Between Life and Death

On Good Friday Jesus died as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind. This is what Christians commemorate. In dying, Jesus established, as a defining mark of a Christian society, the principle of human dignity and the sacredness of life. Fallen sinners -- all made in the image of God -- are so precious in God's sight that He would sacrifice His only begotten Son for them. What an irony this presents this year. Jesus died so that we could be free and saved. It was a noble death, if there ever was one. But another death occupies the headlines today, one that mocks the death of Jesus. It is Terri Schiavo who is being killed by judicial fiat. For what reason? She is being killed so that society can get rid of a nuisance. She is being killed so her husband can be free to marry the woman he has lived with for years and who has borne his children. Her husband, allegedly, profited from the damages paid because of the medical injury to Terri. She is being killed so that medical funds can be saved. Good Friday marks a day on which God established the principle of the sanctity of life once and for all. One man died so that all men could be free. The Terri Schiavo case marks the triumph of utilitarianism over that Christian view of life. It is victory for the likes of Peter Singer, the ethicist at Princeton, who favors infanticide and euthanasia and who argues that the governing ethical principle in life has to create the greatest happiness for the greatest number. But no life is safe in a utilitarian society. I am seventy-three. One of these days a committee of doctors could say that I am too inconvenient or cost too much to keep alive. "It is time," as former Governor Lamb once provocatively said in Colorado, "to do my duty and die and get out of the way of the younger generation, like leaves swept up off the streets." The retired folks in Florida and elsewhere, many of whom are privately thinking they really would like to keep this principle of assisted suicide intact because they may want to avoid suffering, are turning the decision of whether they live or die over to others. Do they really want to do that? We used to say in law school, "Bad cases make bad law." This is a very bad case. Medical data concerning Terri is old and ambiguous. There is conflicting testimony about whether she really is in a persistent vegetative state. She certainly does not look and act like she is in one. She was not being maintained on life support. She was simply being fed and receiving water as any other human being would expect. So if we can kill Terri, who is next? Thundering out of the heavens this Good Friday come God's words: "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God." I shudder to think what is going on in the heavenly councils at this moment, as on this day of all days, black-robed judges in courts are ordering that an innocent woman starve to death. Choose life? Can anyone hear those words today?


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary