Friday, February 14, 2014

Child Euthanasia & 50-odd Facebook Gender Options

Two very different headlines have caught my eye today:

(1) Beligium has introduced provision for child euthanasia

(2) Facebook has adjusted the gender options by which one is able to identify oneself in one's profile from Male or Female to 50 different choices

It seems to me that these two stories have something in common. They are both possible consequences of not believing in God. If we are committed to human autonomy, these may be stages on the road. There is no saying where we will end up.

Let's take them in turn:

(1) If there is no God, then surely my life belongs to me. It is my right to choose. If, being of sound mind, I consistently want to kill myself, does anyone else have the right to stop me? If I am terminally ill and in constant pain and I have made that choice, wouldn't it be kind for someone to help me? Could there be circumstances in which that kindness should be extended to children? Although there are no doubt dangers, there seems a kind of undeniable logic to the position.

But the Christian view is different: we belong body and soul to the Triune God. He alone gives life and he alone can take it.

Of course, that leaves questions for the Christian to answer, most notably why a loving powerful God would allow a child to suffer from a terminal and painful illness in such misery that he wants to die. The Christian has some things to say about that, but, granted, he might not be able to give a perfect answer. But the Christian view does tell us why euthanasia and suicide are always wrong. God our maker, owner and king has said "you shall not kill." It is his perogative to take human life in this way and he reserves it to himself, as is his right as the Almighty Holy God.

(2) If there is no God, human beings are an evolutionary accident and it is up to me to describe my "gender", whatever that is, as I wish. I will label myself if I want to and I will make up my own lables too if that's what seems right to me and what's it to you? But out you controlling freak! Live and let live, eh?

But the Christian view is different: God has created people male and female.

Again, there are still questions for the Christian here. Life is not quite that simple. But the principle is clear. If God is God, he undoubtedly has the right to say what the labels are in his universe and to whom they apply.

Further, if God is God, and if he exists, we have to believe that his laws (no suicide or euthanasia and in general understand your gender as basically male or female) are good, true and beautiful. His laws might seem oppressive and restrictive to those who desire autonomy, but that autonomy is impossible. We are God's offspring. In him we live and move and have our being. He is not far from each one of us. And living according to his word, is our human flourishing, our best, who we were created to be. For God to say that we must normally think of ourselves as male or female and for him to tell us what that means is no more oppressive than for him to create the universe in the first place. We had no choice over that and we'd do well to get with the Maker's programme.

Of course, this does not prove that God exists, but if we are going to have a world with child euthanasia and an infinite number of gender choices, I think I rather wish he did. If we are the Captains of our own souls there is no knowing where we might sail and whether it will prove to be a good and happy place. Whereas God has promised that in Christ, he will make all things new. In Jesus all pain, confusion, inauthenticity and stigmatisation will be no more. His service is perfect freedom.

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