Life Is Sacred

Life Is Sacred

Years ago when a preacher preached on the sixth commandment, the applicable points of relevancy were looks that could kill, murderous words, and criminal attitudes. Today the stakes are higher. Many of us know people who have been murdered.

Had I been ordering the Ten Commandments, I would have placed this one last. It seems that this is the epitome of dehumanization, the end of a slippery slope of sin. I’d keep the first four in place, because the erosion of life is rooted in a blatant disregard for the God who gives life. If we can make our own idolatrous gods, use God’s name to endorse our will, turn Him into our genie in the religious bottle, then we can de-sacralize the life God created.

First, we erase the Sabbath pattern that is meant to remind us of our relation to God. Then we dishonor our parents who gave us birth, placing ourselves at the center of the familial universe. Next we break our promises to those we marry, then we take from others what is not ours, then we twist the truth for our purposes, then we want their life, then we take it.

In 1973, we crossed a moral line that has legally legitimized the taking of life. With concern for the living who have experienced the consequences of abortion, and with mercy toward those affected by it, we cannot underestimate the weight of this national choice.

It seemed such a simple thing—keep women from unsafe, deadly abortions by providing safe ones in certified medical clinics. It would be private and personal, based on the free choice of a free being concerning her own body. What began as a personal choice is now a standard method of birth control.

Millions of infants have been terminated in the womb before ever gulping the first breath of the God-given air their lungs were made for. An industry of death now exists—and may be even more offensive (if that’s even possible?) than first thought. By now, we are all aware of the undercover videos, which feature Planned Parenthood officials discussing the selling of aborted baby parts. To take the life of the unborn is the beginning of societal evil.

Just as American slavery was the blight on the conscience of a nation that led that nation to Civil War, abortion is the kind of choice that legitimizes the taking of any life that becomes inconvenient or unwanted. Just as Hitler’s regime dehumanized the Jews and Gypsies as a prelude to their extermination, we are de-humanizing life as a rationale for ending the life of the unborn.

It is not far from abortion to the mercy killing of the diseased to the destruction of babies who have inconvenient diseases or deformities. From there, we go to the poor or to those who can no longer work or to the minorities.

Our culture has become coarse, disrespectful, impersonal, and brutal. Life is no longer a right but a relationship of power in which another has the say over the life of the weak or unwanted. Other nations have already taken the lives of tribal neighbors simply because they were ethnically different. We cannot kill our babies and then expect everyone to have a high regard for life.

Murder has become prime-time entertainment; we eagerly await the next episode of Bones, Castle, or Criminal Minds. Murder heads the evening news and headlines the morning paper. Science works on the newest fatal biological viruses. Terrorists seek weapons of mass destruction. The military invents more deadly killing machines.

Our society has become a culture of death.

Why have we moved in these directions? Could it be that in our violation of the first three commands we have made ourselves to be gods?

As our own gods, we resist the limits and bristle at the law that makes us responsible for each other. We are drunk on our own thinking and numbed by our deadly ways. If we can rationalize it, we believe we can do it.

In seeking to rise above our dependent humanness, we have violated the creaturely limits imposed on us by our Creator. God is saying that the murder of a person is a movement toward the death and destruction of the created order. It is a god-less move, an un-human act, a de-human deed.

Having suggested a high value on life, I must also add that preserving life is not the highest good. We are not called to sustain life at all costs. The person whose time has come need not be artificially kept from death by machines. There are causes for which it is right to lay down one’s life. There are pregnancies that endanger the life of a mother that call for wise counsel. There are those killed in the line of protecting and serving others.

The command calls us to take a fresh look at the ways of our world. However, we will never make headway by condemning the world. It has enough deadly condemnation already.

We are called to be the people of life. Our rampant, exuberant celebration of life is our response to its Gift Giver. As we dance with this law, our mind-set will change.

Maybe, we will refuse to let death take over our lives. Perhaps we will watch fewer murder shows, vote for a lower military budget, oppose capital punishment, adopt a child, open our homes to a foster child, or regularly visit a retirement home.

We will see birthdays as benchmarks of grace, marriages as God’s vote that the human race continue, meals as sacred conversations of the living, cemeteries as story vaults of God’s interaction with his wildly varied creatures.

We will play with children, listen to the elderly, care for the sick, feed the hungry, visit the lonely, help the weak—because God gives us life and means that we cherish it.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Dancing with the Law: The Ten Commandments.

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