Herald Journal Columns
April 18, 2005, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

A God-given, infinitely better picture

By Robert Hellmann, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran, Montrose

Are you a person? Maybe “yes,” maybe “no.”

That’s a stupid question. Of course, I am a person.

Don’t be so sure about that. Some experts claim that not all living and breathing members of the human race are persons.

Bioethicists are self-appointed “experts” who want to tell us if we are persons or not. They say you have “personhood” if you are aware, can think, experience desire, and value your own existence.

What if you don’t measure up to their standard? Then, you are a “non-person,” even though you are a living and breathing human being.

Who are the “non-persons” among us? People such as newborn infants (I saw one yesterday and he sure looked like a person to me), people with Alzheimer’s disease or other severe mental impairments, people in a coma, and people who just don’t have a very high “quality of life.”

What should we do with “non-persons?” Bioethicists argue that its OK to kill “non-persons” because “death does not deprive them of something they can value.”*

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does. Some bioethicists argue that “non-persons” should be used for medical experiments, and their deaths arranged so that their organs could be harvested (with your legal guardian’s consent, of course; watch out for the fine print).

What’s wrong with this picture? It says that human reason rules supreme. There is no God, so we will think and do whatever we want.

How arrogant, how evil, how wrong.

God gives us an entirely different and infinitely better picture. God gives each of us life, including a soul. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

God preserves our life. The end of our life is in God’s hands. “There is no God besides me. I put to death and I bring to life.” (Deut. 32:39)

Each of us is a person from conception to death, regardless of the quality of our life. At death, our soul goes before God. “Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Our life on earth is the time God gives us to get ready for that judgment. The problem is that we are under God’s judgment because of our sins.

God’s answer is Jesus. “For you know that it was not with perishable things, such as silver or gold, that you were redeemed, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

As Peter said to the crowds on Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Through Jesus, God gives us the gift of eternal life.

A bioethicist’s idea of a good end is to have a planned death so that your still-living body can be used for medical research and your organs harvested. If you see a bioethicist coming, a good idea would be to run in the opposite direction.

While you’re running, run straight into the loving arms of your Savior. To die trusting in Jesus for salvation is a good and blessed end. Then, your soul goes to heaven and on the last day, your body will be raised from the dead to live with God in perfect happiness and holiness forever.


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