“Let Him Die”

“Let Him Die”

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

It sounds like an ad pitch when you say 9 out of 10 doctors agree about something. Chewing gum manufacturers, for example, would talk about how many dentists concurred about the safe use and benefits of certain brands of gum. This past summer, at the height of a health crisis, my doctors, who swore an oath to “do no harm,” told my parents to let me die. Yes, 9 out of 10 doctors thought I’d be better off dead. They said that even if I could recover, I would have no quality of life. My parents would have none of it. Through threats of litigation, my dad “persuaded” them to take those measures that led to my return from the brink. Nine out of ten doctors were wrong. I survived. They were correct about the impact on my singing voice thus far, but none of the other dire predictions proved accurate. 

The 13th Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop proved himself an ally to the pro-life movement in the United States cautioning how abortion led to a culture of death where even euthanasia becomes acceptable. Koop saved lives as a pediatrician in his civilian life. So, he asked why he should support the destruction of the thing he had long sought to preserve. That is a good question. Doctors affirm their intentions by stating the revised Hippocratic Oath. And, as they do so, they promise not to play God. But unfortunately, what Koop feared seems to be on the horizon. In addition to doctors willing to be instruments of death, you find collaborators in society at large in pop culture and government. Perhaps you have heard of certain billionaire humanists extolling the virtues of culling the global population. The verbiage of the “elite” makes it sound as if the vile demon of eugenics, as exercised in the early twentieth century by Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler, has returned.  

God is pro-life, as He is the author of it. David tells us that God is watching us being knit together in our mother’s womb during gestation (cf. Psalm 139). Furthermore, God indicated that a few of His servants had pre-birth life purposes bestowed on them by God (Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1.5; Paul, Galatians 1.15; John the Immerser, Luke 1.15; Samson, Judges 13.5). Finally, as the Messianic psalm states, God takes us from the womb (Psalm 22.9-10). How do we lose sight of this?  

First, we acknowledge that not everyone believes in God. With the absence of God, there can be no morality. Murder needs no excuse. It becomes expediency.

Second, people become callous. Research has enlightened us concerning how prevalent depictions of violence and death have become. Children play video games in which they blow opponents to bits with bullets and rockets. Adults watch television shows with blood and guts. When a pandemic comes along, you get a surreal feeling. You recognize death but feel emotionally impacted only when the coronavirus takes a kinsman. If you are tired and deal daily with death, what is one more non-related person in the morgue?

Third, there is selfishness. The infirm, demented, or chromosomally-impaired become too burdensome on a child or parent. Some European countries allow for euthanasia in such cases. It happens in the United States, too but through neglect and the provision of substandard care. (I know, I just lost an aunt under those circumstances.)

Finally, there are fiduciary factors. A patient becomes too expensive to sustain. Insurance or administrators want the plug pulled. It is nothing personal. It is just money. 

Please understand that I don’t believe that all doctors would react the same under the same circumstances. Indeed, I’ve had doctors pray with me, advocate for me, and acknowledge that God has extended my life. So there are faithful, Christian doctors. But nine out of ten doctors in their fellowship at the teaching hospital in which I found myself thought I should die. It is a sad commentary of where we find ourselves in the United States today. So choose life and advocate for it. 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1.27 NASB1995) 

Two that never gave up on Brent were our parents (here is mom with him in late June).
Expectation Versus Euthanasia

Expectation Versus Euthanasia

Neal Pollard

She was born the year after the Civil War. Her mother died when she was three. Her father dropped her and her newborn sister off at the home of the widow of an army friend. Unable to care for the girls, the widow ultimately transferred care to a sweet, religious couple in the community. The girls spent happy years through their school days, but the older sister came to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as a teenager. It steadily grew worse until she could not walk. Their adopted parents died within months of each other, and the young women were poor and had little prospect of earning money for themselves. Before her affliction, she had developed aspirations as a concert pianist and shown great promise as a poet and writer. Arthritis robbed her on the musical dreams, but she flourished as a poet and hymn writer. Rather than seek relief from her pain through suicide, she channeled her suffering into beautiful writing that continues to comfort others as it did in her lifetime. Ravi Zacharias summarized her suffering, saying, “Her body was embarrassed by incontinence, weakened by cancer, and twisted and deformed by rheumatoid arthritis. She was incapacitated for so long that according to one eyewitness she needed seven or eight pillows around her body just to cushion the raw sores she suffered from being bedridden” (“The Cry For A Reason In Suffering,” np; other information from The Story of Annie Johnson Flint, Rowland Bingham). Her poetry and songs are not riddled with bitterness or even soul-wrenching questions of why. You’ll find titles like “The Grace Of God,” “Not Down, But Through,” “Rest, Tired Heart,” “Grace Sufficient,” “He Giveth More Grace,” “He’s Helping Me Now,” and on the hopeful, positive compositions flow.

We have only one of her hymns in our song book, and it is entitled, “The World’s Bible.” These familiar words include the lines, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today, He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way….” I appreciate the living testimony Ms. Flint was of the way one who believes in Christ ought to respond to the tragedies and difficulties that can strike in this fallen world. I pray that I will never be wracked by such suffering, but if I do I would want the world to see the spirit in me that so many saw in her. Her life was one of trust in God’s sufficiency and strength through the darkest moments of life.

Our state (Colorado) was one of a few that has passed physician-assisted, right to die legislation in the recent election cycle. Besides the ethical slippery slope of people, even doctors and patients, selecting when to end life, there is in such an effort a failure to see the intrinsic value of life as well as God’s sovereign right over His creation. Ms. Flint’s situation makes us cringe in discomfort at first blush, but we see the refined beauty of a trusting heart to impart profound comfort despite life’s harshest turns. To persecuted Christians, Peter offers this hope for all strugglers when he writes, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:10; cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7). Whatever the trial, we can choose life instead of death, trust in God rather than trust in our own thoughts. Let us live in triumphant expectation, no matter what we may have to endure for the moment (Rom. 8:38-39; Psa. 30:5).

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