Americans have always tended to favor pragmatic approaches. Pragmatism is hardly the pinnacle of moral reasoning, however; pragmatism too easily translates into self-interest, to the detriment of others. Just imagine leaving your keys in your parked car and a purely pragmatic person who happens to need a car comes along...
A relative consensus regarding biblical principles used to guide Americans' moral decision making nuch more than it does today. As that commitment to biblical authority, which tends to temper two-dimensional pragmatic approaches to morality, has eroded, our pragmatic tendencies have become more pronounced ... and dangerous.
Our views on suicide provide a case in point.
The Gallulp poll reveals that four of five (80%) of us view suicide as morally wrong. Yet fewer than half of Americans (48%) view suicide as morally wrong when assisted by a doctor.
How can that be?
One way to view the discrepancy is that we still pay homage to our faith heritage, which reminds us that life is sacred, and that every individual is valuable as created by God. Left unpressured, we tend to oppose suicide, which we recognize as violating the clear commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
Yet our weakening commitment to that faith heritage prompts us to practice hypocrisy the moment our faith commitment is tested. Once pain enters the equation--as in the stories of patients suffering from a disease near the end of life--we buckle on the moral principle and quickly apply pragmatism.
"Better to die early than to suffer," we pragmatically conclude.
The medical context and soothing euphemisms such as "death with dignity" and "compassion in dying" provide our conflicted conscience with enough cover to shrug off our instinctive moral concern and walk away.
Besides the obvious problem of selling out our faith and moral commitment, the pragmatic stance on assisted suicide poses serious problems even in pragmatic terms.
As pointed out in Friday's post, Euthanasia and assisted suicide follow Communism's tragic trail, a recent medical journal article provides stunning evidence revealing that despite legal "safeguards" erected around assisted suicide and euthanasia:
- Patients are being put to death without consent.
- Doctors are hiding euthanasia from authorities.
- A requirement for a second consultation is being filled by biased doctors.
- Depressed patients are dying without help.
- The social slippery slope is expanding medical killing without limit.
- Palliative (comfort) care is giving way to cost-efficient medical killing
Secular pragmatists fail to recognize that God's principles work in the world He created. Like following a manufacturer's directions, biblical principles protect us from harm and lead us to a fuller life. Not easier--just fuller. And after life on this earth, well, that's a whole other story...