Sanctity or Quality, A Life Question
Proposition: As a culture drifts further and further away from the truth of Who God is their understanding on the sanctity of life also drifts with it.
Introduction: Last week we talked about the differences between a Big Bang theory and a Big God theology. What we recognized is that underneath all debates on origins is the issue that if God does exist then my life is not my own. It’s this premise and not the pursuit of science that that polarizes the evolution based theories. This morning we are going to look at the conclusion that develops when the reality of God is minimized and the drift into a godless world view is embraced. This is the second in a series called Hot Potatoes, the topic in this is about the slippery decline in how our world, our country and even many churches view life. It covers a wide spectrum from abortion to infanticide to genocide to suicide to euthanasia. These are all topics that we encounter in increasing measure in our land and they all have one common denominator… the taking of life. This taking of life rests upon a fundamental question, is life sacred? Right next to this is a second observation… in order for anything to be sacred there must be an acknowledgement of the existence of God, the very God to whom the sacred belongs. So it comes down to a question of either sanctity or quality… is it the quality of life that guides our decisions on taking life or is it the sanctity of life, that life is sacred, that stops our hand? So let’s begin by asking the underlying question beneath them all… ‘What makes human life sacred?’ Is it sacred because we think it should be or is sacred greater than that?
I. The Starting Point, There Is None Good But God.
You’ll remember these words as ones that Jesus spoke when a young rich ruler asked about how to inherit eternal life. “Why do you call Me good? No one isgood but One, that is, God…”. (Matt. 19:17) Jesus was challenging this man to see how the term ‘good’ was really a synonym for ‘holy’. The point here is that only One is good, only One is holy and that One is God. It was a somewhat veiled invitation to the young man to see that Jesus really is the Good Teacher. The reason I bring this up is that God is intrinsically holy, He doesn’t need to do anything to become holy.
Holiness in this sense is an absolute goodness, He is sinless yet also distinct from all other things and beings. There is no one like God and that too is part of what makes Him holy. He is majestic, His glory is unmatchable, His actions, words and motivations are only good, perfect and just. The origin of the sacredness of life is found in the Creator of that life. Life is not sacred because the majority of people think it should be nor is it made unsacred or profane because of the majority of public opinion. It is sacred because of where it came from, from the One who is without sin, perfect in every way we could imagine and then beyond that. God is not only the Creator of life but also the sustainer of life. To take life is to declare that what you do is higher than the good God has done in creating life. The very word ‘Euthanasia’ is a compiling of two Greek words, ‘eu’ and ‘thantos’, meaning ‘good death’. It can’t be quality that determines life because quality is always moving, subjective and subject to sin.
Marci has a simple blue rug by her side of the bed. There is no tag on it to say how it should be cleaned or where it was made. The fibres are flattened from wear and the color is a faded blue, logically there is no great appearance of value. But you will never get Marci to throw that rug away. It’s because her father made it, it was a way that God used to restore him from the shock of war. That blue rug is irreplaceable, precious because of who it is that made it. The same is absolutely true of you, of your life. It is not precious because of what you can or can’t do, it’s precious because of who made it. It is sacred. Isaiah 49:15,16 says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…”.
II. When Sanctity of Life Competes With Quality of Life, Keep Perspective.
There are two accounts in Scripture regarding Euthanasia. One is in Judges 9:50-57 when king Abimelech, a wicked king of Israel was trying to take a fortified tower. A woman at the top of the tower dropped a small millstone and it hit him on the head. Mortally wounded, Abimelech says to the young man who is his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his young man thrust him through, and he died.” For Abimelech it was all about having dignity in death. The second case (1Sam 31) king Saul was defeated in battle and rather than be captured he orders his armor bearer to kill him. The young man refuses to do so and Saul then takes his own life. The cause here is one of crisis and compassion. The situations that occur where we justify the taking of life, whether that be abortion, infanticide, suicide or euthanasia revolve around these two concerns. The need to end pain, humiliation, or despair, to preserve dignity or choice, to show compassion and end suffering, these are the key components in the perspective that quality of life is the determining factor. But sanctity of life says, ‘Look again, there is more here than the immediate situation.’. Situational ethics say that morality changes according to the circumstance, what once was wrong now is seen as right because the situation has changed in a dramatic way. This is a perspective that can make evil, good and good, evil. So what would the sanctity of life offer to challenge this perspective? Let me sum it up with three headings:Beginning, Middle and End.
Your life was given to you, entrusted to you but only as that which you are to be a caretaker of. You don’t own it, it’s not yours to do with as you wish. In the beginning God is sovereign, your life is His to give and His to take away. You as a Christian have been bought with a price, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The beginning of you was God, even before you were born, even before you were conceived. Eccle. 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end”. Then there is the Middle, the present time when perspective is easily blurred. When Job had experienced great loss, when his very body was covered in sores, the situation from his wife’s view was that God had abandoned him, maybe even was punishing him. She says to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job’s response is, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” The thing about suffering is that it’s not just about the one who is sick or dying, it’s also about those who stand alongside. In 2 Cor.1 Paul speaks about the way that God has a purpose in all suffering. He talks aboutthe importance of receiving comfort from others, and how those who receive such comforts are especially equipped to help others in days to come. He talks about how Christians that suffer share in the suffering of Christ and later in that book he talks about how suffering is a way that God shows His power.(2Cor 11:23-29) In other words there is purpose in life and even purpose in suffering and death. The Beginning, the Middle and then there is the heading called The End. The sanctity of life is founded on the truth that life is more than pulse and brain wave, it is about body, soul and spirit, it exists eternally.
III. Life Is Sacred Because Redemption Put a Price On It.
As of 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a human life at $9.1 million. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration put it at $7.9 million and the Department of Transportation figure was around $6 million. What value do think God puts on your life? The answer is the equivalent of the value of Jesus Christ. Listen to how the Book of Hebrews begins: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Redemptions price was that Jesus would offer all of Who He is for the value of your life. This is why the price is so high, the words are Spoken by Jesus just before Gethsemane, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”(Jn 17) That’s the reason life is sacred is because it has a design on it that redemption was willing to secure through the blood of Jesus Christ. Life is sacred because of the end that it leads to, the way that we will be made one within holiness with Christ. This is the love of God, His life for yours. The sanctity of life is fashioned after the very life of Christ.