Leadership & Life
Message Of Life - In A Culture Of Death
One of the really big questions of our time -- though it isn't often recognized as such -- is this: "Is human life eternal, or simply temporal?"
How you answer this question will determine your response to another, equally important one: "Are we the result of purely biological processes, or are we invested with a higher, moral soul?"
On questions like these will hinge our view of the sanctity of life, of individual responsibility and of the dignity of human existence. And out of that will flow our values on all sorts of important practical issues.
Most people in our age live with a purely naturalistic view of human existence. Much of this can be traced back to two thinkers who worked in different fields: Darwin in the area of biology and Descartes in the sphere of philosophy.
Darwin left us with the concept that human beings are no more than monkeys who got lucky. For a Darwinist, human beings have no more spiritual value than do any other creatures on this planet, for we are all purely material beings who sprang from the one meaningless, evolutionary accident.
If you truly believe Darwin, there is no fundamental reason why should not eventually adopt a worldview in which the weak, diseased and "unproductive" members of society become disposable items -- human "machines" which can be disposed of once they are broken.
After all, if evolution is an ongoing process, we might seek ways to help it along by improving the human gene pool. This is, of course, a key element in the work of eugenicists -- some of whom are driving today's debate on issues like euthenasia.
If you embrace Darwin's views, you will increasingly find yourself operating in a world where choices are proscribed by the shifting sands of opinion polls and political agendas, rather than the sense of absolute morality which has kept civilizations intact for centuries.
Descartes gave us a philosophy in which the human mind -- rather than God -- became the ultimate arbiter in what is real and right. He reduced the body to little more than a machine operated by the individual mind.
If you believe Descartes, you may well say that the human body has no real moral significance. You can see the body as no more than a personal "possession" designed for little more than giving pleasure.
This thinking is rampant in our culture.
We strip sex, for example, of its spiritual and moral aspects, making it out to be nothing more than a fun experience, a little personal indulgence to be shared between friends (or even mere acquaintances).
We strip the child of dignity and value. Pro-abortionists see the foetus as being little more than bodily tissue. A woman, they say, has the final and sole right to decide what happens to the unborn child who is "taking up space" inside "her" body.
We even embrace death, making it out to be just another "lifestyle option". Euthanasia is being legalized in so-called civilized countries because, the thinking goes, people have the right to use "their own bodies" as they wish. (Actually euthanasia is not giving a person the right to die, it's giving one person the right to take the life of another!)
All around us, we see both these ideas combining to give us a worldview that is slowly but surely tying us to a culture of death and leading people and whole communities down the wide road to destruction.
Christianity stands in stark contrast to both Darwin and Descartes and all they represent.
For a Christian, there is a spiritual aspect to our existence because we were deliberately created in the image of God.
For that reason, Christians have always boldly declared the sanctity of human life, resisting all moves toward the tyranny of one group over another, be it in age-old problems like slavery or in modern ones like abortion.
Christians assert that there is a moral dimension in the way we treat our bodies, because they are gifts from God. We are stewards of the gift of life -- a life that is also precious because it is eternal in nature.
The grave is not the end of things. This puts a whole different spin on the level of our responsibility in this life -- and on our potential for lasting influence. Only the Christian view of life recognizes that our good works have an eternal reward and a lasting legacy, because an eternal God is watching over them.
Only the Christian view of life frees us from the tyranny of the collective will of society over the individual moral conscience. As C. S. Lewis put it, if individuals live only seventy years, then a state, nation, or civilization, is more important than an individual for it may last for a thousand years.
But, says Lewis, if Christian teaching is correct and human existence is spiritual and eternal, then the individual is "incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the civilization, compared with his, is only for a moment."
More than ever, Christian leaders need to make a bold stand against the death-infused worldview rampant in our western culture. More than ever, we need to put aside political correctness, choosing the more costly path called prophetic correctness.