by Tom Eggebrecht
We live in a throwaway society. Our culture values the latest gadgets, the newest cars and the trendiest fashions.
Don’t like your iPhone anymore? Throw away the old one and spend many hundreds of dollars on a new one. No big deal.
Your car needs a major repair? No need to take it into the mechanic. Throw it away and go get a new one.
Human life? If it’s not convenient for you, just throw it away and get on with your life.
The latest statistics we have for abortions in America are from 2014. That year 652,639 legally induced abortions were reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act was enacted in 1997. Since then a total of 1,545 people have had lethal prescriptions written and 991 patients have died from ingesting these medications.
This may be how the world works, but it’s not how the Church works. The Church is not a throwaway society — quite the opposite. In 1992, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) published the document Christian Care at Life’s End. It’s a long read, but the seminal phrase of the document is this: “Christians aim always to care, never to kill.”
As a pastor I delight to see Christian care for human life, from beginning to end, all around me. Here are two examples:
- Little Joey was born with one of the rarest diseases in the world, Costello Syndrome. This genetic disease impacts many parts of the body and results in symptoms ranging from loose folds of skin, to unusually flexible joints, to a predisposition for cancer. I baptized Joey in the hospital when he was just days old. He has endured multiple, serious surgeries in his young life. A couple of times a year he has to go in for a scary cancer screening. So far, so good. Joey is now 7 years old and brings joy to everyone who meets him. Last year, when his mom went through her own bout with cancer, I wondered how much one family could take. And yet through it all Joey’s mom, dad, and grandparents have shown extraordinary care for this precious child of God from the very beginning of his life.
- Within this past year both Carol and Marlon died. They had been married for well over sixty years and never missed a Sunday in church. Carol was stricken with an aggressive form of leukemia and died within a couple of weeks of her diagnosis. I’ll never forget her children almost literally carrying her to the communion rail the Sunday before she died. The whole family received the Body and Blood of Christ together while holding hands. That same week Carol was being served at the table of the Lord in His heavenly kingdom. Marlon was left behind and lonely. His health quickly began to deteriorate. But his children continued to see to it that he got to church every Sunday. He progressively became weaker. Now his children almost literally carried him to the communion rail every Sunday. They received Christ’s Body and Blood with him, holding hands. When Marlon died these faithful children celebrated at the communion rail here on earth with their parents, who did the same at the heavenly banquet feast. This family showed extraordinary care for these two precious children of God even though they were near the end of their earthly lives.
In God’s economy there is no person pointless enough to throw away. The Holy Week and Easter Sunday events we recently celebrated proves it. God paid the price for the sins of all people with the life of his Son, Jesus. No human being was ever meant to be thrown away in any way, but at Calvary, God did the unthinkable and “threw away” his only-begotten Son into death. But that same Jesus rose again from the dead to be the Host at the Feast that is to come — where all who die in the faith will gather, eat and drink — and an eternal pledge of the Father’s great love for every human being.
With such value placed on human life by God himself, we can do nothing other than aim “always to care, never to kill.”
Tom Eggebrecht is Senior Pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Casselberry, Florida. Follow his personal blog at www.tomeggebrecht.com.