Now that Terri Schiavo has passed away, she has entered into the presence of our God and Father, whose complete justice and thorough mercy is uncorrupted by any court decisions of our federal and state judiciary system. Let us pray that she met her God in the grace and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us also pray for her family. Let us pray for our nation, and that the Christians within it would begin to think as reformational adults and not as reactionary children.
As we take stock of where we are, it is important for us to consider carefully what Terri’s death means. One of the fundamental lessons to be gained is that pro-life forces have to take a realistic assessment of where we are. The shrillness and desperation among some who were pleading for Terri’s life was a shrillness borne out of a sense of betrayal — they still believe that our civil courts are a place where justice in a situation like this one may be found. But in a nation that routinely takes the lives of over a million children a year, Terri Schiavo was only unique in that her forced starvation could not be done “out of sight.” Among those protesting her forced starvation, there has been anger, but there is nothing wrong with that anger. Situations like this one is what anger is for. But the anger ought not to be based on a false premise. Anger is appropriate when you are betrayed by a friend, but it is also appropriate when you are wickedly assaulted by an enemy. The confusion enters when we think we are angry in the first sense when it actually the second sense.
So the anger must not be misunderstood by those expressing it. We are not dealing with one nation, with a unified court system. We are dealing with two cultures — a culture of life and a culture of death. I would refer readers to an editorial Doug Jones and I wrote a number of years ago entitled Moving Beyond Pro-Life, an essay that addresses at least some of these issues. These two cultures occupy different territories; they have different strongholds. And one of the strongholds of the culture of death is the court system. That is occupied territory.
To illustrate the position that genuinely pro-life leaders and statesmen are in (as distinct from the poseurs), consider what happens when hostages are taken in Iraq, and the terrorists send out a video and say that unless this and that demand is met, they will behead their victim. No one should fault the president for refusing to deal with them — even though this will almost certainly mean the death of the hostage. The deliverance of the hostage is within the president’s control (in one sense), but in a war, dealing with the enemy on those terms is simply to conduct a modified controlled surrender. In other words, the president might refuse to deal with terrorists on such terms precisely because he will not surrender to them. But in another scenario, a president might refuse to stop the terrorists because he is in some kind of collusion with them.
Terri was captured by the pro-death forces in America, and she was starved to death, and we were witnesses of it. The pro-life civil authorities are not necessarily to be faulted for not sending in the National Guard (as I believe Jeb Bush had the authority to do, and could have done). I do not object to his refusal if he was acting as a military commander might, where a refusal to act would jeopardize the life of a hostage, but would make it possible to take more decisive action later. I do object to his refusal if he is still thinking of the courts as “our courts.” I do object to his refusal if he is still kidding himself and thinking that the pro-euthanasia forces that have captured the court system are to be respected as another manifestation of the “rule of law.” The deathers have got to go, but this can be done incrementally. Incrementalism is part of warfare, and incrementalism sometimes refuses to intervene. But cluelessness also refuses to intervene sometimes. Right now it is still an open question as to which it is.
One more comment. The right kind of incrementalism is an absolute non-starter unless the Christians in our nation come to realize that the top priority has to be the reformation of the church. Culture is always driven by cultus — how worship is conducted. The fact that public expressions of judicially-ordered starvations are now possible reveals the horrendous state of worship that lies underneath this. And the culture of life opposing this is anemic because the worship of pro-lifers is anemic.