Is He Dead Yet?

The latest manifestation of the culture of death has showed up in Belgium. No, it isn’t the news of violence by Islamic extremists, which is bad enough. Islamic extremists are people who kill other people, people they hope are infidels, and they often wreak this havoc by killing themselves. Belgium, however, has added what they hope people will perceive as a charitable wrinkle to the discussion of life and death around the world. Belgium has invented a concept they call “presumed consent.”

The motivation for this new concept is the need for organ donations. It is a timely addition to the conversation about Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling body parts “harvested” from aborted babies. Planned Parenthood has plenty of opportunity to “harvest” all sorts of human tissue from the bodies of babies whose mothers chose murder rather than birth for those babies. This practice is an affront to the human race, as well as affront to God, and it is to be hoped that voters in the USA will soon find it in their hearts to put an end to it.

Belgium’s contribution strikes at the other end of human life. Belgium already had a law in place that allows patients who experience unbearable suffering to choose assisted suicide instead of treatment intended to sustain life. However, those patients would presumably have poisoned the very organs someone might want to “harvest” for transplant. Assisted suicide is achieved by injecting poisons into the patient’s bloodstream, and death occurs because of the effect of the poisons on the human body. Presumably, organs from a body tainted by injected poison would not be considered good for organ transplant.

However, if a patient is simply declared dead “on the basis of either circulatory or neurological criteria,” then Belgium says that the patient can be “presumed” to have given his “consent” for his heart or liver or other organ to be removed and given to someone who “presumably” needs it more. The Belgian lawmakers are not hardhearted, however. The enabling legislation says that “relatives should be enabled to say farewell to the deceased as soon as possible after the donation procedure.” That is to say that once the patient has been declared to be dead, on whatever basis, the organs are quickly removed, the patient is “presumably” made presentable for viewing, and the family is then invited in to say their good-byes.

In a culture with no absolute values, such practices are sure to sprout like mushrooms in the spring.  Only a commitment to life as an absolute value, not to be trespassed upon, prevents such atrocities as partial birth abortion and presumed consent for organ transplant. The central theme of the Bible is the value of life and God’s gift of life as the greatest gift anyone can receive. Only utter disregard for God and God’s values could lead to such policies as approval for partial birth abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the greed for human organs that leads to a “presumption” that someone no longer needs either his life or his organs.

The contemporary culture believes that you can have your truth and I can have mine. We can each consider as truth things which cannot possibly both be true. In fact, in that line of thinking, none of the “truths” need be true at all. This unfortunate mindset leads to a lot of strange outcomes, such as the declaration that an unborn baby is not human and that some person too sick to complain about it should be declared dead, both acts designed to produce human tissue whose value is only clear to people with advanced medical minds, minds that “presumably” know which tissues are just right for research and or for transplant to other human beings deemed more valuable than the “presumably” deceased person. The only way to prevent human trafficking is to convince all human beings that human life is valuable.

The use of the term human trafficking in the previous sentence is not an accident. Commerce in human body parts is truly not logically distinguishable from commerce in living human beings. When a human becomes an article of commerce, his life has been declared valueless to him. It only has value as it serves the desires of some other human who establishes the value of that life by paying money for it. A young girl sold into sex slavery, a pre-teen boy chained to a workbench in a third-world factory, a baby head sold to a pharmaceutical research lab, a liver harvested from someone whose circulatory distress could only barely be matched to the criteria for death—these items are all instances of commerce in human life. They are all instances of human trafficking. Humans cannot engage in such commerce without having decided that some people deserve to live and others do not.

God gave human life an absolute value, and he values human life so much that he sent his own son to die in order to redeem the lives so callously “presumed” to have no value, along with the lives of those who made such presumptions. It is common to hear people argue about God’s commandment not to kill, but it is less common to hear people discuss the value of life established by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Here is the real Truth: If any human life has zero value, then why did Christ die? He himself said that he came to save the whole world. Every human being. Every unborn baby. Every elderly patient in a coma. Everyone. There is not some category of human for whom Christ did not die. Unless there is such a category, it is not possible to justify abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and other such atrocities.

Christians must pray to be heard by lawmakers and other government leaders. God instituted government to keep the peace and enforce order. Nothing in God’s charter for government sanctions legalized murder. Pray that we all take God’s values to heart and live by them. May God grant that relatives in sickrooms never hear doctors with knives in hand asking, “Is he dead yet?”