A nationally televised physician-assisted suicide. The uncommon birth of octuplets. At first, these two recent events in the United States might appear to have little in common. After all, in one instance a doctor was charged with homicide. In the other, a mother struggled to give life.
Yet there are some related questions raised in both cases, and they demand careful thought. When a recent suicide was assisted by Dr. Jack Kevorkian employing medical techniques, the use of modern technology was purposefully directed toward an induced end to human life - and in an extraordinary manner. Then some weeks later, when a mother in a Houston hospital prematurely gave birth to eight babies who were originally conceived using medical techniques, modern technology in that instance was directed toward induced beginnings of human life - and in an extraordinary manner.
As Lance Morrow, writing in Time magazine, expressed it: "All life is sacred. But as these manipulations (to generate life, to cancel it) go on, I think I hear the distant, rushing sound of divinity escaping" (Jan. 11, 1999, pg. 41).
This isn't meant to be a debate about the validity of individual rights in extreme circumstances. But what does merit consideration - and prayer - is the technology of material means, in the hands of human beings, playing the central role in determining ultimate issues of life. What about spiritual means? Are prayer, spiritual understanding and inspiration, and trust in the law and will of God to heal and bless paramount?
Perhaps if we first consider what life actually is we can then get a firmer grasp on the answer to these questions. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, is the textbook of Christian Science. It is a book that explains the fundamental spiritual reality of existence and sets forth God's laws and their application to our individual lives. It devotes considerable space to answering questions about life's essential nature and substance. It affirms that immortal, divine Life is God, infinite Spirit, Mind, and that our true, spiritual being must eternally express the Life that is God. It says: "Life is without beginning and without end.... Life is neither in nor of matter.... Life is not limited" (pgs. 468-469).
Science and Health offers further that nothing that is material - because of its finite, tentative, and insubstantial nature - can possibly hold or determine the issues of life. This fact becomes progressively clearer as we come to realize more fully the reality that Life is God - eternal, always present, omnipotent - and that we actually reflect this one divine Life. Material methods, even when allied with advanced medical technologies, do not decide the vital, spiritual issues of life.
In the Bible, God says of His child, "I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him" (Isa. 43:7). And Moses counseled the children of Israel, "Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days" (Deut. 30:19, 20).
Here the Bible shows that God, divine Life, is the sole creative source and power. So, as Life's outcome, we can only express and know our life in God. In prayer, in understanding the spiritual reality, in relying on God's divine law and perfect will for good, we can trust God. Humbly and steadfastly follow the Bible's counsel to choose life in God. This life cannot be induced materially either to live or to die. Divinity isn't escaping us or being lost to humanity.
The God who is infinite Life is the satisfying, healing answer to the issues of life.
Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee. Jeremiah 32:17
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society