Word From the Center: Friday, May 4, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

The Sanctity of Life, the Preeminence of Parents, and the death Alfie Evans.

Very often in public discussions, the Pro-Life message is reduced to the issue of abortion alone as if that is its sole concern. While it’s true, abortion is the most egregious manifestation of the anti-life philosophy, it is not the only one. Francis Schaeffer, in his prophetic work, “Whatever happened to the Human Race,” warned that the public acceptance of the idea of “a life not worth living,”[1] and the growing view of the state being the final arbiter of such issues would lead again to the great mischief of modernity, the destruction of innocent lives. In the State-ordered death of Alfie Evans, one sees not merely the seeds of this view, but its growing manifestation.

First, the Christian worldview understands that government, even a secular one, has a godly place in our lives. That said, it is healthy to note the government is “not God” to us either. In a healthy intersection of Church and State, both the Government and the Church understand their public purpose and limitations. For many today, the State has thrown off its limitations and has become the final arbiter of virtually every aspect of life, even its end. Such a view, from the LCRL’s perspective, is not a healthy understanding of the State’s purpose and limitations. It surely wasn’t the view of the founders of the United States, who feared the tyranny of the State more than any perceived tyranny of moral, religious, free citizens striving for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The case of Alfie Evans evidenced the State’s transgressing of one of those healthy boundaries. In “chain of command” terms, there are certain places where the State has secondary authority. That view is undergirded by natural law, long historical-sociological precedent, and also by religious belief. Simply stated, “The family who bears the child cares for the child.” As such, the Family has a fundamental pre-eminence over the State with regard its own affairs. Until recently, the government’s limited intrusion into the affairs of the family sought to honor the “sphere sovereignty of husband and wife in marriage,” by the limiting of the man’s and woman’s individual rights via a “marriage” contract solely for the concern of the oversight and nurture of their children for the society’s need for family stability. In the Alfie Evans case, one sees a completely different spirit involved, one that sublimates the family to the naked power of the State, supposedly for the sake of the child from the State’s vantage point alone.

In the Evan’s case, the government made the final decision to end the child’s life, against the parent’s wishes, in view of alternative treatments that posed no burden to the State, solely by virtue of the notion that the State’s determination of the child’s needs were preeminent. Such a standard, even undergirded by law, is not simply the beginning of a slippery slope towards tyranny, it’s well on its way.

Schaeffer’s notion that man’s corporate inhumanity to man is a result of the culture’s willingness to let certain human lives be classified as “those not worth living.” With health insurance companies already counseling doctors to make their terminal patients “aware of death with dignity” treatments, with abortion on demand still virtually limitless in our culture with no regard for the child in the womb, and with people’s growing willingness to let the power of the State take precedent over the compassionate care of parents for their children, countering all that with the honoring the sanctity of life is an idea whose time has come for the sake of us all.



[1]Francis A. Schaffer, The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Vol 5, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” (Westchester, Illinois: Crossways, 1982), pp. 319-329; 342-352.