Saturday, December 16, 2017

Prolonging Life – The Law of God and Public Policy: Policies Regarding Life (5)

Friday, December 2, 2011, 0:01
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Prolonging Life

The Law of God and Public Policy: Policies regarding Life (5)

The only acceptable “quality of life” is “precious.”

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

It is not likely that Job knew the Law of God as given through Moses. However, the works of the Law were written on his heart as surely as they are written on the hearts of all men (Rom. 2:14, 15). Thus, when Job, with great sorrow, expressed his faith in the Lord, Who had taken away the lives of the children He had given him, he was expressing a view of life’s origins and ends which is consistent with the Law and all of Scripture.

God is the Lord of life. He gives it, and it is His to take away. That seems fairly cut-and-dried, or, at least it would have seemed that way in previous generations. The creation of life-extending technologies has complicated the matter greatly, as we know. With the possibility of keeping people alive—that is, of keeping their vital organs functioning—now available electronically or chemically, families and physicians can have difficulty deciding when enough is enough and to “pull the plug” on a loved one.

There are no easy answers here. But the right answers must be made (a) in advance, as much as is possible, and (b) by those closest to the one on whom such questions are focused. It should not be the province of governments, insurers, or physicians to determine when life-support should be removed from a patient. Each should, of course, offer its counsel and advice. In the end, however, the families and friends of those who are being kept alive by life-support must be allowed to make the decision. It can be helpful, under such circumstances, if a “living will” has been prepared.

We must remember two things: First, the end of physical life does not mean the end of life, at least, not for those who believe. Death is but a transition to a new and higher stage of life; thus, it is not a tragedy to let a loved one go who seems physically beyond recovery. Second, life is meant for love, as we have seen. As long as it is possible that one who is on life-support can continue to show love for God and neighbors, or may be revived unto such a life, efforts should be made to sustain life. In a living will one might specify that his mortal existence should not be artificially extended beyond what is reasonable for the short-term, if hope of resuscitation exists, so as not unduly to jeopardize the well-being or prolong the anxious concerns of those on whom the responsibility for additional care devolves.

These are not easy questions, and I do not wish to sound glib. With the Law of God we take life seriously and consider every life to be precious. We do not quibble over questions of “quality of life” but seek only to extend and enrich the life of every person for the sake of loving God and neighbors. This is what justice requires.

Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe. Sent to your desktop every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Crosfigell includes a devotional based on the literature of the Celtic Christian period and the Word of God, highlights of other columns at the website, and information about mentoring and online courses available through The Fellowship.

In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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