What 13-letter word ending in "animous"...
(David) ...often describes a plurality--frequently a majority--of Presbyterian Church in America judicatories and commissioners? "Unanimous"? short four letters. "Magnanimous?" fat chance on both counts.
Latest evidence of the depth of this impulse within the PCA is Heritage (Delaware) Presbytery's failure to pass a simple statement opposing the murder-by-starvation of 23-year-old Delaware resident Lauren Richardson. (For more on Lauren's plight read PCA Pastor Gary Knapp's blog here.)
Praise God for the commissioners who voted in favor of the proposed statement. Shame on the one-vote majority who couldn't find it within their hearts to agree that Scripture, indeed, simple humanity teaches the following principles:
A (proposed and rejected) Public Statement from Heritage Presbytery on Euthanasia and Imposing Death by Starvation and Dehydration
Believing that human life at all stages from conception until natural death and in every condition regardless of disability or cognitive ability bears the image of God, we, the Heritage Presbytery (Presbyterian Church In America) offer our voice in support of life and in opposition to imposing death on the ill and disabled in any way, in particular through starvation and dehydration.
Many of our churches serve communities in Delaware; we speak therefore from our concern at the potential imposed death by starvation of one of our citizens, Lauren Richardson. We urge those who have influence over Lauren’s life, her guardian and the Delaware court system to act on the basis of hope which comes from faith and in reverence of human life of which God is the author and finisher (Deuteronomy 32:39).
Acknowledging the tragedy and difficulty of human suffering we ask our fellow citizens to consider the following:
- 1. Euthanasia is an act of hopelessness. Human suffering humbles us as we see our inability despite many medical advancements to heal suffering. By imposing death on the ill and disabled society is declaring that there is no purpose in suffering which is contrary to the message of Scripture as seen in the lives of many people most notably, Job and ultimately our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2. God has told us clearly that He is the author and finisher of our existence. Fear of God should prevent us from ever seeking to end our own life or the life of another prematurely especially by depriving them of the sustenance that is essential to human existence.
- 3. We express our concern that nutrition and hydration have been classified as medical treatment by medical authorities and the legal system. Food and water are now legally referred to as “life support” this is the deceptive vehicle by which many people are starved to death.
- 4. We urge our citizens to reject the claim that Euthanasia is a private act. Even if one’s wishes to have their life ended prematurely were documented (Lauren Richardson left no such written documentation) society must give its approval to euthanize. Euthanasia advocates require society to validate and make provision for the practice of imposing death. We must all ask ourselves if we believe it is right to end the lives of other people especially through the inhumane and cruel practice of starving and dehydrating them. If Lauren is starved to death, we will all share in the decision to do this to her.
- 5. Starving and dehydrating people to death is cruel. Would we be willing to watch a beloved pet die this way?
- 6. Faith leads to hope. We readily acknowledge that suffering is tragic and painful both for the one suffering and for their loved ones. But because God is real and active the end of our life is not certain until He makes it so. Often doctors using their best judgment declare that there is no hope, often they are wrong. Faith believes that God can heal and that if He doesn’t, He is with us and has a purpose for our suffering.
- 7. Human suffering is ultimately a result of the fall by which our first parents Adam and Eve turned away from God and brought death (physical and spiritual) upon themselves and their offspring. Human suffering is a reminder of our need of the Savior Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life that comes through His atoning death and resurrection.
Why did a majority of Heritage Presbytery commissioners oppose this statement? Some because they wanted to check what the PCA Statement on Heroic Measures says on the matter (a hopelessly flawed document which describes intravenous feeding and feeding tubes carrying food and water as "heroic" measures even when death is not otherwise imminent). Others because they "had not thought this through." Still others because they aren't sure withdrawing food and water is always wrong.
Here's a hint for the ignorant: when food and water are all that's needed to maintain life, withdrawing them is no different than placing a plastic bag over a quadriplegic's head. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority of PCA elders within Heritage Presbytery can't see this. God help us when the state demands that we perform homosexual marriages and the personal cost to PCA elders of biblical fidelity is far higher than in the Lauren Richardson case. Pusillanimity is a terminal condition which respects no borders.