In an interview with the BBC, Ludwig Minelli, founder of a Swiss right-to-die group, said that suicide is a “marvelous, marvelous possibility for a human being.” He further stated, “Suicide is a very good possibility to escape a situation which you can’t alter.” At the same time, Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News and World Report, asserted that abortion is “not a bad choice” in an economic downturn.
Minelli and Erbe avow that taking human life is a viable option when economics are an issue. In fact, Minelli sees suicide as a viable option for any number of reasons including wanting to die at the same time as one’s spouse.
In what sense is suicide a marvelous possibility for a human being? The reality is that such an option can only be considered viable and attractive on a naturalistic (evolutionary) worldview. Because humans are the product of random chance and no different than animals on that worldview, life is meaningless. Therefore, putting oneself out of misery is a good option if the misery is too great. Of course, the next step will be for social engineers to make those decisions for others even as they increasingly attempt to do so now. Just as it is humane to put a horse out of its misery, so too it will be deemed a humane decision when others put a human being out of [its] misery.
Christians know that there is life after death; apart from Christ there is a Hell which is far worse than any so-called hell on earth. Practically, situations can always be altered. Even when someone is physically unable to alter his situation, he can alter his thinking about his situation (Phil. 4:6f). And, there is a heaven to gain for those who look to Christ for real life.
Further, pragmatic conclusions are not always the best nor are they usually right in an ethical sense. Minelli argues that successful suicide attempts will increase and failed attempts will decrease if we as a culture adopt a favorable attitude toward suicide. As suicide success rates rise, costs to society will decrease. Expenses associated with caring for those who attempt suicide but fail will decline.
Such a position is horrific (though not unexpected when one considers Scriptural teaching on fallen man’s inability to think rightly about these matters). Do we really want to live in a society where economic concerns are supreme? What about relationships; ideas; or human potential? What about a culture’s values: life; essential dignity; man as a special creation of God in His image? Who says cost savings are the greatest benefit to society? Press the logic here. What if your six-year-old becomes too expensive? Should you simply kill him?
The man (or woman) apart from Christ will find biblical assertions irrational when they conflict with his/her pursuit of happiness. While compassion for this spiritually helpless individual must grip our hearts, we must recognize that economic materialism has become the god of our culture.
This god is manifest in Erbe’s comments as well. For her part, with reference to an unwed, Oakland couple who opted to abort a wanted child when the father lost his job, Erbe lamented the media referring to the decision as tragic: “But in the long run, can we not agree that an unwed couple's decision not to bring a fourth child into the world when they are having trouble feeding themselves and three children is no tragedy? It's actually a fact-based, rational decision that in the end benefits the three children they already have and society as well.”
Erbe demonstrates a complete lack of compassion toward the Oakland couple cited. Compassion has no place on a materialistic/naturalistic worldview. Rational decision making is supreme. There is no thought given to the value of life or the value that one might bring to the lives of others including parents and siblings. On a materialistic worldview, then, the flood gates are open. Anyone who is not productive may simply be put to death for economic reasons: and that is judged a good thing (on that worldview).
A significant and related problem subtly develops when this cultural mindset grips the church. Many couples delay or forego having children so career pursuits won’t be hindered. Mothers are put to work in an effort to grasp the culture’s definition of the good life. Couples opt against having a second or third child for economic reasons. Erbe’s assertions concerning abortion should appall us. But shouldn’t the stance that so many believers have adopted also give us pause? Children are a heritage from the Lord. Our culture has a wrong view of what’s valuable; what is a blessing; and what is the good life.
Material pragmatism drives Erbe’s thought process. There is another side to the pragmatic equation however. Erbe says abortion, with particular reference to the Oakland couple, will spare public resources (welfare). Could the man not find another job? Could he get private assistance for the baby? What about the future economic potential and productivity added to the economy that may derive from allowing the child to be born? What about new technology and solutions forced by need as populations grow? In other words, unforeseen problems will arise with population growth that will necessitate creative solutions. Some of those solutions will benefit us in ways that are also unforeseen. Those benefits will not come about without population growth.
As alluded to however, these arguments are pragmatic as well. The only satisfying answer lies in philosophical consistency and that is found only in God.
Of course, materialism/naturalism collapses upon itself; it is philosophically self-destroying. Materialism says there is nothing but the physical; nothing but cause and affect. With reference to human beings and thinking there is nothing but brain (no immaterial soul). On that worldview thoughts are nothing but programmed responses to stimuli.
Now, think here. If thoughts are nothing but programmed responses to stimuli, true reason then is non-existent. Reason is only perceived; it is but a natural response to a set of stimuli. So, when the materialist asserts reason as supreme, he asserts something as supreme that does not exist on his worldview. Reason can only exist on a Christian worldview.
In the end, God values human life. He says that life is His to give and take away, not ours. An attack on a human being is an attack on God (Gen. 9:6). When this truth is firmly implanted in our minds, these issues will be simple for us to resolve. Moreover, the biblical worldview makes sense. It is philosophically consistent. Your worldview is a matter of life and death. A commitment to God’s existence (and salvation in Christ) is the only thing that will save your life and our culture of death. And, saving your life and the lives of others is valuable.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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