Gotten some feedback--good and bad--relating to my post yesterday about SCOTUS' decision to uphold the Oregon "right to die" law. Usually i'll respond to comments in the comments field on the blog, or email back if I feel it warrants it, but some of the criticism is broad based, so I thought I'd respond to it here for a change. I'll lay them out and give my responses point by point:
1. In response to my comment that St. Paul tells us our bodies are not our own:
No, no, St. Paul tells you that so I don't see how it pertains to other people.
Well, actually St. Paul says it to everyone who reads and believes the Bible. Last time I checked I wasn't the only one who read and believed the Bible. And our bodies are not our own; as St. Paul continues, "we were bought with a price." Jesus died to save us, God gave us the gift of life. We aren't to play Russian roulette with it.
If you want to live a life devoid of quality that is your business and right. I'd be happy to take a bullet to protect said right.
"devoid of quality"? Well, who determines quality? I mean, to some people it's the ability to dance the pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty or be able to play Beethoven. To others, it means simply being present, being alive, and being with family, as much as possible. Law should not be determined based on such a broad definition. God decides when our lives don't have "quality" anymore. As scripture says, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." Only He gets to decide when we're done living.
However, what you fail to understand is that just because you believe something that doesn't make it right nor does it mean everyone else has to believe it.
Thios is a charge Republicans (and Catholics) get a lot. That just because we feel this way doesn't mean we can make everyone else feel this way or that we're right. Now, this may apply, say, in my opinion on ice cream (Chocolate is the best!) or that I think Rachel McAdams and Reese Witherspoon are good actresses. Obviously I cannot say these opinions are finite and absolutely correct and force them on the general population.
But let's phrase this is something more similar. If I said, "murder is wrong, but I can't inflict my opinion on anyone else," people would think I was nuts. Murder is wrong, plain and simple. If I kill you for no good reason, I'm a murderer. Society inflicts its opinions on people every day--it's part of living in society, the giving up of some "rights" for the good of others. Most of us have come to the conclusion that you can't steal, kill, rape, etc., another person withouit consequence.
So it is the same with these "personal" decisions, like assisted suicide and abortion. There are some things (like these) that are intrinsicly wrong. They thoroughly disrespect life at the most basic level. These laws say that only certain people are worthy of the "right to life." That's not cool. It is not good for society to sanction the killing of its members. In Europe, where many of these laws are in place in countries such as England and Holland, the reach of this legislation has expanded to include infanticide (doctors killing babies who they deem unfit for life) and "wrongful birth suits," such as one in England where a mother sued for damages after she gave birth to a handicapped child (the child, by the way, was seven at the time of the lawsuit;. Can you imagine?). We have no right to mess with life.
If someone is sane and an adult and they decide they've had enough of life it's none of your, mine or anyone else’s business if they end it.
I really don't think sanity should be a criteria. Plenty of sane people have done some nutty things; note the rare use of the insanity defense in court. "They've had enough of life"--well what's next? Teens getting approval to commit suicide? If doctors have an agenda, they'll say no one is "fit for life" and that they are "sane" and able to determine that they are ready to die. Some of these people (again, as seen in Holland) are clearly not, and doctors and families use the law to deplorable ends to terminate lives. Slippery slopes, here we come!
Maybe my copy of the Bible is defective, but surely yours, too, also includes Matthew 7:1, which admonishes, "Judge not lest ye be judged."
This isn't judging. Like I said above, there are some things that are intrinsically right and wrong. If I say a rapist is a criminal and what he did was bad, that's not being judgemental. It's stating a fact. I hear this a lot in gay-rights debates. There are certain things in the world that are not open for discussion. Jesus did not come to Earth for all of us to hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' (one of my favorite phrases) He gave us the 10 commandments (including "thou shalt not kill") and the Beatitudes, and such so that we would know how to live the way He wants us to--the way that leads to Heaven. He say forgive your neighbor, but he didn't say tolerate everything your neighbor does and write it off as OK. When He forgave sins, He said, "go, and sin no more." Jesus didn't give anyone a free pass, and He didn't expect His followers to, either.
Whatever your experience in suffering might be; whatever the martyred saints tell us about suffering, it's all just prelude to an individual's personal commune with God and the spirit of Christ. The decision of what a mentally competent person does at the end of his or her life is the decision of that person, not yours, nor the Supreme Court's. You're free to follow your conscience as follows. Kindly allow others to do the same.
Isn't this sort of "relativist" Christianity that the Pope warns us about? I mean, if this is a valid point, then why have the 10 commandments? Why have rules? Why have laws? Let's just let everyone do whatever his conscience tells him. That just doesn't wash. Sure, it's not my decision, but laws affect more than just one person. They affect all of society and what society thinks about an act. Look at abortion for an example. So many times people say, "well I don't feel guilty, because it's legal, and since it's legal it can't be wrong." Huh?
This isn't about a power trip, it's not about controlling other people's lives. It's about setting a standard in our societies and countries that says we respect all life, even when a person is ill and suffering. We still love them and see value in their lives. We still value their contributions to humanity. The Church used to condemn people who committed suicide to Hell, because it was seen that those who committed suicide were basically saying that their lives were so bad no one--not even God--could help them. Dante saw it as a sin of the flesh, leaving those who committed suicide to be constantly mutilating their bodies in Hell.
Life is the greatest gift we have. It cannot be treated cavalierely. We must fight to protect it, and to convince people that life always has worth, even when it is hard to see. It is then that God can use us most effectively, if we can trust in His will and not be so wrapped up in what society says is "worthwhile." God has His own standards.