I have been thinking about the social issues facing our country. I recently shared about baby Jackson and how his simple story led one Mom not to have an abortion. But abortion is not an issue we can divorce from the larger debate about life itself. Albert Mohler frames the discussion this way on his blog.

This poster (from around 1938) reads: “60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from a hereditary disease costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too.”

In the 20th century we can look at the long parade of horrible terrors, and one of the easiest to identify is the medical ethics of Germany before and during the Third Reich. There, the Germans actually had a medical philosophy – Lebensunwerten Lebens – “life unworthy of life,” that formed the foundation for their murderous atrocities. The Germans actually came up with a gradation of life, from life that was definitely worthy of life to life that was definitely unworthy of life. And the life that was worthy of life was Aryan life. It was the life of those who were considered to be physically and genetically superior, who could contribute to the welfare and the defense and the policies of the Third Reich. And the life unworthy of life: Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded, the physically disabled, Jews.

It is an undeniable truth of history, great tragedy begins with incremental and acceptable compromise. Mohler goes on to paint a picture of how history could repeat itself in our lifetime.

“Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life.” – Oxford University Ethicists in 2012 study

You can’t just talk about abortion, for these days we also have to talk about euthanasia. When we talk about the sanctity of human life, we speak of it not only at its beginning and its middle – but also at its end. On November 4th of this past year, the citizens of Washington by referendum voted to do what the citizens of the state just to their south, Oregon, did over ten years ago – they voted to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Life unworthy of life. You see, it is not only in the beginning in the womb, it is now at the end, where we are deciding incrementally, state-by-state, and as a national movement that  the end of life is too expensive to maintain, that life is too meaningless to be protected.  In Nazi Germany, the “right to kill” became a “duty to kill,” and the “right to die” became a “duty to die.” We can see that same kind of logic creeping in this country, even in the cost of health care. In debates over health care, we hear conversations like this: “Well, just think about the fact that X percentage of the medical costs in this nation are devoted to persons in the last two years of their life. You see, if we could shorten that two year period, we could save a vast percentage of our medical costs.”

For those who are bold enough to comment, here are my questions:

  1. Is Mohler right to make this connection between Nazi Germany and our America? Why or why not?
  2. How should we, as disciples of Jesus, address the issues of life in our culture?  Abortion?  Euthanasia? Capital Punishment?
  3. I read a lot of blogs but very few address these issues. Why is that? Why are so many Christian-bloggers willing to write endless blogs judging other Christians for not doing church the “right” way and at the same time reticent to talk about the topic of life?
  4. Has the church become so consumed with being “hip”, “relevant” and “relational” that we no longer have a persuasive voice in this debate about life?
  5. Where do you draw the line? When is life unworthy of life?

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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