If God Died for All of Us, it is Not Ours to Decide Who is Fit to Live
This is one of the most POWERUL things I have EVER READ!
If God died for all of us, it is not ours to decide who is fit to live
What difference does Easter make? It is a question which, not least for professional reasons, I must ask myself each year. It helps to put the question like this: What difference would it make if Jesus had not risen? Without the Resurrection, St Paul said, "Our preaching would be in vain". A remarkable man would have lived, died the life of an unsuccessful nobody, and merited at most a few lines in Roman journals. Even his followers - those who had been most affected by the three-year ministry of Jesus - would hardly have kept his memory alive. As the gospels so vividly record, for the disciples the Crucifixion was devastating, a signal that Jesus was not, after all, the Promised One, the Saviour of Israel.
But that is not what happened. The tombstone was rolled away, and Jesus appeared, various times, in different guises. It was not easy to accept; several hundred years after the Resurrection, bishops always felt it necessary to defend the credibility of Jesus rising when preparing people for baptism. The women who first took the message to the Apostles were discredited by them; only when they had seen him for themselves - and in the case of Thomas, actually touched him - did they surrender their incredulity and declare: My Lord and my God!
Without the Resurrection, human society would not have known the one, singular, astonishing thing that underpins the best of our laws and our traditions: that God gave himself to the world in Jesus Christ, was rejected by the world, and became a victim. Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained an unknown victim - trampled on, and forgotten; and human society would be none the wiser. But God raised Jesus up, demonstrated His power over death, and gave those who witnessed it the knowledge that the bloodied victim abandoned on Golgotha was, after all, His beloved son.
That knowledge has changed the world. The Jews were the first to know that God was on the side of the widow, the orphan and the stranger; the Christians were the first to know that the victim was the divine Son of God himself. That is why Christian society is distinguished by its overwhelming concern for the helpless victim: the very least of us is worth God suffering and dying for. Our Easter faith does not answer the thousand and one questions that our life poses. But it turns those questions around that one, magnificent fact: we are all worth it. All of us.
What the Resurrection has meant for Britain is hard sometimes to see, because what is most significant is often the thing you need think about the least. If you are a secure, loved child, very little of your time will be spent pondering what life would be like if suddenly you had to fend for yourself. A society in which the helpless and the vulnerable and the persecuted are judged to deserve our protection most is what Britain, as a Christian country, has long assumed; and the assumption has lulled us into the belief that it must always be so. But let us apply a test: the best way to know if Britain is still in any way a Christian society is to see how it treats its most vulnerable people, the ones with little or no claim on public attention, the ones without beauty or strength or intelligence.
People, for example, like Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman in Florida who is at the moment being starved to death after a court ruled that her feeding tube be removed. Her life is not worth living, people say; see, she is dependent on others even for food and water; let nature take its course. But what is natural about starving to death? And what is so wrong with being dependent on others? Babies are dependent on others for food and water; so are many elderly people. Are they less worthwhile? The Christian conscience answers that human beings were created interdependent; only our fallen nature believes we can make it alone.
How well do British institutions and laws protect those most deserving of our protection? There are now 180,000 abortions a year - the highest number ever - because these are 180,000 human lives considered not worth saving. Research embryos, surplus to in vitro treatment, are created, then discarded, because they do not have the right tissue type; or because - as a parliamentary select committee recommended this week - they are the wrong sex; or because they do not have the right genetic code to provide organs for another; or because they are in some way disabled or imperfect. Have the millions of abortions carried out since 1967 corroded our consciences, as well as our institutions?
What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings. That way lies eugenics, and we know from German history where that leads. We are already on that road: for what else is the termination of six million lives in the womb since the Abortion Act was introduced, and embryo selection on the basis of gender and genes?
The difference that the Resurrection makes is that the intrinsic dignity of human life - the source of our hope - comes from knowing that God's only son died the death of one regarded as worthless. In raising Him up, God showed that the one considered worthless in the eyes of human beings is of infinite worth sub specie aeternitatis.
Does Britain still know this? There are signs that it does. After I recently applauded some politicians for speaking out in favour of lowering the time-limit for abortion, I was accused of interfering in politics, and of urging US-style "godlier-than-thou" elections. But I am glad I spoke out, for a nerve was touched, and it gave the chance for many, many people - the majority, according to a number of recent opinion polls - to express their unease at the thousands of abortions that take place each year in our country. That unease can come from only one place: a deep-seated intuition that lives considered worthless are, in fact, lives created by God. The majority of British people believe this. Most of us are, after all, an Easter people.