Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Culture of Life? Or, Death?

I apologize ahead of time. This isn't a very happy or pleasant topic. But I believe it needs to be said and heard.

I have wanted to write a blog post on this topic for some time now. Ever since the court battle over Terri Schindler-Schiavo's "right to live" or "right to die" (depending upon which side you are coming from), I have wanted to start a discussion on whether America is heading towards promoting a culture of life or a culture of death.

In a previous blog post comment on the abortion issue, I stated the following:

"On the religious side of the debate, abortion on demand as we now have it does not promote a culture of life; it promotes a culture of death. The original idea and argument that Roe vs. Wade proponents held (before the Supreme Court decision was made) was to make abortion safe, legal and rare. If they truly wanted to make abortions rare, they would agree that we should do everything we can to promote a culture of life in the U.S.

But their ideology SINCE abortion became legal has been sharply driven to the left where abortion should be a 'right' and forget about attempting to promote a culture of life. In most of the pro-abortion/choice advocates eyes, pro-lifers are the enemy.

The suggestion that the religious right should be doing certain things to educate people and provide support for choices other than abortion is what we have been doing for the past 30 years. But the attitude towards those who wish to promote a culture of life is STILL volatile. Pro-life people and their views are consistently and viciously attacked by the left and no one can deny that fact."

In one reply comment by Clandestine, she stated:

"However, I think we should avoid ridiculous hyperbole like "a culture of life" and "a culture of death." Unless, of course, we want to talk about a culture that believes every conflict, however real, between countries should be solved by war; a culture that thinks it's acceptable to let poor people die because they can't be evacuated; a culture that promotes the death penalty, etc."

All of these issues could be raised and discussed when it comes to talking about a "culture of death". I personally disagree with the thought that "poor people were left to die" purposely. There were enough errors done in the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane disaster which could place the blame on any number of individuals and agencies.

Sometimes war is necessary to keep our country safe from further and repeated attack. I'm sure no one would deny that we shouldn't have entered into WWII after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That event involved us in a lengthly global war event of such magnitude (with many lives & countries sovereignty at stake) that we knew it couldn't end until victory was achieved.

We now face a new kind of enemy in the War on Terror. The latest news reports about Al Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi in Iraq, shows the plans Al Qaeda has for taking over that country, their desire to destroy Israel and their aim for global domination. My next post will expand upon this issue. For now, I just wanted to mention it.

Going back to the topic at hand.

When Terri Schindler-Schaivo was dehydrated and starved to death, many in our nation just watched helplessly and in absolute horror. I don't care what you think about the 'right to die' issue, this was terribly inhumane. If someone did that to a dog they would go to jail!!

For weeks afterward, I would awaken at night with my mouth dry, needing a drink of water which was always within reach at my bedside. I would always think about Terri. I remember how the visiting pastor said that they had a vase full of flowers IN WATER at Terri's bedside, but if he attempted to place a drop of water on her parched lips he would be arrested!

They allowed this poor woman to suffer the agony of dehydration to death!! Think about how painful that must have been!

It gave me nightmares to think that people in our nation would refuse to see the inhumanity of this type of death sentence placed upon a woman who could not speak for herself! One judge, one lawyer, and a despicable excuse for a husband decided that she should die this way? How awful!!

Since I don't have all the time that I would like to have right now to finish this post, I will close with an email letter that I just received from the Alliance Defense Fund President, Alan Sears. The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for and against Oregon's assisted suicide laws. I never dreamed that it would come to such a thing folks. Laws to allow people to be killed by assisted suicide?

Horrendous!

Isn't that guy Kevorkian in prison for doing this very thing several years ago? Now, they want to change the laws to allow it? It is just more evidence that we are headed down that slippery slope into a "culture of death" mindset. And, guess who is leading the way on this? (Psst...the liberal left loonies!!)

I will have much more to say on this issue in a future posting. For now, read this letter and then click on the amicus brief to read ADF's argument against such a horrific 'culture of death' idea for a law!

Christine

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Oregon Assisted Suicide Case – Please Pray…

Last Wednesday, October 5th, the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in the ADF-funded case Gonzales v. Oregon. This case involves Oregon’s so-called “Death with Dignity Act” which allows physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a terminally ill person. ADF and its allies, along with the Department of Justice, contend the law is a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which regulates the manufacture and distribution of drugs that can be used to produce controlled substances.Perhaps the most interesting (and encouraging) aspect of the oral arguments was the seemingly strong stand taken by new Chief Justice John Roberts on the right of the federal government to regulate how states can issue potentially deadly drugs – pointing out the need for a uniform standard to avoid legal and medical chaos.

At one point during the oral argument, the Chief Justice asked the Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General: “If one state can say it’s legal for doctors to prescribe morphine to make people feel better, or to prescribe steroids for bodybuilding, doesn’t that undermine the uniformity of the federal law and make enforcement impossible?”

ADF provided funding for two friend-of-the-court briefs in this case, including one submitted on behalf of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. You can read these briefs at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/VictoryAmicus.pdf.

Please be in prayer for the outcome of this case.

Initial media reports seem to indicate that four of the left-leaning members of the Supreme Court indicated support for the state of Oregon’s position.

Please also pray for this Supreme Court term – and new Chief Justice Roberts – as they will deal with several ADF-funded cases that will have major ramifications for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. We will keep you posted on those cases as they come before the Court.

32 comments:

Clandestine said...

Liberal left loonies??

Well, at least you're respectful of those with differing opinions.

Christinewjc said...

I previously said: "Isn't that guy Kevorkian in prison for doing this very thing several years ago? Now, they want to change the laws to allow it? It is just more evidence that we are headed down that slippery slope into a "culture of death" mindset. And, guess who is leading the way on this?"

It IS my opinion, of course, that something that landed a person in jail a few years ago is now trying to be passed off as something desirable to include in our laws certainly qualifies as a liberal left loony position.

mamalicious said...

No matter the conversation, I don't think name-calling is ever appropriate. Just MY opinion.

Christinewjc said...

So, are you denying that there are no loonies out there? You don't think that Kevorkian qualifies as one?

OK. Maybe this will make you feel better. There are right-wing loonies too. Those who go to the extreme and bomb an abortion clinic. Are we even now?

Clandestine said...

I am not sure about Dr. Kevorkian. What I think, though, is that if a person doesn't want to live in excruciating pain when they're going to die anyway, I don't think they should have to. I certainly wouldn't want to live that way, and I make sure everyone knows that.

Anyway, why should you be in charge of what sort of medical treatments other people get?

Isn't all medical treatment human intervention? Aren't Christian Scientists the only people who really trust in God for healing??

mamalicious said...

While I think there are loonies, I try not to call them that. I work with kids that are called "loonies" a lot. I don't think it does them any good.

Secondly, I've held the hands of dying friends and know that should I be in the pain that some of them experienced, I hope someone will be merciful and help me die peacefully and in a little less painfully. Dr. Kevorkian may not have done it the right away, but I do think that there's a place for compassion when people are suffering.

W. said...

Just found your blog through the GodBlog link. Looks good. I will be sure to return.

On another note, I am amazed that people can fathom and even endorse methods of murder: intentionally killing an innocent person. Now, this is somewhat pacified by the situation--not the violent type usually associated with "murder"--but to usurp the power to take the life of innocent people and to turn medicine from its healing, do no harm ways to ridding someone of pain to the point of killing them is a tragic and scary road we are on.


W.
www.eagleandelephant.blogspot.com

Christinewjc said...

Whatever happened to the Hippocratic oath, "First, do no harm"?

There are many more potent medications available today to control pain than in previous decades. That's just not a valid excuse.

The medical advances and treatments are a gift from God to us for the purpose of helping people to live longer, not to die sooner.

Christian Science isn't Christian, and it isn't scientific either. But that's another topic for another day.

For the purpose of this discussion, I will briefly explain why assisted suicide is wrong and should never be legalized.

I think that God should be in charge of when a person dies.

I saw my father go through the pain of cancer, the treatment of cancer, and his eventual death from cancer. My mom nursed him at home with the help of a visiting hospice volunteer and she would never have wanted him to die any sooner than when God chose to call him home. In fact, it was several months before his death that he repented and asked the Lord Jesus Christ into his life. At the time, he appeared to be very very ill and I didn't think he would last one more week. He ended up improving immensely and had a reprieve for about 4 months! He got to do some of his last requests within that period of time and it was beautiful and important to him. He took a turn for the worse in May and passed away peacefully the morning of May 30th 1995.

I deal with the pain and sadness of our physical separation while I'm still here on this earth, but I also have the joy of knowing he is in the hands of Jesus spending eternity with God.

This experience has taught me that assisted suicide is nothing but man's prideful attempt to be his/her own God.

Christinewjc said...

Welcome W!

Thanks for visiting and sharing those great words of wisdom!

I will be departing for the GodBlog conference soon. Will you be attending too?

Only had a moment but glanced at your blog and see a wealth of information to read! I'll be visiting yours again too!

God bless,
Christine

Christinewjc said...

Hi Mamalicious,

I don't think that the two types of people you mentioned are similar. One is based on their ideology, the other has uncontrollable mental and/or motor skill deficiencies.

Perhaps I should have said, "Liberal left looney ideas"?

Christinewjc said...

Awww....I just noticed the beautiful people in the picture by your screenname Mamalicious! Is that a new addition to your profile or did I just not notice it before?

So cute!

mamalicious said...

Thanks for the nice comment about the photos. I love my kids - they're the best folks I know. I know you understand how that feels.

Let's see, I, too, believe that we shouldn't "play God" by just killing someone when they're at the end of life. I do, however, think that there are valid cases when pain can be eased. I have a friend who had terminal cancer...she was only 20. At the end of her life, her doctors, nurses, family chose to withhold medication, hydration, nourishment and allow her to die peacefully. From what I understand, this was actually a more merciful way of allowing her body the chance to go "naturally" rather than load her up with pain meds and then let her die with that, too.

I also think it's a personal choice. I have a living will that very clearly states my wishes regarding care at the end of my life.

Clandestine said...

So, should every medical possibility be exhausted before a person should be let go or what?

Meaning, if a person has recurring cancer that is incurable, but their life could be lengthened by chemo and steroids and morphine, but they don't want to go through that again, should they be forced to?

A person can be 'kept alive' artificially for YEARS and YEARS. At some point, the family decides whether to 'pull the plug' or not. Do you think the person should be kept 'alive' forever or what?

Shouldn't people have the option of dying peacefully?

Jojo said...

Hi Christine,(Clandi, Mama & W)

This is a subject that I have very strong opinions about, because it involves my daughter, Kristin.

I was so outraged when they were starving Terri Schaivo to death. I would hear those Dr.s talk about her not knowing anything and my blood would boil. Very few people have the experience of being around someone who is severely brain damaged. It is definitly something I could have never imagined. But I have learned so much thru the life of my daughter. No one could ever look at her, or others like her and wish that for anyone. No one would want to live under those conditions. BUT, that does not make it right to kill them.

Clandi, there is a big difference between refusing treatment for cancer and starving someone to death, or giving a medication to kill someone. Two totally different things.

There is nothing I look forward to more than when Kristin goes to be with the Lord. I plead and beg with Him all the time for that. But I know He will not take her one second before it's her time. Her life is valuable and she is here for a reason. Does that make it easy to see her suffer? NO! Does that make it easy to see her live years unable to walk, talk, eat and not be able to do so many other things normally? NO! My heart grieves each and every day for the life that she lives. It hurts so much to never be able to have a hug, a kiss or hear the words, I love you mommy. But God is teaching me so much thru her. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have changed over these last 10 years.

It all boils down to doing things God's way or doing things man's way. He knows ALL - we know only what we see. He is the one who created life and He is the one who decides when that life is over. This life is not about us - it is all about HIM.

Christinewjc said...

Hi all,

I'm on my way out the door. Keep the convos going and I'll drop in whenever I can over the next 3 days.

Love & God bless,
Christine

Clandestine said...

Hi Jojo,

The situation with your daughter is very different than the situations I was talking about. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.

The Terri Schiavo situation was so sad and tragic for EVERYONE involved. There's no way we can know if her husband's intention was noble, but it probably was. I'm sure he thought he was trying to do what she would have wanted. In fact, that happens all the time - that people are taken off of whatever kind of life support - the only reason that one got so much attention was because her parents were fighting so hard.

The whole thing is such a difficult situation. But with this, just like with so many other things, we can't make decisions for other people. Other people deserve to make their own end of life decisions, when they can. And when they can't, it is left to their next-of-kin. You can't control what other people do, even if you don't agree with it. People deserve to make their own choices in life!

My grandmother, for example, has made it quite clear that she never wants to be connected to any machine - even an iv - if she is depending on that machine for life. Isn't that her right to decide?

Clandestine said...

And, about it being God's will...

Well, I had an aunt who had cancer and died last year. She was 53, and was a single mother to her three kids, ages 26, 22 and 20. She had cancer for about 5 years. She had it, went through excrutiating chemo, radiation and a masectomy. Then, it went away for about a year. Then it came back. She had chemo a few times, it didn't work, and she CHOSE to stop and she CHOSE to live the rest of her life as best as she could, but not fight the inevitable.

I don't see why her choice was wrong. She said she wanted a higher quality of life for herself and her kids. So they went on some trips, she took piano lessons and got a dog, and then she died, the way she wanted to, in her home, about a year later.

Why was that wrong?

Clandestine said...

Oops I forgot to finish that -

So what I meant to say was that it seems to me that it could be argued that dying without intervention is God's Will and that any medical intervention is a disruption of His plan, couldn't it?

mamalicious said...

First of all, I have always appreciated Jo Jo's kind spirit. I also appreciate your willingness to share about your daughter - I know that the Schaivo case was particularly interesting to you.

Secondly, again I think we're all coming at this from kind places and we need to remember that.

I agree that people need to be allowed to make their own decisions, regarless of religion. I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't be allowed to make decisions based on their religion - just that we all should be able to make those decisions...regarding life/death, regarding abortion, regarding homosexuality. Others shouldn't make the "big" decisions for us. If we choose to consult God on those issues, so be it. If we don't, that should be our choice.

Jojo said...

Clandi,
No, I do not think your aunt was wrong to decide to not have treatments for her cancer. But as I said before, that is in no way the same thing as the Terri Schiavo case. Food and water are NOT life support. Starving someone (or dehydrating) them to death is murder. Giving someone medication to stop their heart is murder.

Not wanting to go on a ventilator, or have IV drugs or have chemotherapy or radiation is not wrong.

I do not believe that we can keep someone alive with life support beyond God's will. He is more powerful than any machine or drug and when He decides it's our time - He will take us.

Yes, everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. But to allow our Government to make laws allowing something that God says is wrong - affects all of us. We do not get God's blessing when we go against Him. I do not want to pay the consequences of that, so I will always fight against laws being passed that are against God's law.

Thomas said...

Howdy, y'all. This here liberal left loony is reporting for duty.

You may be surprised that I take a moderate approach to these issues, seeing as how atheists are supposed to have no morals. But I believe that we ought not to take life, if we can possibly avoid it -- and so often we cannot. When you believe, as I do, that this life on earth is all we've got, than those few short decades alotted to us begin to seem very precious. That said, a life that can only bring us pain is not an unreasonable one to avoid. My own personal preference is that if I were ever to fall into a position where I was incapable of enacting my own will, I would want the people around me to end my life then and there. Not through the painful, prolonged, and cowardly method of starvation, but rather through a nice, pleasant overdose of morphine. Currently, that's not a legal option, and that's a pity. But if a person does not have their wishes down in writing, then we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and keep them alive. I do believe that everyone should make their preferences known now, while they can still express their opinions, so that there is not any uncertainty down the road. You never know.

That said, I'm really puzzled by the notion of a Christian "culture of life." It's hardly supported by anything in Scripture, aside from a single much ignored commandment. While the Bible itself does not speak much to the question of abortion, and life-support was non-issue among the ignorant tribesmen who wrote it, the Good Book does give a boost to fans of infanticide:

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.


(Psalm 136:8-9)

Clandestine said...

Well that was a lovely Bible quote! :)

Anyway, just popping in to say I'm going on vacation and will happily rejoin this conversation when I get back in a week.

Have fun! :)

Thomas said...

Well, you know Clandy, I'm sure that Yahweh would tell us that those little ones had it coming. They were Babylonians, after all. They would have just grown up to be astronomers or mathematicians or something. You can't trust those types!

Christinewjc said...

Oh Thomas...

You got your references mixed up.

Psa 136:8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy [endureth] for ever:

Psalm 136:9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.


The reference for the verses you quoted are from Psalm 137:8,9

Here is a brief commentary written by Chuck Smith regarding these verses:

v.8-9 These expressions of judgment are the psalmist's own feelings. He wants God's justice to fall on the wicked, but God would rather show mercy by forgiving repentant men. God has great sorrow when he must judge (Matthew 5:43-44).

You were incorrect on two counts. Strike three, you're out?

Welcome back ;-)

Thomas said...

"The psalmist's own feelings"! I thought the whole Bible was supposed to be God's Own Word. If you're willing to give the Psalmists this much autonomy, are you willing to grant that the Gospels are their authors' own feelings, and that perhaps the Books of Revelations is merely John the Revelator's own drug-induced ramblings? It's a slippery-slope, babe.

PS. Nice to see you, again.

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

You must look at the context of the entire Psalm, not just the last two sentences.

Psalm 137 records the mourning of the captive Israelites, and a prayer and prediction respecting the destruction of their enemies.

Jamieson, Robert; A.R. Fausset; and David Brown. "The Book of Psalms." Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 19 Feb 2000. 14 Oct 2005.

*******

Ray Stedman comments:

"These books were deliberately compiled with a special purpose in view. It has often been pointed out that the book of Psalms is the book of human emotions. Indeed, every experience of man's heart is reflected in this book. No matter what mood you may be in, some psalm will reflect that mood. For this amazing book records every one of man's emotions and experiences. Those who have discovered the "secret of perpetual emotion" certainly ought to get acquainted with the book of Psalms. For instance, if you are fearful, read Psalm 56 or Psalm 91 or Psalm 23 (you know that one, of course). And if you are discouraged, read Psalm 42---one example among many. If you happen to be feeling lonely, then I would suggest Psalm 71 or Psalm 62. If you are oppressed, with a sense of sinfulness, there are two marvelous psalms for you: Psalm 51, written after David's double sin of adultery and murder; and Psalm 32, a great expression of confession and forgiveness. And then, if you are worried or anxious, I'd recommend Psalm 37 and Psalm 73. If you are angry, try Psalm 58 or Psalm 13. If you are resentful, read Psalm 94 or Psalm 77. If you are happy and want some words to express your happiness, try Psalm 92 or Psalm 66. If you feel forsaken, try Psalm 88. If you are grateful and you would like to say it, read Psalm 40. If you are doubtful, if your faith is beginning to fail, read Psalm 119. And we could go on and on, because all 150 psalms have to do with experience."

*******

The Bible is an honest book that deals with real emotions. The Psalms are evidence of this. They are a different literary source than the Gospels or even Revelation. The Gospels are eyewitness accounts of Jesus' ministry on earth. Revelation is a recording of John's vision of the future. You can't just blankly state what you did here because scholarly study of the Psalms shows us their purpose in the Bible. It appears to me that you just threw your opinion out there without realizing these important and essential literary differences.

jpe said...

I think that God should be in charge of when a person dies.

So....since vaccines and antibiotics are intervention into God's sphere, we should ban them.

You sound kinda loonie. Either that, or you're unable to formulate a principle on which to base your proposition that assisted suicide is wrong.

Given that your principle fails, we're left with mere restatement of the original proposition: people shouldn't kill themselves.

Unimpressive, to say the least

Christinewjc said...

Hi jpe,

Welcome to my blog.

I think that there is a HUGE difference between a doctor who would intervene to save a life (by using God-given medical knowledge) and one who would use methods to intentionally kill a person.

Jesus said that he had come to give us life, and give it more abundantly. He wants us to live, and, hopefully, find and invite Him into our lives as Lord and Savior before we die physically.

A method that is used to hasten death cannot be compared to medical advances that are used to save and/or prolong life.

Therefore, it is your own personal position on this issue that is unimpressive and logically inconsistent.

jpe said...

Therefore, it is your own personal position on this issue that is unimpressive and logically inconsistent.

Given that I never advanced one, this is a strange comment.

Nevertheless, you've done what any intelligent would do: retract a logically deficient principle and advanced a better one.

A quick questions about the proffered biblical support: as I understand it (and I'm certainly open to being corrected on my reading of the Bible), Jesus came to bring eternal life, and the cited passage refers to that eternal life rather than this mortal coil.

If we were to do everything in our power to continue living regardless of exogenous concerns (such as dignity; principle; another person), then martydom and self-sacrifice would be impermissible.

So there are clearly circumstances in which we can give up our own lives. In fact, we think of this as morally commendable (see, eg: Jesus himself).

What we can get from this is that biblical injunction to live is not without its exceptions. Given that the Bible doesn't directly address the question, we're left to use imperfect reason to ferret out the principled basis on which to differentiate the case of, say, martyrdom, from assisted suicide.

jpe said...

(oh yeah, thanks for the welcome. I'll try to be a critical but gracious & open-minded voice, my first snarky comments notwithstanding.

Christinewjc said...

jpe,

The view that I saw being advanced by you was:

jpe stated: "So....since vaccines and antibiotics are intervention into God's sphere, we should ban them."

"Giving up one's own life" is not the same thing as assisted suicide either. Plus, it matters how one does such a thing and what his/her intentions may be for doing so. It is not noble to commit suicide, but running into a burning building to rescue another with the possibility of losing one's own life, is considered a sacrificing and noble gesture.

Christinewjc said...

jpe,

Snarky?

heh heh....snarky....

Reminds me of comedian Chris Farley. I truly miss his comedic genius and wit.