love of living that drives abortion, euthanasia, sci-fi cloning, and the shunning of red meat. Let me explain what I mean and see if you agree.

The talk that fuels the debates on the above issues is the argument over the 'quality' of life. If someone would be born with Down's Syndrome, then we should terminate that child because they can't reach the quality of life that one should hope for, or so the argument goes. An unwanted child can be aborted because it would mess up the mother's quality of life. Old people with terminal illness can be put to sleep permanently because their quality of life is over as well. My conclusion is that it is precisely the idol of an imaginary "quality" life that drives the murder of the innocent and elderly.

Evangelicals are not helping to destroy this view very much. I believe that they are helping to foster it. The way that we do this is made evident by our prayer requests and actions. The average prayer request goes like this, "Pray for my uncle Bobby, he's having surgery on his knee Saturday." On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that prayer, and it is right and good to pray for Uncle Bobby's recovery. For the most part, that is.

What if someone were to request this, "Pray for my Uncle Bobby. He is a proud man and obstinate to the gospel. He's having surgery Saturday. Pray that if it would break his pride and bring him to Christ that the surgery be botched and he'd have a permanent limp but have eternal life." Scandalous!

Here's my point in this, I'm afraid that when we request only prayers for everyone to be happy and well, we overlook that suffering is an excellent tool for humbling pride and drawing people to Christ. I'm not saying that we should pray that everyone be stricken with illness, but rather that every prayer ought to be made with the focus being on the glory of Christ and the increase of His adoration on earth, even if it means more limps, broken bones, cancer, and etc. It may not take that, but we should be a people who wish to see Christ glorified no matter the cost.

By only mentioning sickness, we reveal that the thing we really want from God is physical health. We want comfort here, and we want it for others. We want God to take away suffering. We want this because we love this life and this world and do not wish to soon part with it. Where is the feeling that this world is rank and festering and that we only live in it to preach the glories of Christ and to prepare for the glorious kingdom to come? If you look at our prayer requests, you'll find that we are just as much in love with this world and our "quality of life" as the average pagan who doesn't mind aborting children.

I recently spoke to a man whose church is sending missionaries to an African nation. One of the folks going for long-term is an 'elderly' lady in her late sixties. She is still strong and healthy and is willing to serve. I spoke with her for a bit about her trip before she left. The man I mentioned above came to me after she left and said this to me. "You know, I told her she didn't have any business going over there. She's got children and grandchildren to think about. She might catch some sickness over there and die. She's not strong enough to go."

Don't be too hard on the guy. He loves this woman and he wants her to be well. But is this to be our attitude towards missionary endeavor? Is this how we ought to regard life? Shouldn't we say with Paul, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?! I'm not only willing to be bound, but also to die for the sake of Christ!" (cf. Acts 21:13). How sad that we cling so fiercely to a thing that is passing when we could offer it to Christ as a pleasing sacrifice.


Even So... said...

Yep, I agree Brad...

9marks just came out with an article dealing with exactly this issue...

Praying Beyond Health Concerns

The Imperfect Christian said...

I understand what you mean and I completely agree with you.

My youngest daughter was given up for adoption as a result of Down syndrome. One of her birth parents truly believes in quality of life and felt ill-equipped to raise the child. One of the parents felt the child deserved to be born, while one preferred to abort. Thankfully, an agreement of open adoption was made and my family was completed.

You were right on the money when you said pre-borns and the elderly are euthanized based on quality of life (whether it be theirs or someone else's.)

I learned long ago not to pray for good outcomes or best case scenarios. Instead, I pray that His will be done and He give me the strength and tools to deal with whatever His will entails.

Jesus didn't "play it safe" in his life, and neither do I. The challenges make the "good stuff" so much more meaningful and blessed!

Even So... said...

Yeah, I know its the weekend, and I know you are just like me, busy, but Daniel just tagged me with the "one book" meme, and now I am tagging you...

Here it is on my site:
Tag, You're It!