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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Terri, We Shall Never Forget You

I am writing this message on March 20, 2005. The message will be posted to the web site on April 1, 2005, a few days after Easter. As I am beginning this message, people in churches world-wide are observing Palm Sunday, the day we observe Christ's triumphant entry into what would soon be for Him untold suffering and a horrible death on behalf of each of us. The fact we remember Him, the fact we treasure His return from the tomb and His victory over death, should say something to all of us about the importance of our life and the life of all other human beings.

This message is about Terri. We live in such a media intense world nearly everyone, in the early spring of 2005, knows who Terri is. You don't even have to give her last name. Of course, her last name is Schiavo and since you get these messages via the internet, you can find out more about her and her parent's fight to save her life if you don't already know. The plight of Terri and her family needs to be looked at and considered by every person, especially by Christians, but more so by non-Christians. The reason we all need to know about Terri and about her life is because her life touches all of us. Her life touches all of us not because of media attention but because we are all connected to each other. Whether we understand it or not, our lives touch each other in a network-like fabric of humanity held in the hands of God. Every person's life is important because we all fit into the fabric of humanity. Every person's life intertwines in the fabric of humanity like the threads of cloth intertwine to make the fabric whole. When one person's life is unnecessarily taken or unnecessarily diminished, the fabric of humanity in which all of us live and breathe is also unnecessarily diminished.

In addition, what is happening to Terri is important because what is happening to Terri could happen to any of us. Accidents happen taking the life of whole families, making it possible someone you do not know could be in charge of your health care and potentially in charge of your life. It is certain many people reading these words will be, at some point, in the care of someone else due to health conditions. What kind of person do you want in charge of your health care, in charge of your future, and/or in charge of how long you live? Do you want someone in charge of your life who treasures life or do you want someone in charge of your life who feels life is not so important?

As of this writing on March 20, 2005, Terri's feeding tube has been removed. In a few days Terri will die of dehydration/starvation unless the feeding tube is reinserted. Republicans in Congress are trying to pass a bill to transfer her legal case into the Federal courts system in an attempt to save Terri's life. Some Democrats have tried to stop the bill from passage. In the Florida legislature both Democrats and Republicans are standing in the way of helping Terri live.

In looking at Terri's case, let's put Terri's plight in a more personal light. Let's say you have throat, esophagus, or stomach cancer and you can no longer eat by mouth. Subsequently, you would have to be fed through a tube to stay alive. This is not a hypothetical situation. People are fed through a tube all the time. If you are fed through a tube, does this mean you are supposed to get the death sentence? No, of course not. OK, let's go a little further. Let's say your son or daughter is mentally challenged and your son or daughter has cancer as described above and must be fed through a tube. Does this mean your son or daughter no longer has the right to live if he or she is required to be fed through a tube? No, of course not. In Terri's case, she has brain damage to the point where she cannot communicate. From statements made by the caring part of her family, Terri can be responsive but cannot communicate. Because she cannot communicate but yet can still be responsive, does Terri no longer have the right to live? In your own life, if you were rendered speechless and in other ways were unable to communicate to those around you, perhaps because you were paralyzed, would you no longer have the right to live?

Another real issue here is Terri's husband wants her dead so he can possibly marry his girlfriend with whom he has had two children and/or possibly collect insurance money on a life insurance policy he took out on Terri's life. We can look at what Terri's husband wants from several perspectives but the truth is Terri's husband wants her dead. He does not want Terri to live any more. For Terri's husband and all those who support him, keeping Terri alive is not important enough to keep her feeding tube inserted. What kind of culture do we live in where we are willing let someone unnecessarily die? Spending money by Terri's husband is not an issue in keeping Terri alive because keeping Terri alive is possible now and in the future by having tax money pay for her expenses. Terri's parents want to be her guardians so Terri's husband cannot plead he is unable to care for her because her parents are willing to assume the responsibility for her care. In addition, what kind of husband is willing to cut the heart out of his in-laws by causing the death of their daughter?

Now, what if it were you in Terri's place? Would you want someone to create a circumstance causing you to die? In general, shouldn't we all be willing to help others in need, especially people like Terri? Shouldn't we all be the keeper of our brother and sister? Shouldn't we all be trying to protect others? How is killing this woman by starvation helping her? How is killing this women helping anyone except her husband who wants her dead? Shouldn't we all be willing to help those who cannot help themselves? What crime did this woman commit to receive a death sentence? What is wrong with us when we stand by and watch someone die when we could prevent his or her death? Do we not treasure life enough to preserve life, even if the life is not a normal life? Do we not have a Christian obligation to help the least of these anywhere at any time?

Another question is why making Terri die by starvation is not murder. If you starve someone to death, isn't that murder? Or, is it not murder if the person cannot respond like a normal person? If you went into nursing homes and injected deadly poison into people who are not responsive and they die, isn't that murder? Actually, this process is called "snowing" and patients are given lethal injections all the time, you just don't hear about it because people don't care much. If you take the life of a severely retarded child who is not responsive, isn't that murder? As a real life practice, aren't we now going from abortion of the unborn to actively causing the death of the living? The answer is, "Yes!" Since you are living, doesn't this effort at causing the death of a living person also connect to you since we are all part of the fabric of humanity? Doesn't the same thinking about the lack of importance of life take place by pro-abortion people and pro-death-for-Terri-people? With Terri, haven't we opened up a debate, a horrible, horrible debate about who has the right to live? And if we open up that debate, who will determine whether a person has the right to live? In Terri's case, judges who sit in various courts have the right to say whether she lives. Who do you want to determine whether you have the right to live? Do you want a judge or a spouse to determine whether you have the right to live?

Now let's hit the nail on the head for everyone. Would you ever, for the rest of your life, even with your living will set and carved in stone, ever want Terri's husband, judge Greer, or any of the other judges in this matter to determine whether you live or die regardless of circumstances? Think about that one. Would you ever want a philandering, unfaithful, cheating person like Terri's husband to determine anything having to do with your life? Would you ever want a person who does not treasure your life to the absolute maximum to determine anything about your health care? Would you ever want a person who does not treasure your life to the absolute maximum to fill your pharmacy prescriptions? Would you ever want a person who does not treasure your life to the absolute maximum to do the maintenance on your car? Would you ever want a person who does not treasure your life to the absolute maximum to exercise the privilege of driving on the streets and roads of your locality? Would you ever want a person who does not treasure your life to the absolute maximum to have any say whatsoever in the governance of your city, state, or nation? Do you want people who do not treasure your life and the life of your children to the absolute maximum educating or caring for your children? If life is not so important to some people, do you want these same people making life-related decisions connected to you or your family?

This Terri case is not just about a woman in Florida. This Terri case is about the importance of life. Eventually, in your life, it is likely the matters of this case will touch your life when a care giver or a responsible person makes one or more decisions about you or your family members.

What I do not understand on this issue is how her husband's right to starve her to death is more important than Terri's right to live. Does a person's physical state, at any point, deny them the right to keep on living? Does Terri's inability to communicate like the rest of us mean she should die for her inability to communicate?

If death was more important than life, Jesus would not have raised Lazarus back from death to life.

John 11:1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. 7 Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 12 His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." 28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked."Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." 40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (NIV)

This story first appeared in April, 2005, in the Virtual  Church web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018