FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Christians must defend the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land said in a chapel message at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
That includes combating government policies assaulting the sanctity of life, Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, making specific reference to legislation backed by President Obama’s administration titled America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, H.R. 3200.
The health care bill permits government-funded abortions and could pave the way for euthanasia, Land stated.
He also decried a federal manual for military veterans that he said “focuses on death.”
Drawing from Matthew 4:1-11, Land said Satan seeks to entice people toward evil and opposes the intrinsic value God has placed on the life of a human being.
“It is sometimes easy for us to forget that the world is not a good world,” Land said in his message at the seminary’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus Aug. 27. “It is not a neutral world. It is a world that is racked with spiritual warfare.”
Land read Article Three of the Baptist Faith and Message, a statement of generally held convictions in the Southern Baptist Convention. The article addresses the Bible’s view on man as “the special creation of God, made in His own image.”
The article concludes: “The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”
Land described human beings as “different from any other part of creation, because it is human beings who are designed and created in the image of God.”
“So, there are some things that must never be done to a human being. Our civilization is based upon that founding belief.”
Land said America’s founding fathers operated under the presupposition that human beings are special, guaranteeing in the nation’s founding documents that men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“If you are a human being, you have the right to life,” Land said. “That is the sanctity of life ethic upon which Western civilizations and the civilization of the United States have been based.” But, he noted, “It’s been under serious challenge throughout most of the 20th century by a so-called quality of life ethic.”
Land cited “Your Life, Your Choices,” an advice manual published by the Department of Veteran Affairs during President Clinton’s administration that veterans have derisively nicknamed “The Death Book.” The manual, recalled by President George W. Bush’s administration but reinstated under President Obama, instructs veterans how to prepare a living will.
“The book fosters dark thoughts about a difficult life somehow being less of a life,” Land said.
“On page 21, the death book poses questions to veterans on which they are to answer whether life was ‘difficult but acceptable,’ ‘worth living but just barely’ or ‘not worth living.’ The most positive choice is ‘difficult but acceptable.’ …
“I thought about many words to describe this book — atrocious, outrageous, disgusting, immoral, unethical, wrong, pernicious — but as I spun the wheel on my moral compass, I kept coming back to the same word: evil…. To give this book to any fellow human being is evil, and your tax money paid for it and is paying for it. There’s no attempt to ask people, ‘What would it take for you to want to live?’ Instead, the book focuses on death.”
The Veterans Affairs website reports an online version of “Your Life, Your Choices” is being revised and will be released next spring.
Voicing concern about the public health plan associated with H.R. 3200, Land said while abortions are not listed as an essential benefit, they are allowed under the benefits.
“If abortion is not specifically excluded, it’s covered,” Land said. “That means that you will have, for the first time since the passing of the Hyde Amendment, not only abortion on demand, but you being forced to pay for the abortions with your tax money.”
Land noted the bill also includes 8 percent revenue penalties for companies with group plans and a 2.5 percent income tax increase for individuals with private plans that do not provide for abortions.
“Baby boomers have killed their unborn babies in record numbers — one out of every three babies conceived — because they considered them too embarrassing, too expensive, too ill or too inconvenient,” Land said.
“But unless we turn this tide of death around, Boomers, Busters and Millennials will be allowed and assisted in dying before their natural time because the government has made the decision that they are too expensive, too embarrassing, too ill or too inconvenient.”
Land advised Christians to pray for God to change the hearts and minds of lawmakers. He also encouraged Christians to inform family and friends about the proposed legislation. A document analyzing the health care bill can be found on the ERLC’s website at http://erlc.com/documents/pdf/20090731-affordable-health-choices-act-exposed.pdf.
Encouraging Christians to contact their congressmen, senators and the president, Land said individuals must make it clear they want the government to promote a sanctity of life ethic rather than a quality of life ethic.
Land said, “Our Baptist Faith and Message tells us that we’re to defend the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, not a government-imposed death because you’re too expensive, too ill or too inconvenient.”
Keith Collier is director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).