Friday, February 15, 2008

Christianity a Blessing to the World

Christianity is not primarily about how to have a great life here and now, at least as that is commonly understood. We make a great mistake if we present it to people as such. Nevertheless, it is still true that when societies incorporate Christian principles, it is a boon to the people. I came across two articles this morning which reminded me of this point.

James C. Capretta, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, published an article entitled "The Population Gap," in which he used current demographic trends in Europe and Japan to argue that "policy-makers around the world must ... realize that helping families raise the next generation of productive workers is crucial for continued prosperity...." The reasoning behind this is clear. Capretta writes,

Inevitably, with low birth rates, there comes a day of reckoning when the number of new labor force entrants falls short of workforce exits. In Europe, that day of reckoning is fast approaching. The European Commission expects the available pool of working-age residents in the EU -- those between the ages of 15 and 64 -- to begin falling after 2011 and total employment to start declining after 2017. By 2050 the Commission projects the working-age population in the EU to have fallen by more than 50 million people compared to its 2011 peak, or nearly 17 percent. Japan's working-age population is set to drop a stunning 40 percent between 2004 and 2050, according to the U.N.

In contrast with current trends, Christianity has historically been unashamedly pro-life, pro-natalist, and pro-family. This strengthens society at its roots.

In another article, Connie Marshner reminds us of the "Simple Lesson" that "there are moral costs in socialized medicine." She illustrates the point with the case of Samuel Golubchuk in Canada, who is on a respirator and is fed by a tube. The doctor wants to unplug the respirator and remove the feeding tube; the Orthodox Jewish family does not, saying it violates their religious beliefs.

Marshner explains:
Here is the ethical conflict. The doctor believes that he cannot "ethically participate in the administration of this treatment any longer." He thinks the machines only prolong Golubchuk's suffering. So he wants to unplug them. British common law, the foundation of Canadian law, requires a physician to provide care only as long as he thinks it benefits the patient. The Golubchuks believe it would be intrinsically evil to unplug the machines. The Canadian government controls what happens in the health care system, not individuals and families. If your values place you in opposition to the government's values . . . well, tough.

This should be a lesson to us who live as Canada's southern neighbors. You can read the article for that lesson. But the point I want to derive from this is that Christianity should help us to avoid this ethical dilemma, for the simple reason that Christianity does not teach us to depend upon the government for our needs. It teaches us to submit to the government, but to depend upon God. It teaches us to take personal responsibility by doing our own work (1 Thess 4:11-12). In times of need it teaches us to turn first of all to our families (1 Tim 5:4, 8, 16) and secondarily to the church (1 Tim 5:9-10).

So as we live wisely according to God's Word, we find that we benefit ourselves and we are also a blessing to our neighbors.

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