Just met with a man who was told by a doctor many many years ago that they could have saved his daughter with down syndrome, but won’t because her life wasn’t worth saving. It was in that moment in the conversation that two things became more real in mind then ever before.
[Spoiler: more than just a slight emotional rant will follow, hopefully with some logic and thought mixed in]
First, that when someone fully removes the possibility of the existence of God from the universe, then there is no basis for valuing anyone elses life. This isn’t the case for just people with significant and life threatening disabilities, but for all people. What I wish my friend had done was threaten the man, because it would have been the most consistent with the doctors own estimation of this man’s daughter. What makes the criteria for “life worth saving”? Is it, intellectual or cognitive ability? The ability to be self-sustaining and responsible? Is it the feasibilty of you becoming a productive member of society? Well if you’re a doctor refusing to save another human being, how is that a productive member of society? You’re refusing to do a good that you could do.
One of you might possibly think of the counter argument that the doctor was thinking for the majority of society and possibly deeming this down syndrome child as a wast of social capital and resources. To that I would say, “Whose majority?” The parents sure didn’t sign off on that way of thinking – where was there opinion in the matter?
My friend said it rightly and thru tears (as it should be) – who has the right to ever say “You’re not worth the effort to save?”
Here’s the thing. The only one who has the right, DID NOT TAKE UP THAT RIGHT. The God of the universe, the One who had been wronged yet never deserved it, instead of smiting those who would actively rebel against Him, instead laid down his life for the rebels. That gives me hope. Not warm-fuzzy feeling kind of hope. Shock and awe hope. The kind of hope that overwhelms and floods you with a mixture of emotions. Joy, delight, optimism towards the future for sure; but also anger, sadness and solemnity, that the One who could have struck you down, or let you die, didn’t. And he didn’t do it at great personal cost to himself. That is the gospel and it should always delight and disturb us – both equally and at the same time.
Now, I said two things. Here’s the second. Hell is a justifiable reality from God’s perspective. Frankly, I am not happy that some people will experience hell for eternity. Yet I am happy that in a world as screwed up as this where doctors could refuse to save a life based on their own moral presuppositions at the expense of another human life and families love for a daughter, that there is not a gentle, “Aw shucks, you really botched that one up but it doesn’t really matter.” There is a severity to refusing to accept the unconditional offer of God’s grace, or the condititions that then puts on your life.
God chose to save us and He offers Himself freely to all – no matter what you may or may not have done in your life. But don’t tread lightly with that. Refusal to acknowledge the reality of God in this life and accept His love, mercy, kindness, grace and forgiveness will not enable an eternal lifetime of second chances.